Editing FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions: General FAQ · Account FAQ · Editing FAQ · Introduction to Voting


This pages answers Frequently Asked Questions about editing the database. See How Editing Works for some more detailed documentation.

If that still doesn't help, please find us in one of the MusicBrainz Forums or via the contact page. If you would like to update the content of this page on the wiki, feel free to do so but please do not add questions without answers.

General Questions

What is "editing"?

You can make edits to the database to correct errors or add new data to the database. Everything in the database is open to editing: release names, track names, artist names, artist aliases; anything you can think of. By doing this you enter entering "edits" into the system.

You mean I can do whatever I want to the information in the database?

Anything within reason. We want the MusicBrainz database to reflect as accurately as possible the information contained on the release. Since we will be receiving data from many sources, every change made to the database will have to be voted on by other users of MusicBrainz.

Huh? Voted on?

See the Voting FAQ

OK, so that's what we're supposed to do, now how do I do it?

The first thing to do is to download the MusicBrainz Picard Tagger. This program lets you look up and submit metadata for the Audio CDs, MP3, Ogg/Vorbis and WAV files in your collection to the database (if they're not found).

It calculates IDs for CDs and files you submit, and looks them up to see if they're already in the database.

How do I undo an edit I entered?

Go to your Account, then find the edit with Open Edits. You can also find the edit via "View artist edits" from the related artist's page, or "View release edits" from the related release's page. Then you may cancel the edit using the Cancel button (the edit should be still open, i.e. neither voted down, nor expired).

How long will my edit(s) take to be approved/applied?

It depends!

Some edits are considered Auto-Edits for all users and are applied immediately. For most edits, however, they will be subject to normal Data Quality requirements, and they will be applied after 14 days, assuming they have more yes votes than no votes, or no votes at all. However, if your edit gains three unanimous yes votes, it will be applied immediately. Depending on the type of edit, an Auto-Editor who comes across your edit can also choose to approve your edit if they are confident of its correctness. This is quite common for typo fixes, adding URL relationships and fixes to obvious mistakes but it is at the Auto-Editor's discretion and they are not required to do so. If your edit is to a popular artist that has many subscribers, you are likely to gather votes more quickly. Similarly, if you provide evidence links to back up your edits (as suggested in the Code Of Conduct and How To Write Edit Notes) and your edits are of good quality, you will also collect yes votes more quickly.

The various cases (including edits to low and high data quality items) are discussed in more detail on the edit conditions page.

OK, now I've submitted all the data for my CDs and music files to you, now what?

Thanks you! That's all you really need to do. But, if you are like us, there is always other stuff to do:

  • Look up your favorite artist and see if their name is spelled correctly.
  • Look up your favorite release and see if the tracks are all listed, spelled correctly, in the right order, etc.
  • Browse though the releases to see if you find obvious mistakes: releases listed twice, releases with tracks listed twice, releases with missing tracks, or releases with too many tracks are just a few of the common errors possible.
  • View and vote on other editors proposed changes to the database. We need everyone to lend their music knowledge to help out the effort. Our goal is to be the most comprehensive database on the 'net.

Release Questions

I looked up a release I have in my collection, and boy, you guys screwed up on the track listing. Who do I tell about it?

The fastest, easiest way is to roll up your sleeves, dig in and fix the problem yourself. MusicBrainz is a community project where the users add and maintain the data themselves -- in other words, your Mom doesn't work at MusicBrainz. :-) To jump in and help you should create yourself an account, go back to the release in question and use the edit links that are shown once you log in to fix the problems. Go here: http://musicbrainz.org/newlogin.html to create an account and start editing the database.

There are releases with no cover art or even wrong covers! Can I change them?

Yes. This is now possible with the Cover Art Archive. This is a joint project between Musicbrainz and [1] to make cover art available to everyone on the Internet.

If you have a scanner, you can scan whatever release artwork you have (front, back, whatever!) and upload it using the Cover Art tab on the release page.

Please make sure that you have selected the correct release, of course. Check the barcode and catalog number; if they don’t match your release, you probably are looking in the wrong place.

How should I enter a box set?

See Box Set Name Style on how to enter Box Sets.

There are two or more releases with the same titles, should I merge them?

Releases should only be merged when the following requirements are met:

  • The number of tracks are the same
  • The track titles are the same
  • The track lengths are the same, or there is no more than a 2 seconds difference.
  • The country, label, barcode, format, and packaging, are the same

The release dates, publishers, and distributors should probably also be the same to warrant a merge.

How do I indicate a worldwide release of an album? Should I add the release date for every country in the world? The band's home country? Not at all?

You should choose [Worldwide] as a release country.

Should I include the word 'remastered' in an album title?

No. See Extra Title Information Style

How do I know if a release is wrong?

The most obvious way is to have the release case in front of you when you submit the release. If you submit a CD and the Disc ID is not found, and the server says that a matching title exists, but the track counts don't match, you may have found an error.

Someone may have entered the release, but not entered all the tracks, or duplicated tracks, etc. Either enter the info for the release, or try a FreeDB lookup to see if you can save the typing. Then go look at the other release and see if it is actually a match for the one you just did. If it is, you can merge the two releases together to correct the database.

What order should I make changes in? Do I have to wait until a FreeDB import commits before I change tracks on the album?

Well, it never hurts to wait, but if you're like me, you sometimes forget what you're doing from minute to minute.

You can actually do the changes in what ever order or whenever is easiest for you. The server is pretty robust and will not allow things to blow-up. For example, if you make a change to a release import that fails, the change will just be discarded. The worst that can happen is that you'll enter an edit that doesn't affect anything when the underlying data changes.

What if I don't have the CD but I find one when browsing that looks wrong, how should I correct it?

Well, as stated elsewhere, we really want the database to reflect what is contained on the CD and accompanying cover info, but you can look at it as fine-tuning the database. If you see a release with a couple of tracks numbered 1, 3, 6, 10, for example, you can probably guess that it got entered wrong. Possible approaches would be to do a title search and see if the release is also listed with a more complete track listing. If that fails, you could check an artist's discography to find a complete track listing. Remember, any changes you make have to be voted on, so mistakes will generally get weeded out.

I found the same release twice. Which one should I remove?

Neither. If they are really identical (same number of tracks, more or less same track lengths, more or less same track names), you should merge the albums. This saves PUIDs and Disc IDs which would otherwise be lost. One way to do this is to select both releases via the checkboxes in the artist's page, then click "Batch Operation", then "merge ... into one album". Even if an entry doesn't have any PUIDs or Disc IDs, it's better to merge, in case any PUIDs or Disc IDs are added before the delete is approved; it's also easier for voters to check that it is a duplicate.

Note that you can also merge across artists. This is sometimes useful where a duplicate gets added under an artist alias e.g. the existing release is under "Elvis Costello" and the duplicate gets added under "Elvis Costello & The Attractions". Tick the checkboxes for the releases under the artists you want to merge and select "Batch Operation".

I just found an artist with lots of uncategorized albums. Can this be fixed without change each release's attributes separately?

Yes. Select all releases of a given type (e.g. "Live, Official") via the check-boxes, then enter a "Batch Operation" applying the appropriate release attributes to all selected releases.

What about this FreeDB release add with titles in ALL CAPS? Should I vote no on the insert?

Well, you could, but if the release is correct except for the capitalization, we might as well just correct the capitalization. Vote "yes" and then open the release page up and start editing the tracks.

Also, since changing the capitalization by itself doesn't change any links in the database, capitalization edits will be automatically approved.

What about this release add with garbage characters (or all ????). Should I vote no on that?

Again, you could, but these sorts of encoding problems can also be corrected. See the Misencoding FAQ for details on how you can fix these as well. You don't even need to be able to read foreign languages to do this (though it does help).

How come this compilation CD has the title listed as the artist?

FreeDB doesn't handle a "Various Artists" album the same as MusicBrainz does, so occasionally they'll be imported into the database this way.

What needs to be done is a Convert Release To Multiple Artists Edit. This moves the release to the Various Artists list and gives each track an entry for the performing artist on that release. You can either do just a MAC and leave the tracks as is, or change each track to list track/artist right then.

You can also do the reverse in a case where a single-artist release has been entered as a Various Artists release.

I found 10 releases, each with one track, different tracks, different track numbers, and the same title. What gives?

That is probably a release that someone entered wrong. The easiest way to fix this is to "tag" the releases and merge them all into one. Each release has a check box in its titlebar; select each release and then click on the Batch Operation link. From the Batch Operation page, multiple releases can be merged into either a single-artist album, or a "Various Artists" album.

Artist Questions

What is an artist alias? How should it be used?

Artist aliases are used to keep track of other names for an artists and for common misspellings. For instance, Slim Shady would be good alias to enter for Eminem, as would Guns and Roses for Guns N' Roses. Aliases are primarily used for when users come to the site and search for an alias or a misspelled name. The MusicBrainz text searching functions can then show the right artist to the user based on the artist alias. There is no harm in having too many aliases for an artist.

Where a band name is just, say, number-letter (e.g. E 17, D-12), what's the policy with regards to spacing/punctuation? Should the aliases list the other forms (D12, D 12) ?

The name in the database should reflect the way the band spells their own name. Check the band's official web page or look at a release cover to get the right spelling. The artist aliases should contain alternate spellings, so entering common other forms for aliases is a good idea.

If an artist has a name with accented letters (e.g. "Olga Tañón"), is it OK if the sort name also has those accented letters? Is it necessary to enter an alias with the "un-accented version"?

Yes, the sort name should include the accented letters, and its not necessary to enter a non-accented version of the name as an alias.

Track Questions

I added one of my unsorted MP3s as a non-album track and it got voted down without comment. Why?

Non-album tracks are meant to be used for tracks that have never been released on any kind of release (where releases include compilations or singles). Examples of this are tracks that are released only via an artists website or live radio recordings that aren't available on CD. So if you have a track without an accompanying release, you should try to find out what release it came from, and add that instead, for example by importing from FreeDB.

If you're sure that it is a true non-album track, add a note explaining this to voters so they'll know you know and not vote 'no'.

I'm trying to enter a release that has a bunch of silent tracks on it. What should I enter for those tracks?

Enter [silence] as the track description. See Untitled Track Style for details.

Does MusicBrainz store information about data tracks? How should they be entered, if at all?

Data Tracks that are the last track(s) on a CD should not be entered. Data Tracks that come at the beginning or in the middle of a CD should be entered as "[data track]". See Data Track Style for details.

Editor Questions

What are "Auto-Editors"? What is an "Auto-Edit"?

An Auto-Edit is an edit which does not go to the vote: that is, the change is immediately applied, and the edit is immediately marked as successfully completed.

An Auto-Editor is an editor who have been trusted to make edits that are automatically approved (Auto-Edits) (see "How does a editor become an autoeditor?" below). This enables them to enter a greater range of edits immediately applied without going to a vote.

Which edits are auto-edits (i.e. immediately applied, without a vote)?

See Edit Type.

How does an editor become an auto-editor?

See Auto-Editor Election or How Editing Works