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An alert is usually a notification message to draw one's attention to an event such as a change or error condition.

Alert is a colloquial term used to define a machine-to-person communication that is important and/or time sensitive. An alert contains user-requested content such as a reminder (important), a notification (urgent), and ultimately an alert (important and urgent).

Use this tag on SharePoint.SE for questions on alerts, their development and their messages.