Composting toilet article on Wikipedia

  • Ecowaters
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Composting toilet article on Wikipedia

The "Composting Toilet" Wikipedia page is often changing. It was solid a few years ago. It needs work.

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  • muench
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Re: Edit-a-thon on 19-20 March (and before) to improve Wikipedia for Public Awareness, Advocacy and Civil Society Engagement - next steps

Hi Carol,

You wrote:

The "Composting Toilet" Wikipedia page is often changing. It was solid a few years ago. It needs work.


I also saw that someone (without a Wikipedia login) made an edit to the composting toilet article today and put this comment in the summary field:

(I started honing the first paragraphs. This page really needs work. I wish people would leave it alone. It was at its best four years ago.)


Wikipedia is all about consensus building. I was probably one of the people who has changed this article in the last 2 years and - in my opinion - helping to make it better. You can see the full edit history here:
en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Compo...oilet&action=history

I would like to suggest that you use the talk page of the article to describe what you don't like about this article and what major changes you think are needed:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Composting_toilet

For engaging on the talk page, it works best if you have a Wikipedia login (it doesn't need to be your real name; but without a login only your IP address is displayed and everything is not as easy).

If you prefer you could also put what you don't like into this existing thread here on the Forum:
forum.susana.org/component/kunena/241-co...n-composting-toilets

I see that you once commented in that thread already when you said:

There are errors now, such as the composting toilet standard in the United States. Also, there are water-flush composting toilets.


Could you help correct those errors?

I am very happy to see this article get improved further as part of this edit-a-thon and beyond. For all prospective editors please keep in mind what I wrote here today in my tips ( forum.susana.org/component/kunena/213-wo...it=12&start=12#20804 ):
  • Using reliable references
  • Writing in a neutral objective encyclopedic style
However, I do have to disappoint anyone who subscribes to this sentiment:

I wish people would leave it alone. It was at its best four years ago.

This is not how Wikipedia works. The best Wikipedia articles are those which are continually being improved by a range of editors who look at content, references, images, readability, links,... Usually the more different editors work on a page with their different skills the better it gets.

Shall we all tackle this one together?

Regards,
Elisabeth

P.S. Oh, by the way, every previous version of every Wikipedia article still exists and can be found in the article history page.
Just out of curiosity I had a look at the version from exactly 4 years ago and this is how it looked back then in March 2013:
en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Compo...ilet&oldid=547079583

Which aspects of that 4-year old version do you find better than the current version?
If you had a different version than that one in mind, it can also be pulled up here:
en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Compo...t=250&action=history

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  • joeturner
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Re: Edit-a-thon on 19-20 March (and before) to improve Wikipedia for Public Awareness, Advocacy and Civil Society Engagement - next steps

Just to say - this is how much composting toilet has changed since we started work on WikiProject Sanitation (I don't think I've personally worked on the Composting toilet page because the topic drives me mad) en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Compo...0377&oldid=630783143

I think it is very hard to argue that the current page is worse than it was in 2014.

In fact the current page is what we should be aspiring to see on wikipedia: proper diagrams and photos, readable sections with lots of footnotes and so on. If we could get all the page WikiProject Sanitation works on to this standard, then we'll have accomplished something.
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  • muench
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Re: Composting toilet article on Wikipedia

Note by moderator: this post was originally in this thread about "composting toilets - a misnomer?" - forum.susana.org/241-composting-toilets-...ng-toilet-a-misnomer
++++++++

Hi Geoff,
I am a big fan of getting terminology right. I don't think we can eliminate usage of the term "composting toilet" but we can define what we mean by it. It says "composting toilet", it doesn't say "a toilet that produces perfect, pathogen-free compost". I think the best place to come to an agreement about terms is Wikipedia. Do take a look at the current Wikipedia article on composting toilets. I was involved in improving it. If you would like to suggest improvements to it, please feel free.

This is how the summary currently reads:

A composting toilet is a type of toilet that treats human excreta by a biological process called composting. This process leads to the decomposition of organic matter and turns human excreta into compost. It is carried out by microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) under controlled aerobic conditions.[2] Most composting toilets use no water for flushing and are therefore "dry toilets".

In many composting toilet designs, carbon additives such as sawdust, coconut coir, or peat moss is added after each use. This practice creates air pockets in the human excreta to promote aerobic decomposition. This also improves the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and reduces potential odor. Most composting toilet systems rely on mesophilic composting. Longer retention time in the composting chamber also facilitates pathogen die-off. The end product can also be moved to a secondary system – usually another composting step – to allow more time for mesophilic composting to further reduce pathogens.

Composting toilets, together with the secondary composting step, produce a humus-like endproduct that can be used to enrich soil if local regulations allow this. Some composting toilets have urine diversion systems in the toilet bowl to collect the urine separately and control excess moisture. A "vermifilter toilet" is a composting toilet with flushing water where earthworms are used to promote decomposition to compost.

Composting toilets do not require a connection to septic tanks or sewer systems unlike flush toilets.[2] Common applications include national parks, remote holiday cottages, ecotourism resorts, off-grid homes and rural areas in developing countries.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting_toilet

Perhaps we should change the second sentence from "and turns human excreta into compost" to "and turns human excreta into compost-like material which may or many not still include significant amounts of pathogens". Mind you, we are writing to lay persons here so we have to be careful to keep it as simple as possible.

Regards,
Elisabeth

++++++++++++
Edit on 22 July:
Moved content from my post that was in the other thread:

If not, what would be a better term? I don't think "dry toilet" is suitable because that's an overarching term that includes all sorts of things. We tried to clarify that on Wikipedia here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_toilet

There are several types of toilets which are referred to as "dry toilets". All of them work without flush water and without a connection to a sewer system or septic tank:

- Composting toilet (in most cases without urine diversion but can also be with urine diversion)
- Urine-diverting dry toilet (UDDT) – with urine diversion, as the name implies
- Arborloo – which is similar to a pit latrine but has a much shallower pit and is designed for making compost in the pit
- Container-based toilet - where human excreta is collected in sealable, removable containers (also called cartridges) that are transported to treatment facilities (a sub-type are "packaging toilets" where feces from each defecation event is placed in its own package)
- Bucket toilet – a very basic type of dry toilet consisting only of a bucket which could be upgraded with urine diversion and the use of covering material
- Simple pit latrines: those pit latrines that do not have a water seal (pour flush pit latrines have a water seal and are therefore not dry toilets).
- Incinerating toilets, freezing toilets – these are toilets with more complicated technology and higher costs

Other types of dry toilets are under development at universities, for example since 2012 funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Such toilets are meant to operate off-the-grid without connections to water, sewer, or electrical lines.[2]


I think that if we want to change how terms are used in the sector then we should first get our definitions straight, and a great place to do so is Wikipedia!

Take a look at the terminology section in the Wikipedia article on composting toilets and tell me how it should be changed:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting_toilet#Terminology

We actually need to add more references there; which good references can we cite that talk about the problems with the terminology?

Geoff, your PhD thesis is mentioned twice in the article:
- Composting toilets have also been called "sawdust toilets", which can be appropriate if the amount of aerobic composting taking place in the toilet's container is very limited.[5]
- Pathogen destruction rates in composting toilets are usually low, particularly helminth eggs, such as Ascaris eggs.[5]

Which other publication(s) from your PhD thesis would be suitable to cite?

And do you agree with the first few sentence in the Wikipedia article?:

A composting toilet is a type of dry toilet that treats human excreta by a biological process called composting. This process leads to the decomposition of organic matter and turns human excreta into compost-like material but does not destroy all pathogens.


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