ProPublica releases new do-it-yourself document crowdsourcing tool

Screen shot: Transcribable interface page.

INN member ProPublica made waves last year with its Free the Files document crowdsourcing project, and now its developers have released an open-source tool called Transcribable to help other newsrooms set up similar projects.

Screen shot: Transcribable interface page.

Screen shot: Transcribable interface page.

Free the Files asked readers to help ProPublica parse data from thousands of pages of PDFs that recorded the flow of money into the nation’s largest television markets during the November 2012 federal election.

It was a previously untapped data mine that revealed up to $1 billion in outside election spending. About 1,000 readers clicked through the files and recorded information about each PDF through an automated online system.

Now, news organizations can customize a similar crowdsourcing system with the new ProPublica tool. Transcribable is an open-source Rails plugin; your organization will need a DocumentCloud account (which is free) to use it

ProPublica developer Al Shaw wrote a blog post with details about how to use Transcribable, and the code is available on GitHub.