Improved documentation for "Add Alias", especially "Alias Type"

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f7d00cda5f8> #<Tag:0x00007f7d00cda508>

The Add Alias dialogue, reached with a URL like https://musicbrainz.org/artist/mbid/add-alias, has a link to a documentation page, https://musicbrainz.org/doc/Aliases . However, that documentation doesn’t really explain to me how to use the Add Alias dialogue.

In particular, the dialogue has an Alias Type menu, with entries “Artist/Release/Work Name”, “Legal Name” (for Artists only), and “Search Hint”. Nothing in the documentation explains these entries, or which one to choose.

I suggest rewriting the introduction paragraph to read as follows:
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Aliases

Aliases are variant names that supplement the main name of the entity for a variety of purposes.

  • In a search, if an entity’s alias matches a search term (even if the entity’s actual name does not), the entity will be given as a result.
  • Aliases are used for localization of a the entity’s main name into a different language, especially into a different script (e.g. the Russian name like Чайковский, has an English alternate “Tchaikovsky”, and a German alternate “Tschaikowski”).
  • The change over time of an entity’s name can be documented by Aliases (e.g. Carnegie Hall was known as “Music Hall” from 1891–1893).
  • The legal name of an Artist who normally performs under a stage name can be documented by an Alias, among other methods (e.g. Lady Gaga’s legal name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta).

You can add Aliases to Artists, Events, Labels, Recordings, Releases, Release Groups, Series, and Works. Aliases are pre-entered, and editable only by staff, for Areas, and Instruments.

Aliases can have one of up to four Types.

  1. (Entity) Name” alias type, i.e. “Artist Name” for Artists, “Work Name” for Works: used for localization, to provide an alternate version of a name for a specific language. Also used for describing the change to an entity’s name over time.
  2. Search Hint” alias type: used this for an Alias when giving an alternate spelling, or common mis-spelling, that users may search for.
  3. Legal Name” alias type (available for Artist aliases only): used for an Alias which gives the legal name of an Artist, where the entity name is their stage name.
  4. Unspecified type: for many existing Aliases, there is no type specified. Many of these entries predate the addition of the Alias Type field, and are Search Hint or (Entity) Name type Aliases.

For all Alias Types except “Search Hint”, you can specify the specific language, and/or start and end date, for which the Alias applies. You can also supply a sort name, which is used in place of the Alias’s primary name when sorting. When you set Alias Type to Search Hint, these extra fields are disabled.
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I suggest changing the link text in Guidelines to be a bit more clear:

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Style Guidelines

Please see the Style guidelines for Aliases.
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I suggest breaking the section When to use aliases into three:

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When to use Search Hint type Aliases
Include items 1–9 of the existing content.

When to use (Entity) Name type Aliases
Include items 10-12 of the existing content.
Add new item:

  1. Name changes over time: When the official name of an entity was different in the past than it is now. e.g. Carnegie Hall was known as “Music Hall” from 1891–1893

When to use Legal Name type Aliases
Include item 13 of the existing content.

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Comments? If the response here is positive, I can make an edit to https://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Aliases and let the Documentation reviewers consider it.

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There are more types :slight_smile: At least “Brand name” for instruments (say, “Fender Stratocaster” for “electric guitar”), not sure if I’m forgetting more.

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True. See, for example, table steel guitar. But the Aliases for Instrument entities aren’t open to editing by normal contributors, so documenting this detail is less important to me.

I’d like more documentation for aliases too, I just have one issue with your text: It makes it sound like aliases shoul not be used for when an artist sometimes performs under a different name (independent of localization or time).
When people read that this will happen even more often:

Can you suggest better text?

The issue of when to use a separate Artist entity rather than an Alias is a matter for the Alias Style guide. Maybe it would be better to move all of the examples subsections into the Alias Style guide article, then improve the guidelines for musicians who perform under many names there.

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@Jim_DeLaHunt I have taken the liberty of adding some of your write-up to the wiki. I think most of it is uncontroversial. I stopped short of breaking up when to use which alias type, as I don’t think there’s consensus on it yet. Thanks for your contribution.

To others, please review the current alias page, which has more information and acknowledges the new addition of search hints.

3 Likes

About the Misencodings section (which is not new in this page), it has been impossible now for some years, unfortunately.
Not that I really need it but still it’s a pity for instance that I cannot type the existing misencoding alias as Search hints without loosing some of their special characters and thus their whole purpose.

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I have spotted a typing error:

Unlike other entities, artists can have be assigned three types of aliases:

The “have” does not need to be there. Makes it hard to read.

1 Like

Thanks. The error is fixed.

I’ve added a note next to misencodings that links to the bug.

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