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:
- Create an account on tickets.musicbrainz.org.
- Make a ticket to request that the new area is added.
- 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:
- Improve overall communication within the project, as is being discussed in Rob’s recent blog posts.
- Make a long-term plan for areas and how they should be edited
- 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.