Wikidata item for Single RG - Single, Song or both?

Singles in Musicbrainz are often linked to the Wikidata “song” (or sometimes “musical work/composition” that the main track is a performance of. The Wikipedia song page often has details of significant singles that are performances of the song, frequently including cover art.
However, there’s also a specific wikidata type for single release groups, “single”. When both exist It makes more sense to link the release group to the “single” wikidata item rather than the “song” one. The problem is Wikipedia pages, which contain the actual encyclopaedia entry for the song / single, are usually linked to the song, not the single. (This is likely a historical artifact as single becomes more widely used, but it seems to be the current state of things).
As an example, I came across this issue in a recent open edit edit/84020986 . The editor had just added a “single” wikidata item, and is removing the “song” item with the edit. This makes sense; the big problem I see is that the Wikipedia items (there are 15 localized versions) are all attached to the “song”.
No doubt we’ll have to continue to accept wikidata “song” items, at least for a while.
This could be resolved at the Wikidata end as well, by having Wikidata items that are both “song” and “single” instances. This is effectively what many of the existing “song” pages are, they just don’t declare themselves to be “single” as well. However, this one does Bare Naked Ladies - Enid.
If we do start replacing all of the “song” items with “single” items, we should find a way to retain the links to Wikipedia items. Linking to the Wikipedia items directly from MusicBrainz is of course possible but is something we’ve been trying to avoid, so locale-specific pages can be loaded.
Alternative we could link both the “song” and the “single” if the “song” page has those single descriptions. We’d need to make sure the server will search all attached Wikidata items, not just the first, for Wikipedia items.
Or, I suppose we could declare this to be a Wikidata / Wikipedia problem. Song pages should just be about the song. Descriptions about associated single releases should be removed and put on a separate Single release-group page instead, the same as Album releases generally have their own page.
So, to summarize: It seems appropriate to have “single” wikidata instances rather than “song” instances on “Single” release groups in MusicBrainz, but we should have some plan to deal with the Wikipedia pages that are currently on “Song” pages but are really about those single releases (at least in part).


WMF’s shortcomings are not MBF’s issue, and we shouldn’t compromise our data to reflect theirs.
Meaning - them conflating work/performance into one doesn’t mean we should.

But, at the same time, many contemporary/modern pieces are not really separated into “work and performance” the way others are. So, maybe MB does need to make considerations for such.

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I have been linking Wikidata to both MB song Works and single Release Groups.
Because the content of linked Wikipedia pages is really about both, indeed.


That’s not really resolving it - Wikidata items are not supposed to be two things. It’s just the Wikipedia articles are generally a mess that does both things, and Wikidata is sadly stuck with following the Wikipedia mess because of the usage for Wikipedia interwiki links.

The right thing to do here is to link only to the appropriate item, for either the song or the single respectively for the work and the RG, and let the Wikimedia foundation eventually figure out a way to deal with Wikipedia pages being a multi-concept mess.


If a Wikipedia page shows two types of items due to being more efficient and logical, then I add the Wikipedia link as well as Wikidata. Most singles are not important enough to have separate Single and Song pages. This new split of Song and Single seems to be a strange pedantry drive at Wikidata without thinking things through fully.

One of the problems is a Wikipedia page only has space for a single Wikidata link. Currently this is wrong. Wikipedia is breaking the one to one mapping between itself and Wikidata.

A similar issue happens with Film Soundtracks. Often they are placed onto a Film’s Wikipedia page. I end up adding those to MB Annotations

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Thank you for opening this discussion, this seems important.

Disclaimer: As an active contributor to both projects, I have slightly conflicting thoughts on the situation, but for the purpose of this conversation I will wear my Wikidata hat.

Wikidata’s music model is separate from Wikipedia and more or less identical to that of MusicBrainz.
Wikidata has works, tracks (recordings), releases and release groups, just like on MB, and we strive to keep a one-to-one relationship between entities on WD (“Qitems”) and the various entities on MB.

The linking relationship between MusicBrainz and Wikidata matters in a very tangible way: There are several bots currently updating Wikidata based on information found on MusicBrainz (through cross-linking). I’m not aware of MusicBrainz getting bot updates in the other direction, but I know it’s being worked on by projects external to both WD and MB.
Practically speaking this means that if you link a soundtrack album on MB to a film on WD, the Wikidata film item will get updated with a MusicBrainz release group ID (not what anyone wants).

Due to a technical shortcoming in the Wikidata software (Wikibase) it’s currently not possible to link a Wikipedia article to more than one Wikidata item (this might change in the future). Because of this Wikidata editors are often forced to make a hard choice: do we link the article to the song or the single? A practice of linking to the work (composition) has developed, but it’s not a hard rule and there are plenty of exceptions.

The conflation of songs, singles, recordings, and cover versions on Wikidata is unfortunate, massive, and very real. The reason for it is historical, stemming from the original import of Wikipedia articles when Wikidata first came into being.
Getting rid of conflation is a problem being worked on every day, with the goal of eliminating it all together. Having a strong one-to-one relationship with MusicBrainz is seen as beneficial to this effort.


One problem I see is that some MB editors will delete a Wikipedia link because there is a Wikidata link. This does not always make sense when a Wikipedia page is in a “dual purpose” mode.

Personally I think one solution would be to allow MB links to point to an article within a Wikipedia page which would then allow a Single to be pointed at in a combined Song and Single page. OR a soundtrack on a Film page.

I like seeing those clips of Wikipedia articles at the top of MB pages. I feels it gives a richer level of information on the page.

Hopefully Wikidata and Wikipedia will work together to find a way of linking the separate Song & Single Wikidata pages to the combined Wikipedia page.

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I do this indeed. Manually.
Mostly because Wikipedia pages often get renamed later, so Wikidata is a good replacement permalink.
But I didn’t know there was separate single and work Wikidatas.
I hope Wikipedia pages can be linked to several Wikidatas, soon
Because, as a reader, I find it more comfortable to have single and work in the same Wikipedia page.


I’ve been doing this as well, but I always check that MB still brings up the page through the Wikidata link. It almost always does but on a few of these Singles pages, it doesn’t.
The other reason for doing so, as pointed out in MB docs, is so that the MB server can pull up the correct language version for the user. The Wikidata page for the Shania Twain single, for example, points to Wikipedia pages in 15 languages.


So what should we be doing here? Should we go back to linking to Wikipedia sections if Wikipedia only documents the thing as a section of a larger article? Otherwise, people will continue linking multiple things to a single Wikidata URL, but it sounds like that’s “wrong”

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Add a link to a good example of how this mess is affecting MB now

One thing that shows this is not a musical decision is how the Wikdata Song pages have no links to the Wikidata Single pages.

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I don’t mind linking the same Wikidata to Single Release Group and to Song Work.
The content has always been interesting and relevant to read, when coming from both these MB entities.

A single is all about its A side. A song is all about its single release, when any.

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That’s misinformed. The link between a song and a single is the same as on Musicbrainz: via the track (the recording of the song).

That’s a big generalization. For singles we have double A-sides, singles where the B-side became a bigger hit than the A-side, etc. etc. When it comes to songs they might have been recorded by hundreds or even thousands of artists, the originals might not even be known.

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Sorry, but I can’t make sense of that Wikidata Song page. I can’t see how to get from Song to Single. Which section am I looking in? There is nothing under “single”. And I can’t see “track”.

Yes, I am misinformed as I can’t make sense of the page. Sorry.

Trouble is, you can’t do this now. And if you do, it gets deleted.

Wikipedia combines Song and Single in a logical way. Wikidata splits them (which I am not saying is wrong). Trouble is, once Wikidata has split song and single there is no way for MB to get from a Wikidata Single link back to the Song page on Wikipedia. Or at least not that I can find - but I am not a database man.

I like the rich data that Wikipedia brings to an MB page, but understand this clashes with a pure database. I hope someone can find a solution.

I think linking to the correct Wikidata entry should be done, for the reasons @Moebeus described above. So link a MB work to the Wikidata work and a MB recording to the Wikidata track.

But IMHO the attempt to remove all links to Wikipedia is going too far. If there is a well matching Wikipedia article for any entity, and the corresponding Wikidata item is not linked to that article, we should make use of the Wikipeda link. I don’t see any issue with that.


This is the point I agree with (just wording things badly). We need the Wikidata links to link to the correct entities, but we also need to be able to link Wikipedia pages where relevant. That Mamma Mia example is a good one. The Wikidata link correctly goes to the Song page, but we have to add a separate Wikipedia link to the combined Single\Song page on Wikipedia. Hopefully MB can find a way to make that a Multi-lingual option?

The main issue that I see is that we lose the Musicbrainz’s ability to pull up the right language Wikipedia article from the Wikidata item, since those pages are usually linked to the song page. I haven’t actually found a counterexample (a “single” wikidata item pointing to an actual Wikipedia item). Does anyone have an example?
Without the Song wikidata item we should be linking Wikipedia items for all languages where one exists, not just one, and keep them up to date as new translations are added. That can be a lot of work - see Shania Twain - You’re Still the One where I’ve added links to all of the song pages. An extreme example, I admit (15 translations).
From a Data perspective, I think what needs to be done on the Wikipedia end is to break up many of those Song pages into two pages, one about the Song or Work and the other about the Single. It’s a lot of work, and runs the risk that some of those pages will be deemed “not significant” and deleted when they can’t talk about both the song and the single. It would solve the Musicbrainz problem as the Wikidata Single item would have Single wikipedia articles to point to.

I personally believe Wikipedia has the combination correct for the reason you state. A split page would be deleted due to “not significant”. This is even more relevant when you have cover versions becoming more famous than the original single. In those cases you get Song, Original Single and Cover Single all in the same place. In context the three then make sense together.

Wikidata is aiming to achieve a data-centric view which, by its nature, does not need to be human readable. There is not always going to be a one to one mapping between Wikipedia and Wikidata as they have a slightly different tilt as to who is reading them.