Online #KnowledgeManagement - audit and suggestions for change #knowledgemanagement


Following from Chris's post here, this is my audit of existing Bonsai communication mediums. Plus suggestions for changes that I'd like to open for comment before taking action which affects everyone.

The goal of this effort is to organise the Bonsai mediums such that interested people can quickly navigate to the most up-to-date information which is relevant for them. This way they are more likely to properly understand the project without unnecessary struggle. Once they have this understanding, their path toward meaningful contributions should also be clear. This is particularly important with the recent flurry of activity and upcoming outreach.

Current state


Bonsamurais organisation (17 members) containing:

·       4 repositories

o   The Bonsai repository contains the Wiki, where tasks are currently managed (e.g.)

·       A top-level project board made my Chris today but not yet used

Best navigated on the web-interface (although I've found rich-formatting of posts is not so friendly)
You can update your email settings to prevent spam here and via hashtags.

·       main (24 members)

o   hackathon2019 subgroup (16 members – note that posts here won’t necessarily reach the 8 people exclusively in Main)


·       A 'company' (59 followers)

·       A closed 'group' (339 members!)

o   "About this group" is the only publicly visible part. It does not include links to other open Bonsai mediums

Website contains

·       static pages

·       some document hosting here.

·       Fairly detailed descriptions of planning and strategy

o   it's not clear whether this or the wiki pages are authoritative on this topic, and there’s much duplication

·       web-app hosting on this domain suggested

Google docs

Root and subfolders shared with various email addresses; anyone with the link can edit. Subfolders:

·       ‘documents’ - 8 sets of minutes from Developer and Board meetings

·       ‘classifications and correspondences’ - 24 Google spreadsheets

Slack for chat

·       Invitation Link

·       Chris has stated he intends to also upload the chatlogs from the public channels for transparency

·       Private channels can be used for private comms


Other currently planned mediums


For documentation of functional Bonsai software (source)

For video calling/conferencing.

·       Bo has a paid plan and has requested he be contacted for scheduling

·       Zoom can be integrated into Slack for video meetings (but hasn’t yet)

Not found

Previous funding applications. These could be useful for potential future applications.


Change proposals

·       The wiki becomes the primary destination for up-to-date information, with only stable information on the website (plus eventually the web-apps)

·       Use the Github 'Projects' functionality for task management.

o   When tasks relate to specific repos, use the 'projects' in those.

o   For higher-level tasks or ones that presently lack repositories, use the top-level Bonsai organisation 'projects'


Action points

1.       Update the wiki front-page (or make a dedicated page) with the outcome of this discussion.

a.       use this as the general "contributing guidelines" (or similar) for the organisation. Stating how we agree to use the various comms mediums and tools such as GitHub Issues etc.

b.       This becomes the basis for the #GettingStarted guide referenced by Chris

2.       Update LinkedIn (group and company) descriptions with a prominent link to the Wiki front page

3.       The Google Drive and website meeting documents are hosted for posterity as pdfs at a single location (I suggest the website only, as they are static)

4.       Delete the copies from other locations

5.       Add previous funding applications to the same location.

6.       Add any missing information from the website-hosted strategy and work plan to the wiki. Then delete these webpages

7.       Add a link to the mailing list in the website contact section

8.       Edit the ‘Status and statutes’ section:

a.       ‘Status’ implies up-to-date: hence reference the wiki

b.       ‘Statutes’ are static: with other website-hosted documents

9.       Move the 5 pages of tasks to appropriate GitHub organisation or repository Project Boards

Further questions

1.       The LinkedIn group is not open. Is this by default or is there a rationale for requiring an invitation before people can join?

2.       Paid 'Membership' is currently only emphasised on the website. Should this option be made more prominent elsewhere?

I look forward to any corrections / additions / proposal comments!


I think this is a great start - I hope that you and a few others can put together a detailed plan including a repo with separate pages for what the website could look like, as well as a guide for newcomers, so that we can get to group consensus.

One small clarification - Sphinx is a tool to convert documentation from one format to another, for example to convert the Brightway docs from restructured text to HTML. It isn't a communication tool per se.

Michele De Rosa

Thank you very much for this summary and for proposing those action points Tom.

After a chat with Tom, my inputs and proposals are listed below:

About Tom's change proposals:

I fully agree with the following suggestion: the website is a static document with basic general information; the wiki "becomes" the primary destination for up-to-date info. In fact, this is already what is happening. The wiki, perhaps in the "getting started" section, should make this distinction clear, linking to the web-page when mentioned; and yes, the participation fee should also be mentioned.
NOTE: The fee and the cases in which the fee might be waved for contributors will be discussed at the next board meeting (next week).

About the action points:

  1. Agree on making a dedicate wiki "Getting-started" page which includes links to basic resources and information. The info in the current wiki front page could be linked to this page and mentioned as a "what is the purpose of this wiki?" or something like that.
  2. LinkedIn groups: the page of the "Bonsai NGO" is just used by the management for advertising relevant events or outcome of the community. If you have something relevant to our activities that you want to post on our LinkedIn page you are of course more than welcome to contact me. The LinkedIn group was instead born before LinkedIn changed the policy on closed groups, which are now not visible unless one is invited to them. The board will discuss at the next meeting whether we should now close this group completely and inform the member that daily updates are now taking place on this mailing list or if we should just inform that but keep the group. In any case, yes the took over the Linked In group as a main communication mean. 
  3. The content on the google drive will be moved (by me). The static documents (e.g. all the minutes of meetings) will be hosted on an "archive" like section on the website (i.e. static info); the mapping and correspondence file will be converted in a machine readable version and move to the GitHub (by me) asap, as part of the working group on correspondence table ("Group 10" in Chris' pool). If you create a section for each group under Projects on the wiki that could be a good place for hosting them, for example. 
  4. Agree, copies will be deleted from other locations (by me).
  5. Experience gained through previous funding applications by network members can definitely be shared within the network for future applications. Clearly, getting funds to finance also a piece of this big puzzle is a common interest. However, I'd avoid publishing them online since they were mostly not in the name of Bonsai, which doesn't have yet sufficient credentials. I am confident this will change soon. 
  6. Outdated information will be removed from the website and moved to an archive as described in point 3 above. Yet, the content of the strategy and work plan  can still be useful on the web page, that we don't want to empty out of all content. Indeed, the web-page is still an useful "high level" marketing tool, a sort of brochure with more static info. If you have suggestions on updating specific content on the web-page (other than what I have already mentioned) please let me know, they are more than welcome.
  7.  I propose to add a link to the on the wiki in the "getting started" section that you Tom proposed, rather than on (that already has a link to the wiki, in case someone ends up on the web-page first). On the wiki instead, I propose to (also) gather all link in a "Useful link" section with links to external resources (external to our Bonsamurai GitHub).
About your fuehrer questions: 
  1. I agree that ‘Status and statutes’ will become only statute and include a link to it. For the status we will forward to the wiki. I will take care of the modifications.
  2. As already mentioned, the "getting started" new section that you proposed will also kindly remind the visitors of the page that we have a modest membership fee.
Thank you for this initiative Tom! Further feedback and contributions are very welcome! 

Michele De Rosa


Dear all-

I had a very nice talk today with Oleg Lavrovsky, who makes his living as an independent open data consultant ( He organizes most of the open data hackathons in Switzerland, and is active in sustainability data as well, so I think his feedback is worth listening to. Here are the points I noted:

We desperately need a getting-started guide - this should be the first thing one sees, after the small motivation section. We want to communicate from the beginning that each visitor has something to contribute, and that we need their contribution.

As a part of this getting-started guide, it would be worth building a sort of toolbox for beginners to bonsai, like the one found here: The idea is that we will have a bunch of people looking at our site who aren't experts in coding or semantic tech, but who are motivated to participate. If they see a wall of complications, they will just close the tab and move on, but if they have a list of tools with good docs and tutorials that will give them a chance to start contributing in a meaningful way.

In his experience, hackathons work best if there is one focus. In our case, I think it is worth re-emphasizing that the goal of the hackathon is to have a complete working demo that we can show people, and it probably makes sense to focus on getting the existing work packages to be good instead of starting a bunch of the stretch goals (though I have been dreaming of a bunch of BONSAI components:

He felt that the hackathon was a good opportunity to already involve more people online, and that there would be an audience if we did more outreach. Online participants need to be able to work independently, which means that we should have some example small projects that people can just claim and work on.

As a follow-up to this, I think it would very good to have a list of projects where we need help - this would allow people to either pick a project, or to get a sense for the kind of projects BONSAI works on, so that they can define their own. Here are some examples I can think of:

  • Simple API that would take barcodes and a region, and spit out an LCA score and contribution analysis.
  • Guess labels from BONSAI product and industry names based on a machine learning classifier. Keeps original data, just adds new columns. Takes CSV or RDF as input. Training data will come from the descriptions and documentation of the ontologies.
  • Extract the car model from (maybe combining with GREET: and make it web-accessible and following BONSAI coding standards.
  • A set of global and regional independent validation data for LCA/MFA, e.g. how much CO2 was produced in 2018, how much land was transformed, how much shipping happened, etc.

A key to hackathon success is to make sure that everyone can make meaningful contributions. Each person should be a champion or leader of their task/deliverable. Key here is fostering a positive and welcoming atmosphere, and being flexible as groups evolve.

One idea that was new to me was to have a data-driven hackathon, where we would be measuring data about the hackathon itself. Oleg and his team have developed, and though it is difficult to explain, it is quite cool to see in action. He would be willing to set up an instance for our hackathon.

Finally, we only get one chance to make a first impression, so all our communications should reflect and emphasize our core values, especially our embrace of openness, both in consuming open data, and in making our data available for others. We want people like Oleg to see our website and feel at home, knowing that this is a place where he could make a difference. It isn't easy, which is why we need to start ASAP.

I see that Oleg has joined our list, so he is welcome to add/edit the above points :)


The draft getting-started guide is here. It currently describes how I perceive the state-of-affairs to be now (regarding task management, prioritisation etc.). As such, it is not really yet fit-for-purpose. I don't yet know how to contribute toward simple, manageable, useful tasks. So describing this is rather difficult!

In order to be most useful, Romain & I agreed that we want the getting-started page to link directly to specific tasks. But we find those tasks are described in various places in different ways (Wiki, website, hackathon agenda, blog posts etc.). So we realised that this needs to be solved in order for the Getting Started page to function properly. We agreed that GitHub issues are a sensible choice for this. I've dogfooded a suggestion to use them for Bonsai here. And started converting the Wiki task list into Issues in the same repo. An issue relating to completing the getting-started guide is also here.

Other suggestions such as "a sort of toolbox for beginners to bonsai", are beyond my reasonable scope at this time. Great if someone wants to make this, but perhaps tangible Bonsai software contributions could be a higher priority!


Dear all-

I created the beginning of a BEP based on Tom's audit here: My idea was to make our ideas a bit more specific by using the BEP to provide details, and also to make us think about alternatives and why we are confidant that one direction is best. However, we can continue to use the #KnowledgeManagement tag, as the BEP is nowhere near ready.

For example, I am not sure why the wiki is the best place to host a getting started guide, or general introductions to B. The webpage not only gives us more freedom in terms of what we can show (no limits on embedded media), but I don't think the wiki provides a substantial ease of use advantage versus e.g. writing markdown and having an automatic processor to create HTML.

Some of these issues are most easily discussed in person, around a big sheet of paper, where we can draw different designs. For example, I don't see why the homepage wouldn't have a little search box allowing you to search to ontology/product list, as well as a dynamic widget that would allow you to do calculation based on the current database state. That would be awesome, and a clear differentiator with other DBs - but impossible on the wiki.

I would prefer to get a clear line between what content goes on the wiki, and what on the web page.