Last updated on: 2/22/2022 | Author: ProCon.org

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

I. About ProCon.org
ProCon.org’s creation, funding, affiliations, and policies.

 

1. Who created ProCon.org and when?

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.

2. How does ProCon.org operate?

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.

3. What is ProCon.org’s mission?

ProCon’s mission is: “To promote civility, critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting the pro and con arguments to debatable issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, freely accessible way.”

Through our website, ProCon.org, we serve as a non-biased information source for our users. We present sourced pros and cons of debatable issues, as well as a host of reference information relevant to those issues, thoroughly researched and compiled by our research staff and editors. We use the pro and con format because it achieves four objectives:

  1. First, by exposing readers to both sides of an issue in a side-by-side format, we make it easier for them to see the difference in the facts and arguments offered by each side.
  2. Second, our pro and con format creates what we call “beneficial confusion,” causing readers to struggle with well-presented opposing positions, and, therefore, to engage in evaluative thinking to formulate their own views. Readers who have a pre-existing view of an issue may feel more confident in their view, or they may change their view. In either case, many will recognize that the process of acquiring and critically evaluating information has a beneficial and satisfying effect on their decision-making.
  3. Third, the format makes readers more confident and comfortable in discussing and debating their views with others, knowing what the “other side” may think.
  4. Fourth, challenging readers to examine both sides of an issue tends to reduce the likelihood that they will resort to the “demonization” of those who hold opposing views.
4. Is ProCon.org conservative, liberal, or otherwise biased?

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.

Some people may consider our graphic design decisions, such as pro v. con (instead of con v. pro), red v. green, left column v. right column, and other distinctions, to suggest bias for one side or the other (for example, that a column on the left suggests the political “left”). Our graphic designs are meant to eliminate the perception of bias, and we realize that not everyone will agree. For example, we place the “pros” on the left and the “cons” on the right because we find that more people use the phrase “pro-con” than “con-pro” and text is read left to right on our pages.

5. 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.

6. What are ProCon.org’s core operating principles?
  • Maintain strict nonpartisanship
  • Keep our presentations understandable and direct
  • Ensure ease of navigation and accessibility
  • Be transparent about our methodology and organization
7. Does ProCon.org have a disclaimer statement?

Yes. All the information on our sites can be viewed free of charge, and reprinting is allowed under the guidelines outlined in our Terms of Use policy.

The information on the ProCon.org websites has been compiled using the data available to us. We strive for accuracy but , like everyone, can sometimes make mistakes. We make every effort to correct errors promptly when they are brought to our attention. Please contact us at procon@eb.com to report any errors on our sites.

ProCon.org’s inclusion of links or references to outside sites or organizations is not intended to in any way endorse the views expressed or products/services offered by those third parties. Similarly, we bear no responsibility for the content or views expressed on sites that link to ProCon.org content.

8. What is the ProCon.org privacy policy?

Effective: May 29, 2020. Your privacy is important to us. We understand that you are aware of and care about your own personal privacy interests, and we take that seriously. Our Privacy Notice & Cookie Policy detail the information we collect, how we use and share it, and the choices you have about how your information is used and shared. We have summarized the key elements that apply to your use of ProCon.org here for your convenience.

What information does ProCon.org collect?

We collect information you provide to us, about your use of our websites and services, and about your interactions with us. We also collect information about how our network and your devices are working, including the location of your wireless devices. We may also obtain information about you from other companies, such as demographic and interest information. We also collect data about traffic on our sites, including, but not limited, to the number and type of pages viewed. Learn more

How does ProCon.org use information?

We use information to provide you with the websites and services, including newsletters and user comments, and enhance your experiences with us. This includes delivering, maintaining and improving our websites and services; developing new products and services; personalizing your experiences; and delivering marketing offers to you. When readers offer feedback on our websites, we will sometimes post their comments online. To preserve confidentiality, only the writer’s first name is usually noted, unless they specifically ask us not to include their first name, or authorize us to use their full name. Learn more

Does ProCon.org share my information?

We do not sell or share information that individually identifies you outside of ProCon.org and its affiliated companies unless work is being performed on our behalf by our approved, third-party service providers, you have given consent, or we have notified you through our Privacy Notice & Cookie Policy or other agreements that we have with you. We may also share certain non-personally identifiable information with third parties. Learn more

Does ProCon.org have programs that allow other companies to use information about me?

We have optional programs that allow ProCon.org and third parties to show you advertisements that are more personalized and useful to you or to help third parties verify your identity. Another program develops insights by analyzing de-identified user information and reporting on aggregate behaviors. ProCon.org sometimes includes links to other websites. Their privacy policies may differ from ours, and we, therefore, can take no responsibility for them or their actions. Learn more

What choices do I have about your use of my information?

You have choices about how ProCon.org reaches you with marketing and whether certain types of information may be shared within ProCon.org for marketing purposes. You also have choices about other uses of your information, such as for our advertising programs, for verification purposes, and for certain uses of device information. Learn more

How does ProCon.org protect my information, and how do I update my account details?

We try to take appropriate security measures to protect against unauthorized access to or unauthorized alteration, disclosure or destruction of data. These include internal reviews of our data collection, storage and processing practices and security measures, as well as physical security measures to guard against unauthorized access to systems where we store personal data. We also provide methods for you to access, review and update your account information. Learn more

How do I learn about changes to this Privacy Notice & Cookie Policy?

We periodically update our Privacy Notice & Cookie Policy. If we change the way we use or disclose information that identifies you in a way that is materially different from what was stated in our Privacy Notice & Cookie Policy at the time the information was collected, you will be given an opportunity to update your choices about the new use or disclosure. Learn more

 

II. How to Use ProCon.org
Information for students, media, and readers about using ProCon.org content.

9. How do I cite ProCon.org? Who is the author?

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.

See our guide on how to cite ProCon.org content.

10. Does ProCon.org do interviews for media?

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.

11. What is the ProCon.org terms of use/reprinting policy?

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.

12. Does ProCon.org offer medical or legal advice?

No. ProCon.org presents facts, studies, pro and con statements, and related research on important social issues. We do not provide:

  • medical or legal advice
  • referrals to or recommendations of marijuana dispensaries, cannabis clubs, physicians, or attorneys
  • recommendations or referrals to specific physicians, counselors, organizations, or other experts on end-of-life issues

III. Reader Demographics
Who uses ProCon.org — from media to schools to the general public.

13. Who uses ProCon.org?

The information presented on our sites is intended for the public, policy makers, the media, scholars, scientists, judges, attorneys, librarians, teachers, and students. 

14. How popular is ProCon.org?

Some 20 million readers use ProCon.org annually, generating some 40 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.

15. 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.

Some teachers may think ProCon.org provides too much information and detracts from the development of student research skills. Other teachers, however, have reported that ProCon.org provides sourced information in a relevant context that helps students to further their research skills by tracking down primary sources and pursuing new lines of inquiry.

IV. Methodology: How We Work
How ProCon.org’s issue websites are created

16. How does ProCon.org select topics?

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.

Ideas are also generated internally. We prefer topics with strong emotions on both sides that lend themselves to our nonpartisan presentation of facts and arguments so that people can better understand these issues and formulate their own perspectives.

Our internal checklist provides that new ProCon.org issue websites are:

  • Important to many people, controversial, useful to promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship, stand-alone topics, and complementary to ProCon.org’s diverse subject offering.
17. Does ProCon.org research topics that are important outside of the United States?

Yes. Although ProCon.org is a US-based organization that tends to focus on issues important to Americans, much of our research has international relevance. For example, dozens of our questions and resources have an international focus. In addition, many of our other topics are not restricted by geography.

18. Why does ProCon.org only present two sides of an issue when there are often many sides to an issue?

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. 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.

19. Do pro-con columns of unequal length suggest a bias?

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.

20. 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.

21. Does ProCon.org update its information, and how do I know when a page was last updated?

Yes and no. Active sites are updated as the topic merits. A “last updated” date appears at the top of every page to indicate when the page was last updated.

Sites labeled “archived” are not updated, although we may choose to update them when something materially significant occurs on the topic.

V. Sources
How ProCon.org uses and cites sources, and information for people/organizations ProCon.org has cited.

22. Does ProCon.org update biographies?

No. ProCon.org no longer writes new biographies or updates biographies currently on the site.

23. Will ProCon.org remove or modify someone’s biography if he/she requests it?

Yes. ProCon.org will remove biographies of people and organizations who request we do so.

 

 

VI. Getting Involved
How you can help ProCon.org and how ProCon.org can help promote critical thinking.

24. How can I help ProCon.org?
  • Share your comments, suggestions, and ideas for new topics by writing us here: procon[at]eb.com. .
  • Link to ProCon.org from your own website or blog and from pages on popular user-generated content sites. Please observe their rules carefully.
  • Tell a teacher about our Teachers’ Corner.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and quote content from ProCon.org.
  • <spanstyle=”font-weight: bold”=””>Cite ProCon.org content</spanstyle=”font-weight:> in your school research project.
  • Write to your school board and state superintendent of education and let them know you think ProCon.org is a valuable educational resource.
  • Write to your elected political representative and tell them how you feel about a particular issue and reference ProCon.org data in your correspondence to make your arguments.
  • ProCon.org can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
25. Can I submit comments to ProCon.org?

Yes. Each of our sites also features interactive readers comments sections in which we invite respectful debate.

26. Can I submit my article or study for publication on ProCon.org?

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:

  • Link to article/study (please note that we will not open email attachments), and
  • Which specific passage(s) you believe we should consider excerpting or referencing, and
  • Where exactly on ProCon.org you believe it should appear, and
  • Why
27. 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” in order to give other teachers or librarians ideas for their own plans.

To let us know, email links to procon[at]eb.com to where ProCon.org is referenced or send the lesson or resource itself as a link or text within an email (note we will not open email attachments). Remember to include the name and location of your school.

28. Will ProCon.org review my book, website, or other publication?

No. We do not take positions or offer critiques of third-party information sources.

29. Can I link to ProCon.org?

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.

30. Can I get a reciprocal link from ProCon.org?

No. ProCon.org does not participate in any reciprocal link exchanges.

31. Can I pay ProCon.org to do a website on a topic of my choice?

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. Please contact us at procon[at]eb.com.

VII. Contacting ProCon.org
Ways to contact ProCon.org.

32. How can I contact ProCon.org?

Contact ProCon.org by emailing us at procon[at]eb.com or by phoning 312-347-7491.

Our mailing address is:

C/o Theodore Pappas
325 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 200
Chicago, Illinois 60654 USA

You can use our online Contact page.

ProCon.org can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

33. Does ProCon.org respond to emails from readers?

Yes, ProCon.org normally responds to emails within a few business days. ProCon.org does not send a response if the email is from a bogus email address; is lewd or offensive; 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.

34. Where can I find ProCon.org on social media?