News / USA

US Congressional Staffs Urged to Update Wikipedia Pages

FILE - Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Diaa Bekheet/VOA)
FILE - Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Diaa Bekheet/VOA)

A libertarian public policy organization based in Washington was on Capitol Hill Monday, urging U.S. House and Senate staff members to more effectively utilize the popular Internet site Wikipedia to inform the public about key legislation in Congress.

The CATO Institute said that during a recent 90-day period, almost 400,000 people clicked on Wikipedia to find out about "important" legislation.

Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia to which nearly anyone can gain access and edit information. The non-profit group that runs Wikipedia says it is the sixth most popular website in the world, with nearly 500 million unique visitors each month.

The CATO Institute told lawmakers Monday that the site should be a tool utilized by members of Congress and their staffs.

Some congressional staffers said their bosses are hesitant to allow them to post relevant information on Wikipedia. Many lawmakers prefer other sites like Facebook or Twitter to communicate with the public.

The CATO Institute advocates less government and increased transparency. It asserts that Wikipedia entries offer a far more effective way of communicating with the average constituent than either the traditional media or press releases published on a member of Congress' own web page.

According to a CATO senior fellow, Jim Harper, "Americans in huge numbers are looking for information about what Congress is doing. And the best source of information about what is happening in Congress is the staffers who are writing the bills. We think getting those staffers to participate in Wikipedia will vastly increase the information that is available to the public."

In the early days of Wikipedia, there was controversy about members of Congress or their staffs editing the personal pages that describe politicians and their histories to make them look better. CATO said such criticism could be muted if staff members would think in terms of writing a news report and linking to their sources.

"So a custom grew up that there should not be Wikipedia editing by congressional staff. That unfortunately has prevented good information from getting on Wikipedia and getting out to the public, Harper said. "So we are working to try and change the old consensus that congressional staff should not edit Wikipedia."

The Institute says it is updating and creating pages about legislation that goes to the floor for a vote, and that it has its own staff working on Wikipedia entries.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Waldo Lydecker
August 19, 2014 1:55 PM
Ironically, a mere two hours before the Cato Institute's noontime presentation at the Rayburn House Office Building, the Congressional staffer who'd returned earlier that day after having been blocked from Wikipedia for 10 days due to "persistent disruptive editing," posted anew. First he attempted to spread hate speech via the online encyclopedia's article on Transphobia. Thanks to a vigilant editor, he failed. Then the House's wannabe "Jester" took to that article's Talk page to claim that he was "editing Wikipedia to promote official business that has been explicitly authorized by the Representative" for whom he works. One of the themes of Cato's panel was the distrust shown by experienced Wikipedians towards edits by Congressional staffers. Judging from this latest incident, that distrust is well deserved.

by: Steve Foerster from: Alexandria, Virginia, USA
August 19, 2014 9:55 AM
The irony with those from Cato suggesting this is that the people who run Wikipedia recently had to block updates from computers on Capitol Hill because too many Congressional staffers were posting biased updates to Wikipedia articles about their bosses.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs