We’ve made a few “tweaks” to GovTrack

Welcome to the start of GovTrack 2.0! This past weekend I replaced the site with a completely new GovTrack that lays the groundwork for many more years of innovation in legislative tracking.

Let me get out of the way that there are some things missing from GovTrack 2.0 that were in the old site, and if you need them you can still find them for now at http://legacy.govtrack.us, which continues to run the old site. I apologize for discontinuing some features, such as information on amendments, but with the site’s tiny budget I’m just not able to keep everything running at once. Still, please email me at operations@govtrack.us about what you want to see on the new site: Feedback helps me decide what to do next.

Why all the changes? Websites are like cars. After eight years you spend more time and money on repairs than you’d care to admit. Things started to break. Email updates and bill text were on the fritz lately. The best way to move forward was to buy the new shiny car. I started working on the new site 14 months ago, hiring more help than I’ve ever brought on in the past. While GovTrack 2.0 is no where near finished, it got to the point this weekend where it was at least as good as what we had.

There is still a lot ahead, so you can expect the kinks to be worked out over the coming weeks and more major new features added in the coming months.

Right now I’m fixing up some problems with the new site, but I’ll be writing more here about the changes we made and the new things you can already find here.

Thanks for bearing with us during this transition. Again, your feedback is important for guiding what happens next, so keep it coming.

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36 Comments

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SITE! PLEASE KEEP THIS SITE GOING! I’m trying my hardest to get more people using and see what govtrack can and will do for all of us. Keep up the GREAT work!!!!

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  2. I have been using your site to score recorded votes for a national organization. They used to be listed in order by states, which made it very easy to record and to find a specific legislator. Now they seem to be totally random, which makes it very difficult. A return to the “by state” order would be very helpful. Thank you

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  3. Change is inevitable, certainly in technology and especially on the Net.

    What would be nice is a list of what’s been discontinued permanently and/or what’s temporarily unavailable with expected return date.

    Keep up the good work.

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  4. Bill- You can sort by state by clicking the column headers on the vote pages.

    DJ- At this point, anything that was on the old site that is not on the new site isn’t specifically planned to be added. But plans change, so if there’s something you miss, let me know.

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  5. How can visitors make donations to help with expenses to keep the site up? I want to do my part to expose the corruption & hypocrisy of big gov’t and get our lives back from the strangling of regulations?

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  6. Thanks, David. We’re not in any danger of not having enough money to pay the bills. Other folks do this sort of thing on a donation model, and I much prefer to keep it simple and do what I can without asking people for money. I appreciate your interest though.

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  7. This site really helped me with finding information for the Senior 12 Social Studies public policy project.

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  8. Why are you only posting roll call voting lists alphabetically all the sudden? Who in the Hell keeps Congressional spread sheets by alphabetically listing members of Congress? You have made your data base useless to users. Typical of those trying to keep Congressional machinations secret from the public. Shame on you!

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  9. Not fond of the redo. The font size is too small, plus it’s a serif font which is harder to read than a sans-serif font. As a senior, it’s difficult for me to read even with my readers sitting on my nose.

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  10. Josh, I just found this site, Thank you for what your doing. Transparency of Government is a must, The more sites like this the people have access to, the better things will get. I am going to pass this site on to all my friends. Thanks again, Keep up the Great Work.

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  11. Vickie- I sympathize. It’s too small for me too, but designers keep telling me that smaller is comfortable for most people. No size is going to work for everyone, so I’d suggest using your web browser’s options to increase the font size.

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  12. Some bolder colors perhaps? Font is tiny, but I raise the magnification on the screen to 200% for a much easier read. Overall, it’s fine.

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  13. Just stumbled on this site tonight: Mar-23.
    Looks like a great tool. I hope I can figure
    out to how to use it easily & successfully.
    [Age = 74 … with most of my mental faculties still in tact, near as I can tell.]
    Do not know if there has ever benn or is now any kind of similar WEBsite, but the idea is fantastic and something of this nature has long been needed. Thanks for caring enough about the Good Ole USA for doing this job.!
    After I get a grip on using this site
    I will weigh in with some feed back.
    Good bye for now AND God Bless You.

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  14. I like the new look and feel. The layout is very clear. The lack of information about bill amendments is a “must fix”. I especially like the new Vote matrix layout. Excellent work overall.

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  15. Why does the site keep asking me to sign in again from a NON SECURE CONNECTION?
    Not sure I want to disable my IT protection and do that.
    Thanks.
    Your site is incredible. ‘By the people does not end at the polling station. We must stay engaged and informed….and not
    just whine! You allow us the education that goes with making the most of our
    political process.

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  16. Information on amendments was simply a email I don’t know where the cost would be except keeping up with the amendments and i thought that would be done through written programming.

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  17. Josh Traberer,

    This is a truly awful redesign.

    If you believe your so- called “designers” on how the small print is supposedly more comfortable, you are a fool. They have given you a very cluttered, cheap, and difficult to read design. Increasing the font size does NOTHING for the lack of contrast. And it does not make the print that much larger or crisper. The print is too thin, small, pale and light against the background.

    The lines of text extend way too long across the page to be read easily. Do you know WHY print newspapers and books have certain column widths ? Hint. Brain function. Eye focal length.

    The “busyness” is really appalling in the lists of how Congress voted. On my congressperson’s page, I can no longer find the “click here” link of the longer list of votes for the past year. It is no longer possible to easily cut and paste a list of how your state’s delegation voted on any vote because it is impossible to get the whole list onto the whole view easily. FAIL.

    Look at Bill Osofsky’s Mar 20th comment above. Votes are no longer sorted by state.

    I see you responded to James with a bit of sarcasm, but REALLY, who the bleep keeps Congressional data bases sorted alphabetically, instead of by state and district, then name? Not all mortals can memorize over 400 names with what state they belong to and what party they represent. I can read much faster than average…. if I can get it in focus…. if I’m having trouble, then the regular person is befuddled.

    Where’s the little maps of the USA with the red and blue colors for what parts of the state voted yes and no ? One of the best and fastest graphics on the web, and you’ve offed it. FAIL.

    I assume you are either too young to need reading glasses or bifocals, or you just couldn’t care less that now anyone over 40 is going to have difficulty with reading it. People with added vision problems are disgusted.

    My local newspaper made the mistake of doing this type of tiny print with soft colors redesign (new editor is very young, of course) and managed to cut their participation and online page views in half. Hey, if we wanted to just text message & FB “friend” each other on how really kewl & awesome our reps were, we’d be doing that, would we not ?

    You’ve reinvented the Pinto when you had a Camry.

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  18. HATE, HATE, HATE the new website!!! Not user-friendly, harder to find things – you have made things much more difficult.

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  19. Didn’t know about the old site. Glad I found GovTrack for the project I have in front of me. I will be sharing this address with my Public Policy and Social Justice Classmates.

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  20. Greetings,

    I wanted to compare the old layout to the new one. However, I can not seem to login at the legacy site.

    On a similar note. Being logged in the govtrack does not carry over to this blog.

    Thanks for all your work.

    Be well,

    Kim

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  21. Thanks, Freeman, Randi, and Penelope.

    Downunda- Everything takes time to program.

    SG- Thank you for your feedback. Please see my response to Bill above. And, I am not apologetic for being saracastic when people insult the work I and others have put into this site. I honestly couldn’t care less if I never got feedback from people who are going to be mean about it!

    Michelle- Thank you for your feedback.

    Kim- The legacy site does not know about any new accounts created on the new site (or changes to accounts). You probably can register anew at the legacy site. You’re right about the login on the blog pages — thanks for pointing that out.

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  22. Really like the new site design, only thing I miss (and you may be working on it, I know the redistricting is making it harder) is the maps for each vote.

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  23. I really do like your site. Tells me what I want to know, but what I’d like is a site that lets me know how LEGISLATURES AT ALL LEVELS are voting on each bill. I was hoping Bill Osofsy could help me on that for the state of IL as well as national.

    STeve McMahon
    mcmahon_stephen@att.net

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  24. The vote pages have now been updated to list Members of Congress by state. Thanks for everyone’s feedback on that.

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  25. Nice website I just found it today, the font maybe small for me to read, but it is accessable with screen readers…Many thanks I can find out what they are trying to pass and by the way i do not know the old site, but insalting peoples work makes them less liky to even listion to you, i will get back with feed back once i have used this website for a bit. Nice trying to keep the public informed 🙂

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  26. Hi Josh–

    Less of a reaction to the design and more of a feature request: I would love to be able to link to specific paragraph of bill text. OpenCongress does this really nicely (see http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3606/text?version=enr&nid=t0:enr:163) and for discussing aspects of a particular bill I find this to be a must-have.

    So I’ll just add that to my wish list. Otherwise, looks great — much more polished looking, makes a great first impression. (though I do agree w/ some of the other comments about readability of text in some areas).

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  27. Nick- OC does permalinking nicely because *I* did all the hard work for it. Their permalinks are a fork of the permalinks we had here until the site redesign. Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I hope to do some really cool things on bill text in the next few months, and hopefully we’ll get permalinks back.

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  28. Hi Josh, love your site – use it all the time for fact checking. Also, pass it on to people so they can check their own facts rather than perpetuating the cycle of alarming rumors.

    Just a note for those who are unhappy with the font size of the new site. Frankly I never noticed the difference. I spend a lot of time researching on the internet and have my browser permanently set to enlarge the size of the type on my screen. Comes with the territory after a certain age. The ‘rest of the world’ aren’t all ‘seniors’ or visually challenged… might as well just ‘tweak’ our own settings rather than make it someone else’s problem – that’s why computers have these features!

    Thanks for the site and all the work you do here – much appreciated!

    Judy B.

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  29. i cant get the site to work at all. what have you done with it??? nothing comes up, no subjects, etc.

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