Ballotpedia:How to contribute to Ballotpedia

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Editing Help
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Editing guide
Textual standards
Visual standards
Glossary of terms
Edit review process

Ballotpedia is built by people like you, and new contributors are always welcome. You do not need any special credentials to participate--just an interest in sharing what you know about ballot measures, state legislatures, state executives, school boards, municipal government, congress, elections and campaigns. The fact that Ballotpedia is open to everyone to start and improve articles is part of what gives us the ability to create a detailed, comprehensive, reliable and informative collection of articles.

It is important to remember that Ballotpedia is nonpartisan. Many of the subjects we cover can attract tremendous controversy and debate. Therefore, all of our articles must focus on documented facts. Please include thorough references to document the facts in your article, and avoid inflammatory language or a provocative tone. Ballotpedia's goal is to help people understand government, not to push a particular point-of-view. Entries should not be written and edited to convince a citizen to object to or support a candidate, elected official or viewpoint.

You can begin to contribute by registering, and then go on to 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.

Protecting Ballotpedia's integrity


Ballotpedia's staff and users help control vandalism by regularly checking the recent changes page. In addition, logged in users can create their own individual "watch lists" that let them keep an eye on articles that they want to monitor.

The wiki software keeps an archive of all past versions of each article, making it easy to undo malicious or misguided changes by reverting to a previous version. Trusted users can be given "sysop" or "admin" status, which lets them ban users who engage in vandalism. If a particular page becomes a target for repeat vandalism attempts, sysops can mark that page as "protected," so that only other sysops can change it.

Protected pages

Pages that have been designated by an administrator as protected cannot be edited by anyone but other administrators. Protected pages may be pages that have been targeted for vandalism.

Wikipedia on Ballotpedia

Wikipedia content should not be added directly to Ballotpedia, and Ballotpedia content should not be added directly to Wikipedia. The two websites are licensed under different copyright agreements, and have different editorial focuses and different writing and visual style standards. Ballotpedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, while Wikipedia is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License.


Visit the registering with Ballotpedia page to register your own username. Beyond being able to edit pages, being a registered user allows you access to the following features:

  • Set and save preferences on the wiki
  • Credits you in the article history, as well as on the Recent Changes page, with changes you make
  • Automatic creation of a personal Ballotpedia page in the User: namespace

It is much easier for other Ballotpedia editors to interact with you if you are a registered user. Please note that real names are not required to register.

Changing your username

Usernames cannot be altered once created. If you wish to change your username, the only way to do so is to create a new user account.

Types of pages on Ballotpedia

Page vs. article

The term "page" encompasses all of the material on Ballotpedia, including encyclopedic articles, talk pages, documentation and special pages, such as Recent Changes. "Article" is a narrower term referring to a page containing an encyclopedic entry. All articles are pages, but not all pages are articles.


An orphaned page is an article that no other article links to. These pages can still be found by searching Ballotpedia, but it is preferable to find another page where a link can be added. You can find a list of orphaned pages here.


A stub is a very short article, generally of one paragraph or less. Many now expansive articles started out as stubs. Existing stubs should be expanded into complete articles. There is an automatically generated list of short articles on the special page Shortpages.

Editing Ballotpedia

Editorial discussions

Ballotpedia is an encyclopedia that strives to present subjects fairly, accurately, comprehensively and from a neutral point of view. Discussion intended to improve articles is welcome. The best place to discuss edits to an article is in the "talk" or "discussion" page attached to that article. You can access this page by clicking the "Discussion" tab at the top of the page.

Minor edits

When editing a page, one has the option of flagging the edit as a "minor edit." There are no rules as to when it is appropriate to use this designation, but the general guideline is that an edit of a page that is a spelling correction, small formatting adjustment, or simple rearranging of text should be flagged as a "minor edit."

A major edit is one that makes the entry worth revisiting, either through substantial additions or reorganization, or fixes a major error, such as an error of fact. Proper use or the "minor edit" designation is important, because users can choose to hide minor edits in their view of the Recent Changes page.

"Recent Changes"

The Recent Changes page can be accessed through the "Get involved" menu, or through the link to the Special pages under the "Tools" menu on the left side of any page on the wiki. The Recent Changes page shows a realtime list of all changes made to the wiki.

The notations on the Recent Changes are:

  • N for new page. New pages often attract many copyedits.
  • M for "Minor edit," which you can designate on any edit by clicking the check box labelled "This is a minor edit" before saving your change. In your preferences, you can suppress all minor edits in the Recent Changes List.
  • ! for unpatrolled edits.


What is a "wiki"?

A wiki is a collection of interlinked web pages, any of which can be visited and edited by anyone at any time.[1] This concept and the software that makes it possible was invented by Ward Cunningham.
You can even edit the page you are reading right now if you are registered and logged in. When you are logged in, just click "Edit" tab in the horizontal menu bar at the top of the page. However, if you don't have anything to add or correct here, but you want to see the wiki in action, try editing your user page or the tutorial sandbox page instead.


How do I edit a page?

Click the "Edit" tab at the top right of the page, and make your changes in the edit box. See the quick guide to editing to learn about making links, using bold and italics, linking to images, and much more.

How do I make links?

There are several different types of links, such as internal links, external links, and interwiki links. To learn about all the different types of links and how to create them, visit Help:Links.

What is an administrator? What is a sysop?

Administrator, or admin, and sysop are the same thing. An administrator is simply a Ballotpedia user who can access restricted software functions, such as deleting articles and uploaded files, protecting and unprotecting pages, blocking and unblocking IP addresses, and running certain direct database queries.

How can I become an administrator?

To become an administrator you will first need a user account. Once you have a user account, you should make several useful edits over a period of time. Once you are an established and consistent user with trusted edits, you may be made an administrator.

I've found vandalism, or I've damaged a page by mistake. How can I restore it?

Click on the "View history" tab at the top of the page. If the vandalism or improper edit is the most recent edit to the page, you can choose to "rollback" that edit. If the damage occurred prior to the most recent edit, you can find that revision and "undo" it.
You can also choose to open and save an older, undamaged version of the page while in the "View history" tab. To open an older version of the page, click the linked date of the revision; once you are in the older version, you can choose to edit and save this version as normal. When editing, you will see a warning message that you are editing an old version of the page; you can disregard this message as long as you have checked to ensure that no new information will be lost by saving this older version of the page. When saved, this revision will become the new current version of the page.

Why are some links red?

Because an article or page with that name has not yet been created. You can click on that red link and start a page with that name, but be careful--there may already be articles on similar topics, or an article on the same topic under a different name. It is very important to search for similar topics or article names first. For more information on naming pages, see Ballotpedia's naming conventions.

What happens when two users edit a page at the same time?

This is called an "edit conflict." When this occurs, you will be taken to a conflict screen that displays both versions of the page in separate windows, along with a summary highlighting the differences and instructions on how you should proceed.

How do I learn about changes to certain pages without having to visit them all the time?

If you are a registered and logged in user, on every page you will see a star icon between the "View history" tab and "Delete/Move/Protect" dropdown menu. That star icon, when clicked, will add that article to your watchlist. You can also add articles to your watchlist when you are editing them by clicking the "Watch this page" check box before saving your edit. Once a page is added to your watchlist, you will receive notice of changes to that page. These notices can take the form of an email or notice on the wiki. You can change your method of notification through your preferences.

Is it OK to link to other sites, as long as the material is not copied onto Ballotpedia?

External links are great. However, external links should support the content of the article, not replace it. The accepted practice is to place external links in the "External links" section at the bottom of the article, directly before the "References" section, or in the article as citations.


I have, or can get, special permission to copy an image or article to Ballotpedia. Is it OK to do that?

The text and images of Ballotpedia are covered by the GNU Free Documentation License. Unless an item is covered by the same or a similar license, or is in the public domain, it cannot be used on Ballotpedia. So you have to ask the copyright holder of the material to license it under GFDL.

I have an out-of-copyright image (or text) that is reproduced in an in-copyright book. Can I scan / type it into Ballotpedia?

Providing they haven't altered the image then they can't claim a copyright on it. If it was in the public domain before they used it, it's still in the public domain afterward.

See also

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