Title and/or headers[edit source]

I think we need to make it clear that the ideas in this page are not tested nor derived from field experience. Many of our pages have titles or headers that make the source clear (e.g. Practical Action and CCAT). Can we standardize a way of denoted the source of the content (this may be hard as many pages are group created)?

Thank you, --Lonny 05:58, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Suggest moving from manual to topic pages[edit source]

I've been thinking over these pages. You do great work, KVDP, with porting and translating pages, and obviously putting your time and passion into this, and we value it enormously. However, there are some important issues we need to work out as a wiki community, and now's a good time to do it.

Re making the source clear: I want to echo Lonny's point above, plus suggest some alternatives. Where there's a clear source for a point or section, then <ref> </ref> tags can be used; where a page reflects an individual's ideas based on speculation or reading, then userspace might be the best place.

Collaborative editing is key to the value of a wiki. Publishing as manual, rather than pages on specific topics (such as sterilization) it is less inviting to edits, and doesn't benefit from collective editing. We have a lot of pages and page sections relating to principles of development and other such intangible topics. I like the pages having simple names that reflect their subject matter.

What troubles me about the Appropriate Living Manual pages is that on at least 2 of the pages (including this one) I disagree with more than half of what is written on the page, but because it is in the form of a manual, I feel reticent to jump in and add different perspectives and restructure. If I did that, it would no longer be a manual in the same sense. I have been writing content on Appropedia which is almost directly contradictory to some of these ideas (IMO) - I would rather see alternative ideas on the same wiki page, where they can be weighed up.

My personal suggestions:

  • Break all of these manual 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
    • Off the wiki, as a derivative work also under CC-BY-SA. This gives someone the ability to have control over a set of pages. Personally I won't be doing that as i love the collaborative editing, everything being up for negotiation. But if someone wants to put their stamp on a collection of pages, I think that is the best way to do it.
  • Make a practice of always linking a topic to the 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]]."

Btw, it occurs to me that we didn't do these things with The Transition Handbook - free edit version when that was on Appropedia. We need to think about this further - there was more agreement on the Transition Handbook's contents, I believe, so it didn't come up at the time. Maybe that was okay, maybe not, but there are issues to work out there, for all future projects. I just wanted to flag that I recognize this as an issue, even if there's no black and white solution. --Chriswaterguy 07:35, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Hey Chris, Lonny

Regarding how to make the source clear: I feel similarly about the fact that the articles' source should be better indicated. However, simply placing eg CCAT, ... in front of an article name is not the best way to do this I think. The trouble with this is that

  • placing this name before the article makes it allot harder to find the article (eg if looking for "sanitation", you would type this in and not eg "CCAT_sanitation", so finding it becomes harder
  • another difficulty is to one you mentioned before, that documents that have different sources cannot be simply marked with placing the initials before the name

I think that the best solution for this is to

  • make and place the infoboxes as dicussed at https://www.appropedia.org/Category:Organizations , most of the time these infoboxes are not always used with every document (indeed I haven't done so with some ISF-IAI documents neither, which is something I'll correct later-on. Perhaps that the infoboxes can also contain an organisation image (as an example I uploaded one for ISF-IAI, at the Ingénieurs Sans Frontières-IAI page.)
  • secundairy, a category [[XXX_documents]] can be added, I placed a comment on this at the village pump (reread section: Appropedia:Village_pump#AT_organizations_presentation.2C_category )
Regarding the article infobox, a small remark: perhaps the user can himself add a version (eg V 0.9, ...) This to make the page viewers aware of the level of progress the article is on. This is especially usable with home-made articles (meaning articles that have not been ported from official documents by AT-organizations).

KVDP 13:09, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

Inserting my response into KVDP's comment: Finding articles other than the main sanitation article (for example) will depend on good navigation in the wiki, and that's improving. I'm open to other ideas on how we name articles, but if it's from a particular POV, I'd like to see the POV displayed in the title.
Infoboxes used in his way sound interesting - good for at least some articles. Let's explore that.
Another issue re sources is that if a specific organization or person with known expertise is not the author/contributor, then I think the attribution can be like any other wiki contributor - their contributions are seen through the history page (and the attribution note in the footer, thanks to the extension that Lonny installed). They can still be wonderful contributions, but prove their worth in the usual way, by being preserved in the wiki page even as multiple additions and improvements are made to the page. --Chriswaterguy 19:58, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

Regarding the breaking up into topics: I really don't like this idea as I believe the opposite route should be followed; rather than making seperate topics, we should make manuals which combine a series of topics. The reason for this is that we want to make documents that actually provide a guide for organizations to follow when operating in the field. Making seperate topics is more useful for eg Wikipedia, ... which really don't need to make approaches on how to perform a certain task (instead it just gives information on a topic they're intrested in at the moment). With manuals, we can provide a more step-by-step guide and thus fulfill in this need more appropriatly. Indeed, we must however be careful what to advocate, and make sure that this is indeed the best approach (as we have seen with many other development organizations; following the principles of development link, I btw am delighted to see that articles as Good_intentions,_disastrous_outcomes are already on the wiki.

In this matter I thus agree fully that better referencing is required and that it should be made clear on what has been already proven to work in the field. As Chris noted

  • pros and cons can be given (eg depending on the article this could eg be done with a comparison table at the end of the article section; to highlight which options work best in what situation) The giving of more prominence to well-supported ideas, and providing space for other ideas and perspectives as well can be done in this table, aswell as with extra article pages.
  • the clarifying of which suggestions are actually supported by field experience can be done with <ref> links.

Regarding the "reticency to jump in and add different perspectives and restructure. If I did that, it would no longer be a manual in the same sense.", I understand that long manuals may be more difficult to alter due to the threath of mixing up the original table of contents, article headlines, ... I however don't think that this somewhat more difficult editing should pose a problem. We must keep in mind that we are not only providing info, but also re-analysing and updating an approach to let organizations perform a certain task. This explains and justifies the extra difficulty of editing it.

I think that some difficulty can be reduced by simply making clear the harder things one wishes to modify or provide new approaches for and placing it on the article talk page. That way, it is clear what needs to be altered and the original writer (who better knows the make-up, ...) can be prodded and asked to collaborate to improve it.

KVDP 09:56, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

Re: "rather than making seperate topics, we should make manuals which combine a series of topics. The reason for this is that we want to make documents that actually provide a guide for organizations to follow when operating in the field."
  1. To think first in terms of what we can do well: Topics are far easier to manage in terms of the creation of content, both for reasons mentioned above, and because it's easier for contributors to find where to contribute.
  2. If a more linear guide is needed, then the meta-page approach (collections of article links and summaries) is one possibility, and another is the kind of manual you're describing. Before choosing that path on the wiki, I'd like to see some consensus on the direction of the project, a proven track record, field experience, and depth of knowledge. I think we have to decide this on a case-by-case basis, and I believe we don't have the criteria in this case (there is knowledge, but the other factors are missing).
  3. Specific technical topics (e.g. Choosing water supply and purification methods) are much more suitable for guides, as there is less that is open to debate.
  4. The lack of field experience is no barrier at all to helping build excellent material in a wiki, but is very problematic when compiling something like a manual which will tend to take positions, and use a more authoritative voice than the educational/informative/balanced voice that wiki pages here normally does.
  5. The lack of agreement on key positions taken in this manual are problematic for the same reasons.
  6. Considering the strong reactions that came from Lonny & I over several aspects of this manual, it's clear to me that it's not ready to be presented as a definitive guide. Given the lack of agreement, and the fact that we're all still learning, I see collaborative work on topic pages as a great way to learn, but understand other positions, and even take steps towards greater agreement.
I don't intent to portray my text as a definitive guide (most of my texts are even too shallow, and not dug into deep enough to even pass for one). Instead, I simply used the word "manual" to signify that it's a collection of articles imbedded into an actual approach. I however trust that others will update and improve the texts so that in time a definitive guide can be made (which will, as time passes, no longer be shallow, better worked out and perhaps (for some sections on it), field-tested. As mentioned above, adding tags, ... should downplay the importance of my texts to its actual status (the texts have potential to explore new approaches, ... but isn't good enough as a definitive guide in its current form.
  1. Topic pages tend to be natural congregating points. This is especially important since we don't have many contributors on any one topic. Someone who wants to share their knowledge of family planning programs will look up that topic and go to that page, rather than (say) chapter 4 of a manual. So the topic page is a natural place for the kind of "open source" collaboration that makes bugs shallow, i.e. that helps us find errors and correct them.
Small remark on this: indeed most people will type in the search term they are intrested in; (eg as in the family planning example you gave). However, we can fix this easily by simply having an article bearing the same name in which we place a wiki-redirect to the appropriate manual page. This btw also inmediatelly places the issue of intrest into perspective and provides information to the reader on how this technique is best used.

KVDP 09:30, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Personally I think a topic structure works okay even for a manual - most people can learn okay from a resource which is non-linear in structure, and may indeed learn better from having a resource in which they can explore and navigate easily.
So... on the one hand, I see the value of a manual, and I normally like people to have the freedom to develop things as they like here (especially a valued contributor like KVDP). But the problems here are too great, and the advantages of topic pages are compelling IMO, so I'm still strongly in favor of splitting into topic pages. --Chriswaterguy 19:58, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

Delete tag changed to disagreement[edit source]

As this page has been a:userfied it doesn't need the delete tag any more. The comment in the delete tag, left by User:Lonny, was: "Prescriptions should be written by experts only, and rarely, if ever, about how to live. Please focus only on descriptions. This page is filled with misdirection written by a seeming lack of experience. I do not think this should be anywhere on Appropedia, except maybe in a users personal page as an essay on how they feel. Which then can be found and used by other people that feel similarly"

I'm in agreement with the comment, but like the "personal page" option better than deletion. --Chriswaterguy 03:48, 23 October 2012 (PDT)

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