W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-opengov@w3.org > May 2013

Re: Popolo draft comments

From: James Turk <jturk@sunlightfoundation.com>
Date: Wed, 8 May 2013 21:48:44 -0400
Message-ID: <CAD12-7z0s8Y++5TmDjkMdy9EDsO8RnzCJzN3OLzyPxEV+nJ47w@mail.gmail.com>
To: Robert Cheetham <cheetham@azavea.com>
Cc: James McKinney <james@opennorth.ca>, public-opengov@w3.org
Realize I've been remiss in introducing myself to the group here.  I'm a
developer at Sunlight Foundation and the lead of our Open States project as
well as our new municipal data work.  We're planning to use popolo for our
municipal data and probably push Open States data out in this format in the
future as well.  We've begun an implementation of various pieces in our
latest work (very much a work in progress still-

In our implementation we've run into questions (and hopefully practical
answers to) many of Robert's questions, I figured it'd be helpful to share:

> * Some concept of Political Party is probably important

We're definitely adding party as a top level attribute, as well as having a
membership.  We are using memberships to show cases of party changes and
when a person is a member of the Green as well as Democratic party, but we
reserve party for their 'primary' party, the one a user would expect to be
displayed next to them.  This is probably outside the scope of popolo, but
is a practical concern and easily enough added.

 > * The current spec seems to be missing some information about the
provenance of the data - something like "last update date/time" and "last
update user" is probably the bare minimum, but a node that would provide a
place for reference citations and source information would be important

I'll defer to James M. on if it makes sense for the spec Popolo, but we're
also definitely adding this in our Python implementation.  We're using
updated_at/created_at as well as a sources dict that is a list of urls and
notes, similar to links, but we want to keep them distinct for a number of

> * Is there a way to indicate upper/lower house

We're using one organization, and a trait on the role to describe whether
or not it is lower or upper, because for most every purpose the two
chambers are really just pieces of a larger organization (since legislation
passes between them/etc. there isn't a logical distinction between the two)

> * Is there a way to record the geographic hierarchy of a legislative
body?  For example, city government is located within a state government,
which is located within a national system.
> * There is a lot of other structured information that could potentially
be captured about legislative bodies..  For example, the number of seats,
the electoral system (constituencies vs. proportional representation),
number of years between elections, election rules, inauguration rules, etc.

We're dealing with both of these, and I don't want to hijack this
conversation, but we're finding that a top level 'jurisdiction' type
(distinct from an organization) is really useful for these sorts of
attributes.  (We also create a popolo-compliant organization and link them
together, but the jurisdiction type in our system seems like the logical
place to try to represent things like the number of seats/etc.)

All in all, our use of Popolo has been pleasant and a real improvement over
how we were doing things, we're looking forward to continuing to use it and
help work through these practical considerations.

On Wed, May 8, 2013 at 9:03 PM, Robert Cheetham <cheetham@azavea.com> wrote:

> Thanks for your comments James.  I'll skip the ones you answered and only
> respond to ones where you asked questions, inline below:
> On Wed, May 8, 2013 at 4:37 PM, James McKinney <james@opennorth.ca> wrote:
>> *2.1/5.1 Person*
>>   * Email - From the sample, I can't quite tell if this will support
>> multiple email addresses for each person, but I think it's important
>> We will be restructuring contact details in such a way as to allow for
>> multiple email addresses (see below). Out of curiosity, in what situations
>> have you had multiple addresses? Was each address tied to a distinct
>> context?
> For people, we see legislators that publish email addresses for a district
> office as well as a legislature office.  At the local level, there may be
> an address that is for the district id (district7@citycouncil.gov) as
> well as the individual's email (JohnSmith@gmail.com).  It's not
> super-common but it's definitely something we see.  The more common
> situation today is the contact form (a URL) as well as an email address.
>  By putting a contact form URL in Links, that situation would be reduced in
> number.
>>  * Some concept of Political Party is probably important
>> Couldn't you use Organization for that?
> I hadn't thought about using Organization = Democratic Party and then
> making the person a member of the party.  However, there will still be
> situations in which the person is independent (without being a member of
> the Independent Party) and the consumer would probably want to know that.
>>  * Is there a way to support judicial and executive offices?
>> Yes, through the Post class.
> I'm not sure I understand how this would work, but since Post and
> Membership are being re-worked, perhaps it will be clearer.
>>  * There is a lot of other structured information that could potentially
>> be captured about legislative bodies..  For example, the number of seats,
>> the electoral system (constituencies vs. proportional representation),
>> number of years between elections, election rules, inauguration rules, etc.
>> The number of seats is communicated by using the Post class to define
>> each seat.
> Can a Post be vacant?  It seems like it might be possible based on your
> comments below.
>> If you can point to a controlled vocabulary for electoral systems, I
>> would be happy to recommend it. As for the other properties, I am not
>> familiar with systems with such properties. If you can point to some
>> examples (or preferably some existing standards), that will help us choose
>> a property that fits with the most existing implementations. Otherwise, for
>> now, those properties are left to each implementation to define. Our
>> priority is to cover the highest demand, most common properties.
> Unfortunately, I don't know of a controlled vocabulary apart from the
> election types and parliament types that Wikipedia uses for voting systems (
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system) but I suspect that some
> bright political science person has developed a controlled vocabulary.
> Best,
> Robert
Received on Thursday, 9 May 2013 14:34:06 UTC

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