Re: [govtrack] Metric on Bill Importance
- Neal McBurnett wrote:
> One helpful metric is how many people are interested in it, e.g. howThe top-tracked bills are on the front page of the site, though without
> many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any other such info that
> is available.
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out of date.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 recordThat's a good one.
> Do we have any lobbying info?Not at the moment.
> Even doing some sort of google searchThere are 4300 bills right now for this Congress, and there will be
> for each bill number and reporting the count of matching pages might
> be of some value.
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'
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
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
** Nothing Unreal Exists **
- 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.
- Joshua Tauberer
** Nothing Unreal Exists **
- 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.Thanks - looks like a good metric. How often is it
> 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)
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"?
Neal McBurnett http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/
Signed and/or sealed mail encouraged. GPG/PGP Keyid: 2C9EBA60
- 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.