Talk:SourceWatch/Archived Citizen Editor Projects

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This is the archive of relatively ancient citizen journalism requests that are no longer fresh and so are parked here:

SourceWatch/Archived Citizen Editor Projects -- in the order of oldest first, newest last -- are:

  • Featured Participatory Journalism Project: What Should Congresspedia Cover?: Next week the Congresspedia project on SourceWatch will launch a new section of the site on legislation and issues. Congresspedia's staff and citizen editors have worked with more than a dozen policy wonks to write a first set of 150 articles, but we need you to help us identify what we've missed. So, take a look at our list of legislation and issue articles and, if you see something missing, add it to our requested articles list. We'll use this in the coming weeks and months to make sure Congresspedia covers what citizens think are the important issues.
  • Information on the Top 100 Foundations by Giving in the U.S.: SourceWatch is CMD's on-line, collaborative encyclopedia of people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda. Granting foundations -- regardless of their areas of interest or position on political spectrum -- certainly fit. The Foundation Center has a list of the top 100 foundations by giving as of March 2007. Can you help us include this information in SourceWatch? Go to the Foundation Center page and look up one of the foundations on SourceWatch. If there is an article already, you can add the giving information. You can also click on the foundation's name on the Foundation Center page to visit their website, where you can find more information to include in the SourceWatch article. If a SourceWatch article doesn't yet exist, you can start one with the information you find.
  • Update SourceWatch Information on HPV State Legislation: If you have been reading the four-article series on The Politics and PR of Cervical Cancer, you may be wondering about what is going on in your state. We would like to have that information on our SourceWatch site, so that others can easily find it. In the section of the Gardasil article dealing state level legislation, we have articles set up for each state and U.S. territory. Please help us fill in current information.
There are several resources that may be useful. One is the campaign page of Women in Government (WIG), Merck's lobbying partner. WIG provide a map with indications of what types of legislation are enacted or introduced in each state. There is also information at Kaiser Network's web site. The National Conference of State Legislatures also provides a list of current HPV legislation and its status.
  • Republican Senators on Iraq: A recent debate in the U.S. Senate (watch it here) over the Levin-Reed amendment to the 2008 defense appropriations bill, which would require President Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within four months and complete the transition to a much more limited mission by April 30, 2008. The vote was to break a filibuster Senate Republicans mounted to stop an up-or-down, majority-rules vote on the amendment. Democrats needed 60 votes and that depends on the number of defections they get from within the ranks of the Senate Republicans. Which Republicans indicated they might flip? How many actually voted to end the debate and to pass the amendment? Have you seen a news story or heard about your own senators' positions? Help us keep track on Congresspedia's article on Congressional actions to end the Iraq War in a special section on Republican defections.
  • Dick Durbin
    Help Sen. Durbin Write a New Internet Bill: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has opened up the legislative process to citizen participation for a new "national broadband strategy" bill that would cover network neutrality policy, broadband Internet availability and spectrum policy. He has been blogging and asking for suggestions at the new OpenLeft.com site and his office has encouraged CMD to setup a parallel project on Congresspedia where we are collecting all the arguments, data and research needed to draft and evaluate the legislation when Sen. Durbin posts it online.
You don't need to be an expert to join this effort - Simply go to the project homepage and check it out. If you'd like to pitch in, leave a note on the project's discussion page or email the Congresspedia managing editor at CKenny [at] Congresspedia.org.
  • Help Expose the Attempts to Spin Wikipedia: Two weeks ago we told you about the "Wikipedia Scanner" - a new tool that scans the anonymous edits made to Wikipedia and can identify those made from the computers at places like the CIA, Wal-Mart and political campaign headquarters. The Wikipedia community has done a solid job of rooting out the attempts to add spin and misinformation to the encyclopedia, but at SourceWatch we want to make sure those additions are preserved as part of these companies' and organizations' permanent records. You join the citizen journalists and CMD staff in this effort by taking the Scanner for a spin and logging your results into SourceWatch. The full details, instructions and tips are at this participatory project's homepage on SourceWatch - no technical expertise is necessary.
  • Digging Out the Nuggets in Eli Lilly's Contributions to Patient and Other Groups: In May this year, the drug company Eli Lilly announced that it would post details of "all educational grant funding and other monetary contributions provided to U.S.-based organizations" into an online database. Tucked away amongst the numerous grants made in the first six months of 2007 are details of funds provided to patient groups, various research centres and a sprinkling of political groups. So, to save citizens and journalists from having to sift through the whole report, we have a created a page to make the highlights a little easier to find. If you'd like to help dig out the nuggets, just head over to the SourceWatch page for the project, where there are complete instructions, a couple of examples of interesting grants and an email hotline for support.
  • What's That Stuff Doing in Cigarettes?: What is "acetoin," and what is it doing in cigarettes? Tobacco companies inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (but not the public) about the 599 potential additives they can put in cigarettes. We've got that cigarette additives list, but we don't have any explanations about what these chemicals are. Acetoin is on the list, but we don't know what it is, or why they put it in cigarettes. Help us find out, so everyone can know: Go to TobaccoWiki, scroll down to "Tobacco Topics," click on "Additives," then on "acetoin;" click the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library search button. Browse through the documents you get back, and look for information about acetoin. Add the information you find to the TobaccoWiki article on acetoin.
  • Post Photos of the 2008 Candidates: We launched a new project, "Wiki the Vote," on Congresspedia this week to build profiles of each of the 2008 congressional candidates. We're looking to build the same kind of citizen-driven profiles of challengers that we have done for sitting members of Congress and have started with a first set of 300 confirmed candidates. We encourage folks to go ahead and start adding to these pages, but the first thing we'd like to do across the board is to find and post photos of each of the candidates. The process is remarkably easy and you'll find complete instructions here.
Update: The project to post photos of the hundreds of 2008 U.S. congressional candidates is almost complete! Check your state's portal at the Congresspedia 2008 election homepage to help us find the last ones. Complete instructions are here. The full list of things you can do on SourceWatch here.
  • Nuclear Companies Head for the Trough: With billions of dollars in subsides on offer from the U.S. government, some utilities are lining up to submit applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for new nuclear power plants. As a first step to helping citizens and journalists track what's happening we will be building a page listing what is known about the new nuclear power station proposals. (Further down the track we'd like to build profiles on the companies, their track records and their PR and lobbying activities). To help build the page you'll find complete instructions here.
And whether you plan to edit or not, check out our Nuclear Issues portal on SourceWatch for easy to access information on this topic.
  • What was Big Tobacco's "Project Big Boy"?: What was Brown & Williamson's "Project Big Boy"? CMD launched the TobaccoWiki project to answer questions just like that (the answers are usually not very pretty) by enlisting citizens like you to mine the millions of pages of previously-secret, internal tobacco industry documents now posted on the Internet. Spending even a few minutes to find an interesting nugget of information about what this project involved would be helpful, so why not give it a spin? To track down information on Project Big Boy, click this link to search the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library for internal documents on the project, look for anything you find interesting and add descriptions or quotes to the TobaccoWiki article about Project Big Boy.
  • How did Your Member of Congress Vote on SCHIP?: SCHIP - The State Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers more than 6 million U.S. kids from families whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid but who are considered too poor to afford health insurance, has been all over the news this summer and fall as Congress debated the renewal and expansion of the program. President Bush has already vetoed the first bill approved by Democrats and many Republicans, and the House has held two votes on new versions of the bill but has yet to muster the votes needed to override the veto.
The stakes - billions of dollars and insurance for millions of children - have rarely been higher, and citizens need to know how their representatives voted, regardless of whether they think the bill was a march toward socialized health care or a lifeline for poor children. You can help by taking five minutes to record the votes of your representative in their Congresspedia "permanent record." The Congresspedia staff has written concise summaries of the votes and simple instructions for recording the votes on your member's profile. The instructions are here and if this is your first time editing on SourceWatch, you can register here, and learn more about the site here. Have fun, and thanks for your help!
Update on the last project (SCHIP): Quite a few citizens turned out to record their representative's votes on the State Children's Health Insurance Program. To see how your represenative voted, find them on your respective state portal or look them up by zip-code. If your representative's vote isn't there, here are the simple instructions for adding it.
  • We need help finding out the names of more internal tobacco company tobacco industry projects & operations. To help with this, go to the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and perform searches using phrases like "confidential project" and "confidential operation." "Operation Berkshire" and "Project Brass" are examples of the type of names you are looking for. Add the names of any new or missing projects or operations to our list in the TobaccoWiki page on this. Items are listed in alphabetical order. If this is your first time editing on SourceWatch, you can register here, and learn more about adding information to the site here, here and here. Have fun, and thanks for your help!
  • Record Whether Your Senator Voted to Confirm Bush's A.G. Pick: Michael Mukasey was confirmed as the Attorney General of the United States by the Senate last week in a contentious 53-40 vote. Mukasey's nomination gained controversy with Democrats as he largely endorsed the Bush administration's policies in the War on Terror and refused to say whether waterboarding violated anti-torture laws, though he said he found the procedure "repugnant."
You can help keep Congress accountable by taking five minutes to record the votes of your senators in their "permanent records" - their Congresspedia profiles. Congresspedia's high traffic and search engine rankings mean that hundreds or thousands of your fellow citizens will find out how they voted. The instructions are here and if this is your first time editing on SourceWatch/Congresspedia, you can register here, and learn more about the site here. Have fun, and thanks for your help!
  • One of GE's Ecomagination ads
    Getting Behind GE's Green Gloss: In May 2005 General Electric, which is now ranked as the world's tenth largest company, launched its "Ecomagination" PR campaign. The project, the company stated, was to "address challenges such as the need for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy." But two years later it turns out that nuclear power plants get the company's count as being imaginative. The global PR blitz has been documented a little but somewhat haphazardly. However, it would be great if together we could create the best, most authoritative article on what is perhaps the boldest global greenwashing campaign around. If you'd like to help click here for the project page.
  • Classroom Propaganda of Yesteryear: We've started an article on Sourcewatch about Coronet Instructional Films, a company that produced cheesy "social guidance" films in the period following World War II, dealing with topics such as personal hygiene, appropriate dating behavior for teenagers, and American economic and social values. The unintentionally humorous qualities of these films have made them ripe targets for ridicule on Comedy Central's Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and elsewhere. However, they had a serious purpose, according to Ken Smith, who has written a book about what he calls "mental hygiene" films. "Adults were scared," he says. "We forget that nowadays and look back on the '50s as an innocent time. No, parents were scared shitless of the same things they are now. Whether it was how to teach a kid to behave on a date or not to have sex or to drive safely, there was a world full of dangers, and that's why these films exist." In addition to amusement, therefore, studying these films can provide insights into social attitudes as well as the propaganda techniques used to indoctrinate a generation of Americans.
You can help with this research by expanding the article on Coronet Instructional Films or by adding articles about similar filmmakers, such as Sid Davis or the Centron Corporation. Perhaps you'd like to watch one of the films -- many of which can be found online at the Internet Archive -- and add a description, summarizing and analyzing its content. If this is your first time editing on SourceWatch, you can register here, and learn more about adding information to the site here, here and here. Have fun, and thanks for your help!
  • Find the Newest Congressional Staffers-Turned-Lobbyists: Sixty-four of the members of the last Congress. As last Sunday's Doonesbury cartoon points out, many of them are on their way to fulfilling the grand Washington tradition of hiring themselves out as lobbyists to lean on their former colleagues. What often flies below the radar, however, are the huge number of congressional staffers who take the opportunity of their bosses leaving to join the lobbying corps themselves. They are prized by K Street not just for their insider knowledge of how Congress works, but also for the extensive contacts they still have with their former coworkers (and subordinates).
Now it's time to drag them into the sunshine. The Sunlight Foundation, CMD's partner in the Congresspedia project, has developed a cool distributed research tool to marry citizen brain power with a fancy new database to figure out who exactly is hiring these insiders, and they want you to participate. Like our other featured participatory projects, many hands can make this formerly daunting task light work.
Once the results are in, the CMD staff will work with the participants to get the results entered into the SourceWatch profiles of the corporations and lobbyists, ensuring that professional reporters and citizen journalists alike will be able to use the information to perform some high-caliber muckraking on the DC influence scene. Even Craigslist's Craig Newmark is participating because, as he says, "This is the 'revolving door' thing, of concern since some staffers, working for shadowy politicians, might do more damage as lobbyists."
Everything you need to know at Sunlight's website. Have fun, and we'll report back soon with the results!
  • *
    Hillary Clinton
    As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama run neck-and-neck in the Democratic primary, a "brokered" convention is possible where the Democratic delegates cut deals and shift sides to give one candidate the threshold they need to gain the party's nomination. About 1/4 of the delegates who will head to Denver in August are so-called "superdelegates" whose voting status comes from their party or elected positions and who are not bound by the results of the primary elections or caucuses in their home states.
Who are these "superdelegates" and which candidate are they committed to? Will they go along with the voters from their state or go their own way? We've teamed up with the folks at Democratic Convention Watch, OpenLeft and LiteraryOutpost to engage citizens like you in tracking down the answers in the new Superdelegate Transparency Project on Congresspedia. There you'll find a variety of ways to help bring transparency to this profoundly important but little-understood process, all with the helpful support of the staff editors if you should require it. Because democracy requires vigilance and accountability.
  • Barn Raising Day for Superdelegate Transparency: Since the Superdelegate Transparency Project launched on Congresspedia last week, dozens of people have helped flesh out the facts about the so-called "superdelegates" whose votes may determine whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama emerges as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. Thanks to the hard work of project organizers at Democratic Convention Watch, OpenLeft and LiteraryOutpost, the Superdelegate Transparency Project (STP for short) has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, National Journal, Wired magazine, and the New York Times. According to the Times, STP is "the kind of tool that the back room bosses from 1984 could never have imagined - and today's political bosses are probably horrified to see. The site includes results of the popular vote district-by-district, the allocation of pledged delegates, details about the superdelegates and how they are pledged and eventually how they will vote. It will also tell you how to contact a superdelegate if you want to become part of a lobbying effort."
This information is vital because the close race between Clinton and Obama may result in a "brokered" convention where the Democratic delegates cut deals and shift sides to give one candidate the threshold needed to gain the party's nomination. The so-called "superdelegates" therefore hold enormous power to shape the outcome of this year's presidential election, and the public deserves to know who they are, how they plan to use that power, and what forces are working to influence them.
Thanks to the work of many volunteers, much of this information has already been compiled, but considerable work still needs to be done. That's why this Thursday we're planning an experiment that we call a "barn raising" - a day-long effort in which we're hoping that many hands can make light work. We'd love it if you could stop by the project and help out. To add to the fun, we've set up an online chat room where you can ask questions, share ideas, and meet some of the people involved in organizing the project. CMD staff will be there, along with STP organizers including Mark Myers, Jennifer Nix and Avelino Maestas.
If you'd like to join in, visit the chat room at http://governation.campfirenow.com/6f4a6 and introduce yourself, or stop by the STP project page, where you'll find a list of things to do and other resources to get you started. We'll have people there all day Thursday, beginning at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and continuing into the evening. Join us because it will be fun, it's important, and because democracy works best as a participatory process.
  • References, Please: On SourceWatch, our online wiki about "the names behind the news," we try to encourage a referencing policy which ensures that every piece of information in each article can be verified by a link to an authoritative source for that information. However, sometimes these references get left out.
You can help improve SourceWatch goal by identifying articles that need better referencing and tagging them for further work. All it takes is a few minutes. Simply visit a random article (or a specific article of your choosing), read it over, and mark the places whether additional citations are needed by adding {{refimprove}} and {{fact}} tags. Please visit the special SourceWatch page on articles needing additional references for further instructions on how to do this. Have fun, and thanks for your help!
  • Join Huffington Post Readers in More Superdelegate Muckraking on Congresspedia: As part of the ongoing collective research project on Congresspedia to track the "superdelegates" who may decide the Democratic nominee for president, our partners at the Huffington Post have enlisted hundreds of citizens to research some of the more obscure party officials in the ranks of the superdelegates.
Now we need YOU to help move this information into Congresspedia so that the public can know just who these people are that may be picking our next president. It only takes a minute and no experience - technical or political - is necessary.
It should also be noted that, unlike the superdelegate counts from the major news organizations, the Superdelegate Transparency Project is the only fully transparent, fully sourced count of superdelegates anywhere, and it's all due to the work of citizens like you. You can join this effort by taking a minute to help out with our current task of moving the information from the Huffington Post. There's full instructions and support at the project's "help out" page.


  • Who Sponsored and Spoke at Heartland's Climate Conference?: A week ago the Exxon-funded think tank, the Heartland Institute, hosted what it dubbed The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change. In his opening remarks, Heartland's President Joseph L. Bast posed the question "Are the scientists and economists who ask these questions just a fringe group, outside the scientific mainstream?" He insisted they weren't, but his own framing of the question reflects how marginalized and defensive the global warming skeptics have become.
The detailed list of conference speakers and co-sponsors posted by Heartland on the conference website provides a pretty comprehensive guide to the global network of skeptics. (There may be a few of those speaking at the conference who aren't skeptics but the presenters list is dominated by people from the usual collection of free-market think tanks). In all likelihood, the most active global warming skeptics in the years ahead will come from within the ranks of those individuals and groups at the conference.
So our challenge is to ensure that there is at least a 'stub' page in SourceWatch on each of the speakers and sponsoring think tanks as a quick reference resource for interested citizens and journalists. (A stub page need only comprise a sentence or two and some basic formatting, but the more comprehensive it is the better). Once created, the new page will be indexed by Google and other search engines and quickly rise to near the top of search results. If you would like to help, go to the project page and follow the steps set out in the notes. Have fun, and thanks for your help!
  • Help Track the Superdelegates: As the Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary approaches next month, it looks more and more likely that the nomination may be decided by the 794 public and party officials who have "superdelegate" votes at the national convention.
Just who are these superdelegates? Are your state's voting with the Democratic primary voters or are they going their own way? We started the Superdelegate Transparency Project to answer these questions. It has been viewed by more than a hundred thousand people and reported on by everyone from the New York Times to Wired, but tracking down so much information has only been possible with the participation of people like you. Won't you join us? There's plenty of tasks, both large and small, and no experience is neccesary - only a healthy commitment to democracy.
One easy way to start is to help us gather superdelegate biographies from our partners at the HuffingtonPost. No experience is necessary - you only need a healthy commitment to democracy. Full details on how to pitch in and receive help from the Congresspedia staff editors are posted at the project's "help out" page.
    • Help Us Tidy Up the TobaccoWiki "People" Database: We can use your help cleaning up Tobaccowiki's database of involved with the tobacco industry. Many of the descriptions in the database are currently in fragmented sentences. For example, the entry for Mike Malik says, "(Manager, Direct Communications, Philip Morris c. 1992-95): Worked with web pages, Internet presence" We would rather it say "Mike Malik was Manager of Direct Communications at Philip Morris circa 1992-1995, and worked with Web pages and Internet presence." You don't need to add any information to the descriptions in the database; we just want to make sure the descriptions that already exist are in whole sentences, and correct any punctuation or spelling errors. You can work on any part of the list, and do as much or as little as you want.
To get started, go to the, click on any letter of the alphabet and start editing any of the entries in the list that need cleanup.
  • Help Find the Superdelegates Whose Endorsement is "Wobbling": The Superdelegate Transparency Project on Congresspedia is picking up steam as it looks more and more likely that the superdelegates will decide the Democratic presidential nominee. Our citizen journalist-generated list of superdelegates is being covered by everyone from the New York Times to CNN (video link).
But as the pressure on them picks up, many superdelegates are switching sides or hedging their bets. We need your help to figure out who these "wobbling" superdelegates are.
The staff editors at Congresspedia have created full instructions so that finding these wobblers can take as little as five minutes - no experience is necessary. Come join your fellow citizens in this vital piece of research.
  • Maximum Weirdness: Tobacco Industry Brainstorming Documents: A rock cocaine cigarette filter? A cigarette that delivers birth control and sexual stimulant drugs to the smoker at the same time? A geriatric brand? All of these are actual ideas for new products and promotions that were recorded at cigarette company "brainstorming" meetings. Information about these revealing meetings is compiled on the Brainstorming documents page of TobaccoWiki. It's one of the strangest and most fun pages on SourceWatch. What crazy, weird or sick ideas can you find among the tobacco industry's documents? Go to the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and, as search criteria, mix and match words like "brainstorming," "synectics," "exploratory" or "problem lab" with words like "promotional" "smoker," "ideas," "sex," "cigarette," "list," and "creative." Be imaginative in your search criteria and see what pops up. When you find something interesting, enter it on the Brainstorming documents page with a short description of the document after the link, or write a short article about it. Don't forget to link to the document using its unique URL -- the one that contains the letters "tid". For examples see the Brainstorming documents page. If this is your first time editing on SourceWatch, you can register here, and learn more about adding information to the site here, here and here. Hold onto your hat, have fun, and thanks for your help!
  • Outing Front Groups: Often readers and citizen journalists will come across a name of a group that seems a little at odds with the policy message they are promoting. Some of these names were added to the SourceWatch page on front groups with the intention of returning to create an article on that at a later date. Others were emailed to us by citizens, journalists or activists wanting to know if we knew anything about them. So if you would like to help investigate some of the groups that have been flagged as warranting further investigation, here's your chance. All the names are here on this page with some basic tips on how to investigate a group and create a SourceWatch page on them. If you like, you can also add names to the list.