Help:Guidelines for candidates and campaigns

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Congresspedia help

Start here:

Editing Help:

Policies and Guidelines

Research and referencing

Wiki the vote 07.gif
This page provides guidelines for candidates and campaign volunteers and staff who would like to edit the candidate profiles in the "Wiki the Vote" project and otherwise participate in Congresspedia. The project's goal is to build extensive profiles on every candidate for Congress in 2008.
If your candidate is missing from the state-by-state listings, please create a profile page or contact the staff editors to request its creation.

Congresspedia now has candidate profiles for the 2008 congressional elections as part of its "Wiki the Vote" project.

The staff editors launched this project in keeping with the spirit of Congresspedia's purpose to be a "citizen's encyclopedia on Congress" - the profiles are meant to give citizens the best and most complete picture of Congress. The profiles, therefore, should resemble the style of the profiles on current members of Congress and focus more on candidates' positions on issues and, for candidates that have held other elected offices, their votes on key issues than on their biography or rhetoric (see below).

Candidates (and campaign volunteers) are free to contribute "fair and accurate" information about themselves; unlike Wikipedia, Congresspedia has no rule to "avoid writing or editing an article about yourself."[1] Additions to Congresspedia are judged more by their content (including their sourcing) than by who made them.

However, there are a few guidelines that should be followed:

Disclose your relationship to the subject of the article

The Congresspedia community welcomes additions and changes to articles on yourself or people you are connected to, but we ask that you follow a few guidelines that are standard for such edits. Essentially we ask that you disclose your relationship on your user page, not delete factually accurate content and defer to other, less-conflicted editors in disputes (you can always contact one of the managing editors for help). More details can be found here.

Don't turn articles into campaign ads

The most useful information about candidates for citizens, especially in the context of Congresspedia, is background on the candidates' positions on issues and votes and background on their experience and past record and positions. There should be a link back to every candidate's website where citizens can go to read more personal statements, but general statements of values and philosophy are best kept to a minimum. In other words, don't turn the profile into a campaign ad. Citizens come to Congresspedia for distilled and fully sourced facts, not campaign rhetoric, which can go on for a long time without saying much.

Here are some tips on good and less-desirable additions (If you're a candidate and don't currently have public statements like the "useful" ones below, please consider adding such specific information to your campaign site.):

Useful Not so useful
Gay rights Joe Schmoe opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, saying, "The bill is an unwelcome regulation of private business that forces owners and executives to override their personal values." Sen. Smith (Schmoe's opponent) voted for the bill. Joe Schmoe thinks the government should stay out of people's personal lives and allow business owners to manage their operations according to their personal values.
Global warming Joe Schmoe supports legislation to limit the United States' production of carbon dioxide, a key factor in global warming. Sen. Smith has voted against the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 and other carbon-capping legislation. Joe Schmoe believes in protecting the environment, especially from the dangers of global warming.
Balanced budgets Joe Schmoe is a fiscal conservative who believes in balanced budgets. As chairman of the Texas Senate's budget committee, he passed a balanced budget out of his committee for the last four years. He has pledged to support "pay-go" restrictions in Congress, which mandate that every spending increase be offset by a spending reduction or tax raise of equal value. Joe Schmoe is a fiscal conservative who believes in balanced budgets. He thinks spending in Congress has gotten out of control and that it "couldn't balance a checkbook, much less the federal budget.

Interacting with the Congresspedia community

Take a minute to review the ground rules, particularly:

  1. Only documented facts should be added to SourceWatch (be fair and accurate): This particularly applies to adding information about your opponent to their profile. Stick to the facts and provide an external source for the information (tips and instructions on how to reference are here. Describe things in a sober, factual manner and steer clear of rhetoric.
  2. Be constructive, not destructive: If information on a page is factually accurate, don't remove it. You may reorganize things or provide context, but please don't destroy other people's work.
  3. Play nice: You are likely to run into someone else on the wiki that disagrees with you on values or opinions. That's OK as long as we all have the same facts. Try to leave notes on the discussion page of an article if you're deleting or re-writing some else's contribution. Check the history tab of the article to see if someone has put a lot of work into a page and try leaving them a note on their talk page (which will automatically alert them the next time they show up). Remember to sign your note by clicking on the squiggly button on top of the editing window!

Getting help from sysops and staff editors

The staff editors are here to offer technical assistance, editorial guidance or whatever other kind of help you need. You can contact Congresspedia Managing Editor Conor Kenny directly by his email at Conoremail.png. We also have a number of super-volunteer "sysops" who help keep an eye on things. These are people who have been active on the wiki for a while and are trusted to help run things, so feel free to ask them for help, too (though they are volunteers, so please don't expect that they will necessarily be able to help you - that's why the staff editors are paid!). A list of sysops can be found by going to here and selecting the "sysop" group.

Getting started

We require a brief registration with the site to begin editing (this helps deter vandalism and spam), so go here to register and log-in and then you can find all the candidate and incumbent profiles via the state portals, which can be found here (just click on your state). Thanks and let us know if we can help!

No candidate profile

To create a profile page for a candidate, first go here to register and log-in. Then you can click on a red link in any of the state portals or follow the steps below to create a new candidate profile page:

  1. Copy and paste this URL into a new browser window

    • Where the URL displays "CANDIDATE_NAME" insert the candidate's first and last name. For example, "John_Smith" without the quotes.
  2. Now, determine which of the following links you should use, and open it in a new window (right-click that link and others on this page, or for Mac users, open-apple-click the link):
  3. Copy and paste the text from that window into your new candidate profile page.

We've basically added a skeleton structure for the page. Now, you just have to plug in the candidate's name, party affiliation and the state and district in which they're running. You'll also include the incumbent's name and party affiliation as well. All of these elements are listed in CAPITAL LETTERS throughout the template text, so finding them should be easy. When you plugin something for capitalized text, you don't have to replace it with capital letters: for example, "CANDIDATE NAME" becomes "John Smith."

Here's a checklist:

  1. The candidate's name is listed in several places within the text, so here's were you need to change it:
    • There are three instances of the candidate's name in the first paragraph: Once for the picture name, once for the image caption, and another time in the introduction text.
    • The candidate's name is also mentioned once in the "2008 elections" section and in the "Committees" section (be sure to note the "he/she" text in the "Committees" section.
    • Also note the candidate's name at the end of the text, where it is included in a category of election challengers.
  2. The state is also mentioned throughout a profile: in the header, the photo caption and the introductory paragraph. Also look for it in the "Related Sourcewatch Articles" section and near the bottom in the "2008 U.S. Congress candidate" category.
  3. The congressional district is used in several places, but only for House candidates. You need to enter the correct number in the header, the picture caption and in the introductory section.
  4. The incumbent is mentioned in two places: in the introductory text and in the "2008 Elections" section. Be sure to enter the correct party affiliation (D, I or R) and the incumbent's state (following these guidelines).
  5. A state's two-letter postal code is used in the House template, in conjunction with the congressional district number, to link to a map of the congressional district. The format (using Alabama's 3rd congressional district as an example) is as follows:

    [ map]

    • You should also change the postal code (and the congressional district number) in the 2008 Racetracker reference. Here's a Senate example:

      <ref>[ 2008 Race Tracker page on New Mexico's Senate Race]</ref>

  6. The party name is listed throughout the article: in the photo caption, introductory text, "2008 elections" section and in a category at the end of the profile. If your candidate is an independent, use the following language rather than the boilerplate already in the template:

    '''John Smith''' is an independent candidate in the [[2008 U.S. congressional elections|2008 congressional elections]]...He is challenging incumbent...

That just about wraps up everything you need to change. If you have contact information (a phone number, Web site or e-mail address) please be sure to include it, and go ahead and add information on the candidate's positions on issues and policy using the guidelines outlined above. Above all else, let us know if you have any questions. You can reach assistant editor Avelino Maestas at his talk page or by e-mail at

Tips for your campaign Web site

In the process of establishing Wiki the Vote, we've seen hundreds of candidate Web sites, from pages made my candidates themselves to multimedia sites that cost thousands of dollars. While Congresspedia doesn't usually offer advice to candidates, we do have two tips to make your site more useful to citizen-journalists, bloggers, reporters and, yes, voters:

  1. Include contact information in an easy to find place. This should include:
    • A physical address, so locals can drop in
    • A mailing address
    • Phone and fax numbers
    • An e-mail address
  2. Include a headshot of your candidate so that reporters, bloggers and citizen-journalists can easily download and use it.

We strive to make Congresspedia articles as useful as possible, and we think these tips will help citizens and others engaged in the political process interact with your candidate.


  1. "Wikipedia:Autobiography", Captured on November 25, 2007.