Articles From April 2011
One key ingredient in the "secret sauce" of the POPVOX is that users' comments to Congress are public, sortable by Congressional district and findable via search engine. When your comments on a bill you care about are public, you are not just letting your Rep or Senator know what you think; you are helping to educate others, giving the media context and shaping the debate.
Today, we are happy to introduce a trial run of one more way to amplify these messages across the Internet: the POPVOX Comment Stream widget . Now you can stream comments from POPVOX on your own site, with varying levels of customization by bill number, bill position, issue area OR geographic location. So for example, you could choose ALL comments on a bill, just supporting or just opposing comments on a bill, comments on a particular issue, or comments from a specific state... and the customization possibilities wil evolve.
Below is an example of a comment stream for HR 1174, which was the top trending bill on POPVOX last week.
The widget is easy to load into a WordPress page or any other site that allows you to paste html code. Follow this link , customize the widget to your interests, adjust the size to fit your site and copy the html code that appears in the lower right-hand corner.
Combine the POPVOX Comment Stream widget with the "Take Action" widget that you can find on any POPVOX bill page to give your readers rich content and a way to weigh in on bills that are discussed on your site.
What do you think?
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This week, POPVOX unveiled our "+appreciate" feature. This enables POPVOX users to appreciate other user's comments on the site.
Ever read a personal story or comment on a bill on POPVOX and see a truly personal face of an otherwise wonky policy? Or read a comment that completely changes your point of view on a bill?
I'm going to be honest with you, I have many, many times. You've heard me talk about S. 277, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act . The comments users left on that bill were so personal and heart-felt. I literally found myself wanting to say to some of them, hand on my heart, "thank you for your service -- and I *appreciate* you taking the time to share your story."
While the POPVOX team stays neutral on bills and never posts editorial commentary, we're proud of the quality of comments written by POPVOX users like you. These comments will truly make our nation's policy discourse more robust. As Marci would say, this is the meat on the bones of policy. Without these comments, a bill is just a skeleton. To that end, we wanted to find a way for users to highlight the most compelling of comments. That's why we created the "+appreciate" feature.
Some bills have hundreds of comments.While I may personally recommend users weighing in on a bill read each and every bill comment, this isn't always possible. With the "+appreciate" feature, users can "appreciate" others' comments, allowing a user the option of reading the "most appreciated" comments first.
From a strategic advocacy perspective, "appreciating" comments on POPVOX would also help Congressional staffers discern the critical comments, which they may want to include in their briefings with their Representative or Senator boss, or add to their official statements. This means that by "appreciating" comments, you're helping to make sure that Congressional staffers, other organizations or POPVOX users are reading the comments you think they should read in order to take more informed policy positions.
How to "appreciate"
1. From your home page find a bill you've already weighed in on (listed under "your recent comments"). Users must take a position on a bill first, before they can appreciate others' comments regarding that bill. And they can only appreciate others' comments that bolster their position. In other words, a user that support HR X may only appreciate comments in support of HR X.
This will take you to a "bill report" with a long list of comments below the country map. (You may change the geographic scope of the comments by clicking "Show All Comments" or using the drop-down menu to filter by state or Congressional district.)
3. Read through the list of comments and find one you "appreciate." Hit the "+appreciate" text just below the comment.
You'll notice that it will now say, "appreciated" with a number next to it, indicating how many times that comment was "appreciated."
Coming soon, users will have the option to view comments in order by date or by appreciation (the appreciated comments will rise to the top of the comment list).
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this new feature! Do you appreciate it? Please email me directly with feedback at rachna@POPVOX.com
No online store lets you finish your purchase before giving you a few more suggestions you might be interested in. Prompts to buy more seem pesky, just until those prompts actually get good. When I'm in a shopping state of mind, I first go to the recommendations Amazon has for me. I've been a loyal Amazon shopper for more than a decade now and they have a good idea of what I like. Netflix is famous for doing the same.
We have a similar situation when it comes to federal legislation. Americans know they want to leave comments for their Members of Congress, but they don't know which of the thousands of bills they have something to say about. That's why we're taking a lead from Amazon and Netflix in making recommendations for what you might like to comment on, based on bills you've commented on in the past.
Our system works just like Amazon's. We look at your comment history to see which bills have interested you in the past. Then we recommend similar bills. Of course the hard part is computing which bills are similar. We could compare the text of every pair of bills looking for similar words, but we don't. We could look at who is sponsoring the bills, or what subject categories the Library of Congress has assigned to the bills, but we don't do that either. Instead, we look at which bills other users have commented on. If another user leaves a comment on bills A and B, and you've left a comment on bill A, we're probably going to recommend bill B to you. So rather than doing a deep analysis of bill content, we're letting the behavior of our users guide our recommendations.
Here are five of the most "similar" bills, meaning those who commented on one tended to comment on the other. As you read through the list, if you find one bill interesting, ask yourself if you find the other bill in the same row interesting.
Some of the bills keep coming up because many individuals are weighing in on them. They're hot bills all around, regardless of what bills you've commented on in the past.
As more comments are left on POPVOX, we'll be able to provide even richer recommendations for you!
(For media inquiries, please contact Marci Harris, POPVOX’s CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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