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Simplifying the Site for New Users

The website should be organized by technologies, not tools or groups or forum.

A technology is something like welding. Different groups or browsers will be interested in that conversation and will join. Related tools and organization could be listed in the welding section.

Right now, it is a little complicated the way we display tools. There are about a dozen different categories and I propose we reduce them to:
- Farming Practices
- Welding
- Electronics, from circuits to solar panels
- Open-source, online collaboration, and Farm Hack website

I was a little more detailed for the latter two because I think I might participate the most there; I'm sure someone reading has a better idea for the former two. Having users browsing by tech first will reflect our objectives. People with similar skills and build plans can share projects and tips more relevantly.

I think we should basically have FOUR amount of tabs on top of the page:
- ABOUT: mission statement, governance, etc.
- GETTING STARTED: for the eager new user!
- TECH: as above, would feature tools, organizations, and current discussions
- FORUM: list "Farm Talk" first and then tech forum categories!
- EVENTS: flyers for upcoming events

Waddya think? Oh one more thing: I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD HAVE A BLOG ROLL. Perhaps have one box on the main page for announcing events but everything else should be in the "Farm Hack Talk". Maintaining a blog roll doesn't reflect equality in amongst community members since someone will be curating the blog roll.

danpaluska's picture

interesting. worth consideration.

maybe four categories would be.
- Farming Practices (plants, animals, land and people management)
- Fabrication (equipment fab and maintenance, building fab and maintenance, metal work, machines and carpentry)
- Electronics, from circuits to solar panels
- Open-source, online collaboration, and Farm Hack website

i'm not sure what you meant when you said "FOUR amounts of tabs" does that mean 5 headings under each of the categories? or FOUR categories under each of the headings?

re: blog roll
i think a curated area is okay as long as it's clear it's curated. there is an uncurated area as well. ??


Louis's picture

By tabs I meant what goes on top of the site beneath the banner, where ABOUT, EVENTS, FAQ... is right now.

I think that headings in the categories might be helpful, but I imagine those headings would be TOOLS, ORGANIZATIONS, DISCUSSION or something like that.

The blog thing could make sense... I am just afraid that it might distract people from exploring the community (forums and tools). It could be as simple as switching the order on the land page making it the third item from the left rather than the first.

Also, any idea why the leaves on this cucumber plant are in so much pain? Too much sun? I want it to be happy as that horse.

Louis's picture

Also, I like the sound of the categories you listed. Thanks, Dan!

R.J. Steinert's picture

See my proposal here.

P.S. @Louis I peed on your cucumber plant.

Joel_BC's picture

I participate on a lot of web forums. For FarmHack, I think danpluska's four forum categores would work well: - Farming Practices (plants, animals, land and people management) - Fabrication (equipment fab and maintenance, building fab and maintenance, metal work, machines and carpentry) - Electronics, from circuits to solar panels - Open-source, online collaboration, and Farm Hack website If the site were to become very active, then I could see breaking some of these four main topic areas down further. But for the present, these categories should make the forum easy to understand, easy to find threads on, and generally user-friendly.

Joel_BC's picture

Whoops - I've deleted a duplicate of my post above.

harpswellmakers's picture

Hello, I am a new user on Farmhack though I have been a frequent contributor to other open source hardware forums like publiclab.org. I think Farmhack might be the most appropriate online community to document a new indoor hydronics project I'm working on. However, after taking a look at the many great options available on this site, I wanted to get an idea of the best format to begin with before I start. The general idea is to explore how some of the most recent advancements in open hardware, primarily USB-enabled ATmega32u4 microcontrollers and cloud-enabled platforms like OpenWRT/Beaglebone/Raspberry Pi can make it possible for virtually anyone to grow their own food in even the smallest indoor environments. I realize there is nothing new about this idea per-se. One can easily find any number of well-documented "Arduino Hydroponics" projects dating back as far as 2011. The problem is, in the measure of the tech world, 2011 might as well be 1993! In the last year alone, the Open Hardware/DIY Tech sector has developed capabilities that weren't even imaginable when most Ardu-ponic builds were last documented. So rather than attempting to create a brand-new, self-contained system, my intent is to merge together and reference several existing open source builds, while experimenting with emerging techniques like Red/BLue LED lighting and Infrared Imaging Cameras. For example, "Sparky's Widgets" makes some fantastic water quality sensors based on the new "Arduino Leonardo" microcontroller (http://www.sparkyswidgets.com/portfolio-item/open-water-quality-sensors/) while the same chip is also used on an open source, high-power, multicolor lightbulb called the Visualight (www.visualight.org). One approach could be to develop a web-gateway based on OpenWRT that allows each of these sensors to connect via USB OR one could incorporate the schematics for the water sensors and LED drivers into a new board. The result could very well go into production as a kit or integrated system, so my initial idea was to document it as a "new tool", using the handy template. This would be more or less straightforward, if the only research involved were strictly of a technical nature, but my guess is the hardware will be the easy part. The real challenge I want to explore is how plants respond to various patterns of Red and Blue Light emitted by LED arrays in leiu of traditional indoor lighting. Therefore a wiki or research note might be a better format. Likewise, each individual sensor or controller (i.e pH, EC, Water Temp, Flow Meters, Dosing Pumps etc...) might be interesting enough to examine their own accord. But setting up a new wiki for each component would get tiresome quickly... So I'm looking for the best way to maintain a project cohesion that shows how the parts fit together, while also allowing enough flexibility so that research into subject areas like lighting and pH are adequately documented on their own.

Dorn's picture

You bring up a great point that has been part of our design discussion from early on. I think that handling it well will be a crucial feature - as you mention there are ways to accomplish the relationships by manually linking to other tools and wikis, but it is tedious to set up. I imagine that in the shorter term we might be able to enable a menu to check and list related tool wiki's. One of the things I will be working on myself is developing groups of tools for "kits" both for various scales of grain production but also observatory "kits" for different types of environmental monitoring.

I think you might find the following document helpful - it came out of a hackathon last fall to develop a build out plan for the "open shop" concept. Part of that plan involves introducing the concept of a "problem statements" which would have relationships to tools and or wikis. That way we can relate groups of tools in a meaningful way to a single problem statement, or a single tool to relate to multiple problem statements. There is still a lot to work out as far as how to construct meaningful relationships between problem statements, but I think this is at the heart of figuring out collaborative open source development.

DGrover's picture

Hey there,

Seems like wikipedia-style in-text links would be the tool for the job in allowing comprehensive documentation of both tools and components of tools. There must be some reason that this isn't practical to set up from a programming standpoint. Seems like otherwise more orgs. would have their own wikis of this type. Can anyone weigh in with some of the technical barriers to using this technology?


Dorn's picture

Great idea - for reference I attached a screen shot of what I think we are both talking about.

Anyone out there want to tackle this, or come up with a way to accomplish this in another way?

DGrover's picture

I found some good information from MediaWiki, the wiki that is the framework of wikipedia.

Here's a Manual:Deciding whether to use a wiki as your website type and here's a Manual:Deciding which wiki software to use

So, here's a basic question--I know that we have a wiki on this site but what kind of wiki is it? Would we be better off with a different type?


jbd's picture

Is to have several road maps with respect to where the reader is coming from... For example, a person looking for technology would be interested in welding, crop practices, livestock practices, ... But a person looking for a community with which to share ideas would be interested in forums, people (usually in a geographical area), ...

I'm proposing different "road maps" to the site for people with different "origins of thought". This lets us address multiple demographics/interests with the same content. In IT parlance, we're just adding indexes to existing content. Also, let the author/reviewer of the content decide which category their content should belong in.

baruch77's picture

I thi moderation would be wise but that means somone would nopeed to ge committed to do it. More likely to get volunteers if it was to be on a rotational basis. I am working on forming a manufacturing company for my human powered tractor. Ready now to seek crowd funding to get the seed money. Once that happens and I no longer have to work two jobs then I will be able to nost and moderate something. As for different paths would multiple tags work?