Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. Congress/Members

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This was taken from User:PaulHanson/Style guide to be used as a basis for a project wide style guide (thanks Paul).

This is a draft style guide for Project Congress, specifically geared towards articles on Members of the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate.

This is a work in progress. Currently, it reflects the format and style that I, Paul, have been using; therefore, it might be improved by others, and might be inconsistent with other WP policies in other areas. If there is something that can be improved, try to gather a consensus, and then improve it; if something is completely wrong, then go ahead and fix it.

  • I appreciate the effort to do this and would like to participate, having written a few. There is already a style guide for biographies in general, Template:Biography, which this should incorporate and build upon. stilltim 11:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Article titles[edit]

Articles on Representatives and Senators should use first name, middle initial(s), and last name, unless the person is better known with the middle name spelled out, or the initial omitted. For example, the name John Q. Adams is rarely heard, and therefore John Quincy Adams should be the title. On the other hand, John Caldwell Calhoun is more commonly known as John C. Calhoun.

Office titles[edit]

Be sure to only link articles once; linking both United States Representative and United States House of Representatives is redundant, since the former links to the latter.

It is usually not necessary to mention that the person was a politician, or to use (and link) the term "American"; both are redundant. Also try to avoid using an abbreviation for "United States" in the first instance of the term, and never link an abbreviation. Do not link the term "Senator" by itself, since that will link you to the article on a Senate (generic) rather than the United States Senate.

For example,

Key Pittman was a United States Senator from Nevada.

is preferable in many ways to

Key Pittman, an American politician, was a U.S. Senator from Nevada.

and is especially preferrible to

Key Pittman, an American politician, was a US Senator from Nevada.
  • Let's go a step further and try to have a standard lead paragraph that reads as follows for J. Caleb Boggs:
James Caleb "Cale" Boggs (May 15, 1909March 26, 1993) was an American lawyer and politician from Claymont, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Republican Party, who served as U. S. Representative from Delaware, Governor of Delaware and U. S. Senator from Delaware.
The use of "American" plus occupations follows the existing biographical style guide, although I concur that the nationality may seem somewhat redundant. On the other hand if the reader is from New Zealand it might be a helpful redundancy. The occupation is important though and should be included...although use of "politician" may be debated. Often "statesman" is used, but I can't figure out how one becomes one of those. All this followed by residence, defined as locality, county, and state in the manner shown. Locality may vary from municipality to township to a local name, but when something not linkable, I prefer to add "near Wilmington, Delaware." Sometimes there are more than one important residences and it becomes a grammatical challenge. I then have concluded with party affiliation and a list of major offices, genrally in the order served. If the person was a veteran or had some other significant career items that information should be included as well.stilltim 11:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Let's also agree to use the generic politician infobox Template:Infobox Politician on the upper right. It works well with persons who have held multiple offices, unlike the more specific boxes for just senators or reprs. stilltim 11:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Bioguide[edit]

A biographical outline of every member of Congress, past and present, is available from http://bioguide.congress.gov , the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Since it is public domain, it may be copy-and-pasted into Wikipedia to make an article. However, a Bioguide entry requires some wikification before it is an acceptable article. With fairly minor changes (such as the addition of pronouns and assembly of complete sentences), a Bioguide entry can become a good article.

At the end of any article on a member of Congress, there should be a link to that member's bioguide page. Links for recent Senators and Representatives can be made by using the template {{CongLinks}}, and for others by using {{CongBio|X000000}}. X000000 stands for the seven-character string at the end of the Bioguide entry URL. (The letter will be the first letter of the person's last name, and the numbers indicate the alphabetical placement of the name. Therefore, Fred G. Aandahl is A000001, and so on.)

  • Use of the bioguide is essential but should be considered only a starting point. The content is sparse and the writing style is not up to an encyclopediac quality. After making the (IMO more than minor) changes noted above, other sources should be sought for further info. stilltim 11:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
    • Comment: Very true, but my point is that having a lightly-edited Bioguide copy-and-paste is a major improvement over having nothing. Paul 06:52, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
      • Don't know if this page is still in the brainstorming phase, but your CongBio template is being misused in many articles. If the Biographical Directory is used as a source and appears in the References/Sources section, then per the guideline on External Links the CongBio template should not be anywhere else. Aboutmovies (talk) 20:01, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
        • Once an article moves beyond the sole-source 'lightly-edited Bioguide copy-and-paste' stage, imo the Bioguide should move from the References section to the External links section. (This issue rarely arises now that there's an emphasis on inline citations.) Flatterworld (talk) 16:58, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Note: When wikifying a Bioguide entry into an article, keep in mind that Bioguide's focus is on Congressional terms rather than other offices. A person who was a one-term representative and a governor may be far more well known for holding the latter office; try to make it clear that the person held the other office, and be sure to remember the appropriate category and template.

Categories[edit]

Be sure to add categories for all applicable offices the subject of an article has held. Members of Congress usually held other political offices, which are relevant to the article. Common offices, and categories they belong in, include:

  • Judge. For a person who held a state-level or lower judgeship, a category such as Category:New York judges should be used. For federal judges, there are categories for district courts judges, appeals court judges, U.S. Supreme Court justices. Some state supreme court judges are categorized.
  • State legislator. A category such as Category:Members of the New York Assembly or Category:New York State Senators would be used.
  • Diplomats. There are several levels of diplomatic rank, and each should be categorized (although categories may not exist for each rank yet.) For Ambassadors, use the category Category:Ambassadors of the United States. Many Bioguide entries mention the posts of Minister or Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, as the United States did not use the rank of Ambassador until the late 19th century. These other ranks are not yet categorized. For such offices that do not have a more specific category, use Category:American diplomats.
  • Mayors. The current categorization scheme uses the (somewhat cumbersome) title of "Leaders of cities in (state). For some cities (usually larger ones, where many of its mayors are notable and have articles) there is a category such as Category:Mayors of New York City.
  • Governors. A category such as, for example, Category:Governors of New York is used. Be sure to add the governors infobox for a particular state in an article on a governor. Usually, the template's title is the state's postal abbreviation and the word Governors, for example {{NYGovernors}}.
    • Strongly recommend using the Template:Infobox Politician instead. The template cited is actually a navigation box, which is useful and should be included, except that it should be for senators or representatives, and it should be alphabetical, rather than chronological. The navigation box is meant to help readers find names, and placing them by order of service is no better than placing them randomly. stilltim 11:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
    • And while at it succession boxes should be using the Template: s-start as decribed in Wikipedia:WikiProject Succession Box Standardization. The method and limitations of presenting data shown in the J. Caleb Boggs article is a good example of what I think the standard should be. stilltim 11:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Disambiguation[edit]

Several father-and-son pairs with identical names have articles. In this case, birth and death years can be used to disambiguate if there is no clear answer to who should be called what. However, in cases such as John Dingell (whose father, John D. Dingell, Sr. was also a Representive), the more notable or recent should be given the shorter name, and a disambig should be created.

  • I have gone round and round on this, believing that dates are the best way to disambiguate, but finding almost no one in agreement. So, I would recommend the present common practice be followed which seems to be roughly using the highest office attained, (senator), or (congressman); if there are more than one, qualify that with location, (California senator), and if there are two such, hope they are father/son and use "Jr." for one, or hope one has had some other distinguishing position or role. The goal should be to never have more than two or three words in the diambiguation. I think it is possible. stilltim 11:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Redirects[edit]

Create redirects for any proper variation of a name. Also create redirects for any part of the name that is unique to that person. A good example is Utah's Orrice Abram Murdock, Jr., since many redirects are possible (and desirable). Pages that redirect to Sen. Murdock include:

This may seem excessive for a now-obscure Senator, but it is desirable since it makes the article easier to find, and his name may appear in one of these permutations on another missing articles list.

If one of these redirects interferes with a not-yet-created page - for example, a guy named Orrace wins American Idol - a redirect page can be easily changed into a disambig.

States[edit]

It is not necessary to use U.S. state before a state name, any more than it would be necessary to use the term country before a country name. Exceptions would include cases such as Georgia, which is a U.S. state and a country; in this case, "U.S. state" can be used, and care should be taken to link to Georgia (U.S. state) rather than just Georgia.

Current elections[edit]

Senators[edit]

For Senators in office, there should always be a separate section for the current election, if the Senator is running (or expected to run) for re-election. At what point this separate section should be established (i.e., what "current" means) is a matter of judgment; it should certainly be created by January 1st of the election year, and almost certainly should not be created more than two years before the expiration of the Senator's term.

Normally this section title should be "YYYY re-election race".

Immediately after the section title, there should be by a reference to a separate, main article (done with curly brackets), such as

[For Senators, there should always be a separate article on the election race, using this naming convention: StateName United States Senate election YYYY.]

The separate section on the current election should be retained at least until the January following the election, when the Senator either begins another term or leaves office.

The content of this section will change as the election process goes on. In general, in should be around two paragraphs (three at maximum) that provides the current status of the race; historical information and background detail should generally appear only in the separate article on election. After the election, it might shrink to a single paragraph with highlights, such as where surveys showed changing percentages of voter support during the campaign; key incidents; percentages of votes won by the incumbent and the major party opponent [and independents, if greater than 5 or 10 percent of the vote]. If it shrinks to less than two full paragraphs, it might be appropriate to remove the section heading and merge the information into the main article.

The link to the main campaign article should never be deleted.

Representatives[edit]

Normally this section title shuld be "YYYY re-election race".

More than 80 percent of Congressional races - and an even higher percentage of races involving House incumbents - are not at all competitive -- the major party opponent will get less than 40 percent of the November vote. Accordingly, separate articles on House races are relatively rare. One-sided races may not even merit a separate section within the biography of the incumbent. Instead, a paragraph or even a sentence may suffice: "IncumbentName is expected to win easily in November YYYY.")

In general, information on the current election (separate section or not) should not appear more than a year before the general election date. After the election, if the incumbent wins easily, a one-line summary such as "In the November YYYY race, IncumbentName defeated OpposingParty candidate [Opponent Name] by XX% to YY%. After the election, even if the race was close, information other than the results should be kept in the article only if significant (historically) or likely to make a difference in future elections (for example, "The closeness of the race was a surprise, given the low name recognition of Opponent X at the beginning of the year and that President Z won the district with AA% of the vote.")

If there is a separate section for the current election, it is not required to be a comprehensive guide to the election. In particular, prior to the primary, any information others running for the House seat should be limited to the names of the candidates; where there are quite a few, a summary is appropriate, such as "On the Republican side, five candidates are running for the seat; only [Name 1] and [Name 2] are considered likely to win the nomination." (When an opponent's name is listed, it should be wikified; if the opponent isn't judged to be worthy of a wikipedia article, the name should be unwikified AFTER the election.)