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Organizing and Reformatting the Wiki
  • I've spent some time looking at the wiki and think I could help out in making it more organized and navigable. The first thing that needs work in the main page. For new people coming to the project, it's the first page they see and it's difficult to figure out what Open Source Ecology is all about by just skimming through the page. I see that there has been some discussion on how to do this already, but progress seems to have stalled.  

    If there is already an organized effort to improve the wiki, I would love to help out. If not, I would like to borrow Wikipedia's policy of "Be Bold" and just start improving things.

  • 15 Comments sorted by
  • Vote Up0Vote Down February 2011
    Nice one Grant, I agree with you. As a new comer I found it difficult to navigate. What's more I've been actively reading the wiki almost on a daily basis, and I still seem to be finding things I'd missed before.
  • Guys,

    We are working on a page that will replace our current main page:

    There are some comments about it on its talk page.

    What do you think about that page? Feel free to express your ideas on how to improve it.

  • Elifarley,

    I was looking at the Main page ekopedia-like revision and started on my own revision to the Main Page. I left a note on Marie's talk page seeing if we wanted to collaborate on making something better for the site.

    Let me know what you think about my proposed design.

  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    February 2011
    I'm glad that my putting together a design for the main page has helped get that project in motion again. I don't think a really effective presentation can emerge until all of the wiki content is more clearly organized. However, I think it might be fruitful to use something in the interim to help attract more people to the project of organizing so that point is reached sooner. There are certainly many ways to do that which would draw more people in than the current main page.

    In many ways I am a less effective judge of what will be best because I am biased toward my own work. My choices reflect my reasoning, and so they seem most reasonable to me. I do think there are things about Grant's draft
    could be better, primarily some duplication and formatting issues. It may be constructive to explore all the links, and
    also to view it at many different screen resolutions/window sizes. I'll post the reasoning behind what I put together on the discussion for the draft I was working on. It would be nice to see the thought behind Grant's choices, and the thoughts of whomever else wants to join in on this as well. Ultimately, there will be elements of design that are functionally irrelevant. We must take care not to stay bogged down in discussion when the time becomes ripe for a decision to be made.  

    My involvement with the many tasks of organizing and reformatting the wiki will be limited in the near future because I accidentally cut off one of my fingertips and had it sewed back on Saturday (no worries--it's healing well). My current focus is elsewhere because my typing is significantly slowed. As always, please use, modify, and remix the few things I have contributed in any way that suits! Working together, we will bring clarity and functionality to the wiki in no time.

  • Hello,

    I am very happy to see people taking initiative to redesign the main page of the website, I think that it is a very important step.  I have no web design or development experience, but I can offer my opinion of the example Main page designs you all have linked above, in hopes that my opinion might be helpful.

    I like the aesthetic of the new Main page (designed by Marie), it looks clean, symmetrical and balanced, and it feels like an easy/functional platform from which to navigate the rest of the site.  However, I really like how Grant, in his sample Main page, included a section of Recent News which displayed the most recent blog post - I think that this would be interesting attention-grabbing information to anybody visiting the site, and makes for a convenient one-stop check-in for people who want to see if there are any new blog posts as they are on their way to a different part of the site.  So far I think ya'll have done a good job of balancing the functions of: 1.) introducing newcomers to OSE's work; 2.) directing interested contributors to instructions for getting involved; and 3.) providing a useful platform from which project developers and those already involved can navigate to the various parts of the wiki.  However, in regards to the Introduction link on the main page, as much as I like Nikolay's Overview, I feel that the couple of paragraphs on Grant's Main page make for a more clear, concise, and inspiring introduction to the work.  Perhaps a new overview could be drafted that starts with these paragraphs and then includes a more comprehensive overview like Nikolay's. 

    Thank you to all of you who are donating your time and energy to this work!  I am continually impressed and deeply inspired by the scope of the work and by the enthusiasm and dedication that so many people are bringing to the project.  I hope to be able to contribute something useful as well. 

    All the best,
  • For the current status of the Main Page:

    1. There is no text explaining in one or two sentences what OSE is. We have the video, but in some cases one may not want to watch the video, but just quickly read about OSE. I think we can add some short text under the Video. Maybe part or the whole text from the Grant's Main Page? What do you think?
    2. Seen anew, my eyes fall immediately on the Welcome Panel
    3. Whitespaces: how do you find the whitespaces? I would cut them a little bit if possible.
    4. Introduction: The link to my blog is not a good one, because it leads people outside the Wiki and they may not return. Also I am the only person who can change the blog post, plus dynamic linking to Wiki Pages is not possible. We need to replace it with an internal one. Currently, the Crash Course mirrors the contents of the blog post and seems to be the best candidate. If we put the short intro text under the Video and have the internal link to the Crash Course, then it fits also with what Lloyd suggests: short overview and deeper overview.
    GVCS List: do we need the whole list of the GVCS tools? Or just a link ("See the Tools" or other text) to a page containing the whole list

    I believe we can evolve the Main Page more with the time. We would need to ask ourselves:
    1. What is the goal of Main Page?
    2. Define the most and less important contents. - What would the different kind of user would like to see, most common things will be most important, less common -> less important.
    3. Design presenting the contents.

  • Let's set the short Introduction text on the Main Page (below or above the Video):

    First proposal:

    We are a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that for the last
    two years has been creating the Global Village Construction Set, an
    open source, low-cost, high performance technological platform that
    allows for the easy, DIY fabrication of the 50 different Industrial
    Machines that it takes to build a sustainable civilization with modern
    comforts. The GVCS lowers the barriers to entry into farming, building,
    and manufacturing and can be seen as a life-size lego-like set of
    modular tools that can create entire economies.
  • Message from Trenton:

    I finally found some time to look more closely at the wiki. I found out that you guys don't have the correct .js page to support the use of collapsible tables(without them it is very hard to preserve an elegant look whilst providing dense info). I think it can be acquired rather easily but I did not spend any time in my wiki days coding the stylesheets. Relevant information is here
    In any case I hand modified a template based of what was essentially a list template with similar information to what already exists below
    The overlap is quite strong and we might consider merging the two templates. However, since we are talking about what should be the entire site's header, we might also want to consider doing something even more difficult and complex, that does not utilize wiki technology.

    I have attached a couple concept pictures to give a rough idea of something that you could be used. I don't have the programing skills required, but maybe someone on your team does. Basically though users could click and go to the wiki page for each node. Unless they clicked the tools bubble, which could take them to a more specific new nav, or you could animate an in page transition that would zoom them into the tool nav, but that again requires coding expertise that I don't know you have. Additionally that kind of look may not even mesh with OSE at all. But you get the idea, for the main nav it might be worth it to look outside wiki coding, for everything else though I believe it is more than sufficient.

    Speaking of wiki code's sufficiency, it seems like there is a substantial amount of html coded in random places in the site, this isn't bad necessarily but it doesn't always play nice with wiki code and can produce ugly results if one is not careful.

    Finally, (I promise) there does not seem to be a uniform tool list. I think that this is likely a product of the very nature of open source but at this point there should at least be a working list that everyone can look to when approaching the site. Since this is a content call I can't really just edit willy nilly, so I leave it to you. My template is there to edit, if you are worried you will break it just ask me to change it on the talk page. The colors were an ad hoc way of trying to make the tool hierarchy clear without collapsing.

    origin nav.svg 7K
    tools nav.svg 15K
  • Message from Trenton:

    Also there needs to be a video hub page where you categorize and link to all the videos that you currently have embedded, then link to each subpage in the article that are relevant. Embedding 5 videos in sequence like on the global village construction set page just isn't the best way to go about it. I can start this, but I need some input on how you would like it structured before I dive in. Additionally all of the flowchart pngs are sloppy and should be vectorized so that they are scalable. It isn't hard to do but it takes time

    If someone could provide me with  a list of the top 10 pages and pictures that need to look nice and function cleanly I can get some work done over the weekend.
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    February 2011
    Does it make sense/ is it possible to install the RSS Reader extension to the wiki and make a section on the main page showing the feed from the blog? I think including a news feed is something Trenton and Nikolay are absolutely right-on about.
  • I've installed the RSSReader extension from

    Let's experiment with it!
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    February 2011
    I reformatted the main page draft to include some recent contributions. It might work a little better than what's up right now. I am not sure how to get an rss feed from the blog to work properly: I could use some help troubleshooting.
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    February 2011
    I'm with Conor that a complex header appearing widely across the wiki is
    wholly  unnecessary. I do think the table Trenton put together is a
    step in a good direction for the main page, though. I have some thoughts
    about what it could become (a very rough
    ). Is anyone interested in imagining, planning and building this
    with me?

    Given the highly collaborative nature of the project, it may be a better
    option to build a structure that is designed to accommodate changes in
    the GVCS rather than assuming a fixed list and updating it periodically.
    (Easier said than done! A direction to trend in, at least.) Not that
    one would want to let people to change the scope or goals of the project
    willy-nilly, but it is very likely that the list of technologies will
    grow/change over time. This is especially true as more independent
    people and groups with similar aims to OSE who have been working in
    parallel emerge, and also if people begin to customize the set for
    different people, places, etc. Anyway, it is usually easier to arrest a
    structure designed to be fluid than to try to create fluidity in a fixed

  • Message from @Conor:

    About the fluid nature of the GVCS, I totally agree with Marie. I've talked to Elifarley and others about this before; it seems that the consensus is that we should develop GVCS tools in a way that is fluid and sorta opportunistic, rather than writing out a list and plowing through them. 
    What if someone wants to help the project and is an expert in geothermal energy systems? What if someone open-sources a scalable aquaponics system? What if the open-source Stirling engine projects come to fruition and prove useful?
    In a way, we've already accepted that the GVCS list changes. It has already changed lots of times (and the wiki reflects this, with different lists in different places). An example is aluminium extraction from clay, which was just included because it presented itself.
    Marcin, any comments on this?

  • One of the interesting elements of the Open Source Movement and wiki technology is its ability to change, mature and adapt to both people's needs and contributions. I think that if we have a clearly presented vision, people will sort the rest out on their own. If someone is the altruistic type and they recognize an opportunity, then they will give. I think your average techie will contribute what they will, I see the GVCS like a shopping list for a complicated meal: if at the end of shopping, you find you have something different than you had planed, then you roll with it.

    @Nikolayhg (2/22/11) Concerning out evolving summary of what we can do, maybe include the concept of the organic and evolving nature of the project.

    I think that one of the interesting observations of things developed through social media is the fact that the product is the sum of contributers, whereas in your average corporation, everything is dictated from the top.

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