This page lists common questions about Appropedia. If you have other questions, please add them to the discussion page.

What is Appropedia?[edit | edit source]

Appropedia is an open platform for knowledge-sharing in sustainability and development, and an extremely cost-effective tool for empowering and informing. It is also a knowledge catalog for a better world - a living, growing library that we are building together.

What are the purpose and goals of Appropedia?[edit | edit source]

Appropedia strives to share open and free knowledge about sustainability and poverty alleviation, in collaboration with individuals and organizations.

Who is behind Appropedia?[edit | edit source]

The Appropedia Foundation, which is an independent organization, based in California but with an international membership and perspective.

The directors and other individuals involved in the Appropedia community have many other ties. More broadly, we are:

  • People from around the world interested in green living, sustainable technology, and thrivability.
  • Academics from all specialties who frame their research around sustainability and international development.
  • Students working on theoretical or practical projects.
  • Non-profit organizations that release historical knowledge assets to the world or create it with us.
  • Members of governments and intergovernmental institutions.
  • Businesses with a sustainabile, non-extractive mindset towards prosperity and value.
  • Readers who use Appropedia as a learning resource online and offline.
  • Activists and agents of change who can use whatever means are at their disposal to spread the knowledge developed here.

Who does Appropedia collaborate with?[edit | edit source]

The Appropedia community collaborates with many different people and organizations, usually on an ad hoc basis in creating wiki pages.

We also have more structured collaborations, including:

What are the programs and activities of Appropedia?[edit | edit source]

Individuals and groups within Appropedia community are involved in many diverse projects and programs. These involvements are generally outside the scope of the Appropedia Foundation, and are not necessarily endorsed by the Foundation. The Foundation does not support on-the-ground technology projects, focusing instead on bringing knowledge together and making it accessible.

Programs supported by the Appropedia Foundation include:

More broadly, the activities of the Foundation and the Appropedia community include:

  • The wiki at The main role of the Foundation is to make available the platform for knowledge-sharing. The actual work is taken on by the community, with people from around the globe, including "bottom of the pyramid" countries such as India and the Philippines, sharing their knowledge, designs and ideas through the wiki, and using it as a way to make connections with other (makers/workers...?)
  • Promotion of open content for development
  • Facilitating the transfering of information from other sources to the wiki (see Porting
  • Development and support of the Appropedia community of contributors and users
  • Engagement with other organizations and communities.
  • Social media, including the Appropedia blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Is Appropedia wholly virtual? Does it have any activities in the real world?[edit | edit source]

  • "Appropedia" normally refers to the wiki, which is virtual - it exists only online or wherever it has been copied to an offline format or printed out (which are allowed under our open license). The power of knowledge means that by sharing information, knowledge, wisdom and creative ideas, we make a powerful impact in the real world. Working together in the virtual world leads to synergies and face-to-face connections. These are confirmed as we hear of the real-life fruits of this in feedback from contributors to Appropedia.
  • The Appropedia Foundation does engage in building relationships with other change agents, both in the virtual world and in real life:
  • It took the lead in organizing OSNCamp 2008
  • In their travels, the directors seek out and engage with researchers and creators of knowledge.
  • The Foundation currently engages in active fundraising for the activities of Appropedia.
  • Advocacy for the use of Appropedia in service learning and open source research.

How are Appropedia's activities organized?[edit | edit source]

As a wiki, the most fundamental organization that occurs is "emergent," with contributors from around the world finding ways to work together without a hierarchical structure.

Certain sub-projects are more highly organized - notably the academic efforts (the work of students as part of their classes) and the porting efforts, bringing in collections of knowledge developed by external organizations.

What's the point of an internet resource for the poor, when the poor have no internet?[edit | edit source]

Many more people have internet access than you might expect, via smart phone or internet kiosks. Appropedia has visitors from even the poorest countries on earth. Appropedia information can be distributed in offline forms, including through printed booklets (e.g. use the "Create a book" link in the left-hand navbar).

See Appropedia:Can the poor access Appropedia? for more details.

What happens to Appropedia if a meteor strikes the server, or society collapses...?[edit | edit source]

While a meteor strike or zombie apocalypse might be very unlikely, you'll be glad to know that Appropedia is prepared, and you can help with the backup plans.

A "dump" of all text on the site is available, and is updated weekly. You can download it regularly, and if there is a disaster and Appropedia goes down, someone else, somewhere in the world, can very quickly install a wiki and add all Appropedia's text content. More frequent backups are made on our own servers.

(Downloading all images and other files is not so simple - we do have backups, but would be happy to add another layer of backup.)

You should have something about X, Y or Z on your site[edit | edit source]

You're probably right - and it's easy for you to add this information!

  • If it's general information on a topic, search to see if there is an existing page you can add to. Otherwise, start a new page as described in the next steps.
  • For a project or a new topic, search for the page title you want.
  • Click the red link that appears at the top of the results.
  • Enter your information (a sentence, a paragraph, many paragraphs...) and click save.
  • The new page will now be available on Appropedia! It will also appear in the RecentChanges stream - others in the Appropedia community can see it, add categories, help with formatting, and add information where appropriate. (We also watch for spam and misinformation.)

Others in the Appropedia community, especially the directors and admins, are here to help you. But please remember that there are thousands of important topics and millions of useful facts which need to be added, so please help out in adding the info which needs to be added. Appropedia is a platform for you to use.

Should I start my own site, or share my project/knowledge/designs on Appropedia?[edit | edit source]

It's up to you - and even if you start your own site, you can still use Appropedia (though doing both effectively is a lot more work). One option is to have your own homepage for a basic intro, and to link to your Appropedia pages for more detailed, open information. Another is to use Appropedia's API to allow users of your site to access and edit Appropedia pages, while staying on their own site.[1]

There are important advantages to sharing on Appropedia:

  • Save time, money and effort. Running your own site might take more energy than you expected - and that's not your ultimate goal, is it? "I stopped spending time maintaining software and had more time to focus on the project itself." Vinay Gupta of the Hexayurt Project]] (see Appropedia:Testimonials)
  • Connect with likeminded people: "we also got connected to all kinds of interesting people and other activities, like the OLPC project and we get a lot of value about being connected to all of the other projects on Appropedia." - Vinay Gupta again. Job interviews have also come through people posting their projects on Appropedia.
  • It will be in a place where people will find it.
    • The categorization and navigation tools, and the increasing search engine rank of Appropedia give your page a good visibility
    • People interested in these subjects use Appropedia to search for information.
  • Get feedback on your designs and projects.

See: Appropedia:Benefits of putting your content on Appropedia.

How can we have our own identity within this site?[edit | edit source]

Banners at the top of pages (e.g. see Waterpod) and navigation bars (e.g. see The Transition Handbook) help to mark out particular projects, and make for easy navigation within these projects.

We are also exploring the idea of a slim banner at the top of the page when you are visiting from a partner organization's website - this is under development.

And of course the API mentioned above allows integration of your own site with Appropedia.

Userboxes on your userpage can show what projects or groups you belong to, as well as your interests, and place your userpage in a category so like-minded people can find you. We are looking at using the "SocialProfile" extension which we hope will improve this, as well.

The Appropedia Foundation will continue to support the development of the site to better serve Appropedia users and contributors, including in the functioning of groups within the Appropedia site community.

Can I participate?[edit | edit source]

Yes - Appropedia needs you!

  • Contribute your knowledge
  • Slightly technical: Help with porting to Appropedia the many resources we have permission to use, but need a little work to put them into wiki markup and upload the images.
  • Help find new content to bring in. It needs to be under a suitable open license, so request permission is an important step.
  • Spread the word. Blog about us, submit a story or story idea to your favorite media (e.g. tell your local media how you've applied knowledge from Appropedia in your home and community), tell friends, recruit professors to using Appropedia for their classes.
  • Very technical: Help develop the features of the site further - see Appropedia:Technical development plan.
  • Donate. Appropedia runs on the smell of an oily rag, with no paid staff, and our work is constrained by a lack of funding. While we are committed to continuing this work, your finance will let us be much more effective in expanding the site and improving the ability of the site to serve you, the world community and the planet.

Other questions?[edit | edit source]

Do you have a question that isn't answered here? Contact us - we'd love to hear from you.

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. The read-write API has been working since approximately mid-2009, but so far (March 2012) has only been used for Pywikipediabot. Appropedia:API is still a red link - would be the best place to find information on using the API.

See also[edit | edit source]

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