‘Is my MP really working?’: Easy-to-use search site for parliamentary questions and answers generates buzz online

HOW DOES IT WORK

The website uses “vector embedding search”, according to confused_fresh in a comment on his post.

This means that the meaning of a search query is represented as an “embedding”, which is “smarter” than a typical keyword search.

An “embedding” converts the word into numerical data so that the results are not limited to the literal meaning of the word.

One Reddit user said he tested the website with the keyword “meow” and received results about cats.

When users enter a keyword or phrase, they will be presented with parliamentarians’ questions and their respective answers.

A graph also appears showing the number of questions on a particular topic asked over a period of time.

When TODAY entered the keyword “BTO” (built-to-order flats), it showed that 10 questions were asked on the topic on January 9, 2023.

Users can adjust the graph to limit the period of their search or by a specific government ministry.

For example, one can choose to view questions on BTO specifically from the last five years.

The questions and answers are exact copies from the official Parliament website.

At a glance, users can see who asked the question and who responded. The date and specific topic are also included.

There are also links to government websites for those interested in more details.

Users can sort their answers by relevance or date and download the results page if they wish.

When asked if the website would be updated after each session of Parliament, confused_fresh said they have a “script to pull the (Hansard) website so we can set it up to run and ingest daily.”

The website was received positively on Reddit, with many users saying they found it interesting and were curious about its potential.

One user wrote: “Can we see what users are searching for? It would be fun to see what is being queried.”