Release Notes: Getting better at catching portals, autodownloading of Dropbox links

Release Notes: Getting better at catching portals, autodownloading of Dropbox links

Make your chatbot-for-news come to life via a News Nerd in Residence

Edited by JPat Brown

We launched portal integration with MuckRock a while ago, but have noticed that we are still missing a lot of portals in the system. We’ve made it easier for us to catch when an agency starts using a portal, plus a few other tweaks to speed up getting requesters to their files.

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 here.

What’s new on MuckRock

Better portal detection

We’ve added new, automated detection of responses that seem to be generated by a portal. This should help us more quickly add in the tweaks on our side to better track and manage those requests, while ensuring that you can fully access your data both on MuckRock and through the agency’s website.

If our auto-detect doesn’t see a portal that makes a response on your request look funky, just use the “Get Help” button on the request page and a staff member will manually review.

Automated downloading of certain types of links

Agencies are increasingly offering to send big files via specialized download links instead of CDs or, worse, paper. This is great, and we’re working on rolling out support so that we can grab files automatically from those links as they show up. Our first step is Dropbox, but we’ll be looking for other file upload sites that agencies use and adding them as they come up.

Let us know what features to be working on

We’re doing our second annual user and reader survey for a few more weeks. Hearing from you about what you like, where we can improve, and your general feedback is incredibly helpful as we plan out our development goals for the next year.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey — three lucky participants will even win free MuckRock swag or a $25 gift certificate to the retailer of their choice!

Apply to build Quackbot’s next super power

A reminder that we’re still taking applications to be our News Nerd in Residence, where you’ll get a chance to work with our team on building new super powers for Quackbot, our chatbot platform for news and transparency tools. To help, we have an open call for “News Nerds in Residence”: Selected developers are given a stipend to work hand-in-hand with us to take their ideas, prototypes, or internal tools and make them available for everyone to be able to take advantage of right within Slack.

If you have a simple, useful tool you think could translate well into a chat-based bot, we’d like to hear from you.

The application is just four questions, embedded right below - but if you have questions, get in touch with Aron Pilhofer and we’d love to talk about whether your idea is a good fit.

Come hack on MuckRock

We have a growing group of volunteer hackers helping to make MuckRock’s suite of tools better every day. We have a project and a weekly newsletter, “Release Notes,” that highlights everything we’re working on. Register to get a summary of site updates each week and details on open issues you can help with.

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.

Image via Wikimedia Commons