Help:How to start a page

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This is a help article on how to start a new page on OpenCongress. It covers both the technical procedure and guidelines for dealing with new articles. You might also want to learn about:


Procedure: How to create a new page

Before you create a page: Make sure to read the instructions below on "check to see if a similar page already exists" and "naming conventions for titling pages."

There are three ways to create a new page:

  1. Using an internal link to a non-existent page; and
  2. Directly in the address bar of your browser.
  3. From the search results page.
Tip: Internal links in OpenCongress generally point to an article of the same name. For example, this link - Earmarks - points to an article named "Earmarks". You can create a link anywhere on the wiki by simply putting two brackets around a word or phrase [[like this]]. If the link has the same name as an existing article it will show up in blue (with Earmarks, for example), where links that do not correspond to an existing article show up in red like this.

See also:

Creating a new page using an internal link to a non-existent page

If you're creating a new page because you saw one of those red links somewhere, just click on the red link. If you've registered with OpenCongress (which is required to edit) and are logged-in, you'll usually get a page that says:

"You've followed a link to a page that doesn't exist yet. To create the page, start typing in the box below"

It really is that simple! Simply type some text into the box and click "save." (Remember to jot a note in the smaller "Summary" box below the big box - this helps other editors keep track of what's happening on the wiki. In this case something like "starting a new page" will suffice.)

If, however, you want to create a new page but haven't seen a red link, you simply need to create one. If you know of a related article, go there and create the link (see the tip above) so readers can find the new article. If it's a completely new topic (which isn't likely), create the link somewhere it won't mess up an otherwise tidy page, like on your user page. To get to your userpage, scroll to the top of any OpenCongress Wiki page and look for your username next to an icon of a little person in the upper right corner. It will appear there any time you're logged-in. Like any other OpenCongress link, red means you haven't put anything there yet and blue means there's stuff there. Just click the link to your userpage and add the link [[like this]] to create the link to the new page.

Creating a new page directly in the address bar of your browser

Another option is to simply type the name of the article you want to create into the address bar of your browser. To do this, go to any OpenCongress Wiki page and delete everything in the address bar after . Then type the title of your new page after the "=" and hit return. You should then see a page that says:

"You've followed a link to a page that doesn't exist yet. To create the page, start typing in the box below"

Then just type your text in and click "save." That's it.

Creating a new page from the search results page

Another way to create a new page is to simply input the name of the page you want to create (with all the proper capitalization - see the naming conventions). If no such article exists, you'll get a page saying:

There is no page titled "[the name of your page]". You can create this page.

When you get there, click that red link and it will open an editing window on the new blank page. Simply type in your text, click save and you're done.

Before you create a new page

Check to see if a similar page already exists

If you want to create a new page on a topic, probably the first thing to do is to use the "search" form (on the left hand side of the window or at this link) and plug in the tentative title of your new page to see whether someone has already created a page on that topic or something very similar.

A similar page may show up under "Article title matches" or "Page text matches" on the search results screen. It's obviously better that we combine pages (and efforts) on very similar or identical topics. For example, you may be trying to create a page on "Jonathan Baron," but a search for "Jonathan Baron" shows that there is already an page on "Jonathan M. Baron," the same guy. Similarly, you may want to create a page on "Dispelling the silicosis scandal," which would be about the PR efforts to dispel public scandal surrounding the deaths of thousands of workers from silicosis in the 1930s. However, a search for "silicosis" shows that there is already an article on the Air Hygiene Foundation, a front group set up by the employers of the dead workers, which covers basically the same topic. In both cases, rather create a new page, you should put a redirect in on the uncreated page that will reroute readers to the already existing page. This will also take any red links to that similar page (in this case, "Dispelling the silicosis scandal") and turn them purplish, letting readers know that a page already exists on that topic, which is nice.

See the help page "How to use redirect pages" for instructions on how to create a redirect.

Naming conventions for titling pages

Make sure to abide by the OpenCongress Wiki's naming conventions when titling your new article. This helps keep the encyclopedia tidy and makes adding links to articles easier.

Tips and guidelines for creating good new articles

Guidelines for new articles

When starting a new article, remember to establish context at the start of a new page. Each article should begin with a brief (one- or two-sentence) general description of the lawmaker, legislation, or topic.

More guidance:

Stub Pages

Stub pages are articles with little content, but that through the ongoing work of their creator and the collaboration process grow over time into longer articles. Stub pages are noticed and picked up by search engines, and thus attract new readers and thus new contributors. Please show tolerance for stub page creation; rather than deleting information for its minimalist content, edit and enrich the stub page. Today's stub page acorn is tomorrow's big oak, or next month or next year's big oak.

To classify a stub page as such, simply insert a this: {{stub}} into the body of the article. The wiki will automatically put a stub tag in the page.

Remember that all content added to OpenCongress may be used by others

Bear in mind that OpenCongress is an open content encyclopedia. You are contributing to a free, publicly-usable database of information. You automatically license everything you contribute under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License; you can only do that if you own the copyright to the material (which you do if you created it), or if the material is in the public domain. See OpenCongress Copyrights for details. Never submit copyrighted material without permission from the copyright owner.

Acknowledgment: the content of many of the help pages in OpenCongress have been adapted from SourceWatch and Wikipedia. See Help:Starting a new page