Roman Tsukanov joins the MetaBrainz team

I’m pleased to announce that last week we officially hired Roman Tsukanov, AKA Gentlecat to be a part time developer for MusicBrainz!

Gentlecat has already established himself firmly in our community: Last year he rocked the CritiqueBrainz project for Summer of Code and this summer he rocked AcousticBrainz. And he’s written our shiny new MetaBrainz web site! He is now in the process of learning perl and has started to help Bitmap review existing code reviews. And he has even fixed a couple of issues already. In other words he lives up to his name: To Gentlecat something means to rock it!

I’m quite happy to have such a capable developer participating in MusicBrainz. Welcome to the team Gentlecat!

August Community Revisit

Ohoi m’hearties, it’s time for the first monthly Community Revisit, where we’ll revisit what happened in MetaBrainzLand during the last month. Ready for the ride? Leggo!

The primary thing happening this month has likely been the changes in the MetaBrainz employee line-up following Ian’s departure in July. In the beginning of the month, Freso (wait, hey, that’s me!) was pulled on board as Community Manager (a brand new position for MetaBrainz too!), and just at the end of the month, GSoC wonder child Roman “Gentlecat” Tsukanov was hired as the new software engineer. So hi to us two! :)

Speaking of GSoC, the Google Summer of Code, this year’s edition is also fast coming to an end, and our four students and their projects are closing up and giving their work the final touches to have them ready to go live. Don’t be surprised if you hear more about these projects soon.

One thing that did go live during August, in no small part thanks to Ben “LordSputnik” Ockmore and Leo_Verto: the new IRC chat logger! Chat logs from IRC are now available at http://chatlogs.metabrainz.org/ – the site still needs some MetaBrainzifying, but Ben has done a great job of importing (pretty much) all the old chat logs to the new system and the bot is running in all the official MetaBrainz channels. If you’re on IRC (or you just like poking at the IRC logs), be sure to say “Thank you!! <3” to LordSputnik and Leo_Verto next time you see them around!

Another person who has made a mark in the last month was Alex a.k.a. caller#6, starting up the discussion about the current situation of MusicBrainz’ Area entities. Be sure to check out that blog post and let your voice be heard, if you don’t feel like it’s being represented already. The next instalment should be out before long.

We also had two server updates (pretty much all bug fixes) and an updated Virtual Machine image was finally released for the more tech oriented people.

This about rounds off the August Community Revisit. What do you think about the format? Did I miss any important community happenings? Any other comments? This is a brand new venture, so nothing’s set in stone yet!

From Denmark with love,
Freso

There will be no autumn 2015 schema change

Schema changes are always a lot of work for us and we end up spending much time preparing for it and then even more time cleaning up/catching up after it. As a result, some critical non-schema change features keep getting pushed back… to the point that we never get to them.

To try and break this cycle, we’re going to skip the Autumn 2015 schema change. Instead we will focus on other tasks such as hosting and community features.

We will resume our schedule with the next planned schema change around 15 May, 2016. After that release we will determine if we want to go ahead with 1 or 2 schema change releases a year.

Server update, 2015-08-24

Today’s release contains only bug-fixes. We’ve fixed an issues with “downvoted” tags being lost after a merge, and made release label edits more robust when the related releases or labels are merged. The git tag is v-2015-08-24 and the changelog is below.

Bug

  • [MBS-3867] – Edit release label fails prerequisite when labels are merged
  • [MBS-8462] – Webservice can create tags with upper-case letters
  • [MBS-8505] – Up/down vote for tags that contains uppercase letters updates a lowercase version of that tag
  • [MBS-8515] – Can’t edit or add entities related to an URL
  • [MBS-8516] – Relationships used as documentation examples can’t be merged
  • [MBS-8517] – Internal server error loading /ws/2/collection?fmt=json
  • [MBS-8518] – Edit release label edits get stuck after the release is merged
  • [MBS-8524] – Merging entities can corrupt tags up/down-votes
  • [MBS-8528] – Trying to search for an example to add to a relationship type gives “Lookup failed: Not Acceptable”
  • [MBS-8529] – compile_resources.sh: Error: ENOENT, no such file or directory ‘/home/i18n/musicbrainz-server/po/javascript.<lang>.po’

Server update, 2015-08-10

This is mostly a bug-fix release, with one important note for people running their own server:

A longstanding issue with versions of MooseX::Role::Parameterized greater than 1.02 has been fixed, and now version 1.03 or greater is required. If you’re using cpanm as INSTALL.md suggests, running cpanm MooseX::Role::Parameterized will get the latest version. If you’re using the new VM, sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade will install the latest packaged dependencies from our PPA repository.

Thanks to all who contributed to today’s release. The git tag is v-2015-08-10 and the changelog is below.

Bug

  • [MBS-8495] – Lieder archive has moved to lieder.net
  • [MBS-8498] – Entities in a collection not mergeable
  • [MBS-8499] – Entities in a collection not removed when empty
  • [MBS-8501] – Work edit form is broken because document.currentScript is not available in all supported browsers
  • [MBS-8502] – Cookies are no longer persistent
  • [MBS-8507] – Duplicate checking code can prevent editing existing entity
  • [MBS-8514] – Work credits’ AC cannot be removed nor edited

Improvement

  • [MBS-2477] – Relationship edits should track merges

Area editing, part I: How did we wind up here?

First, where is “here”?

The current MB-area landscape looks pretty bleak. The data is incomplete, and adding new data is a hassle.

To add an area, you need to:

  1. Create an account on tickets.musicbrainz.org.
  2. Make a ticket to request that the new area is added.
  3. Wait for an area editor to do the rest, and judging by the backlog that might happen sometime between “in a long time” and “never”.

Where did area_bot go? Why are there so few area editors? Why isn’t somebody trying to improve the situation? In short, how did we wind up here? To understand that, we need to look at where we’ve been.

Where did we start out?

By design, areas were meant to be added by area_bot, pulling data from Wikidata. The workflow would look something like this:

  • If area_bot made a mistake, there would be a handful of editors who could correct it by editing areas manually.
  • If the bot missed an area in Wikidata, you could either:
    • (if it didn’t already have a valid “type) improve the Wikidata entry, or
    • (if it did have a valid “type”) ask nikki to tweak area_bot, so that it would recognize more types.

And that worked. Sort of. For a while.

How did we get so far off course?

At some point, things started to go wrong. While I didn’t see it firsthand, what I’ve been told is this: rather than ask nikki to add more area types to area_bot’s white-list, some editors started adding incorrect area types on Wikidata, types which area_bot already recognized. So, the area would be added to MusicBrainz, but at the expense of Wikidata.

At this point, communication broke down. Area_bot was taken offline (to discourage low-quality Wikidata edits), but very little was done to explain the situation to users. This lack of communication became a larger problem than areas themselves, because it kept us from fixing the problem.

So what’s the plan?

Broadly, the first steps are:

  1. Improve overall communication within the project, as is being discussed in Rob’s recent blog posts.
  2. Make a long-term plan for areas and how they should be edited
  3. Possibly open up area editing to more people, based on what’s decided in step #2.

My next post, Area editing, part II, will go into more detail about step #2.

New MusicBrainz server virtual machine available

Time to check the weather forecast for hell, because it appears to have frozen over! We have finally released a new Virtual Machine that contains all of the MusicBrainz server software and fixed all of the currently outstanding bugs (for the VM).

The new VM now uses a 64-bit architecture and has 80GB of disk-space so it should be much easier to get along with. I tried to ship one VM that has the search indexes build in, but after 3 hours (and increasing time) of trying to export that VM I killed it. If someone has better luck exporting a VM after building search indexes, please let me know. Also, VirtualBox seems to have improved in stability on Mac OS, so we are not going to build a VMWare version of the VM at this time.

All the details for the new VM are on our Server Setup page.

Remember to get your Live Data Feed access token here if you plan to use the replication.