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Calling all news nerds: Come work with us and make Quackbot amazing

Aron Pilhofer
Jun 6, 2018 · 2 min read

Last October, Quartz and DocumentCloud joined together to launch Quackbot, a bot that performs useful tasks for journalists from inside Slack. It’s completely free and available to any newsroom. All you need is a (free) DocumentCloud account.

More than two dozen newsrooms are already using Quackbot, even with a very limited number of launch skills (we call them superpowers, actually). But thanks to the generosity of the Knight Foundation and Lenfest Institute, we are going to build out a number of new superpowers for Quackbot — with your help!

If you have a great idea for a tool that might be a good fit for a news-oriented Slackbot, we’d like to hear from you. You can submit your idea(s) here, or if you have questions drop an email to aron@documentcloud.org.

John Keefe, bot developer and product manager at Quartz, will work with you to help build and scale your project, while the team from DocumentCloud will get it into the hands of our more than 10,000 journalists worldwide who use our platform.

Thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation and Lenfest Institute, we’ll also provide you with a small stipend ($2,000) as a way of thanking you for making journalists’ lives just a little bit better.

What sorts of ideas are we looking for? The sky’s the limit, really. It just has to be a superpower that solves a problem for journalists. It has to be scalable, work in the cloud, and be able to be boiled down to commands that can be sent via a chatbot. And it has to be something that you can build.

An ideal use case is a small script or service you’ve been running internally but don’t want to maintain forever, but that could be generalizable to other newsrooms. Maybe it’s a script that lets you quickly download and organize court records, a cron job that sees if your favorite police department has issued new blotter update, or an automated second pair of eyes to read over your copy before sending it on to your editor.

Quackbot is built in Node.js on AWS Lambda. You can see the source code on Github.

Help make Quackbot more amazing!

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