MuckRock Release Notes: Help test our new request composer

MuckRock Release Notes: Help test our new request composer

Get a sneak peek by helping us beta test our new ways to file and track FOIA requests

Edited by JPat Brown

For past site updates, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes, and to learn how to contribute - whether with code of your own, feature ideas, or bug reports - read below.

MuckRock’s request tool last had a major overhaul in 2014. It was a huge step forward, making the process mobile friendly, dropping from roughly five steps to just two, and letting users build off each other’s work with the clone feature.

Here’s what it used to look like (well, one of those roughly five stages):

Screenshot of MuckRock's old request filing tool

For the past month, we’ve been working hard on figuring out where it should go next. A few goals we have in mind:

  • Combine the multirequest tool into our main filing view.
  • Drop from two pages to draft a request to just one, with the ability to cancel or fix a request if you need to make changes (no more needing to email when you notice a typo right after filing!).
  • More flexibility in how you word your multirequests when filing across jurisdictions.
  • Let you file multirequests with agencies that aren’t in our database yet.

We have a few ideas we’re really exciting about, but we also know that getting it right from the start matters a lot. We’d love your help trialing the new tool. If you’d be willing to spend 20 or so minutes, send us an email, drop us a line on the MuckRock Slack, or stop by during a Code for Boston Hack Night.

Thanks for all the users who have provided feedback and ideas; we’re excited to incorporate them in the next iteration of our filing tool.

Come hack on MuckRock

Beyond testing our latest filing tool, are lots of other ways to contribute. If you find a bug you can email us directly or open an issue.

If you do the latter, please search open issues first to make sure it hasn’t already been reported. If it has been reported previously, please leave an additional comment letting us know it’s an issue for you, particularly if you can provide more details about when it crops up or what you think is causing the problem.

For those who want to contribute design, code, or otherwise more directly to the site, we have a developer channel on the MuckRock Slack. We’re also part of Code for Boston’s weekly hack nights, which take place Tuesday evenings in Kendall Square. We might not make it to every one of them, so if you want to meet up there it’s a good idea to check in on Slack first. We will be at tomorrow’s event, barring any last-minute emergencies.

In particular, we’re looking for designers who are interested in helping us find ways to make all of our tools and data more accessible and more fun to use. We’ve got a relatively simple front end stack, so if you’re interested in helping hundreds of thousands of people better understand public records and the importance of transparency, please get in touch!

Image via Wikimedia Commons