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Announcing "My OpenCongress": Network, Comment and Vote on Congress

January 13, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: Help us out by Digging this announcement!

As Congress returns tomorrow to start a new session, OpenCongress is excited to announce a major update that will put all the bills and votes at your fingertips. It’s never been easier to track what’s happening with your government.

Now you can build a personal profile on OpenCongress of the bills and people you’re tracking, network with other users, comment and vote on bills, and much more.
To get started, create your own “”http://www.opencongress.org/register">My OpenCongress" profile, it’s free and only takes a minute.

“My OpenCongress” — You’re Your Own Best Watchdog

Register an account with OpenCongress using your e-mail address and you’ll receive a profile page — “My OpenCongress” — that provides a personalized view of all the information you want about the laws being made in Washington. Users can track any bill, senator, representative, or issue area on the site, simply by clicking “track this” at the top of any page. Back on your profile, you’ll have assembled a one-stop platform of everything you’re watching in Congress, with a continually-updated stream of their latest actions.

Network — Make Friends Over Congress

My OpenCongress is the first-ever social network designed for people who care about Congress. Users of My OpenCongress can find friends throughout the site, from finding people in your district and state to noticing someone on a bill’s comment board (see below), and users can invite new friends to join them on OpenCongress. Your friends’ profile pages can provide a valuable window into finding just the bills and votes that most directly affect your issues. And if you want to organize a call-in day to let Congress know what you think, you can easily get in touch with other constituents in your district and mobilize your wider friends network. It’s an easy-to-use, peer-to-peer way of sharing the most useful information about Congress, perfect for bloggers and membership groups.

Discuss — Comment on Congress

Now there are comment boards on pages for every bill, senator, and representative on OpenCongress. These comment boards allow real-world people to discuss the details of legislation, share links, evaluate political landscapes, and give their opinions. Boards are designed to “filter up” the comments rated “most helpful” by the user community, using a simple slider bar located next to each comment. What’s more, each user builds up a site-wide rating for all his or her comments, so there is an incentive for people with helpful insights, expertise, or “insider information” to comment more frequently. Plus, every user has the ability to set a personal ratings filter which can be set higher, to see only the comments rated most-helpful, or lower, to see every comment on the page. The more comments you rate, the better the comment boards work for everyone!

Evaluate — Rate News and Blog Coverage

We’re making our flagship feature even more useful. OpenCongress users can now rate the helpfulness of all the news and blog coverage on the site by using the slider bar located next to the link. Together, we can uncover and share the very best news and blog coverage about bills and Members of Congress available on the web — then export this valuable user-generated data back out to the world.

Vote — Share Your Position on Bills, Senators and Reps

A fundamental goal of OpenCongress is to make it possible for people to be able to state their opinions on laws, and and the people making them, with all the context and information available on the site. Now, OpenCongress users can vote “aye” or “nay” for every bill in Congress, give a personal approval rating to Senators and Representatives on a scale of 1-100, and see the total votes for each bill and Member. Coming soon, this data will be aggregated in a unique, sortable forum of all user votes sitewide, so stay tuned. By themselves, a user’s votes offer a powerful soapbox for her opinions; together, users’ votes tell Members of Congress exactly how the OpenCongress community stands on an issue.

To check out these new features, create your own account. It’s free and only takes a minute. We’ve also put together these suggestions on how to get started with “My OpenCongress.”

OpenCongress is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation. Our work is free, open-source, not-for-profit, and non-partisan.

We look forward to hearing your feedback and hope that you’ll help spread the word about these new features. Drop us a note with any questions or comments: writeus at opencongress dot org. Thanks!

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Comments

  • Anonymous 01/14/2008 8:47am

    I love the site and will definitely use. In fact, anything that makes the whole process simpler is great.

    I wonder if you would be interested in helping, taking over my project. Virtual Petitions. I hope to use a wiki to allow folks to come together for complaints on issues. The “email your congressperson” is frustratingly secret. You don’t know who else is bothered, you don’t know what they end up doing, etc.

    Please, take a look and send any suggestions my way:

    www.virtualpetition.org

    faceforpodcasting@gmail.com

  • jessemoya 01/14/2008 1:34pm

    This is so exciting! I really hope this takes off. We need way more involvement by voters and anything that makes it easier to pay attention can really help!

  • Anonymous 01/14/2008 6:34pm

    Being able to comment on Bills is great. Being able to parse different parts of bills and comment on parts you are interested in would be great. It would help Bills to be more focused. It would even be a great mechanism for writing Bills. A step toward Bills by the people and not lobbyists.

  • judithkratochvil 01/15/2008 3:11am

    This is a great tool.

  • Projects 01/15/2008 5:49am

    Essence of American politics!

  • Moderated Comment

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  • otoolege 01/16/2008 6:42am

    Mark your calendars for January 22, 2008, the National Call-In Day for Horses!

    Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your two U.S. Senators’ and U.S. Representative’s offices. Urge your Senators to “support H.R. 249 to protect wild horses from slaughter and cosponsor S. 311 to stop the sale and transport of all horses to slaughter.” Urge your Representative to “cosponsor H.R. 503 to stop the sale and transport of all horses to slaughter.”

  • otoolege 01/16/2008 6:44am

    http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977231345&nav=Namespace

  • Anonymous 01/16/2008 7:01pm

    I would really like to participate in MyOpenCongress. There is one obstacle however. I am tired of having dozens upon dozens of login/password accounts scattered across the web. So I am no longer signing up for any service that does not allow me to use my existing OpenID. ( www.openid.net )

    So please, embrace the future of identity and portable social networking by implementing OpenID on MyOpenCongress. Become a consumer of OpenID’s and I will gladly join the community!

  • davidmoore 01/17/2008 8:52am

    Hi Anonymous, good point — we’re planning to support OpenID logins on OpenCongress in the near future, we believe in its mission too. When it’s ready, we’ll post a note on our blog and on the signup page.

  • Anonymous 01/17/2008 6:05pm

    Thank you for addressing my concern about OpenID. I look forward to the MyOpenCongress implementation.

  • Anonymous 01/19/2008 10:25pm

    Why not use anonymous?

  • Anonymous 01/22/2008 12:52pm

    So — do you actually mean that the congressmen actually participate in this?

  • davidmoore 01/22/2008 5:21pm

    To the latest Anonymous: All Members of Congress are invited to use OpenCongress to build greater transparency in government. We know that some Members use it informally already, and we’re doing outreach to others (including staff) on the Hill to let them know how citizens are using this open public resource to track Congress. We’ll make some more formal announcements soon on our blog about Members endorsing this site, but the mission remains to make it easier for anyone OUTSIDE the Beltway to engage with Congress. Let us know how you’re using these tools: writeus@opencongress.org.

  • Anonymous 02/20/2008 8:54am

    Im not sure if I like that the comments will get moderated.

    :/

  • Shanon 10/21/2008 6:55pm

    New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) Residents of Jamia Nagar say they will give vent to their anger over the police shootout in the area last month by voting out the sitting Congress legislator and ushering in a candidate of their choice in the Delhi assembly polls Nov 29.They are seething with rage against the Congress, which has so far been silent on conducting a judicial probe into the Sep 19 encounter in which two Muslim youths were gunned down as suspected terrorists.People are furious with the Congress, our youngsters have been killed in the name of terrorism. We were attached with the Congress for decades, but now we feel that we have been ditched,” said Mohammed Akram, 34, a contractor who lives in Okhla.
    -————————————————-
    Shanon

    Link Building

  • Anonymous 10/25/2008 9:33am
    Hi, Am Dave Aroworowon from Nigeria, but now in Ghana.

    This is just about my life message to you.

    I want to know maybe i can never like or love anyone again in this life, just because i lose my girlfriend 4 years ago overnight on the 22 sept 2004 and i also lose my dearest parent 2 years ago too, that i called my mum and dad by a car accident on the road in the year 15 march 2006. And after all this death, my life came crashing & the love I had in me was buried alongside with my girlfriend and my parent. After the death, I fought it hard to forget about then memory but theres no day I won’t think about them.

    I have been trying so many relationships but I could not love or no one is ready to show or give me the type of love my late parents and my girlfriend was endowed with.. I always have the believe that ‘Love Hates Me’ not until a friend advice me to try the ‘Online probably I may see the replica of my late girlfriend.
    I never believed the person base on the fact that how can someone you’d not met or seen believe you and offer to give you precious heart.

    Can i never find or meet again my parent or true love like my girlfriend.

    What can i do.

    Dave.

  • Anonymous 10/25/2008 9:35am
    Hi, Am Dave Aroworowon from Nigeria, but now in Ghana.

    This is just about my life message to you.

    I want to know maybe i can never like or love anyone again in this life, just because i lose my girlfriend 4 years ago overnight on the 22 sept 2004 and i also lose my dearest parent 2 years ago too, that i called my mum and dad by a car accident on the road in the year 15 march 2006. And after all this death, my life came crashing & the love I had in me was buried alongside with my girlfriend and my parent. After the death, I fought it hard to forget about then memory but theres no day I won’t think about them.

    I have been trying so many relationships but I could not love or no one is ready to show or give me the type of love my late parents and my girlfriend was endowed with.. I always have the believe that ‘Love Hates Me’ not until a friend advice me to try the ‘Online probably I may see the replica of my late girlfriend.
    I never believed the person base on the fact that how can someone you’d not met or seen believe you and offer to give you precious heart.

    Can i never find or meet again my parent or true love like my girlfriend. And u can email me on my davearoworowon@yahoo.com

    What can i do.

    Dave.

  • Anonymous 12/10/2008 2:41am

    intresting….
    http://tickets.1stfreehosting.com/

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