Frequently Asked Questions

I accidentally unsubscribed, help!

If you text stop or cancel, then the bot can no longer reply to you. Text start to 50409 to re-join the resistance, then resist to contact your officials.

I typed my name or address wrong, help!

Text changeaddress, changename, or changezip to fix those, or reset to reset everything—like unplugging your cable modem.

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.)

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 on certain mobile plans, especially prepaid plans, will block shortcodes. Please call your carrier and ask them to unblock shortcodes on your account! You can also try texting resist to our full number 202-335-4008 or use the Facebook Messenger version.

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. Send that message and you’re in.

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

Resistbot starts simple, with just your two senators. The second time you text resist, it will ask you for your address to find your representative in the U.S. House. Later you’ll see the junior and senior commands for messaging each senator individually, the house command for your representative, governor and more.

What commands does Resistbot know?

As you send more messages, you’ll discover more and more of what it can do. Text commands to see a few, or tip for tips about how to best write letters, features, and more.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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

Text reminders to get reminders! Text reminders again to turn them off. 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 very sorry for the inconveience.

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 discard 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. Occasionally they will get bulk responses, but generally staffers look for, and elevate, original messages from constituents. 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. They’re more interested in gumming up the works of government.

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 prompted, provide the zip code, and later address, for the last place you lived or where you’re registered to vote / get your absentee ballot. Then we can direct your messages to the right members of Congress. If you don’t have a U.S. number, use the bot on Facebook Messenger.

Who’s behind this?

We’re a group of 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?

Resistbot is an experiment in regular civic engagement. It will text you once in a while to see if you’d like to contact your officials, or to send timely updates about voting in your area or key votes happening in Congress. You can text reminders to toggle reminders.

Why have my messages been rejected?

Real people read your letters, emails, and faxes, so we want our service to respect the hard work they are doing by providing them with the best feedback possible. We understand that you may be upset about a particular issue (we are too!), but we find that our representatives place a higher value on faxes that are more civil.

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 (our tech stack contains Python, Flask, RapidPro, AWS), help us QA, provide customer support, or submit our users’ letters to the editor. If you have a resistance group that wants to use this, or have any other questions we didn’t answer here, please email us.