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Re: [govtrack] Metric on Bill Importance

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  • 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 1 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 2 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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        Take Yahoo! Mail with you! Check email on your mobile phone.
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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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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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