User talk:Abou Ben Adhem

From dKosopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Your contributions to DailyKos:tag cleanup are notable and hopefully everyone will start to move in that direction.

However if we have bad page names in dKosopedia itself they quickly propagate to DailyKos so it becomes really important to follow every wiki best practice in all names.

You're now a sysop. -- Centerfielder 05:56, 22 November 2006 (PST)

Cool, thanks! --Abou Ben Adhem 07:03, 22 November 2006 (PST)


House intelligence oversight committee

Abou, FYI, the Wall Street Journal this morning has an article about this new committee that Pelosi is proposing: Pelosi Plans Panel to Oversee Spy-Agency Funds 'Hybrid' Committee Spans Oversight and Budget Work, Fulfilling 9/11 Panel's Call. Keep up the good work! --Jbet777 06:07, 14 December 2006 (PST)

From what I've read so far, I can't tell if this committee would replace the existing Intelligence Oversight Committee, or if that committee would still exist. I'm guessing the former, but I want to be sure before I change anything. Thanks for the heads up! —Abou Ben Adhem 14:50, 14 December 2006 (PST)

Bill Numbering Scheme & Templates

Heya, yeah I wasn't 100% locked in on the nameing convetion but your idea of using a script sounds promising, Would it just creat a namspace stub (i.e. basically a blanck page with a stub boilerplate saying "add the content for this bill/legisaltion/etc."...? I had created that stub just as placeholder basically to use to begin to set up a framework for tracking daily that activities form the floor and hopefully set it up a way to be a seamless path towards the relevant cotnent from the Congressional Committees Project for the Committee section of things.

As for using the version history as a way to check difffernece between versions of a bill (or bills) is somethign I had a thought about to. Would be a great way to see what things happen in joint conference particualrly. Would be a great tool for going back over the crap the 109th Congress was pulling on us, sometimes crafting whole parts of legislation in the JC and not even letting the Dems read the bill before callng for up and downs on the JC reported version. So using version history as a "spot the difference between bills" was a notiong I was pondering and heartend to hear that others are thinking about that as well.

Yeah it SUCKS about the parameter functionality being hosed on this version of wiki. I first toyed with the paraeter template stuff back when the "orange" version of dKospedia was up. When it switched over to the "blue" version I wasn't doing much here at the time (took a break for other things) and was hoping the "blue" dKospedia version was finally allowing it. Without it, it is going to be KILLING me in capturing daily activities in summary articles and supporting Congressional Record articles, copy and pasting whole box code and customzing them by hand. A pain in the ass frankely when each day I'd be looking at pushing close to double-digit "boxs" for the various daily articles. (wry grin)

Don't want to be pushy to centerfield or anyone, but anything we can do to expedite that the better. I would anticipate much of the looming work on the Committee project will be made ghoulish as well.

BTW, any feedback on the finally somewhat ordered structure for tracking floor action daily would be more than welcome from my side of the monitor. I have some pretty large ideas about it, inspired a great deal by the House Digest blog and the Committeee Project.

Large Idea

I envision a big beast of a framework to get in place, but if doen the way I am thinking (and if we can get a critical mass of actually dedicated handful of people trackign it daily... we can finally really start to capture, and presnet in layperson usable sturcture and user-experience so as to make it easy to follow and drill-down as deep as you can in full-context. But not just down, but laterially and back up through the content.

What I am envisioning is not amost a resurant menu collection of links but rather more a striaghtforward written narrative, using hypertext like it was orginally intended... WITHIN the narrative cotnent. The narrative structure not being that of a huge lengthy article, but the articles cotnent compsed as a single narrative through the articles. So the main "narrative" if you will would be; coming from the front page, drill-down "main" path:

  • Legislative Branch (top level overview of what the legislative branch does in "plain english" )
    • Congress (more specifc cotnent building on the same narrative about Congress specifically, how it is set-up and what it is does, again in "plain english"
      • 110th Congress, i.e. this Congress (a high-lelver summary overview about what this Congress is and has done as a continuation of the same "narrative" that is being built up as you go through deeper and deeper)
        • 110th Congress (January 4, 2007) (summary of what occured in ALL of Congress "that day" in the same layman's level and within the building up narrative taking place, this would also be where joint committee portions of the narrative would go)
          • Senate - January 8, 2007 (summary of what occurred in that chamber and its Committees "that day" in the same layman's level and within the narrative emerging)

It seems Herculean, but once the framework is in place, the content can be captured and generated without too much pain if a few dedicated people commit to pulling the Congressional Record (CR) for the floor (and the various records of what occurred in the committees in the CR. And doing the daily summary article based on a reading of the CR for the two chambers. Then the rest can be condensed down and populate back up in ever reducig level of detail iinto the already existing narrative.

With robust tagging and category usage, and peppering + hyperlinking as much as possible within the narrative content on each page back up through the articles this could grow organically into a VERY accessible resource. The key is getting the structure in place and working out a best practices on maintaining and adding it each day there is activities, we can (with luck and a lot of calls for help at Daily Kos) get a core group to "adopt" a member of Congress (MOC), sort of like what the potential for the Congressional Committees Project seems to hold, and all they would need to do is know to read the daily CR here form our version, and the summary thereof generated, and they would be able to summarize "their" MOC's article. Because it would all be there and because we here in dKospedia have the power to control how we weave the interconnected linkage and narrative together, it can all grow organically but WITH context and most importantly, capturing that context out into larger tapestry of data/news points which is what is so lacking and gets so lost.

In a sense, I see this as a sort of blend of blogging and wikipedia in a way. But unlike regular blogging, this is blogging into that tapestry that is cotnextually interlinked and "retained" and simple expands and makes the disparate chunks of content and info accessable and in context.

Well, I have prattled on quite a bit here, but I have been doing some real deep thinking on this for some time now and I have been really excited and inspired by both the US House Digest, and the Committee Project and how blending those sorts of approaches could have some really meaningful results. Lestatdelc 05:25, 14 January 2007 (PST)

The Next Step

Abou, today's DNS troubles have reminded me that I really need to upgrade the wiki software. I'd like to get to the most recent version (1.9.x) and, like I think I told you before, this requires that I get on a php5 box, so it'll be next week at the earliest. You requested that the semantic wiki extension be installed, and I'll gladly do that, but this gave me pause. Could you check it out please, and make sure that we don't upgrade ourselves out of being able to run semantic wiki. Thanks. Also, after the upgrade there are other things I could do to help CCP out. Do you want to be able to upload .pdf files? Are you a programmer, and if so, do you want to be able to code up certain functionality, bills in xml format => dKp, or bill differences separate from the wiki but still under the CCP umbrella. Should we discuss a subdomain ( or such) which contains an interwiki with dKosopedia, as well as other useful monitoring functionality. Let me know; I think the CCP is a huge step forward for the progressive community, and I'd like to leverage the existing technology as much as I can. (BTW, the "adopt-a-Congresscritter" idea is brilliant. See if you can get two per.) -- Centerfielder 16:42, 8 February 2007 (PST)

Regarding the post you linked to -- I can't figure out what Markus means by "backporting" in relation to upgrading to PHP5. But if you're worried about SMW's continued compatibility with future versions of MediaWiki, they've stayed pretty closely in sync for at least the last year or so that I've been following it. And it looks like they're already testing compatibility with MediaWiki 1.10.x. The rest of Markus' post is accurate -- SMW doesn't affect existing DB tables, and only has a minimal impact on the rest of a MediaWiki installation. It shouldn't be hard to uninstall if there are compatibility problems down the road (although pages with semantic markup would need to be re-edited).
As to other potential improvements that could benefit CCP, I'll have to ask around on the Yahoo group. (I think I remember Simonf discussing some scripts he had in mind, but I forget the details.) I've been using an XSL template to periodically convert and import bill info from, but I'm not sure that's the best approach for a fully automated solution. Converting RSS feeds from might be a better way to go, if you know of a good approach for that kind of thing. —Abou Ben Adhem 22:05, 8 February 2007 (PST)

Is there anyway some tweaks to the CSS can be done to allow the "blockquote" html tag, or the wiki colon indenting syntax, not default to the unreadable courier fixed-width font, and make it into a similar style blockquote box that is in DKos itself (i.e. with very light grey bordered box)? This would help the formating and readability of the excerpted Congressional Records pages I have been working on as well as several pages on some Senators and Congressmen. Lestatdelc 18:35, 9 February 2007 (PST)
Hmmm, I'm not sure about the courier problem -- that sounds like what happens if you have leading spaces at the start of a paragraph, which causes the paragraph to be interpreted as pre-formatted code.
You should be able to make a blockquote with a normal font and custom inline css like this.
(Or you could put the styles in a template for inclusion inside your blockquote tags, if you want to be able to modify all your quotations at once.)
If you really want to edit the default sitewide css (and you have sysop privileges), you can edit MediaWiki:monobook.css. But I'd check with Centerfielder before you make any changes there. —Abou Ben Adhem 20:09, 9 February 2007 (PST)
Thanks for the tips/suggestions. I would hope that Centerfield would want to tackle making an edit to the css site wide for this, so we don't have to have extra code in all the pages, etc. to do this. But you point out a decent set of workarounds in the interim. Lestatdelc 22:01, 11 February 2007 (PST)
Well, let's test it out:
This is a blockquote
and this is code

--Centerfielder 04:52, 12 February 2007 (PST)

A note about bill page naming

Abou, I saw your comment about bill pages (e.g., H.R. 811-110 rather than H.R.811). Your stub for H.R. 811-110 looks fantastic. I'm happy to abide by any page naming conventions, including spacing. However, it would not have been intuitively obvious to me what "-110" meant without your explanation. It also strikes me that if there were, say, a bill numbered "H.R. 109", "H.R. 109-110" might be confusing. What do you think of, e.g., "H.R. 811-110th"? Of course, even if you like the idea of the ordinal suffix, it may not make sense to change pages if there are already lots of them. I tried to determine how many pages already exist that begin with "H.R." but couldn't figure out a good way to perform the search. AlanF 16:07, 11 February 2007 (PST)

There should be an existing page for every bill listed on Thomas as of the 7th -- I can't think of an easy way to move them all en masse. We had a discussion on the Congressional Committees Project mailing list about what the best bill-naming convention should be, taking into account usage on thomas, govtrack, and other sites; the current format is what was settled on. I have been making redirects in the format of H.R.811-110 (without a space); I can adjust my template so it also makes redirects in the format you describe. I had thought about also making redirects without the congress number (like the pages you've been making), but those should really be disambiguation pages instead of redirects. —Abou Ben Adhem 16:31, 11 February 2007 (PST)
I have been excerpting subtantive debate from the Congressional records (i.e. none of the speechifying about naming the post office in Des Moines Iowa after some obscure public figure from the 50s), and using the format with the spaces and periods (even though I think they aesthetically are fulgy) makes it much easier to link references in floor speeches to the corresponding article on the bill, resolution, etc. because it is simply a matter of bracketing it and tacking the -110 at the end. Just my 2/100ths of a greenback. Lestatdelc 21:58, 11 February 2007 (PST)
You mean like H. R. 811-110? Would it make it easier if I added redirects in that format as well? —Abou Ben Adhem 22:15, 11 February 2007 (PST)
I vote that they should not be disambiguation pages unless and until there's something to disambiguate from. Otherwise, a user adding such a page would have to write something like "H.R. 811 (disambiguation) -- H.R. 811 is most often used to refer to H.R. 811 in the 110th Congress, and there may be another such bill in an older Congress, but I don't know about it." Alternatively, we'd have to search for any such bills, which would be a real killer. By the way, do we support the "dablink" template (with the double braces around it) that Wikipedia help mentions at Disambiguation and redirection templates? AlanF 10:00, 19 February 2007 (PST)
If I understand it correctly, you're saying that it wouldn't be difficult for you to automatically produce redirect pages with ordinal suffixes (e.g., "H.R.811-110th"), in addition to the form that Lestatdelc wanted. If so, I would vote for both. AlanF 10:05, 19 February 2007 (PST)
I've added redirects with ordinals for all new bills after H.R. 866-110th, and I'll add redirects for other formats as well. Judging from Centerfielder's comment above, dKosopedia may be due for a site upgrade soon; I'll probably do a more thorough rewrite of the bill templates at that time to take advantage of new features. —Abou Ben Adhem 19:44, 19 February 2007 (PST)

I was confused by the fact that a search for "House Bills" came up short. Eventually, I figured out that there is a "House Bills" category but no "House Bills" page. If I wanted to see the House bills, I needed to start from a bill I knew about, then click on its "House Bills" category link. Then, to find the "Senate Bills" page, I had to substitute "Senate" for "House" in the URL. Is there a way that we could (1) have searches for phrases match category pages as well as titles and/or (2) automatically create "real" pages corresponding to the category pages? Thanks. AlanF 10:00, 19 February 2007 (PST)

(1) If you go to the "search" section of your preferences, you can check which namespaces you'd like to be searched by default. Check the "Category" option to have searches return results from categories in addition to articles. (You can do this on a one-time basis by doing the same thing on the search page.) (2) As far as I know, there's currently no way to make a page in the main article namespace with the properties of a category page (i.e., one that contains an automatically updated list of all articles of a certain type). This may change after the site update; I'm hoping the upgrade will include Semantic MediaWiki, which does enable this feature. —Abou Ben Adhem 20:10, 19 February 2007 (PST)
Ah, that works great! Thanks! -AlanF 05:53, 20 February 2007 (PST)

I've noticed that the "search" and "go" functions now seem to be case-insensitive now. I'm pretty sure they didn't used to be, so this is a very helpful improvement. Will the upgrade will allow searches on character sequences, not just whitespace-separated words? In other words, will a search catch "H.R. 811" if a page "H.R.811" exists (even if there's no redirect page)? That would be a major plus. -AlanF 05:53, 20 February 2007 (PST)

I don't really know much about what search improvements there might be in the newer versions of MediaWiki; but Wikipedia (currently using MediaWiki 1.10) does seem to handle searches like that. One other thing that might be contributing to your search trouble, though, is that the bulk-import method I've been using to get bill info into dKosopedia doesn't update the search database with the new pages until someone makes a subsequent edit to them. —Abou Ben Adhem 07:14, 20 February 2007 (PST)

Copied your template

Hey there,

Just wanted to let you know I copied your Template:HouseCommitteeInfo under the GFDL. I'm using it at Congresspedia: Great work!--Conor Kenny 09:51, 8 March 2007 (PST)

Great, thanks! Hopefully using similar templates will help people who use both sites. (It's a pretty basic template, though; I'm hoping to improve it after the upcoming site upgrade enables more features.) —Abou Ben Adhem 10:23, 8 March 2007 (PST)

Keeping pace with bills

Someone recently wrote a Daily Kos diary about H. Res. 333, Kucinich's bill to impeach Cheney. I wanted to link to the corresponding dKosopedia page, but couldn't find any. An ignorant question: is "H. Res. 333" the same thing as "H.R. 333"? If it is, shouldn't there be a page H.R. 333-110?

Also, I found it harder than it needed to be to find a list of these bills, which is pretty important information. How should we link to it on the front page? One way would be to have a link to "Categories: House Bills", but I'm not sure that's best. Maybe we could have a page called House Bills with some introductory information (which you would be better able to provide than anyone else), and that page could contain a link to "Categories: House Bills". What are your thoughts? - AlanF 09:07, 12 May 2007 (PDT)

The page for Kucinich's bill is H.Res. 333-110. I just imported it from THOMAS earlier this week, so depending on when you tried to link to it, it may not have been up yet. If you want to link to it by a different name, go ahead and add a redirect. (H. Res. 333 isn't the same thing as H.R. 333, though—the former is a House Resolution, while the latter is a House Bill. The 'H.R.' in the latter case stands for 'House of Representatives' instead of 'House Resolution'.)
Once the long-awaited site upgrade goes into effect, the Semantic MediaWiki plugin should allow pages to have auto-generated lists—like a list of all bills, a list of bills by a particular legislator, a list of bills for a particular committee, etc. I hope to add a lot of that sort of thing after the upgrade. —Abou Ben Adhem 00:27, 13 May 2007 (PDT)
I'm shooting for next Sunday. --Centerfielder 06:35, 13 May 2007 (PDT)
Okay, thanks to both of you. - AlanF 09:33, 13 May 2007 (PDT)

Any update on this? I'm also looking for a page on H.R. 3302 (Hinchey's Media Ownership Reform Act). - AlanF 20:52, 17 May 2007 (PDT)

That bill was from the 109th Congress; I've only been importing bills from the 110th. But I just went back and got House Bills 3301-3400 from the 109th, so your bill should be at H.R. 3302-109 now. —Abou Ben Adhem 21:17, 17 May 2007 (PDT)
Oh, you're right. Thanks for setting up the page in any case. - AlanF 06:12, 18 May 2007 (PDT)

I tried to clone S.1487-110 from another Senate bill page. Some of it worked, some of it didn't. Could you please take a look? Thanks! - AlanF 06:10, 6 June 2007 (PDT)

OK, I just did a fresh update; the page for that bill is at S. 1487-110 now. The titles of the pages I've been importing have spaces before the bill numbers, though I've also been putting redirects for space-less titles (like yours). The update I just made automatically inserted a redirect into the page history of S.1487-110 before your edits; I "reverted" to that version and moved your edits to the imported page. —Abou Ben Adhem 21:07, 6 June 2007 (PDT)
Okay, thanks! - AlanF 06:04, 7 June 2007 (PDT)
Personal tools