Wiki of the Month August 2013
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Practical Plants is a collaboratively edited plant encyclopedia covering the subject of plants cultivated for practical purposes, with a strong bias towards organic agriculture and sustainability.
Development started in January 2012, and the wiki was made public in August 2012. It is a democratically organized community wiki, initially created by Andru Vallance and Francesco Paris. All articles are licensed under a Creative Commons license.
At present there are over 7,000 plant articles complete with data, references and many with images. Plant articles cover subjects such as common and rare edible, medicinal and material uses, plant interactions, design functions, environmental preferences and tolerances, crop harvest and storage, and cultivation and propagation information. We also store recognized or common interactions between plants.
How SMW Is Used
Semantic MediaWiki is employed to store plant data, allowing advanced searches of plants by their environmental preferences, eg. "Plants which tolerate permanent shade and thrive in dry, acid soils". Plant uses are stored as sub-objects to provide data about the part of the plant used, the use, and written details of the use. Plants articles are also interlinked using intermediary pages and sub objects, creating a web of interactions to create a web of relationships.
Semantic Forms is used for all data and text input, creating template based articles so users are not required to learn wiki markup.
There are a number of custom developed extensions which increase usability, help format form inputs into attractive articles, and provide an ajax search filter for filtering plants based on a set of properties. In time these will be packaged and released as MediaWiki extensions.
A custom SSO solution is used to enable users to create one account which can be used across the wiki, community forums, and blog.