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Re: [govtrack] Metric on Bill Importance

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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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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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