MuckRock Release Notes: Stopping problems before they start

MuckRock Release Notes: Stopping problems before they start

More help for new users, plus how you can help MuckRock

Edited by JPat Brown

Last week was pretty quiet as far as new features pushed as we gear up for some bigger projects. That said, MuckRock can take a little getting used to, so we’ve added a new tool that tries to help make it easier.

For previous site improvements, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes.

What’s new on MuckRock

Making it clearer you shouldn’t include your own email

For every MuckRock request that gets filed, we create a unique email address and physical address dedicated to just that request. That means that when you file, you should not include your own address or email for the agency to respond to.

Occasionally users have included their own information because that’s what they’re used to, which ends up confusing the agency and occasionally getting requests out of sync. We’re testing a new feature that double checks if a user includes an email address, and if so pops up a warning like this:

It only appears on the first request a user files, so if you’re reading this there’s a very good chance you’ll never see it, but we’re hoping to roll out a number of tweaks like this in the coming months to make getting up and running with MuckRock even smoother.

Help build a better MuckRock

MuckRock and FOIA Machine are 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 don’t 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