Improving the MusicBrainz user experience: Would you like to help?

A few people have been commenting on how MusicBrainz has a few bugs that bother them on a daily basis, yet these bugs are never fixed. From a developers perspective its really hard to see which bugs in our large bug list really matter to end users — its hard to figure out which bugs should be fixed first. Rather than fixing the bugs that affect most people first, developers tend to fix the bugs that have the most insistent users shouting for those fixes. Unfortunately fixing bugs for overly vocal users may not be the same as fixing bugs that will improve life for the most people.

Warp suggested that we check out Get Satisfaction, while others suggested using UserVoice. Both of these services provide an intermediate layer between the developers and the end users to provide feedback about the bugs that are important to them. End users can enter the bugs that bother them and everyone can vote on those bugs/issues. While we already have a bug tracking system, this system is geared to the less technical users out there — not everyone loves entering bugs into trac. Plus UserVoice’s voting mechanism allows the most important bugs to rise to the top of the list.

I’ve explored UserVoice a little since they offer a free plan for Open Source projects. (Not to mention that their site is in Orange, which is a big draw for me. 🙂 ) It seems that it would be easy to integrate this with MusicBrainz. But, it seems that this is one more chore for someone to manage and the last thing I need is to take on another chore. I’m willing to do the technical integration, but I would need some help from volunteers to manage the day-to-day operations of UserVoice. I envision volunteers to pay attention to the data that collects at UserVoice and maintain a mapping between UserVoice issues and actual bug/enhancement tickets inside the MusicBrainz bug tracker. If you already play with trac and help us maintain it, this might be another aspect in which you could help MusicBrainz.

I’d like to know:

  • Is using UserVoice a good idea?
  • Do you see any potential problems in using it?
  • Would you be interested in being an Admin on UserVoice to help manage MusicBrainz’ UserVoice site?

Please let me know in the comments!

18 thoughts on “Improving the MusicBrainz user experience: Would you like to help?

  1. Nikki

    I don’t know what system is best, but I do like the idea of something like UserVoice for normal users. I’d be willing to help manage it too.

  2. Muz

    I’d be happy to help in the adminning of UV if you adopt this.

    That said, my experience with UV is at my current workplace, and whilst it does have a few flaws, I can’t think of a better alternative – the UI’s much nicer than that of GS.

  3. pronik

    UserVoice is a better idea than not having something like this at all. Bug reports are not really an option for “normal” people so it’d be nice to have this stuff collected at one place.

    I could also help adminstrating this if you like.

  4. Paul C. Bryan

    > Is using UserVoice a good idea?
    Yes. It’s waaay easier to use than trac for end users. It’s no replacement for a “real” issue tracking system though.

    > Do you see any potential problems in using it?
    Data becoming stale: no feedback to users on progress.

    > Would you be interested in being an Admin on UserVoice to help manage MusicBrainz’ UserVoice site?
    Sure.

  5. voiceinsideyou

    Sounds like a good idea to me, even though the duplication may be a bit irritating. We probably need to be reasonably clear, though, that new bugs need to be raised on trac. It doesn’t appear to me to be a suitable place to request users provide logs, investigate issues further etc. It really would be most preferable to have an all-in-one system I guess since having the same conversation about issues on two different systems isn’t much fun for developers/triagers.

  6. jesus2099

    Mmh, yes. Now I browsed a little bit more. I see those two websites are more userfriendly but, Voice is right.
    Duplicating trac and feedback would be quite too much.
    We would have to maintain cross link table between tickets and feedbacks etc.

  7. pronik

    I think we need some clear concept on bug tracking etc.

    1. uservoice.com allows for bug reports to be sent to an e-mail address. Mails coming to this address might be forwarded to trac.

    2. There were some ideas about replacing trac altogether. This might actually be doable with dedicated services for each part. For example, using UserVoice for user feedback and user bugs, Lighthouse for developer side bug tracking (and triage of user bugs), GitHub for code hosting and GitHub Pages for the wiki / docs.

    3. We need to define the status of forums and maybe find a better way to integrate forums with the rest of the project. Actually, a better way to answer to users’ answers etc. I would actually prefer something like StackOverflow for that, but that’s a problem still waiting for an acceptable solution.

    Quiz question: where do we discuss this stuff? Mailing lists? Forum? IRC?

  8. Paul C. Bryan

    > Do you see any potential problems in using it?
    Yes, it seems very easy to subvert the voting system through anonymous voting. Can anonymous voting be disabled?

  9. pronik

    Killing anonymous voting is roughly equivalent to killing the advantage of UV. Nobody normally wants to register just to vote and OpenID doesn’t help here. We’d have to evaluate how good or bad UserVoice behaves.

  10. Mayhem

    Pronik:

    > There were some ideas about replacing trac altogether.

    Trac isn’t broken — its working really well for us. At this point I’ve spent so much time chasing after the latest tool for our community to be happy. (e.g. mediawiki) But when it comes to trac, it simply isn’t broken. Let focus on getting some code written rather than constantly changing our tools around.

    > Quiz question: where do we discuss this stuff? Mailing lists? Forum? IRC?

    Its always a good idea to hash out the basics of these ideas in IRC and then take them to a larger audience on mb-users or mb-devel.

  11. Andrew Conkling

    I agree with pronik about the forums; these seem like cross purposes that could be frustrating for users trying to find the “right” place to get help and for those trying to contribute. And Robert/Mayhem, there’s something to be said for either GS or UV being “the latest” tool.

    That said, I do think they are compelling services, and I’d gladly help out on either one.

  12. jesus2099

    Forums are cool.
    To me, it’s the simplest way of asking questions and getting replies after having searched them for information.

    Saerching the other stuff (mailing list, chatlogs) is really not fun. And it requires some stuff (be it IRC or mail software) to be able to participate and you have to expose an e-mail (ML).

    ☛ Please don’t close the forums. m(_ _)m

  13. voiceinsideyou

    Indeed. The forums are the only places in the current MB communications options where a steady stream of new and inexperienced users come to get help. They don’t appear to touch the mailing lists.

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