MuckRock Release Notes: See when a proxy will be used

MuckRock Release Notes: See when a proxy will be used

Sometimes public records needs a little help from a friend

Edited by JPat Brown

A number of states allow agencies to bar “non-citizen” or out of state requesters (for a full list, check out our Place page).

We help journalists and others get around these blocks by enlisting a group of volunteers in each of those states who refile them locally, helping ensure that national transparency projects can continue relatively unimpeded. But after we redesigned our request filing tool, it became harder to see exactly when a proxy would be used.

Last week, we tweaked our filing tool to make it easier to see when which requests will use a proxy as needed.

Example proxy use notification

Currently with proxies, we do not use volunteers until at least one request is rejected from a given agency; after that, we use the proxy to refile that request as well as all other requests to that agency. Since proxy-requiring agencies often require use of a local address or a local ID, these requests tend to involve a little more back and forth than usual, and we are still evaluating better ways to handle these situations.

For previous site improvements, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes, and if you’d like to get a list of site improvements every Tuesday - along with ways to help contribute to the site’s development yourself - subscribe to our developer newsletter at the top or bottom of this page.

Come hack on MuckRock

We have a growing group of volunteer hackers helping to make MuckRock better every day. We want to make it easier to contribute, so we’re launching a new project and weekly newsletter, “Release Notes.” Register to get a summary of site updates each week, a list of issues you can help with, and details about our Code for Boston meetups.

Check out some of our issues labeled “help wanted” for ideas on where’s good to start, or just pop into our Slack’s #Developers channel.

Subscribers to the weekly newsletter get exclusive data sets, FOIA-related scripts, and other transparency hacker tidbits exclusively for subscribers. You can subscribe to to the newsletter at the top or bottom of this page.

If you want to contribute better FOIA tools for thousands of requesters, there’s a number of ways to help. If you find a bug you can email us directly or open an issue on GitHub.

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.

In addition to the new newsletter, we have a developer channel on the MuckRock Slack. You can also join us at 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 or check the newsletter. We will be at tomorrow’s meetup.

Image via Wikimedia Commons