The Fine Print
How does Chicago Wonk work?
It's pretty straightforward. Each weekday, a policy question of local interest is posted, along with brief recaps of the two best defined positions – pro and con. Votes for one position or the other are tracked for 24 hours, after which results are e-mailed to subscribers and a new policy question is posted.
What about subtlety? Aren't there more than two opposing positions in issues of public policy?
Right. No question about it. There is absolutely more to thoughtful public policy debate than the two most often articulated – sometimes least reasonable – positions. But Chicago Wonk makes no claims to provide an exhaustive analysis or every option. If you can't in good conscience vote for one position or the other, you are under no obligation to do so.
Are the results scientific?
The results were collected and tracked by a computer – undoubtedly one the great milestones of scientific discovery. But you're probably asking if those surveyed are randomly selected and whether samples are weighted for race, gender, education and socio-economic indicators. To that, the answer is no. On the plus side, the margin of error is irrelevant.
Can't proponents or opponents of a single issue blitz Chicago Wonk and skew the results?
Sure. To reduce the likelihood that any one guy in his parents' basement is single-handedly skewing the results, we've programmed Chicago Wonk to tally a single vote from any one computer's IP address only once a day.
If, however, proponents or opponents of a single issue rally their troops to skew the results, those results may not accurately reflect the opinions of legitimate wonks. But we'll learn something about who's organized and who's not.
Who is Chicago Wonk?
That's not important. The folks gathering the information and framing the issues are bright, well-educated, well-read, thoughtful and have more than a passing interest in local public policy. Sure, they have political persuasions and rooting interests, but they don't air them here.
What is a wonk?
Basically, a wonk is a public policy geek. This is a link to the Wikipedia definition. But just like the folks at Wikipedia, we make no claims to the thoroughness or accuracy of their definition.
Should I worry about giving you my e-mail address when I subscribe?
If I've subscribed, why aren't I getting your weekday e-mails?
Because your e-mail update is automatically generated by a giant, powerful computer in the Chicago Wonk bunker, it's getting strained out by your spam filter. You can eliminate this problem by adding email@example.com to your e-mail application's whitelist. Microsoft Outlook users can also avoid the spam filer by adding that e-mail address to their contacts file.