Vision[edit | edit source]

Where are we going? Get clear on this as a community.

(Suggestion: Write down thoughts about this individually before referring to Appropedia:Vision and mission, developed by the board of directors a few years ago.)

Asset mapping[edit | edit source]

Conversations on central places and on social media about what Appropedia means to us, and what assets we have as a community. (This is both a community building exercise and a planning exercise.)

Tech[edit | edit source]

Improve the site in functionality, speed and usability. Urgent.

Background: As a website, we need maintenance and emergency support. This has fallen mainly on Lonny, to date. We're thankful for Lonny's hard work, and acknowledge that this is not a role he wants, and that we need someone dedicated to the task.

We have a tech team of sorts, but without a clear leader, they have not been able to contribute.

Plan: Recruit a dedicated tech developer or developer team, with experience in Semantic MediaWiki, either volunteer or paid (see #Funding, below). Equivalent to at least a part-time (2-3 days/week) position - realistically this implies a paid position.

Community[edit | edit source]

How do we strengthen the Appropedia community and the individuals within it?

Background: The Appropedia community makes Appropedia possible. We are scattered around the world, although MediaWiki talk pages aren't great for communication. We have a very quiet mailing list. We've avoided setting up our own forum (so we don't reinvent the wheel). The monthly chats on IRC were interesting at times but not a big success relative to the investment of time. There is an Appropedia forum on Permies but we have yet managed to breathe life into it (and maybe not all Appropedians want to head over there).

Improving discussion/communication: Identify ways to encourage a sense of community and collaboration around Appropedia.

Broadcast communication: Updates from Appropedians who are in touch with what's going on. Newsletter (launching soon - Sep 2013). Social media. These need news - ways for Appropedia supporters and enthusiasts to tell us their favorite new pages.


  • Service learning partners. Academics using Appropedia with their classes have been a major source of quality content for Appropedia.
  • Volunteers: (Okay, we're all volunteers, but this refers to a semi-structure program that we can recruit people to.)

"Team Appropedia" (or "Meta Team"?): Who sees that this plan is carried out? Members of the board and others passionate about making Appropedia's vision a reality. How do we operate? Currently via a mix of emails, chats and MediaWiki messages. We have no functioning task management system. Join the Trello board and commit to tasks there?

Partnerships and connections[edit | edit source]

Develop effective partnerships, that further our mission and benefit our partners.

Background: We have many people who like Appropedia, and most of them have the ability to work with us, given a framework, an entry point, a specific small task or clear request.

What do we offer?[edit | edit source]

  • Action learning platform
  • Solution toolkit(s) in sustainability and development
  • Support for their vision, where that vision includes sustainable communities

We need from partners:

  • Content
  • Awareness-raising
  • Funding (financial)
  • Funding (in-kind)
    • Site development
    • Project management
  • Support for our fundraising (organizing and/or publicizing)
  • Ideas, direction

Partners and potential partners[edit | edit source]

Partners, potential partners and connections - noting what we are offering and receiving:

  • Organizations
    • EWB Australia - working together on semantic site development and EWB Challenge. We offer: content hosting. They offer: financial partnership for site development; awareness-raising.
    • EWB UK - anything specific planned?
    • Practical Action. We offer : making their work available; advising on licensing; hoping to enable feedback for Practical Action. They are: allowing us to use their content (though their license is still unclear)
    • P2P Foundation. Joint internship to link our wikis, summarizing and linking to each wiki from the other. We offer: Volunteer/intern recruitment process; Co-supervising. They offer: Co-supervising; publicity (high profile among hardcore openness people).
    • Engineering for Change. We offer: Relevant content. They offer: Visibility for Appropedia.
    • Open Knowledge Foundation (and their local groups such as Open Knowledge Foundation Australia). Engage with their open development and open sustainability groups (mailing lists).
    • Akvo (Discuss further with Appropedia board)
  • Academics and teachers
    • Researchers. We offer: Open peer review platform (link Joshua's paper); Exposure. They offer: Potentially unique, quality content; Informed contributors.
    • University instructors and students. We offer: Action learning platform; Tool for tracking contributions; Public platform to showcase the class's work; Experience with a real world project; Engagement and sense of purpose for students; Experience with collaborative web platforms. They offer: Content; Quality & accuracy checking by instructors/tutors.
    • K-12 programs. (David doing outreach?) We offer: Content for the classroom. (Needs to be developed further and compiled.) They offer: Awareness; Content in exceptional cases (good quality or innovative work by school students).
  • Individuals
    • Various well-connected individuals working on a similar vision for the world. We offer: Content to share - great pages, stories, media. They offer: Support in promoting and fundraising.

Content[edit | edit source]

Scale up and fill out our content, and improve the quality.


  • Focus areas: We've talked about content moderators or curators for particular areas. Wikipedia (with a larger user base) has WikiProject pages, which are sometimes useful - a small proportion of editors use them to collaborate.
  • Academics using Appropedia with their classes have been a major source of quality content for Appropedia.


  • To vastly scale up requires requires many contributors
  • To improve quality while scaling up requires many expert contributors, effective systems (e.g. RC Patrol and page review programs) and tools (e.g. page rating tools).


  • Recruit academics, giving them a clear path to involvement - top priority.
  • Choose a way for people with similar interests to collaborate and to be accessible. Could be on-wiki and/or through email/chat/meetups. Case-by-case basis, make it known on the talk page for the relevant topic page (e.g. Water, Sanitation, Transport informatics, Passive solar design...)

Strategic focus[edit | edit source]

Problem: Our broad focus makes it hard to give a clear message, and hard to develop a strong area of content.

Idea: Start by building and promoting our areas of strength. We'll get more traction by being awesome in one thing than by being "pretty good" across many things - i.e. narrow and deep.

Our areas of strength in 2013 include:

(Meanwhile, every focus area in sustainability and development is valid and encouraged - see #Content. We'll just be prioritizing these focus areas.)

Funding[edit | edit source]

Funding will give us many more options and enable us to be financially sustainable. It will allow our individual involvements to be more personally sustainable, through having things dealt with properly (so we're not stressed out by vandal-fighting or debugging) and/or through enabling some people to make this their actual job.

Type of fundraising:

  • Crowdfunder (StartSomeGood)
  • Regular donations (set up PayPal, then ask)
  • Ask for donations on the website (banner, front page...)

Content for fundraising

  • Pitch - drawing on #Vision, above.
  • Video (pitch, vision, and/or stories)
  • Media pack - for bloggers and journalists.
  • Stories - someone to interview Appropedians (video or text) and bring out their stories.

Telling people:

  • Blog
  • Offer to do guest blogs
  • Social media - updates, stories, media
  • Contact media and our well-connected friends.

Discussion[View | Edit]

Link to Community Informatics Paper on Appropedia in a context of Action Research, and relevance to Deliberative Democracy[edit source]

Relevant to Strategic Planning - I (Pat Sunter) wrote up several thoughts and reflections on using Appropedia as part of the Action-Research aspect of my PhD, in dialogue with Chris as co-author. This was published as part of the Community Informatics Research Network's 2013 conference, as follows:

The paper included a reflective section that aired several issues relevant to strategic planning, such as:-

  • Reflections on Appropedia's similarities and differences to Wikipedia;
  • Should Appropedia encourage more explicit tools to reflect on action-research projects, possibly as part of, or in addition to, the Project template? What are the ethical aspects of this in relation to participants (eg providing Wiki training)?
  • Should Appropedia more explicitly include a perspective that web-pages on complex topics and systems, are sometimes as much about community deliberation, as they are about providing authoritative knowledge? And does this mean either encouraging page templates other than the Wikipedia-style encyclopaedia article, and/or developing closer relationships with other web-platforms that do explicitly focus on group deliberation (such as Loomio, or Debatepedia)?

It would be good to discuss these further in this strategic planning context. --PatSunter (talk) 19:56, 12 March 2014 (PDT)

Issues of quality & safety, possible peer-review of some content, and general Inclusionism vs Exclusionism philosophy[edit source]

While it is important to recognise all the great content on Appropedia, I noticed there were several important discussions on the Appropedia talk:Village pump in 2013 bearing on issues of not-so-good content, and how to deal with it. Perhaps developing further this guidelines is important here. See especially posts instigated by Joe Turner, such as Appropedia_talk:Village_pump#Things_that_should_not_be_on_appropedia and also in sections on site stats, glossaries.

Different views here represent important alternative perspectives about the role of a Wiki, which people in the Media Wiki meta-community have described as mw:Inclusionism, mw:Exclusionism, and mw:Deletionism. There is even a somewhat tongue-in-cheek phrase used to criticise people who are considered overly exclusionist or deletionist - mw:Academic standards disease.

While my (PatSunter) reading of this is that Appropedia has historically been quite strongly 'Inclusionist' in terms of the above categories - that is, welcoming new content, even if there is not time to review in depth - I think Joe made some good points that the Appropedia community do collectively have a responsibility not to mislead readers. This is particularly the case if pages are about designs for Appropriate Technology that are being promoted for use by others, where safety and mis-allocation of scarce resources come into the picture.

I'd suggest some reflection and discussion on this, by different Appropedia stakeholders.

Some specific outcome aims of such a discussion could be:

  • Further work on the Appropedia:Rigor guideline, including actually adopting it as a policy.
  • In relation to Appropedia projects:- a more consistent use of page tags or other metadata to show if a proposal is speculative, in-development, has been used in practice, has been peer-reviewed by others to test its effectiveness, etc.
  • Per Joe's proposal : a clearer idea of when it is worth hosting an encyclopaedia-style page on Appropedia, vs leaving the Encycopaedia-style stuff to Wikipedia and concentrating on good quality original project pages.

I think part of this process is to start to both work towards reasonably clear policies, such that editors and readers can understand and try to follow them, and also to spread the load of review/improvement work, so that all the responsibility doesn't fall on a few key editors and admins for the entire site. E.g. perhaps to develop periodic 'review editing groups' in different topic areas, which could involve recruiting relevant people with significant experience or knowledge in area, and supporting them in this role with relevant processes and tools. (Incidentally, this is a broad-brush description of how management of the Linux kernel, and large FOSS distributions such as Debian, have evolved over time). --PatSunter (talk) 19:56, 12 March 2014 (PDT)

More use of Semantic MediaWiki?[edit source]

Should we also re-visit the idea of a larger rollout of the potential of Semantic MediaWiki extensions, e.g.: Appropedia_talk:Village_pump#Semantic data for permaculture

Links to relevant earlier ideas and goals for Appropedia's future[edit source]

Browsing today I found some good ideas for Appropedia's future from the 2007-2010 period. I realise not all of these will still be relevant in a changing context etc, but just linking them here in case they're useful:

--PatSunter (talk) 23:09, 14 March 2014 (PDT)

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