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With fear and trembling I added the top-level category Education. In my view no AT effort will ever be successful if it is not linked with a change of view and growth in understanding beyond the local community, and this is achieved by a pulling-yourself-by-your-bootstraps process of learning.

Even though being part of making high quality education to those who otherwise cannot afford it is my Life Project, I know I am very small to do it alone. I find the wiki concept a God-sent way to cooperate with like minded people. I will be happy to give this a push, and maybe later on specialize in my areas of maximum experitise, such as knowledge management, risk management and leadership training.

IHN, Yamaplos 20:19, 8 May 2006 (PDT)

I think that education is an excellent top level addition. Especially as this too is my life work. It is very interesting that one of the main intents behind this wiki, i.e. education, failed to make it onto the initial list of topics. Thank you for putting it there. Lonny 00:03, 9 May 2006 (PDT)


dear all

as the originator and master of cd3wd, please feel free to take advantage of the great quantity and quality of material already in cd3wd (850 mega zipped, 1.2 giga unzipped). and note

that in order to be of some use to the 3rd world, cd3wd is very much designed for OFFLINE useage as well as online useage...

best regards

alex weir harare zimbabwe africa


Hello Alex,

Thank you so much for you excellent offer. Cd3wd is a fantastic resource and so important, expecially for those areas with limited internet access, but with a cd drive. I think appropedia would love to take you up on your offer, especially for those resources most useful and adaptable to the online wiki community. We will work on developing some type of byline or box, to be included on ported pages, that states:

This information is from cd3wd, the offline wiki for the 3rd world, please visit cd3wd for more information.

What do you think?

--Lonny 10:46, 14 August 2006 (PDT)

Topic & Fundamental categories[edit]

Category:Topics and Category:Fundamental are actually very similar - can we merge them? Perhaps Topic (or Topics, as it's plural) is the more understandable name, while fundamental is the more accurate name (after all, subcats are also topics - the point of this category is to show the most fundamental topics). --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 08:46, 15 October 2006 (PDT)

Here is my proposal, please comment:
  1. Categories in the Category:Topics area are topics, such as Category:Water, Category:Adobe and Category:Greywater
    • These topic categories are about subject.
    • These topic categories hold pages from the other areas, and categorize them based on topic.
  2. We add Category:Area for the different areas, e.g. Category:How tos, Category:Projects and Category:Thesis.
    • These area categories are about form.
    • These area categories hold pages from different topics, and categorize them base on type of page.
  3. We use Category:Fundamental for all area categories and first level topic categories.
--Lonny 12:22, 15 October 2006 (PDT)
  1. Check my understanding of this:
    • In this scheme, categories not about subject areas, such as Category:Appropedia maintenance and Category:Templates, belong in Fundamental, but not in Topic. I see the value in this - it makes it much clearer and tidier when browsing by topic.
    • So, it seems logical that we plan to move all non-meta, non-maintenance content etc into the Topic category (i.e. all projects and info, but not "Template:", "Appropedia:" and "Help:" pages).
  2. I'm not convinced, yet, of the need for Category:Area. I think it's simpler for Category:How tos, Category:Projects and Category:Thesis to stay in Fundamental. Fundamental will also be less cluttered if we follow the policy of moving all topic categories to Topic. We can always try it, and change back if necessary), but I'm inclined to finish the topic issue and related editing first.
  3. Re: "should Category:Open source be removed from Category:Fundamental since it is a subcategory of Category:Information and communication technology?" Absolutely - and done.
Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 16:58, 15 October 2006 (PDT)
Adding the Expert link to the topic header causes a funny looking TOC. Other ideas for inserting the expert? --CurtB 16:06, 18 October 2006 (PDT)
Not sure what you mean... could you clarify? --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 20:35, 22 October 2006 (PDT)
Wikipedia:Category:Categories (the most basic level in Wikipedia's categories) might give a few ideas for our taxonomy (i.e. category scheme) - it's been worked out very neatly there. I'm not sure if this is similar to what you're suggesting. It may be that it's just our terminology that's different - in which case we can consider which is the preferable system. (There's some advantage to using the same naming system as Wikipedia, to minimize confusion; though of course there are also differences in structure, with Appropedia's various page types, which will mean a slightly different category structure.) Also have a think about the Wikipedia convention of singular names for pages, but plural (where applicable) for categories.
A major difference between our categorization structure and that of wikipedia, is that wikipedia has one main area, Encyclopedic, whereas we have many, such as Project, Topic, Organization, etc. (soory if I just repeated myself here). --Lonny 12:19, 9 November 2006 (PST)
One question: Is there a particular reason that Category:Alternative building and other content pages are still in Category:Fundamental whereas Category:Adobe and Category:Earthen plaster have been moved to Category:Topics? Or is the plan to eventually move all such content to the Topic category? Just not sure if I've missed something... --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 20:35, 22 October 2006 (PDT)
An answer (or two): Based on #3 above, Adobe is a subcategory of the top-level topic category - Alternative building, therefore Adobe is not in fundamental, but alternative building is. That said... I still think that this could be resolved with a seperate category for top-level topics. Then topic would be in category fundamental, and we could have a seperate browse by topic category listing top level topics such as Alternative building. What do you think? --Lonny 12:19, 9 November 2006 (PST)
I'm still confused. Let's take it from another angle: The top level category for topics should contain only subject categories, not projects, or pages like Appropedia:Maintenance, Template:Catneeded or Help:Contents. So the very top level category in Appropedia (perhaps we could use Category:Categories as in Wikipedia) should be used to lay out the different types of material in Appropedia (Projects, Appropedia, topics...).
One of those second-level categories (whether we call it Fundamental as in Wikipedia, or Topic or Topics) would then become the top level category for topics.
Now, having said all that, and I see that Wikipedia:Category:Categories is more complex than I thought, having more than one entry point to the various topics.
Anyhow, I don't think we have to decide everything now... but I would definitely like to have some degree of agreement and clarity so that we don't mix the different content types (as currently is happening in Category:Fundamental). And as always, I'd be inclined to copy Wikipedia except where there is a good reason not to - as it makes it easier for people moving between the two sites, and also draws on the benefit of their experience. --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 16:41, 12 November 2006 (PST)

Okay, trying to tackle this from a fresh angle, and taking action step by step. I've given this some thought, and have taken some action, which leads to a question about further action.

I've made a top level category called Category:Categories, which (so far contains two subcats:

This separates the two main classes of pages from each other. (If Category:Categories is not the preferred name, that can be changed easily enough.)

The next question is about these categories, currently in Category:Fundamental:

Now, these are quite different types of pages. I see two potential ways of dealing with them:

  1. Make most or all of them subcategories of the top level, Category:Categories. I favor this option. In this case there remains the question of how the Fundamental, Area and Topic categories relate to each other - I would put all pages into one of the above cats or a subcat thereof, and not have "renewable energy" or "adobe" or "alternative building" in the fundamental category; however I feel I still haven't understood Lonny's plan (nor certain aspects of Wikipedia's top level categories).
  2. Leave only the two subcategories in Category:Categories, considering this to be the most basic division, i.e. between admin and content. In this case, the longer list of categories (Events to Topic) would all go into Category:Fundamental. However, this is creating a whole separate level, just for the sake of separating out one category (Appropedia administration) which I think is acceptable to be placed with the other main categories, (Organizations, Projects etc).

I will refrain from carrying out either option, as it might be going directly against part of Lonny's idea. But we should resolve it ASAP, as the categorization scheme seems messy at the moment. --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 03:38, 15 November 2006 (PST)


At the moment this category page is confusing, as there are two sets of categories: the manually edited topic structure which starts at the top of the page, and the automatically generated category at the bottom. And naturally they will never be completely consistent. How should we deal with this - a very clear note at the top, or spin off the manually generated topic structure to a separate page?

Lonny, if you have a chance, please look at answer my last question immediately above this one (timestamp: 20:35, 22 October 2006 (PDT))... I'm hesitant to make a lot of edits to the category structure at the moment as I'm still a bit confused. --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 04:55, 9 November 2006 (PST)

My turn to chime in here with a couple of suggestions. Like Chris (Singkong2005) my temptation to "be bold" is in conflict with my desire to make good use of time (don't want to invest a lot of energy, only to have it reverted or redone). I have these recommendations (some of this is "thinking out loud" and so not fully baked...). In general, I think the current Category:Topics page is rather off-putting and so my motivation is not so much to have the most elegant topic categorization strategy, but to provide a welcoming and at least "first glance" clean structure (even if it doesn't look so clean upon deeper inspection).
  1. Subcategories should not also be categorized as part of a higher category. Kind of "top down" structure. The goal here is to keep the higher level categories from becoming too cluttered.
    • Example, "Cobb" is part of "Earthen construction". "Earthen construction" is a "Topic", and so "Cobb" is implicitly a "Topic" without being categorized as "Topic".
  2. Notwithstanding the above, do not force a "tree" structure. That is, subtopics should be allowed to fall into two (or more) higher subtopics (as long as the higher subtopics are not "parents" or "children" of each other). The reasoning here is that we are attempting to aid navigation, and I don't see the disadvantage.
    • Example: "Solar distillation" should be categorized under "water" (or "water purification") as well as under "solar".
    • (If there is strong disagreement about this, you're wrong :-) (just kidding), but if there is strong disagreement, I would argue that "Solar distillation" belongs more naturally under "Water" since I would expect someone would be more likely looking for purification, and would come across "Solar distillation" by accident, rather than the other path.)
  3. Listing of "topic experts" should be handled some other way to reduce the confusion of the page. I mentioned elsewhere the use of a "topic expert" category, which is fine but does not fully address what is needed. I think we could also go ahead and create the category pages, and place the (possibly prospective) "topic experts" on those category pages rather on the main topic page as currently done. Prospective or desired "topic experts" could also be captured "en masse" at the "topic experts" category.
  4. Restructure the page in a tabular form with 2 or 3 (or 4?) columns, Each cell in the table could have a first level sub-topic, with second level sub-topics bulleted underneath the primary sub-topics. (I came to this table idea by starting with the "bulleted sub-topics", then realizing that it would result in a very long narrow page.) I'll create an example of this soon. If done carefully, I think it could be fairly pleasant to look at and reasonably easy to maintain.
Feedback welcome, of course, especially from Singkong2005, who, like me, appears to have enough space on the plate to even think about this. If we two come to consensus, we can probably sell it :-) --CurtB 07:29, 10 December 2006 (PST)
Water Solar Earthen construction Power and energy
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
Water Solar Earthen construction Power and energy
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
That's an abbreviated version of my table idea (I duplicated rows out of laziness, in reality the rows would differ and there would probably be more of them...). We can, of course, include sub-sub-categories as well. --CurtB 15:41, 10 December 2006 (PST)
I have created a "fairly mature" 3-column table based scheme at User:Curtbeckmann/Topic table. Please check it out and give feedback. (I decided that, indeed, it does make sense to keep the topic experts in the list, at least for now. ) WARNING! WARNING! I like the table approach, and in the absence of comments will likely stick it on the topic page --CurtB 14:31, 12 December 2006 (PST)
It's looking much better, though I'm still unsure whether the table should be here or on a separate page.
For reference, see Wikipedia:Project:Categorical index & some of the pages in Category:Main topic classifications, e.g. Wikipedia:Lists of basic topics. Just a few different ways the challenge has been tackled. For now though, this page is not bad at all. --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 20:32, 25 December 2006 (PST)

How to procede with categorizing in sparsely populated parent categories & empty sub-categories?[edit]

Curt, I like the newly revised table of topics at Category:Topics. I noticed many of the sub-topics are empty right now. At least one project I was part of, the Backpack frame bike trailer would go under Category:Cycling. Currently, the project is categorized under the parent Category:Transportation. In order to begin fleshing out these proposed categories, should I categorize the bike trailer project under Category:Bicycle? Then, would you suggest I remove it from Category:Transportation? My fear is that Category:Transportation is already an underpopulated category.

This has been a lot of thinking out loud — now that I have written this, I am convinced that the best thing to do will be to recategorize the trailer under Category:Bicycle and remove the old categorization, but still, what's your recommendation? By the way, I am interested in becoming a topic moderator for the transportation category. --Aaron 11:31, 17 December 2006 (PST)

Redlinks to categories[edit]

Just wondering whether we should have redlinks to categories on this page... is it jumping the gun to assume there'll be a collection of articles when there's no page yet?

I wanted to start a public transport/mass transit page, to add a link to Revolution Rickshaws - "fossil-fuel-free transport solutions" (using human power and solar power). Not sure whether to make it an article or category. (It can be moved later of course - but trying to address how we use this Topics category page.)

BTW, Wikipedia uses the term public transport and gives mass transit as an alternative - is one of the terms more international? --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 01:20, 18 December 2006 (PST)

Anything topic that can have projects, how-tos, theses, and organisations categorized under it should be made a category (therefore Public transport should be a topic category). Indeed an article could be moved to a category when needed, but I think that all topics belong in the category namespace, where as other content will usually be in the article namespace. BTW response: Transit is usually short-range, whereas transport is more inclusive (although I've always liked the sound of mass transit better)--Lonny 01:33, 18 December 2006 (PST)
Thanks - I'm finally catching on to how we decide what is made a category.
Sounds like "public transport" is the correct term then; mass transit does have a nice sound, but is less familiar to non-Americans, and it sounds like everyone understands "public transport." --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 04:33, 24 December 2006 (PST)

Category:Appropriate technology & Category:Sustainability[edit]

I strongly consider that Category:Appropriate technology & Category:Sustainability should be in Category:Topics, not in Category:Fundamental. I would have changed them, but I know a lot of thinking has been going on, so I'm checking if there's a reason not to change them.

Another question is how exactly to use these two categories, since they each would apply to a large majority of the articles on this wiki. First question is - would we miss the categories if we removed them (and moved their content to article pages)? --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) · talk 04:27, 24 December 2006 (PST)

Chris, I agree with your view that Cat:AT and Cat:Sus either should not be categories, or they somehow need to be different kinds of categories. They are also identified as definitions, which I have no trouble with at all. Related to that, I don't mind if there is a fundamental category called Definitions. I think Lonny may have them under Meta-topics, and I'm also okay with that if they are definition pages.
Like you, I also have been waiting on a number of category actions, since I'm inclined to absorb Lonny's effort, then do some kind of massive category housecleaning. Last I recall, Lonny was saying "wait, wait, it's not quite ready", and I haven't been back to look since... Lonny, please ping us when you feel your structure is ready for indoctrination feedback. (kidding!)
On a semi related note, I am spending a little time trying to absorb the wikipedia stub policy, and try to determine what ours is with respect to category pages. My own gut is that category pages should have relatively little content, except, perhaps if the content is "metacontent", information about Appropedia, and Cat:Topic would be an example of that exception. --CurtB 06:39, 24 December 2006 (PST)
I will finish off my next draft of category structure on Tuesday, and will make sure to ping you both for changes, feedback, comments, etc. I agree that Category:Appropriate technology & Category:Sustainability should not be categories, and should be in some other area such as definitions, metatopics or something. --Lonny 07:51, 24 December 2006 (PST)

Transportation & land use: two topics joined at the hip.[edit]

Please see my comment at Category_talk:Land Use. I'd like to combine the land use and planning categories with the transportation category, or at least re-arrange the topic map so they are nearer to each other on the page.m --Aaron 09:36, 13 January 2007 (PST)