Ballotpedia:Collaboration of the Month

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Welcome to the new Collaboration of the Month Project page! (If you're looking for one of our previous projects, check out the archived projects page.)

Here at Ballotpedia, we're a community of users who are constantly working to improve the site and build new content in several different project areas. There are teams working on statewide ballot measures, local ballot measures, state legislatures, redistricting, state executives, and recalls. We'll rotate the topic each month to highlight the work of these different projects.

In addition to giving you an idea of the kind of projects we're working on, we want you to have a jumping off point if you'd like to try out some editing but aren't sure where to start. Be sure to check out our quick guide to editing and our training webinars for help, or feel free to email us. We'd love your feedback on the page and projects. If you have any suggestions for future topics, questions, or thoughts about Ballotpedia in general, you can either leave us a message on the collaboration talk page or send us an email.

Getting started
How to help
Contact us
Quick guide
Style guide


5,984 seats of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats are up for election in the November 6, 2012 state legislative elections.

Here at Ballotpedia, we've developed a unique rubric - know as the "Competitiveness Index" - to measure how competitive each state's legislative elections actually are. The index weighs three factors in determining how competitive an election is:

  1. If the incumbent does run for re-election, does he or she draw a primary challenger?
  2. Are there two major party candidates in the general election?
  3. Is the incumbent running for re-election or not?

This year, a team of Ballotpedia researchers, led by Assistant Project Director Tyler King, are analyzing and compiling a state-to-state comparison of primary elections, general elections and open seats.

How you can help - submit candidate information

With almost 6,000 seats up for election, we need all the help we can get making sure our candidate lists are up-to-date. Do you know of a candidate running for office we don't have a profile for yet? Is there more information we could add to an existing page that would improve our coverage? Or are you a candidate yourself, wanting to provide more information for your own page? We encourage you to use our new biography submission form. Thanks, in advance!

3Competitive 2012.jpg To read more about the project, check out the Competitiveness Index project page or contact Tyler King.


The 2012 election season really heats up in May. There are primary elections, candidate filing deadlines, and ballot certifications going on what seems like every day. At Ballotpedia, we couldn't be more excited, and we've built election plans to let our readers know exactly what kind of coverage they can expect from us. You can read all about what you can look forward to in the coming months in four of our projects: Congress, state executives, state legislatures and ballot measures.

But our elections plans are just the tip of the iceberg. This month, we are asking for our readers to help us add links to official and unofficial voter guides for all 50 states. (Click here for more details).

Help.png If you have any questions about this month's project or need any help editing, please contact Lauren Rodgers.


See also: Ballotpedia's page for local ballot measures volunteers

We cover a lot on Ballotpedia, from statewide ballot measures, insurance commissioners and state legislatures to redistricting, recall and Congress.

But did you know that we also cover local ballot measures? At the moment, we cover local measures in 11 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. With your help, we can expand that coverage to include local ballot measure elections in all 50 states.

When volunteers on Ballotpedia like you can cover local ballot measures in more counties and more states, we will be able to detect patterns and trends both in the types of political topics that show up on local ballots, and in their approval/rejection rates. By volunteering to research and write about local ballot measures in your part of the country, your work will become part of a rich national tapestry.

If you're interested in volunteering and helping expand our coverage of local ballot measures:

  • Read through the FAQs on the volunteer page to get an overview of what to expect if you are interested in volunteering in this area.
  • Send an email to to let her know of your interest and ask whatever questions you may have.
  • Post a link to this page on your Facebook or Twitter account and ask your friends/followers to consider getting involved in this project.

Clipboard48.png You can also check out our page dedicated this to project for more details, or contact Johanna Herman if you have any questions!


Everyone is familiar with the President's State of the Union address. At Ballotpedia, we've begun archiving similar speeches made by each of the 50 governors: the "State of the State." (In Iowa, it's called the "Condition of the State" and in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia it's known as "State of the Commonwealth.") Whichever name it goes by, these speeches are delivered to the state legislature and fulfill the requirement in most state constitutions that the governor must deliver an annual report to the legislature.

These speeches outline what a governor's priorities are for a particular year, notes some of the struggles their state may have faced in the past year or address some specific national trend. At Ballotpedia, we thought it would be interesting to compile a page of each for as far back as we go. That's where you come in! This project combines internet research with wiki-editing and can be a good place to start if you're testing our your wiki skills. We've already started a page to collect the archived speeches: State of the state addresses, so all you have to do is add links under the appropriate years!

The steps are easy:

  1. Find the text of an address you can add to our page and copy the link. Stateline is a great place to find state of the state addresses from 2002 - 2011. For older addresses, you'll get to do some deeper research in each state's historical archives.
  2. On another browser tab (or a new window if you'd prefer) open the State of the state addresses page and click the "Edit" tab on the top of the page.
  3. In the code, find the year you want to add to. Below these instructions is an example of how the year 2011 looks in the code.
  4. Add a line for your state and input the link. Using an asterisk in the code creates a bullet on the wiki. A single set of brackets [ ] creates a link to an external website. Inside the brackets, paste the link, press the space bar, and insert the name of the state you're adding.
  5. Click "Preview" at the bottom of the page to make sure your changes look good, and then click "Save" and you're done!
=2011=              <--- Using just one "=" around a heading will make it a tab.
{{colbegin|5}}      <--- This code will put a list in 5 columns.
*[ Alabama]  
*[ Arkansas] 
*[ Wyoming]
{{colend}}          <--- This code tells the wiki to end the columns

Help.png If you have any questions about this month's project or need any help editing, please contact Lauren Rodgers.


Did you know that Ballotpedia doesn't just cover current politics? We have historic ballot measure pages that date all the way back to 1900! With all of that information, there's a lot of work that needs to be done in order to get the pages looking their best. Throughout the month of February, we'll be focusing the efforts of our staff and volunteers on adding election results box templates to Ohio's ballot measure articles from 1931 through 2008.

These templates give a clean and consistent look across the wiki and provide our readers with valuable information about the votes on individual ballot measures. Here's an example of a template in use, taken from our page on an unsuccessful ballot measure from 1926 that would have eliminated Ohio's compulsory primary:

Initiated Issue 1
Defeatedd No743,31364.72%
Yes 405,152 35.28%

Simple enough, right? By adding just a few lines of code, we are able to present you - our readers - with the information you're looking for in an easily digestible manner.

Clipboard48.pngWant to help us out? Or learn more about out ballot measures project? Contact the Ballot Measures Project Director to learn how you can help us build a part of history!


2012 is finally here! And at Ballotpedia, that means one thing: elections. This month, we're highlighting the work of the state executive officials team as they work to build election and candidate pages. As one of Ballotpedia's newest projects, this is only the second year covering state executive elections - and this year there is quite a jump in the number of elections. In 2011, only three states had regularly scheduled state executive elections.

This year, twenty-one states are scheduled to hold elections to fill 83 executive positions, providing ample opportunity for you to get involved and help us build up our election and candidate pages.

There are several types of pages we have for election coverage:

  • State executive official elections, 2012 gives an overview of all election dates and breaks down the election by both state and office
  • Each state has its own page that highlights key deadlines, information about primary elections, and a more detailed explanation of each race.
Example: North Carolina state executive official elections, 2012
  • The races at the top of the ballot (Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General) have separate pages for each race. These pages provide background information about the incumbent (running for re-election, retiring, term-limited from running again, et cetera) and offer in-depth analyses of campaign financing, race tracking, and polling.
Example: Montana gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2012

So whether you're interested in building candidate profiles, expanding our coverage of background information on a particular race, tracking candidate filing deadlines, or compiling campaign finance reports and polling data, we can use your help. We encourage you to browse through the state executive election pages and find a place where you can add information to make our site better.

StateExecLogo.png Please contact Lauren Rodgers if you have any questions specific to this month's project.

Getting started
How to help
Contact us
Quick guide
Style guide


Ballotpedia is growing! We recently launched a new project, and we're excited to announce we've started to cover Congress. The project is still in the early stages of development, so it's perfect time to try your hand at editing.

The main project page goes into more details, but here's a snapshot. We're just finishing the first step: building profiles on all 535 current members of Congress. Now there are five main types of articles we're working to build and expand upon:

  1. Profiles of candidates for Congress.
  2. Articles that are overviews of elections.
  3. Profiles of the 435 Congressional Districts.
  4. Profiles of the Congressional committees
  5. Features of U.S. Congress such as historical session information and leadership pages

We've put together a guide to getting started, outlining the first steps to get the project rolling. Our niche for coverage this first cycle will be primary elections, but feel free to add to any of our pages. The month of December will focus specifically on building profiles of candidates and election overview pages.

CongressLogo.png Please contact Geoff Pallay if you have any questions specific to this month's project.


Election season is upon us! Most of our staff time this month is dedicated to election reporting, original analysis, and changing the wiki to reflect the most current results. We are working to bring you interesting, relevant coverage of election-related news. And what better way to learn about the elections that with Ballotpedia's new podcast: the Ballotpedia Voice!

You can learn about ballot measures, candidates, and much more. The best part about it? You can listen on-line or find us in the iTunes store! Just search for "Ballotpedia" and subscribe today!

BPVoice.png Please contact Bailey Ludlam if you have any questions specific to this month's project.


The Ballotpedia project teams are always looking for opportunities to work with one another, and October's collaboration provides the perfect opportunity. We are in the process of building an index of the pages that writers in other projects are most likely to link to as they are working on their own projects.

The page is organized using tabs, with a dedicated section for each project. Now, our writers who work primarily on recalls can come to this new page and know the exact terminology to use when writing about the role an attorney general plays in the initiative process, and our state legislature staff will know whether the name or title comes first when writing a news story about state executive officers.

This project is a perfect opportunity for new users to start editing! As you're navigating around the wiki, take note of some of the terms that you see on multiple pages. Check the index of terms to see if they're included on our list; if they are not, add them yourself!

Help.png Please contact Lauren Rodgers if you have any questions specific to this month's project.


September marks the beginning of a new school and for students and teachers across the nation. For the Ballotpedia staff, it means a renewed effort to categorize our images!

Categories are a tool we use on Ballotpedia to help keep track of all our articles, images, and pages. We place articles in categories with others in a related topic. Every page on the wiki should have at least one category; you can find them at the bottom of each page. For example, you can tell this page is in the ''Community'' category because on the bottom of the page it says Category:Community. The categories provide an easy way for us to organize the wiki and navigate between pages. Take some time to explore the different categories you find on pages and see what you can discover.

Our project this month features the work of our entire staff - not just one team. We have all been working hard to make sure all images have categories, but we have come to realize that some of the image categories are too broad. We are now creating sub-categories for Category:Ballot measure images.

You can see our progress here. At the month's beginning, we only had three sub-categories and over 300 images that still needed further categorization.

Pencil.pngPlease contact the Image Category Manager if you have any questions specific to this month's project.


Do you have an interesting tidbit about your state legislator?
Is there something happening in your local area that you haven't seen covered on Ballotpedia?

The state legislatures team needs your help! They have recently introduced a new aspect into their coverage: unique news. The idea is to add small, relevant stories of interest to pages of legislators, committees, or elections. Here are a few examples of what they have done so far:

The team uses a news desk to compile stories that could be of interest. If you are interested in working on this project, that page is a good place to start for generating story ideas. Or, you might even be aware of a local story that we have not yet seen!

USbutton45.pngPlease contact the State Legislature Project Director if you have any questions specific to this month's project.

Follow up from Project Director

In August 2011, the monthly collaboration project focused on unique news additions for the state legislative project. The goal here was -- and is -- to add original and unique news additions to profiles, chambers, committees and election pages.

Over the course of the month, unique news pieces were added to more than 80 state legislator pages. Among the many different topics covered were state legislators declaring an intent to run for election in 2012 and the California State Assembly declaring individual budgets were not public record.

These types of additions to the wiki pages provide an individuality to that gives it a sense of originality from other pages in the project.

Over the course of the coming months ahead, the state legislative project will continue to focus on adding unique news components to profiles.

Geoff Pallay, Project Director for State Legislatures


The latest installment of our Monthly Collaboration comes from our ballot measures team. They are working to improve two decades worth of ballot measures, and the focus of this month is 1990 ballot measures. We'll work to make sure each of the measures is featured in chart form, and add an introduction explaining everything. The end-of-the-month goal is for the pages to look similar to our 2010 ballot measures page, with each of the ballot measures featured in chart form and a short introduction on the main page.

Clipboard48.pngPlease contact the Ballot Measures Project Director if you have any questions specific to this month's project.