posted on #1
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The music posted here is mostly well accommodated by the categories listed, but certainly not everything/everybody. Rather than exclude or make it difficult (for players like me), I'd greatly appreciate a few "other" type categories.

Not sure if I'm the only one but often find that the style/category doesn't fit very well. Rather than see a plethora of new categories appear maybe it would be easier to have "other" as a category so that we aren't trying to shoe horn tracks where they don't fit.

Similarly the list of instruments is very small and having to name a different instrument than what you're playing is just plain wrong. Could we add a category of "other" or "?".

In the same vein not everybody plays to a metronome and there are many instances where the rhythm is fluid. Any number of terms could be used to catch this as a category (fluid, unspecified, changing, @/@, X/X, !/?, etc.). Listing a tempo that is incorrect means that others will set a click and just run over what's there. Not good for them, not good for the result.

Requiring tracks to be defined incorrectly is worse than awkward.

I hope that this request is taken seriously as I've been caught out by these limitations continually and it also inhibits me from posting templates that demand specifications that are (at best) misleading.
posted on #2
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Actually I considered this category ("other") already a week ago in the thread "NEW catagory", but I alreay clarified that I would not follow this idea.
Please consider it from a side which I did not yet mention:
We currently have 21 categories and 20 of them are (more or less) clearly to define. Remains the category "world".
If we follow the definition of Wikipedia it is defined like this:
"World music is a musical category encompassing many different styles of music from around the globe..."
For me (and also obviously for Wikipedia) world-music is not really a style and in fact you find quite a lot of extremly different styles on the loops if you search for world-music.
So in the end the category "other" already exists. It just has another name.

I see the reason of the style-problem you describe somewhere else:
If you upload a new template, you may regard it as folk, cause you played an accoustic guitar. with the next add, the style may change, but the one who added does not have the opportunity to change that.
But maybe I am wrong, cause I cannot really judge about this:
I never use the search by category. If I search new music here, I sometimes search by using tags like e.g. psychedelic or ambient but mostly my search is very chaotic.
Life is.
posted on #3
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[quote]will_C wrote:

Please consider it from a side which I did not yet mention:
We currently have 21 categories and 20 of them are (more or less) clearly to define. Remains the category "world".

Hey Will, good to hear from you. Not sure I agree though. If you go ask a bunch of people what "world music" means they wouldn't describe "other" but instead say that it was ethnic music from anywhere in the world. Would it make sense to classify a style similar to 1950s crooner tunes as "world" music? It's certainly not jazz or pop. Is ragtime "world"? How about boogie woogie? If 99% of us are not writing out what we play should everything be classified jazz because it's improvisation? No, of course not!

The object of a category is to communicate to someone who might be interested what sort of music they could expect to hear. "World", to almost everybody, means ethnic music. "Other" means that it doesn't fit into any of the listed categories...and that's what we need IMHO.

Very true that adds can completely change the feel, but those looking for templates (which may be a lot of the members we don't hear much from) are likely to be best served by good general categories and something that clearly means "other".

The issues of instrument and tempo are just as important and also need those "other" types of listings so that we are not being asked (required) to misrepresent anything. When I play a Duduk it's just plain wrong to be required to call it a saxophone or clarinet. It's more like an oboe, which isn't listed either. "Other" gives me the opportunity to say what the instrument is in the blurb and not be forced to declare it to be an instrument it's not even vaguely related to.

Nobody expects or wants 100s of categories. Keep it simple but accurate in plain language (as it is) and have an "other" category where there is no fit. I doubt that there is an agenda which is trying to exclude styles, instruments or compositions that don't fit, but that's exactly what it feels like when you need to misrepresent your music, instrument or composition.

We are supposed to be about musicians from all over the world, yet we don't have categories for 99% of the world's instruments. Should a person who is a master of the Sitar have to say he's playing a guitar? We also have categories that could be eliminated e.g. having both "bass" and "upright bass"...is this necessary? We have Samba, and Bossa Nova, but no Afro Cuban, Sala, Merengue, Mombo, etc. Do we need all of these? No instead of the current two you could have one that encompassed all as "Latin". We don't have to always add instruments or categories. "Other" gives you the opportunity to be a part, not misrepresent, and have FEWER categories.
posted on #4
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Ok Wade I mostly agree, but I fear you didn't get my point:
I think if someone does not find a style which does not really match to the template he has created, he currently calls it "world". This of course does not mean, that you find no "world-music" in this category, how vague the limits of this genre may ever be.
Perhaps this is in the end the reason for your proposal to create a category called "other"?!

Maybe that the rest of my statement just described why I (for me) prefer chaotic surfing through the the loops. (oh my subconsciousness!!) ;)
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posted on #5
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not only we have the problem :)
other= not popular music http://www.musicmap.info/#
posted on #6
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will_C wrote:

Maybe that the rest of my statement just described why I (for me) prefer chaotic surfing through the the loops. (oh my subconsciousness!!) ;)

Love it! Chaotic surfing indeed!
May just be my own frustration with too often (more than 20% of the time?) needing "other" and not having it available. I really hate putting down the wrong instrument, time signature, and style. Do we have potential members playing instruments that aren't listed who are turned off because they are eliminated before they start? "Other" is all inclusive and says everybody is welcome to play any instrument, any style, in any time signature.

How can that be wrong or bad? "World" doesn't say that, and it doesn't cover instruments or time signatures. Remember you MUST list an instrument for every track. Sitar (for example) is a very standard instrument for a culture of over one billion people...wikiloops would have a master have to say he's playing a guitar? Would they do that or just look at the site and say...well they don't want to accommodate me so I'll just give that a miss. Same is true for almost every other Asian instrument and most African instruments.

It comes down to a question of whether wikiloops is really global, or only global for those who play popular western style music and instruments. How much more could we be enriched by being inclusive? The easiest way is by just adding the concept of "other".
Edited by Wade on September 22 2016 11:06
posted on #7
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Hey Wade & "others",
Just to respond to two aspects that haeve come up in this thread:

@will_C: You mention the likelyness of a Remix going into a different direction/genre than the original template. This is not an issue, because you may change the style when uploading a remix. It is no problem to take an "unplugged" template, add programmed drums and a synth and reupload that to appear in the electronic section - remix branches can cover any kind of style changes.

@wade: Turning away musicians is not what we are after, right? This is why I have repeatedly offered to add missing instruments, as soon as there is a small number of tracks available which can populate that intstrument category. This lead to rather unusual instruments like bandoneon, bouzuki or oud appearing in the selectables. To add 260 instrument types, of which 235 would feature not one single track would definetly not lead to a good user experience. The best bet to solve that in a convenient way would be to offer the long list of choices on the upload, but only instruments which are actually present in the database on the search interface... the effort that would go into that should please not be underestimated, besides creating the needed icons/graphics for each potential instrument, all of those need to be translated in 7 languages, not to mention the data backend issues.
To move on into something constructive, you guys are very welcome to supply a list of the most needed instruments to make you feel happy, and I will see what I can do.

About the "other" category suggestion... pros: "other" is very self explanatory.
cons: "1234 free other backing tracks found" will look quite stupid on the search results page, and I'm not sure if people actually google for "other backingtracks", as they like to do for p.e."funk backingtracks".

Thing is, the genres offerings on wikiloops are intended to be rather loose categories - to add all possible subgrenes (post-punk, grindcore, skiffle, ragtime ...) would lead to a huge mess IMO, and again to many categories who are only added to by one single user (as the bandoneon & oud categories, btw).
If you start labeling p.e. a Ragtime tune as "other" instead of posting it to the Jazz corner, all that is won is that less users will find it, because the "other" category will probably not be the first thing to check for new users.
You may feel better, since your idea is "Ragtime just isn't Jazz", but besides that, I don't feel wikiloops gets any better about this.
If you could make it a habit to add the word "ragtime" to the "tags" or description of such tracks, they would become easily accessible for all ragtime lovers, and once the text search finds more than 20 tracks labeled with ragtime, we can come back here and discuss if it does make sense to start a lively ragtime genre.
I'm not nay-saying on the "other" category, just sharing some thought.
posted on #8
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Thanks Richard for your detailed answer as it provides good reasons from the standpoint of how difficult it is to add instruments and categories. The point of view I was expressing was not taking into account how difficult this might be. I have no personal point of reference regarding programming/coding.

If difficulty outweighs inclusiveness, then that's it. As a person who has run up against these limitations I feel very uncomfortable putting down the wrong instrument, not having the timing notated correctly, and the category/genre being completely incorrect. It would seem that most current contributors have no problem, yet we have no idea how many potential contributors have been put off by feeling un-accommodated. It's actually an awful feeling which (unintentionally) gives a subtle message: YOU DON'T FIT. I've not posted several pieces due to the experience of having to give a time signature that I know is totally wrong then having others come along and mangle it by setting a click or playing a 4/4 over a 12/8 African rhythm. Yea, maybe I shouldn't take it personally, but the idea is to at least NOT GIVE WRONG INFORMATION so that someone who wants to add something really has to listen and figure it out. If it says 4/4 why would they be listening for anything else?

I'm not pretending to have any answers for you in terms of what could be an easy fix. The purpose was to bring into the light how the current set up restricts and alienates potential members who play other instruments, in free form rhythms or odd rhythms, and styles of music that don't fit into an existing category.

Compared to all the musical cultures in the world I'm fairly "western" yet have found the current restrictions and limitations telling me (in a not very subtle way), that I don't fit...which can also be taken as I don't belong. How many fine/great musicians does the world have that are currently being turned away? How are they supposed to know that it's OK to misrepresent their instrument , their music style, timing, and basically everything about their music? Quite simply they don't. Wikiloops’ front line for members to participate is the boxes they tick when uploading . They will immediately get the message (if there are no alternatives) that they don’t fit. Currently it reads as limited to pop western music styles, rhythms and instruments.

Obviously in my naive way I saw "other" as a way to let the rest of the musical world see a way they could contribute without misrepresentation or feeling they don't belong here. If the technical difficulty of being inclusive prevents this then I guess we have to live with the reality of those restrictions and recognize that the project is only global if you play western style music, a limited list of instruments, and in set prescribed (click track) rhythms/meters.

Is being inclusive important to this project? Is being truly global in a musical sense important? Maybe it's OK to just focus on Western style music and have that as a limitation/restriction. I can't answer any of these and certainly don't have an answer for the technical difficulties.

With respect...Wade
Edited by Wade on September 23 2016 22:33
posted on #9
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:-) I just wish their was a Soul/ R&B since it's not a alternative "Style".
-Zamzam & the MellyOmatic-
posted on #10
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I think your main concern / perception can be summarized to:
"Not finding a matching style or instrument declaration to choose from does create a feeling of "I'm not welcome here - the people creating wikiloops have not thought of people like me" ".
I consider this a valid remark, and am willing to invest time and effort to find ways to avoid creating such emotions.

I can not really see why you are expanding the problematic onto the "meter" declarations as well - it is not mandatory to declare a meter or tempo, so you already have the "other" option there by not stating anything.

So, after understanding what your post is about and letting you know your concerns are being taken serious, my next step is to invite you (and all other readers of this thread) to move on into negotiating good solutions.

So much for the constructive momentum - I do hope you are able to agree on my above summary of the initial intention of your post.

You did raise some additional questions, which are of a rather global kind, let me quote you:
"Is being inclusive important to this project? Is being truly global in a musical sense important?
[do we have to] recognize that the project is only global if you play western style music, a limited list of instruments, and in set prescribed (click track) rhythms/meters?


Let me answer this really quickly - tho I feel it is a bit odd to have to do that.
First - if you seriously feel 7/8, 9/8 and 5/4 meters (these have been available for a long time) are indicators for being narrow and westernly metered, then I must say that's a surprise. If you'd like me to add 12/8, that can be done.

Is being inclusive important to this project?
As you may recall, we have been thru quite a lot of pages discussing potential budgeting solutions. While a lot of people suggested a paid membership would be the way to go, I have stressed the point of such a payment model being the end of inclusivenes (because payment methods available in the west are not necessaryly offered in the rest of the world).
If wikiloops is able to stick to being inclusive when it comes to raising cash, I'm not sure if there is reason to question this commitment based on looking at instrument categories, which have been added on demand ever since.
I'm not sure what your intention may have been in raising these questions, I just wanted to let you know I would have taken your initial ideas just as serious if you had skipped that part.
What we do have to recognize about wikiloops is that anything it is today needed someone to start it - either by pioneering a new instrument or genre, and -besides going thru the hassle of getting the categories set up- filling them with some life by adding tracks and forming a small circle of people interested. wikiloops does grow organicly, to blame it for the absence of certain instruments and judge it for the presence of others is not just IMO, you may as well blame the Sitar players for not having shown up so far. The bandoneon and oud players were facing the very same situation of having no category to them at some point, it is not as if wikiloops was not flexible when it comes to meeting user demand.

I'll leave it at that for now and come back with some constructive approaches on how to solve the style / instrument problematic in a little bit.
posted on #11
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Thanks Richard. I apologize for using the inclusive bludgeon as I know that this is paramount in the project. It is precisely that knowledge that brought this question forward.

I still feel that style and instruments are a chicken and egg situation: Will somebody become a member if they feel that their style of music and instruments are not welcome or accommodated? How would they know that if they become involved that you are willing to accommodate those styles and instruments? These things are not apparent but having an "other" category allows them (to some degree) to feel that they can come in, at which time they can see that the place is inclusive and that their instrument and genre could be added. It's just not obvious that those things are possible if you are standing on the outside looking in.

Zamzam wants to see Soul and R&B as categories. Will it happen? Just because he (or others) haven't been bugging you about it does that mean there is no justification? We've got both Raggae and Ska but neither Soul nor R&B which seems way out of kilter. There's a myriad of styles/categories and it's understandable that you don't want to keep adding these (although willing to). That's the logic behind "other", to be inclusive but not have to add (what could be) obscure categories on demand. It's even possible to widen some. The suggestion was made to lump together a category of "Latin" rather than all the styles that come from there. Likewise "Caribbean" can include Raggae, Ska, Calypso, etc.

Changes are always difficult and unsettling. They shouldn't be made unless necessary and it's understandable if the answer remains “it's too difficult".

This part of the forum is the suggestion box, and this is just a suggestion. I do feel passionate about the "other" issue simply because it may not be recognized how it feels to be "on the outside looking in" with no recognizable accommodation for your instrument or music. Is it reasonable for an outsider to know or expect that they should join so that they can change the site to accommodate them? Is there any other site on the web that normally does this? What are others experiences and expectations?

The welcome mat could simply be the category "other". Would it help if there was a master list of all instruments and categories with a number so that “other” brought up a list from which they could choose? If it got used enough then maybe that could trigger adding that category or instrument? It might also reference those “others” so that they went into that category when it became established.... Just an uneducated (non technical) suggestion from Ancient Anarchist Luddite (AAL).
Edited by Wade on September 24 2016 23:02
posted on #12
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If you start with the category "Other" now, what do you do with all the music that was done before?
posted on #13
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Hey :)
Let's get down with some constructive thinking on how to change the existing system - I do believe both ZamZams and Robjols questions will be answered on the way.

One of the crucial aspects which Wade has adressed in his last post is:
"We should not expect new people to realize that we are open to adding to the offered system on demand" - this is absolutely correct, and the current interface does lack obvious hints about this. The whole "if something is missing, I can add that"-concept is common to wikis (like the wikipedia and others), but you have to be familiar with that to know this, and again, I've lacked to offer that information at the right spots.

Now, let me recollect the criteria I do see which should be met by any change to the current system:
- the categoy system should stay somewhat simple, features that require a helicopter-pilot-license to understand are not really appreciated by the large majority of users
- it should be possible to add missing categories by going thru a standard routine for this task, which has a clear order of process steps which are comprehensible to anyone
- I would like to keep categories in creation (= with very little content) out of the search engine selectables, and automaticly add them once a minimum number of tracks are available. A selection dropdown featuring instruments which will return no results is definetly not desireable.
- to create "other" declarations in both genre and instrument offerings is a good first step to avoid the "I'm left out" impression we have been talking about. On the other hand, if we leave it at adding the "other"-cats and think ourselfs ahead five years, we might find ourselfs with hugely grown "other" categories which are full of interesting Sitar and Ragtime tunes. If we miss the opportunity to turn these into standard categories at some point, then we are not doing ourselfs a favor at all, right? So IMO, the ideal "other" categories would work as some kind of intermediate pool of things, which should be moved into "real" categories wherever that does make sense - which I would again bind to a certain amount of tracks having been shared.

Even tho this is going to be bound to some extra work coding a system that will allow that, I do see the benefit of creating a solution which does not require bugging me via the forum, but which can ideally deal with keeping track of how many Sitar tracks are out there in the "other" category, and which could manage the category additions more or less automaticly. I'll still have to do the translation and image creation task manually, but that is just one step of many needed ones.

So, finally, here's one potential solution to the issue as it may look on the interface - feel free to pass feedback on this:

Starting on the upload form page, let's imagine you have just checked the offered instruments or genres dropdown and noticed: "My desired category is not available".
You notice the last menue entry reads "other...", and select that.
Upon choice of "other...", a previously hidden area appears, telling you:
"We love to add more categories to the wiki, but to keep things simple, a certain amount of tracks needs to be available before a new category appears in the menu.
Please check if the category you would like to add to has already been proposed:
[dropdown menu featuring proposed categories here]
If you have not found a proposed category that matches your need - then congratulations, you have the chance to pioneer a totally new aspect on wikiloops!
Just add the missing category name here: [free text form field] [save button]
For the time being, your track will be listed as "other", but if you and/or others keep adding more tracks to this category, these tracks will eventually be moved on into a new public category."

I do believe such a setup might work around the issue in a nice way.
As far as instruments are concerned, it might make sense to offer
"other stringed instrument...", "other wind instrument..." etc (native speakers: I do need help on this one please!!).
This would definetly make some sense when thinking of all the tracks that might remain in the "other" categories for a long time.

Wether this would also make sense in the style caegories... I'm not sure, "other Latin..." would make sense in a way, and (tho Wade will hate me now), I'd rather find a ragtime tune under "other Jazz..." than lost in some crazy "just other" category.

Since I didn't mention this before, and to answer Robjols request:
The new interface I have in the works does have one major change when it comes to editing ones uploads after they have been published. You will be able to change pretty much all variables about your tracks (including the older ones), including an option to add HD uploads you may have missed to add in the past, so adjusting to a new category system would be no big issue at all. The only thing you will not be able to edit is the mp3 itself, which I believe does make sense in a way.

So much on a sunny sunday - thanks to all thinking along :)
posted on #14
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i think the solution proposed is a good and interesting one ! temporary "other" category until there are enough tracks to create the new category / instrument ... a fine way to adress the "you don't fit" issue if you ask me :) (i fully agree with Wade on this topic)

"other stringed instrument...", "other wind instrument..." etc (native speakers: I do need help on this one please!!).

as far as french is concerned : "Autre instrument à cordes", "Autre instrument à vent"
clusters Clusters CLUSTERS !!!!!!
posted on #15
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Ah, the smell of brains cooking and progress! So good! The Instrument section sounds perfect to me. I think one could divide by type into seven instrument groups which should fit nearly everything.
1. Strings: Violin types, Zither types, sitar types, pipa, saz, Kora/harp types, etc.
2. Whistles: flute, recorder, penny whistle, Andean/Pan pipes, etc.
3. Reeds: (sax, clarinet, oboe, duduk, bassoon, harmonica, accordion (types), shawm, bagpipe, etc.
4. Brass/Toot: All horns that use vibrating lips like trumpet, didgeridoo, French horn, etc.
5. Keyboards or chromatic (tuned) percussion: piano, organ, marimba, steel drum, thumb piano, Gamelan, etc.
6. Drums and percussion: Everything else that you hit shake rattle etc.
7. Electric misc. Theremin, Moog, Ewi, etc.

The style category is much more difficult and as Richard suggests I wouldn't be happy with ragtime being called jazz. Ragtime came first and is nothing similar to what most people would think of as jazz, especially as there is no improvisation involved. Where would you put boogie woogie? R&B and Soul? How about Noel Coward style crooner tunes? There's a myriad of African styles that are popular (NOT folk/world) like Palm Wine, High Life, Afrobeat, etc. India and the Middle East also have pop styles that don't fit into what most would think of as folk/world. It may be that these need to be geographically oriented. A simple means may be to state the area: e.g. Contemporary (20th and 21st century) African, Contemporary Asian, Contemporary Latin American, Contemporary Middle Eastern, Contemporary Western. The last category could include all of the music styles (including ragtime, soul, boogie woogie, etc.) that would be difficult to otherwise lump into similar groups.

Not sure if any of this helps, but I certainly don't want to see a plethora of styles or instruments come up with each list unless they are being regularly featured.

Thanks Richard for your efforts to make Wikiloops truly inclusive for oddballs like me and (hopefully) those as yet unknown masters from far corners of the world who may show up.
posted on #16
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Hey Wade,
I fear,in this way you shock simple minded people like me:
I already have diffuclties to distinguish e.g. World music from "contemporary Indian".
This is stated by a guy who doesn't find his instruments (synthesizer) in the already existing list and never felt excluded by this.
Aren't you afraid that many users won't use tags and won't fill out the description, if they already are overstrained in finding their style and their instrument in a huge list.
Currently it is simple: a e.g. Jaw Harp player can coose percussion and state "Jaw Harp" in the track description and/or as tag.
If you want to store everything in prepared drawers, your cabinet gets pretty big and you have to live with the fact, that many articles won't be stored in he correct drawer, cause many people cannot or are not willing to handle the complicated syntax of a perfect system.
This is a general concern: an old programmer proverb says " never change a running system".
I wouldn't go that far, but I would include it into any consideration of any change.
Edited by will_C on September 26 2016 08:13
Life is.
posted on #17
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Hi Will, how are you?

I'm all for simple systems and thought I'd made suggestions which could simplify and make fewer categories. The suggestions for the category "other" was not aimed at current the membership which is primarily Western Music style players. What's missing are openings and opportunities for those other musical cultures who are currently absent. We are supposed to be a world-wide inclusive group. Probably 99% of the current members are Western style Players who wouldn't know the difference between Classical Indian Music and Bollywood Pop Indian music. The point is that one billion Indians know, and wouldn't consider their contemporary music to be folk or "world". It's their contemporary pop music. Same is true in Africa, Japan, Korea, Latin America, etc. A category of "Other", with the possibility of their style of music becoming a category of its own, is their way of seeing that they can join in. Otherwise they see a wall of Western Music and instruments without any inclination to accommodate them. If it's the intention of this site to be exclusively Western, then I guess that's the way it is. Richard has indicated otherwise.

The suggestion for "other" as a category is a door opener, not necessarily an immediate invitation for a list of 300 instruments or 200 styles of music. Any new categories would only come about if there is sufficient demand (through usage). Otherwise I'm all for fewer categories with larger groupings and simplification. As it is we have several instruments already as categories that have less than 20 original additions or templates : Didgeridoo, oud, trombone and tuba. They may not be popular, but they have been accommodated. It could be with a category of "other" that they wouldn't have been recognized until there were 50 tracks which would have meant fewer rather than more instrument categories.

Flexibility inclusiveness and simplicity are what my request was about with a specific challenge to recognize that currently the styles and instrument lists act to exclude potential members. I would hope that the current membership does not see this as any kind of threat. It shouldn’t be.
posted on #18
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thanks for the ideas on the proposed solution, seems like the temporary "other" with exit option towards single categories is generally an acceptable solution.
I do share will_c's fear of people using the offered options in erratic ways (lets face it, it happens everyday). It won't be long untill the first witty german will introduce the instrument "Arschgeige" to proove how incredibly funny one is (that can be translated to ass-violin, an idiom to describe someone who acts in an unfriendly way). Well, we will have to decide wether we want to risk these side effects for a potentially better category system - and I do feel it is worth doing that.
As Wade points out, the new system might as well lead to some existing instruments disappearing because they do not match the needed amount of tracks at first - I'm not sure if I really want to do that, but if one applied the new setup consequently, that would happen, depending on the minimum amount of tracks needed. 50 (as proposed by Wade) seems too high IMO, to ask a single user to create 50 tracks before being rewarded by the category moving on seems a little hard. If some instrument is truly rare to come by online, people would appreciate finding it even if there are very few tracks, so I'd think a minimum number of tracks around 10-20 should do on the instruments, one might apply a higher mandatory number on style categories, tho.

Now, on to the possible sub-classes of "other".
As for the instruments, thanks for the explicit list by Wade, I was missing quite some terms in english there, which you just supplied.
You came out at 7 sub-categories of instruments, which does seem longer than what I feel comfortable with - a general niterface design rule tells us options that exceed the number of five options are perceived as complex by the average user (sorry, sidenote).
A simpler grouping by sub-classes may reduce Wades 7 to:
1. other winds
2. other strings
3. other percussion *
4. other sounds (other others, lol)

Thing is, our current "Percussion" category basicly IS that "other percussion", since we never split the tablas from the shakers there.
One aspect that does seem relevant is to weigh the amount of words needed to explain a categories concept against real benefit of having some complicated category. I just can't offer something needing 6 words to explain the concept in a dropdown menu (these things tend to inflate in translation as well, the french will take 30% more words...), so one-word self explanatory terms are ideal to start off with in this regard.

To split the "winds" into three categories as Wade did is too precise IMO, if one would go for this level of distinction, I feel one would have to split the "bowed" from the "plugged" string instruments as well. Since Keyboards are available as a standard category, I'd think it would make more sense to offer "other tuned percussion", which is a easier to grab concept than the mix of these two.

OK, lets take a step back:
We are introducing something new here, which can be summed up as "category hierarchy".
This is a new concept to wikiloops, whichs categories are all on the very same hierarchy level right now.
To ask users to dig down a hierarchic menu when uploading a track is one thing - a click flow from "other wind" to "Brass" to "(proposed cat) specialHoooorn" would be no issue for someone happy to have the correct instrument stated.
BUT please do not forget the category systems main use is on the search pages of wikiloops, where people tend to select 2-3 instruments to search for a certain lineup.
To handle different hierarchy levels in that usecase is much more difficult and a pain to do - imagine you would have to select "general percussions" and then range down to what you are really after, to then move on to "general strings" and dig down to "guitar" - that just won't work in a nice flow.
Looking at the organicly grown list of currently offered instruments, we have to notice that these cats are treated equally in hierarchy, but we can spot cases that would go on different levels once we apply our new logic.
Examples: Didgeridoo and Fluegelhorn are very specific and would remain on category level 1, while both "Keys" and "Percussion" are rather global cats that would happen in the layer above, lets call it level 2.
Let's not change the running system in a confusing way - so, we will have to live with level 2 categories being listed on the search interface.
What will be an odd user experience at some point is the moment where the system ads a new level 1 category (p.e. by splitting out all Tabla tracks from the Percussion), and a user will find "percussion" and "tabla" in the same selection menu... depending on what one reads first, one will expect that level of distinction to continue, and one will either wonder why in the world tabla is the only thing singled out from percussion, or will be disappointed to find there is no darbuka category... this is indeed a very tricky problem, which already does exist in a mild form in the "acoutic guitar" vs "guitar" categories.
Sorry for the abstract thinking here, but one really needs to try to foresee things...
For the sake of completion, let's think about the newly created "other X" categories - I would not have integrated them in the filtered by instrument search offerings, because these rather loose & temporary cats do not work well for that purpose (who would search for a lineup consisting of Drums, Bass and "other wind instrument", really?), so, I'd place those in hierarchy level 3, which shall not be seen on the search interface.

Houston, we do have a quite difficult problem here, and I'm affraid my collection of thoughts here may exceed what the average bypasser will find easy to digest... hope some folks may still enjoy witnessing the process of how human thought may be converted to a computer maintainable logic - that's what developing is about.

I'll take another approach. Let's collect different usecases to spot the problematic aspects.
Number 1: Ali from Hindustan proposes to have a Schningiwingi instrument category, files that under "other stringed instrument" for the time being and adds 12 tracks this way.
Our system to come recognizes that and opens a Schningiwingi category - beautiful, no problem here.

Number 2: Jürgen from Ida-Oberstein has a Steinway at home, and really doesn't feel comfortable filing his tracks in the quite general "Keys" category. So, noticing our newly added features, he starts to file his tracks as "other stringed instrument" and proposes to open a "concert piano" category. System waits for the minimum amount of tracks and opens that category.
Problem: We now have a Keys category, which includes quite a lot of older concert piano tracks, and a concert piano category featuring only Jürgens tracks. That is definetly a problem which would apply to all rather loose instrument categories, mostly in the Keys and Percussion segment, which are very likely to become sub-splitted, but any sub-split of a previously existing category has that problem to it, think of someone splitting out the alto sax from saxophones, same problem there as well.

Number 3:
Juniper from Azerbeydjan visits wikiloops for the first time and has a look at the search page of wikiloops. She is looking for Darbuka tracks, and starts looking down the list of offered instruments, which is currently delivered in alphabetical order. She bypasses "Congas" and finds the List continues with "Digeridoo" - and the impression is: "they have a sophisticated system that grants Congas a seperate category, but obviously they do not have darbuka here." - wether Juniper reads on to spot "Percussions" further down the list and give that a try is questionable, once we have some specific categories, people will expect this to be the standard.
One solution to prevent this situation could be to actually hide categories which have been sub-splitted - Example: Once the Keys category has been sub splitted into "concert piano", "organ", "synth & pad" and "e-piano", one could hide the global Keys category, but as in the previous case, all older tracks which are not assigned to these newly created subclasses would become unavailable for searching by lineup.... veeery difficult situation.

Number 4:
Phil the bass nerd feels the need to propose a category for "pre 1972 american build fender jazz basses" - (it will happen, trust me) - I guess it's a far out enough example to notice: If we do not build in some kind of "sorry, that's not really what this is meant for" exit option, we'll wind up with way too many user created categories.
If you look at the way other wikis handle these problems (think of: "thread closed, duplicate post of..., format of question does not match guidelines" on Q&A forums as stackoverflow or endless discussions about categories and worthyness on the wikipedia), then we should be aware that there is a lot of time and energy to be spent on explaining folks like Phil the bass nerd why their idea of what would be cool is a bit too much for what we want to have here...

conclusions for today:
1st: The "what to do with older content once an existing category gets split into subsegments" seems the major issue here.
One could ask people to help re-classify their older tracks, but I have doubts all users would be willing and able to do that. One could try to re-categorize older tracks by running text searches before opening a new category (all older tracks tagged with "concert piano" could be easily moved into Jürgens new category from above example), but that would probably only find a rather small percentage of tracks.

2nd: To avoid confusion, the instrument selections offered on the search interface should be re-ordered in a logic way instead of by alphabet. If the List read
other Percussion
Guitar, electric
Guitar, acoustic"
etc etc,
that would make a lot more sense than spreading these items by alphabetical order, where "Acoustic guitar" and "Guitar" are seperated by several other instrument cats.

3rd I guess we need to communicate some sort of line of which level of subsplitting is considered relevant enough to be used in a category system. The "minimum amount of tracks" rule will not solve that by itself, so, manual selection based on a common standard will be needed there.
It will be quite hard to find and argue such a common standard, simply because the involved peoples perceptions may vary quite strongly. While Wade gets goosebumps when thinking of Ragtime being classified as Jazz, it feels the most obvious and simple thing to do for me (I admit to having uploaded bird song labeled as "flute", too).
I would light-heartedly place BoogieWoogie tunes into the blues segment, too, to find a general consensus of "this category does make a lot of sense" will be difficult.
Maybe adding a "at least three users must have uploaded to a category"-rule could be one way to make sure we are giving the right amount of attention to something, such a rule would slow down the process very rudely. Sometimes one single starter to a new category is all we have... difficult.

4th - looking at the amount of work that might be necessary to cover the mentioned problems, I'm a bit undecided wether this project here shall be included in the 9.0 update which I'm working on these days... I'll wait and see if we can agree on a desireable solution for the open ends I layed out today and make up my mind then.
posted on #19
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Joined: 11.05.14
Hey Wade,
thanks for your prompt response ... and thanks for the request, I'm feeling fine. I hope the same for you.
What you write, is close to what I expected you to write. From the very beginning of this thread, I didn't have the impression that you wanted to complicate the structure. But meanwhile I have the impression that the whole discussion is running towards an over-sophistication.
This thread meanwhile (for example) deals with Indian Pop, African Pop, with Korean and Latin Pop and proposes, to collect it under "other" music style until there are enough of each, to make up an own style Indian Pop etc.
Unfortunately I don't know much about these styles, but, as I traveled really a lot threw China, mostly driven by Chinese drivers, I know a little about Chinese Pop. It sounds a bit strange, but it uses the same weapons like Western Pop. To make it short: It IS Pop and that's where it belongs too. I just assume, that this matches to most of the international Pop-music..
If I would be able to create a song like Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV5rHm0Qi_s - sorry, I don't have the slightest idea, why this video is age-restricted), I would also assort it under Pop and tag it with "african"(?) or "world". This is not what I would call world music.
This here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-Y4ncLy9LA
I would classify this under classic and tag it with "Chinese".

Now let's go to the instruments:
You were claiming, that a "Duduk" is not listed. Hence you propose, to assort it under "other" till (following Dicks proposal)there are enough tracks with this instrument, to open another instrument class called Duduk.
Here we may face problems. This instrument is called Duduk in Armenia, but in Turkey it is called Mey and Iran Balaban (in fact it is a double reed instrument, but it in my eyes it makes no sense to open this category, cause non-reed-players like me, could not use this as a search crtiteria, cause we don't know how this may sound). If you know a bit about the animosity between the just mentioned countries, you surely agree that we are now coming too close to a political discussion. This is not a unique example, we are facing this situation also for (another example) the Greek Bouzouki and the Turkish Saz.
You will surely find a huge amount of similar examples, cause people who make music mostly don't care about borders and national animosities.

Further you claim about the limitations of time notifications. This cannot be sloved at all in a prepared way. Would you include 13/8 rhythm? Would you include a 17/8 rhythm? What, if the track includes two or more different rhythms?

In my eyes all these points can be solved with a more extended use of the section "tags" and the section "track description". Here everybody has the freedom to declare anything he wants.
Perhaps a short note, e.g. in the upload section could solve the discussed problems more easy and smooth, like this one:
"Chose the style and the instrument, which matches to your track. If you don't find a matching expression, use the track description and/or place a a certain note in the tag-field below and chose the style and the instrument which, in your ears sounds as close as possible to the category which you have chosen.
Regarding the timenotifications: If you have no equipment, to evaluate the bpm, leave this also open. If you have no idea which bar you use, also leave this open. If you use more than one bar (e.g. a 12/8 and a 7/8) chose one of them and mention the change in the track description.

So far my proposal. But I have one restriction to your proposals and mine:
What we are doing here, is close to "cultural imperialism".
We worry about missing music styles from "non-Western" countries and assert, that we know the reason for that.
Maybe the reason is the language barrier? Do we have any Indian or any African translation? Do we have a Chinese translation? Would Chinese musicians be able to understand, what this page is about, no matter whether we have the category "other" or not? (would they even understand "other" or "andere" or "autre" or "otro" or "altro" or "друго́й " or "outro"?)
We have at least one Chinese musician here and I am pretty sure that we also have musicians from Africa, India, the Orient or any other non-Western-culturized country.

We should invite them to participate to this discussion and tell us, why they think, that they are some of the few (if not the only) guy(s) from their country. We should ask them, how we could change the claimed situation in their optinion.

This is an international platform. We should take the chance to benefit from this internationality to increase it (if even possible).
Life is.
posted on #20
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Posts: 2564
Joined: 30.12.10
Good thinking there, uncle will - while I'm all into checking out solutions for one aspect (ideally the one Wade was concerned about), you are taking a step back and ask even more global questions, like the relevance of interface languages. One should add that average internet connection speeds and prices vary quite strongly around the globe, which is another major reason for the way some countries show up here and some don't. p.e., I was quite surprised to learn no kind of video streaming service is offered in morocco due to internet speed availability when visiting earlier this year, so there may be a huge number of reasons which can not be adressed by adding an "other" category.

The thing is, if you go to that level of viewing things, you risk ending up feeling that there are too many tasks to ever tackle, and wikiloops would have never gone online if we would have waited until translations for all countries were available.
wikiloops is modular in this respect, and from my experience it does make sense to try to improve modules as the categorizing system one by one and try to increase the overall likelyness of other modules improving as we go.
Same can be said about my view on international participation from the community in these development processes.
We do offer this kind of participation (hey, thats what we are doing right here!), and all points of view are appreciated. To say it was mandatory to find someone from country XY before it made sense to try to open a door to these people would make things even more complicated, and no matter how much you love wikiloops, these kind of discussions surely are not for anyone, neither is tackling an interface translation.

As for the "instruments are called differently in different cultures aspect" - that is true, but if that is a major problem? I'm not sure. People who feel "my instrument is not listed, they have bouzouki but I play Saz" can attempt to open a category for Saz, I wouldn't expect these cases to be too common. It will need a manual check if someone just suggested a category which already exists anyway (think of typos and different writings), so one might intervene if things go wrong on that end.
People will most likely propose instruments in their native tongue, while the database keeping proposed instrument categories must be english, otherwise the proposing moment would have to involve supplying the needed translations. To add a list of synonymous terms to proposed categories might be the way to work around that.
Edited by Dick on September 26 2016 15:43
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