Frequently Asked Questions
You did not get my letter, parts of it were cut off, or my letter is mixed up!
Your mobile carrier is cutting off, breaking up, or mixing up your letter on its way to us, so there’s nothing we can do. To compose a letter with SMS, you must send your letter in many, short texts of no more than 140 characters. You can send as many as you need. The done command tells the bot when you’re finished. Be sure to use the preview command to double-check any letters composed with SMS. Use clear if you need to re-write it.
Better: use the switch keyword to connect another messaging app. SMS is the only one with this limitation.
I typed up a whole letter, but your system keeps saying you didn’t receive anything.
See above. Texts that are too long may simply be dropped by your mobile carrier. Send shorter texts to the bot or switch from SMS.
The bot isn’t understanding my address!
Most folks that run into this are entering their street address without a city and state or without a zip code. You must type your entire address just as you would write on an envelope, in order for the bot to get your location. Addresses are needed to determine your officials.
If you have a brand new address, the post office may not have it yet and neither will we. Respond yes to the address the bot returns, and then contact us for a manual fix.
I moved! How do I update my officials/address?
Text moved to the bot and follow the prompts!
I’m direct messaging you on Twitter and nothing is happening!
Twitter suspended our API access on April 27, 2023. If you used Resistbot on Twitter and nowhere else, and want to preserve your account stats and coins, please contact us with your Twitter handle, and our volunteers can restore access to your account on SMS.
What are coins? What can I use them for?
Coins can be purchased and earned by receiving trending and promoted alerts. They can be spent on promoting campaigns to other members (covering our text costs) or upgrading your letters from electronic delivery to costlier methods like faxing or U.S. postal mail.
How do I stop receiving texts?
Text alerts to control what kinds of texts you receive. Though before you turn them all off, know that trending and promoted campaigns are all coming from fellow members asking for your help with an issue they care about. As you’d want help fighting for what you care about, we’ll hope you’ll also want to help others.
How can I change the payment method for my premium membership?
Send premium change from the platform where you upgraded initially, e.g., texting 50409 or Messenger. If you see a link to start a subscription, it means you used a different platform. Try another platform until you see, “Thank you for your support!” If you have any problems, please contact us.
I’m a premium member, why are you still asking me to upgrade?
This can happen for three reasons: one, you have more than one bot account, perhaps on different platforms. One is upgraded, one is not. If you’re not on SMS you can try pair to merge your current account to your original SMS account, then text account to check your donor status.
The other possibility is that you donated on the web with a different email address than you used when contacting your officials. Send account to the bot to change your email address to match. If you see a message recognizing you as a premium member, you’re set!
Lastly, if you contributed via a third-party like PayPal or ActBlue, those platforms are not supported. Please cancel your monthly payments there and start a new one with the premium keyword. If none of this helps, please contact us.
Why does my credit card statement say recurring charge when I bought coins once?
Banks make assumptions based on data from all their customers and may add a “recurring” label to your transaction regardless of if it was or not. If you see “ONETIME” or “COINS” in the charge description, it was a one-time charge.
How can I end my premium membership?
Send premium end to the bot however you subscribed initially (e.g., texting 50409 or Messenger) to cancel your membership. If you have any problems, please contact us.
I’m texting the bot on Apple Messages but not getting a reply!
If you blocked the bot on Apple Messages after previously closing a conversation, the bot may be trying to reply there but can’t reach you. Or you may have initiated the converation without an Internet connection. Delete your conversation, and then tap here to open your conversation again. If that doesn’t work, please contact us.
I don’t see my coins!
To receive coins you must send buy to the bot. You can’t use PayPal, ActBlue, or any third-party service at this time. If you have a recurring contribution on another platform, please cancel it, and send premium to the bot instead. Please contact support to receive coins from past contributions!
How do I change my name, address, email, or title?
Send account to edit your account information!
Do you have a petition for [topic]?
See the petition page for a petition search and list of trending petitions. If you don’t find one you like, remember they are all written by users. Write a letter and turn it into a petition when prompted, or use my petition keyword to turn your last letter into a petition.
How do I start a petition?
Write a letter by texting the keyword matching where you want to send it. Most of the time, users are prompted to turn their letters into petitions after texting send. Respond yes when asked. Or if you already sent the letter a few hours or days ago, text petition followed by new to turn the last letter you wrote into a petition.
Can I get the contact information of the people who signed my petition?
To protect the privacy of our members, including you, we don’t give personal data to anyone for any reason. However, Resistbot will text your followers for you automatically every time you create a new petition. See our guide for organizers for more!
I changed my mind. I don’t want to send my letter.
Once you text send your letter is sent immediately and can’t be recalled, feel free to send a follow-up letter. If you didn’t send yet, discard will cancel your letter in progress.
How does the letters to the editor feature work?
Send editor, and our volunteers will transpose the last letter you wrote to your government officials into a letter to your local paper. Members of Congress (and their staff) definitely notice when they turn up in the newspaper! Newspapers don’t accept anonymous editorials so you need to be comfortable with them publishing your name and town. See where our team has gotten letters published.
If you change your mind within 24 hours, use the retract keyword to tell our volunteers to cancel your submission.
Why do you need my info? What do you do with it?
Elected officials delete messages without information to verify that you’re a constituent; everything we ask for is so we can match you to your officials and deliver your messages in a way that counts. A zip code is not sufficient. Unlike most other campaigns and organizations, we do not sell, lease, or otherwise share your data with anyone.
I’m getting [texts or emails] from [group] now, what gives?
Why do you include my phone number in your letters?
Most offices won’t accept letters without them. Also one such staffer told us, “at least once a month I had a designated block where I called constituents in order to follow up on their letters, especially if they’d written in about something personal. And I know some offices have the Member of Congress do that from time to time.” The information on your letters, whether phone, email, or address, is so your officials respond. A landline is fine!
Will my message count?
Yes! According to Kathryn Schultz of the New Yorker:
Contrary to popular opinion… written communications are an effective way of communicating with Congress, as are their electronic kin. “Everything is read, every call and voice mail is listened to,” Isaiah Akin, the deputy legislative director for Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden, told me. “We don’t discriminate when it comes to phone versus e-mail versus letter.” As it turns out, some less egalitarian offices do discriminate, but not in the direction you might expect. According to a 2015 C.M.F. survey of almost two hundred senior congressional staffers, when it comes to influencing a lawmaker’s opinion, personalized e-mails, personalized letters, and editorials in local newspapers all beat out the telephone.
You can learn more here about how offices handle your messages.
Will I get a response?
Many, many members report quick responses by email, postal mail, or even calls. However every office is different, we can’t guarantee a reply. But, Resistbot will tell you when it sends your message, and we deliver your message in a way that can be read and responded to by your officials.
How can I see all my letters?
What Mayors do you support?
Try the mayor keyword! If we have your city, you’ll be able to contact your Mayor; if not, we’ll be alerted, and will add your city as soon our volunteers can get to it.
How can I put paragraphs in my letters?
Use the return key on your mobile keypad, not the send key, and you can insert paragraphs where you need them. On a desktop, holding down shift while pressing enter usually does the trick.
Help, my messages to my officials are coming back as gibberish!
Each carrier handles SMS a little differently. You can fix this by removing all “special” characters from your message: return breaks, directional quotes/apostrophes, symbols like % or $, etc. Alternatively, use the switch keyword to switch from SMS to another app that works better.
I’m getting a “Service Access Denied” message.
Are you sending the letters to my address?
We don’t send anything to, or share your mailing address. However, you may receive a letter by postal mail from the officials you wrote.
Why are you asking me for a gendered title?
The Congressional email system, and most other official contact forms require a title. The only ones universally accepted are Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. When the bot asks you for your title, you can reply with “Mx.” and Resistbot will send it, but not every office can process it. Visit your officials’ contact forms to know for certain. We raise this issue regularly with legislative staffers.
How do you make money?
Resistbot pays for texts, faxes, postage, calls, and servers with the your support. Without enough members, we will eventually shut down. You are our customer, not our product. We do not sell your data or personal information and are a non-profit organization.
How can I help?
Upgrade to premium to keep us alive! If you’re part of an advocacy group or know an activist, please ask them to organize campaigns with us! You can also volunteer to program (Python, NodeJS, AWS, Terraform, Docker, Postgres, and iOS especially), write articles, submit letters to the editor, or we are open to your suggestions. Please hop in our Discord and we’ll get you going.
Can I deduct my contribution?
No. Our primary activity is delivering your communication to officials, which the I.R.S. considers lobbying. So despite our mission, we can’t be a 501(c)3 charity, only a 501(c)4 social welfare non-profit.
I want to edit my letter! I have a typo!
Editing isn’t supported, but it matters less than you think. The occasional typo shows staffers that your message is from an actual human and not a copied script. The best way around this is to clear your message, copy and paste your texts back in, and make edits that way. You can also add to your message.
Do you have scripts? What do I say?
If you’re not sure what to write, use the copilot keyword and our AI will generate a letter for you with only a news article and a position statement. It should take you less than a minute. You can also sign or share a trending petition to help an existing effort organized by one of our members.
Who should I write to?
When in doubt, use congress for any national issue. Federal legislation must pass both the House and Senate, so this will cover your bases. Use state for state issues and mayor for local issues. Our user guide has more targets.
I want to contact representatives outside my district.
Congressional staffers throw away letters from people they don’t represent; hence, we don’t allow this. Here’s more from the Congressional Management Foundation, a non-partisan civic education group. You can however, start a petition and share it with friends outside your district.
I’m an American living abroad. Will Resistbot work for me?
Yes! Use the bot on Apple Messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or even Instagram. When prompted, provide the address where you’re registered to vote/get your absentee ballot from. If you don’t know, use the last place you lived in the United States.
Who’s behind this?
Over 800 volunteers have contributed since 2017, all passionate about democracy, government accountability, and voter turnout. Resistbot is a non-profit, non-stock organization with no owners, and governance falls to its board of directors: Gina Bianchini, Jason Putorti, and Eric Ries. Read our mission and values and user bill of rights. We’ve also been fact-checked by Snopes, twice.
Are you going to spam me?
No. We won’t text you ads or spam. We rely on memberships, not outside funding, so serving you is the only way we’re going to stay online.
If you mean texting you a lot, no. You’re in control of the texts you receive with the alerts keyword, and we don’t give numbers to anyone. And unlike similar services we don’t share your email or other information with other groups.
Why did you reject my message?
Real public servants read your letters, so we want our service to respect the hard work they are doing and for your letter to be fully considered. We understand that you may be upset (we are too, that’s why we made Resistbot), but please write something you’d want to be read aloud on the House or Senate floor with your name attached. Officials tend to delete messages with profanity or excessive punctuation, and refer threats to the Capitol Police.
I have another question not listed above.
Email email@example.com and our volunteers can help.