Video archive of the US Congress

Help:Participation Quickstart


Annotation Guide


One of the core problems that Metavid faces stems from the breadth of our archive. We only have a few years of proceedings, but that still means several thousand hours of video. Some of it is quite fascinating, but must of it isn't. Cutting through the haystacks of thick procedural language to find that needle of intense debate can be tough.

Our solution to this problem is metadata. We get some metadata during our capture process. We know what's being said and (usually) who's saying it. But there's a lot more information that could be used to make the archive much more useful -- much more searchable. One way you can help out is by tagging speeches with bills and categories.

We want to make it easier for people to find videos they're most interested in watching, so we need you to help add and/or edit the name of bills in the videos you're watching, what people in the video are saying, etc.

People usually search for videos by bill title, category and speakers, so it's very important that every video have this information attached to it. Unfortunately, we don't get this information automatically, yet it's most often the way that people will search for bills -- so we make it easy for you to add this info.

Remember, you must be registered and logged in to annotate speeches, edit transcripts.

Finding videos to tag

Every video needs your help, but there are thousands of hours of speeches. Where to start? We recommend finding a speech that's interesting to you (it will make this feel a bit less like work :P ), and there are a few ways to do that.

  1. Do a search for your own Representative, or one of the Senators for your State.
  2. The Recent Streams page lists out recently added streams. Chances are, these haven't been tagged yet.
  3. Try searching by phrase. Even seemingly random words like "peanut butter" or "pineapple" can land you in the middle of a heated debate about Habeus Corpus rights or the federal marriage amendment.

Once you've clicked on a video, you'll find that it has information displayed to the right of the video -- this is what you can edit. You can watch the video to find out what bill they're discussing and get the gist of the speech. Once you're finished, you can use the blue arrows near to top of the page, or the Next and Previous speech buttons, to find another speech on the same day.

Add a related bill and categories.

The first box (and sometimes the second) to the right of the video is usually an annotation layer describing the speech; it's grey and shows the name of the person making the speech.

An annotation layer

Click on the edit link of the speech box to add the title for whatever bill is being discussed. Next, add a few related words or categories that explain what the bill or speech is all about (like enviroment, taxes, surplus, stimulus, opening prayer, procedural standoff, et cetera) and click the red plus button. Feel free to fox anything else that's wrong in the box too -- sometimes the name will be incorrect or missing. You can also (optionally) add a short description of the speech (the example image contains a link to the topic of the bill on wikipedia). Click on the "Save Changes" button when you're finished.

An annotation layer being edited

Clean up the transcripts

Transcripts are transcribed live, so are prone to mistakes. Watch the video, the transcript will scroll in time with the video. Whatever is at the top of the transcript sidebar is what is being said in the video.

A transcript layer.

Transcripts get added as unformatted text, and often with misspelled names and typographical errors. There is also a natural latency with live transcription, so that the text may lag behind the video by up to 15 or so seconds. If there's a debate that's particularly important to you, you may want to help clean it up (especially if you intend on embedding it in your blog). [this Metavid stream] is a good illustration of 'before & after', with transcripts being cleaned up at around the 57 minute mark.

If you see a mistake between what is being said and what is written, click on the edit link. A box will appear with the current text and you can click on any of it to change it. Make the correction and click "Save Changes".

A transcript layer being edited.

Another big problem that sometimes happens is that there are multiple speeches for the same person (this happens because speeches get added based on who is speaking, sometimes double or triple times). If you find some split speeches like this, you can extend the endtime of the first one to cover the whole speech, and then delete the others, just drag the time knob to the end.

The more you watch and edit, the more others can watch and find what they're looking for.

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