This article provides a basic overview of how Discogs is built by our users and how to Contribute. It focuses on how to make new submissions but it’s essential reading even if you have nothing new to submit and you only want to contribute by helping to improve existing information.
If you’ve ever thought…
- ‘I had no idea Discogs was built by volunteer contributors’
- ‘I would love to know how Discogs is built because I’ll probably learn some interesting stuff about my favourite music’
- ‘I would love to contribute to Discogs but I don’t know how’
- ‘I have tried to contribute but I got told I made a lot of mistakes and I was turned off the whole idea’
…then this article is for you. Just bare in mind that it takes a special kind of person to help build a database that’s so big and so complex that it can accommodate detailed information from every corner of the musical world. Putting the right information in the right spot with the right formatting is mission critical, but it’s time consuming, difficult and often requires input from multiple experts.
I like to compare it with paying tax. Most people couldn’t think of anything worse than working out how to correctly fill in a tax form, but I don’t think there’s many people who don’t like roads, justice, law and order, even though we don’t notice them most of the time because they’re invisible when everything goes to plan. If you like music then you’ll no doubt agree that Discogs is like heaven on earth, but building it requires following strict guidelines because that’s what makes everything accessible, i.e. interlinked and searchable. If you want to help build heaven on earth don’t forget the #1 reason why it’s so amazing is because the contributor community has spent literally millions of hours trying to make the Database complete, comprehensive, accurate, interlinked and searchable. It’s incredibly rewarding, but it’s not that easy.
A brief overview of how Discogs is built by volunteer contributors
1. Who can contribute to Discogs?
Anyone with a Discogs account can contribute information to the Discogs Database, kind of like Wikipedia. If you’re submitting a new Release you must have a physical copy of the Release in question in front of you.
2. What can people contribute?
There are 3 basic kinds of page on Discogs
- Release pages (these are the basic building blocks of Discogs, every other page revolves around them)
- Artist Pages
- Label Pages
The two main ways people can contribute are:
- Submitting new Releases pages via the Add Release Form. New Artist and Label pages are automatically created when you add a Release page that identifies previously undocumented artists or labels (they cannot be added directly).
- Editing existing Release, Artist or Label pages via the ‘Edit’ link in the top right hand corner of every page.
But there are also other ways people can contribute:
- Adding Images to Release, Artist or Label pages
- Merging duplicate Release, Artist and Label pages
- Combining similar Release pages under Master Release pages
All new contributions are visible to anyone on Discogs the instant they’re made.
3. How do people maintain the quality of information?
Anyone with a Discogs account can Submit new Releases or edit any existing page, but to keep the database neat and usable there are strict Guidelines about how to record information about releases, artists and labels, e.g. about which information belongs in which field (hundreds of fields are needed to accommodate all the different information available about Releases), and about how to format each field entry.
To ensure adherence to the Guidelines, new Submissions and Edits are voted on by other Discogs users. Not everyone can vote. The ability to vote is automatically assigned based on your interaction with the site. Generally, you need to log in reasonably regularly, view releases, read the guidelines, comment correctly on others submissions, and make good submissions and updates. Basically, you need to be a helpful and positive contributor to the site.
Contributions with no votes are flagged so that voters can vote on them.
General Rules for Your First Submission
This information is taken from our ‘Quick Start Guide For new Contributors’, available in full in the Help & Support section.
Depending on the release, submitting a new release to the Discogs database can be complex. For your first submission you should try something relatively simple like a CD or LP with a single artist and a small number of tracks. This way you can learn the process before moving on to complicated releases with many tracks by different artists.
General Rules for Your First Submission
- Follow the Submission Guidelines. You don’t have to read them all now, you just need to know they must be followed and that you need to check them if you’re unsure or if another contributor says your contribution is incorrect.
- You must have a copy of the in front of you if you are submitting a new one
- Double-triple check your version of the release has not already been entered into the DB. Duplicates are an archive’s worst nightmare (and a waste of your time)!
- Only submit what you can prove with pictures. You don’t need to include pics in a submission but if you can’t prove facts your submission might receive negative feedback.
- Stick to the minimum required fields for a new submission if you’re just starting out. It’s better to make a simple but correct submission than a complex submission with misinformation.
- If you’re still stuck, you can always ask for help in the Database Help Forum.
- It’s always better to make a simple but correct submission than a complex submission with misinformation.
A step-by-step guide, with pictures, to making your first submission
If you’ve made it this far and you’d actually like to try your hand at contributing to Discogs, there is a step-by-step guide with pictures in the Help & Support section: ‘Quick Start Guide’ for new contributors.
Be sure to check out the following Held Documents as well:
- Tips For Faster & Easier Submissions
- How To Find Information On A Vinyl Record
- How To Find Information On A CD
- How To Find Information On A Cassette