Category Archives: MetaBrainz

Notifications and messaging in MetaBrainz projects

During the last MusicBrainz summit in Barcelona we decided to start working on finding possible ways to implement two features that have been requested for a long time:

  1. Messaging between users
  2. Notifications about various actions in MetaBrainz projects

Since MetaBrainz is more than just MusicBrainz these days, we also want to integrate these features into other projects. That, for example, means when a user is reading reviews on CritiqueBrainz they can see notifications about comments on their edits on MusicBrainz. Same applies to messaging. These features are intended to encourage our communities to communicate more easily with each other.

Messaging

http://tickets.musicbrainz.org/browse/MBS-8721

The only ways of communication we have right now are two IRC channels, forums that we plan to replace with Discourse, and comments on individual edits. Sometimes we end up sending private emails to editors for one reason or another. Perhaps it is better to have our own messaging system for this purpose? I imagine it being similar to messaging systems on forums, reddit, etc. We would like to know what you think potential uses are for this and how it might look like to be useful.

Notifications

http://tickets.musicbrainz.org/browse/MBS-1801

Site-based notifications are another thing that people have been asking for a long time. For example, these notifications can be related to edits on MusicBrainz, reviews on CritiqueBrainz, datasets in AcousticBrainz, etc. It can be an addition or replacement for email notifications that we currently have in MusicBrainz. Maybe something similar to the inbox feature that the Stack Exchange network has. People should be able to choose if they want to keep receiving email notifications or only use the new site-based notifications.

Progress so far

We looked at a couple of ways to implement this functionality.

First suggestion was to use the Layer toolkit. The problem with it is that we don’t want to be dependent on closed software and another company’s infrastructure, especially in case of such important features.

Second was to use the XMPP protocol to handle communication and notifications. We tried to implement a proof of concept using this protocol and encountered several issues at the start:

  • It’s unclear how to store messages and process them later;
  • It can be problematic to reuse the same connection in different browser;
  • There are plenty of things that we’ll need to implement on top of this protocol ourselves (like authentication, storage, notifications).

Repository with everything that was implemented so far is at https://github.com/metabrainz/xmpp-messaging-server. Given these problems we started considering implementing our own server(s) for this purpose.

You can take a look at the document where we collect most information about current progress.

Feedback

There’s plenty of feedback on the site-based notifications feature request, and we have a pretty good understanding of what’s needed. This is not the case with the messaging feature. We explored several options for implementing this kind of functionality and decided that it’s time to refresh the list of requirements to get an idea of what needs to be done.

The goal of this blog post is to encourage discussion and gather ideas. If you are interested in these features, please share your thoughts and suggestions.

New business relations guru: Christina Smith

I am pleased to announce that I’ve just hired our first person responsible for looking after the day-to-day business operations of MetaBrainz! Christina Smith, a Canadian who also lives in Barcelona, has signed on as our part-time Business Development Guru (/Manager/Troublemaker/What have you).

This marks a significant step forward for us in a number of ways. First, it acknowledges that we have grown enough to warrant such a position. Second, Christina will improve how we communicate with customers and how much revenue we bring into the foundation. In the last two years we’ve added several new projects, but haven’t been able to hire new engineers to work on these projects, so hopefully having Christina will allow us to grow to support our new projects as well.

Christina’s responsibilities can be summarized as:

  • manage relationships with our supporters
  • provide timely, friendly and helpful answers and solutions for our supporters
  • increase revenues by connecting and building relationships with current and potential supporters
  • general accounting tasks including invoicing and payment tracking
  • periodic research, recommendations and help to address evolving business needs. (e.g. research the implementation of a company presence in Europe, including help in setting up a new headquarter in Barcelona)
  • research and suggestions on law and policy issues related to the business

I am super excited that Christina will be working with us — this removes a pile of tasks off my plate, which should allow me to focus more on running the foundation and managing our teams.

For the remainder of December, Christina will work on research tasks on how we can establish a better base in the EU. Then in January she will properly join the team and be present in our IRC meetings.

Welcome on board, Christina!

Recap of the MusicBrainz Summit 15

The MusicBrainz Summit 15 participants.

From left→right (top) chirlu, reosarevok, ruaok, Freso, (bottom) Leftmost, alastairp, Gentlecat, bitmap, zas, and LordSputnik. Special guest on the laptop monitor: caller#6.


A couple of weeks ago (Oct. 30th through Nov. 1st), the MusicBrainz Summit 15 took place in Barcelona, at Rob “ruaok”‘s place. We had all of the MetaBrainz employees there, Rob/ruaok (local), Michael/bitmap (US), Nicolás/reosarevok (Spain/Estonia), Roman/Gentlecat (recently local), Laurent/zas (France), and myself, Freso (Denmark) – in addition to a bunch of other people from the community: Sean/Leftmost (US) and Ben/LordSputnik (UK), the two lead developers of BookBrainz; chirlu (Germany), long-time volunteer developer on MusicBrainz; and Alastair/alastairp (local), lead of AcousticBrainz. Between us, we represented 7 countries, 8 nationalities, and 9 languages.

Talking around the table. We managed to cover a lot of ground on the serious topics, discussing how to avoid data/MBID loss and how to version data, how to deal with labels (the entities, not the corporations…) and other unresolved style issues, how to integrate all the various *Brainz projects more and better, and a bunch of other things. The official notes for the summit is stored in a public Google Docs document. Feel free to read through and it jot down your own comments!

One of the big things was the we decided again-again-again (for the third or fourth year in a row?) to release the translations of MusicBrainz.org. But this time we actually did it! So MusicBrainz.org is now available in German, Dutch, and French (in addition to English) – go check that out if you have not done so already. ;) At some point in the not-too-distant future™ we will also enable translating all of our documentation. Sean/Leftmost volunteered to look into options for this. Expect to hear more on that later!

MusicBrainz Style BDFL: Nicolás/reosarevok

Our Style BDFL: Nicolás a.k.a. reosarevok


We had some talk about how and why MBIDs get lost and what we can do to prevent this. As part of this discussion, we decided to make more edits autoedits for everybody. This was partly due to a wish of having a shorter queue of open edits (and there’s been a significant drop in open edits since Nov. 16!), but also very much to avoid losing MBIDs once they have been generated. More in depth discussion of the reasoning (and some of the community’s response) can be seen in the server release blog post and its comments.

We talked about a few other things like genres, reviewing the work of the style BDFL and the community manager, the future direction of the MetaBrainz Foundation, and a couple of other topics. The summit notes should contain more information on what we talked about and decided on these points.


Obviously it was not all talk and talk and talk. There was also plenty(!!) of chocolate. yeeeargh helped us by getting a lot of Ritter Sport as he apparently lives right next to their factory, and sending it along with chirlu to Barcelona. Thank you, yeeeargh! Gelato! We also managed to take in a vast amount of gelato (Italian ice cream), as there was an amazing gelato place close by Rob’s apartment. And got to walk a bit around the city of Barcelona. And have various social hanging out that only most of the time was Meta-/MusicBrainz related… but not all of it. ;) Our system administrator, Laurent/zas, also took a bunch of pictures capturing the summit. A few of them are shown here, but you can peruse them all in the slideshow at the bottom.

Finally, a big thank you to Google and Spotify for helping to fund this meeting. It would have been a lot harder to bring all these people together from around the world without their (continued, no less!) support. Here’s to 2016 and summit 16!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

New Community Manager: Freso

Hello Brainzers!

Following up on the last post, I am now hired as the “MetaBrainz Community Manager”. This means that you should see me far more often in the forums, here on the blog, and on IRC. Just kidding. Like I could be more active on IRC than I already am! :D

My overall tasks are outlined in the job description (link is one of the last drafts, final version is slightly different and will be put up on metabrainz.org Soon™), and my concrete here-and-now tasks are outlined on this Trello board. For right now I’m mostly “settling in”, getting my various tools set up and familiarising myself with them, catching up on blog comments and forum posts, etc., etc. – once all that is done, expect to hear more from me about my plans with this new title and its responsibility. Until then, feel free to catch me on IRC or comment below if you have any questions or comments. Looking forwards to (continue) working with you all!

Love,
Freso, your new friendly neighbourhood Community Manager <3

Creating a paid community manager position

I’m slowly sifting through the community feedback comments and I’m increasingly falling behind in my tasks for managing MusicBrainz and all of the projects of the MetaBrainz Foundation. It has become clear that I need help in managing the community and not just help for software engineering or system administration. Thankfully one person came to mind when I started looking for help! Our own Freso has been active in MusicBrainz for over 9 years, so he knows his way around and is used to my abuse:

BDFL on Freso

More importantly, Freso manages to keep his cool when things get heated. He’s attended and supported our summits and he understands MusicBrainz and communities. I’m working with Freso to define his position and determine the appropriate pay level — we’ve moved past the stage where private issues were settled and are now ready to take this job description public.

So far, we’ve created this document to describe this new position. Please take a look — anyone can comment on the document. We’ll take comments and attempt to answer/integrate/respond to your feedback.

Once this job description is done and we’re happy with it, I will need to get board approval to create this new position. Fortunately for us, the new revenue from our new MetaBrainz site will cover the costs of having Freso as a paid member of our team.

Going forward, I plan to publish a list of people who are paid by the MetaBrainz Foundation, including their job descriptions. The above document will then be moved to the MetaBrainz site.

Happy weekend everyone!