LPedia:Getting Started as a Contributor

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Welcome to LPedia!

If you are reading this, you are probably interested in helping us build LPedia. All the writing and editing of LPedia is done by volunteers like you, who are helping us document the history fo the Libertarian Party, based on their own knowledge and on information contained in historical documents.

If you are a Libertarian Party activist, you may well be able to help in ways that others cannot. You may have information about the LP's activities in your local area that others do not. You may have kept copies of publications or other documents that others did not.

The following sections discuss ways that you can contribute!

The Basics: Creating and Editing Articles

The information in LPedia is organized into "articles", each with a name that identifies the topic. The idea is similar to the articles in a traditional encyclopedia -- or in an online encyclopedia. If you are familiar with Wikipedia, you will find this similar in many ways -- in fact it's based on the same "MediaWiki" software. (But the purposes of LPedia are somewhat different -- if you are an active contributor to Wikipedia you may want to read about some of the differences.

As a contributor, your main activity will be editing these articles -- adding new information, updating information that has become out-of-date, or making corrections if you find errors. In some cases, before you can add information you will need to create a new article.

Depending on your past experience, you may find any or all of the following helpful:

The following sections discuss how you can get started working on several common types of articles.

Articles About People

We can use your help creating or expanding articles about Libertarian Party candidates, officers, and other leaders and activists who have helped build the party through the years. You may be familiar with activists in your area that nobody else remembers.

First step: Is there already an article?

Try using the search feature (at the upper right) to find an existing article about an activist with whom you are familiar. Or try entering the names of various past officers or candidates in your area. What do you find?

It's very possible you will find nothing. In that case, you will want to create a new article. The name of the article should be simply the person's name, using the form by which that person is/was most commonly known.

You may find an article that consists of nothing more than one sentence, perhaps just mentioning that the person held some party position or was a candidate for some public office. Such an article is called a "stub" -- these are typically created when somebody is working on some sort of list (e.g., of candidates) and wants to have a place to point for that person. Think of it as a placeholder for a full article that nobody has had a chance to write yet. You can be the person to fix that!

What to include?

Information that will be useful to put in your new article (or add to an existing article if its not already there) includes:

  • a summary of the roles for which the person is best known
  • basic biographical facts (birth/death dates/places)
  • a list or summary of LP positions held
  • a list or summary of public offices for which the person ran
  • other libertarian projects on which the person worked
  • other libertarian organizations with which the person was involved
  • at least one photograph of the person

The specific presentation of these kinds of information will vary from individual to individual, depending on the kinds of activities in which they were involved. For some general guidelines, see the corresponding section of the Manual of Style.

Special note if you are writing about yourself: If you have been a candidate or LP officer, you are welcome to create or add to an article about yourself. You may be the best source for certain kinds of information. But please take special care with respect to the following points:

  • Stick to the facts. This is not the place to state your personal opinions, about yourself or about anything else.
  • Write as if you were writing about somebody else. Use third-person pronouns. (Write "she ran for mayor" or "he was treasurer", not "I ran for mayor" or "I was treasurer".)
  • Each LPedia user has a separate "User" article (with the name "User:xxx" where xxx is your login name) -- that's the place to put information about your role as an LPedia contributor and any other personal information that isn't straightforward reporting.

Examples

Here are some existing articles about people that you can look at for ideas:

Articles About Organizations

Activists in a particular geographic area usually have the most information about the LP groups operating in that area. Are you (or were you) an officer of your local LP group? Or the editor of a county newsletter, or the webmaster for a local web site? Then you may be the best person to create/expand an article about that local LP group.

First step: Is there already an article?

Use the search feature to look for an article with a likely name. Sometimes the same organization may have been known by more than one name over the years -- try them all. If that doesn't work, check to see what information there is about local organizations in the article about your state party. There will often be a listing there of relevant articles under a heading like "Affiliates" or "Chapters". You can also try following the links in the more general Organizations category.

If you can't find an existing article about your local group, create one. Pick a name that makes sense, based on how the organization is usually known but also taking into consideration how articles about other local groups in your state are already named. (You should have seen this if you found a list of them in the article about your state party.)

What to include?

Information that will be useful to put in your new article (or add to an existing article if it's not already there) includes:

  • a brief description of the geographic area covered
  • when the group was formed
  • current officers / executive committee
  • past officers and other activists
  • past candidates for public office
  • Libertarians elected to public office
  • conventions or other events sponsored by the group
  • newsletters published by the group

Some of these kinds of information may deserve articles of their own. For example, if the list of past officers or candidates is very long, you may want to create a separate article for that. If you can contribute the actual content of your group's newsletter, that will involve creating at least one article as an index and many more articles (or files) for the content. If you do have newsletters or other documents relating to your group (e.g., bylaws), see the separate article on Contributing Historical Documents for additional information.

But don't let the prospect of creating more articles stop you from writing/editing this one. Just start adding the information you have. You can include a summary now for any sort of information you may want to expand on later.

Examples

Here are some existing articles about state/local LP organizations that you can look at for ideas:

Newsletters

Newsletters published by state and local LP groups are a very important part of the Libertarian Party's history. Not only are they interesting in their own right, showing how these groups communicated with their members and/or the general public, but they are often the most convenient source of information about other functions of the party -- campaigns for public office, who served as officers, how money was being raised, what happened at conventions, and so on.

Newsletters were typically mailed to hundreds or even thousands of people, but most of those people sooner or later threw them out. If you kept your copies, you can help by contributing them to our online collection. This can be a big job, much bigger than creating a single article on a topic -- but having this material online will be a very big help for future researchers, so it's well worth the effort.

And you don't need to do it all at once -- the important thing is to get started.

First step: what is already online?

Check the article (if one exists, see above) for the state or local organization that published the newsletter. See if there is mention of this newsletter. Also try just entering the name of the newsletter into the search bar. You may find no mention of this newsletter at all. You might find that somebody else has already contributed a complete set. But most likely you will find something in between -- a mention of the newsletter but not the actual content, or in some cases somebody may have already uploaded some issues but not all.

Compare what you find with what you've got. If there are some issues online, do you have different ones?

Next step: creating an article for the newsletter as a whole

If there isn't already one, create a new article that describes the newsletter itself. The name of the article should be same as the name of the newsletter. If it's a common name, or the same as the name of an unrelated publication, you can add the name of the local area to distinguish it, e.g., "Freedom News (Chicago)".

This article should contain information like:

  • the organization that published it
  • when it was published (typically a range of years)
  • how frequently it was published (e.g, monthly, quarterly)
  • the format (page size, typical number of pages)
  • circulation (how many copies, members vs. general public)
  • the people who served as editor or did other important jobs

You may not have all of this information. That's OK -- include whatever you have.

If you have a good-sized collection of actual issues, you can start by creating a list of them, identified by date and/or volume/issue number. (Only list issues for which you have a copy or for which you have other evidence that they were actually published. Just creating a list of possible dates, e.g., a list of all the months between 1982 and 1997, isn't providing any useful information.) This list can be part of the same article, following the general information. You can create this list even if you aren't ready to upload the content.

The Newsletters Themselves

There are a number of ways that the actual content of the newsletter can be made part of LPedia. For a general discussion of digitizing and uploading hardcopy documents, see Contributing Historical Documents.

But before you do that, check to see if some or all of the articles are already online somewhere else. Some LP groups already make a practice of posting PDFs of their newsletters on their own site. This is more likely to be the case for recent issues, but it's worth checking before doing a lot of extra work. If the content is already online, you can either create links to each issue there or download it from there and then post a copy to LPedia.

Note: Many LP groups replace their web sites from time to time, and information that might have been available online in the past is no longer available on their current site. If you have reason to believe this is the case for the newsletter you are working on, you may want to check the Internet Archive] to see if there are copies available there.

Examples

Here are some articles documenting state and local newsletters that you can look at for ideas: