Release Notes: Disabling some portal integrations, tools for improving support

Release Notes: Disabling some portal integrations, tools for improving support

Come hack transparency with MuckRock!

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

Last week was quiet, with most of the focus on behind-the-scenes DocumentCloud work, but we did push two changes: Disabling some faulty automated portal integrations and fixing some admin functionality that helps us more quickly resolve a variety of issues.

Disabling some faulty automated portal integrations

Last week, we became aware that a small number of automated portal integrations were not working properly, delaying some request submissions. These impacted about 17 requests, and we’ve notified the users and have refiled those requests manually.

As a bit of context, our system attempts to automatically submit requests to agencies that use portals, but most agency public records portals are designed in a way that does not allow automated submissions (none offer a fully-featured API at this point), including using CAPTCHAs or other mechanisms that require manual input. So for the vast majority of requests, we copy and paste the information from our end into the agency portal; responses from agencies are then automatically parsed and then manually reviewed.

We’re continuing to investigate why this portal integration broke, but generally speaking, from the filer’s perspective, you shouldn’t notice anything different.

Administrative tools for Squarelet

This isn’t something an end user will directly notice, but we added back user account assistance tools into Squarelet, our user authentication service. These were accidentally disabled when fixing another bug, but these tools make it easier for us to troubleshoot billing and account issues.

Come hack transparency with us

Every Tuesday night, we gather in Cambridge with a group of coders, designers, and others who want to see more open government. Over the past few months, we’ve been mixing MuckRock’s agency database with a set of scanners and scrapers to help gauge the accessibility, mobile-friendliness, and security of America’s digital infrastructure.

You can find out more and join us by checking out Code for Boston’s website.

Reporting bugs and submitting fixes

There are a number of other 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 that need your help.

Check out some of our issues labeled “help wanted” for ideas on good places 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 only available for subscribers. You can subscribe 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