DevSummit07:Email Deliverability and Open Legislative Databases

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Facilitated by Chris Lundberg, DemocracyInAction and Greg Elin of the Sunlight Foundation

A substantial percentage of nonprofit-related software applications count on the ability to send email in order to deliver their functionality. But as the spam problem continues to mushroom, service providers, email services and even infrastructure players erect more Draconian spam filters. As a result, getting nonprofit-related email gets harder by the day, as requirements for deliverability morph on a domain-by-domain and header-field-by-header-field basis.

Chris explained his take on the "long tail of deliverability" and recounted DIA challenges in the delivery arena. He explained the need to get white-listed with the big providers like Hotmail, AOL, Google, Yahoo. You will stay on white list if you follow their rules. More difficult to follow rules of all the medium and smaller providers. Its impossible to contact all small providers in order to follow their rules which is why its important to stay off of spam lists. Monitor all the blacklists. If you redo IP addresses you have to redo the whole process. Some providers do not tell you they have blocked you. You only know is if someone says they did not receive your email. You can check your click through rates for large providers.

Solutions for the broken email issue: - Good Link - paying to send email. DIA rejected this. - Bonding system whereby a spam takes an amount from the bond. DIA particpates in this.

Contacting Congress has challenges since legislators get real email that they inadvertantly think is spam.

U.S. theopenhouseproject.com govtrack.us opencongress.org LgDB.com washingtonwatch.com maplight.org - only in CA but Sunlight looking at expanding nationally followthemoney.org - tracks money at the state level sunlightlabs.com - has list of other sites and APIs

Canada: civicaccess.ca visiblepolitics.org

What do we want from an open legislative database?

  • Tracking Pending Legislation
  • Federal & Local (put in zip code)
  • Associated CRS report (open CRS) (no secrets)
  • Subscribe to a couple bills
  • Pull bills onto site
  • Associated span links
  • Orgs working on legislation at state level
  • Lay person explanation
  • History of the bill - legislative intent
  • Follow the money - authorship of the bill and earmarks
  • Friendster network for annotations
  • Slashdot model - promoting components
  • RSS for comments
  • Teams annotating bills.

Multiple bills may be modifying the U.S. Code at the same time. And its hard to get a hold of the current U.S. Code.

Is one database a good idea?

What do we want?

  • Subversion
  • Standardized data feeds
  • International
  • Easy version
  • Hide-able Annotations (slashdot)
  • State, Federal & Intl

"The Contest" - who can produce an app that does everything we want? $100K prize.