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"Introduction" provides help for editing and/or navigating OpenCongress. For more help see the main help page or contact one of the managing editors.

This site is built by ordinary people, like you. It's the fact that it is open to everyone that makes these articles ever-improving, as we review and build on each other's work. Although no one is free of bias, we can cancel each other's out to a large degree, and deal with any systemic bias remaining by policy measures.

So, you can just dive right in and work on any article you like! You can edit any article directly, or if you want to add your thoughts, questions or comments about an article, you can go to the article's talk page (click on the 'Discuss the page' link in the sidebar or at the bottom of the article). You don't even need to be logged in to edit articles, although it is still a good idea to log in as this gives you access to more of the site's features and makes it easier to communicate with other users.

To work together effectively in building the encyclopedia, the OpenCongress community is working to establish policies and guidelines. An encyclopedia about politicians and policy issues, by its very nature, is bound to attract controversy and debate. It is important, therefore, to write articles that focus on documented facts. Please include thorough references to documentation supporting the facts in your article, and avoid rhetorical or inflammatory language. If you are using or defining a rhetorical or inflammatory term then explain it in an article where it can be put in context and balance introduced - redirect all references to competing terms to one place. This is critical: We want OpenCongress to be a useful information resource for journalists, activists and the general public, so please do not treat it as a debate forum. Any discussion about topics should be mainly directed at improving articles to the point where they are useful to citizens, the main consumer of our work.

New contributors are always welcome to OpenCongress, and you are encouraged to be bold in editing pages. You don't have to worry too much about making mistakes, as all contributions are monitored by other contributors at the Recent changes page.

We would suggest you familiarize yourself with news-style writing, which is, simply: put the important material first, and then the rest in descending order of importance. And watch your point of view! If you are taking a position on an issue, take it early and overtly so others can see your declared bias. In time we expect multiple points of view to fully develop and compete in a lively non-violent fashion.

We hope you have fun!

Acknolwegment: many of the help pages were based on similar pages on Wikipedia and Sourcewatch.