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Appropedia:Development of policies and manuals

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This is a proposed Appropedia guideline. You can edit it, or discuss it on the talk page or at the Appropedia policy discussion page.
For now, this should be considered an essay by one or more Appropedians, and not as a policy or guideline.


Appropedia is intended to support the development of:

  • Policies - for all levels of governments, business and other organizations and communities; and
  • Manuals - for all kinds of sustainability and development practices - again for business and other organizations, communities, and governmental and intergovernmental bodies.

However, this must be made to work with our structure as a wiki. Open, collaborative editing is key to the value of a wiki. It is fundamental to wikis that if you want to read about, contribute to or link to X, then that article is at [[X]], or if it's a redlink, may be created at that location. Pages with simple names that reflect their subject matter area are easy to find through a wiki's natural linking. A wiki page is much more an open space, allowing the contributor freedom to add what is needed.

Publishing as manual, rather than pages on specific topics, is less inviting to edits, and doesn't benefit from collective editing. Because it is in the form of a manual, an editor may feel reticent to jump in and add different perspectives and restructure the page. A regular wiki page allows for alternative ideas on the same page, where they can be weighed up and contrasted in a neutral point of view way.

So, how do we support the development of policies and manuals? We're working out the details, but the main answer is: We develop the best articles possible about each specific component of the policy or practice in question.

A good wiki has more than just component articles however. Having only detail-level pages, the reader can find it hard to keep sight of and learn about the big picture. For this reason, as well as for navigation reasons, it is essential to have overview pages, and sections of higher-level articles that refer to other pages. These sections contain the {{main}} template and a brief summary. For example Food production and Food processing should be (when they are properly developed) overview pages, but at the same time an even higher level Food article can be made as well, to discuss the broad themes of food and its stages of production, processing, consumption, resulting waste, and the possibilities for pollution, reuse or up-cycling.

These overview articles may be useful starting resources in creating basis for manuals and policies, as they are needed. So if you are interested in a manual or policy on a certain topic, the suggested path is:

  • Develop excellent component articles on the policies and practices that make up this topic. This is done through porting and recruiting knowledgeable people as well as sharing your own knowledge and then selecting and arranging the content.
  • Create overview articles which summarize and refer to each of the components.
  • Then either:
    • Use an existing policy or manual as the basis, but improve it using the perspectives of the content developed here. When copying slabs of text in, remember to mention the page it came from, in the edit summary (attribution). Or:
    • When excellent overview articles have been developed, copy the article into another page as the start of the policy or manual, again mentioning the page it came from, as attribution, in the edit summary. This can then be adapted into the intended structure.

In what circumstances is it then suitable to begin putting a manual or policy together from these component articles? Some suggested guidelines:

  • Break all of manual or policy articles into topics, with topic names.
  • Have pros and cons, and clarify which suggestions are actually supported by field experience. Give more prominence to well-supported ideas, but give space for other ideas and perspectives as well.
  • If someone wants to create manual pages at any stage, they can do so:
    • On the wiki, as collections of article links and summaries; or
    • (To be discussed): On the wiki, flagged as work overseen by a particular organization or group. There are limitations to this, as some groups may wish their manual to endorse positions and practices that the Appropedia community and relevant experts cannot accept. (Is it enough to flag such pages, or must manual pages be approved?) While we decide the details of such a policy, we will allow established and reputable organizations to carry out such work, and decide each case on its merits.
    • Off the wiki, as a derivative work based on Appropedia articles, also under our CC-BY-SA license. This gives someone the ability to have control over a set of pages. If someone wants to put their stamp on a collection of pages, this is one way to do it.
  • Make a practice of always linking a mention of a topic to the relevant topic page, rather than to a page in a manual or to a project page. If a link to a manual page is wanted, say on the subject of sanitation, then it should be of the form "[[sanitation]], as described in [[Fred Smith's Sanitation Manual]]."

Factors which affect the suitability of a "manual" style page. Page types which may be suited to a manual page:

  • More technical and less controversial pages
  • Topics which describe specific, concrete actions.
  • Pages that reference topic articles for more detail.

E.g. Water supply and purification for emergencies is mostly technical and not very controversial; it is also a bit more than a how-to, but less than a full manual.

Policy-specific issues[edit]

Appropedia supports the development of policies, including those for use in business, organizations and politics.

Q
What kind of material will be acceptable under Appropedia's content policy?

A. Any policies can be posted or excerpted, as long as the focus is on the content. If a policy contains any endorsement or attacks of a political party or candidate, or attacks on or incitement against any group, these must be removed when posting.

If any material is inappropriate for Appropedia, it is advised that there are other wikis that may be more suitable: