Ballotpedia:WikiProject State Ballot Measures/Topics

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Ballotpedia:WikiProject State Ballot Measures/Topics is a sub-project of Ballotpedia:WikiProject State Ballot Measures. The purpose of the "topics" subproject is to organize work on statewide ballot measures organized by political topics. The following information goes through both creating and setting the standards for topics/categories, but also carrying out a complete implementation.

Goals:

  • Define a standardized set of categories for any political topic that has been the subject of at least one statewide ballot measure.
  • For each named category, provide enough information in an overview article and a manual about the topic that a relatively novice user could determine what category should be on a specific ballot measure. (I.e., users should be able to sort ballot measure articles into these categories.)
  • Create a standardized stub of all historical ballot measures, utilizing the standardized set of categories, for all states as far back as is feasibly possible.
  • Create a standardized "STATE YEAR ballot measure" page for all election years with ballot measures.

Points to consider:

  • On the ballot vs. Not on the ballot: While focus is largely on what has been "on the ballot", preparing the site in a similar manner to deal with what did not make the ballot should also be done.
  • Historical ballots vs present and future ballots: This page/manual is aimed largely at generating a standard for past ballot measures, with the anticipation that it will help set a standard for all future ballot measure entries.
  • Quality control: What level of quality control will be implemented needs to be determined, as it has been by the staff for the site as a whole. For example,
    • Ideally: each article should be checked by a project leader or an experienced staff writer.
    • Minimally: one ballot article from each year for each state should be checked.
  • Standardization: While wiki's will never be 100% standardized, simple standardization is still key for this project. Provided a strong starting basis, like a "stub article pattern" (described below), will hopefully save time, reduce frustration, and increase site use in the long run.
  • Transparency: Information on the overall article building process needs to be transparent. Links to that information/progress reports need to continue to be designed to be quickly easily found and read.

Other notes:

  • All sections of this manual believed to be complete should be crossed off, but not deleted, by the project leaders.

Project Steps

The following information is in-the-works, step-by-step guide for the project.

Step 0: Read the manual

Who: All

What: Read the manual to get an overview of the whole project.

Why: It is vital that all involved in the project understand the long term goals of the project, whether or not they will be involved in the entire process. Reading this manual is the starting point for that.

Step 1: Preparation

A:Set categories

Who: Project leaders

What: A list of possible article categories/topics choices need to be set by project leaders familiar with the wide variety of topics that have appeared (ex. Category:hunting, Category:Marriage and family, Category:Term limits). These categories should be defined as the only possible categories to use, unless approval by a project leader is given to create a new category for a topic that was forgotten or not previously conceived of. Some categories may be rather specific, like Category:Term limits, while others looser. However, catchall categories, like Category:Administration of government, Category:State legislatures measures, or Category:Constitutional language should be avoided or redefined and more strictly enforced. Single measure topics should be avoided unless they can not be adequately defined in a separate category.

Why: The set list is the basis of the project and will be important in the long run to promote a sense of standardization and reliability for researchers.

Notes: Subcategories can be expanded once the project is complete.

A2:On the ballot vs. Not on the ballot

Who: Project leaders

What: There will need to be two similar, yet separate processes for categorizing articles. One set of categories will need to be for those articles on the ballot (see above), while another new set of categories will need to be made for topics/initiatives that did not make the ballot for whatever reason or are not yet approved to be on the ballot. The "Not on ballot" categories need to be named so they are recognizable, but not excessively long. (ex: Category:Marriage not on ballot, 2004). The guidelines for ballot measures should be decided upon.

Why: Currently, there is some use of categories for these types of ballots, such as with California Photo ID to Vote Initiative (2010), but they are not well organized. However, as the site expands, the importance of what did not make the ballot and separating those items from what did make the ballot will likely become more important. The guidelines for ballot measures should be decided upon, but the rest of the process can wait until this project is complete.

Notes: The current system used is to change topics such as Category:Taxes, 2011 to Category:Did not make ballot, taxes. In order to use the DPL and to separate by year, you can add both the Category:Did not make ballot, taxes and Category:Did not make ballot in 2011 and that will generate, for example, a list of just the 2011 tax related measures that did not make the ballot. More information can be found at:

B:Create topic manual

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Each category/topic needs to be clearly defined in a "manual". The manual needs to contain:

  • A clear definition of what fits in each topic.
  • At least one, if not multiple, clear examples of a measure that fits in the category for those unfamiliar with a topic to get an overview.
  • In some cases, what does not fit may also need to be added for clarity. i.e Montana Public Funds Investment in Private Corporate Stock, Amendment C-39 (2002) could be in a state investment category, but would probably not fit in a state budget or state spending limits category.

Why: This would be a simple page for any readers and writers, novice or experienced, to go and become familiar with all the possible categories in an easy-to-read list.

Note: All topics and their definitions can be found at List of ballot measures by topic.

C:Create info page

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Each category on that list needs to have an info page, such as Hunting on the ballot. The info page needs to contain:

  • A clear definition of what fits in the topic. (Which could DPL from above manual or vice versa; DPL should be made to exclude "Category" pages in its parameters)
  • Clear examples for those unfamiliar with a topic to get an overview. (Again, which could DPL from above manual, or vice versa)
  • A link/display to the categories info box such as {{Marriage}} (See "create info boxes")
  • A DPL list sorting "By state, By year, Local measures, and Did not make ballot"
  • Other pertinent information, such as the general arguments for and against found in Term limits on the ballot, can also be added.

Why: Info pages will be important hubs for people interest in particular topics.

Note: All current info pages are listed as CATEGORY-NAME on the ballot. A list of on the ballot pages can be found at List of ballot measures by topic. Each category page uses the template template:On the ballot list to display the info box, table of contents, and sort out the ballots by state, year, and not on the ballot. That template uses template:On the ballot and template:On the ballot match to do the DPL sorting.

C2:Create info boxes

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Category/topic info boxes, such as {{Marriage}}, {{Term limits}}, {{Hunting}}, and {{Gambling}} should be made for each Category created. They should contain a link to the info page, and links to the year category pages. A picture of some kind also makes the information more appealing to the eye. See also: Category Info Box Help.

Why: The category info boxes are a quick first stop for users unfamiliar with the site to find information on a topic. They also adds color/style to sometimes otherwise bland stub pages. It is suggested that the info boxes be made after the info pages because the info pages can be an easy source for determining the proper information to include.

Note: Each category info box has been created to match the name of the category it serves using a standardized format. A list of all category info boxes can be found at Category:Template info box.

D:Remove old categories

Who: All

What: Once the new categories/topics have been determined and a topic manual created, old categories will need to be removed/text-replaced into finalized new categories. All of the 1990-present ballot measure articles should be rechecked for category consistency (which could also consider being done in the familiarization phase of Step 2).

Why: This step is necessary to standardize and improve site consistency.

Note: Old categories have been deleted to avoid special issues with article category linking that occur when categories are simply redirected.

E:Create a research help guide page

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Create a general list of starting resources to use when researching for a stub article, for instance containing links to:

(Each of these sources should note what they are, and what they are good for finding.)

Why: Writers, particularly new writers/interns, will need a strong starting point when beginning research. It's also a good place to note down links so as they do not get lost.

Note: Page started at Writing:Ballot measure research sources

F:Create Stub article pattern

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Create a "cookie cutter pattern" for stub articles for writers/users. This can go in the the writing guidelines page: Writing:Ballot measure stub articles

ie:

<table style="float: right;">
<tr valign="top">
<td>
{{tnr}}
</td>
<td>
{{CATEGORY-INFOBOX}}
{{OTHER-INFOBOX}}
</td>
</tr>
</table>
The '''STATE DESCRIPTIVE-TITLE''', also known as '''OFFICIAL TITLE''', was a {{TYPE}} on the [[YEAR ballot measures#STATE|EXACT-ELECTION-DATE]] election ballot in [[STATE]], where it was '''APPROVED/DEFEATED'''.

==Election results==
{{short outcome
|title= OFFICIAL-TITLE (DESCRIPTIVE-TITLE)
|yes=
|yespct=
|no=
|nopct=
}}

Official results via: [EXAMPLE SOURCE]

==Text of measure==
The language that appeared on the ballot:
<blockquote>(TEXT))<ref>[EXAMPLE REFERENCE]</ref></blockquote>

==See also==
{{submit a link}}
* [[List of STATE ballot measures]]
* [[STATE YEAR ballot measures]]
* [[YEAR ballot measures]]

==External links==
* [EXAMPLE EXT. LINK]

==Reference==
{{reflist}}

{{YEAR ballot measures}}
{{STATE}}

[[Category:STATE YEAR ballot measures]]
[[Category:TOPIC, STATE]]
[[Category:TOPIC, ((year))]]

Some points to consider:

  • Simplify as much of the the pattern through the expanded use of templates as possible, like the election results {{short outcome}} template. Particularly for the introduction.
  • Add in a small template on top that links to the writing guides for historical articles.
  • Create a similar pattern for articles that did not make the ballot or are not yet official designated as having made the ballot.
  • Create example pages include LRCA, LRSS, CISS, CICA, VR.

Why: While the guide page Writing:Ballot measure stub articles currently exists, an exactly cookie cutter "Pattern" for stub articles can be employed for easy cutting/pasting and filling in. This will facilitate the creation, standardization, and eventual maintenance of all ballot measure articles.

Note: The cookie cutter patterns have been added to Writing:Ballot measure stub articles
Note 2: A general explanation page has been created for types of ballot measures at Writing:Ballot measure types

F2:Update stub article pattern user guide

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Update Writing:Ballot measure stub articles to match the cookie cutter pattern described above. Define each section and technical word meaning. Ex. "What {{TYPE}} means", or "What {{LRCA}} means". Create and link to an example stub article.

Why: So both novice and experienced writers have a standardized basis to rely on when creating a stub later in the project process.

G:Create state year pattern

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Create a standardized pattern for [[STATE YEAR ballot measures]] pages. This can be updated in Writing:Ballot measure overview articles Page needs:

  • Set a standard for the template chart (see below).
  • Year tabs {{pt1}}[[STATE NEXT-YEAR ballot measures|NEXT-YEAR]]{{pt2}}[[STATE PREVIOUS-YEAR ballot measures|PREVIOUS-YEAR]]{{pt3}}
  • Set list of "Key facts" that will be added to each page. Choose key facts that are only related to that year to avoid inaccuracies from missing information from past years.
  • Create and insert an info box that defines the possible "types" (lrca, vs. lrss...) such as: {{MOBallotKey}}

i.e

{{pt1}}[[STATE NEXT-YEAR ballot measures|NEXT-YEAR]]{{pt2}}[[STATE PREVIOUS-YEAR ballot measures|PREVIOUS-YEAR]]{{pt3}}
*'''NUMBER statewide ballot measure''' was on the ballot in the [[YEAR ballot measures#STATE| ELECTION YEAR]] in [[Missouri]].

==On the ballot==
{{BallotKeyInfoBox}}
{{STATEYEAR}}

==See also==
* [[List of STATE ballot measures]]
* [[YEAR ballot measures]]

==External links==
* SourceLink1

{{Ballot measures}}
{{YEAR ballot measures}}
{{STATE}}
[[Category:STATE YEAR ballot measures]]

Why: Stub articles will eventually need to be made for all ballot measures so that proper categories can be applied. To facilitate in the creation of stub articles, state year ballot pages will need to be created. Having a standardized state year chart assists in the easy of creation of articles.

G2:Create a standard for the ballot measures list

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Create a pattern with the {{chart header}} template used to list ballot measures template {{STATEYEAR}} on the year ballot measure pages. (See: Ballotpedia:WikiProject State Ballot Measures/Charts)

I.e for {{STATEYEAR}} :

'''ELECTION 1 DATE'''
{{chart header}}
|-valign="top"
| {{TYPE}} || [[FULL-ARTICLE-TITLE|OFFICIAL TITLE]] || [[:Category:TOPIC, STATE|TOPIC]] || SHORT DESCRIPTION || {{OUTCOME}}
|}

'''ELECTION 2 DATE'''
{{chart header}}
|-valign="top"
| {{TYPE}} || [[FULL-ARTICLE-TITLE|OFFICIAL TITLE]] || [[:Category:TOPIC, STATE|TOPIC]] || SHORT DESCRIPTION || {{OUTCOME}}
|}

<noinclude>[[STATE YEAR ballot measures]] • [[YEAR ballot measures]][[Category:STATE YEAR ballot measures]][[Category:STATE ballot measure templates]]</noinclude>

Why: Having a standardized chart assists in over functionality of the project.

G3:Create state year pattern user guide

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Create a user guide for the state year pattern page. Define each section and technical word meaning. Ex. what does {{STATEYEAR}} mean. Create and/or link to an example state year page.

Why: So both novice and experienced writers have an easy to use standardized basis to rely on.

H:Check lists

Who: Project leaders

What: Create a check list spread sheet (such as in Google docs) that will lay out each state, and what needs to be done to it. (ie. A check list of items in STATE YEAR ballot measures, and a check list for individual article groups.)

Why: The checklist will be necessary to keep track of progress during the research and writing phases.

I:Transparency page

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Create an easy to find page describing the process used for this project of categorizing articles, and noting what progress it has achieved. Likely, the page will be a condensed version of this manual, and some sort of DPL to track the progress. Notes could also be written on problems encountered, etc.

Why: As one of the site's goals is to be a future enabler for other researchers, creating an easily accessible/readable page for people to judge the validity of the site's content will be necessary.

Step 2: Historical research and article creation

A: State by State research teams

Who: Project leaders

What: Divide writers into teams of two, preferably with at least one experienced writer in each group. Give each team a state. They will then be researching these states as thoroughly as they can (see continuing steps).

Why: Rather than a decade by decade approach, a state by state approach will be more practical in the larger scope for some of the following reasons:

  • Writers can familiarize and specialize themselves on a state while doing research, rather than having to jump back and forth between states for every couple of years.
  • If a writer finds a good source of information, he/she can use that to fill in stub articles as far back possible without having to worry about that information being lost again. In addition, chances are that any pre-internet era information linked online will be found in some sort of large database/report put together by researchers within that state's government or local universities. For example, the List of Minnesota Amendments 1858 to present, the List of Missouri Amendments and Initiatives 1910-2010, or the List of Nevada ballot guides with election results 1942-Present could be used by one writer over a series of days/weeks to completely fill in a States ballot measure page with stub articles.
  • Having full, accurate lists of individual states will draw in users quicker than only being completed by the decade. Hopefully, those users will bring in local knowledge and resources to help expand the wiki nationally. For instance, California is the most accessed state on the site. Undoubtedly this is because there is a lot of accessible information, and at the same time there is a lot of information because the state has a lot of users. These kind of positive feed back loop are ideal for the site in the long run. Moreover, as is evident with the way certain topics have been filled in with stubs over a long time period, such as with Category:Term limits, the average person is more likely to care about specific topics, i.e. their own state, over a 100 year period than they are for a generic 10 year period nationally.

B:Writer training

Who: All writers

What: Writer should have a training session in the creation of "STATE YEAR ballot measures" pages and stub article pages. This training would also go over aspects such as searching for sources and understanding terminology.

Why: Training is necessary for an initial familiarization of what is what, and what is expected in the research phase. The training will also improve standardization.

C: Familiarizing with states

Who: All (teams)

What: Teams will focus briefly on familiarizing themselves with their assigned states by looking at existing ballot measures articles for that state. (This could be a chance to fix categories for each state in the years 1990-present as well.)

Why: While ballot measures topics can vary widely when looked at as a whole nationally, patterns in individual states can be more readily found. For instance, some states, such as Nevada have a lot of be ballot measures at regular intervals, while other states Mississippi are fewer and farther between. Moreover, states have their own quirks. In the case of Nevada, CICA must be approved twice by voters in successive elections, so the same question will appear in two consecutive election years years.

C2: Source finding

Who: All (teams)

What: Teams will focus on their states and gathering source information, and cataloging it in easy to access locations (i.e: Election results, Voter guides, State Blue Books, list of STATE ballot measures, etc.). Teams should also build a personal list (such as on their user page) for self-reference. The goal is to find the most official source possible, starting with state publications/research.

If the group is able to find creditable historical sources, they will continue to the next step. If the group's state appears to be lacking credible sources, those states are to be specially noted and set aside. The group will be assigned a new state by the project leader.

Why: Finding reliable sources can be the trickiest part of creating an article stub. If a good source can be found, stub articles can be generated quickly.

D: Write and review articles

Who: All (teams)

What: With sources in hand, teams will begin filling in information ballot history state by state, working chronologically backwards election year by election year. Within each team, members will take separate years and create the corresponding pages. When one team member finishes a year, their partner will then review the pages for errors.

Why: The creation of proper stub articles is one of the strong prerequisites for completing the project as a whole. The review process is necessary to ensure accuracy in the overall process.

D2: Create or update STATE YEAR ballot measure page

Who: All (teams)

What: Check to see if the a STATE YEAR ballot measure page already exists. If it does, it should be updated to the pattern standards. If it does not, create the page for an election year using the STATE YEAR ballot measure page pattern. Fill in the year template chart with anticipate ballot measure names following the naming standard "STATE DESCRIPTION, OFFICIAL-TITLE/NUMBER (YEAR)".

Why: The first step to creating any ballot measure should be to create/standardize the state year page. This is because the state year page is both a simple portal, and an easy way create articles without later having to rename the page.

D3: Create or update article stubs

Who: All (teams)

What: Check to see if the article for a ballot measure already exists in some form. If it does, it needs to be updated to standards of the article stub pattern as a bare minimum. If the measure does not exist in the site's database, create it using the article stub pattern.

Why: All articles need to be up to the determined standard.

D4: Note issues

Who: All (teams)

What: Issues encountered with particular years, individual measures, or with the state as a whole should be noted down to be solved at a future time.

Why: If there is an issue, it should be noted so it can be researched and fixed in the future.

E: State review

Who: Project leaders/experienced writer

What: When a team believes they have done as much as they can reasonably achieve, a third person, either the project leader or an experience writer, should review the state for proper completion. Each STATE YEAR ballot measure page should be checked for glaring errors, such as red links. In addition, at least one article from each election year should be check in the same manner.

Why: Even with limited resources, showing a standardized review process is very important for the site's overall credibility.

E2: Update transparency page

Who: Project leaders

What: The transparency page should be updated to reflect how far back each states are believed to complete. Issues encountered with each state should also be noted.

Why: Transparency is necessary credibility

F: Problem states

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Methods for getting ballot information on problem states needs to be determined. For example, physical library research or consult of a reference library may be necessary.

Why: The goal of the entire project is to have at least a stub article on any particular state ballot measure. While the internet contains a massive amount of information, the probability of currently finding every ballot measure online is slim. Moreover, if such methods are going to be used, it would be more practical to do each state in one large request effort.

F2: Issue solving

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Methods for solving issues should try to be determined. For example, would physical library research or consult of a reference library be of use?

Why: Trying to settle issues on a second collective pass will likely yield results.

Step 3: Post project

A: Complete transparency page

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: The transparency page should be updated to reflect the final state of the project.

Why: Transparency is necessary credibility.

B: Ballot measure subtopics

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Once all ballot measure stub articles have been made, go back and consider new subcategories for all categories. Create those categories, and move the proper measures into their respective topic to their new subtopic.

Why: Branching out ballot measures into subtopics will help bring increased depth and diversity into various analysis.

C: Analysis

Who: Project leaders/experienced writers

What: Determine some ideas and write some preliminary analysis of the ballot measures.

Why: While the main goal of the site is to be enablers of research, having in-house concrete examples of such research could increase interest and credibility in the site.

Other subprojects


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This page is part of WikiProject State Ballot Measures, a WikiProject including articles about:

To participate: join (or just read up) at the project page.


Ballotpedia's Ballot Measures project is managed by Brittany Clingen.

If you have any questions or comments please e-mail brittany.clingen@ballotpedia.org.