"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of
civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
- Thomas Jefferson
Using Wikipedia to research elections without being misled:
This website helps you research upcoming elections in your district using Wikipedia. When you enter your Zip+4 code you are presented with a drop down box listing upcoming elections in your area. Below the drop down box you'll see the candidates running in that election. When you click on their names their Wikipedia biographies will hopefully appear. You may notice that many politicans are not covered in Wikipedia. For more information about how you can help correct that problem, click here.
Wikipedia may have misleading information! Anyone can edit Wikipedia pages, so it is easy for people to inject incorrect information. It is important that you don't believe everything that you read in Wikipedia. The following recommendations will help you get the most out of this site.
Install and use the WikiTrust Browser Plugin for Firefox:
Wikipedia pages undergo a constant collaborative editing process. When new information is first added to an article, it may not be trustworthy. But over time lots of people edit the article and hopefully remove bad information. Pieces of information that have survived for a long time in a Wikipedia article without getting removed are more likely to be trustworthy.
The problem is that when you read a Wikipedia article its hard to tell what passages have been recently added and what passages have survived a lot of edits by a large number of people. The WikiTrust Browser Plugin solves this problem, by placing a tab at the top of each Wikipedia page labeled "WikiTrust." When you click on this tab, WikiTrust colors the page you are reading. New passages have an orange background, indicating that they may not be trustworthy.
Unfortunately, WikiTrust only supports Firefox at this time, and we suggest that you use that browser with this site. Plans to support a wider array of browers are underway. Click here to install the WikiTrust Plugin.
Rely on authoritative, primary sources:
Wikipedia can be used as a gateway into more authoritative sources about a candidate's views and positions. Wikipedia pages about politicans usually link to their campaign website, which is the most authoritative source of their views. Also, information in Wikipedia articles often references external citations such as newspaper articles. Don't take the paraphrasing in Wikipedia at face value. If a particular fact interests you, click through to the primary source and read it there.
Think critically about what you are reading:
Many people are invested in certain political results - they don't care whether or not you really understand the issues as long as you agree with them and vote the way they want you to vote. Political advertisements, commentary from pundits, and certainly information in Wikipedia pages about politicians can and often is intentionally misleading. Think carefully about the things that you choose to believe.