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Policies and Guidelines
Research and referencing
Welcome to the OpenCongress Wiki. If OpenCongress is a site that brings you the data behind bills and lawmakers, then the Wiki is where you find the context. It's an online encyclopedia about Congress, but more than that, it's built entirely by readers like yourself. You can write about the importance of a particular vote on a critical piece of legislation, or document your senator's position on issues like foreign policy, taxation and the environment.
Everyone is an editor
The OpenCongress Wiki, like Wikipedia, is an encyclopedia that anybody can edit. We require registration to prevent vandalism and spam, but otherwise we rely on ordinary readers (like you!) for content. Unlike Wikipedia, however, we do not ask editors to be "neutral," since we understand nobody can remove their biases. Instead, we require all information added to the OpenCongress Wiki be factual and accurate. There are a few ground rules to keep in mind, but the basic thing to remember is "cite your sources." (More)
Editing is easy
With many wikis, contributors must make changes using Wiki Markup, a code like HTML that is pretty simple (but still confusing to people who have never used it before). The OpenCongress Wiki, while built on the same underlying code, is enhanced with a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (or WYSIWYG) editor. It's basically a Rich text editor, something you should find familiar from word processing programs or perhaps your e-mail. As a result, editing OpenCongress Wiki pages is pretty easy, though you can still use the Wiki Markup if you like.
So, where would you like to begin? We have Wiki pages on every member in Congress, and information on the the committees, leadership, and rules for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Or, perhaps you're interested in a particular piece of legislation? We've got that covered as well. Maybe you want to start tracking (and writing about) candidates for the 2010 congressional elections? Check out the 2010 RaceTracker for more information.
We're here if you need us
While we've done our best to make the OpenCongress Wiki easy to use and navigate, we understand that sometimes there are problems. If you're the type that likes to figure things out, start at the main Help page. Or you can dive into our forums and see if the answer is there. However, if you ever need to ask a question, contact a member of the staff - we're usually pretty quick to respond.