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Re: [govtrack] Metric on Bill Importance

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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 1 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      out of date.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 2 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 3 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 4 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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