I know this is going to be decisive, but I’m curious to see what people think. Sorry, if this has been discussed already:
Should an artist disambiguation be required for all new artists?
Why? I’ve been using RateYourMusic.com heavily the last year to see what things they do better, worse or just different. RYM require a disambiguation for all new artists, which actually makes sense for a few reasons:
We never have to worry about updating the existing disambiguation of the “old” artist in the future when a duplicate is added.
It makes for a richer search experience as it’s obvious if that’s the artist you’re looking for (or not looking for) even if only one artist exists for that name.
It makes for an easier and less error prone editing experience. If I’m adding a new album in the Trance genre and I only see one artist for John Askew, I’m going to assume that’s the right one. Actually there are three John Askew’s. Yes, they all have disambiguation now, but there must have been a time where there was only one…
What are some arguments against this? Other than being slightly more work to enter.
I can definitely see the appeal of mandatory disambiguations, but I suspect it’s not really realistic for most artists.
The disambiguation comments we already have are often just reiterations of the data entered in structured form already. A hypothetical artist disambiguation like “Pop-rock band from New York, active 2000-2008” only contains information we already store (or could store) elsewhere.
Thanks for starting this discussion. Instead of a long reply mulling the arguments for and against it (which I was about to draft, I’ll admit), I want to throw out there a quick compromise proposal: how about mandatory disambiguations for artists with names containing fewer than (2 or 3) words / shorter than X characters?
For longer names, I still think editors ought to use their brainz™ to understand if they are adding a name that is closer to, say, John Smith vs to Guybrush Threepwood in terms of commonness.
I don’t really see how that is an issue at all when you consider the scores of 5-artists-in-1 entries we have around the database. Disambiguations are there for humans to choose the right entry!
This sounds like busywork for the sake of work. The result would also be messy and untranslatable. So please don’t.
Only add a disambiguation if there is a possible confusion already or if you really anticipate confusion. If you do add a disambiguation, be as concise as possible.
I’d rather see MusicBrainz offering more context in searches based on information MusicBrainz has on that entity. Like interesting relationships (member of group, most-credited instrument). That would be automated (less work for editors, don’t forget that MB has more than 2 million artists alone, never mind other entity types) and translatable.
RYM takes it even further to encourage the full profile to be filled out (the Profile is what they call all the information for an artist). That is, not just the disambiguation, but the locations, dates, members, AKAs and when reviewed it’s common for voters to find even more information to be added before the artist it’s landed.
This is far too involved for MusicBrainz and adds a huge editing turn around time, but the artists are highly accurate and detailed in turn.
Jesus, on the flip side I would argue that if the only information you know about an artist is “They were famous for That Song” then you haven’t done enough research to add this artist reliably and accurately. This can lead to more editing where we have lots of low quality artists that need to be merged and fixed up over time. Maybe it was an alias? Maybe if you looked at one more source you would have seen that the artist intent spelling was different, etc.
You do make a solid point about the disambiguation being in English. That is a problem that needs a solution regardless of if the disambiguation was mandatory.
In almost all cases you should be able to produce something that describes enough of the artist that is very unlikely to be wrong in the future. For example, a “Rap-metal band from California” might do other rock but it’s close enough that an editor (who can only see the artist name when filling in artist credits) knows for sure that it’s not “German Techno duo”.
My main concern here is for adding artists credits. When I add a release, I only get to see the artist name and disambiguation. So if I see an artist with the same name, I’m going to blindly pick it. I’m (and I think this extents to many editors) are not be able to check if it’s correct without double checking them in the final stage which is just cumbersome and error prone - in my opinion.
On the other hand, we could improve the editing experience to show more detailed artist information when making the selection. Perhaps on a mouse over when selecting the artist? That will show information that we see on the right side of the artist page, including tags (which often indicate genres).
I agree that automating some of this stuff (for instance, showing artist country and date range of activity) would be best.
Failing that, I wouldn’t make it mandatory, but I do think we could encourage, in the guidelines at least, the addition of disambiguations even when there are no duplicates.
Partly for consistency, partly because when I am adding 100 artist compilation it’s a real time waster to have to click through to every single one to double check I shouldn’t be making a new artist. And I’m sure a lot of people don’t check…
But I’d still avoid compulsory fields, unless it’s an omission causing a very big problem.
I don’t believe artist disambiguations should be mandatory, but definitely highly encouraged.
whenever I’m adding an artists credit somewhere and it pulls one result with no disambiguation, often I’ll click into the artist to see if they’ve got similar credits already, i.e. they also play guitar on other recordings, they appeared on other Brony compilations, or they produced for other Tooth & Nail signed artists.
the main issue I can see with applying the RateYourMusic approach here on MusicBrainz is I don’t think RYM lets you add as detailed credits, i.e. producer, guitarist, engineer, etc. (I may be wrong, but I also haven’t seen them as of yet). because of that, we’d have more artists who might be harder to find, as there’s no releases for them.
I second this idea, including showing artist type (group, person, orchestra, etc.), area, and begin/end dates in the inline search results.
Nah but it’s rare that I end up using such a lame comment!
I had to, because there was a homonym, and I knew nothing else than he’s a singer of a certain singing style that I don’t know the name for sure.
So I’m happy the comment is not mandatory for cases like this when there is no homonyms.
Just a few words from my editing practice if someone is interested.
I am mostly working with PRO data so, when working with artists (mostly when i have to select an artist while filling a tracklist) a typical existing artist disambiguation comment is mostly useless for me since i am operating a bit different data originally. Personally for me it would much better if MB could dispaly some disamb. “tooltip” with info like:
Full real name
Ideally as options in editor profile what fields to display in such disamb. tooltip.
However, my argument against making just this be the policy is that it is a puny and insufficient response to a much deeper problem. The deeper problem is a combination of:
Editors create Artist entries with insufficient research and detail
The ambiguity does not exist when the first Artist with a common name is entered; it begins when the second Artist with a similar name is entered. The Editor entering the first Artist does not know that disambiguation will be required later.
The MusicBrainz web app UI does not display enough of the Artist information in search result lists to effectively distinguish between potential Artist matches; it shows Name and Disambiguation but not any other Artist data
If we require disambiguation strings, we need to have style guidelines for what to put in them, and what abbreviations to use. My own template is “<area> <role> <time>”, e.g. “Canadian trumpeter and composer, fl early 21c.” This at the very least distinguishes that Artist from the 1950’s UK recording engineer of the same name.
You have put your finger on a difficult tradeoff. Higher quality data vs lower effort to add. In my opinion, we should be talking about this tradeoff in the context of Artist data quality and overally MusicBrainz editor interaction. Framing it as just a question of disambiguation strings is too limited.