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Permanent Links For US Legislation Documents 42

dizzymslizzy writes "With prompting from the Sunlight Foundation's Open House Project, the US Library of Congress announced today that its online database THOMAS will now generate persistent URLs, known as legislative handles, for legislation documents. As Free Government Info says, 'it is certainly nice to be able to link to legislation with a persistent link! But it would be much better if one could click to create a link rather than following a 600-word description of how to link on another page.' Still, this is a definite step forward for the Library of Congress and for government transparency. From THOMAS: 'Legislative Handles are a new persistent URL service for creating links to legislative documents from the THOMAS web site ( With a simple syntax, Legislative Handles make it easy to type in legislative links to bibliographies, reference guides, emails, blogs, or web pages. Legislative Handles, for instance,, are a convenient way to cite legislation.'
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Permanent Links For US Legislation Documents

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  • Nice - you should be able to setup a Firefox keyword search for anything you want from there!


  • by yoha ( 249396 ) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:18PM (#25322677)

    That website is one of the hardest to use. One of the biggest faults is that there is no differentiation in the search results between major and minor efforts. Try these three searches and you'll see how difficult it is to use: []

    1. Find the No Child Left Behind Act

    2. Find the roll call of the recent Wall Street bail-out

    3. Find HR 700 from the 103rd Congress (this should presumably be the easiest since you have the "key")

    It's almost as if they do not want you to read it.

  • by 1_brown_mouse ( 160511 ) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:44PM (#25322843)

    But they seem less convoluted and actually make an effort for you to find them easily.

    They are used extensively for academic publishing content.

  • by Ortega-Starfire ( 930563 ) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:52PM (#25322907) Journal
    Like the rest of the world does.
  • It's time for the government to implement some documentation upgrades.

    With open-source collaborations, the code has to be easily accessible and clearly documented if you have any hope of bringing new contributors up to speed. Dense projects with bad documentation fail.

    A member of the public that wants to research existing law and proposed changes has no effective tools on hand. This THOMAS thing is a joke compared to other documentation search systems.

    I don't have to get a doctorate in computer s
  • About damn time! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stalin ( 13415 ) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @09:54PM (#25323359)

    Creating THOMAS links in the past was ridiculously complex. You essentially had to craft a search query that would go directly to the document you wanted to like. E.G. [].

    Whereas if you tried to use the link from THOMAS' search results, you would get something like []. Of course, this link is time limited and it isn't at all clear how you would construct the permanent link. [] is much easier to construct and is somewhat clear. Now if only they would provide the link in the THOMAS search results.

  • by khafre ( 140356 ) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @10:42PM (#25323641)

    This is a bit off topic, but I'm surprised how fast and loose congress is with the laws of this country in general. I hope that, within my lifetime, no change to the law is committed to the books without some kind of documentation, a diff if you will, complete with names of everyone who worked on a change, be it a lawmaker or lobbyist. If someone amended a bill, it should be tracked and tied with the name of the person who added the amendment. How come companies can be so strict with the source code of their revenue-generating products, yet we can't provide the same controls on the laws that govern the United States?

    • by Ortega-Starfire ( 930563 ) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @11:28PM (#25323885) Journal

      Wikipedia for the US congress? Now that could be funny.

      Rejected by Supreme court. [Citation needed for proof of constitutionality.]

      Repassed congress and house. [It's for the children, damn the constitution.]

      Veto by president. [Screw you.]

      Veto ruled unconstitutional by judicial review. [Screw you too.]

    • Thomas is an external front end to the Congressional bill management system. The actual bill source is maintained within the back end system that Thomas queries. It's a web front end to a legacy database system, which is why it didn't have stable URLs. It's a bit painful to use because it has nothing like PageRank to move the "important" stuff to the top of results. But that's as it should be, because you don't want your source code control system deciding what's "important".

    • by Andurin ( 653272 )
      The Sunlight Foundation recently launched a project called Public Markup [] that is a model for allowing citizens to comment on legislation. There are also [] and [], both aimed at putting more information into the hands of citizens, and allowing them to participate more directly, in the lawmaking process.
  • I swear that what I read the first time I saw the title and then it got me thinking wouldn't that be a cool idea? Instead of us geeks having to find our own lobbyist we could just use distributed funding to pay for the laws that we want. Kind of like community special interest pressure.

  • URGENT DANGER! PLEASE PROPAGATE! Legislation in the U.S. is Meaningless- We are exposing their crimes-they are trying to MURDER MY MOTHER AND I IN CANADA for our efforts. Look to RNC and removal of 4th/ 1st Amendments. Laws are meant for the government to impose tyranny not for them to follow. Legislation is illusion and fallacy. My mother and I know- there have been 15 attempts on our lives. OUR WEBSITE AARONJAMESSORY.COM JUST REMOVED BY GOVERNMENT TO OCCLUDE KIDNAPPING/MURDER ATTEMPTS UPON US IN CANADA

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.