I. Short-Term Priorities - April 2011


#125 - Twitter functionality of blog "share" button not working

#444 - Small copy corrections on voting with party pages

#448 - Update Rushed Bills feed for switch to FDSys

#439 - Add formatting tools to comment fields

#447 - Battle Royale view for comments

#26 - make bill text sections sortable by # of comments

#449 - Pending bill page enhancements

#480 - create CD pages

#482 - MyOC actions page error


#113 - ZenDesk support - this is on David

#383 - automatic Tweets of info from API

#472 - partner organization outreach targets May 2011

#465 - 2012 AdTracker spec using Miro Community

#456 - Display more localized info for users re: their state & district


I. Longstanding Site Maintenance & Housekeeping

  • Database optimization for performance & stability - ARoss ongoing
  • Bug fix page display, features, & tweak redesign user interface - APacker & Morgan ongoing

II. Core OC Feature & Data Enhancements

  • Bill pages
  • Member pages
  • Issue pages
    • a) Issue portals to tie bills to broader issues in more accessible ways
  • Redesign Widgets
    • a) Redesign existing HTML widgets & offer Flash versions w/smoother styling
    • b) Offer "issue portal" widgets - e.g., Gannett
    • c) More Facebook Apps & Facebook Connect integration
  • Syndicate more outside data sources ([#1237](/projects/35587/tickets/1237 "Ticket #1237"))
  • Site-wide enhancements
    • a) Highlight Hot Bills more and the 46 Issue Areas (via PVS) to which they're mapped.
    • b) Add social media actions to actions on OC, e.g. prompt users to share on Facebook when they vote or comment on a bill or person (https://participatorypolitics.lighthouseapp.com/projects/35587/tick...)
    • c) News & blog citations enhancements - more up-voting or curation to make them more useful & used. Unless social media has overtaken this for the foreseeable.
    • d) /bill/all redesign - collapse each of the index pages w/ Battle Royale sort-by options? Or re-brand Battle Royale? The brand never took off. -- [#381](/projects/35587/tickets/381 "Ticket #381")
    • e) OpenGovData.org campaign - not just the Defective By Design badge, but a full petition through PPolitics.org to the appropriate subcommittees and that user's members
    • f) ThinkUpApp integration - as proposed on OG

    III. Major Feature Enhancement : My OpenCongress Groups ([#1235](/projects/35587/tickets/1235 "Ticket #1235"))

    • Registered MyOC users can create Groups on OC and opt-in, communicating as a group and tracking site items as a group.
    • OC will use a plugin to verify groups to a given URL. Outlier cases or disputes will be referred to the OC Community Manager (Donny Shaw or other).
    • MyOC Groups will have profile pages, with a group description & link to official sites & social media acc’ts up top, as well as thumbnails of the Group creators / moderators, and link off to full membership list. Group membership policies will need to be explained and subject to OC ToS.
    • MyOC Groups will offer groups central pages to track all site items (bills, bill text, actions, votes, members, issues, committees, campaign contributions, issue group ratings, etc.) on a central dashboard, somewhat like an enhanced My Political Notebook. Group members can post open letters, commentary on bills, letter grades, links to blog posts
    • MyOC Groups will offer members a dedicated space to record outcomes of their communications with MoCs. While stopping short of allowing them to create holistic campaigns on OC, this will allow group moderators to post a call-in prompt, and give active members a chance to trade results & talking points & useful context.
    • Within limits of programming time, we will offer Groups settings for group posting pages -- whether all members can post openly, or require approval, or moderator/admin only.
    • Within limits of programming time, we will offer Group members settings for Group communications:
    • New and existing MyOC members will be automatically opted-in to two Groups: one for their state, and one for their Cong. Dist. … with opt-out, of course.
    • IV. Major Enhancement: Contact Congress w/ Social Feedback ([#1235](/projects/35587/tickets/1235 "Ticket #1235"))

      Users should have options to view lists of Members to contact in many ways: individually, or all Members sponsoring a bill, or all Members not sponsoring a bill, or all Members in a specific Committee. What’s more, to the extent possible from available data sources, lists should be available of Members supporting a bill, Members opposing a bill, Members who are “on the fence”, and Members whose position is unknown. Help text can reference data on campaign contributions: “According to MAPLight.org, Sen. X received $6,000 in donations from interests who support this bill and $1,400 from interests who oppose this bill. Tell Sen. X that you’re watching his vote tomorrow.”

      In this way, users can more effectively combat corruption by contacting Members through OpenCongress. Expanded help text could offer the following to “MyOC” users: “Your communication is complete! It’s been recorded on your profile’s page of Actions with an outcome of “submitted webform”. Other users who contacted Sen. Feingold typically received response over email within three days. If you learn new info from the response, be sure to add it as a comment on S.223!” Along those lines, more automated suggestions: “Your communication is complete! Other users who contacted Sen. Feingold about bills like S.223 are also tracking S.1285, the Fair Elections Now Act. Click here to see other users who share your interests.” ([#1235](/projects/35587/tickets/1235 "Ticket #1235"))

      • Clicking the “contact” button triggers an enhanced user experience that guides the user through the process of communicating w/ their Member.
        • Within limits of programming time, goal is to present the user with useful contextual info that can be dragged-and-dropped and edited into the email communication. Pending final technical & design specs, this will likely be done with a unique UI that offers the composition field on the left, and grafs of highly-rated news/blog coverage & campaign donation data in separate boxes on the right that can be added to the main communication field with one-click. Modal windows offer another, but more problematic, UI choice.
        • The communication will automatically populate itself with links & copy along the following: “I’m tracking the topic of this communication using OpenCongress.org, the free public resource website for government transparency and accountability. (Then, where applicable) I’m a member of the Group X with #### members, and I’ll be recording your response to this inquiry on our group page: link.”
        • Within technical limits, this may offer the user options to subscribe to notices of news or blog items on this topic after the communication, to stay in touch with the issue. This may be an enhancement.
        • The process will then deliver the user to the group page to record details of the communication, likely auto-populating with date & time, and then allowing the user to select from a few diff. drop-downs (bill #, MoC, issue, method of communication, etc.) and a text field reporting the response. Responses will need to be able to display a simple revision history over time.
        • The unique value proposition here, to reiterate, is in UI design, proximity to contextual info on OC, and eventually in data portability. Down the road, making these user actions & social data avail. via widgets & APIs will offer an even better window on what’s really hot in Congress than our public-facing lists of most-viewed bills or Battle Royale. These features are not in this minimum spec.

      V. Major Feature Enhancement: Two-Way Platform for Constituent Communication ([#2122](/projects/35587/tickets/2122 "Ticket #2122"))

      • Integrate NationBuilder? (Rails-based platform)
        • a) Constituent Forums on Member pages
        • b) Public Questions, à la Parliament Watch, for Members to answer
        • c) Rate members on responsiveness, recruit offices for pilot project

      VI. Enhance Email Alerts

      • Monthly summary digests for Users' Tracked Items
      • Ability for users to subscribe to diff. types of alerts regarding legislation/Members/issues they’re tracking: email, SMS, or calendar feeds. An associated challenge here is digging into the data to make alerts sufficiently timely when legislation is in crucial phases.

      Evergreen Enhancements

      • Improve bill text commenting features & visualization
      • Improve video offerings from Metavid & YT & elswhere -- add user ability to read & search transcripts, more granular video results & more helpful context
      • Improve Battle Royale data -- automatically export lists of below-the-radar-trending-or-falling-bills/Members/issues, etc.
      • API enhancements - e.g., bill text, comments on bill text
      • Enhanced tying of issue areas to bills
      • Enhanced demos' of use cases & video tutorials for outreach & educational purposes
      • Volunteer dev community projects - greater facilitation
      • More interns in NYC
      • GoToMeetings with users

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