Well, we’ve made a fine mess of things. At least two different mistakes have some of our users rightly frustrated.
At the end of every Congress, the bills that were introduced in that Congress die. And at the end of each Congress, we “mothball” those bills, so that the new bills get the attention they should.
With all the conversation on some of the bills, we realized that people would want a place to continue meeting and talking. So we created petitions.
Petitions are pages that our users can create to focus on a particular issue—veterans issues, unemployment, and anything else. When you create a petition, you can create an association between the bills on your issue and the petition, so that anyone coming to a bill can find your petition! More people can get together on a petition, and a petition never dies…
A few weeks after we finally got petitions up and running—it took longer than we wanted—we put notices on many of the most popular bills about the fact that they would soon go away. (Months into the new 112th Congress, we were still displaying bills from the 111th. Kinda foolish.)
But we didn’t put notices on all the bills. We missed Public Law 111-192, for example. There was a lot of conversation going on there. Or H.R. 4183. We blogged about the fact that dead bills from the 111th Congress were going to go away, but that didn’t reach everyone, obviously.
Now here’s the big flub: When we mothball bills, there is supposed to be a message explaining what happened, in red, right at the top of the bill. Due to a simple oversight—we only do this once every two years, after all—that message didn’t go up. The result was that lots of people saw their conversations just cut off, with no explanation.
That was a big goof. We were doing our best to make the site better than ever. And now we’re fielding requests to delete accounts.
Of course, we’re honoring those requests. But we’d feel a lot better if we saw people channeling their frustration in a positive direction by creating petitions! Let those conversations continue!
We’re always learning lessons, and we’ve done so here. Our apologies go to the people we’ve frustrated. Our thanks go to the folks who have shown some flexibility and jumped from some of the mothballed bills to new ones (current popular bills: H.R. 589 and H.R. 812). We’ll be excited to see a leader from these conversations create a petition for people to use. Who that will be is up to you.