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the social network anyone can edit

What is this?

Polink is a tool to aggregate relationship information about people and organizations, and to use that data to make it easier to understand how they fit into the larger political context.

These relationships are often too complex and numerous for any one person to easily keep track of. The purpose of this site is to make it easier for those of us who are interested in these connections to pool our data.

Any registered user may add a person or organization to our database, and may create links between these entities. Other users may either verify or contest the validity of those entities or links.

What sort of people or organizations should we add?

For the moment, I'd like to restrict it to people or organizations who are relevant to U.S. national politics or current events. If someone is a household name or in the news, they're an acceptable candidate. If they are in a position to influence national politics, they're also relavant.

State governors are okay, but I'd like to avoid state legislators or town mayors and the like for now, unless they've somehow made themselves relevant to national politics.

International figures are fair game if they have some kind of relationship with the U.S. (whether friendly or adversarial).

How do I add a person or organization?

When you login, you will see links at the top of the page to add a person or organization. Fill out the form with the relevant information (name they are best known by, legal name, date of birth or date organization was created, links to the relevant wikipedia page, twitter account and website if any).

How do I create links between people and/or organizations?

Links are a little complicated. Let's say you come across a news article that says some politician A has endorsed some other politician B, and you want to add that link to our database.

First, you must browse to the page for one of those two politicians (or create them, if they aren't already there). Then, click the "copy to clipboard" link. From now on, that person will be shown in the clipboard at the top of the page.

Now, whenever you visit the page of any other person or organization, you will be given the option of creating a link between the person or organization in your clipboard and the one shown on the current page. Select the appropriate link type ("endorses" in this example) and click the "create link" button.

You will be taken to a form where you can input the date the endorsement occurred and a link to the news article. (For some kinds of relationships that cover a span of time, it makes sense to add an end date as well.)

What sort of links should I add?

Links should be independently verifiable. A citation url is required for creating links, and it should point to an appropriate article. Wikipedia links are ok for things that are common knowledge, but for more contetious links you should provide a more authoritative source.

Links have a type, which should be set appropriately.

Links usually also have a direction. "A disagrees with B" is not the same as "B disagrees with A". Links should have the subject first and the object last, as in the "subject-verb-object" order of English.

For some kinds of links, a link in one direction implies a link in the other. For instance, "Barack Obama is married to Michelle Obama" implies that "Michelle Obama is married to Barack Obama." We don't have any explicit policy that those kind of links should be one way or the other, but try not to create links in both directions. (We may eventually modify the software to create or infer those reverse links automatically.)

How does the tagging system work?

Entities (people or organizations) can be tagged. For instance, president Obama might be tagged as "politician", "author", "teacher" and "lawyer". Tags can be voted on just like entities and links, and each has its own comment thread.

Tags should be used to represent objective facts, not your own opinions. For instance, it's acceptable to tag Bernie Madoff as "criminal" because he was successfully convicted of fraud, but it isn't ok to tag a politician you believe broke the law as "criminal" if they haven't actually been formally charged or convicted.

How do I express my approval or disapproval?

Every entity, link, tag, and comment has "like" and "dislike" links you may use to register your opinion. User profile pages also have "friend" and "foe" links, which work the same way.

Note that your likes, dislikes, friends, and foes are publicly viewable by everyone. Be careful with the "foe" button!

Also, be aware that you may switch your vote, but you cannot unvote.

This information is wrong! How do I fix it?

Currently, regular users may not edit an existing entity. However, you may create a new entity or link in its place. (It is quite possible to have a given person or organization or link in the database more than once.)

If information is wrong, please post a comment in the appropriate place, and click the "contest" link. If you were the one that created the item, and yours is the only "verify" vote, then contesting the entry will cause it to be deleted. (Items only exist so long as they are verified by at least one person. If no one believes that something is true, then why keep it around?) This is an easy way to delete newly-created content if you accidentally typed something in wrong. Contested content may be deleted by an editor or admin.

How do I find stuff?

The easiest way is to use the search function (follow the link at the bottom of the page).

Another trick if you know the wikipedia address of the thing you're looking for is to replace "en.wikipedia.org" with "polink.org" in the url, and if the item is in our database with that wiki link, it'll take you to the right place. For example: http://polink.org/wiki/Barack_Obama. You can also browse the list of all entities.

Who is running this site?

This project is run by Jim Snow and Daniel Connor at Metamocracy LLC.

The Polink.org software is written by Jim Snow.

We created this site originally as a platform for experimenting with reputation systems, but we also want it to be useful in its own right to provide more visibility into the complex connections between powerful people and organizations.

If you would like to contact us for any reason, you can email Jim Snow or Daniel Connor.

What is the technology stack?

The Polink software is written in Haskell and uses the Yesod web framework. Persistance is handled by acid-state, which can be thought of as an in-memory database with an on-disk log.

This is an open-source project. Our source code is available on Github here.