Editing FAQ

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  • Note: We are currently standardizing the terminology used in our documentation. In some the following terms used interchangeably. * Album and Release * Moderate and Edit Release and Edit are now standard.

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This pages answers FrequentlyAskedQuestions about editing the database (moderating). See HowEditingWorks for some more detailed documentation.


I looked up an album 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 album in question and use the edit links that are shown once you log in to fix the problems. Go here: http://www.musicbrainz.org/newlogin.html to create an account and start moderationg the database.

What is "moderating"?

"Moderating" is BadTerminology. It refers to two separate, but related, things.

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

Secondly, whenever someone enters a moderation into the system (see above), the moderation they enter then goes to a vote. If the other moderators vote it in, then the change is kept; if they vote it out, then it goes. The process of seeing what things there are to vote on, and casting your votes, is also called "moderating".

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

Well, anything within reason. We want the Musicbrainz database to reflect as accurately as possible the information contained on the album. 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?

Yes, since the database is going to be huge, and mistakes are going to be made, there are several mechanisms in place to check as much stuff as we can every step of the way.

When you propose a change, it is entered in the database provisionally, and will be voted on by other moderators. A change will remain provisional for a period of seven days before the change becomes permanent. In that time, everyone who checks the moderation pages gets to vote for or against it. If a change is voted down, it is discarded and the data reverts to the original.

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

Well, the first thing to do is go to the download page: http://musicbrainz.org/download.html and download the MusicBrainz Tagger tool. This program that 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 calcualtes a IDs for CDs and files you submit, and looks them up to see if they're already in the database.

How do I undo a moderation I entered?

Find the moderation via Moderate->My Mods and click the little red 'x'. You can also find the moderation via "View Mods" from an artist's album listing, or "View album mods" from an album listing.

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 album (where albums 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 album, you should try to find out what album 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'.

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

Well, thanks for the info, and 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's spelled correctly.
  • Look up your favorite album and see if the tracks are all listed, spelled correctly, in the right order, etc.
  • Browse though the albums to see if you find obvious mistakes: albums listed twice, albums with tracks listed twice, albums with missing tracks, or albums with too many tracks are just a few of the common errors possible.
  • View and vote on other moderators 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.

How do I know if an album is wrong?

Well, the most obvious way is to have the album case in front of you when you submit the album. If you submit a CD and the diskid 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 album, but not entered all the tracks, or duplicated tracks, etc. Either enter the info for the album, or try a Freedb lookup to see if you can save the typing. Then go look at the other album and see if it is actually a match for the one you just did. If it is, you can merge the two albums 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 an album import that fails, the change will just be discarded. The worst that can happen is that you'll enter a moderation 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 an album 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 album is also listed with a more complete track listing. If that fails, you could check an artists 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 album 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 TRMs and CD IDs which would otherwise be lost. One way to do this is to select both albums via the check-boxes in the artist's album listing, then click "Batch Operation", then "merge ... into one album". Even if an entry doesn't have any TRMs or CD IDs, it's better to merge, in case any TRMs or CD-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 album is under "Elvis Costello" and the duplicate gets added under "Elvis Costello & The Attractions". Check the tickboxes for the albums 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 album's attributes separately?

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

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

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

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

What about this album 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 MisencodingFAQ 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 MAC, or MultipleArtistConversion. This moves the album to the Various Artists list and gives each track an entry for the performing artist on that album. 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 album has been entered as a Various Artists album.

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

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

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 an album 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 sortname also has those accented letters? Is it necessary to enter an alias with the "un-accented version"?

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

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

Enter [silence] as the track description.

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

DataTracks that are the last track(s) on a CD should not be entered. DataTracks that come at the beginnign or in the middle of a CD should be entered as "[data track]". See DataTrackStyle for details.

What are "AutoModerators"? What is an "AutoModeration"? What is an "AutoMod"?

First, the easy one: an "AutoMod" means either an AutoModerator, or an AutoModeration.

An AutoModeration is a moderation which does not go to the vote: that is, the change is immediately applied, and the moderation is immediately marked as successfully completed.

An automoderator is a moderator who has been given the "automod" privilege (see "How does a moderator become an automoderator?" below). This enables them to enter a greater range of moderations and have them "auto-moderated", i.e. immediately applied without going to a vote.

What moderations get "auto-moderated" (i.e. immediately applied, without a vote)?

See ModerationTypeHelp

How does a moderator become an automoderator?

See AutoModNomination or HowEditingWorks

How should I enter a box set?

See BoxSetNameStyle on how to enter BoxSets.

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

Albums should only be merged when the following requirements are meet:

  • 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.

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?

Now available in the country list is the ability to choose [Worldwide] as a release country.

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

No. See ExtraTitleInformationStyle

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

Yes. This is now possible with the AmazonRelationshipType. You can add an AdvancedRelationship from the album to the URL of the Amazon site for this item. If Amazon does not have it, then there is no other way to add cover art. This is also a legal issue as MB is not allowed to present covers images without a link to a seller for this item. If there is not such relationship, the AmazonMatching regulary looks for cover art on Amazon.