Alternative ways of contributing for barely and low IT skilled people?


There are times when I wonder if MB might benefit from having ways for non and low IT skilled people to contribute other than adding releases.
This wondering often happens after it has taken me and hour to add a release, rather than the few minutes that people skilled in IT can do it in.

Is there a range of time consuming tasks that low IT skilled people could do in roughly the same time that a high IT skilled person? (This would free up the high skill person to use their skills.)

If so, what are these tasks and how can low IT skilled people be steered towards them?


With a better UI people could really do anything - very little in MB requires ‘skill’, it’s basically data entry, but the lack of any kind of ‘learn by doing’ tutorial or similar just makes it a very steep learning curve.

On a more positive note, this kind of thing could be what you’re looking for re. steering people towards easy things they could be doing:

Any kind of system where someone can be rewarded for doing a specific thing (eg adding cover art can be pretty basic, or applying guess case to certain releases) would be super useful. Otherwise even something like a weekly/monthly ‘focus’ where everyone is encouraged to try work on one element of the database would be cool.

Anyway, really agree with you, for me it’s a 100% UI issue at the moment :slight_smile:


I suggest, very kindly, that basic data entry in-line with the style guidelines is something complex and outside the abilities of many potential contributors.

(Picard probably acts as a filter too. WhenPicard becomes very user friendly then low-tech-ability people wanting to contribute to MB might happen much more frequently.

An added advantage of having a low techskilled task list available is that it could function as an alternative entry route into adding releases by building up the skills of a low tech contributor and demystifying MB processes.

And then there are also probably people who, for example, would enjoy looking for album art more than adding releases especially if they knew it was a valued contribution. More satisfied people is generally a good thing.


[quote=“mmirG, post:3, topic:56358”]
I suggest, very kindly, that basic data entry in-line with the style guidelines is something complex and outside the abilities of many potential contributors.[/quote]All good, I just disagree, basic editing for most (not all!) fields could be explained in one sentence.
I agree with the rest of your post of course. I already gave the suggestion of encouraging people to add just album art at first :slight_smile:

Also if the ‘gamification’ system was used, for instance, to encourage experienced users to vote and comment on new users edits, user-user teaching might be the most efficient way of teaching the more complex case-by-case issues that come up.


Let’s make a list of valued tasks that develop MB skils and familiarity and are less demanding than adding releases.

  1. Find and add album art :slight_smile:


If you’re going to encourage a lot of people to add album art, the whole system had better be much better about guiding them to add the correct album art. Otherwise we’ll lose most of the new editors as soon as they get a No vote.


I agree that adding releases, with all the guidelines involved, can seem daunting to new editors. There are lots of less-complex edits to be done. Like

  • Add missing relationships to artists (social media, home pages)
  • Choose a work, and find recordings that haven’t been linked yet. (for some [trad] or jazz standards, this can be a lot of recordings)

But even these can require careful research (and good edit notes!). So if the problem is “editing is slow and frustrating for new editors”, this might not be the solution.


I once told a friend of mine, a skilled and talented IT professional and active in other open data projects , about all of the awesomeness of MusicBrainz. A few weeks later we met again, and he told me he wanted to add a release, but just gave up on the complexity. I know he could have handled it, and he would have familiarized himself with the guidelines. But his initial experience with what he presumed was a simple task (just adding the basic data for a CD he had in hand) made him turn away (even after I explained to him, why the data is the way it is).

Just wanted to share this anecdote to show that it is not only “IT noobs” who struggle with this. I think there is value in having a simple editor/wizard for the basic data. The key here is that we should categorize the metadata on how important it is and what role it plays.


Sorry for reposting this (from the old forums), but something like this:

(excuse the ugly example, it was copying the MB layout as closely as possible to lure people into thinking it might be easy to implement :wink: )

Would go a way towards solving the main problems which in my opinion are

  • not knowing where to start/ being overwhelmed by all the different fields
  • and then being overwhelmed by pages of styleguide, wiki, forums and docs (who knows!) for each field


It seems like there is a lot of possible improvements to the user experience, but it’s not clear exactly what would be the most helpful. Here’s just a thought, no idea if it’s feasible: Could MetaBrainz get a HCI student to write a thesis of some kind on effective ways to improve usability?


Possible task: Spread knowledge of the existence and abilities of MusicBrainz to people and groups who are likely to find that MusicBrainz matches their needs.
(Brainstorming this would probably be better in it’s own thread, however - serious fan groups, musicologists(?), cultural associations, government departments of arts and culture, composers whose works have been recorded, artists wanting a long-term record of their releases & music historians are examples of people could find that adding to the MB database would meet their needs around cataloging and metadata storage.)
Such a project might benefit from having a central point with form letters and case specific presentations. And a list of who has, and who has not yet, been contacted.


Could you ask your friend for suggestions on how he thinks things could be done differently on MusicBrainz (given the contraints imposed by the need for accurate data in complex situations).
His seems an ideal position to investigate - knowledgable, capable and yet not prepared to continue.

(I realise that this event may be too distant for your friend to be interested.)


How difficult/“time expensive”/costly would this be to create just as a stand-alone user guide?
There would be five pages, one each for "Release information, Release duplicates, Tracklist, Recordings, Edit Notes.
The information linked to each field would need to be updateable.
A new user could open this guide in a separate browser window and get the info they need for most of their queries in the one window.

(I’m terribly lazy and would like many more editors adding data.)


When I’m looking for something to cleanup, I go to Editing/Reports and pick one of the reports that interests me. Sometimes, I just don’t feel up to entering classical works/recordings!


Is anyone on I think that there is a fantastic link to be made here, where by music added to the site could be added to the music brainz database too. Surely there is a system to be built here?


(might be more appropriate in its own thread)

MusicBrainz doesn’t link itself to file sharing services, for very obvious reasons.
Doing so is unnecessary anyway, since MB is open source and the tables can be accessed by any external platform, and anyone can contribute. The file sharing site mentioned already uses it to auto-fill torrent information and tracklists, but it’s really up to them to make more use of it.
Maybe take your ideas to their suggestion forums :slight_smile:


I know what this is but I do pay (CD) for my music and I suggest you do the same. :kissing_heart:


Some artists release their stuff, for free, on/through What.CD. What.CD also hosts a number of Creative Commons-licensed releases. Just because it’s file sharing and torrenting doesn’t mean it’s illegal.


There might be exceptions in there, most probably uploaded bysome people willing to improve their UL/DL ratio.

But an artist looking for people to listen to their music will seek public exposure.
They will probably think (if they ever do) of a login-only pirate torrent tracker, last in their option list;
behind lots of publicly available music repositories (lastfm, myspace, soundcloud, bandcamp, nectarine, etc. tons of them actually). :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


And yet, some music is initially (and sometimes exclusively) released on such sites by some artists.