How should we use original works on Appropedia?


I’ve been thinking about the way we use original content – content produced elsewhere, and copied to Appropedia. Organizations like Practical Action release their excellent content under an open license, and we use it while giving attribution, but how do we present it? We as a community (including me) haven’t been really clear in our own minds, and that results in the confusing and not-always-inviting messages on the pages of original material:


Original ported content
This page represents the original version of content ported from another source. The page has been protected to preserve this original content. Editable pages may include content from this page as long as attribution is given to the source


    The original content of this page, Water diversion (original), was taken, with permission for publication under the GNU-FDL, from “Beyond Dams”, authored by Elizabeth Brink of International Rivers Network (IRN) and Serena McClain and Steve Rothert of American Rivers (AR), and published by IRN and AR)

Now, we really want to invite people to edit this material, and Neil Noble from Practical Action tells me they would love to see contributions to their material as well. So how we make things more inviting?

For one thing, these notices need to specify either that the page is not open to editing (and point to an editable page) or they need to clearly invite edits. Putting the note at the bottom rather than the top will also make it less daunting.

But do we keep the original content somewhere in an unchanged state? I was leaning away from this, personally, but I’ve changed my mind. I’d like to propose the idea of flagged revisions and/or approved pages, e.g. “This page is approved by XYZ” (where XYZ is Practical Action, or Akvo, or an academic body from a particular university…) These original pages might be a good starting point or forerunner of those approved articles.

One thing we would never want to do though, is hide away the open edit pages. I would imagine that the open pages would be the “landing pages” and they might have a link on the top right, say, to an “approved” article. This priority is important, as Appropedia relies on the power of open content.

Original works on a wiki


Received an email from the founder of a fairly prominent UK organization, devoted to real-world action for sustainability. The query was whether Appropedia was a suitable place to work collaboratively on a book, which would later be published.

While we’d love to have this content, there are some reasons it may not be an acceptable solution for them. At the very least, contributors need to know what they are committing to when pasting on a wiki, and using a free license.

Rather than just explain this in an email, I thought it was a good question to answer on the wiki: See Original content FAQ.

Note that I’m starting to wonder if our old policy of using the “Original:” namespace is a good idea after all, as it requires a set of gatekeepers for what content is worthy to be placed in this namespace. And yet… an original document by a respected appropriate technology organization, for example, may deserve to be readily available. Or perhaps a link to a “diff,” showing the text of the original, with all the changes that have been made since the original document was first placed on the wiki – that will confuse the eye of the average non-wikiholic however.

Tricky issues. Feedback welcome!

Originally posted, by the same author, at Pablo Garuda.