MuckRock Release Notes: Better deletions,  improved form handling, and more updates

MuckRock Release Notes: Better deletions, improved form handling, and more updates

Our Tuesday hack nights take a hiatus, but join us on Slack and GitHub

Edited by JPat Brown

Last week, we refactored how we delete requests to both protect user privacy and minimize agency confusion. We also fixed an attachment bug on multirequests and broadened our support for forms that agencies asks requests be submitted on.

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 at the top or bottom of this page.

Site updates

Better handling of deleted requests

When users have requested that their requests be deleted, traditionally we’ve completely wiped the request out of our database. This was a simple way to ensure that the information was removed from our servers, but it had several downsides. Some were technical: Other site objects that pointed to that request, such as monitoring whether that request was being followed by other users, tags that were first used with that request, projects that included that request, and other items could be affected in unpredictable ways.

The larger issue was when agencies reached out to follow up on a deleted request — we completely wiped the record and would not know if the user had withdrawn the request, ask that the information be forwarded to their home address, or something else.

We’ve revamped the deletion request to leave a little digital gravemarker, only viewable by staff, that will allow us to leave a note on what do if the agency follows up, more gracefully handle emails sent from an agency to that request’s old email address, and reduce potentially cascading deletion fallout.

Multirequest attachments are go

A user spot a bug where attachments on multirequests were getting dropped. Not to brag, but this bug was fixed the same day it was reported, so you can now multirequest with attachments to your heart’s content.

Top form

Speaking of attachments, we’ve broadened our support of agency forms. If an agency requires a user to use a special form, we’ve increased compatability so that can store it in our backend and you won’t have to worry about it. If you have concerns are note that a form is not stored in our backend, just use the “Get Help” button and we can get it loaded into our database.

Come hack on MuckRock

We have a growing group of volunteer hackers helping to make MuckRock better every day. We want to make it easier to contribute, so we’re launching a new project and weekly newsletter, “Release Notes.” Register to get a summary of site updates each week, a list of issues you can help with, and details about our Code for Boston meetups.

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.

Fianlly, I wanted to share that our Code for Boston hack nights are going on temporary hiatus as we re-group and re-organize. We’re now helping fun five different sites and services, and we want to spend some time making it easier for everyone to get involved. We’ll be at Code for Boston tonight to help wrap things up, and there’s a number of other great projects you can get involved in.

Image via Wikimedia Commons