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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora