Editorial Guidelines

What Tax Payer Treasure Hunt IS

  1. We aim to document how federal government taxpayer funds are actually being spent at a greater level of detail than is otherwise available.
  2. In order to get a starting point for what is a very wide ranging project we are starting by documenting the expenses of the president and his administration.
  3. We hope that by providing a system and template to closely track actual government spending in the United States, we can help others in other countries. Not only will this template be free of charge to those around the world, but, resources permitting, we will provide guidance for those who wish to set up such a system in other countries.
  4. What Wikipedia has done for the encyclopedia and Craigslist has done for classified advertising, we hope to do for government financial reporting.

What Tax Payer Treasure Hunt IS NOT

  1. We are objective and fact based, not partisan. We are not a vehicle for anti or pro US government opinions, prejudices, rants, or raves. Each expense item must be correctly sourced, and written in an objective manner. (Again, think of Wikipedia).

Editorial Guidelines

The content at Tax Payer Treasure Hunt is edited and moderated by a team of editors. We welcome and encourage all contributions to the site, but we do ask that you review the following Editorial Guidelines before participating. Doing so will help prevent your contribution being removed, and keep ensure the credibility and objectivity of our data.

Changing Content and Adding Expenses

When you add a new Expense Item, or modify an existing Expense Item, you must add a verifiable source for your information. Without a valid source that can be verified, your contribution is at risk of being challenged by another editor and/or deletion.

We accept the following sources:

  • Online source – must be one of the following: online site of a major news agency, official US government website, or a well referenced website such as Wikipedia. Personal blogs or websites may be allowed if they demonstrate quality referencing and accurate reporting.
  • Published source – we only accept hard copy sources that are published by government agencies, large publishing companies or news agencies. Self published propaganda or campaign material is not permitted, unless the facts can be verified from reliable third party sources.
  • Insider Information – we do accept information from insiders, such as government employees of employees of government contractors. However you must still provide a verifiable source for your data. And you must provide this evidence to the Tax Payer Treasure Hunt moderators. For example you may have a document you wish to leak – if so send it to us! It will be kept confidential and we will publish the findings, but only if they are determined to be, in the judgment of the editors, credible.

We are flexible on the formatting of your reference, as the most important thing is that the source is referenced. However, for the sake of clarity, we suggest you format your source information like this:

Name of Source, Date of Publication, “Title of Article”, URL and/or relevant page numbers

Edit Conflicts

An ‘Edit Conflict’ is where two or more contributors disagree on an expense amount or details. It is possible both contributors are correct, especially when the sources the information is based upon disagree with each other. Remember Taxpayer treasure Hunt does not claim to be authoritative – we are more interested in documenting the most relevant sources, and in providing a variety of different sources for a particular expense.

However, the following aspects come into play when resolving Edit Conflicts:

  1. The extent and quality of documentation. A very well documented number from a personal blog will take precedence over a very vague and undocumented number from an official government source.
  2. The number of distinct sources quoting a particular figure (syndicated content counts as one source only). The more sources INDEPENDENTLY representing a number, the more likely this number is. This does not apply if different sources are just repeating numbers from the same source.
  3. The history and tone of the contributor (e.g. do they have a history of providing objective non-partisan information?).

Contributors are encouraged to use the Talk page for each item to discuss changes before making them. (The Talk Page for each expense can be accessed using the ‘Discuss this Expense’ link).

If the dispute cannot be easily resolved, there is nothing to prevent a second instance of any particular ‘Expense Item’ being created. The item must have a unique name however.

Neutral point of view (NPOV)

NPOV is a concept borrowed from Wikipedia, and essentially means that all expense item description should be written form a neutral point of view. That is, the text should not be biased, subjective, or contain opinions.

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