Site will be a bit spotty today, have to do some maintenance. For those users that registered last week, expecting the address verification that I promised, as you probably noticed, it didn’t work. I think it is fixed now. At least, it worked for me! Things are a bit hectic around my household these days, we are expecting our second daughter any day now, so my time has been diverted to higher priorities! Bear with me, any other bugs or quirks will be worked out. For those already registered, if you log in, you will see blanks for your address. If you fill these in, I’ll send a verification post card (I’m going to probably send these in weekly batches, since it will be a bit cheaper for me) so that you can rate the activities of your representatives and senators by rating the blog post for that activity. As an example, this post has been rated a 4 by me.I’ll then email summaries to the senators and representatives. A “Plogress Report Card”, if you will. If we get enough people using this, perhaps the representatives will be interested in participating, both financially and interactively. Then I can quit considering rss ads to pay the bills!
I’ve received a lot of feedback requesting more info about the site and how it works and clarification on some things. So here goes: The site is still a work in progress, and there is only one person working on it. It started when I was searching THOMAS at the Library of Congress and thought there was a lot of cool information there, but the layout of the information was not conducive to quick perusal on a daily basis. Well, the weblog format was perfect for what I wanted, which was a one stop shop for information on my elected representatives. RSS syndication would make the information even easier to access. I did some searching around for blog software that I could scale for thousands of individul blogs, and decided on WordPress. I have been very happy with this free software. The next challenge was retrieving and organizing the data from THOMAS into a format from which I could generate blog posts. Several perl scripts later, these are the results. Had I anticipated such a large audience so quickly, I would have done more testing and development before rolling this out. It’s refreshing to see that I’m not the only one who likes to keep up with my elected representative.
I will continue to develop this site as time allows, and I appreciate all of the feedback I have received thus far. In repsonse to some specific comments:
-The best way to reach me is through the comment section. I will put up an email address soon, I’m just not ready to deal with all the spam yet. (There are ways to obfuscate the address to those nasty email harvesters, it’s just low on the priority list)
-I will be adding the roll call votes this week. I will load all votes from 2005 and update nightly.
-I’ve seen several requests for more information about candidates (their website, bio, etc.). I like the idea, and it’s on the list.
-The poll questions are written by me. I am in no way qualified to write poll questions. If the grammar is correct, and there are no spelling errors, it looks like a good question to me. Others disagree, and they are right. (see comments
-With regard to the “most popular congress persons”: These are based on page views. I can’t tell if the visitors agreed or disagreed with said congress person (unless they left comments!).
One last remark for this post. I encourage you to leave comments. I can’t tell you that your rep will see them (I’d put my money on “no, they won’t”), but it would be good to see discussion. I do moderate comments, so if you don’t actually have anything constructive to say, save the keystrokes.
Thanks again for visiting
Well, obviously, I have changed the look of the front page. I’ll probably change the rest tonight. I’m still not completely satisfied with the look, but I think its a little easier to read.
The change I’m most exited about, however, is when users register or logon (after I change the rest of the pages!), they will see spaces for address information in their profile. That’s not the exiting part. If you provide this information, I will send you a postcard with a verification code. When you log in and enter that verification code, you’ll become a verified user, allowing you to rate each entry in your representative’s and senators’ blog on a scale of one to five. The average rating for each entry will be visible to all readers, and I’m planning on sending a weekly “Plogress Report Card” to each rep that has been graded. I doubt that a 1-5 rating will have as much impact as a well written letter, but I’m sure it will have more impact than all of those emails that I’ve never sent to my rep! Your address information will only be used to send the postcard and assign your representatives. I’ll keep it on file, so when I get the state legislatures, you can be assigned to the correct ones also. As always, your feedback is appreciated.
I need to apologies to my readers/users. I haven’t been managing this site for awhile, as I didn’t think anyone was using it! I hadn’t received an email for months alerting me to new comments. Then, this morning, when I finished switching my email settings over to Outlook from Thunderbird, I recieved hundreds of emails! Nothing against Mozilla Thunderbird, it really is a fine app, and I would recommend it to anyone. I must have made an error in setting up the account somehow.
Anyway, I will now rededicate myself to the site. First step is to weed through all of the comment spam that did manage to make it through. While I must admit that the concept of “unicorn porn” is intriguing, I question the motives of anyone willing to simply give it away. Once I’ve cleaned things up, I will be doing some back-end maintenance/updating. Then I’ll post some more ideas/changes I have in mind.