MuckRock Release Notes: Multiple tracking numbers

MuckRock Release Notes: Multiple tracking numbers

Plus new tools that make it easier for us to help

Edited by JPat Brown

Last week was a relatively quiet week when it came to user-facing features, but we’ve closed one issue that was open for more than three years: Keeping tabs on multiple tracking numbers on a single request.

Here’s what’s new at MuckRock (and FOIA Machine!) and how you can help keep us improving. For past site updates, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes.

What’s new on MuckRock

Better handling of changing tracking numbers

In an ideal world, when an agency receives a request it should apply a tracking number and that should stay the tracking number forever. But in the real world, tracking numbers change and evolve for all sorts of reasons: A request might be forwarded on to different components or entirely different agencies; a user may appeal; a request might get closed and then re-opened with a new tracking number.

Historically, we’ve only held on to the most recent tracking number for a given request, but this sometimes caused confusion as things bounced around. We’re still working to fully map just how complex requests can get, and adding support for multiple tracking numbers is a part of that process. Now, if a request gets a second (or third, or fourth) tracking number, we’ll make that the primary number, but continue to show the rest on the request page in case you need to reference them.

We’re also looking at rolling out allowing users to add tracking numbers directly when we don’t capture them, but in the meantime if you use the “Get Help” button you can just paste in the tracking number and ask us to add it and we’ll get it added to the page ASAP.

Help build a better MuckRock

MuckRock is open source. That means anyone can freely inspect, modify, and reuse our code, and it also means you can help us continue to improve the sites (they’re actually built on the same codebase!). Open issues are all listed on GitHub. 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.

Image via Wikimedia Commons