MuckRock Release Notes: We want your help testing a new way to analyze documents

MuckRock Release Notes: We want your help testing a new way to analyze documents

Our newest tool is almost ready to launch. Help us test it soon!

Edited by JPat Brown

Last week we didn’t launch any new user-facing features, but we’re almost ready to share a big one. Please us know if you have piles of PDFs that need analyzing.

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

What’s new on MuckRock

A new tool to help crowdsource data cleanup and extraction

Sometimes when you get documents, it can be just as challenging to clean them up so you can analyze the data you care about. Maybe that’s extracting just the budget items you care about in a set of contracts, or extracting and categorizing individual complaints about an agency from a disorganized PDF.

We think we have the start of a really useful crowdsourced solution to these kinds of problems, but we’d like to find more use cases.

So help us help you: If you have a bunch of PDFs and can describe a short task that would help you pull out important data from them, please get in touch. Right now, the best case scenario is one to three questions that ask for either a single line of text or a multiple choice questions per PDF, and sets of 20 or more PDFs.

We’re looking for to sharing more about this project soon! (Though if you pay close attention to our GitHub you can probably piece together a sneak peak.)

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 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 won’t be at tonight’s event, due to travel.

Image via Wikimedia Commons