Feature proposal to Batch Request functionality

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Mattias Axell

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Sep 8, 2021, 2:25:06 PM9/8/21
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Hi!

We've got feedback from a customer on Alaveteli Pro and here is a feature request on that feedback.

When looking at the function for adding authorities to the batch request:
- Could you please add a link to documentation on how to use advanced search functions and quickly a specific range or type of authorities? E.g. I'm a Pro user looking to send batch request to all municipalities or councils. The documentation is maybe the same as for Advanced search-functionality? Where one could see advice for searching a specific range of authorities in alphabetical order e.g. Authority:Council. Perhaps also type, e.g. state owned company, age of authority (if such metadata is available of course).
- Could you also add a button to "Add all authorities" which then have been filtered for the Pro user by using such advanced search functionalities?

Best,
Mattias

Graeme Porteous

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Sep 16, 2021, 7:42:50 AM9/16/21
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Hi Mattias,

Thanks for the feedback. We have started development [1] work on a batch request category picker UI which sounds like what your Pro user is requesting.

It is powered by the authority tagging feature and allows Pro users to browse by tags and also includes an "Add all" button. See attached.

We use tags extensively on WDTK - see the left hand column on https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body?tag=department - so the interface seems to work quite well.

Unfortunately development on this feature has stalled for the time being but it is certainly something we would like to finish in the future.


--
Graeme Porteous
gra...@mysociety.org


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wdtk-pro-batch-category-ui.png

Mattias Axell

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Mar 2, 2022, 5:56:58 AMMar 2
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Hi dev,
Has progress continued regarding this feature proposal? I can't find anything on it in documentation or release notes.
We got this question because it was once again expressed as a dealbreaker need for history researcher and journalist researcher at a university.
Does it work to add tags such as "tag=department" in batch request user view to get all departments and then Add all? Or do we need to wait or contribute code to get Category batch request function working? :)
Best,
Mattias

Gareth Rees

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Mar 7, 2022, 7:50:21 AMMar 7
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Hi Mattias,


> Has progress continued regarding this feature proposal? I can't find anything on it in documentation or release notes.

I'm afraid not. You can of course view the source code. It's feature flagged behind the `:pro_batch_category_ui` key [1] as noted above.


> Does it work to add tags such as "tag=department" in batch request user view to get all departments and then Add all?

The selectable items items are driven by categories (/admin/categories) rather than the lower-level tags [2].


> Or do we need to wait or contribute code to get Category batch request function working? :)

Right now, we don't have immediate plans to work on this further. It's not "abandoned" – we just don't know when we'll have capacity to schedule it. Contributions are welcome.

I've moved some of the issues from an internal repo to the public repo so you can get a sense of where we left it.

* https://github.com/mysociety/alaveteli/issues/6862
* https://github.com/mysociety/alaveteli/issues/6863
* https://github.com/mysociety/alaveteli/issues/6864
* https://github.com/mysociety/alaveteli/issues/6865
* https://github.com/mysociety/alaveteli/issues/6866

Our biggest concern is that this feature makes it incredibly easy to mis-use Alaveteli by sending a large amount of inappropriate requests. While batch in itself has this problem, this category UI makes it trivial to add a much too great a set of authorities, or pick a category that is irrelevant to most of the requests.

In any case, you can enable it for a particular user through the Rails console:

    user = User.find_by(email: 'b...@example.com')
    AlaveteliFeatures.backend.enable_actor(:pro_batch_category_ui, user)

Best,

Gareth

[1] https://github.com/mysociety/alaveteli/commit/2a9a62b166f3ee0a54e4a1b70da9de24da83e12d
[2] https://alaveteli.org/docs/running/categories_and_tags/

Mattias Axell

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Mar 19, 2022, 9:06:27 AMMar 19
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Hi Gareth,

Thanks for your reply. I will follow up per GitHub-issue but in general I get some thoughts regarding the concerns.

The way you describe the concerns I think it makes sense to build the feature but sell it as another segmented Pro package, perhaps "Super Pro"? And that the package is only sold to entrusted users such as entrusted journalists, businesses and researchers. My reasoning is that it's a very requested feature in academia, journalism and companies but due to its potential consequences it needs to be available on a very consciously limited basis for really professional and sound use. It is in general good to have 3-5 packages as more choices get users to find one that suits them.

Perhaps
- Pro - Embargoed requests
- Super Pro - Embargo, Projects
- All-star - Embargo, Projects, Category based

What do you think?

Best,
Mattias

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Gareth Rees

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Mar 21, 2022, 5:42:05 AMMar 21
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> The way you describe the concerns I think it makes sense to build the feature but sell it as another segmented Pro package, perhaps "Super Pro"?
> …
> What do you think?

Hmm, I think these are good ideas to explore, but I'm wary about the complexity that this would bring. On the code side, there's not a "quick" route from where we are right now, to shipping the category browser _and_ having multiple pro tiers. I think Stripe does have more capability around plans these days, but we'd still have to handle all this in the application code, and I think we're quite a way away from that. Would we also need to allow in-app upgrades and downgrades? What if someone did have Batch but then downgrades before their batch is "complete"? There also becomes an added complexity in selling the product. Right now we can just say "Everything you need; £10 per month". More plans – more words – more confusion. 

I'm not against this at all, I'm just a little dubious about our ability to get to what you describe in the near future. It feels more likely that we could iron out some of the major concerns with the code as it is and then get that enabled by default for any pro user is a more likely situation. Of course, this shouldn't stop others pushing ahead with these ideas if you have the development capacity to try it out!

Best,

Gareth

Mattias Axell

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Jul 4, 2022, 8:55:25 AMJul 4
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Just replying to this to confirm that Gareth and I discussed this idea over a video call. I think we agreed that a potential and future Projects feature could potentially be activated manually and paid for via invoice instead of increasing complexity and risks via Stripe or other payment integrations. This also increases positive customer experience of building relationship with the Alaveteli site owners. Whereas only Alaveteli Free and Alaveteli Pro would be the non-personal and automated customer relationship channel. Best, Mattias

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