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SourceWatch:Ground rules

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SourceWatch is made possible by your contributions, in terms of both editing and donating. This is a free resource, but we really would appreciate your donations to keep this valuable resource alive and thriving. And, we value your editing contributions as well. We ask that you follow the SourceWatch policies and ground rules below along with other editing policies.

Policies and Ground Rules

SourceWatch is an encyclopedia of public affairs that documents the people, issues and groups shaping the public agenda both locally and globally. It is meant to help citizens worldwide discover the connections, money and agendas behind pundits and organizations; learn more about important policy and political issues; and hold public officials accountable by documenting their actions and statements. Edits to SourceWatch should reflect this. For more on what is and is not relevant to be on SourceWatch, read the full purpose statement.

Our standard is fair, accurate, and documented

Articles written for SourceWatch should be fair, accurate, and documented. Articles should summarize evidence and points of view on a subject accurately and provide documentation of the statements made. SourceWatch does not require a "neutral point of view," and so opinions and views may be cited with attribution in most instances, if made apparent as such. Users who wish to contribute should strive to be factual; users vandalizing the site or engaging in edit warring will be blocked.

Be fair

Additions should be fair and not misleading. Language should be plain and accurate. SourceWatch does not require a neutral point of view. Your additions to SourceWatch do not have to represent the facts behind all sides of a debate, but as a specialized resource, SourceWatch is focused on describing the companies, groups, and people attempting to influence public policy--who they are, how they are connected to one another, and who funds them--as well as select public policy issues highlighted by the Center for Media and Democracy. SourceWatch does not follow the infamous "fair and balanced" approach of Fox News to "reporting" information because it oversimplifies issues as a binary he said/she said choice and gives a false impression of the equality of the weight of evidence on issues and is inherently distorting.

Be accurate

Strive to eliminate errors of fact from SourceWatch. To take an easy example, if someone was born on September 1, 1960, SourceWatch should not say that they were born on November 12, 1972. Some facts may be in dispute (and the question of how to interpret known facts is often an even greater challenge) but endeavor to be as precise and accurate as possible.

Document the facts

Every assertion should have a source. Avoid using sources that are unreliable, unverifiable or unestablished. (See the referencing guidelines for more.) The opinions of "experts" can be illuminating but are not dispositive, given the biases many experts have based on their funding or their ideology. Opinions of commentators can be included and noted as such. As noted above, SourceWatch does not require "neutrality." Additionally, adding a source's name or affiliation to their SourceWatch profile or article is encouraged to give readers more background on the sources and their potential biases or financial interests.

Be constructive, not destructive

Make sure your edits add to the informative value of an article; that is, do not remove substantive content that is accurate, sourced, and relevant, even if you don't like it. It is fine to contextualize or reorganize content or move it onto sub-articles or related articles, but the reorganization should be in accordance with the article guidelines and should not be used to de-emphasize content you don't like.

Play nice

SourceWatch is a collaborative project of researchers, journalists and others. Certain practices allow us to work together better:

  1. If editing existing content (as opposed to adding new content), indicate the reason for the edit. You should also consider leaving a note on the article's discussion page explaining your reasons for the changes. You might also consider leaving a message on the talk page of the user whose content you are editing alerting them about the discussion page if you think the changes are significant.
  2. Don't engage in name calling with other users.
  3. Do begin by assuming people are editing in good faith.
  4. When all else fails, appeal to one of the managing editors for assistance.

SourceWatch contributors come from many different countries and cultures. By treating others with respect we are able to cooperate effectively in building this specialized encyclopedia.

Follow conventions

By following the following conventions we are able to produce a more consistent and usable encyclopedia:

Don't infringe copyrights

SourceWatch is a free encyclopedia licenced under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Submitting work without the copyright holder's permission is not acceptable. Contributors who infringe copyrighted material are subject to account termination. If you believe your own copyrighted material has been infringed, you may contact the Center for Media and Democracy's registered copyright agent: Lisa Graves, Executive Director, Center for Media and Democracy, 409 East Main Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703. Telephone (608) 260-9713. Email: copyright AT prwatch.org. See SourceWatch copyrights for more information.

Guidance on posting articles about yourself or your organization

We don't encourage individuals and groups to create SW articles about themselves or people or organizations with which they are affiliated. We do encourage people to register under their own names if they do edit articles already on SW about themselves or their affiliations. We expect people who do so to exercise restraint and defer to other contributors with regard to editing choices that are matters of interpretation rather than fact. When disputes arise over interpretation, such individuals should try to address them with comments on the talk page rather than the article space itself. Users who are overly aggressive in deleting relevant facts from articles about themselves or others may be blocked from contributing to SourceWatch.

How are these policies enforced?

You are a SourceWatch editor. SourceWatch lacks a top-down mechanism whereby all day-to-day progress on the encyclopedia is monitored and approved. Instead, active participants monitor the recent changes page and make copyedits and corrections to the content, format, and policy problems they see. So the participants are both writers and editors. The paid editors of SourceWatch do review much of what is added and offer additional guidance and contributions. But without the participation of a community of participants, a wiki resource like SourceWatch cannot succeed. CMD staff can ban disruptive users. See the SourceWatch editorial policy for the policies followed by staff and sysops in editing contributions and enforcing policies.

Personnel

SourceWatch was designed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), but much of the content is contributed by volunteers like you: scholars, journalists, students, activists, and generally-knowledgeable people from around the world who happen to show up at the website and feel inspired to donate some of their knowledge. CMD compensates its staff for helping to edit SourceWatch. CMD staff and other volunteers who have a proven track record of positive contributions act as informal sysops, monitoring recent changes with an eye to preventing and correcting vandalism, offensive contributions, and deliberate disinformation. If you are interested in becoming a sysop, please contact SourceWatch's publisher, Lisa Graves, the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy at Lisa AT prwatch.org.

Funding

SourceWatch relies on readers like you to make donations to support the continuation of this resource. Any ads on SourceWatch are moderated by outside brokers (and not controlled by the Center for Media and Democracy) and do not cover the costs of running the site. The Center for Media and Democracy is a non-profit organization.