Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Website Review - Permies

Approximately three weeks ago I discovered the Permies website. Actually, discovered isn't quite the right word, since I had stumbled upon it previously, but had never spent a significant amount of time there. This time, however, when I ended up on the site I realized that it is the type of site I've been searching for. I was tempted to write this review shortly after I began regularly visiting, but decided that the only way to give a thorough and fair review was to wait until I had more experience with the site.

After nearly three weeks I feel confident in my ability to accurately assess the Permies website. It is, indeed, the type of site I've been hoping to find. The site is primarily a forum, with links to external sites containing articles, podcasts, and videos created by the founder, Paul Wheaton. The site is described as being the largest permaculture site on the internet, and I'm inclined to believe the claim.

The forum is divided into 11 categories, each of which is further divided into several sub-categories, for a total of 88 different categories. The primary topics are: growies, critters, building, homesteading, energy, living, community, wilderness, regional, global resources, and the permies.com community. Some of the sub-categories focus on very specific topics, such as composting toilets, ponds, and medicinal herbs.

I have spent hours browsing dozens of topics on the site. I find that for a quick visit I most often use the "Recent Topics" link, which provides a list of the most recently updated threads. This allows the user to quickly view recently commented on or new threads, without having to check each forum individually. I also find the "My Posts" link useful, as a way of checking the threads I've been actively engaged in.

Even though I am not currently a permaculture practitioner, I have found a wealth of information that is applicable to the things Andrea and I are trying to do here. I have found information on two topics that I had not previously heard of: hugelkultur and biodynamics, which I am definitely interested in learning more about. At times I find myself getting immersed in some discussions, and checking our links and references mentioned in the threads. The most recent topics of this type include a thread on home grown rabbit feed and one on growing and managing kudzu.

There are other sites that offer a comparable amount of information. What makes Permies stand out, however, is the overall tone of the conversations. I have found that the vast majority of discussions maintain a positive tone. Far too often, it seems, good information is tainted by negativity and undesirable behavior. I have yet to experience this on the forums at Permies. I suspect that this is primarily due to the focus on Permaculture, which seems to attract people with the same general outlook on many topics as I have.

I believe that Permies will appeal to people with a wide range of interests, not just those interested in permaculture. Anyone interested in gardening, livestock husbandry, alternative construction, etc can expect to find useful information on the site. This is especially true for those interested in performing this activities with an aim towards sustainability.

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