How to Help

There are a number of ways you can contribute to PTB. Below are just a few:

Contribute a PTB Alternative

We haven’t collected all, or most, or anywhere near most, of the examples of alternatives to government services. The truth is, we’ve barely scratched the surface. We’re always interested in hearing about PTB Alternatives to feature. If you think you know of an alternative (current or historical) that isn’t on PTB already, please send us a message.

One fun aspect of PTB is realizing that PTB Alternatives are all around us. It just sometimes takes some creativity to recognize them as such. One sure place to find them is in any field that you know well. Maybe it’s your career, or some other area of expertise. Chances are, if you think about it, you’ll likely find examples in your day-to-day life of these alternatives.

You might ask: what counts as a PTB Alternative and what doesn’t? Ask yourself the following:

  • Is this a service that is being provided through non-governmental means?
  • Is this a service that people tend to think can only (or best) be provided by governments?

If your answer to both questions is “yes,” you have yourself a PTB Alternative.

Contribute a Button-Down Summary

All our examples are backed up by sources. That’s a lot of sources – some of them short and sweet, some of them not so much. It is our commitment that all of the material on PTB receives a short, accessible summary/analysis. This makes it easier for casual visitors to understand the basics of any PTB Alternative without having to read the source material themselves. We call these summaries/analyses “Button-Down Summaries.”

Any source with an asterisk (*) next to it has yet to receive its Button-Down Summary.

Button-Down Summaries are written by people like you.

So, say you want to contribute one of these. How do you do it? Well, it’s a 2-step process:

  1. learn the thing
  2. write the thing

Here are some thoughts on approaching Button-Down Summaries.

A. Learn the thing

First, pick a source, any source. Books, videos, podcasts, articles, papers, business websites – it’s all good. It should be something that you’d like to learn about or write about.

If you have a source in mind that isn’t already on the site, submit it to us first. If we find that it’s appropriate for the site, we promise to give you first dibs on the summary/analysis.

B. Write the thing

Second, write a summary and, if you’re brave enough, an analysis.

How long a Button-Down Summary should be is up to you. Sometimes a source only calls for a single sentence (or less) of summary. Sometimes, a source calls for much more.

Ultimately, it’s your judgment call. Consider:

  • Would PTB visitors appreciate more details?
  • Is my summary too wordy?
  • Is my summary veering off topic?
  • Will my summary/analysis be accessible for casual visitors?

Every PTB reviewer determines the answers to these questions themselves. You can always see what others have done before you, if that helps. But don’t let that limit you – feel free to stray, if you feel the source calls for it.

Here are a few things you can do as a PTB reviewer (not exhaustive):

  • write a straight summary
  • pepper your summary with useful quotes
  • explain the source’s relevance to PTB – what makes it a PTB Alternative
  • ask the hard questions – e.g. is there anything about this source that (gulp) speaks against the PTB project?
  • flag other sources (e.g. in the footnotes) that are PTB-worthy
  • determine whether you trust the source…
    • are the factual claims accurate?
    • are the source’s citations/references trustworthy?
    • do you think the source is itself untrustworthy? if so, let us know and we may decide to remove it altogether

C. Closing thoughts

Feel free to contact us at any step of this process – we’re happy to provide any guidance you may need.

Keep in mind that we have editors who will help you craft the perfect summary (and/or analysis). You can consider this an opportunity to develop your critical writing and thinking skills.

Submit a Debating the Button Post

Our blog – Debating the Button – is intended to be a space for discussing and debating the PTB project. Any posts on any PTB-related topic are welcome for submission. Send us a quick pitch first, and we’ll let you know if it makes sense for the site. Posts critical of PTB, or of any PTB Alternatives, are especially welcome. If you have counterarguments, we want to hear them!

Provide Feedback

We’re new at this! What do you think of the website? Send us your thoughts.

Thank you so much for any and all of your contributions to the project. PTB is about justice and freedom for all. Its reach extends only as far as the work done by folks like you.