History:Release Region Style Proposal

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Status: This page describes a failed proposal. It is not official, and should only be used, if at all, as the basis for a new proposal.



Proposal number: RFC-Unassigned
Champion: None
Status: Failed, due to Officially closed as Abandoned, March 24, 2010
This proposal was not tracked in Trac.



Style Guideline for Release Regions

Derived from the proposed ReleaseCountryStyle.

Proposed here is changing the MusicBrainz data label for ReleaseEvents to "Release Region" and modifying the current list of release countries to include regions (i.e. Europe, Asia, North America, Australasia, International/World, etc), to better represent the ways a release may be released across the globe.

Existing Release Country System

When adding a release event to a release, you have to choose the country. The list of countries you can choose from is taken from ISO 3166, which is a widely-used standard list of countries. For each country in which the release was released, add a new release date, alongside the name of the country.

Simultaneous Releases in More Than One Country

Releases are often released in more than one country at the same time. For example, (MatthewExon) owns some releases which state that they are distributed in "Australasia" (presumably Australia and New Zealand). This is two countries, but only one release. With the existing Release Country system, you would therefore only add one release date, and simply choose one of the countries to represent the entire release area.

The European Union

The European Union is currently not represented as its own country, probably because it is not a country.

Justification

The European Union, as with many things, is a special case. Commercial distribution tends to be much more fluid within its borders than between any other sets of countries, and so it's harder to nail down a single country of release. What's more, "EU" is in ISO 3166, so it really should be added.

Historical Countries

There is currently no ability to enter the names of historical countries, such as the USSR, as a release country. It has been proposed that we should add the countries from ISO 3166-3 to allow this.

Justification

It's confusing for people to try to add ReleaseEvents where the release country is written on the release itself, but MusicBrainz doesn't have the country in its list. This also leads to confusing information on a releases' page, where a release issued in 1972 was apparently released in a country that didn't exist in 1972.

Release Regions

With the Release Region system, the pulldown list of Regions available would be tiered in a hiearchy of options. At the top would of course be "World", to reflect so-called World Releases. Underneath would be a Continents sub-section, under which would be all seven continents. Then would follow another sub-section of notional regions such as "Australasia", "South Sea Islands", etc. Finally there would be the sub-section of Countries which would contain the ISO 3166-3 listing of countries.

Example:

  • World
    • International
    • Continental
      • Africa
      • Antartica
      • Asia
      • Australia
      • Europe
      • North America
      • South America
    • Regional
      • Australasia
      • South Sea Islands
      • Americas
      • etc... to be proposed and discussed
    • Country
      • USA
      • United Kingdom
      • Algiers
      • etc... to be derived from ISO 3166-3

Justification

With the current Release Country system, useful data is lost about a release when it is released in multiple countries at one time. To fill-in all the relevant data, many additional Release entries for a release need to be made, all with the same date but different countries. This puts an unnecessary burden on the MusicBrainz database, increases the chances of errors and makes accurate rendering of ReleaseEvents more difficult.

Release Regions would more accurately reflect many releases ReleaseStatus, make more efficient use of database resources, reduce potential data errors and simply release display rendering.

Obviously, there will never be a perfect list of all regions that releases are made in. It may still be necessary to add several ReleaseEvents to a release for the same date to accurately represent its release circumstances. But the number of cases for that should be much lower with a well-filled Release Regions list. Since the proposed Release Regions list will still contain individual countries, any combination of geographical releases can be represented.

Comments from Matthew Exon

MatthewExon writes: First: the one thing this proposal really needs is lots of examples. Please try to collect some specific examples for each region that you're proposing.

"With the current Release Country system, useful data is lost about a release". Part of the reason I don't understand the objections to the current system is that I don't see where "useful" comes in. Could you elaborate by saying what this would be used for, with examples? That is, why exactly does the user care about this? Many requests for additions to MusicBrainz boil down to "but we'll never be complete without it!", which isn't a good enough reason IMO.

"To fill-in all the relevant data, many additional ReleaseEvent entries for a release need to be made". That isn't what I intended: "With the existing Release Country system, you would therefore only add one release date, and simply choose one of the countries to represent the entire release area." Therefore, entering a single release multiple times is something that should never happen. As you say, your proposal would mean that this would happen sometimes, indeed should happen. That means that questions such as "how many releases of this release have there been?" couldn't be answered simply, since you wouldn't be sure if the releases recorded really are separate or not.

And you'll need to write a style guideline explaining under what circumstances users should add multiple release entries for the same release.

What would be the procedure for adding new regions in future? Since any list we come up with will inevitably be incomplete, this'll come up sooner or later. We would want a replacement for the current procedure, viz. I whinge at the requester until they get sick of it all and give up :-)

I'm not sure that having continents makes a lot of sense, given that there's really no point having Australia and Antarctica. Better to just have one list of regions.

Many of these regions need definitions associated with them so that you can know, for example, if Panama is in North America or South America (it is, of course, in neither, but we'll let that slide). The name "Europe" is particularly confusing, since there are a bunch of different definitions of that (Everything West of the Urals / the EU / Schengen zone / Continental Europe / Countries in the Eurovision Song Contest / ...). There will need to be documentation for each region.

What would be really ideal is if you could find, somewhere out there, a well-compiled list of regions maintained by someone else. A recognised standards body if possible. That would remove a lot of the maintenance burden for this.

I see that you're putting the UK and US at the top of the list of countries. I'm not sure if you're suggesting that they should be ordered by the popularity of the choice? This is actually good practice in some situations (see "We don't all live in Afghanistan" here), but not necessarily in a truly international website like MB.

It'd be nice to see an HTML mockup of the proposed drop-down list, to assess how difficult it would be to use: i.e., how are things indented, does typing common names work well, and so on.