FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Steven C. Markoff, Chairman and CEO of A-Mark Financial Corporation, a Santa Monica-based company (originally named A-Mark Coin Company), has been active in documenting the pros and cons of controversial issues since 1986. He then created an organization to help pursue this effort, and after several iterations, that organization became ProCon.org on July 12, 2004.
ProCon.org was founded as a nonprofit charity in California and was initially funded primarily by its founder, Steven Markoff. For most of its tenure as a nonprofit organization (2004-20), ProCon.org received funding from outside sources including private companies, foundations, and individual donors, many of whom are acknowledged on the Donors & Sponsors page. Since May 29, 2020, ProCon.org has been part of the Britannica Group of companies, which includes Encyclopaedia Britannica. Britannica’s headquarters are in Chicago.
"To promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting the pro and con arguments to controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, freely accessible way."
ProCon.org is neither conservative nor liberal nor otherwise politically biased. We work hard to be nonpartisan and to ensure that an individual’s bias does not appear in or affect ProCon’s presentation of issues. If you think you perceive bias in any of our content, let us know and we will immediately assess the situation.
Is ProCon.org affiliated with any other organizations?
ProCon.org has been part of the Britannica Group of companies since May 29, 2020. Britannica’s flagship publication, Encyclopaedia Britannica—the oldest continuously published and revised work in the English language, founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1768—is revered for its nonpartisan, expert-based, fact-checked content, which is why its mission and that of the Britannica Group of educational resources in general align so well with the mission of ProCon.org.
Each page on ProCon.org has a "Cite This Page” link in the bottom footer and/or right rail of the page. Clicking the "Cite This Page” link will show proper bibliographic citations for that specific page in APA, Chicago, MLA, and Turabian style formats.
Yes. ProCon.org has been used and referenced in the news media many thousands of times. For information on our topics or to schedule an interview, please contact us at procon[at]eb.com.
ProCon.org encourages linking to our site because it helps to advance our mission of promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship. Reprinting content is a different matter. Click here to read our "Reprinting Policy" for all reprinted and otherwise used ProCon.org content. We have broken down our policy into two sections, Reprinting Policy under "Fair Use" and Reprinting Policy for Commercial or non-"Fair Use" Requests.
No. ProCon.org is nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity that presents facts, studies, pro and con statements, and related research on important social issues. We do not provide:
The information presented on our sites is intended for the public, policy makers, the media, scholars, scientists, judges, attorneys, librarians, teachers, and students. For more information about our audience, please visit our webpage "Who Uses ProCon.org?"
Some 20 million readers use ProCon.org annually, generating nearly 50 million pageviews each year. Students and teachers in more than 11,000 schools in all 50 U.S. states and 90 countries use our site. Additionally, 37 U.S. state governments, 17 U.S. state departments of education, 31 foreign governments, 25 U.S. federal agencies, and thousands of media outlets have cited ProCon.org.
Does ProCon.org make students lazy researchers since they have access to so much information in one place?
No. ProCon teaches critical thinking, which includes mastering prudent research skills and practices. Students thereby learn the benefit of searching out and using reliable, well-researched sites like ProCon.org and Encyclopaedia Britannica. We conduct research so that our readers can more easily understand diverse perspectives on controversial issues.
We continually ask our readers for new topic suggestions. Please send us your questions, ideas, and comments. Strong reader demand has led to the development of dozens of new topics including our standardized testing, euthanasia, immigration, death penalty, and social networking websites.
Does ProCon.org research topics that are important outside of the United States?
Yes. Although ProCon.org is a U.S.-based organization that tends to focus on issues important to Americans, much of our research has international relevance. For example, two of our websites, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Iraq, are clearly international, and dozens of our questions and resources have an international focus (euthanasia laws in Holland and Belgium, doping in the Olympics, and abortion, prostitution, drinking age, and felon voting laws around the world, among others). In addition, many of our other topics are not restricted by geography (cell phone safety, healthfulness of milk, global climate change, the origins of sexual orientation, etc.).
Not normally. Usually one person leads the research process on an issue website, and it is common for several researchers to contribute by adding biographies, questions, pro and con responses, resources, etc.
ProCon.org presents many sides of an issue – not just two. The arguments published reflect a diversity of opinions and research that span the breadth of the debate. While these diverse points of view are normally organized into two columns – one pro and one con, they are intended to reflect a broad range of perspectives in the debate. For example, in the debate over gun control, we ask the question, "Should more gun control laws be enacted?” and in response we present 15 pro and 15 con arguments compiled from more than 100 sources. Many ProCon.org issue website contain historical backgrounds, videos, photographs, charts, graphs, sub-questions, polls, and other educational resources that further extend the range of perspective. In addition, on our Top Pro & Con Quotes pages, we often include statements that are categorized as "Not Clearly Pro or Con.” Our goal is to explore debates from many angles so our readers get a full and unbiased view of the issues, perspectives, and facts.
Our questions are developed by researching the topics, contacting related experts and organizations, and receiving feedback and ideas from readers. The questions are intended to thoroughly explore the core question and related issues.
Responses are intended to be relevant, responsive, clear, concise, and properly sourced. They represent our professionally researched and curated nonpartisan compilation of the best Pro, Con, or General Reference responses we can find or produce on each question we ask.
No. We always try to include the best arguments on both sides of all debates, and we also always work to make the pro-con columns visually balanced. Sometimes one side, for whatever reason, simply takes less space to make their case. Therefore, equality in column length is not always achievable. Any visual imbalance in a pro vs. con column is unintentional and does not suggest any bias for one side or the other. We hope that our readers focus more on the quality of the arguments than their length.
Our sources include websites, magazines, newspapers, libraries, transcripts, videos, interviews, emails, legislation, direct correspondence, and more.
How does ProCon.org determine whether a source is Pro, Con, or NC (not clearly pro or con), on an issue?
We base our Pro, Con, or Not Clearly Pro or Con (NC) designation on what the sourced person or organization has said, written, done, or otherwise verifiably expressed about an issue.
How does ProCon.org select which events to include on a historical timeline?
We select entries for our historical timelines that are on topic ("Is it relevant to our specific issue and question?”), historic ("Is it likely to still be relevant in 10 years?”), and key ("Among historic events, is this one especially significant?”), and we present them with sources in a nonpartisan manner.
We choose facts for the "Did You Know?” section based on the following criteria:
Yes and no. Sites that are not labeled "archived" are sometimes updated several times per week and other times fewer than once or twice every few months.The frequency of updates varies based on:
We archive a website when: the site is considered "good enough" by the editorial team; the core question of the issue site has been resolved or is otherwise irrelevant; the site is considered complete (95% by policy); the site’s average quality is in the "A" range (90% "A"s or higher); or the site has passed the point of diminishing returns and updates to the site have low value.
Yes. We generally provide the source's name and title and education along with the title of the article, and name and date of publication where that source's quotation appeared. You'll see that information in the introductory statement that precedes every pro or con or not clearly pro or con statement.
ProCon.org normally adds full-text PDF copies of studies referenced on the website unless the study’s publisher explicitly bars reprinting without authorization (and we have no such authorization), requires a fee-based licensing agreement (and we have no such agreement), or charges for public access to their copyrighted study.
The quotes listed in our biographies are responses to the core question posted on each topic's homepage. We contacted the individuals and organizations' principals (or spokespersons) or found a quote in a mainstream publication that answers the question. We show the dates of the quotes so the reader can put them in a historical context.
What is the ProCon.org policy if a source is suspected of dishonesty or inaccuracy?
Although many people and organizations are occasionally careless or intentionally misleading with facts, data, and communications, we at ProCon.org believe that government and their officials should always disseminate accurate and truthful information (with the arguable exception of real national security needs).
Occasionally. We have limited resources and usually update biographies for material changes only.
Will ProCon.org remove or modify someone’s biography if he/she requests it?
AAlthough ProCon.org will not normally remove publicly available and accurate information, including biographies, from its websites, we will remove or modify information that we have determined is incorrect or misleading.
If a source believes that ProCon.org has presented his/her quoted statement out of context or in an otherwise misleading manner, then what is that person’s recourse?
He or she should let us know their position and request by email. We may leave the quote as is, add an Editor’s Note (in red) to the biography explaining that the quoted person believes we improperly quoted him/her and why, and/or include a PDF of the entire article/statement so that our readers can make up their own minds about the statement(s) we have quoted.
Evaluating the credibility of one person's statements is difficult if not impossible, especially without knowing, for example, each person's background, training, affiliations, education, or experience.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering or interning for ProCon.org, please write us at procon[at]eb.com
Yes. Write us at procon[at]eb.com or use our Contact page.
No. ProCon.org does not accept submissions for publication of articles or studies.However, ProCon.org does often reference, cite, and excerpt portions of third-party research. For such consideration, please email us at procon[at]eb.com and provide:
Can my class or school work with ProCon.org to help promote critical thinking?
Yes. If your lesson plans or educational resources reference ProCon.org content, then please let us know, and we may add them to our website in "Lesson Plans Using ProCon.org" or "How Educators Use ProCon.org" in order to give other teachers or librarians ideas for their own plans.
No. We do not take positions or offer critiques of third-party information sources.
Yes. Links to ProCon.org are greatly appreciated. We only ask that ProCon.org be represented as an unbiased site and that the content not be misrepresented.
No. ProCon.org does not participate in any reciprocal link exchanges.
Perhaps, depending on the topic you choose, but such funding would not cause us to build a website on a topic that we did not believe was timely and appropriate.
Contact ProCon.org by emailing us at procon[at]eb.com or by phoning 312-347-7491.
Yes, ProCon.org normally responds to emails within one-two business days. ProCon.org does not send a response if the email is from a bogus email address; lewd, offensive, or otherwise clearly demonstrates an abuse of our Contact Us pages; uses unidentifiable characters or language; the email is one of repeated and unrelated customer replies to our replies; or the email is threatening or litigious.
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