Edit vs Contribute SharePoint 2013 Permissions Levels

Contribute was the standard permission level for users in the Members group of a site in SharePoint 2010 and earlier. This gave them the ability to add, edit and delete items contained within the existing libraries of the site[1]. In SharePoint 2013 a new default permission level was added for the Members group, Edit. In addition to the capabilities granted by the Contribute permission level Edit also gives users the additional abilities to edit and delete existing, plus create new, lists[2]. Because this permission level is given to all users assigned to the Members group by default, it gives your average user the ability to do a lot of damage to your SharePoint environment, such as by deleting entire lists of documents, either maliciously or by accident. The list permissions available the two levels is illustrated in the table below.

List Permission Contribute Edit
Manage Lists  NO YES
Override List Behaviours  NO  NO
Add Items  YES  YES
Edit Items  YES YES
Delete Items YES YES
View Items YES YES
Approve Items NO  NO
Open Items YES YES
View Versions YES YES
Delete Versions YES YES
Create Alerts YES YES
View Application Pages YES YES

The key difference here is the “Manage Lists” permission which by itself grants users the power to “Create and delete lists, add or remove columns in a list, and add or remove public views of a list”.

As a result of this it is recommended that when you create a new site you should change the permission level of the Members user group to Contribute, unless there is a need for the users of that site to be able to alter and create lists. Or better still, as a general rule, give users the lowest permission level required for them to do their jobs. More detailed information on SharePoint permissions can be found here: https://lightningtools.com/permissions/sharepoint-permissions/

1. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/cc288074(v=office.14).aspx

2. https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Understanding-permission-levels-in-SharePoint-87ecbb0e-6550-491a-8826-c075e4859848

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