Disambiguation comments

Hello, I come across a lot of rather long disambiguation comments and I feel like altering them, but I’m not sure if this is encouraged or if I’m being destructive so just to be sure I’d like to check with you all.

Here’s an example: The artist Noisia currently has this disambiguation attached:
Dutch electronic music trio Nik Roos, Thijs De Vlieger & Martijn Van Sonder
But I feel like just
Dutch electronic music trio or
Dutch Drumm n Bass or even
Dutch DnB should be enough to differentiate them from other artists.

Over here we can read that indeed disambiguation comments should be kept short. But what is short? You could consider Dutch electronic music trio Nik Roos, Thijs De Vlieger & Martijn Van Sonder short.

Are such edits shortening disambiguation comments encouraged?

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I think there could be some benefit to the longer disambiguations in some cases, but I agree that they should be kept a bit shorter than Dutch electronic music trio Nik Roos, Thijs De Vlieger & Martijn Van Sonder… that said, I think Dutch DnB is too short and generic to be recommendable, as it could be confused in some cases with a drum and bass solo artist also from the Netherlands. perhaps something like Dutch Drum & Bass trio?

a good example of why we’d want slightly longer disambiguations is the multiple zorgs I had to sort out from the same city, or @afrocat’s post from the Discord:


in the case of Noisia, there’s 4 or 5 in the database, so it’s not an uncommon name either


We don’t really have strict rules for what is “short enough” for a disambiguation. Listing all the members of a group like that falls on the extreme side, but if the names are sufficiently well known in their respective communities, it probably helps the recognition quite a bit.

I would recommend you avoid that, it will just end in pointless arguing.

For better or worse, a lot of disambiguation comments end up copying information that is already stored in the database in a machine-readable form elsewhere. For the example you gave, the database already knows that the artist is from the Netherlands, is tagged with electronic music genres, and which members it has.

Hypothetically, the UI could display this data when it shows artists in e.g. search result lists, which would obviate the need for many disambiguation comments, but we don’t have that yet.


I agree with @elomatreb that shortening a disambiguation isn’t worth arguing over.
In the case of Noisia, though, the disambiguation sort of evolved, from “Nik Roos, Thijs De Vlieger & Martijn Van Sonder” to “drum & bass trio Nik Roos, Thijs De Vlieger & Martijn Van Sonder” to the current. That suggests to me that there’s probably nobody especially attached to the full version and shortening would likely be uncontroversial.


It could be shortened, but also it doesn’t seem to contain anything egregiously out of place. I often shorten disambiguations where it can be shortened without losing any information, but I would be wary of trying to make every disambig fit into a ‘it should be short’ box, sometimes it does need to be long.

As often happens, I went to search for the ticket to automate this, that I was sure existed. I couldn’t find it (either my search sucks, or it never existed) so I made a new one: https://tickets.metabrainz.org/browse/MBS-13409


Also, if you remove details from a disambiguation comment, it’s probably a good idea to copy it over into an annotation.

I’ve gotten the impression in the past that some editors have added disambiguation comments primarily because they wanted to add an artist description (even though the artist name is only used by one artist) and they don’t know any better place to put it.

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Please don’t use disambiguation comments for info dumps. Members of a group should be linked with relationships (and MusicBrainz could do a better job displaying relationship information where that makes sense). “Dutch electronic music trio” is plenty to distinguish them from the other Noisia’s we have.