Help:FAQ

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How do I report that something isn't working properly?

If you think it's a bug in the software (for example, if it happens in two different web browsers), you can send a bug report via the contact page.

Is it possible for a vandal to delete all OpenCongress pages?

Not really. You need to be an administrator to permanently and totally delete pages. Any other users could remove the text of a page, but any other user could restore the text from the history archive. If someone did an extensive attack, they could be blocked from further editing by the admins. Moreover, we are keeping backups of the server itself.

Is allowing everyone to edit pages safe? What if someone contributes or writes something that might be defamatory?

Contributors should refer to the editorial policy and ground rules for guidelines on what is acceptable content to add to OpenCongress. If you see content that does not meet those standards, see Help:How to fix or report an error for solutions.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the person who posts content on the wiki, rather than the Participatory Politics Foundation or Sunlight Foundation, is generally liable for their additions. The Electronic Freedom Foundation has a good "Overview of Legal Liability Issues" that may help guide your contributions.

What is the best way to link into OpenCongress from another site?

To link to the main page, the preferred URL is http://www.OpenCongress.org/. To link to the OpenCongress Wiki, use http://www.opencongress.org/wiki.

Is there a place where people ask for new entries?

On the requested articles page you can ask for a specific article to be created. The Most Wanted page lists nonexistent articles that other articles have link to.

Is there any peer review process to validate the data that is displayed?

We are all peers here, and we all review each other's work.

What happened to Congresspedia?

In 2006, The Sunlight Foundation partnered with the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) to launch Congresspedia, the original online encyclopedia about Congress. Congresspedia was hosted by CMD on Sourcewatch, a wiki about PR firms, activist groups and government agencies (and their intersection with the media).

In March of 2009, the Sunlight Foundation decided to merge the Congresspedia project with another joint venture, the Participatory Politics Foundation's OpenCongress project. The "Congresspedia" brand was dropped, and the corresponding Wiki articles became the OpenCongress Wiki.

Is it okay to copy an OpenCongress article into Wikipedia, or vice versa?

We don't have any objections to this from the OpenCongress end. If copying articles from Wikipedia into OpenCongress, please add a {{wikipedia}} template tag to the bottom of the OpenCongress version. This adds an attribution credit and a link back to the Wikipedia article.

When copying articles from OpenCongress into Wikipedia, it is possible that Wikipedia editors may object, depending on the nature of the article that you want to add. Wikipedia's editorial policies are somewhat different than OpenCongress regarding what type of content is considered appropriate. First of all, Wikipedia has a "neutral point of view" (NPOV) policy that says articles should be written from a neutral, and not partisan, point of view. (The OpenCongress policy is somewhat different, seeking articles that are fair, accurate and referenced.) Wikipedia has a diverse community of editors and therefore they have numerous internal disputes about what is or is not "neutral," so it's quite possible that someone there may object to your article on that basis, while someone else may feel your article is perfectly fine.

Wikipedia also has a "notability" policy that says an article should be on a topic that has "received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject." It has a policy on "biographies of living persons" that basically recommends caution to avoid adding content that might be hurtful or libelous. Finally, it has a "spam" policy that discourages people from adding external links to their own websites or other self-promotional material.

Here are the links to Wikipedia's policy pages in each of these areas:

If you try adding an OpenCongress article to Wikipedia and someone objects, you can certainly argue your case for its inclusion on the article's Wikipedia talk page. Of course, we recommend being polite about the matter and accepting the decision of Wikipedians if a majority there feels that the material is inappropriate for their website.

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