With a few exceptions, the MusicBrainz Wiki is the source of all MusicBrainz' documentation.
The Wiki and WikiDocs
The MusicBrainz Wiki is seen as the community responsible for generating all the documentation, help pages, and guidelines for MusicBrainz. The wiki community has been very efficient in doing this because both the experts (the solution providers) and the non-experts (the question posers) collaborate in the same space.
Thus, it is vitally important for the wiki to be open for anyone to edit.
Leaving the wiki open anyone to edit has its inconveniences though. There are various pages that have had their content carefully written and reviewed by the MusicBrainz user community (such as the FAQs and style guidelines) and so they warrant some sort of 'official' status. There are also other pages that are integrated into the main site (such as product, development, and licensing pages) that provide visitors and new users their first impressions of MusicBrainz. The damage an editor on the wiki can do, whether maliciously or just by accident, is quite extensive.
A "WikiDocs" system was introduced that accounted for the above by:
- Leaving the wiki open for mass collaboration on http://wiki.musicbrainz.org/.
- Providing transclusion editors with the means to control what is viewable on http://musicbrainz.org/doc/.
The structure of the WikiDocs system looks like this:
- All the content resides in the MusicBrainz Wiki.
- Transclusion editors add and maintain entries in the transclusion table for all official documentation pages.
- Users visiting the MusicBrainz Wiki see no difference; they always see the most recent revision of every page, and are able to edit any page.
- Users visiting the MusicBrainz website will be served content from the wiki via the transclusion mechanism.
The pages served by the transclusion mechanism are not editable on the website, but they provide a link back to their corresponding page on the wiki.
The transclusion mechanism is the magic behind the entire WikiDocs concept and it kicks in when a user visits a page on http://musicbrainz.org/doc/.
First, the transclusion mechanism checks to see if the page being requested exists in the transclusion table.
If it does:
- The page is fetched using the revision number listed on the table.
- The footer states, "This WikiDocs Page is based on revision
If it doesn't:
- The current revision of the wiki page is fetched.
- A warning is added to the top of the page that states, "This page has not been reviewed by our documentation team".
- The footer states, "This WikiDocs Page is a copy of
In both cases, the page is passed through a conversion process that bolds links to other official documentation pages.