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Wikipedia for politics? A new site gives it a try

New politics-and-government wiki PoliticalBase.com hopes to draw readers by offering neutral information and the opportunity to add to entries.

A political Web site set to launch on Tuesday plans to become a kind of Wikipedia-like destination specializing in elections, governments, and political candidates.

The idea behind PoliticalBase.com is to provide a neutral, one-stop source of information about politics (and politicians) to which anyone can contribute. Changes must be approved by a staff editor before they take effect.

Shelby Bonnie, who served as chief executive of CNET Networks from March 2000 to October 2006, is funding PoliticalBase.com and has moved it into offices in Sausalito, Calif. Four former CNET employees, including Mike Tatum of Chow.com, have joined him.

Bonnie says his new advertising-supported venture benefitted from his experience with technology reviews built atop a database of product names, specifications and user opinions. "We've made a database of people. We've made a database of issues. We've made a database of advocacy groups. We've used the (Federal Election Commission) data," he said.

Most wikis and wiki platforms--including the general-interest Wikipedia; EmacsWiki, a text-editor resource popular among computer programmers; and PBWiki, for business collaboration--tend to be free-form and allow users to veer in any direction. Even Campaigns Wikia, which Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launched last year, takes that approach.

Like Wikinvest, which recently raised $2.5 million in funding, PoliticalBase.com is more structured. It has entries for hundreds of politicians and government entities ranging from Chippewa County, Minn. to Sen. Hillary Clinton. (If the entry is blank, as Chippewa County's is, visitors are asked to fill in the details.)

In addition, bloggers can embed live PoliticalBase.com charts showing political candidates' fund-raising on their own blog sites by copying and pasting a small chunk of Flash code into their Web page.

"This is a category where people tend to be passionate," said Bonnie, who hopes to tap into political candidates' 2008 advertising budgets.

Bonnie said that some upcoming features--such as pages listing politicians' votes on the No Child Left Behind Act or the federal Assault Weapons Ban--would be added in the next six months.

The PoliticalBase.com domain name was purchased for $10,220 in August, according to a report in DN Journal.

Editor's note: Bonnie, a CNET Networks co-founder, resigned as chief executive officer last year as part of an internal investigation into stock options backdating. News.com is published by CNET Networks.