Frequently Asked Questions

I accidentally unsubscribed, help!

Text resist to 50409 to re-join the resistance.

I typed my name or address wrong, help!

Text name or address to fix those, or reset to reset your entire account, though that shouldn’t be necessary.

How do I contact my officials?

Text resist anytime!

How much does this cost?

Resistbot is free to use! You’ll only need to pay whatever your mobile carrier charges you for text messages. Most new plans offer unlimited texting. Your donations pay for the texts, calls, faxes, and postage. (Not tax-deductible at this time.) If you want to help defray our costs, try the bot on Messenger, Viber, or Telegram.

Help, my messages to my officials are coming back as gibberish!

Each carrier seems to handle message encoding a little differently. As we work through all of these specific cases, you can fix this problem by removing all ‘special’ characters from your message: return breaks, directional quotes / apostrophes, symbols like %, $, etc. This should make your message go through.

I’m getting a ‘Service Access Denied’ message.

Some carriers, like T-Mobile, block “short codes” like mine by default. You can call your carrier and ask them to unblock short codes on your account, or you can try texting resist to our full number 202-335-4008 or we recommend using Messenger, Viber, or Telegram versions instead.

I can’t get this working, how do I use Resistbot?

You don’t need a smartphone, just a text-capable mobile phone. Open the app you use to text. On many phones it’s called messages. In the phone number, or ‘To:’ field, type 50409, and in the message body, resist. Tap send, and that’s it!

How can I message my representative? Can I message my officials separately?

Once you register with an address, you can text senate, house, congress, governor, or president to message your officials. Senate will prompt you for which Senator you’d like to contact. State representatives and mayors are coming soon.

What commands does Resistbot know?

Text commands to see them, or tip for tips about how to best write letters, features, and more.

How do letters to the editor work?

Send letter2editor and I can transpose the last letter you wrote to your government officals into a letter to your local paper. You can choose the paper or my humans can find one near you. My volunteers may make small edits to help your message make sense as a letter to the editor. For example changing pronouns to proper nouns (or vice versa), correcting spelling, or editing for length if needed to fit a newspaper’s maximum word count—nothing that changes what you’ve said.

If your letter is addressed to a specific goverment official, my volunteers make sure that official’s name appears in the body of the message. Members of Congress (and their staff) definitely notice when they turn up in the newspaper!

I’m sorry but you can not submit letters anonymously. Newspapers require your full name and the town you live in. Most will call or email you before publication, to confirm you are a real person.

I won’t send your message to any newspaper until you give your explicit permission at the end of our chat, and If you change your mind within 24 hours, just send retract.

Why do you need my name? Address? What do you do with my information?

We use your information to send your messages and calls to the officials that represent you, give them ways to respond, to sign your letters, and otherwise show you’re a real constituent. Without including this information, your message will not count. Congress throws away messages or deletes voicemails without information to verify that you’re a constituent.

We will not sell this contact information to anyone, ever, and you should never be contacted by anyone else as a result of using this service. We’ll shut down the service rather than sell data to keep it running. Here’s our full terms of use and privacy policy.

Why do you include my phone number on your letters?

Congressional staffers tell us they are helpful. 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 you can get a response.

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 about a particular issue (we are too!) but please write something you’d want read aloud on the House or Senate floor, profanity and excessive punctuation will be rejected.

Will my message really count?

Yes! According to Kathryn Schultz, who interviewed, among others, Brad Fitch of the Congressional Management Foundation,

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.

Here’s a few users sharing letters they got back from their officials.

You used to fax everything, what happened? Faxes are harder to ignore!

Fax was a workaround to the problem of busy phone lines early on, but as Resistbot signed up more users, it became self-defeating. Congress wasn’t designed to handle the volume of faxes our users were sending, over 5 million pages in six months, and so many offices began to pull the plug, we filled all their fax lines up, and broke at least one machine. (Sorry!) We were also getting in the way of key constituent services for veterans and other groups that still fax.

What the bot does now: it first tries to deliver electronically directly into the Congressional message system. We worked with Congress to make this possible, it is the fastest and most reliable method, and easiest for staffers to handle. If Resistbot has a problem with this system, it will fall back to fax or postal mail. You do not have to think about how your message should be sent anymore, it will send it in the most effective way possible. Read more about this change or more about effectiveness of different methods.

Why are you asking me for a gendered title?

The Congressional system above, CWC, requires a title, and unfortunately they only accept a small set of them: Mr, Mrs, or Ms. Resistbot has lodged this as a complaint with Congress, and is working on a way around this it, we as a company do not believe that you have to choose a binary title.

How do you make money?

We don’t. We’re a team of volunteers working around the clock to make this free for you. The texts, faxes, postage and calls are paid for with your donations.

I need to change or cancel my monthly donation, help!

You can’t change or cancel a donation online, so please email us or text us at (202) 930-9888 with your name and the email address you used to donate, and we’ll get it handled for you.

I used to get reminders, now I don’t. How can I get them back?

Text reminders to get reminders! The old reminder system was both expensive, and caused slowdowns and problems for all users, especially during peak usage, so we had to turn it off and re-design it. We’re sorry for the inconveience. The new system will remind you the day after your last letter, and then a few days later, before settling into a weekly schedule. If you write every day, it will be daily.

I want to edit my letter! Help!

Editing isn’t supported yet, but it matters less than you think. The occasional typo shows staffers that your message is from a real 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.

Why don’t you tell me what to say?

Congressional staffers tell us that form letters and petitions are usually treated less seriously as they take very little effort. Please don’t use scripts with Resistbot. Occasionally they will get bulk responses, but generally staffers look for, and elevate, original messages from constituents, often times reading these on the floor of the House or Senate. They don’t have to be complicated, just a few genuine sentences and hopefully a personal story from you—a real voter. Don’t worry about typos or mistakes, it further shows you’re a real person who hasn’t been given a script by an activist group—many of whom don’t care if messages go to the right officials, or if your officials can write you back. This type of communication just slows things down in Congressional offices.

I’m an American living abroad, will Resistbot work for me?

To cut down on costs/fraud, currently we only respond to U.S. numbers beginning in +1. When you sign up, just provide the address for the last place you lived in the U.S. or where you’re registered to vote / get your absentee ballot. Those officials still represent you. If you don’t have a U.S. number, use the bot on Messenger, Viber, or Telegram.

Who’s behind this?

We’re a group of over 100 volunteers deeply opposed to the direction of the country. We built this to faithfully deliver your voice to Congress. Resistbot was started by Eric Ries and Jason Putorti.

Are you going to spam me?

By default the bot will text you occasionally about upcoming elections, possible events nearby that you might be interested in, or on issues pending before Congress that you might want to hear about. It would be unusual to receive more than one per week, if that. You can toggle these alerts by texting elections, events, or issues at any time. If you’d like the bot to remind you to write your officials once in a while, text reminders.

I’m having a problem with the bot! Help!

If your answer isn’t here, you can email us or text us at (202) 930-9888. Please include your name, phone number, cell carrier, and phone model to help us fix the bug. Screenshots may help too. Due to heavy volume, and only volunteers on support, it may take a bit to get back to you, we appreciate your patience!

How can I help?

Donate to keep your texts, faxes, letters and calls going through. We can’t continue without your support. You can also volunteer as a programmer (Python, Flask, AWS, Terraform, Docker, ECS, Golang, Postgres, Aurora are all especially valuable), help us QA, provide customer support, design, social media, be an ambassador, or submit our users’ letters to the editor.