Release Notes: Tell us what data you want from the MuckRock agency and jurisdiction API

Release Notes: Tell us what data you want from the MuckRock agency and jurisdiction API

And join us tomorrow night to hack on our Sunshine Week project

Edited by JPat Brown

MuckRock’s API allows easy access to FOIA response data on thousands of different agencies, towns, counties, and cities across America. Now, we want your feedback on what data to surface to make it even more useful.

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

What additional Jurisdiction and Place API fields would you like to see?

MuckRock’s API lets users programmatically access a wide variety of our public records data, from information on individual requests to metadata about response times from various cities and agencies.

You can preview what the API looks like just by loading our endpoint in your browser. For example, here’s the FBI’s entry:

A picture of the API entry on MuckRock for the FBI

We’re looking at expanding the number of fields we make available through the jurisdiction and agency API, including details such as number of requests filed, number of requests with a given current status, pages released, and a few other fields.

Before we dig into this work, however, we wanted to take a minute and get your feedback: What other fields would you like to see available through the MuckRock API? We can’t make any promises — some fields would be very interesting but are too slow or complicated to calculate reliably, for example. But we’d like to continue to improve on and expand our API.

If you have ideas, shoot Michael Morisy an email.

Speaking of our API, you might be interested in checking out Ben Welsh’s Python wrapper for our API, which allows access to request data and filing.

Come hack on MuckRock

If you’re the kind of person who gets excited about API tweaks, you might also be interested in our Tuesday meetups in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or our other open source efforts.

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