This page collects some basic introduction and guidance to using the Public Lab website. There are many ways to use the site, but this page focuses on supporting newcomers.
The Public Lab website is being continuously refined, but its purpose is to:
> support a diverse range of people to **exchange knowledge about environmental issues that affect people, and collaborate on ways of monitoring them, organizing around them, and supporting one another in these activities**.
(Draft diagram from [this post](/notes/warren/01-27-2017/diagramming-knowledge-production-on-publiclab-org))
The website is organized into several areas, including:
* [Questions and Answers](/questions) - organized by topic
* [Methods](/methods) - approaches to monitoring, including those under development
* [the Blog](/blog) - stories across our network
* [the Dashboard](/dashboard) - latest activity across the site
### Questions and Answers
All questions are collected on [PublicLab.org/questions](/questions), and also displayed by topic across many parts of the site. **There are no "bad" questions** -- if you don't understand something, or can't find something, **please ask**!
**Newcomers have a unique ability to see things that have been overlooked, so we need your help!**
This word means different things to different people, but our [Methods page](/methods) collects many different approaches to monitoring environmental problems, from **off-the-shelf commercial tools** to **in-progress Do-It-Yourself techniques**, to **community organizing and advocacy tactics**.
Each page listed will have a **Questions section** for related questions, and will list **activities you can do** related to that topic.
It's not a comprehensive list of topics or methods, so please [ask a question](/question) if you can think of a method you want to see on the website, or have related resources to share!
_Above: a sampling of methods from the [Methods page](/methods)_
The [Public Lab Blog](/blog) is a place where we share stories from across our networks and communities -- a place to stay updated as well as to remember the people and communities working every day to drive all of these efforts forward. See [our main Blog page](/wiki/blog) to learn more and to submit an article.
[Your dashboard](/dashboard) is where you can see all the latest activity on Public Lab, for a sense of what's going on across the site in the past week. It features updates and new posts, whether they're activities, events, or questions.
Each person with a Public Lab account has a profile page -- for example, see @hagitkeysar, @zengirl2, or @nedhorning -- which shows:
* activities and notes they've authored or co-authored
* questions and answers they've posted
* comments they've made
* their optional photo and bio
You can add tags to your own profile page to add information -- more on this coming soon!
Here's an example of a profile page:
## Topic pages
Topic pages, or tag pages, collect all the activity around a given topic name, as represented by the "tags" each page is annotated with. See the top right sidebar of this page for an example of tags.
To get to a Topic page, click on the tag. You'll be directed to a page like this one, for the topic "Sampling":
Tag pages collect and display:
* activities and notes
* other content
Tag pages show the newest content first, so they are a good way to get a "snapshot" view of what's happening on a topic. Learn more about how to use tags to organize information on PublicLab.org here: [About Tags](https://publiclab.org/wiki/about-tags)
If you wish, browse all tags at https://publiclab.org/tags
If you have questions about the website, please ask here!