Reducing the number of categories?

I’m thinking that as the forum is starting it might be a good idea to reduce the number of categories to a small number, escpecially the number of sub-categories in the “Victoria” category. It might be worth dropping down to the following:

  • Victoria
    • Actions & Events
    • Growing the Rebellion (Outreach, Media and Messaging)
    • Logistics, Funding and Self-Organising Systems
    • Strategy, Regen, and Other Discussion

These seem to me like fairly logical groupings.
Another option I have considered is to not have any sub-categories of Victoria, relying instead on tags to categorize - then create new sub-categories when certain tags are starting to be populated.

This is based on “Creating too many categories” being lists as one of the most common mistakes of new Discourse communities.

I’ve just gone ahead and deleted all the non-private subcategories of the Victoria category. We can re-make them once we have a populated category (potentially in a few days).
Apologies for the last-minute changes - bear with me :slight_smile:

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I think it’s good to go slow - and be thoughtful about the purpose of each category, and about how its purpose relates to the purpose of the other categories.

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If anything, I would argue that there are too few categories. As a knowledge management analyst and a member of the new XR Macedon Ranges, I am finding it quite difficult to find quick answers to almost any of my questions about most subjects. Rather than applying immediate changes that will confuse users more than they already are, the problem should be looked at broadly across all of the existing knowledge retrieval systems to work towards a global solution.

Wearing my professional hat as an organizational documentation and knowledge management systems analyst and designer, I’ve already had a preliminary look at XR’s organizational structure and information systems I have been able to access, and have presented a first stab picture in some tentative Thoughts and Comments relating to issues I have seen in my own region, and from discussions I have had with a few SOS people from other areas and groups.

I’m volunteering to initiate and lead a ‘formal’ project to analyze XR’s organizational knowledge management needs and propose some solutions. One that we might start thinking about would be to implement a wiki tool for knowledge storage and retrieval to work in conjunction with chat tools (that are structured for chat rather than for the storage and retrieval of formal corporate knowledge).

Given that I’m retired, I can spend a reasonable amount of time focused on these issues. See , my CV and publications for my qualifications.


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The categories have already been reduced from what they were and the issue now is to gradually increase them as they are needed - and as more content is created here.

I chose the Base because it already has a lot of functionality that can make it, in chosen places, function like a wiki. We can make posts wiki-editable so that anyone with a certain trust level can edit them (trust levels are automatically gained by contributing to the base), and we can make posts that act as directories, linking off in other directions. For example, currently we have a few topics making use of this functionality, though not to its full potential yet:

  • The Vic Upcoming Actions topic which has a wiki-mode list of actions - and links to topics on the individual actions.
  • The Vic SOS and Groups Directory which expands to show details of groups as needed and links to individual topics about some of them.

Because of the high information yield in these topics I pinned them, but I could see us making a kind of super-directory that directs people to these topics.

By the way Bill, I’m gradually reading through your notes as I find the time amidst my day - I have been working on the Base as a sole operator with the blessing of the XR Vic Anchor Circle with the aim of improving comms for the movement and helping with the feedback generated by the Local Group survey. The Base is more or less brand new and the intention is to coax groups onto it and then use Mattermost solely for things that it is good for - and we are currently in a painful period where there is mixed use of both. I am using the practices of the XR France Base (it’s all in French but if you access on chrome you can use the auto-translate feature to read) as a bit of a model to guide me.

As you have a lot of knowledge in this are I can see that it would be useful to invite you to have more details input - perhaps we could make this a project that sits under the mandate of the SOS Circle and work together on it?

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This is now a wiki = please feel free to correct my errors/assumptions & add details

Mate - almost poetic in it’s inclusiveness! Yep SNAFU I’d say.

XR is a work in progress. As you say, given time & energy constraints as volunteers, it is a pretty good achievement so far. Pandemic will test us even further.

I really appreciated that your briefing paper documents a wide range of issues & solutions.

Paper prepared for: 29 Jan 2020 meeting in Castlemaine to discuss: National SOS working group & a wide ranging discussion of organizational contacts, structural functions, and issues

I’ve taken the liberty to upload your document to the national XR cloud file storage - Yet another opensource service managed by the National IT team.

You can find it in this data path (see ReadMe.txt as well)…

Are there any follow up minutes @Bill ?

I’ll digest your thoughts further and will try editing with track changes or comment here if I encounter problems (nextCloud Aus dosen’t implement “Work Spaces” & Teams seem to have issues as well)

Regarding the topic of this thread - categories I feel creating an ontology of rebellion or taxonomy of topics & teams might be a useful, but difficult, task.

Organisational structure

Some details/suggestions gleaned from: Best way to organise Groups, Categories and SubCategories on Discourse


  • two-level hierarchy.
    • top level (category) and one sub-level (sub-cateogory)

Catagorise by

  • Organise by subject Tags
  • Currently organised by regional structure (Groups/permissions)
    • Admins can see everything in discourse. So action planning can not be done secretly (NB action planning shouldn’t be done on these platforms - signal,telegram etc for that)


Catagorise by

  • Channels
  • Teams
    • Sub groups

Define Scope of work

  • regional level
    • Affinity groups
    • SOS groups
  • National level
  • International

XR lingo & services are confusing

  • Three Team Chat & Forum discussion areas
    MatterMost In the moment team chat Global; The Base, Global forum as knowledge-base & Base Australian Branch forum as knowledge-base
    Although files can be attached there is no file management or group editing functionality in these discussion platforms (that I know of)

  • Two cloud file storage & group editing options
    Australian Branch NextCloud
    Global Extinction Rebellion -

  • Channels & Teams
    Mattermost uses these terms, yet Discourse uses Spaces and Teams but AusBase uses the term Groups for Spaces

who is who?

  • The other perpetual problem is that a lot of rebels have anonymous like names & sometimes a nom de plume on one platform is different to that on another platform

Open source

XR has a philosophy of using open source software; which is free - think of “free speech,” not “free beer.”. Free as in freedom, not as in beer..

Offering commercial support and hosting provides an income stream for many opensource communities. WordPress, MatterMost, Discourse & NextCloud operate this business model. XR generally installs source code of these opensource projects [GitHub etc] on their own servers so pay no fees but get no support other than that offered by the projects documentation & community or other geek bloggers, coding forums etc.

A way forward

I imagine all the channels & users & teams are tables within the PostgreSQL Database’s of both global services MatterMost and The Base likewise the database of Base Australian Branch

Table indexes would make the basis of something like a site map leading on to the holy grail of an ontology of rebellion. Both international ITC admin & Aus National teams may need help with such a project.This is now a wiki = please feel free to correct my errors/assumptions & add details


Just a quick correction on group editing on the Base - it exists and is quite handy when people know about it.

There’s a relatively limited number of groups on the Aus Base at the moment which should make indexing relatively easy - if there’s a “best practice” for organizing it into this table index and then fitting future channels & users & teams to it I’m all ears.

We could probably construct the current table by using a python script to trawl the current structure of the Base using the API.

Brilliant @ManicMax , thank you for reminding me of the wiki function - How to Make a Post Wiki-Editable

Yes using the API would be good if one has python skills.

Perhaps a plugin might be simpler - here’s one for live SQL queries…
Data Explorer Plugin

Discourse Plugins

plug-in Tag

List of official plugins

Thought it would be worth posting this full look at the categories in the French Base:

There’s a lot there. Worth noting that this is what the admin sees, not what the average rebel sees. Many of those categories are seen after joining specific groups.