How do I do that?
Getting in touch
Information and resources for contributors
This site is built by ordinary wise people, like you. You don't need any special credentials to participate -- we shun credentialism along with other propaganda techniques. It's the fact that it is open to everyone that makes these articles ever-improving, as we review and build on each other's work.
So, you can just dive right in and 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 (click on the 'Discussion' link at the top of the page). You need to 'log in' in order to edit. This is quick and easy: email editor AT Powerbase.info to register.
To work together effectively in building the encyclopedia, the Powerbase community has some established policies. An "encyclopedia of propaganda," by its very nature, is bound to attract controversy and debate. It is important, therefore, to write articles that focus on documented facts.
Please include thorough references to documentation supporting the facts in your article, and avoid rhetorical or inflammatory language.
If you are using a rhetorical or inflammatory term, then define it and explain it in an article where it can be put in context and balance introduced. We want Powerbase to be a useful information resource for journalists, activists and the general public, so please do not treat it as a debate forum. Any discussion about topics should be mainly directed at improving articles to the point where they are useful to journalists, the main consumer of our work.
New contributors are always welcome to Powerbase, and you are encouraged to be bold in editing pages. Please try to be accurate in your additions. This is far more important than a polished writing style, as it is easy for others to correct grammar and typing mistakes, but checking facts is laborious. While some newly added and updated articles are monitored by other contributors at the Recent changes page, it is not possible to check them all.
We would suggest you employ news style writing, which is, simply: put the important material first, and then the rest in descending order of importance. If you are taking a position on an issue, take it early and overtly so others can see your declared bias. In time we expect multiple points of view to fully develop and compete in a lively non-violent fashion.
We hope you have fun!
What is "wiki"?
A wiki is a collection of interlinked web pages, any of which can be visited and edited by anyone at any time. The concept and software was invented by Ward Cunningham. Powerbase is based upon this concept and anyone, including you, can contribute and edit by simply sending an email to editor AT Powerbase.info to register as a User. Then it's as simple as just clicking "Edit this page" (to the left or below) on the page you want to contribute to! However, if you want to practice first or just want to see the Wiki in action, edit the Powerbase:Sandbox page instead. See also How to edit a page.
Trust, vandalism and bias on Powerbase
What if someone tries to vandalize or insert disinformation into the Powerbase itself?
The Center for Media and Democracy, which sponsors Powerbase, has other channels through which we can expose and embarrass people who attempt to manipulate its content, such as the Spin of the Day and Weekly Spin features of the PR Watch web site. The Powerbase software includes a number of features that make it possible to detect and manage vandalism. In keeping with our philosophy of creating a community-based "information commons," these features enable the entire community of Internet users to collaborate in overseeing its content, in effect serving as a sort of online "neighbourhood watch committee":
- Visitors to the site need to create individual user IDs. This makes it easy to track the editing activities of each logged-in user.
- Logged-in Users can create their own individual "watch lists" that let them keep an eye on articles that they feel deserve particular monitoring. They can also call up a list of all recent changes to the entire site.
- The software keeps an archive of past versions of each article, making it easy to undo malicious or misguided changes by reverting to a previous version.
- If a User sees activity on the site that they believe is vandalism, they can email management AT Powerbase.info and sysop AT Powerbase.info with as much detail as possible.
As the authors of a book titled Trust Us, We’re Experts, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber have given quite a bit of thought to the question of what makes information credible. Powerbase intentionally avoids invoking "trusted authority figures." Instead, its credibility will depend on the degree to which articles are well-written and backed with supporting documentation and the degree to which those to whom credibility is important feel they can trust it.
How will Powerbase address questions of bias, particularly with regard to controversial topics?
Rather than using the terminology of "objectivity" or a "neutral point of view," we prefer the concepts of "fairness and accuracy." It is "fair and accurate," for example, to say that most climate scientists believe human activities are contributing to global warming, so there is no need to take a "neutral point of view" with regard to this question. Of course, bias is an issue in any information system, but Powerbase’s users will constitute a community of peers whose combined influence helps compensate for the bias of single individuals. Systemic bias, e.g. due to contributor psychographics or demographics, will be overcome by a variety of measures to promote equity of viewpoints.
As an “encyclopedia of propaganda,” Powerbase is bound to deal with controversial topics. However, the wiki system upon which it is based has shown considerable ability to produce articles that examine controversial topics in a fair and accurate way. Indeed, some of the most controversial topics yield the best articles.
How can I contribute?
Do I have to register to edit pages?
Yes. Registration and the use of your real name introduces a small measure of accountability for material posted on Powerbase.
What's the point of registering?
Email management AT Powerbase.info to register for your own user ID. This enables you to edit and contribute material and gives the following additional benefits:
- It allows you to set and save Powerbase preferences.
- It credits you in the article history, as well as on the Recent Changes page, with changes you make.
- You get a personal Powerbase User page. You can use this to tell people about yourself and list the articles you've worked on.
- It is much easier for your fellow Powerbase to interact with you if you have a name.
- Once you have a User name and password, you are invited to add yourself to the email list for editors. Email management AT Powerbase.info
Do I have to use my real name?
Yes, real names are required.
Types of pages and articles on Powerbase
What's the difference between a page and an article?
The term "page" encompasses all the material on Powerbase, including encyclopedia topics, talk pages, documentation, and special pages such as Recent Changes. "Article" is a narrower term refering to a page containing an encyclopedia entry. Thus, all articles are pages, but not all pages are articles.
What is an orphan?
An orphan is an article that no other article links to. These can still be found by searching the Powerbase, but it is preferable to find another article where a link can be added. You can find a list of orphan articles here.
What is a stub?
A stub on Powerbase is a very short article, generally of one paragraph or less. Most people hate stubs, even though they are a probably a necessary evil. Many excellent articles started out as short stubs. Existing stubs should be expanded into proper articles: see Powerbase:Find or fix a stub, and a generated list at Shortpages.
How do I edit a page?
- It's quite simple. Once you have registered, familiarise yourself with Powerbase Editorial Policy, then it's simply a case of clicking on the "Edit this page" at the top of the page you want to contribute to and type away. See How to edit a page to learn about making links, using bold and italics, linking to images, and many other things...
How to edit a page gives you step by step guidelines for creating a page/article.
If you prefer a quick, rather than detailed guide, then see Powerbase Quick Guide to Editing
Are there any standard formats, for things like dates for example?
For this and other style questions, see the Powerbase:Manual of Style.
How do I rename a page?
- Registered users can move a page; this moves the page content and edit history to a new title, and creates a redirecting page at the old title. This method is better than just copying the content by hand, as it preserves the article's history. Use the "Move this page" link. If you want to move a page, please click the "What links here" and fix the links to the page in question. See How to rename (move) a page.
What is "Recent Changes", and what do the abbreviations used there mean?
- The notations on "Recent Changes" are "N" for new page (new pages often attract a bunch of copyedits); the "M" stands for "Minor edit" or "minor change", which you can set by checking the check box labelled "This is a minor edit" when you edit a page. If you check your "Preferences", you can suppress minor changes in the Recent Changes List. Checking this box is a courtesy to people who suppress seeing minor changes -- check the box if the change is a simple spelling or grammar change.
Can I change the default number of contributions displayed in the "My contributions" list?
Currently not. You can, however, change the setting on the page and bookmark the resulting page.
The goal of Powerbase is to create information that is available to everyone. The realities of modern copyright law demand that we pay attention to legal issues to ensure that our work can be made available and to protect the project from legal liability. Powerbase entries is licensed to the public under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).
See Powerbase copyright policy for more details and guidelines on copyrights.
Avoid accusations that are libelous. Just because something that is defamatory has been published elsewhere, it does not mean that you are immune from legal action. It just makes it less likely. Always try and use primary materials from authoratitive sources. See Powerbase Libel Policy for more details.
Try to be as factual as possible. Do not use abusive language or language that is in any way racist, sexist or obscene or could be construed as such. Do not use swear words unless in quotations. Keep any rhetoric or personal comment to a minimum and avoid speculation, innuendo or libel. If comment is provided please be fair. Being fair does not mean not being critical or adding some kind of analysis, though. Just try and strike the correct balance. You want the article to basically contain factual information about the person you are writing about, not your views on the person you are writing about. There is a difference between a profile entry and a blog entry or an opinion piece. Avoid generalizations and unsubstantiated sweeping statements.
If you are making accusations against a person or organization try and support it by as much primary material as possible. Just because someone else has said it is true, it does not mean it is true. Make sure your sources are up to date, and relate to present day situation or indicate that they are historical.
Images can enrich and liven up articles.
When adding images, please first refer to Powerbase Image Use Policy and Guidelines
I've found vandalism, or I've damaged a page by mistake! How can I restore it?
Click on the "Older versions" link. Find the last good version of the page (it helps to use a browser with multiple tabs). Edit this old version (you'll get a warning that you're editing an old version at the top of the edit box). Save this text -- it will become the new current version. See Powerbase guidelines on vandalism for further information should you find vandalism on a page.
One of the contributors is being unreasonable. Help!
How do I spread the word?
Powerbase is great but I no longer have a life. I feel the urge to spread this affliction to my fellow human beings. How do I spread the word?
- See Powerbase:Publicity for some ideas.
What is an administrator? What is a sysop?
Two words for the same thing. An administrator is simply a Powerbase user who can access the few restricted Powerbase software functions: 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?
If you wish to contribute to Powerbase as an administrator, you will first need to have a user account. Then, after making positive contributions to Powerbase over a period of time and proving to Powerbase community that you are here in good faith, it may be possible for you to become an administrator. Administrator status can be requested by sending a message to sysop AT Powerbase.info