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User talk:Peter Campbell

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Welcome, Peter![edit]

Glad to have you on board! Is your Melbourne residence a coincidence, or are you here because you know Appropedia's Melbourne-based admin, User:GoodSignal? Not that it matters! I certainly hope to see you around! --CurtB 07:28, 19 February 2007 (PST)

CurtB. I don't know GoodSignal. I found Appropedia after I recently created Greenlivingpedia and have already put a link Appropedia (and several other Wikis) into our directory. We are focusing initially on sustainable housing and associated topics. --Peter Campbell 21:47, 5 March 2007 (PST)
Greetings, fellow Greens supporter. I'm from SHAG (Summer Hill Ashfield Greens, in Sydney).
We can certainly do with more sustainable housing in Australia.
I'm of the belief that the more integrated the information resource, the more effective it is. All things related to sustainability, international development, poverty reduction and appropriate technology seem to me to fit together under one roof, as there's so much overlap. Otherwise it can greatly increase the work, with trying to figure out what goes on which site, and there'll still be inevitable duplication. Anyway, that's my 2 cents - and I'm not at all offended when people disagree with me. Good to see you here, anyway. --Chriswaterguy · talk 23:39, 5 March 2007 (PST)
I hear what you are saying. However, I feel their is room for diversity and some specialisation too. I didn't find Appropedia when I did my initial Google search, I found it later on a blog entry. I think the name tends to brand it towards alternative technology. I don't mean to be too critical, but someone looking for architects, designers and case studies for urban dwellings may not find Appropedia easily.
Quick thoughts - I'd envisage the name changing in time - still thinking hard on that one. Appropedia reflects its founding vision, which has since broadened (partly as when I joined, I argued that it didn't make sense to have a narrow focus - based on my understanding of what makes wikis work well).
In terms of finding... we are working on that, and certainly need to improve our search engine rankings for many types of searches. Appropedia does get by far the most hits and unique visitors of any green or international development wiki, as far as I know, and as our content grows our rankings will improve for searches relevant to that content. But your point is valid.
Also, we will be experimenting with setting up a directory and categories with a mix of commercial, volunteer and NGO content. It might be a bit disruptive to trial this in a more established wiki. It certainly wouldn't be tolerated in Wikipedia! I also have sysop and bureaucrat priveliges on Greenlivingpedia, and don't wish to inflict my tinkering on others at this point.
Actually you sound like you'd fit right in here! And our visions sound very similar. I always say we complement Wikipedia.
So let's collaborate and keep reviewing the situation as things progress Peter Campbell 01:56, 6 March 2007 (PST)
It's certainly early stages. Let's chat sometime. Skype? I use the same username as here. Or phone - 0400 220 700 (I can call back - I'm on a prepaid cap plan). Chriswaterguy · talk 08:15, 13 March 2007 (PDT)

Coal subsidies[edit]

I just read in your blog:

The real problem is that electricity produced in Australia from fossil fuel such as coal is subsidised to the tune of an astounding $8.9 billion, so it is far too cheap. If these subsidies were removed, and a carbon tax applied to polluting energy producers, then renewable energy would successfully compete and the free market would steer us in the right direction of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I'll add this to Subsidies and grants, plus a request for details and sources - if you know more, could you add it? Thanks. --Chriswaterguy · talk 00:31, 6 March 2007 (PST)

Here is the link to the PDF paper on coal subsidies: [1]. I think this is one of the scandals of the century. The Howard government is linked to the fossil fuel industries (e.g. by donations and share holdings) while Labor won't do anything they think will impact their coal mining Union affiliates. Both won't move much on this issue until there is widespread political activity at a grass roots level, which is happening with the formation of numerous local climate change action groups. Peter Campbell 02:07, 6 March 2007 (PST)

Greenlivingpedia interwiki[edit]

Hi Peter - yes, good to chat. And thanks for the sidebar link - we're working on a partner page, and there's relevant pages, so we'll think about how the interlinking will work on Appropedia's side.

Have you had any contact with the people from the sustainable house in Chippendale, Sydney? If not, I'll contact them directly and suggest they make a page about their house, on either of the wikis. --Chriswaterguy · talk 06:39, 15 March 2007 (PDT)

Chris, I haven't contacted them yet. It sounds like an article on the house would be worthwhile. I have linked to the and Appropedia house article at Greenlivingpedia:Portland sustainable cottage as an example of how we can do the interwikis. Peter Campbell 14:19, 15 March 2007 (PDT)
I have just created this stub article for this: Greenlivingpedia:Chippendale house I will contact Michael Mobbs to see if he would like to add to it. Peter Campbell 18:19, 15 March 2007 (PDT)
I've asked User:Curtbeckmann & User:Lonny to join the conversation at at User_talk:Chriswaterguy#Greenlivingpedia interwiki. --Chriswaterguy · talk 16:07, 16 March 2007 (PDT)
Hi Peter. I know that you and Chris have discussed collaboration (as evidenced above) as well as the possibility of merging wikis. I can't tell you how much I'd love to have your passion for sustainable housing get integrated into Appropedia, and I think the other admins feel the same way. Chris said something to the effect of, you have some interest, but many concerns as well. We're very open to adapting, especially when we've got good feedback and wisdom from someone. In parallel with that, we have also been of the opinion that we need to create more focused "landing pages" for various groups within the Sustainability community. To that end, we created the Portal namespace some time back, but have not made much use of it (to tell you the truth, it took me a while to understand what it was about). Just today, we have decided it's past time to take advantage of this new namespace, and we took the liberty of using your site to create a Green living landing page (portal). Please take a look and see if it makes some little progress toward addressing your concerns. (Also created Portal:Water as a beginning for topic portals.) We're also very open to other things like modifying the nav bar, the main page, our categorization structure (especially in the sustainable housing area). Our relative lack of focus on Sustainable Housing is not intentional, but more limited by our personal expertise. We all take a broad view of technology, and sustainable housing is appropriate technology in all of our books. That said, we want all sustainable content, including "conservation strategies", which would be a reach to call technology.
I've stuffed a lot into the paragraph above, but there's more, of course. I believe Chris has shared with you that we have a budding relationship with Architecture for Humanity. They seem open to the notion of using Appropedia as the "partner wiki", and even proposed the idea of hosting Appropedia on their (very powerful) servers. Naturally, such a partnership would be good for Appropedia, as well as (IMHO) good for AfH. And of course if this partnership moves forward, Appropedia will need to focus a lot on Sustainable Housing as a topic, including on the main page.
And then, of course, there are the usual wiki synergies of combining. Integrating your existing content will increase traffic to Appropedia, and having a link to your (integrated) content on the Appropedia main page will bring you about 50x your current traffic. We can share the promotion efforts, and of course there are the natural related interests between various forms of sustainability. You can leverage (and of course are welcome to improve) our policies, our spam abatement, our bots, templates, wiki extensions, etc.
So, what do you say? Shall we join forces? We can certainly keep your domain name, and point it toward the portal, or something better. What other concerns do you have? You're in a good bargaining position, so go for it :-)
On the other hand, if I've overstepped the bounds, let me know and we can roll back the portal work. I'm open to emailing, instant msging or Skype for this conversation. (Wiki conversations being a bit slow...) --CurtB 17:13, 17 March 2007 (PDT)
Curt, I think the portal approach has merit. However, I am concerned that the branding and focus of Appropedia towards "alternative technology" limits the audience somewhat. I am keen to portray a "mainstream" look and feel to normalise good design rather than portray it is alternative, expensive or elitist. Please don't take this as criticism of the good work that Appropedia contributors are doing. My aim is to create content that any city dweller will find interesting, relevant and helpful. I am also keen to have a commercial directory where businesses can be added (or add themselves) as word spreads. Lot of business are now "going green", so personal recommendations and examples of work are helpful for people making decisions on who to go with.
Some issues I have with the Appropedia portal approach are:
  • The Appropedia name does not resonate with several people who I have discussed sustainable housing and building with recently, and the Appropedia logo is busy and I think too "alternative".
  • Portals are not visible on Appropedia's front page or sidebar. I think they need to be prominent for people to find and use them.
  • The sidebar does not alter - so links of special significance/relevance to the portal are not displayed - you only get the default Appropedia sidebar which is not particularly relevant to the portal content (in the case of sustainable building/housing)
I think if I keep working up the Greenlivingpedia content, categorisation and look and feel we can better assess whether it can fit within the Appropedia namespace or whether the interwiki approach is a better. Taking a macro view, Appropedia is a good fit for alternative technology and general sustainability, while Greenlivingpedia could be a good fit for sustainable building, architecture, suppliers and housing. There could be overlap on the renewable energy content - but I am more focussed on examples of deployed systems rather than the nuts and bolts of panels, inverters, grey water systems etc. So let's keep the dialogue open and monitor directions and progress Peter Campbell 20:18, 17 March 2007 (PDT)

Thinking about how collaboration with Greenlivingpedia might work[edit]

(Starting a new section, for clarity).

So, for now we keep building the wikis, and at the same time be aware of the issues Peter has raised. There's certainly advantages to merging, as well as advantages to the more focused wiki - but we can work towards getting the best of both worlds, and hopefully get there eventually.

To interweave our work more closely, searches and user logins across multiple wikis should be possible, though they'll take work. What I'd really like to see is us sharing our login database with OAN as well, especially if we're acting as their wiki.

I can't see that we can make categories work across multiple wikis - that's probably just something we'll have to live with for now. Having Greenlivingpedia's pages represented here as articles of the same name will work well for now (with a line or two from the beginning of the original article, an interwiki link and cat tags) but could be problematic if the number of pages grows dramatically. But we can worry about that later, maybe even writing a script to semi-automate the process, to be run every week based on new pages listed in Recentchanges.

Re the logo and the "mainstream" look and feel: I'm very glad we've made contact with Peter, with his sensitivity to users that we're not yet serving very well.

I'm an engineer and happily ignore aesthetics most of the time, but I see what you mean about the logo, Peter. Now that I'm forced to think about it, Greenlivingpedia's green ball logo has a lot of merit - definitely has a clean, bright green feel. While the Appropedia logo is cool, it seems likely to appeal to those with hippie inclinations (and I include myself in that, to an extent). Greenlivingpedia's would probably have a broader appeal, IMO, both among the very poor in Indonesia, Peru etc who aspire to a modern comfortable life in an affordable way, and also among those accustomed to modern Western comforts but wanting to be greener. And I don't think the hippies among us will object as long as the site still caters to them.

Certain other look-and-feel issues might be more difficult to resolve, like Appropedia featuring appropriate technologies for developing countries on the main page. For now let's work on portals to make them good "landing pages"; keep promoting Appropedia but using good portals as appropriate; and keep using Google analytics to see where people land on the site. (Peter, if it's okay with you we'd like to borrow from your homepage for Portal:Green living - but making sure there's a link to your site; and remembering many of the articles in the categories linked from there will be links to your site.

Btw, the Greenlivingpedia (hereon GLP) logo is similar to Worldchanging's faviconW - but not so similar that it's a problem, I think.

Re a site name to suit the broader scope we're aiming at these days, let's keep brainstorming. --Chriswaterguy · talk 01:55, 18 March 2007 (PDT)

Excellent feedback, Peter, and follow-on Chris! I'm excited because I'm in full agreement with everything Peter said! We also want to appeal to the general public, and do not want to appear elitist, expensive or extreme. Naturally, there will be a slight, unavoidable "alternative" aspect to what we are doing. Anything that is well entrenched in the mainstream becomes "encyclopedic" and therefore, by our policy, content for WP. (Putting it another way, if all of our content becomes fully mainstream, the value of the wiki is limited because the content will be ubiquitous. It would be like having a wiki for fashion, or for popular movies. I'm sure there are such things, but who visits them?) But my desire would be to downplay that alternative angle, not accentuate it. And to the degree that our logo does that, that's a mistake. Ditto with respect to name. I'm similar to Chris in my engineering background, with a tolerance for hippy-ness from my rather hippy mother. I was happy with a distinctive logo and distinctive name. I didn't worry too much about the implications of the name. After all, Wikipedia has been successful despite its name, not because of it. But if our name puts folks off, then I've got an issue. At the same time, we would prefer not to be off-putting of folks in the international development world, and according to Lonny (Appropedia founder), he skipped sustainapedia as a name because the notion of "sustainable" has become linked, in the developing world, to the idea of "sustaining the current status quo". Not the intent, of course.
I also think that our bias toward techie stuff is historical and temporary, and not representative of our long term intent. Essentially, our interest in broadening is reflected in our interest in working with you, Peter. You raise good issues with the Portals implementation. I think Wikipedia portals have the same limitations, which is unfortunate. I had thought that, once you landed at a portal, subsequent accesses to the site would be "biased" or "filtered" in some way through a "portal lens". Effectively, clicking on Main Page should take you back to the Portal that you landed on. "Users" and "Orgs" could be filtered versions of those pages, etc. So we agree on that. It would not surprise me to see extensions like that come along, or perhaps we should look into creating them ourselves (though there's a problem of personal bandwidth and maybe expertise).
Peter, I'm not sure if you're aware, but in addition to our efforts at collaboration with AFH, we are also working with a team that owns the "Sustainapedia.org" domain name. They have very big ideas, and a lot of connections to help make them work. They are aimed squarely at the mainstream, like you, and we are eager to achieve that as well. Would sustainapedia be a more appealing name, do you think? By the way, the sustainapedia folks are also eager to extend the concept to be strong in social networking such that people can find likeminded people and communicate, and their also very keen to lower the wiki technology barriers with things like "WYSIWYG" editing (so are we), as well as "how to contribute" videos so that people are much more comfortable making a home in an information sharing site. Because of the notion of extension to social networking, which, as it happens, OpenArchitectureNetwork is also doing, I think names ending in "-pedia" are somewhat off base, and that opens up other naming ideas. Coming away from our meeting with the Sustainpedia group, Lonny bought WorldEnhancing.org. I bought WorldHugger.org. (I was amused by the combo of Worldchanging and Treehugger.) But, as Chris suggests, these are just ideas. I still own "WinWinWiki.org", which I thought was a cool and large name (and I view all sustainability solutions as "win-win").
Peter, thank you for your forbearance as we continue you this thread on your Talk page. As you both said, let's continue the collaboration efforts and conversation and see where we go. You did not particularly comment with respect to Architecture for Humanity / Open Architecture Network, so presumably you regard them as somewhat out of the mainstream? Just curious.
That's more than enough for now. I look forward to us all being on the same wiki, whatever it's called :-). (Alternatively, a future where we're on separate wikis doesn't seem that appealing.) --CurtB 07:49, 18 March 2007 (PDT)
Curt, eventual migration of appropriate content to Wikipedia is a worthy goal, and will assist with "mainstreaming" what is currently regarded by many as "alternative". As a child of the 60s I too have empathy with the hippy era and the altruism that was present at the time. I think there is a very valid and important role in promoting new lifestyle and energy paradigms in both developing and developed nations, and Appropedia is a great resource for this. I also have concerns about the corporatisation and dilution of the word/term "sustainable", which I also avoided when I selected the Greenlivingpedia name.
Hopefully the portal concept (and personalisation of it) will evolve to support multiple views across the same knowledge base/wiki. I also agree about the entry level barriers to the current Mediawiki interface, and the need for a GUI/WYSIWYG interface to boost & widen usage. I will look into this further. If there isn't an open source project going on this, then we should start one.
AFH are doing great work which is congruent with our aims for GLP. After the tip form Chris, I created a short article for them at Greenlivingpedia:Architecture for humanity and added them to the directory. I may also create stub articles for some of their projects if this is OK with them. Collaboration is already paying dividends between us. I will be working on further extending the network(ing) on sustainable building with an Australian emphasis. --Peter Campbell 05:08, 19 March 2007 (PDT)
Hi, Peter. Thanks for the very positive reply! I believe that folks at MediaWiki are already working the WYSIWYG angle, but don't know that for certain. With regard to the GLP portal, it sounds like you are okay with leaving it in place. (I'll take it away if you ask me to.) I will not be doing any maintenance, but will happily transfer any additional content that you suggest from GLP to AP. Of course, you're more than welcome to expand the GLP presence at AP. And I'd love a recurring stream of commentary with your suggestions on how to become more mainstream.  :-) --CurtB 06:15, 19 March 2007 (PDT)
Let's keep the GLP portal in place so we can continue working on this approach as a prototype. I will try out some options with it. --Peter Campbell 16:01, 19 March 2007 (PDT)

[edit]

I was thinking of putting your logo at the conversation at Appropedia:Logos#Ideas_without_Graphics and also at the Greenlivingpedia page on Appropedia. But I don't know how to access the logo. Do want to upload and/or engage in the conversation? --Chriswaterguy · talk 01:32, 26 March 2007 (PDT)

Chris, the GLP logo is uploaded as Greenlivingpedialogo2.gif Peter Campbell 05:36, 26 March 2007 (PDT)

Here is the logo of Appropedia if you were looking for, hope this helps File:Https://www.appropedia.org/skins/common/images/ApproLogo Clean Transparent.png

Site name[edit]

Please see Appropedia:Name#Reconsidering sustainability-related names.

I actually really like "Green living" but as it doesn't really cover design and development issues, I think something related to "sustainability" is better for the site, with "Green living" for the portal. --Chriswaterguy · talk 20:13, 28 March 2007 (PDT)

Press release - who to?[edit]

Hi Peter,

I've sent a [[press release (Village Earth and Appropedia Join Forces for Sustainability) to some Australian organisations (CAT, ATA, ACF, plus the guy from the Chippendale house) and also kickstart.org. I'll send something to the NSW Greens newsletter person. Do you have any other ideas? Esp Australian groups, as we're the ones thinking about them. --Chriswaterguy · talk 23:26, 29 March 2007 (PDT)

Chris, you could send the press release to news papers & feeds too, they may run it. The Fairfax & Australian IT sections may run it as a technology interest piece. We could also write an article on the arrival of community focussed wikis . . . Regards, Peter Campbell 01:31, 30 March 2007 (PDT)

Have we shared this with you?[edit]

Hi Peter,

Have we asked you to take a look at the OpenSustain-Appropedia Launch Document? I think it's worth a look, since it shows that Appropedia is heading in a direction that addresses some of the concerns you mentioned about the look and focus of the site. The logo is certain to be replaced. The name is about 50/50. It's hard to let go of the awareness built by the promotion that we've had so far, but it's doable, and there are some more mainstream names in the hopper for consideration.

I bring this up because I would much prefer you to participate in the decisions and definition of the new site, rather than to see it from a distance. Your kind of content is pretty central to our aims, and we would far prefer to move that way in partnership with you. I'm hoping that by sharing this document, we'll be showing you how ready we are to make a shift in a direction that works for you.

And of course this appeal is self-serving as well. Our traffic is up significantly, and we're gaining users, but we could really use some additional "adult supervision" in addition to the content and connections that you could bring. So...please take a look and reconsider if it might be getting near the point where GLP could become a part of AP, or the new AP, whatever it's called. Perhaps you could describe some specific changes that you would like? Maybe you could share with us who designed your logo?

Thanks for the consideration, and best regards! --CurtB 06:09, 10 April 2007 (PDT)

Curt, thanks for this information. The proposal looks good to me. There is an urgent need to create a central resource for information, and original research. I am keen to get involved. The GLP content can be migrated across (or cross linked to) at any time. A couple of points to consider:
  • Providing easy access to information is essential (as per the portal discussion), information tucked under a "non-obvious" url or front page could be an issue
  • I don't think anonymous editing is a good idea, as it creates an admin overhead and an opportunity for spammers and others who may seek to disrupt. I don't support anonymous editing on Wikipedia either for the same reason. Everyone should be prepared to put their name on edits.
Peter Campbell 17:30, 18 April 2007 (PDT)
By easy access to information, I take it you're referring to the Original: namespace? Yes, this is an issue, but I think original content can maintain high enough visibility through the attribution notices on topic pages and other forms of linking (under See also sections, perhaps), being listed in categories, and perhaps some kind of of original content portal(s).
Anonymous editing: Out of Lonny, Curt & myself, I'm the one who's most strongly in favor of anonymous editing, and I'm the one that suggested changing to that policy, last year. That's based on experience at Wikipedia as well as here. I made an argument for this here on Wikipedia:Editors should be logged in users. See also Wikipedia:Disabling edits by unregistered users and stricter registration requirement. If this is still an issue for you, perhaps we could talk about this by phone (rather than typing at length...) --Chriswaterguy · talk 07:42, 21 April 2007 (PDT)
Peter, I am very excited that you are keen to get involved, and I hope that we can help that happen. Indeed Chris is our largest anonymous editing advocate. When Chris convinced me to open up editing, I agreed only as a temporary experiment. Here are some the results:
  • Spam has not been overwhelming, as I had thought it would be.
  • We have received less spam then some sites that require logging in (Village Earth Wiki for example).
  • Spam in some ways has served to be a proof of our vibrant (albeit it small) community of editors quickly reverting spam.
  • I have found that spam and anonymous edits have pushed forward those areas that we are lagging in. For instance an anonymous edit in some stub of a category often encourages not just rolling back, but addition of useful material.
That said it has:
  • been a pain to deal with.
  • takes precious time.
  • at least once, negatively affected our pagerank when a Google crawl took place before spam was reverted.
My take now is a more organic pest management position, using careful design and an acceptance of time-input to treat spam in a way that does not encourage evolution of superspam wiki-bots. Therefore I propose the following:
We install a Reverse Turing test (captcha style: add, or read, this and prove you are you a human) on anonymous edits and registration. What do you think about that? --Lonny 10:34, 21 April 2007 (PDT)
Lonny, I have had no spam issues on the two wikis I have recently setup including GLP. But I would expect the problem to become more serious as soon as the sites attract more attention. I see a lot of nonsense, vandalism and undesirable edits on Wikipedia due to both IP edits and people hiding under user names. Some further points:
  • if someone is not prepared to publicly use their real name (or link it to their username) then I would question their motive for this. I know the "internet paradigm" of trolls and online hostility is the traditional reason people like to hide, but I think we need to outgrow this.
  • a lot of the general public are not wiki-literate and just don't trust anonymous editing
  • some won't even accept other people being able to change their content and would only consider adding material to GLP if it can be protected. This attitude may change over time, but in the meanwhile there is valuable content that can be added with this safeguard. We should aim to get everyone on board, not just those with an Internet background
  • I am not convinced that anonymous contributions are more valuable than the time spent policing vandalism changes. I note that this is an acknowledged and perennial problem now with Wikipedia too. Peter Campbell 06:08, 22 April 2007 (PDT)
Hopefully this isn't a stumbling block for your collaboration here. Perhaps you'd be prepared to do as Lonny did, i.e. go along with it and see if the open-editing policy can be successful?
With reverse Turing tests, anti-vandal bots running on the server, implementation of the semi-protection function (to be used when pages become targets of negative behavior of any kind), and requiring registration before creating new pages, I expect that spam and vandalism will happen less often, require less work and last a shorter time. (As described at Appropedia:Anti-spam and anti-vandalism measures.) After we take these measures I believe we'll be in a position to assess whether we need tighter controls (and I will probably still be arguing in favor of open editing).
Re Wikipedia: changes to the policy have been suggested multiple times, and rejected every time. However, the sophistication of anti-spam and anti-vandalism measures has been continually increasing.
I like the fact that allowing anon editing keeps the barriers to entry extremely low, and is a very full application of the wiki & open-source principle of openness. I'm happy being quite public, but some people prefer privacy, and I believe the right thing to do is to let them be as private or public as they want, as long as we avoid the downsides.
Re people wanting their content protected - I think the original content policy helps here, especially if we protect "Original:" namespace pages by default. The authors know that their work is viewable and protected in its original form, and anywhere on the site that it's used, attribution is given to the original work. --Chriswaterguy · talk 08:06, 22 April 2007 (PDT)
Chris, it is not a stumbling block, just something I am ruminating on. I think people's credentials (who they are) should be visible to avoid the situation Wikipedia had recently with a foundation member (now stepped down) and to reduce the trolling and associated negativity that occasionally ties Wikipedia into knots on contentious topics. For example, I think coal and industry lobbyists are monkeying with Global Warming, Coal and similar articles. I have restricted editing on GLP to account holders only, and will keep it this way for now. The "Original:" namespace approach looks good, I will look into this further. Peter Campbell 15:47, 22 April 2007 (PDT)
(I reduced the indent here, though this is just another post in the thread) This has turned into a good forum topic :-). I hope, Peter, that you will bear with the email notifications that result from your talk page playing host to the discussion. Also, I'm glad to hear that this (anonymous edits) is not a stumbling block. I'm also very interested in your first bullet point, regarding portals. I can't quite make out what your point is... That is, it seems like an obvious truth, and if it suggests a change for Appropedia, I bet that I would support it. Warning, though: if it's as interesting as the anonymous edits topic, we'll need start a new section just to keep track :-).
Anyway, back on the anonymous edit subject, I think there are several notions worth noting. (For the record, I am, as I write this, mildly supportive of anonymous editing, for reasons that will emerge below. If a consensus develops to disable anonymous edits, I'll support that.)
  1. "registration" and "anonymity" are not antonyms. That is, registered users can be just as anonymous as unregistered users. Although one does have the option of blocking registered users, that's not much help in situations like the Global Warming case above. There is even robotic user account generation, which is likely to drive us to implement the captcha stuff that Lonny mentioned earlier. And although that should largely guarantee humanness, it won't do anything about malevolent human behavior.
  2. There is an existence proof that a site can be successful while following an anonymous editing policy. I am referring, of course, to Wikipedia. Now that obviously doesn't mean it would have been unsuccessful if it required registration, but it somewhat mutes the arguments that anonymous edits result in an overwhelming spam problem. On the other hand, I don't know of a large successful wiki that requires registration, but that's mostly because I don't look at wikis. In our very localized wiki-space, it seems like Appropedia (without registration) did better than much older and better known Village Earth ATwiki (which required it). There are too many variables, though, to draw firm conclusions. What's needed, I suppose, is a study of the relative success of various wikis in side-by-side tests. Tricky.
  3. Though it's hard to quantify, there is a potential benefit to anonymous edits that I think lurks in the back of the minds of supporters like me. It is not so much the value of the anonymous edits themselves. If that were the only value, then I would probably oppose anonymous edits myself. Instead, it's this idea that the vast majority of viewers are passive and reluctant to make any edits. (I myself was in that camp, in part because of numerous non-wiki sites where registration leaves you feeling almost violated.) By keeping the barrier to entry as low as possible, the hope is that the passive bystander becomes an anonymous editor, if only to fix that silly typo. If they make 6 anonymous edits and then disappear, well, no harm done. On the other hand, if they make 26 anonymous edits, well then they have crossed the boundary from passive to active. If they are benevolent humans, then they will likely register, if only to be able to track their own edits and communicate with others. (But I guess there must be some that spend their lives making anonymous edits. Weird, but not harmful.) Most will probably have learned that they can register and still remain anonymous. However, if they are malevolent, well, I think we've discussed that above. My sense is that the vast majority of editors are not malevolent (and WP is an argument to that point). So, essentially, the "open edit" policy is really intended as a way to provide a small but slippery slope to help passive users become active participants. This could be assessed (if not truly measured), if all the registered users of various wikis were queried to find out what percentage made substantial anonymous edits prior to registering. If the fraction is large, then the "slippery slope" notion is supported. Anonymous editing policies may also signal that registration will not be overly burdensome. But that's a minor point, since we can (and might benefit from) making it plain that registration is painless.
  4. We have some ideas about integrating forums with the wiki. This is potentially relevant because I would be ready to argue that anonymity is more important for forums than for wiki. We're considering replacing the talk pages with forum pages. (We've heard that other wikis have done this. I am intrigued and yet concerned, in particular about user talk pages.) What this could translate to is a different editing policy for talk pages than for main pages, and this might, in fact, make contemplation of mandatory registration (for main pages) more palatable, as long as there is still an avenue for anonymous commentary (like "Guatemala has an 'e' in it.") I'd be curious of your reaction to this notion, Peter.
  5. This discussion about registration seems to tap into passions related to "democracy" versus "owning your position". On the one hand, we have (at least in the US) strong arguments about voting machines that might risk "blind balloting", while others conjure up pictures of anonymous repression like the Ku Klux Klan. My only comment in this area is that I'd like to see the discussion continue, but also to keep the perspective of this issue with respect to the issue of saving the planet, which seems to be where our core passions lie. I would prefer it if everyone registered, but I also know that people are not wholly rational and so I'll cut them some slack as long as they've got good intent, also recognizing that registration only reduces but doesn't fully eliminate the spam/vandalism problem.
Sorry if this all seems like random thoughts. The issue has raged for years at Wikipedia, and will probably continue. It's complex and worth discussion.
I also want to check back on your earlier statements. You said:
The proposal looks good to me. There is an urgent need to create a central resource for
information, and original research. I am keen to get involved. The GLP content can be migrated
across (or cross linked to) at any time.
As I re-read it, I can't help but interpret it differently from when I first read it. It now seems to me like you might actually be offering to merge, though I can't be sure (in part because of the cross-linking suggestion). Well, if indeed you're ready to join forces in that way, just say the word and we'll all get to work. Or tell us what prep work is needed on our side (categorization, policies, Portals, adminship, logo, whatever) prior to migration, and we'll work on tackling that. On the other hand, if I'm misreading the statement, then that's fine. I'll just say that I would not want to migrate or copy content if it were to continue to undergo editing at GLP. There are a couple of reasons for that, mostly related to maintenance challenges and Search Engine treatment of duplicate content. If the content is going to continue live at GLP, then my preference would be cross-linkage, at least until such time as we find a better option.
Thanks again for the forbearance on all this text :-)
Now, as it happens, I took so long to type all this in that there was an (inevitable?) edit conflict. So I copy/pasted my edits into the newest version of the page, just before the other edits. As I glance at the other commentary, I feel like I'm a step or two behind. <sigh> And yet more notification emails for you, Peter. --CurtB 18:23, 22 April 2007 (PDT)
Curt, While wiki debates about anonymity and pseudonymns are interesting, I am currently more concerned with general public perceptions - a majority of people I have spoken to actually don't trust Wikipedia as a truthful source, and currently cannot believe that anonymous and pseudonym edits deliver value - even if they do! I spoke to a sustainable house owner yesterday who also runs a solar energy business - he said he did not want any content up that others could edit, to avoid him having to monitor the content, and the commercial problems with information being corrupted or incorrect. I think we need to separate open source philosophy from current public perception. Things may change over time, but in the short term they wont.
I don't want to merge at present as my primary issues about branding and access have not yet been addressed. I think the best approach from here is for the sustainable housing and other content on GLP to stay there and the Appropedia portal to point to it. When and if the portal architecture improves, we can review the situation again. Peter Campbell 19:12, 22 April 2007 (PDT)
Hi Peter,
Thanks for getting me on track. I was way off base regarding the login issue; did not understand that it was about the public perception piece. We are current investing a fair bit of effort (as I think you know from the discussions with Chris) on protecting original content, and I think that we have a great opportunity to address the concern that your acquaintance raised. There are some pages that "want" to be collaborative, but many, like pages documenting actual projects, that are not good candidates for collaboration, except potentially correction of typos or whatever. And of course this kind of content is not the kind that Wikipedia is particularly interested in, so it would make sense that we might diverge from WP on this policy. And I haven't yet read about Sanger's proposals below. Presumably there are some gems there.
As for Portal architecture, we (meaning Chris, mostly) are working on making improvements, but I want to be sure that we (again, Chris at least) are aware what "architectural" improvements you are referring to. I would like to take as aggressive an approach as practical so that we might join forces sooner rather than later, as in a few weeks, less than two months. It may seem odd to invest that much energy around you and your site, but your concerns are not likely to be unique, and we also benefit by having your voice be part of our ongoing conversations instead of the current "on demand" situation. And, of course, there is the compelling need that we both recognize for having a great centralized site.
Thanks again for the clafications. --CurtB 13:10, 23 April 2007 (PDT)

Appropedia in the next few days[edit]

continuing discussion from greenlivingpedia:User_talk:Peter_Campbell #Appropedia in the next few days.

You replied:

Chris, the URL redirection is good. I have added the list of portals to the Appropedia front page as a "main area" to make them more prominent, otherwise few will find them. I still have a concern about the category system on Appropedia being too verbose making it difficult for novice users to find specific topics. Also, as previously mentioned, the logo and sidebar issues remain - until the portal construct architecture is improved. Peter Campbell 18:05, 22 April 2007 (CDT)
Thanks for adding that to the front page. I think the next steps might be:
  • edit sidebar, linking to portals (which will probably improve their Google ranking, since they're linked from every page). (Don't know if we're agreed on this... Lonny?)
  • someone spends at least an hour on each portal, to make it a useful landing page. I'm inclined to go with the Appropriate technology model, but interested
  • at some point we will hopefully recruit some wikifairiesW to do stuff like making the portals look better. I've discovered that Wikia people have started fiddling at http://sustainapedia.org (they didn't even realize the project is underway here) and they seem to be largely wikifairies. Hopefully we'll work things out with Wikia and they'll be working here soon; otherwise we need to think where else we could find people with wiki editing skills, a sense of aesthetics, and a passion for sustainable development.
  • edit main page again, listing portals in a separate box, with brief descriptions for each one.
  • I was originally thinking that the front page would be a "portal of portals" with a box for each portal... this could still work, but as long as the boxes are very small - just a couple of lines each.
--Chriswaterguy · talk
So now I'll need to add 2 cents here. I like something of the Wikipedia approach, where their main page has a collection of the main portals at the top of the page, with just titles (no sentences). The titles should be self explanatory. I would propose that the sidebar has maybe 5 to 10 "featured" portals plus a "portal of portals" link, while the main page header box could have up to 20 bullets (which is more than WP has). At some level, though, these are details and are anyway tunable over time. The key challenge is to get the Portals up to snuff so that we can start using them as actual landing pages. I propose that we start on 2 or 3 portals to get started, because otherwise the hurdle just gets too high. Plus, by having one or two or three good examples, the others can get caught up fairly quickly. How about: Appropriate tech, GLP, Solar?
And may I ask why this talk page has "category:adobe" at the bottom? If it's intentional, that's fine :-) --CurtB 18:34, 22 April 2007 (PDT)
Hi Guys, Great work on the portal conversation. One of the things that I am excited about is having portal moderators who are in charge of the the portal landing page, and who can help decide which pages make that portal front page. For instance, when there are 40 greywater projects which make the portal list? All can be in Category:Greywater, but only those rated high enough by the community and/or the portal moderator will be listed on the portal page. Any thoughts on that?
In addition, Peter, I have had many content creators list the same concern as your sustainable house/solar energy business owner. That is why we have created the Original namespace that contains only protected content, such as Original:Ersson rainwater harvest and purification. The Ersson's did not want to be required to watch for any changes, so their content is placed in the Original namespace. We are very interested in how to make for further protection in the context of encouraging quality content. I would love to hear your ideas on how to do this better.
I erased the category:adobe as I think that it was added on accident.
Thank you, --Lonny 20:04, 22 April 2007 (PDT)

Anonymous vs identified editors[edit]

New thread on this topic. Here is a recent reference that outlines pros & cons. In my experience, I am leaning a little towards Sanger's position. I know this is heresy for many Wikipedians, but I see lots of bad behaviour perpetrated by people operating under pseudonymns and have seen several good editors bow out after protracted conflicts. Bottom line is, if you have something to say or contribute, why shouldn't you put your real name on it?

I'll be interested to see how Sanger's Citizendium goes. I'm sceptical, but there may be valuable lessons in it. Okay, I suspect that the main lesson will be that the less open the project is, the less impressive will be the result; but there may be some more positive results as well.
From conversations within the Appropedia team, we do see a place for monitoring content, but want to maintain openness - this will probably mean having certain pages tagged in various ways, and using stable versions (a policy which has also been discussed at Wikipedia, and I think endorsed by Jimmy).
Have you seen our policy on rigor? We need to have a page on high impact content as well, and on stable versions - I'll go start them. --Chriswaterguy · talk 09:58, 23 April 2007 (PDT)
Having just been to the Sydney Wikipedia Meetup and exchanged my experience of legal threats with other users' experience of death threats (in one case for being "an enemy of God") I'm now even more sympathetic to people not using their real names. --Chriswaterguy · talk 08:28, 25 April 2007 (PDT)
Yes, I have heard some disturbing accounts of stalking and trolling. However, the very small minority of people who engage in this are emboldened by being able to operate under pseudonyms. This problem exists in society, not just online activities. I think nearly everyone having partially (or almost wholly) secret identities does not lead to optimum behaviour in matters of accountability, honesty and civility. Personally, if I got a death threat I would immediately refer it to authorities such as the police. On a more positive note, it seems that several people operating clearly identified on Wikipedia (including myself) are not getting much if any negative attention. Peter Campbell 16:00, 25 April 2007 (PDT)
Death threats are rare, as are Indonesian plane crashes... yet I still take airline safety very seriously, and prefer to travel by train in Indonesia. Yes, pseudonyms embolden such people. Some people, though, and particularly the most disturbed, would not be put off from even if it were hard or impossible for them to hide behind pseudonyms or false identities.
Btw, in the case I mentioned above, the victim was described as an enemy of God, and their address posted, following their addition of negative material to an article about a religious group. He did report it to the police, and they said (not surprisingly) that they couldn't do anything. If a real name had been required, they might have been able to do something about the perpetrator, but not about the incitement that had already taken place. And even that would depend on a whole string of ifs, including "if he hadn't used a stolen identity," and "if they took it seriously." Even aside from that, if someone in another country had posted an incitement to violence that co-fanatics in the victims own country might have seen, what could the police have done to ensure the safety of the victim?
Even if that's rare, such cases are serious enough to make people not want to be exposed online. I choose to put my name on things, in spite of having had a quite negative experience with the legal threats. The victim mentioned above apparently made the same choice (though I'm now thinking I'll use a separate account if I ever take on a cult.) Others may not be comfortable taking this risk, for these reasons and perhaps for additional personal reasons.
I find that a pretty convincing answer to the question "why shouldn't you put your real name on it?" The question remains, though, how much of a problem is anonymous and pseudonymous editing? My personal observations, and the success of Wikipedia in creating an unparalleled resource of surprisingly good quality, suggest that this is a natural reaction to what we might expect to happen, while what is actually happening (particularly as policies, and procedures develop) is that very constructive activity is dominating in wikis like Wikipedia and Appropedia.
Other points:
  • Just because I know someone's real name doesn't mean they aren't talking crap.
  • Not requiring real names levels the playing field to an extent, so people are judged based on the quality of their edits, not by their position in society. Yes this can be problematic, but I'm more comfortable with this than with the alternative. Some people who one might expect to be intelligent - including some PhDs, lecturers, business leaders and national leaders - can say some quite idiotic things, and may be more inclined to be dismissive of "common people's" viewpoints. Their status can garner support for their position, regardless of its inherent quality. This might be an even greater problem in a society where respect for authority is greater than in ours. --Chriswaterguy · talk 21:37, 29 April 2007 (PDT)
Note that those stewards etc on Wikipedia with access to nonpublic information about users are now required to "provide identification and confirmation that they are 18 years of age, and of age in their jurisdiction." - Wikipedia:Project:Wikipedia_Signpost/2007-04-30/News_and_notes. I think that's fair enough. --Chriswaterguy · talk 00:16, 1 May 2007 (PDT)
Yes, I think that is fair enough. Regarding use of psuedonyms - I think that the new online culture that this has fostered has some fascinating results and benefits, but it is basically a grand experiment and will not cut it for "normal mainstream activity" in the near future. I would guess about 90% of the population will only really trust something where they know and can check up on the source. The most common response I get about wikis are "so anyone can edit it - it must be crap or at least have lots of issues and errors". Reality is shaped by beliefs. These may change over time, but I personally think that sources (and authors) should be attributed. This doesn't mean that quality will improve, but at least you know who you are referencing (or assessing their contributions) - and if they are off beam or not. Interesting how Wikipedia is now very strict about "authorative sources" being essential, but does not really police someone pushing POV by aggreggating several "authorative sources" that support their POV. If you knew the author was a political staffer or a zealot this could be more easily ascertained, and they may be less inclined to push their line. Jimbo stated this was a known issue when we met. Peter Campbell 03:20, 1 May 2007 (PDT)
I have come across more positive than negative responses to wikis. However, it would be good to address those concerns (which have some validity, however overstated they might be by the most vocal critics) without substantially diminishing the important freedoms. I do like where our Original content policy is going, in terms of providing a more direct link to original sources, while still providing open content using this material. The open content is likely to be better, though without the clearly known and identified authors, but both types of content are on the same site. Someone could even use the site only for the original content.
Another interesting idea is found on wikiHow articles, which identify the contributors to the page, withough having to look up the history tab. For one thing, this can help certain authors gain trust, from having done a lot of good editing; it can also help people trust pages edited by those people. Not sure how well it works in practice. --Chriswaterguy · talk 06:00, 1 May 2007 (PDT)

Rethinking categories[edit]

Re your comment above - we've had reasons for the current system of topic categories, but haven't had a solution we're entirely happy with. We're rethinking this (maybe separate topic pages with a prominent notice and link to the category). See User_talk:Lonny#Photovoltaics how-to? --Chriswaterguy · talk 06:02, 24 April 2007 (PDT)

Imagemap[edit]

Hi Peter,

Thank you for your comments on Chris and Curt's pages. We really appreciate your suggestions. Your front page is looking great. --Lonny 09:28, 25 September 2007 (PDT)