Frequently Asked Questions
How do I stop receiving texts?
Text alerts to manage the types of alerts you receive, or stop to cancel the service completely.
How can I change the payment method for my monthly donation?
How can I end my monthly sustaining donation?
Oops! I didn’t want to unsubscribe from everything, how do I come back?
Text oops to re-join the resistance.
I typed my name or address wrong, help!
Text account to see your current account settings and change what you need.
How do I contact my officials?
Text congress or state to reach your federal or state elected officials, respectively; or see the full keyword guide for more. You don’t need to send resist first.
How much does this cost?
Resistbot is free to use on iMessage, Messenger, Twitter and Telegram. If you use the bot on SMS, you’ll need to pay whatever your mobile carrier charges you for text messages. We’d prefer you don’t use SMS as texts cost us a lot of money even if they’re free for you. Donations pay for the texts, calls, faxes, postage, and servers.
I changed my mind. I don’t want to send my letter.
Once you text send your letter is sent immediately. It doesn’t matter if it was an e-delivery, a fax, or a postal letter. There is no way for us to cancel it. Being heard in a timely manner is important, so we do not delay delivery.
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 50409 by default. You can call your carrier and ask them to unblock short codes on your account, or we recommend using the iMessage, Messenger, Twitter or Telegram versions instead, all work better than SMS—the bot is faster and has one-touch replies that make usage simpler.
I’m a Google Fi user any messages are being broken up / cut off.
This is a problem on Google Fi’s end. If you’re using your phone’s stock messenger app the messages will come through properly. However Google Fi Android Messenger version 2.8.040 or below, will break apart the messages before getting to Resistbot. Either upgrade/try a different messaging app, or use Messenger, Twitter or Telegram, instead, all of which provide a better user experience than SMS.
What commands does Resistbot know?
See my keyword guide for a full list, you can even print it for reference.
How do letters to the editor work?
Send editor 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, send retract.
Why do you need my name? Address? What do you do with my information?
We need it 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.
Why do you include my phone number on your letters?
Most offices wont accept letters without them, also 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.
Will I get a response?
You should! Here are some users who shared their responses. Now, there’s no way for us to know if, or how soon, they will reply, as every office is different. But, we will tell you when your message is delivered, and deliver your message in a way that can be read and responded to by your officials. Offices most often reply by postal mail or email, so including your email when prompted increases your chances of a reply. They may even call you.
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 (or equivalent systems at the state level). 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, or if state officials don’t have an electronic delivery option, it will fax, send your letter through postal mail, or volunteers will deliver by hand. 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.
You did not get my entire letter, parts of it were cut off, or my letter is mixed up!
Your cellular carrier is cutting off, breaking up, and/or mixing up your letter on its way to us. Try sending your message to us in many, shorter texts (no more than 160 characters). Or try messaging Resistbot on iMessage, Messenger, Twitter, or Telegram. Also be sure to use the preview command before send to make sure we have what you think we have! Use clear if you need to re-write it.
Are you sending the letters to my address?
We don’t send anything to your mailing address. However you may receive a reply by mail from the officials you wrote.
Why are you asking me for a gendered title?
The Congressional email system requires a title, and unfortunately they only process a small set of them: Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. We raise this issue regularly, but until the set of titles is expanded, we’re stuck. Please raise this issue in your next letter.
How do you make money?
The money to fund the texts, faxes, postage, calls, and servers are paid for with your donations. Unlike other tech products, you are our customer, not our product. We do not sell data or personal information to anyone. Resistbot is a product of the Resistbot Action Fund, a nonprofit 501(c)(4) social welfare organization.
Why aren’t you a 501(c)(3) charity?
Since our primary activity is delivering your communication to officials, that falls under the IRS’ definition of lobbying. So despite our mission of civic engagement we can’t be a charity or offer tax-deductible donations. To make a tax-deductible donation that helps us, donate to OpenStates, they power our state and local official lookups.
I don’t want to give you my credit card, how can I donate?
We accept PayPal, ActBlue, Cash App, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, USD Coin and checks in the mail to:
Resistbot Action Fund
260 1st Ave. S.
Suite 200 Box 51
Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701
I want to edit my letter! I have a typo! 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.
But what do I say, then?
Your letter doesn’t have to be complicated, just a few genuine sentences with a clear ask to your official, and perhaps a personal story about why this issue matters to you. Don’t worry about typos or mistakes, they show you’re a real human. If you want an example letter use my nearby command or see all the open letters; or use my nearby command for some ideas from your neighbors.
Who should I write?
When in doubt, congress for any national issue. Congress will deliver to your Representative in the U.S. House and both of your Senators. Since legislation is often considered in both chambers, this will cover your bases. Use state for all state issues.
I want to contact representatives outside my own district.
Congressional staffers throw away messages from people they don’t represent, it wastes staffers time to deal with it, it wastes taxpayer money and my own donations, and it makes it harder for actual constituents to get through. Hence this isn’t something I offer. Here’s more from the Congressional Management Foundation, a non-partisan civic education group.
I’m an American living abroad, will Resistbot work for me?
Yes! Please use the bot on iMessage, Messenger, Twitter, or Telegram. 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?
Resistbot has had over 600 volunteers contribute since 2017, all passionate about helping you be heard and giving you the power to fight for what matters to you. Resistbot is run by Resistbot Action Fund, its board of directors is Gina Bianchini, Jason Putorti, and Eric Ries. Here’s our mission and values.
Are you a scam?
No. We’re volunteers from across America working hard every day to deliver your words to your officials. We’re not one of “those” bots.
Are you going to spam me?
No. We don’t have ads or solicit business of any kind and don’t want to, which is why we’re organized as a non-profit.
If you mean alerts or texts, our mission is to support more frequent civic engagement, so by default the bot will text about upcoming elections, events near you, or some urgent legislation pending before Congress or your state legislature. It would be unusual to receive more than 1–2 per month. You can manage what alerts you receive by with the alerts command. Every text costs us money, and your time, so we only do it when it’s important.
I texted STOP, why are you still texting me?
If you text stop you are revoking the bot’s permission to text you for any reason, including replying to commands. If you do not text the bot after you stopped, you will not hear from it ever again. However, by texting resist or another command after, you’re granting permission again—otherwise the bot wouldn’t work. If you want to adjust your alert settings, use the alerts keyword.
I have another question not listed above.
Say support to the bot for help. If the bot is not working, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reach our volunteers.
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 to program (Python, NodeJS, Flask, AWS, Terraform, Docker, Postgres are all especially valuable), write for us, design, do public relations, submit our users’ letters to the editor, or just let us know how you’d like to make a difference!