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Re: [govtrack] Metric on Bill Importance

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  • Peggy Garvin
    TML, Josh, and company, Yes, interesting. If I had the time I would do a PoliSci literature search for such a thing. But Josh is correct in his reponses. I
    Message 1 of 11 , May 9, 2005
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      TML, Josh, and company,
      Yes, interesting. If I had the time I would do a
      PoliSci literature search for such a thing. But Josh
      is correct in his reponses.
      I have seem a number of legislative database attempts
      at tagging bills as high profile/likely to move, but
      they all fall apart at a certain point because the
      process is not that straightforward. The best website
      solutions are to have some sort of side-bar, compiled
      and constantly updated in an editorially controlled
      fashion by people tracking major and news-worthy
      bills. Databases need to track legislation by bill
      number, because that is a controlled bit of info, but
      what that bill number is attached to can change
      quickly and in complicated ways.
      When I want to narrow a subject search in THOMAS, I
      may limit it to bills reported out of committee, but
      that itself is a rough cut.
      --Peggy





      --- TML <tlinder@...> wrote:
      > Being able to track a bill/measure/amendment's
      > permutations over the
      > years (I'm thinking of the current Immigration
      > legislation, tacked onto
      > a 'must pass' appropriations bill), would be a
      > fascinating (if not very
      > pretty) window on the inner mechanics of Congress.
      > Though Joshua is
      > prolly correct, this, or a 'Bill of Importance'
      > value, wouldn't be easy
      > to track, much less create a metric for it.
      > Interesting thought
      > tho'....
      >
      > Tom
      >
      > On May 9, 2005, at 17:01, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack
      > wrote:
      >
      > > pippop120 wrote:
      > > > Is there any metric of "Bill Importance?"
      > >
      > > Well, if you can figure it out... :)� I've kept
      > my eyes open for any
      > > information to come up with that, but I haven't
      > come up with anything
      > > yet.
      > >
      > > > number of co sponsors
      > >
      > > (From what I've seen, and I'm no insider...)
      > Bills with few cosponsors
      > > seem to do just as well as bills with many
      > cosponsors.
      > >
      > > > where it is in the legislative process,
      > >
      > > Bills tend to go into committee for a while, and
      > committee information
      > > isn't readily available online.� But that's where
      > the metric should be
      > > computed.
      > >
      > > > whether similar bills have been introduced in
      > previous sessions and
      > > gotten nowhere,
      > >
      > > This could be a really good one, if there was an
      > easy way of figuring
      > > it
      > > out.� I could try comparing the text of
      > legislation, but with
      > > thousands
      > > of bills each session, that's a fairly
      > computationally intensive
      > > process.
      > >
      > > > Republican/Democratic split in Congress
      > >
      > > Which isn't known until after the bill is voted
      > on.
      > >
      > > > Even the bill number is important, since the
      > numbers HR 1-10 are
      > > saved for important
      > > > bills to be introduced later.
      > >
      > > Okay, now this one is an easy one to compute.
      > >
      > > > Even without a metric, it would be useful to
      > have search filters on
      > > > whether bills are on a calendar, if they've
      > gotten through a
      > > > committee,
      > >
      > > I can add that...
      > >
      > > > if hearings are being held, etc.
      > >
      > >
      >
      http://www.govtrack.us/users/events.xpd?monitors=misc:allcommittee
      > > (This is missing House hearings.)
      > >
      > > My sense is that this is the type of thing that
      > is best figured out
      > > by a
      > > human with some inside knowledge.� Someone should
      > start a blog devoted
      > > to legislation to watch, if there isn't one
      > already.
      > >
      > > --
      > > - Joshua Tauberer
      > >
      > > http://taubz.for.net
      > >
      > > ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
      > >
      > >
      > >
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    • Neal McBurnett
      This would be nice. One helpful metric is how many people are interested in it, e.g. how many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any other such info that
      Message 2 of 11 , May 23, 2005
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        This would be nice.

        One helpful metric is how many people are interested in it, e.g. how
        many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any other such info that
        is available. Also, how often it is mentioned in the congressional
        record, timing statistics, etc. At least, each bill could be ranked
        on each of those metrics, for search purposes and input to custom
        analysis tools.

        Do we have any lobbying info? Even doing some sort of google search
        for each bill number and reporting the count of matching pages might
        be of some value.

        Cheers,

        Neal McBurnett http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/
        Signed and/or sealed mail encouraged. GPG/PGP Keyid: 2C9EBA60

        On Mon, May 09, 2005 at 05:01:04PM -0400, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack wrote:
        > pippop120 wrote:
        > > Is there any metric of "Bill Importance?"
        >
        > Well, if you can figure it out... :) I've kept my eyes open for any
        > information to come up with that, but I haven't come up with anything yet.
        >
        > > number of co sponsors
        >
        > (From what I've seen, and I'm no insider...) Bills with few cosponsors
        > seem to do just as well as bills with many cosponsors.
        >
        > > where it is in the legislative process,
        >
        > Bills tend to go into committee for a while, and committee information
        > isn't readily available online. But that's where the metric should be
        > computed.
        >
        > > whether similar bills have been introduced in previous sessions and gotten nowhere,
        >
        > This could be a really good one, if there was an easy way of figuring it
        > out. I could try comparing the text of legislation, but with thousands
        > of bills each session, that's a fairly computationally intensive process.
        >
        > > Republican/Democratic split in Congress
        >
        > Which isn't known until after the bill is voted on.
        >
        > > Even the bill number is important, since the numbers HR 1-10 are saved for important
        > > bills to be introduced later.
        >
        > Okay, now this one is an easy one to compute.
        >
        > > Even without a metric, it would be useful to have search filters on
        > > whether bills are on a calendar, if they've gotten through a
        > > committee,
        >
        > I can add that...
        >
        > > if hearings are being held, etc.
        >
        > http://www.govtrack.us/users/events.xpd?monitors=misc:allcommittee
        > (This is missing House hearings.)
        >
        > My sense is that this is the type of thing that is best figured out by a
        > human with some inside knowledge. Someone should start a blog devoted
        > to legislation to watch, if there isn't one already.
        >
        > --
        > - Joshua Tauberer
        >
        > http://taubz.for.net
        >
        > ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • Scott Beardsley
        ... Hmm, maybe a netflix/ipod esque rating system? Maybe one for popularity (ie rates importance) and another for support/non-support? Real-time polling
        Message 3 of 11 , May 23, 2005
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          --- Neal McBurnett <neal@...> wrote:
          > One helpful metric is how many people are interested
          > in it, e.g. how
          > many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any
          > other such info that is available.

          Hmm, maybe a netflix/ipod esque rating system? Maybe
          one for popularity (ie rates importance) and another
          for support/non-support? Real-time polling (although
          the sample is likely non-representative - think
          digital divide).

          Or maybe just one metric (support/non-support) and the
          importance metric is extracted via most number of
          votes. Also, a sliding scale (ie support strongly,
          indifferent, against strongly) might be best since
          you'd then be able to determine volitility and
          possibly partisanship (among citizens at least).

          This would be a huge communication tool for not only
          citizens but also our representatives.

          Scott



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        • John DeBruyn
          Hi Scott: Don t foget undecided and how about permitting the voters to include there zip code and, perhaps even, annotate their own votes. John John DeBruyn
          Message 4 of 11 , May 24, 2005
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            Hi Scott:
             
            Don't foget undecided and how about permitting the voters to include there zip code and, perhaps even, annotate their own votes.
             
            John
             
            John DeBruyn Denver CO USA
            -----Original Message-----
            From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Scott Beardsley
            Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 11:18 PM
            To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [govtrack] Metric on Bill Importance


            --- Neal McBurnett <neal@...> wrote:
            > One helpful metric is how many people are interested
            > in it, e.g. how
            > many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any
            > other such info that is available. 

            Hmm, maybe a netflix/ipod esque rating system? Maybe
            one for popularity (ie rates importance) and another
            for support/non-support? Real-time polling (although
            the sample is likely non-representative - think
            digital divide).

            Or maybe just one metric (support/non-support) and the
            importance metric is extracted via most number of
            votes. Also, a sliding scale (ie support strongly,
            indifferent, against strongly) might be best since
            you'd then be able to determine volitility and
            possibly partisanship (among citizens at least).

            This would be a huge communication tool for not only
            citizens but also our representatives.

            Scott


                       
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          • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
            ... The top-tracked bills are on the front page of the site, though without the number of users at the moment. The top bill has something like 60 users
            Message 5 of 11 , May 24, 2005
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              Neal McBurnett wrote:
              > One helpful metric is how many people are interested in it, e.g. how
              > many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any other such info that
              > is available.

              The top-tracked bills are on the front page of the site, though without
              the number of users at the moment. The top bill has something like 60
              users tracking it, so it's not a very large number to use for this.
              Plus, the top few bills have all been passed, so as a metric it's a bit
              out of date.

              > Also, how often it is mentioned in the congressional record

              That's a good one.

              > Do we have any lobbying info?

              Not at the moment.

              > Even doing some sort of google search
              > for each bill number and reporting the count of matching pages might
              > be of some value.

              There are 4300 bills right now for this Congress, and there will be
              10,000 by the end of next year. That makes it pretty impossible to do a
              separate query for each bill.

              When I was querying Technorati, I was able to give it a partial URL to a
              page about a bill (i.e. on Thomas or GovTrack). So with one query I
              could get back the first N (100?) references to bills, ranked by the
              rank of the blog. One could extrapolate from that the most 'hot'
              legislation.

              This would work reasonably well, but the problem here is that ideally
              one wants a system that can alert people about important legislation
              before people are already talking about it in the blogosphere.

              What I had envisioned using Technorati for was picking out the pundits
              out there that could identify important legislation. If, for instance,
              TPM mentioned a bill, it's probably important. But I had trouble 1)
              recognizing the important/useful blogs automatically and 2) getting
              readable information back from Techorati. The blog excerpts are not
              particularly clean.

              For Scott's voting system with John's suggestion about user
              annotations-- I initially had something like that on GovTrack (before
              the site was really public). I decided, though, that I don't want to
              deal with user-submitted information to the site, e.g. comments that
              need to be moderated. Also, because the visitors to the site make up a
              very skewed self-selected sample, I'm not comfortable publishing what
              percent of visitors agreed with legislation. These things have a place,
              but I don't think on GovTrack.

              That just leaves the popularity aspect of the metric, but if people
              aren't voting with their opinion, one could easily just look at the raw
              number of people visiting a page for a bill, right? You don't actually
              have to ask them to vote on the importance of a bill.

              This has the same problem of not being able to tell people what's
              important before they already know about it. Not that those ideas
              aren't useful in another context.

              They're all good ideas, though. It would be good if other people tried
              to see how these potential metrics performed and reported on that.
              Obviously all of my data is there for the taking, and I can explain how
              to work with it.

              --
              - Joshua Tauberer

              http://taubz.for.net

              ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
            • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
              To return to the idea of bill metrics for a moment: On the front page of GovTrack I ve changed the Hot Legislation list. Recently it had been listing the
              Message 6 of 11 , Jun 10, 2005
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                To return to the idea of bill metrics for a moment:

                On the front page of GovTrack I've changed the 'Hot Legislation' list.
                Recently it had been listing the bills that were monitored by the most
                number of people.

                It now is using Technorati. It's a list of bills mentioned by people in
                their blogs (provided they linked to the bill at either Thomas or
                GovTrack), ordered by... this is a mouthful... the total number of blogs
                linking to to the blog entries that linked to the bill. So, when an
                'important' blog mentions a bill, the bill is given a higher listing in
                my list, because 'important' blogs have more inbound links.

                (See: http://beta.technorati.com/search/thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery)

                --
                - Joshua Tauberer

                http://taubz.for.net

                ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
              • Neal McBurnett
                ... Thanks - looks like a good metric. How often is it calculated/updated? Does it only look at items dated recently? I only see the top four listed at
                Message 7 of 11 , Jun 11, 2005
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                  On Fri, Jun 10, 2005 at 12:06:59PM -0400, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us wrote:
                  > On the front page of GovTrack I've changed the 'Hot Legislation' list.
                  > Recently it had been listing the bills that were monitored by the most
                  > number of people.
                  >
                  > It now is using Technorati. It's a list of bills mentioned by people in
                  > their blogs (provided they linked to the bill at either Thomas or
                  > GovTrack), ordered by... this is a mouthful... the total number of blogs
                  > linking to to the blog entries that linked to the bill. So, when an
                  > 'important' blog mentions a bill, the bill is given a higher listing in
                  > my list, because 'important' blogs have more inbound links.
                  >
                  > (See: http://beta.technorati.com/search/thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery)

                  Thanks - looks like a good metric. How often is it
                  calculated/updated? Does it only look at items dated recently?

                  I only see the top four listed at govtrack, without a clarification
                  there on how they were selected. Is there a way to get more than the
                  top four, and to preserve at least some of the data for future
                  reference? "Top-twenty, week-by week", or "bills that hit the top 50,
                  with an indication of when and where they peaked"?

                  Cheers,

                  Neal McBurnett http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/
                  Signed and/or sealed mail encouraged. GPG/PGP Keyid: 2C9EBA60
                • Neal McBurnett
                  It might make sense to have separate hot lists for enacted legislation vs legislation-in-progress, or legislation-to-be-voted-on-soon (not sure how easy that
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jun 11, 2005
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                    It might make sense to have separate "hot" lists for enacted
                    legislation vs legislation-in-progress, or
                    legislation-to-be-voted-on-soon (not sure how easy that last one is).

                    A link from each bill to a technorati search for it would also be
                    nice, and tie into this metric.

                    -Neal
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