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Help us debug the Legal Bug Tracker

Law.gov, Media Bugs, O'ReillyCalling all law librarians and law geeks! We’re pleased to announce that the Legal Bug Tracker is now available for your use at bugs.resource.org.

The Law.Gov movement identified 10 core principles for the dissemination of primary legal materials in the United States. If you find a jurisdiction that violates one of those principles, you can enter in a bug report. The code for the bug tracker is open source and we have a bug tracker for the bug tracker so you can help us get this ready for production.

The legal bug tracker is a classic open source story. We started with the Media Bugs code base developed by Scott Rosenberg and his team, the winners of a Knight News Challenge award. Media Bugs, in turn, is built on an open source toolkit called PeoplePods.

Thanks to Karl Fogel of Subversion fame and the generous contribution of his employer, O’Reilly Media, the basic Media Bugs code base was extensively reworked and repurposed to be adapted for the National Inventory of Legal Materials. Karl did some serious heavy lifting on this code, and all his mods are open source. Point.B Studio applied the Law.Gov design magic to the software.

We’re now calling on the legal community to help us figure out which jurisdictions need help. Erika V. Wayne of Stanford Law School, who has led the National Inventory of Legal Materials effort and helped us test the initial software, has already entered in an initial set of bugs. The venerable American Association of Law Libraries has played a key role in the National Inventory and we’re hoping their active and committed membership participate in this bug tracker.

Once bugs are entered, we’re trying accomplish two followon actions:

  • Provide reports on the bug tracker so the media and relevant officials can see how many bugs their in their area and neighboring areas. We think if we can demonstrate that one state does much better than another, that will be newsworthy and a motivator.
  • As bugs get entered and developed, we’re going to send letters to the relevant jurisdiction calling to their attention the violation of Best Current Practices and any Recommended Corrective Actions. If no response is received, Second Notices and then Third and Final Notices will be transmitted in the hope of providing motivation. Needless to say, we will followup with phone calls and offers to come in and chat and help the clerks and reporters understand how they can make their systems more relevant to the publics they serve.

This alpha code is the result of a tremendous amount of work by Karl Fogel and a very generous donation by O’Reilly Media to support his time. The Law.Gov community is very appreciative of this contribution!

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