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Anthony Piazza
Ms. Jennifer Murray
ENC1102
8 December 2014
Discogs: A Collectors Dream
The first tangible musical recordings were created in the late 1800s (An Audio
Timeline). Over the next century, millions of records, eight-tracks, cassettes, CDs and digital
albums were released all over the world. It seemed like an impossible task to keep track of all
those recordings. Ive met collectors whose only option was to spend years filling up notebooks
that listed every single record they own. One website took on the impossible task and made it
their goal to create a large database capable of cataloging music. Discogs is a music database that
catalogs both physical and digital music releases. Users have uploaded over 5 million different
releases and listed over 16 million items for sale in the Marketplace (Explore Releases on
Discogs). I chose this discourse community because I am an active member in it and enjoy
using it to communicate with others who share my interests. I first used the website when I
started collecting records last summer. I needed to keep track of all the music I was buying and
Discogs was perfect for that. Whenever I buy a new album, the first thing I always do is add it to
my Collection on Discogs.
As described in the About section of their website, the goal of Discogs is to build the
biggest and most comprehensive music database and marketplace. Just like Swales first
characteristic of discourse communities, Discogs has a common shared goal (Swales 220).
Every user constantly works to fulfill this goal by adding new releases and striving for accuracy.

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There are many different forms of communication on Discogs. Users can add a new
release, write a review, update information, list an item for sale, join a group or send a message.
The most direct way of contributing to the discourse community is to add a new release, as it
takes you through the entire discourse process that is used. A user fills out a form asking for the
name, artist, label, genre and tracklist of the release. If there is an error, another user brings it to
the submitters attention and they work together to resolve the issue. Another aspect of Discogs
is the Marketplace, an online store allowing users to buy and sell from each other. Sellers and
buyers must communicate in the Marketplace to ensure that all details of the transaction are
agreed upon.
The purposes of each mechanism of communication vary slightly but all center on the
idea of ensuring that each release is as accurate as possible. The Submission Notes section of a
New Release form requires the user to explain their submission, especially if there is anything
that might cause confusion. Also, each revision to a release requires a description of the edit
made and why it was done. Some users choose to post reviews on albums that inform their peers
on what they liked or did not like about a particular release.
With over 200,000 users constantly updating and adding new releases, errors are
inevitable. Discogs designed a process to handle and correct these errors. With simple mistakes,
a moderator usually makes a comment on the release that lets the original submitter know what
needs to be fixed. However, in more complex situations a voting system is used. This allows
users to decide whether or not the information provided is correct through a vote. Another
example of genre occurs if there are duplicate releases containing the exact same information.
Moderators simply perform a merge that combines the two releases while keeping specific
information, like listings in Marketplace, unaffected. These edits keep users up to date with all

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changes that are being made on an item in their collection. In addition, Discogs has a blog that
keeps users informed by announcing upcoming features to the website.
Discogs defines the word release as any audio product that is made for general public
consumption (Database Glossary). Since Discogs is a music-related database, you must be
familiar with music terminology as well as terminology that is exclusive to Discogs. While most
of the music terminology is probably common knowledge, the Discogs terminology must be
learned. Some examples of lexis used by Discogs are ANV (Artist Name Variation), RSG
(Release Submission Guide) and PAN (Primary Artist Name). In addition, there is a set style of
writing used in Discogs that differs from traditional cases. When adding the album title, artist
name, or tracklist for a release, the first letter of each word must be capitalized. For example,
Pink Floyds album The Dark Side of the Moon is properly capitalized in Discogs as The
Dark Side Of The Moon. The lexis used in Discogs help keep the website concise and
consistent.
The experts of this discourse community are the moderators who look over additions to
the database and correct errors. Moderators include employees of Discogs who maintain the
sites organization as well as a large number of dedicated users who just want to help out. To
help experts assimilate new users, Discogs created a comprehensive rulebook called Database
Guidelines. The guide is divided into 21 subsections and even includes a glossary for the
terminology. When submitting or editing a release, users are redirected to specific sections of
this guide if necessary. To enter this discourse community, you must have a high level of interest
in physical forms of music or be a collector. Users leave this community when they sell their
collection or pass away and have their music passed on to someone else.

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To summarize, Discogs aims to keep expanding and fine-tuning their database. Users
work to accomplish this goal by exercising writing in messages, groups and adding releases. Indepth guides are available to help new users understand the rules and guidelines on Discogs. For
the rest of the semester I would like to further investigate the experts and possibly even talk to
a member of the Discogs team to gain additional insight on how writing affects the submission
process. Writing especially is a driving force in this discourse community since there is virtually
no face-to-face contact among members. No matter where you are in the world, Discogs users
utilize writing to interact with each other and share their passion of music.

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Works Cited

An Audio Timeline. Audio Engineering Society. 17 Oct. 1999. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.
Database Glossary. Discogs. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.
Explore Releases On Discogs. Discogs. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.
Swales, John. Approaching the Concept of Discourse Community. ERIC. Mar. 1987. Web. 8
Dec. 2014.