Work Types Proposal

It seems the finish line is in sight. I edited my initial post to reflect the changes we discussed here:

  • Removed folk tale fiction type. @pbryan
  • Added two subtypes to the Play category, Stage play and Screenplay. @pbryan
  • Added Comics fiction type and several comics subtypes. @UltimateRiff
  • Added Legal instrument nonfiction type. @pbryan
  • Added Recipe nonfiction type. @UltimateRiff

Let me know if you have any more corrections/suggestions/additions.


Some thoughts

In a photo-book, should each photo be a work? Does the same apply for artbooks?
Should instructional works like the For Dummies series be considered a form of reference work?
Should travel guides be considered a type of work, or something better handled by a future genre system?


Photo books. :person_facepalming:

Well done guys, looks really good.
Just some additions

  • “interview” for (not only) periodicals (maybe also something like “discussion” or “debate” when more than just two people are participating).
  • “auction catalogue” and “exhibition catalogue” for the arts section (I know there will be a debate if “work” or not)
  • How do we call the work that is contained in a picture book for childrens?
  • “Review” as a sub type of “Opinion piece”
  • “Interpretation” for works that are analysing other works
  • maybe “textbook”, but it’s not easy to define, so maybe not :wink:
  • do we need a multiple option field or do we just have one choice?

We will be stumbling about a lot more types but it’s a good start.


ooh, with that we could add any CritiqueBrainz reviews… how very meta~ :joy:


I’ve been thinking about photos since the Work entity discussion. My current thinking is that these shouldn’t be considered BB works. We need to consider what BB is for. Everything we discussed so far are forms of text, or at least “things that are read”. Images are a big part of comics, but you read comics, as you read a poem, a recipe, or a biography. You don’t read a photo. If we allow photos, we need to allow other kinds of visual artwork. Given that most books have at least one (in the cover) and can have many (a novel is only one work, but can have dozens of illustrations, a biography — one work — can have dozens of photos), we may up with more visual artworks in BB than “things that are read”, it could end up primarily an ArtBrainz — not a bad idea, but not what we’re trying to do here.

So what do I think we should do with this kind of books? First of all, ed. groups and editions should be added like any other book, those definitely belong here, like any other book. Secondly, the artists should to added to the edition with the appropriate relationships — we already have those. Lastly, many of these books also include introductions, essays, or any other kind of textual works; these should be added — but not the visual artworks.


I think the For Dummies series has developed into a franchise with different kinds of works, so it’s not impossible that some are reference books, but traditional For Dummies books aren’t. Reference works generally consist of individual entries and are not meant to be read cover to cover (e.g. a dictionary, you look up a specific word, you don’t read it from Aalenian to zythum), For Dummies are instructional books meant to read in their entirety.

Here I’m just not sure. My feeling is that there are different kinds of travel guides, that they’re not easily defined as one type, but I don’t actually own any, and it’s hard to know what to say without looking at a bunch of different examples. If own or have read a good number of different travel guides, you feel it should be a type and want to try for a definition, go ahead.

These two I think really belong here, I just wasn’t trying to be exhaustive, especially for categories we don’t have many works yet. I’ll work on the definition.

How about “picture book story?” This is something that didn’t cross my mind, but absolutely makes sense. And, for picture books, there’s also a few ed. group types to add…

Do you mean it as work type or relationship? If work type, can you give some examples?

I think eventually we may have to add something like textbook, but it’s going to be tricky, not everything that can be called a textbook can fit a definition.

Are you saying that it is? I would like to hear your opinion. My immediate thought is that catalogues are a bit like photo books, so what I said above applies. But I don’t own any catalogue, I’m really not sure.

When I started working on this, I assumed it would be multiple choice, but the more I worked on it, the more I think it shouldn’t a categories and subcategories system. That is what I’m proposing. So, if you select the Shakespearean sonnet type, you are saying three things, this work is a work of poetry, it uses the sonnet poetic form, and it used specifically the English version of that form. So, in a way, it is multiple choice, but not vague like a tagging system. Defining these terms, we are much clearer and more specific than we can be with a tagging system.


+1. We’ve decided that works in BB are literary works, and photographs are not literary works. Therefore, I think it’s appropriate for picture books to be catalogued as books, without including works. We should add additional edition types to capture these types of books.

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where a poem is followed by an interpretation of that poem.

But maybe a work-work relation will be enough (reviews will also need this relation of course)

Auction and exhibition catalogues:

On second thought I think we should treat some as other art books. When I added the first ones back then, there were no “series” yet. I think we can use these ro group catalogues.

Multiple options:



My attempt:

  • Review — Critical evaluation of an artistic work, performance, or product.
  • Interview — The reproduction of a series of questions posed by a member of the press and the answers given by the person being interviewed.

(Defining the written reproduction — the work —, not the meeting where the questions are asked.)


  • Picture book story — A story, generally for young children, with many pictures and a simple narrative. Books consisting of such stories are called picture books.

This, for me, really depends on what interpretation means here. The author’s personal opinion/feelings? Or poetical analysis (of criteria such as style, rhythm, etc.)? We can keep discussing this, but it may be better to do that at a latter time. As I’m writing this, I think there’s a place for one or more work types related to commentary/close reading/exegesis, and maybe what you have in mind would fit here. But I would prefer to leave this for a latter time.

In any case, we need an “about” work-to-work relationship. (Which already exists as a work-to-author relationship.)


I edited the initial post to add the work types @indy133 suggested:

  • Review
  • Interview
  • Picture book story

@indy133, I ended up deciding to not consider a review an opinion piece, since there is generally the assumption that somebody writing a review is an expert, while the same isn’t true for somebody writing an opinion piece. Let me know if this distinction doesn’t make sense to you,


You are right. it’s better this way, thx…


for what it’s worth, you don’t need to be an expert to write a CritiqueBrainz review… :wink:


That is true, but are you suggesting adding all CritiqueBrainz users as BB authors, and their reviews as BB works? And all Amazon users as authors and their product reviews as works? Every Tripadvisor review? Etc., etc. I think the work types we are now adding should be mainly for the Ed. Group types we currently have on BB: book, leaflet, newspaper, magazine, and journal.

I do think eventually we need to think how to add web-based works, I’m sure there are books that were published on the Web as a website and may not even exist in other formats, but that doesn’t mean everything on the Web is a literary work.

I don’t know that I would personally add them at this time, but I wouldn’t be against anyone who wants to document these either

then again, someone’s gotta document’s glorious reviews… :joy:

4 Likes’s glorious reviews aside, I don’t think we intend BB to document everything that has been posted to the Internet.

If there is no further objection, I’ll open a JIRA issue to propose implementing the current list of work types. Of course the intention is that new work types can be suggested, discussed and added in the future.


In English, there is the type “novelette” which, as far as I know, has no exact equivalent in other languages. So we have to decide whether to use “short story” or “novella” for it. I had a discussion about this some time ago with a user who is unfortunately no longer here.
We came to the conclusion that “short story” is the better choice, as it corresponds to the usage in most other languages.
But of course it is always a difficult thing with such a “transition zone”.
Do you have any ideas for a good solution?
Maybe a super-type “short fiction” that will stay as type, if a user is unsure?


It’s good that you mentioned the novelette issue because it’s bound to come up again. I looked into it when I first prepared this list and came to the conclusion it doesn’t belong here because:

  1. It’s only used in English, and then again usually only as a category of literary awards for genre fiction.
  2. Even in English it has no definite definition, most dictionaries define it as synonym of novella, or specifically an “unserious” novella or short novel.

See, for example, the definitions of the most influential English dictionaries:

(The definition for novella sense 2 being “a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel”.)

(The definition for novella being also “A short novel.”)

Actually, my opinion is that we should pick neither “short story” nor “novella” for these cases. I think we should have clearly defined work types and, if a work doesn’t fit any more specific type, we should pick the more general type that applies. If we can’t call it definitely a “short story” or a “novella”, it should be simply “fiction”. That is actually why I’m suggesting the Fiction type, because there will always be works that will always be sort of “in between” types. The “transition zone”, as you say.

I think “novelette”, with its undefinable nature, belongs to a future Folksonomy tag system. People can tag works that are called by their authors or critics novelettes with the novelette tag. It can be useful as a tag, but I don’t think it should be a work type.


That won’t work for all languages I’m afraid.
In German, for example, there is the type of “Erzählung”, which can denote both a novel and a novella. I think such “inaccuracies” can be found in many languages.

Yes, if we don’t want to use the term “short fiction”, just “fiction” is the best solution.

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It is true we may find issues like this, but we can also have language-specific work types. There will be Chinese and Japanese poetic forms that only apply to those languages, but as long as they can be clearly defined, and I would have no problem with adding those forms as work types. And the same would apply to German or other European languages. I can’t say specifically for your example, of course. The issue with novelette is that there is no clear definition for it — worse, there are incompatible or ambiguous definitions. It’s possible that in the future more authors will start to publish novelettes, and this becomes a more common and recognizable type. If this happened, we could probably have a good definition. I just don’t see that being the case now.

To be clear, I don’t have anything in principle against a short fiction type. But then we will have the same issue again… What would it be, short stories and novelettes? But we don’t even have a definition for novelette. Anything shorter than a novel? I feel this would essentially be a “not sure” category. But this is exactly the kind of thing I was trying to avoid, a vague category. That’s why I think if we can’t be sure we should go with fiction, a specific category that applies.