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In the beginning…

February 1, 2010

After selecting MusicBrainz as my CBPP pet project, I had to figure out what the hell was going on. The learning curve is a bit steep; there is a lot of stuff on the page that seems foreign and unintuitive at first glance. I spent a lot of time reading documentation on the site, but it really wasn’t until I dug in and started editing that things started to make any sense.

My first edit was fixing a misspelling of one of my favorite Gospel singers’ name and adding a link to the album on Amazon. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to do it. Changes don’t update automatically; instead, other editors have to vote your edits up or down before they will take effect. After a certain number of days (I think it’s 13), edits that have received no votes are automatically approved by the system. But until the edit is approved, either automatically or by editors, the bit you changed is highlighted a very faint yellow.

I have become fascinated with tracking my edits, and seeing how many votes they’ve received. I think this is an interesting way reputation and quality control have been built into the system, but its efficacy depends on one or more editors taking active interest in an artist. I didn’t realize until actually right now just how important the subscription system is for maintaining data quality. Just as I’ve adopted this project for the class, I will adopt artists for the project. It’s an interesting way to distribute what could be an overwhelming task: while some “big” artists will have a many subscribers, contributors in the community have pretty diverse musical taste and that taste will manifest in artist subscriptions. You can subscribe to labels and other editors as well. I love that MusicBrainz leverages personal taste to control quality across an unseemly amount of information.

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