Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup


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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

My opinion on the categories is that they should be drastically cut down to maybe 5 overall topics and then forget about all the subcategories.

A forum is not a library card sorting system and this specific forum does not get so many posts per day that it would be necessary to categorize them. And for looking up older posts you can always use the search function, which is a hundred times more efficient anyways.

Thus the categories would be more for people to have some topic choices when subscribing to a feed, i.e. some people might not be interested in certain topics at all and thus could not select that broad category.

But I guess this suggestion is a bit too radical of a change :)
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

The last item in Dean's post is "drinking water treatment." For a moment, I thought, there might be objection to this. But, since there is none, could I suggest addition of "solid waste management in the Dean's list?"

F H Mughal
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

Thanks for the four posts on this topic so far (Dean, Mughal, Hajo and Jonathan) I am very happy to brainstorm on this, so please everyone do continue to post here your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks.
I think people find the information they are looking for on this Forum either by using the search functions or by browsing through the category structure..

Just to reply to Mughal and to provide some background: the forum is structured into 7 main categories (see the colourful circles at the top). These all have several sub-categories, and some even have sub-sub-categories). You can see an overview of the entire category and sub-category structure by clicking on the "search & navigation" drop down menu at the very top, This allows you to navigate to the category overview page here:

For those with bad internet access, I also provide it as a pdf file here which you can download and view offline (I didn't try to make it look pretty, it is just a copy and paste job):
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You can see that some of the topics that you (Mughal) mentioned are already available assub-categories:
behavioral change, innovation in sanitation, sanitation promotion, sanitation marketing, and emergent contaminants in wastewater.
Aerobic treatment is in several places: constructed wetlands, composting, vermifilters and centralised systems

Dean started the discussion about the "blue" category in particular, i.e. the one about sanitation systems which we explained as
The focus in this category is on technologies required along the sanitation chain - toilets, transport and treatment (but not reuse as this is in a separate category called "Resource recovery").

I agree that it is not perfect and there is a bit of confusion and overlap so I am happy to have some brainstorming here on how to improve it.

To answer Mughal's other questions:
I don't understand how it would help your internet connection problems if you were able to start your own categories under "miscellaneous"? If everyone started their own, wouldn't that get really messy? You can start your own threads but not your own categories.

If anyone doesn't know where their thread fits they are very welcome to put it under "miscellaneous". The moderators can then move it later.
In your case, I was unsure why you (as an experienced user) put things under miscellaneous if they belonged e.g. to menstrual hygiene management, for which we have a sub-category. I understand now that it's for lack of time if your internet access is really shaky. Perhaps by looking at the pdf file which I provided above you'll find it easier and faster to find the right sub-category in the drop down menu in future. If not, doesn't matter, you can continue to post in "miscellaneous" if you find that easier. I will just move it from there to the right place.

And regarding "long-term users": as part of "gamification" ( ) we have set up two ranks for forum users: New users start out as "regular forum users". They become long-term forum users after they have made 30 posts which usually takes people about a year or more. We have currently about 100 "long-term forum users", such as yourself.

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • jonpar
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Hi. Thanks for the ideas, which suggest that something isn't quite right with the way the Forum is structured. I had a look at the postings and was mulling it over... first of all I decided that I didn't have a good enough response to be able to make a posting because inevitably it is going to be problematic to agree upon the structure - and in many cases may not work (as has been indicated on previous postings). An alternative approach could be to have a system in which the title of the posting (and therefore where it would sit within previous discussions) would be suggested by the platform based on previous postings/discussions. A bit like Google, insofar as you type a a word or even a few characters which provides enough for the software to make some suggestions about the theme under which you would like to post. With this system, the most recent and most widely used categories would come at the top of the search. You would then have the option to peg your posting to this theme or start a new theme. I haven't thought through in too much detail but it might work. Interested to hear your responses to this idea. best regards, Jonathan
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  • hajo
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

hi Dean,
so we meet here again over a different topic... ;)

I fully agree with Dean that the category is a bit of a chaos. But before start re-shuffling we may discuss how we got there and then eventually how we can avoid it in future.

For me one aspect of confusion is probably a different understanding of technical terms. I will give my definition and we may see a number of disagreements pop up. Let's try:

On-site sanitation: any type of interface/toilet type NOT connected to a sewer pipe (not conventional, not simplified, not solid-free sewer) but having a local containment (vault, container) which contents may be treated (septic, compost, dried) and/or used on the plot or be transported for further treatment.
De-centralised sanitation: any number of interfaces/toilets (>1) from multiple plots, institutions or camps connected via any type of pipe to a common containment (septic tank) or to a 'local' treatment works (i.e. DEWATS) where de-centralised treatment aims at effluent quality which can easily be disposed or even be re-used (watering public gardens, irrigation) locally and only the sludge needs to be emptied and transported for further treatment (as for on-site septic tanks).
Central (conventional) sanitation: large numbers of WC/pour flush connected through any types of sewer (also mixed systems of simplified, solid-free and conventional) to a central waste water treatment plant.

Another problem is indicated by Elisabeth when she states that ‘UD’ is more than a ‘toilet system’. Actually any type of toilet is more than an interface, each toilet is supposed to be considered as part of a sanitation service chain: from interface through containment, emptying, transport to treatment, disposal or reuse. And when we discuss about one step in the chain of one technology we need always to indicate what the steps before and after comprise and in doing so a topic about (i.e.) the ‘Gulper emptying latrine pits’ also looks at the type of toilet/user/environment and at the transport facility (drums, transfer station, transport vehicle) and then easily gets lost in a discussion which is no more about the Gulper.

My first reaction to Dean’s proposal was “why not let the chapters follow the service chain according to the Compendium”, but that does not resolve the problem that postings often tend to cover more than one step of the chain.

Maybe it could help if we always have the keyword of the service chain in the header of the topic which we want to discuss. It reminds the writers to stick to the topic and guides the reader what s/he has to expect in the contribution.

… on the other hand: the often ‘outgrowing’ discussion starting at one step and going to all sorts of different aspects is a very reflection of diversity of sanitation and the need for a holistic approach for possible solutions.

While I agree that we need a bit more system in our topics, I wonder whether my ideas are not even more confusing… :(
Ciao Hajo
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Interesting topics, Dean! I would add aerobic treatment, behavioral change, innovation in sanitation, sanitation promotion, sanitation marketing, and emergent contaminants in wastewater, to your list.

I would strongly suggest that the users may be allowed to create their own sub-category, under “Miscellaneous” – repeat, sub-category under “Misc” ONLY. Elisabeth says no to this suggestion. Here is my problem:

I face multiple problems in internet, here (Karachi, Pakistan). These are:

• Frequent electricity breakdowns;
• Slow internet;
• Internet stop working; and
• No browsing.

This is what I do. After I finish writing post, offline, say on ‘myths in sanitation,’ I come to the forum online, and look for the category, which I’m never able to find – always. So, I take refuge under “Misc” and rush my post, before any breakdown occurs. Elisabeth always complains, why I post under “Misc.”

I have responded to numerous surveys and filled forms. They invariably say at the end:

Or/and Other – and there is a small blank rectangle, where one can write.

Dean, since you are on this topic, would you support a small breathing space for users – creating sub-category under “Misc?”

F H Mughal
Elisabeth: Could I kindly know, what is the definition of “long-term user?”
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  • goeco
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Sanitation Systems categories

The "Sanitation Systems" category is littered with topics and subtopics and in my view should be rationalised to make it easier to find things.
How about (sorry, can't get nesting to work):
Sanitation systems

· Faecal sludge management
o Vault content research and faecal sludge characteristics(26/158)
o Faecal sludge transport (including emptying of pits and septic tanks)(47/394)
o Faecal sludge treatment(33/250)
o FSM Planning tools, toolboxes and guidelines(10/47)
o Faecal Sludge Management - India's pathway to a "Clean India" (Thematic discussion - SuSanA Indian Chapter)(4/49)

· Challenging environments, emergencies, reconstruction situations, resilience issues
o Sanitation systems for "unusual" conditions. Note also the three sub-categories below.
o Urban informal settlements and slums(11/70)
o Flooded areas, floating houses and high groundwater areas(9/41)
o Resilience issues (in connection with climate change, flooding, risk reduction)(9/40)
o Climate change and sanitation(10/27)

· Toilet systems
o Shared toilets, community toilets or public toilets(25/159)
o Public toilets at events or festivals(3/36)
o Mobile toilets, container-based toilets, bag-based toilets(21/286)
o Urine diversion systems (includes UDDT and UD flush toilet)
§ Sanitation systems where urine is diverted (i.e. collected separately), for example UDDTs (urine-diverting dry toilets).
§ Urinals(17/168)
§ Urine diversion systems in countries of the global North and in cities(22/201) UDDTs at schools (urine-diverting dry toilets)(12/105)
o Composting toilets in general(18/206)
o Arborloos(5/18)
o Pit latrines (e.g. simple pit latrines, VIP latrines, dual pit pour flush latrines - i.e. toilets using a hole in the ground)(15/96)
o User interface technology innovations(24/210) Needs to be removed and subcategories reallocated to suitable categories

· Wastewater treatment
o Anaerobic treatment systems (DEWATS, UASBs, ABRs, biogas sanitation systems, Septic tanks)
§ DEWATS (decentralised wastewater treatment systems)(12/106)
§ Biogas sanitation (systems focusing on biogas production)(48/259)
o Constructed wetlands, soil filters and infiltration beds
o Vermifilters (or vermi-digesters) for wastewater treatment
§ Vermifilters for blackwater treatment, "worm toilets", "Tiger worm toilet"(9/97)
o Decentralised Treatment Facilities
§ Design and Technologies(8/105)
§ Sludge emptying, collection and transport(1/0)
§ Operation, maintenance, business models and monitoring(1/1)
o Centralised wastewater treatment plants, sewers, simplified sewerage, condominium sewers, sewage sludge treatment(41/194)
o Algae for wastewater treatment or as high-quality products(5/27)

· Composting processes & Processing technologies for excreta or faecal sludge
o Vermicomposting for various types of waste streams(4/25)
o Odour issues(6/32)

· Groundwater pollution, drinking water treatment
o Drinking water treatment(12/37)
Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
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