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What is a tool?

Topic Type: 

What is a "TOOL"? This topic is to explore how we define tools in Farm Hack. Some thoughts:

Tools are not just mechanical devices, but also technical approaches which may involve substituting biology for machinery or chemistry to accomplish a task or do work.

Examples are especially ripe in the discussion of covercrops in agriculture, where cultural practices like late summer planting of a dikon radish to break up soil compaction, and store nutrients substitutes for deep/vertical tillage, and spring nitrogen fertilizer. Heavy mulched crops substitute for cultivation equipment etc.

I would think that the discussion of tools in Farm Hack should include this most basic definition of "TOOL"

Other Ideas?

R.J. Steinert's picture

My first shot at a definition of a Tool Wiki:

A Tool's Wiki is collaborative document that represents the collective knowledge of a tool that bubbles up from the Tool's Forum.

I like that answer because it describes our collaborative process using Forums and Wikis but it lacks insight on exactly WHAT should bubble up from the Forum to the Wiki.

Before we set any strict guidelines I think we should see what happens, and in doing so, see what works and what doesn't, and I have a feeling that "What a Tool Wiki should be" will depend on the Tool. But, we may be able to start setting a few guidelines as to "What Tool Wiki pages are not." Wikipedia uses a list of "What Wikipedia is not" to help describe what Wikipedia Articles on Wikipedia are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:What_Wikipedia_is_not.

My first idea on what Tool Wikis are not

It's worth mentioning that the use of Instructables embedded directly on a Tool Wiki as opposed to just a link to an Instructable is at odds with the definition I suggested above. Specifically, an Instructable in not the "collective knowledge of a tool that bubbles up from the Tool's Forum". The Instructable is on another site and the owner of the Instructable may be unaware that there is a forum about their tool on Farm Hack where new information is coming to light. An Instructable is also not a "collaborative document" because only the original author of that Instructable can edit it. I make this sound worse than it it really is :P. In my opinion Instructables should ABSOLUTELY be listed on our Tool Wiki pages but displaying it in a way that makes it look like it's part of our site is confusing as to the nature of that documentation. So for Instructables, I think a simple link would to the Instructable suffices.

This leads me to my first suggestion of what Tool Wiki pages are not:

A Tool wiki should not contain other embedded websites but may contain links to other websites.