Category Archives: Community

MusicBrainz User Survey

It’s hard to stress how much MusicBrainz depends on the community behind it. In 2016 alone 20.989 editors made a total of 5.935.653 edits at a continuously increasing rate.

But while MusicBrainz does collect data on a lot of different entities, its users are not one of them, and the privacy policy is pretty lean.
Unfortunately this does make it fairly difficult to find out who you are, how you use MB and why you do it.

Seeing as this kind of information is fairly important for the upcoming project of improving our user experience, I volunteered to create a survey to allow you to tell us how you use MB, what you like about it and what you don’t like quite as much.

So without further ado, click on the banner to get to the survey: (It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes of your time.)
MusicBrainz User Survey

Now if you’re still reading this blog post, that hopefully means you’ve already completed the survey! I’d like to thank Quesito who joined this project earlier this year and has been a great deal of help, our former GCI student Caroline Gschwend who helped with the UX part of the survey, CatQuest who has been around to give great feedback since the first draft and of course also all the other people who helped bring this survey to the point of release.

If you’ve got any feedback on or questions about the survey itself, please reply to the Discourse forum topic.

Community Recap April 2017

Hello, and welcome to the April recap of what’s happened in MetaBrainz land!

Compared the first quarter, April was somewhat on the slow side (reflected on the blog with only three posts that month). I’m guessing this is a mix of both recovering from all the activity in the first few months and a lot of work going on in the background—incl. preparing for Google Summer of Code. However, some stuff did happen, so let’s talk about those things! Continue reading

Wrapping up Google Code‐in 2016

As Google has now announced the finalists of this round of Google Code-in, it feels only right that we also take a look back at what’s been taking up a large chunk of our time the last couple of months.

Divya Prakash Mittal (India – returning from last year!), Daniel Theis (Germany), and Tigran Kostandyan (Russia) all made it to the finalists, with Anshuman Agarwal (India) and Daniel Hsing (Hong Kong) additionally taking home the Grand Prize Winner positions! Congratulations to all of you and thank you so much for your contributions this year. 🙂 Continue reading

September, October, and November 2015 Community Recap

Jeez. This has been overdue! So a lot of things happened, and this Community Recap series kind of got put on the back burner, which obviously means a lot of things have piled up, so if I forgot something you thought should have been mentioned, please share it in the comments below. 🙂 I will be doing a few months at a time until I’ve caught up to the now().

With that said, let’s proceed!
Continue reading

State of the Onion: MetaBrainz

In the past few weeks we’ve been hit with several traffic increases to MusicBrainz which is putting considerably more strain on our aging infrastructure than we’re happy with. If it seems that we’re not doing anything about it, that is because we’ve been busy behind the scenes trying to keep things moving forward. This sometimes doesn’t leave us a lot of time to keep the public informed on our work. Hopefully this blog post will fix this in the short term:

In 2011 we started to make plans to move MusicBrainz hosting into the cloud, but then out of the blue we were donated a pile of machines. There were so many machines that I postponed the cloud plans and prepared the donated machines for service. That has carried us for 4+ years with almost no hardware cost, which was really great. The plan was to move to the cloud sometime around 2015, but then I spent most of 2014/2015 dealing with conflicts in the team, putting us seriously behind schedule while our hardware decayed.

On top of that, we’ve recently had some “bad luck”. We have had some disrespectful commercial customers hit us really hard and we had to find and block them. We have had unexpected traffic spikes and when trying to address these unexpected traffic spikes, we had two more machines fail on us. These were the donated machines that we kept in reserve for just this moment. The loss of two machines caught us short on capacity to handle the increased demands on our servers.

So, now we face the tough question: Do we buy expensive hardware that we might use for 6 months (~$5000) or do we try and save the money and tough it out? I’d rather not spend so much money on such short term use if we can avoid it. We’re going to try and move to a new hosting facility somewhere in the EU, since that is where most of our users are.

Moving to a new hosting facility has an incredible number of dependencies that Christina (our Biz Dev manager), Zas and I have been working through. It may not seem like we have a plan, but we do, and we’re incredibly busy trying to make the plan happen. To give you a taste of what we’re up against:

  1. We want to move our hosting to Europe and have a business presence in Europe in order to reduce the costs and inefficiencies of being a solely US based business. A lot of our traffic, customers and contractors are in the EU and it simply makes sense to have a presence here.
  2. To establish a presence in the EU I needed local help to help with the business matters as well as researching and establishing an EU organization. So I needed to find a Biz Dev manager and that person is Christina.
  3. Once Christina was on board she researched our options about what was suited for us. Getting that process moving involved getting certified documents from California, board approval for spending funds to establish the organization, EU labor law research, (and we needed to swap a board member, too!), hiring help to establish the org. and generally navigating the Spanish bureaucracy. (See this only slightly exaggerated short film for some clues of our ordeal.)
  4. Once the org. had been established we needed to convince the bank to open a bank account for us. The draconian US banking laws extend worldwide and the local bank had to ensure that they were not opening themselves up to thousands of $$$ in accounting hassles just to allow a tiny non-profit to open a bank account. We finally have a bank account and have started paying our contractors with it!
  5. At the same time we’re also working to set up an office for the growing team here in Barcelona. That required a byzantine process that barely started when you sign the lease. Getting power, internet and water set up has taken a frustratingly long time. Had I known how long, I would have stayed at my co-working space for a while longer while addressing hosting issues.
  6. While Christina has been focused on the hardcore paperwork, Zas is keeping the site running, which itself requires many heroics. Zas and I have started planning the move to the EU hosting provider. We’ve got a 5-page document that collects some of the open questions and requirements around this process: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16KNm4KksNwz29Opk1aILOMtCmPIeXFuxxUjMoPT3th0/edit#heading=h.dpfvoz1idcro. Right now Zas and Bitmap are here in Barcelona and we’re going to work on establishing a formal plan for moving to the new hosting company. We’re currently comparing hosting company offerings – see what we’ve collected so far if you care to follow along. The amount of work required to make this happen is making my head hurt. (A special shoutout to KodeStar, lead developer of FanArt.tv, for providing a lot of useful feedback about our various options.)
  7. While Christina, Zas and I have our hands full, Bitmap and Gentlecat continue to release new features and work on the schema change. Not to mention all the contributions from Freso and Reosarevok to keep the community happy and polite while we deal with less than optimal site conditions. That said, I am really happy and proud of my team, trying to keep things running in sub-optimal conditions.

This is just a snapshot of everything that is happening behind the scenes that will culminate with the goal of moving to a new hosting company and being set up in the EU. And mind you, we’re doing this with a minuscule budget trying to be careful of how we spent our money.

Temporary autoeditor election procedure

Hello people,

In former days, new autoeditor elections were announced on the autoeditor mailing list that all autoeditors were automatically subscribed to. However, all our mailing lists, including the autoeditor one, died in September 2015 when the server they were hosted on took its last breath. This effectively halted the election of new autoeditors. It was always the plan that our new forums should be able to handle this, but our recent issues have meant development on the features necessary to completely replace the autoeditor mailing list has been slow. Thus Nicolás (reosarevok) and I had a talk about how to handle elections going forward, and we came up with this procedure:

  1. The proposer nominates the editor normally (starting an election), and then adds a post in the Autoeditors category of the forum linking to the election and asking for seconders. Like with the mailing list, this should also contain the proposer’s reasoning for proposing the candidate.
  2. Nicolás (reosarevok) will then mail out to all autoeditors with a link to the election topic (and possibly a link to this blog post).
  3. The proposer, Nicolás or me (or another autoeditor, if they’re faster) will update the thread once a 2nd seconder is found and the voting has started, and again when the voting has ended and the results are in.

We have added most autoeditors who are already signed up on the new forums to the @MB_Autoeditors group, but not all autoeditors have signed in to Discourse yet, and some have spaces or other “weird” characters in their username that make Discourse not able to parse them. If you find that you’re not in the @MB_Autoeditors group and you think you should be, please write a message to me (Freso) or Nicolás (reosarevok) via MusicBrainz and ask us to add you to the group. (Sending your message via MusicBrainz will let us know that it is indeed you/your account, so please don’t poke us on IRC or elsewhere about it.)

This is all obviously intended to be temporary, just until we’re able to get the process fully automated again. If you have any Ruby experience/know-how and would like to help out, please check out OTHER-248 (and possibly OTHER-254). There’s also MBS-8836 on the MusicBrainz server side for the Perl-istas.

Let us know if you have any concerns or questions about this (reminder: temporary) approach, either in the comments or on the forums. I personally hope it’ll work well enough to carry us through for a while longer until everything is ready.