Style Council

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Revision as of 20:50, 1 November 2006 by DonRedman (talk | contribs) (CategoryStyleCouncil (Imported from MoinMoin))
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The MusicBrainz Style Council

The style council is the institution in MusicBrainz that creates and edits the OfficialStyleGuidelines. The style council was reformed many times, since it did not work well initially. See the HistoryOfTheStyleCouncil for details. It seems the council has reached a relatively balanced state now.


There is no formal membership to the style council. If you are an interested contributor to MusicBrainz and reasonably well informed about existing StyleGuidelines, MusicBrainzDevelopment, and the general culture of the project, you are welcome to subscribe to the StyleMailingList and join the discussions.

There are however two formal positions of "supervisors" of the general style process:

An elder
RobertKaye is the elder and benevolent dictator of MusicBrainz StyleIssues. If the council cannot reach consensus he will make a decision.
A secretary
The secretary is the elder's right hand. He does the non-controversial daily work, but cannot make actual rulings. This is a rotating position currenly filled by DonRedman, who wanted to step off in April 2006 but is still secretary.

How the Style Council Works

  1. Present your issue and the changes you propose to the StyleMailingList in a new thread.
  2. Let there be a discussion, see if consensus emerges, or pick up those changes that make sense to you.
  3. Once the discussion has ebed out, or stopped from being productive, reformulate your changes and request a veto. The veto should include a short note pointing to the past discussion and a relatively specific description of your proposal.
  4. If no veto was cast within 48 hours, go ahead and make your changes.
  5. Post a brief summary of the changes to the users' mailinglist (most didn't see the style discussion) and to RecentStyleChanges.

If somebody has cast a veto, the issue gets presented to the elder, who will have to make a decision. The question, when it is sensible to cast a veto and when not is a difficult one. If you are new to the council, you should take part in the normal discusions for a month or two. Then you should get a feel for when a veto is sensible.

The following "shortcut" is still experimental. Don't use this if you are new to the council:

If you propose a very minor change, you can skip steps 1 to 3 and request a veto right away. In this case you must include a short note saying that you skipped the request for comments. This means that anybody may veto if they think a detailed discussion is necessary (i.e. the change is more than very minor to them). In this case your proposal is thrown back to stage 2. If noone vetoed, you must wait for 48 hours of silence after the discussion has ebbed out before doing any changes. Finally, if there was a substantial discussion, then this is a clear sign that an inital request for comments would have been appropriate.

Some more detailed thoughts

Attention.png Status: The following still has to be updated. It offers some details which are valuable. But if you are in doubt, follow the descriptions above

  • Decisions about style issues are made by the community on mb-style. That community has no formal organization. We can still call it the StyleCouncil, though.
  • If you want a StyleIssue to be fixed, do the work yourself.

Now at this point things get tricky. There is no working practice yet, so you'll have to experiment a bit. DonRedman described how it could work in this thread:

  • Someone wants a StyleIssue fixed. She[1] is prepared to put in some work to get things right. So she implements a solution on test or the wiki, proposes it to the StyleMailingList, and requests _comments_. Ideally people join into a productive debate about how to enhance the change. People might also bring forth arguments against this change. The proposer can change her proposal to meet these arguments as much as _she_ wants. In a final stage she might want to call for BetaEditing on the UsersMailingList. This only applies to big or highly disputed changes. Here the practice of using (testing) the solution should show whether it is good. When she thinks she has done enough, she sends a 'request for veto' to the StyleMailingList. A veto must match the amount of productive work she has put into the change. Therefore a veto is only likely to occur if someone sees a severe problem, or if the proposer has worked on her proposal only sluggishly. If there really is dispute, the point of dissensus should be really clear by now. It will probably be a general/philosophical point. Robert should be able to make a well informed decision that everyone will have to accept.

By now it has become clear that it makes sense to issue a RequestForComment first, wait for a week or two, and then issue a RequestForVeto. You should also wait 48 hours for a veto.


The style council had a lot of other protocols and processes that preceeded this one. They did not work that well, but since they offer some helpful insight about how things do not work in the MusicBrainz community, they are kept in the HistoryOfTheStyleCouncil.

  1. Today our example person is female. That is balancing sexism :-) .