Release Notes: More control over where requests and appeals go

Release Notes: More control over where requests and appeals go

Join us tonight or on Slack to help hack FOIA

Edited by JPat Brown

Today, we launched more ways for you to see exactly how and where your MuckRock requests are getting sent — and tweak the submission as you see fit. We’ve also been continuing to make progress on our Sunshine Week project at Code for Boston.

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.

Site updates

Everyone can now see and adjust where requests get sent

A little less than a year ago, we launched a feature that lets you see where requests are going to be sent. Pro and Org users could see exactly where the request would be sent, while other users could see whether it was being submitted via email, mail, portal or fax.

That experiment worked so well that we’re now expanding it so that everyone can see the full information about where a request will be submitted and adjust the contact information if they would like. Our goal is that you shouldn’t have to think about where your request goes, but the extra transparency and control has been helpful for those that need it. We’ll continue to monitor and update our FOIA office contact database, and adjustments made by users help keep it as up to date as possible.

More power over appeals

We’ve also expanded this feature to work with appeals. You can now see and adjust where appeals will be sent. This is particularly useful in jurisdictions that have multiple appeal systems (such as at the federal level, when you can seek an administrative review from the agency you filed with or you can request mediation with the Office of Government and Information Services.

Our new appeal contact adjustment tool

Sunshine Week project taking shape

Last week at Code for Boston we refined the backend of our Sunshine Week FOIA suggestion tool and worked through some new design concepts, including a mobile-first version that hit most of our goals while still being simple enough for people to instantly get without being overwhelmed. We’re excited about the progress so far, and would love to have you join.

If you’re interested in contributing, we’ll be meeting tonight at 7 p.m. with Code for Boston to continue working on the various components of the special Sunshine Week project. The base site is built in Flask, but we’re also looking designers and non-technical contributions.

Come hack on MuckRock

Speaking of contributing, there’s a number of ways to help us continue to improve the core MuckRock site experience. 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