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Bragging Rights

You can also read this post on BeltWiki Blog by WhoRunsGov

Washingtonians are notorious (mostly amongst ourselves) for talking about ourselves. Our affinity for self-promotion was noted earlier this year when the District was dubbed the most socially-networked city by Men’s Health magazine. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are great channels for telling our friends and acquaintances know how clever and accomplished we are.

The thing is, lots of people here are very clever and accomplished. I know, because my job is to seek out those insiders to ask them to either submit their own profiles to WhoRunsGov.com or arrange for someone to write about them. My list of profile candidates never seems to shrink. Turns out it’s not just talk—people here actually are experts.

So I am always surprised by how often these clever and accomplished people hesitate to create a profile on WhoRunsGov. At least once a week, a highly-regarded Hill or campaign staffers or federal official tells me they “aren’t comfortable writing about” themselves. You wouldn’t believe the discomfort many of the most brilliant communicators and wonks in the country express when asked to put their career accomplishments into the form of a profile.

Washington is a highly social city, but it’s also one that is resistant to change and cautious when it comes to new experiments, like WhoRunsGov was when it started. That’s doubly true when the new “experiment” can reflect on someone’s public image, or the image of the person they represent.

Admittedly, writing an article about yourself seems a little strange, but that’s not the best way to think about a WhoRunsGov profile.

While WhoRunsGov profiles are used to supplement WashingtonPost.com stories, they are not news articles. They are biographies, meant to be updated continually as the subjects change jobs and update their own resumes. Profiles written by our staff are culled from information that is already on the Web, including articles, press releases and bits from social media profiles. Ideally, the reporter will get to interview the profile subject, but if that’s not possible, they simply compile the facts that can be found elsewhere in the public record. Most of the time, our profiles rank in in the top few results on major Internet search engines.

If someone can write a profile of you based solely on information they can find in a search, why wouldn’t you want to write it for them? Wiki contributors can submit profiles under whatever username they choose. Some people write or edit their profiles under a variation of their own name, and others do so under anonymous ones. We have strict guidelines for profiles; they are all based on facts that are cited in the text, and our editors check each one for accuracy and fairness before they are posted.

The best reason I can give potential profile subjects for writing their own profiles is actually one a top foreign policy expert in the Senate gave for writing his own profile. “I’ve learned in this town that if you don’t promote yourself, no one else is going to do it for you.” Washingtonians usually know how to explain their roles and, when given the opening, will do so. Putting a profile on WhoRunsGov is no different – if you meet the criteria, there is no reason not to add yourself to our directory.

You can see who recently got a profile on WhoRunsGov and get tips on writing for profiles here on the BeltWiki home page, and you can always contact me with any questions about writing profiles.

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