Repurposing of items considered harmful

Today I discovered a vandalism by no. 2 BookBrainz contributor @Goldilox from a month ago. There may be many more.

A book of Jack London was changed to a completly different book of Henry Miller. The IDs (links to other databases) were left unchanged and are of course wrong. The link in Wikidata to BookBrainz is also wrong, of course. So this book is now an ugly mixup of the two books. The only solution would be to delete it, because one can’t now, if there are more links to this mixup.

It doesn’t matter right now if the Jack London book isn’t a work in BookBrainz terms (for the library world it is). If it is no work and shouldn’t have been created as such, it should have been deleted (and the creator informed), but not reused for something completely different.

I plan to leave BookBrainz, if this bullying by the no. 2 editor has no consequences. I’m only the no. 9 contributor right now, but I’m working in several free databases (OpenLibrary, Inventaire, Wikidata) from the perspective of a real physical library, and I think my edits (that link these databases with each other) have some quality.

@GLBW if you read the comments made by @mr_monkey in this Forum thread: Collection / Anthology title = unique Work title you will find that a collection title is not a unique Work. The contents of the collection are treated as individual Works, and the collection title exists only as an Edition Group.

The Son of the Wolf is a collection of nine short stories by Jack London: therefore it is not treated as a Work.

I did explain this in my edit notes:

@Goldilox I think I made myself clear. Even if I made a mistake in the first place you made it much, much worse.

To the others: If this behaviour by one of the top (!) BookBrainz editors is tolerated by the BookBrainz community, the BookBrainz community is one that tolerates bullying by one of of its top members and therefore is toxic.

Please explain your comment as I don’t understand what you mean.

I think it’s about the work IDs. You forgot to change them. I fixed it.

Well, you are creating correct subs and it’s good to have you here.
But you never participated in any discussion in the forum and even if you are mentioned in the threads (at least two times) you are not answering or reacting.
So if you don’t follow the discussions that are crucial in a developing database, please don’t complain about changes/corrections on your subs afterwards.

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I hope you stay. As you know from other databases, this will keep happening though, especially as contributor numbers increase.

Most times there will be a wonderful blossoming of your contributions thanks to the wonderful Brainz hivemind of beautifully mutual OCD :evergreen_tree: :seedling: :butterfly: :tulip: :honeybee: :deciduous_tree:

And sometimes someone is taking to your beautifully manicured personal topiary of peace and relaxation with the steamroller of hateful change :skull_and_crossbones: :face_vomiting: :bomb: :spider_web: :spider: :skull:

I’m not sure if BookBrainz has these functions yet, but I subscribe to everything I work on in MusicBrainz, so I can vote on changes. Stick around and you will be able to make use of these kind of features eventually. It will still be annoying though.


I think a notification system on BB itself should be a high priority. Would help prevent problems like this.


I want to make it clear that every edit that I conduct has recourse to the guidelines.

My understanding of a community sourced website is that all contributions are subject to scrutiny and can be changed if the data is wrong or does not conform to the guidelines.

Since joining BB in August, briefly as Agatha Crustie and then as Goldilox I have initiated or entered into numerous Forum discussions trying to understand and/or formulate policy on this site.

If the ethos on this site is that all contributions are sacrosanct, then please let me know because I have better things to do than waste my time listening to the bleating of prima donnas.

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Just to prove that statement is correct:

The response on both occasions was muted to say the least.

That’s a query for you @mr_monkey. Like @indy133 I was under the impression that deleting credits is a hanging offence and should be avoided at all costs, so I was surprised when I read your comment: "Omaha" the Cat Dancer Work set up - need clarification

In this situation would the correct process have been to delete the Work for the collection title The Son of the Wolf, or is it permissible to repurpose credits into something useful? Frankly, deleting is a much easier task.

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I come from MB, but from my perspective repurposing is worse then deleting. Deletion should be avoided if possible. E.g. if there are two entities that are the same, merged them instead of deleting. But making one thing into something completely different is bad practice. In this example I might have saved a link to a work called “Son of the wolf”. That unique identifier “99a8f377-f267-45ce-a6b0-6f40ad39d197” is meant to exactly identify that work. I can use it when I want to say “This is the work ‘Son of the wolf’”. But when I actually follow this link I find out that this ID now refers to something completely different. I might even get wrong data if I rely upon the once stated fact that it refers to a specific work.

It doesn’t matter in this context whether entering “Son of the wolf” as a work on BB was legitimate or not. If it wasn’t, deleting this entity is much clearer, because then I get a proper error when trying to access the link.


Thanks for the reply @outsidecontext. In future, I will delete anything that does not comply with the guidelines.


Just be careful and if in doubt get into discussion with the original editors. As I understand it BB has not yet a subscription or notification feature, so editors will probably not notice open deletion requests until it is too late.

Also remember that guidelines are just guidelines, not laws. Reality has no obligation to follow any guidelines or even to make sense. So naturally any database design for a complex topic like books will reveal edge cases and unclear situations once it gets confronted with reality.


I’m not sure how I’m supposed to communicate with the original editors on this site given that submission notes don’t result in notifications, or some users don’t respond to mentions in the Forum. Maybe I should hire a plane and post a message in the sky.

There was a lengthy discussion in the Forum about collection titles as Works and @mr_monkey made it very clear that they are not to be treated that way.

So in essence, what you are saying is that we just ignore his directives. That is an interesting concept and probably explains the chaotic state of the database.

I never said anything even remotely like this.

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My apologies for misinterpreting your comment. In the example of The Son of the Wolf there is absolutely no ambiguity that it is a collection of nine short stories, therefore I was confidently following the directive of @mr_monkey.


Yes, no objection on the specific case here. My comment was meant to be more general. If you have a guidelines saying “A collection of stories is not a work in itself, only the individual parts are” you will most likely find somewhere out there a case where people will not agree with whether it is actually a collection or not, and hence whether the guidelines applies or not.

Agreed that this makes it difficult. Hence my comment is rather also meant general and for everyone to be mindful that these limitations in communication also apply to editors who originally entered the data. I don’t know BB good enough to tell what works and what doesn’t. But for example if I’d remove a wrongly added entity from MB there I could add a comment to the edit where this entity was originally added, notifying the user who did this about why I delete it. Or if I’m unsure I’d start a forum discussion to include more opinions. In the end this is something that likely also needs a better technical solution on BB.


The definition of a collection has been discussed and there are examples that are not clear cut such as fix-up novels and those that use framing devices. If there was any uncertainty then I would not delete the Work, I’m not a complete idiot.

The communication issue needs to be resolved. On two occasions messages were left in the Forum for @GLBW which didn’t elicit a response. I always write submission notes (which I believe should be mandatory) and it is obvious that these are not relayed to the various contributors. After awhile it feels a bit like urinating into the wind. The options are limited.


There is no need for you to worry about your contributions @Goldilox - neither @outsidecontext or anyone else here is maligning your character or the character of your edits. My post was also not about the specific case presented here.

I think your two replies to GLBW were patient and well handled :slight_smile:

Keep it up.


I’m late to the party, but wanted to chime in on a few points:

First of all, it’s painfully clear to everyone that we need a notification system. That is not news, but the priority level just went up a notch (the associated ticket if anyone is looking for it).
Hopefully, it will allow for a more concerted effort and prevent some communication failures.

While I work on this feature, the interim solution is to:

  1. Visit an editor’s profile page on BookBrainz (clicking on their name)
  2. Under “Basic Info”, click on their "MusicBrainz Account” name
  3. On the MusicBrainz profile page, under “General Information” > “Email” you should see an option to “send email”


Second, to @GLBW, I appreciate your contributions and the quality of your edits, and in particular the focus of your library. I would be quite saddened by your departure and urge you to rethink.
However accusations of vandalism and bullying are uncalled for and counterproductive, and I would hope that we can all rise up to a less emotional and more intellectual level.
I believe there was absolutely no nefarious intent in Goldilox’s edits, and entering a discussion by asking for clarifications or explanations would certainly be more productive than starting with accusations. A mistake is not vandalism.
I would also point out that a lot of the guidelines are in flux or not expressed at all, which will lead to changes in how to represent the data as we go along and clarify the guidelines.


To @Goldilox , as outsidecontext explained above repurposing entities might have been the norm in Bookogs, but is not something we do in BookBrainz or MusicBrainz. The goal is to have stable identifiers that will always point to the correct entity. Repurposing an entity breaks that expectation.
While merging duplicates helps maintain existing identifiers and redirect them to the merged entity, deletions also have their uses, specifically if an entity simply shouldn’t exist.
Furthermore it’s easy to forget to check and validate all the previous data when repurposing an entity, as we’ve seen with this work’s identifiers.

I’m sorry I didn’t clarify that point well enough or soon enough.


I also suggest to wait until we have a proper mechanism in place to express Series before starting to delete any Work or Edition Group that has been used as such. Perhaps the best solution for now is to use a collaborative collection where we add works-that-should-really-be-series-instead and do a concerted cleanup effort like we did with works without authors, once Series entities are there.
Any thoughts on that? I’m happy to create some cleanup collections and invite whoever wants to participate as a collaborator.