Tag Archives: community

Say hello to Discourse!

Hello all members of the *Brainz community, I have got something in store just for you!

Some people may have noted talks and whispers about a grand and glorious move to use Discourse for various discussions related to MusicBrainz and all other MetaBrainz projects. The intention of it is to replace and unify both the now-dead mailing lists (R.I.P.) and our current forums. Guess what? The day has come at last!

The MetaBrainz Community Discourse can be found at https://community.metabrainz.org/ and is our new home for all discussions about MusicBrainz, BookBrainz, AcousticBrainz, and whatever other kind of *Brainz you want to talk about.

One of its major features is that it does not require yet another user (like the current forums, our ticket tracker, the wiki, …). When you press “Sign Up” or “Log In” it will ask you to authenticate with MusicBrainz to access some basic information. Once given permission, it will direct you back to the Discourse site and you’re logged in. (You can revoke the permission at a later point, should you need to.) No more having a dozen username/password combinations, just to participate in the community!

The site does still have some rough edges though, and various things are likely to get tweaked over the coming weeks, but today being the 1st day of (N. hemisphere) spring, I thought we should enjoy this season of “rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth” with this new baby of the MetaBrainz community.

A couple of people have already gone and started some discussions there, but feel free to go there yourself and start your own discussion. If you have started a discussion on the current/old forums, now is also a good time to restart/continue/move that discussion to the Discourse site as the forums will be put into read-only mode any day (posts will not be moved over).

If you don’t know where to start, start with reading the FAQ and after that, you could post to the introduction thread and introduce yourself. To get an overview about what’s going on, https://community.metabrainz.org/categories has a list of the categories currently in use and https://community.metabrainz.org/tags has a list of the tags in use. You could also just go to the front page, https://community.metabrainz.org/, and see what discussions are active right now and join in there. 🙂

I hope to see a lot of lively and friendly and constructive discussion going on there, so head over there and start making it happen. 😉

Your friendly neighbourhood community manager,
Freso

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.

IRC channel switcheroo

If you’re like me, you may have noticed a sudden drop in activity in #musicbrainz-devel (if you’re not like me, you may still have noticed it). This is not because we all suddenly dropped off the face of the earth (not all of us anyway), nay, we simply decided to move to #metabrainz!

#musicbrainz-devel was registered on Freenode on February 16th, 2009. That’s almost 6 years and 7 months ago! However, over the last months, it has been as much (if not more!) about AcousticBrainz, CritiqueBrainz, and two brand new members of the Brainz family (stay tuned for more news on these!) as it has been about MusicBrainz. The channel has also been home to a lot of non-MusicBrainz specific MetaBrainz talk, e.g., talk about my hire, Roman’s hire, upcoming hires (stay tuned for news on this as well!), server administration, finances, … – you get the picture. In light of this we decided to rename #musicbrainz-devel to #metabrainz, and also merge the more quiet channels of #bookbrainz and #bookbrainz-devel into this new channel.

So thank you to #musicbrainz-devel for your proud service over the years, and welcome to #metabrainz, I hope you do us just as much credit as your predecessor did! I hope to see a lot of you in #metabrainz over the next few days, to join in the celebrations with a nice virtual cup of tea or other beverage of your choice.

Sincerely,
Freso, your friendly neighbourhood community manager ❤

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

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!

Community problems?

No one has made any suggestions as to what tools we can effectively use to collect feedback about what aspects of the MusicBrainz community people think are broken. I’ve looked at a few tools to try and find something suited, but all I found was a lot of ill-fitting stuff.

So, let’s keep it simple and use this blog entry’s comments to talk about what bits about the community are working less than ideal right now. What bothers you? What feels wrong? What should we focus on right away to improve? What should we improve, but isn’t so important right this second?

Now, please remember to keep it polite, respectful and concise — if you are rude or hit me with a wall-of-text, I’ll ignore your comment. Also, please don’t name any names; don’t point fingers. Remember that everyone got a blank slate and is now innocent. If a particular person’s behaviour bothered you, describe the troublesome behaviour, not the person.

If you know of a ticket in Jira that already describes your issue, please reference the ticket! That will make sifting through the comments much easier. I’ll take your comments and try and weave them in a coherent set of topics and then post them somewhere. Exactly where is still to be determined — that depends on the amount/coherency of the feedback I get.

One issue that I prefer to not hear about is MBS-1801, the issue about people ignoring their emails about edits they have made. I’ve already set the process in motion to look at possible solutions for this issue and I hope to have a separate blog entry about this next week.

Go!

UPDATE: Some people did comment about solutions on. Sorry for skipping that part. (None of those suggestions really resonated with me either, sadly)

Poisonous people

As I work to re-shape our community, I’ve been brushing up on open source philosophy. I’ve already mentioned “Producing Open Source Software” book, which is great, but can be somewhat dry at times. A more recent book that covers more of the team related issues is the excellent “Team Geek“. In particular the chapter on “Poisonous people” is really well worth reading.

One passage summarizes some underlying themes of my current series of blog posts:

“But there’s a danger here. In general, it’s not healthy to spend one’s time stewing in an ocean of negativity—it tends to eat you up and can create more conflicts in the long run. The term poisonous person is a nasty label and automatically creates a dividing line between “us” (the good guys) and “them” (those nasty jerks). There’s a better way to think about the problem. Instead of running your team as an elite fraternity with a mission to repel mean people, it’s healthier to create a culture that simply refuses to tolerate certain negative behaviors.”

Our community currently has a number of disrespectful people who could be classified as “poisonous”. However, I have good news for these people: I’m wiping the slate clean! Everyone gets a fresh start. As of today no one is poisonous! Hooray! \ø/

However, if you decide to go against the updated principles I’m stating in this blog post series, you should expect that people will confront your behaviour. One point of these blog posts is to provide bite-sized chunks of information that can be used to succinctly state updated project policies. If you encounter a person who is communicating aggressively, is being disrespectful or is hindering the community from moving the project forward, please remind them of these blog posts. When you encounter a problematic person, post the link to this blog entry and respectfully remind them to improve their behaviour.

I would also like to propose that we organize a group of volunteers to form what could be called: “Team Respect“. If someone in the community finds a person who is going on a “no-vote spree” or is entering useless and aggression filled tickets into jira, then they can call on Team Respect to jump in. Team Respect should engage this person, link to the relevant blog posts/project policies and remind them to be respectful. The team should also review the actions of the person — if the team feels that the actions by this person were uncalled for, the team should work to counter-act their actions. For instance, if someone goes an on unjustified no-vote spree, the team members should evaluate the edits in question and if they “improve the database” then they should vote yes on the edits, improve the edits to remove the objections or even approve the edits outright if they are auto-editors. Use your best judgement, of course!

The basic idea behind Team Respect is to make being a disrespectful person no fun and frustrating. At the same time Team Respect can raise positive feelings in the community by working together and protecting the work for polite, respectful people. And the polite, respectful people whose work was protected will be more inclined to contribute in the future.