Release Notes: Muck.Rocks plus merging agencies

Release Notes: Muck.Rocks plus merging agencies

Join us Tuesdays in Boston or anytime on Slack to help hack FOIA

Edited by JPat Brown

Last week we launched a new tool to make it easier for us to merge duplicate agencies. Today we are excited to officially unveil Muck.Rocks, our Code for Boston project that serves as an instant source for FOIA inspiration.

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

Agency merge tool

This isn’t a feature many users will see directly, but we hope it helps improve data quality and simplicity over time. We launched a new admin tool to merge duplicate agencies on our end. Duplicate agencies weren’t usually a big problem — sometimes it was just the same information under slightly different names like “U.S. Agency” and “Agency” for example. But it means that the state page wouldn’t have all the information it could, and that it was easier for contact information to go out of date.

We’ve had a few helpful users submit updates on duplicate agencies, and will stat working through that backlog soon. If you come across a duplicate agency or something that looks off, just go to the agency’s page and click “Suggest Change.” A staff members will review the suggestion and, when appropriate, merge the old and new agencies.

In the meantime, check out all the agency data we have here.

Muck.Rocks, a new source of FOIA Inspiration

Today we officially launched Muck.Rocks, a new microsite built by a team of Code for Boston volunteers. We’re super excited to have a new way to showcase the power of public records. We’ll go through more technical and process details in a follow up post, but in the meantime, you can check out the source code on GitHub.

Come hack on MuckRock

If you’re the kind of person who gets excited about the construction of little digital toys like this, 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 spot a bug or have a feature request, you can also help by opening an issue on GitHub.

If you do, 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