Allow historical Area entities

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f3423e71108> #<Tag:0x00007f3423e70fc8>


Let me know if I’ve got this wrong:

Currently Area entities are set using the current name. So there is no USSR, Yugoslavia, District Six, Prussia, Dutch East Indies, Rhodesia, South Vietnam, East Germany, West Berlin, etc, etc.

Whilst this situation can be a useful step in the development of MusicBrainz at some stage a more historically accurate approach will have significant benefits to an encyclopedia that values accuracy.

Is now a suitably time to move towards historically accurate Area entities?

(I see that there is movement around keeping historically accurate Place data at



Well, my comment was about places, not areas, but the same applies. I want to be able to credit things as on the release; for artists and instruments I can. For other things I cannot; places and areas seem like the most obvious next ones to get this feature.

Now, for historical area names, there are two situations: name changes, and areas combining/splitting. For the former, aliases and credits are enough. For the latter, you’d need separate entities with suitable start/end dates.


Hmm. Looks like place credits are possible now. I really need to find the time to start entering data again.


Aliases and credits both have issues.
They still have an incorrect flag being displayed.
And they say that in the judgement of MB the historical changes are not worthy of presentation. (This, in the long term, could be a large problem. In the short term it can be seen as a stage in development. Long term - problems will arise.)


Area ones should be too IIRC.


Not really. There’s only one moment where historical areas make sense: when there’s no human effort required for them, and they can be imported wholesale from an external source. Otherwise, we end up with our users having to divert a lot of time away from actual music data to area data, and as @drsaunde has said in the past, we’re not and will probably never be AreaBrainz (right now that would be area editors, which have a lot of requests to deal with as it is, but even if we opened it up to everyone it would be a huge timesink).

That said, I would like historical areas. If we can get enough data from Wikidata at some point to make the whole thing automatic, this should be looked into.

Of course, historical areas bring additional “nationalistic” problems with them (most Soviet-period Estonian bands are entered as Estonian right now, and I’m fairly sure there would be complaints if they were all moved to the Soviet Union even if technically correct), but that’s a separate issue.


I am wondering what we’d need from Wikidata that they don’t have now.
(As in - is it just a matter of them filling in blanks in their database or do we need them to be collecting additional data?)

Edit: Quite a lot if the discussion on the thread linked below can be seen as editors wanting historically accurate geographical data for artists. This desire will, I think, eventually extend to a strong desire for historically accurate Area presentation.


Good point. And I think we don’t need to be. There is a formal international standard giving codes for current and historical countries, ISO 3166 Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions. Part 1 lists current countries. Part 2 lists subdivisions. Part 3 lists former countries. So, just importing ISO 3166 part 3 would be a good first start.

Wikidata is probably a good intermediary between MusicBrainz and ISO 3166 part 3. I see WIkidata has a WikiProject Historical Place. At a quick glance, it appears to be concerned with what MusicBrainz would need. It looks like they are at the stage of gathering requirements and designs, not yet rolling out usable data.