Creating an Open Knowledge Community Directory


We are building a community directory for the Open Knowledge Network.

The directory’s purpose is to make it easier for people to discover and connect with others — whether that’s to collaborate on projects, share experiences or simply meet in person or online.

In addition, we will be launching badging features for local and working groups, ambassadors, and fellows. This will give more visibility and recognition to our network groups and their members.

Key features of the directory will include:

  • Rich public profiles — we want to know what information people want to share and see.
  • Private and public messaging — so community members can connect with each other
  • Group management features — which can be used for Local and Working Groups
  • Badging — to aid discovery and recognize group membership and community contribution

We will build the directory using this Discourse instance and work to further consolidate some of our disparate community services on this platform going forward.

We’ll be working on this over the next few weeks and you can follow updates in this thread. We welcome suggestions and help as we implement and iterate.

If you have an idea or question please either comment here in this thread or open a new topic in the Meta category.

Open Knowledge Germany group here in the OK Directory
Open Knowledge Community Directory User Stories
Statistical info about Open Knowledge
Map of Open Knowledge Directory members
Community event API, Where Are You?

Hi @nealbastek,
Here’s some initial thoughts:

Enable sort/filter/grouping by:

  • geographic region (country, state, city)
  • projects contributed to (e.g. Open Data Census, CKAN, …), link to GitHub profile
  • events (e.g. GovHack, Open Data Conference, …)
  • role in project/event (e.g. event organiser, attendee, speaker project leader, tester …)
  • interests (derived from forum participation and self-declared)
  • skills possessed, skill level, prepared to teach
  • skills I would like to learn (may be a great source to identify demand for training)
  • contact details
  • official Open Knowledge roles (e.g. Founder, Outreach, System Admin)

Data in profiles should be as structured as possible (e.g. selected from drop down boxes in the user interface) so it supports many future uses.

Provide some control over sharing. People may be happy to share e.g. their city location or contact details with Open Knowledge but perhaps not publicly.

Clarity on what is shown in your public profile compared to what you can see personally. E.g. I can see my email address, a count of flags raised and topics deleted - can others see that?

I look forward to learning more about the Open Knowledge community.

What do others think?


Thanks for your thoughts @Stephen. I welcome others to chime in as well please.

We are continuing to proceed with building out a more user friendly directory for this forum as a starting point for enhancing the functionality here and relying on the forum more heavily in our Network going forward. We plan to build this off of the standard profiles and user cards with minimal customization. As part of phase 1, we are going to implement basic badging and group functionality to support and recognize members of our network groups (local and working), ambassadors, fellows and the like.

In general, it would be helpful if all users here could update their user profiles as thoroughly as possible. If you have ideas or desires for a directory, please add a comment to this thread.

If you are a local or working group coordinator and would like to use the forum to augment or replace your mailman lists, please also leave a comment here. We’d like to hear what your needs are and we are looking for a few groups to pilot this functionality.



To your point about what others can see, it’s more or less here:

If you click on a user name you will see their profile card popup.

Our intention is to build a more useful presentation of those profile cards, so that they are more easily searchable and browsable. The idea is to have a user directory that is more suited to networking and connecting, rather than simply tracking activity in the forum.


Points raised by Stephen are good. I’d also like to have the opportunity to have links to a person’s day job. For those working within an OK related organisation I’m surged they’d be keen to make that association clear.

That might open the door for oganisation profiles at a later stage.

The point about mapping networks was raised at OKFest Berlin and again in the Open Knowledge Australia board meeting last month. I think profiles in this discussion is a good approach to meeting that need.

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I can’t updated my profile as search for/data entry for Country is not working (iPhone, iPad, Safari & Chrome on Mac) but it is a new mandatory field. It looks like the values for the drop down box need to be populated.


My two cents is that we need a multilingual feature for local groups and chapters for which English is not the first language.


Thanks for flagging this! I’ve re-added the countries which mysteriously vanished. :confused:

Can you try updating your profile now?


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A directory is a nice idea, although it will take some gardening to maintain it as up to date.

If the idea is to build off of the profiles, it might be good to make sure that the process to get set up as a new forum user works well and gives a good starting point. I’ve just created this account and hit several issues, not to mention struggling to give info which would be useful for a directory entry.

Firstly, the ‘sign up’ form doesn’t consistently use asterisks to indicate required fields. As well as country, sector and city, which are required and marked as such, full name, username and password are also needed but not marked as such. It’s nice for this to be clear so people can get the for filled in quickly and get on the forum with minimal friction, or, if lots of info for a profile is really needed, to make it clear what’s essential.

The error mode when you haven’t completed all the compulsory fields is a little subtle too - just a faintly greyed out “create new account” button and no indication of what you’ve done wrong or not completed.

“Sector” gives 4 options which are pretty limiting, especially for a compulsory field. They assume everyone has a professional sector (which someone who is studying, or unemployed, or retired, may not have), and they also only allow one sector to be selected, so folks who cut across organisational types won’t be represented. (true example: I am currently working for a university, for a nonprofit, and for a for-profit organisation at present). I’d suggest if this is an important bit of info, that it’s possible to select ‘none’ or ‘prefer not to say’, and ideally to allow people to select multiple sectors. I imagine in the Open Knowledge area there will be lots of people who cut across organisations, paid and voluntary work, and so on, who may not fit comfortably into boxes.

(this is important for most profile fields if this becomes the directory system - allowing folks to select ‘none’ or several for fields is helpful, especially in areas like open knowledge where there’s a great deal of cross sector work.)

(also, github account creation doesn’t seem to work…)

Apologies for polluting this nice thread with bug report - but as there’s no ‘new topic’ button i couldn’t see how else to raise this.


@danfowler I’ve successfully added Australia to my profile - thanks


Thanks so much for the excellent feedback: :bug: reports are welcome! You’re right about the problems with highlighting which data is mandatory and which is optional. It’s a symptom of trying to work within Discourse’s feature set which doesn’t actually indicate which of its own fields are mandatory, but does for our custom fields. I’m sure there’s a workaround though as it’s pretty flexible.

Maybe we can change “Sector” to “Primary Sector” and add the additional options you suggested. Unfortunately, Discourse dropdown fields only support choosing one option. Then again, the Discourse feature set changes every week, so I expect more flexibility in the future.

Creating sub-categories at OKI Discuss in our local languages/groups

Can I ask if you know about ? It is Open Source and does a lot of what is asked for in the thread and OK Network could maybe just improve on that code? It is already used a lot.

Means a lot less work and connecting with more “open” people.


Hi @mattias,

We’re aware of the Open Steps directory and fully support the work there. While we realize we’re duplicating efforts a bit, we at Open Knowledge have decided that system isn’t the best solution for us.


There is some discussion about this at okfn-discuss mailing list, we can dig something from there.

I’ve created a subcategory for Open Knowledge Brazil bellow the local groups category for discussions in Portuguese.

I did the same for Australia, as you must have noticed.


Great to hear. Can I hear what the reasons are?

It seems to me that it would be most economically sustainable for OK Central to build upon that solution. As I experience it, the only downside with open-steps is the JavaScript that loads slowly and can be optimized along with the multiple remote sources that data loads from.


I think it is fine for people to create profiles in both :smile:

From an Open Knowledge Australia perspective I like that this forum is OK branded and will clearly be able to represent the total network over time. The benefit this will have for OK Australia is we’ll be able to reference a location where community consultation surrounding specific subjects can be raised and some consensus developed. This transparency will support us in efforts to engage with Government, industry, other chapters and the general public over time.

Collaboration between OK Australia and some of these entities may even be formed under contracts which support initiatives that align with the principles of open knowledge. Gaining sponsorships or grants will be greatly assisted by a clear demonstration of network size and activity, which I think this forum has a lot of potential to provide.


@mattias et al. We choose to use Discourse primarily because the profiles are tied directly to important network activities and the discussions happening here. We need a place too, that is clearly identifiable and branded as Open Knowledge as opposed to the broader open knowledge network. Also, we have fairly limited technical capacity to support, develop and maintain these sorts of systems and Discourse offers us decent range of functionality and can integrate well with WordPress and other tech platforms that we’re using without too much custom development.