[mb-style] Recording/track distinctions

Ryan Torchia anarchyriot at gmail.com
Fri Jul 22 01:34:12 UTC 2011

On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 9:56 AM, Kuno Woudt <kuno at frob.nl> wrote:

> However, our guidelines are very focused on the english language market
> in my opinion, and I would like to see the guidelines be made a bit more
> general -- or just make it clear they don't apply to releases which
> are not intended for english speaking markets.

Aside from the capitalization guidelines, what were you thinking of?

The second issue with regard to the guidelines is that we really do have
> a lot of them, it is not easy for a new editor to just start editing.

As a relatively new editor (though one that's been editing other music DB
sites for half a decade...wow, and here for a year?  Time flies...) -- hear
hear!  The guidelines individually aren't difficult to follow -- somewhat
incomplete if anything.  The problem is mainly with structure.  There isn't
a good introduction for editors that clearly explains each component and how
they relate to each other -- I'm talking at a level that anybody here would
find totally remedial.  The Wiki isn't friendly to newbies who just want to
get in and add their stuff.  Take a look at the first few pages a new editor
might encounter... pretend you're just trying to figure out how to submit
your first edit.  There's the main MB page:
http://www.musicbrainz.org/  -- The "More Info" and "FAQs" links are most
prominent. "More Info" is a high-level description, not really useful for a
functional editor.  The FAQ does have a link to editing FAQs, which brings
up this monstrosity: http://musicbrainz.org/doc/Editing_FAQ  -- This is of
little help to somebody not already familiar with how the site works.
There's no mention of the labyrinth of formatting rules, no link to a
glossary, no indication of how releases are structured, answers to questions
that aren't frequently asked, and it's all one huge page of miniscule text.
A newbie could read all that and still wouldn't have an idea even how to

Back on the main page, tucked away on the right side is the Quick Start
section, with the "Beginner's Guide" -- another page of lots of small, dense
text, which starts (predictably) by telling the user to read everything.
The first useful link is this: http://musicbrainz.org/doc/How_To ...which is
essentially an index for a lot of editing procedures.  (I think this could
be improved and should be given much more prominence.)  There's (finally) a
link to WikiDocs, so the user can read more pages of dense text, and near
the bottom of this page is this link:
http://musicbrainz.org/doc/Beginners_Guide/How_To_Add_Information  -- That's
the type of guideline that needs to be (cleaned up a little, updated,
reordered, and) easily findable from the front page.

The third link in the Quick Start section is the Style index...

> I have tried to make this a bit more accessible by collecting all of
> them as subpages of http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Style and listing them
> on that page.

This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't have
any context for new users.  It's more of a Quick Reference document than a
Quick Start doc.  It's kind of telling that the "Quickstart" and "Adding a
new release" links on that page are dead, but the "Old style practices" link
is alive and current -- it's like we're giving somebody with an iPod a
manual for how to clean their 8-track.

As-on-cover track and release fields to some extent solves both issues,
> it makes it much easier for editors to get started.

It depends on what we continue to normalize and what we allow to be "as
is".  If we want to normalize recordings, but not tracks, we have to make
both available for edit at time of creation (and editors will have to know a
separate set of rules for each...so...it might not be easier).

> If we start applying the old guidelines on tracks and releases again
> I do think we have to also work on solving these issues.  Reducing and
> simplifying our current guidelines to make them more accessible to new
> users is probably the biggest challenge here.

I think just making them more navigable and more easily accessible would a
huge improvement.  For example, each section of the Add Release form should
have a Help link with detailed instructions for that specific section, and a
link from there to solutions for more obscure and unusual cases.

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