Submitted by Conor Kenny on
Welcome to the debut of Congresspedia, the "citizen's encyclopedia on Congress." Congresspedia is a bold new experiment by the Center for Media and Democracy and the Sunlight Foundation in distributed citizen journalism. It is based on the wiki model (think Wikipedia) and is a subset of the Center's SourceWatch wiki.
We are starting with 539 articles -- one for every current member of Congress, the non-voting delegates, and former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. However, we hope that this is only the foundation upon which Congresspedia contributors (like you!) will build upon by not just adding to those profiles but also by creating new articles on any subject related to Congress that falls within the bounds of our policies and article guidelines.
We created Congresspedia because we were inspired with the wealth of information people had collaborated to create on wikis like Wikipedia, the Flu wiki and SourceWatch. We wanted to construct a new resource for citizens to research their members of Congress and inform their fellow citizens. In the spirit of "many hands make light work," we believe that by providing a platform to harness the efforts of the millions of people who use the web to read and write about our government, we can aggregate much of that labor into a central repository of information that will serve as a comprehensive record of the actions of our members of Congress. We think the format of Congresspedia will allow it to fill a role that blogs and news articles cannot by crafting living histories that fight the "memory hole effect" of coverage disappearing behind paywalls and into blog archives.
In addition, Congresspedia will benefit from the contributions and enterprise reporting of the Sunlight Foundation's bloggers, who will work with citizen journalists to produce original reporting that will be fed into Congresspedia. Down the road we hope to integrate the different money in politics databases Sunlight is funding into the site to provide even more tools for our contributors to rake the muck. Congresspedia is also overseen by a staff editor (me), who will provide fact checking and guidance to citizen contributors. The editor will work with the Congresspedia/SourceWatch community to review contributions for appropriateness, accuracy and non-partisanship.
So, take a look around and let us know what you think (once you have registered you can leave comments here and begin to make your own contributions to the wiki). A good place to start is the about Congresspedia page, followed by the SourceWatch:Congresspedia help page, which will walk you through how to contribute.