Editing: Making MusicBrainz better

Over the past few weeks I’ve received a number of emails from people who are concerned about some editors who are losing sight of some basic principles behind editing data in MusicBrainz. I wanted to chime in and remind people of some of the principles that should guide how we all get along when we edit data in MusicBrainz.

First and foremost is:

Be polite and give people the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the right thing.

I don’t have to explain being polite. Yes, we all have our bad days — that is a given. But if you’re having a bad day, stop editing MusicBrainz and step away from your computer. Go outside! When you do edit, please be kind to your fellow editors.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the right thing is also important. The vast majority of people who edit MusicBrainz have good intentions and you should assume that to be the case.

Second, edit to make the database better. Vote yes if an edit makes the data better.

This one is a lot more vague, since “better” is a subjective term. We should accept edits that are “good enough” and avoid asking people to make “perfect” edits.

Edits fit into four categories:

  1. Edits that makes things better (perfect or not)
  2. Edits makes things different (but neither are better)
  3. Edits that contain some correct things and some incorrect things
  4. Edits that are outright wrong (existing data is better)

The first type should clearly get a yes vote. For the second, if it doesn’t make things worse, abstain and leave a comment. The third is a judgement call and I would suggest applying this heuristic:

Unless it takes more time to fix the edit than to make a new one, vote yes.

Clearly, the fourth type deserves a no vote.

That brings me to the final topic for now: No votes. A no vote is a very strong expression that has potentially chilling effects that may prevent people from editing again. A no vote should be considered the last resort. Use a no vote if you can’t find another way to resolve an edit.

Finally, some tips for auto editors: If you see an edit that is not perfect, approve it and fix it.

Auto editors are supposed to set the tone for the project and auto editors should practically never vote no on something. You have more powers than fellow editors, so please use your powers for good!

Thanks and happy (and polite) editing!

2 thoughts on “Editing: Making MusicBrainz better

  1. Pingback: Robustness principle applied to communities | MusicBrainz Blog

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