MuckRock Release Notes: Confidently leaping ahead into Sunshine Week

MuckRock Release Notes: Confidently leaping ahead into Sunshine Week

Plus, our first design bounty: Better filter tool design

Edited by JPat Brown

To kick off Sunshine Week, a number of open issues finally closed, bugs quashed, and other improvements in our work to make transparency easier for everyone.

For past site updates, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes.

What’s new on MuckRock

Bounced emails notification

Sometimes users move jobs, email providers, or we just accidentally get marked as spam. We know display a notification when you log in if our emails to you have been bouncing to remind you to update your email address if it stops working.

A small flurry of fixes

There were a number of smaller fixes pushed last week. Some of the more useful ones:

  • Organization owners can view who is in their Organization, even if they aren’t an active member (some Organization owners don’t file, the just help administer the accounts).
  • In some cases, our system would get confused and add the MuckRock email as a recipient to requests we sent out. This is another attempt at squashing this bug once and for all.
  • We continued to tweak and improve MuckRock integration with agencies that use NextRequest portals.

MuckRock survives Daylight Saving Time

It was very unlikely you ever ran into this bug, but in some instances things would get confusing when Daylight Saving Time started or ended. After three years, only the server logs only ever noticed the issue, but it’s now fixed as we’ve moved to better time handling.

More surprises coming this week!

Help build a better MuckRock, get free requests!

Our first design bounty: Better filter tool design

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.

In particular, we’re looking for people interested in offering design help, whether that’s mockups of a more intuitive interface or actual HTML and CSS. We’re trying something new by offering a design bounty in exchange for your help - plus the chance to have your open source code improve access for hundreds of thousands of MuckRock readers each month.

Assignment: We’re looking for new ideas to improve our filtering tools on the request page. Right now, we have a lot of functionality - and a lot of complexity. We’d like to see ideas that keep all the functionality, but make it easier and more intuitive to access. For an example of what we mean, check out the filter tools on the left-hand side of the all-request page. If you have an idea that you think you can mock up or implement in actual code, reach out! Keep in mind that MuckRock is responsive and mobile first, so any designs should work great on small devices.

Reward: If we end up integrating code you write, we’ll give you a hundred MuckRock requests, plus a MuckRock swag item of your choice. If you have a design mockup that we end up using, we’ll give you 50 requests plus a swag item of your choosing. We’ll also give up to three submissions “honorable mention” awards of 25 requests each plus a MuckRock sticker pack, for entries we like but can’t use.

Reach out to with questions and ideas!

Come hack on MuckRock

Beyond our current design bounty, there 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