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How To Use OpenCongress

February 26, 2007 - by David Moore

We’ve just completed the first day of public launch here at OpenCongress — welcome to everyone reading. Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about our launch by blogging about our site, and especially to everyone who wrote in with feedback and suggestions, please keep it coming:

Every day, our Congress Gossip Blog will highlight useful news and blog reporting from around the web and offer summaries of Congressional actions. Today, I wanted to start out by recommending five ways in which you can use OpenCongress to track the issues you care about and help build public knowledge about Congress. (We’re quite clearly big fans of RSS feeds as a timely and convenient way to track the latest actions in Congress… visit our About RSS page for pointers on how to subscribe to RSS feeds.)

First, find your Congressperson and Senators here on OpenCongress, and subscribe to their RSS feeds to stay in touch with them.

Second, subscribe to the RSS feed for the most viewed bills, so you can keep on top of what’s most buzzed-about on the web.

Third, browse through the Issue Areas and pick one that matters to you, then subscribe to its RSS feed so that you’ll know when relevant bills are in play.

Fourth, look around in the most viewed bills or your chosen issue areas and find a bill that interests you, then write a blog post about it that includes the bill’s official title (for example, “H.R.800”). A link to your blog post will likely soon appear in the blog coverage of that bill on OpenCongress.

Fifth, take that blog post and suggest it as a link to be featured on on the open-submissions Congress Gossip Blog.

For more recommendations on the ways that individuals and organizations can use OpenCongress as an easy way to follow the latest legislative maneuvers, visit our page, How To Use OpenCongress.

We’ll be writing more soon about our first day of public launch. We’re excited to have opened our doors.

(Photo of the Capitol Dome by dbking)

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  • Anonymous 02/27/2007 4:46am

    i’m brand spankin’ new to this site, and just starting to look around. but you know what i’d like to see? a “where they are today” feature. finding the actual schedule of reps is sometimes a challenge, just as it’s hard to know when they are working on the issues, and when they’re off raising money or having less-than-democratic meetings with monied interests.

    thanks so much for your efforts, i linked to this site on my blog and will do so again as the issues of the day are discussed here.

  • Anonymous 02/27/2007 4:54am

    Thanks for the comment, definitely a good idea — for now, you can follow the efforts of the Sunlight Network’s PunchClock Campaign to persuade Members of Congress to open up their daily schedules to the public. In our next steps of development here on OpenCongress, we’ll also be working to build ways of making information about lobbying meetings more accessible. Thanks for the link!

  • Anonymous 02/27/2007 1:06pm

    Awesome site. I think a great feature would be to allow users to create a customized home page with the reps and bills they are interested in. I know it can be done within an aggregator, but still, a nice feature.

  • Anonymous 02/27/2007 5:37pm

    How about a page where all of the representatives/senators from one state are lumped together into one giant RSS? It would help for those of us in the states with a lot of representatives. I live in New York, I will say right off the bat that it’d be a welcome feature.

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