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Too much guidance

permalink   Sun, Sep 7, 2008 @ 9:16 AM

even though I was really impressed by this site when I found it, my enthusiasm damped after a while. The reasons for this was that there are too many ratings and the editors picks.

The ratings are definitely a personal problem, as I know that they are needed, but I still can’t accept them. Music has no value to me, maybe a mood it can get you into, but definitely no value. Of course I can criticize your rating system (actually every rating system) as it limits the will to experiment and also attracts many musicians to the mainstream music (ccmixter mainstream of course, not usual mainstream). I don’t have any idea how to replace ratings, so lets keep it like that. Maybe I just take them as more important than they are.

The other thing I have a problem with are the editorial picks, which seem to pick always the same types of music. I often feel disappointed when listening to editors picks, feeling like I already know this song. To me they establish some kind of internal ccmixter mainstream music, I personally don’t like too much.

The reason I liked ccmixter so much was that I felt like this place is the perfect platform for experiments and also expected to listen to many of them. To me there is just too much guidance to be good for fresh experimental music. The musical development of ccmixter seems some kind of stuck to me because of the internal ratings and picks system.

Of course that s only one single opinion by one discontented user. Just think about my points. Maybe I am right, maybe not… that s definitely up to you, but I still want to hear your opinion on this.

thanks for reading,
permalink   Sun, Sep 7, 2008 @ 10:52 AM
Hi Remaxim,
I think I can understand your frustrations about the apparent scoring systems here at ccM.

I’m calling them “apparent”, because in my mind they actually aren’t so much intended to be scoring systems, but more like roadmaps.

For example, the “recommends” can of course be viewed as scores, However I look at them more as “intersections” for traversing ccM and discovering things that may speak to the traveler/listener personally. For example, I often follow the trail of recommendations of a specific person to find more interesting works. So the number of recommends only shows me a “large intersection” to start from, with many “roads” by many recommenders. Of course the number of recommends also shows me what kinds of music seems to have broad appeal, rather than only specialist appeal.

Of course, when I press on the recommend button, I do so as merely one ordinary ccMixter member, just like everyone else. And I do press that button for quite a number of remixes which (to my very subjective ears) are musical experiments which have some (again very subjective) amount of success in that experiment. And I keep a playlist for some of the experiments that spoke to me.

Not all experiments speak to me (actually most of them don’t), and I do sometimes wonder why they have been published. In the field of science, typically only successful experiments get published, not all the one’s that end up discarded on the floor of the laboratory. I’m especially surprised at those where the remixer actually seems to say that it was a failed experiment or that they just wanted to get the thing out of their hair. I have to admit that I just don’t get that.

Note the absence of a numeric score (like numbers or stars), or even a thumbs down. I think that makes ccM more tolerant to experimentation than those other systems, since there is no down-side to publishing - ever. At ccM, the recommendation system can’t “bury” a remix.

Now to the topic of “Editors’ Picks”
I’m not sure, if you’ve had a chance to read this thread, because there some of the editors (including me) have “confessed” how they think and pick.

At the end of his first post teru actually asked for comments within that thread specifically about editors picks. So your commentary is most certainly welcome, it might just be better positioned in that thread rather than starting a new one here.

So what do you think, would it make sense to you to move that part of the conversation there? It might also give you some additional specific starting points for your critique - i.e. by disagreeing (or agreeing) with one or more specific editors about specific points about how they arrive at their picks.
permalink   teru Sun, Sep 7, 2008 @ 12:36 PM
Spin - I think that was very well answered.

I also think most will agree that the Recommends are working much better than the star ratings we had before. Especially for the experimental/alternative stuff.

Another way to approach it would be to create playlists with music you think fits together. This playlist for example, we just added to the Featured Playlists section, highlights some great darker music.

Playlists are where it’s at. : )
permalink   MC Jack in the Box Sun, Sep 7, 2008 @ 11:18 PM
Quote: teru

Playlists are where it’s at. : )

i completely agree. i can relate to what remaxim is saying, but at the same time, he can change others perceptions by creating music he’d like to bring attention to through building playlists. i’d love to check out an alternative playlist to what’s considered “mainstream”. i’ll admit my own personal bias (who can’t?) but at the same time, i think that anyone that is pretty active here, either through remixing, submitting source, giving reviews, or just plain listening is by default pretty open minded about music. i’d love to see people do playlists with themes or genres, it would certainly help anyone i think find the wealth of diamonds from the mines of the archive.

like teru pointed out here, this is the future.
permalink   Sun, Sep 7, 2008 @ 5:00 PM
Music is so subjective that any form of rating or selection is going to fail. It can only ever be a pointer to what people at a moment in time are responding too.

The range of music uploaded at CCM is one of its attractions. Here you can find a great selection of stuff that is not available commercially or on most other sites. Also the quality is very high irrespective of musical genre.

I never get turned off or on by an Ed Pick or a recommendation. I listen and if I like and time permits I leave a review and always a recommend.

As I have posted before the only feature I would like to see more prominent on the “front page” is a recommend chart. More for interest as with the review chart than as a Bible to follow. I know the recommend is a selection available on the site but I do still see it as a better indication of peoples interest than the review which is a time consuming thing and to some a language problem.

What makes CCM so good is that unlike many other sites it is not only a great place to upload ones masterpieces too it is also a great radio station to tune into to listen to some fine music.

I never get put off by the choices of the Ed Pickers but I do agree with you that they can give to those who do not want to spend the time listening to everything an individuals subjective view of the music available.

Maybe we should have some “guest” Ed Pickers who choose their top music for one week.

But then again maybe not because that will also just be subjective!!
permalink   Sun, Sep 7, 2008 @ 6:42 PM
I admire people who do really popular mixes, and I admire the craft and technique of editors’ picks.

Once upon a time, I thought to myself that if I had the power to issue editors’ picks, I’d use it more often on things more experimental than the genres which often are selected as editors’ picks.

However, when I acquired the right to give editors’ picks, I found that I did not feel some overwhelming need to “leaven out” the editors’ picks with more experimental material. I decided that editors’ picks could continue to serve the function they had always served—of highlighting music that one might find on a really cool podcast or a really fun radio show.

My own heart runs with non-mainstream work. I will use the term “experimental” for my own work from time to time, but I actually think that “experimental” is over-used. So many times there is not that much new under the sun.

We have had a number of rating systems from 5 star to the current over the past few years. I prefer the current system.

But I must tell you that although an editors’ pick may get one a few more listeners for a short while on the site, the lack of an editors’ pick has never been any impediment to getting my music used in other projects outside the mixter.
Indeed, of the 3 editors’ picks I have received, only one gets used to any particular degree in other works, and it is my theory that it is not only the editors’ pick, but also the brevity of the piece that helps it in that regard.

I wanted to assure you, remaxim, that many of us who are “regulars” here color outside the lines of th coloring book. I am grateful that people here are as kind as they are
about my work, as I think it is in the main very niche. But when I release music in other places, it tends to be very “niche” and non-mainstream.

I am glad you shared your view on this matter, as it is something we all think about here. It’s so hard to prevent any established community from being too enamoured of favored regulars in that community.

Yet I still felt compelled to post this reply, not so much to express disagreement with you, as to say
“there is definitely a place for
the experimental here at ccmixter!”.

As far as recommends and editors’ picks, my own view is that the best thing I can do is to truly listen to a work and then write a really detailed review—because to me it is the expression of the connection which hearing a piece inspires in me that counts most of all.
permalink   duckett Mon, Sep 8, 2008 @ 4:29 AM
Well, it’s late (or should I say very early?), so I’m not going to write a thesis on the subject- but the one thing I can’t help but mention (and I may have even mentioned it elsethread) concerns the ratings system. I agree that it’s better to not have the possibility of “nuking” remixes, samples, pellas, etc. by “1-star drive-bys”, as the old 5-star system occasionally seemed to have complaints about that, and other childish or arbitrary abuses… but the binary aspect of the “recommend” system has always left me slightly itchy in the brain.

In other words- let’s say, for example, a brand-new remixer(who’s not a raving megalomaniac) uploads their 1st few remixes, and I come across them. I hear some (to my subjective ear, of course) real creative, unique ideas, but inexperience or other obvious technical issues has made it hard for those ideas to shine through.

With the old system, I could give less stars, but explain why in the review, and assuage the blow by also explaining what I did like- with the “recommends” system, while of course I still have the review available to clarify things, I feel forced to choose between “This is dogs—t, never go near a DAW again” and “All evil in the world would vanish if everybody listened to this gift from a higher intelligence”…

Certainly either extreme is (almost) never true, and most people don’t use the recommend button that way; I also realize that sometimes having something rated as “fair” or “mediocre” is more annoying than a “poor” or no rating. I still don’t like having to decide in certain cases “Do I not recommend, but leave a relatively positive review? Or recommend, but with a list of qualifiers/reservations in the review?”

This is what I mean by it being binary. I’m not suggesting that we change the ratings system, but I’d be interested if anyone else has ever felt stuck on the fence like that, or what the personal take of other mixters is on the strength/function of the “recommend” button.

When I get a good review but no recommend on a remix, I have no way of knowing if the reviewer was trying to express “not bad, but…” in the most polite way possible, or they simply forgot to click it, or what. I don’t lose sleep over it, but I do always value feedback; if you took the time to listen, then what you make of my work interests me.

I know everyone’s different- there are some who pass out recommends like candy, but never write reviews, others who view recommends as something to be meted out sparingly, but write reviews often, etc. I try to be fair, but it comes down to “I like it overall, or I don’t”.

If I truly want to rip the headphones off and disinfect my ears, I just won’t write anything, and try to forget I ever listened to it. So, all you fellow 3- and 4-digit reviewers, what’s your take? Am I being too nice? Inconsistent? Are 10 recommends the equivalent of an average rating of 4.5 stars?

I do honestly like being able to see who recommends my stuff; although some might see it as leading to too much “buddying up”, it lets me know who’s actually a fan. To whomever it may possibly concern in the future- don’t expect a “return recommend” just because you’ve uploaded something new, or just want some free love, and ran over to my page and recommended 10 of my remixes in five minutes. Crap like that tells me you’re trying to get me to help you game ccMixter- and Duckett don’t play that.

OK, I’m finally through subjecting this thread to my sleep-deprived ranting. You can go about your business. These aren’t the droids we’re looking for. Move along.
permalink   spinmeister Mon, Sep 8, 2008 @ 10:57 AM
when I give a , it could be for numerous reasons, most of the time one of those reasons is good enough. In the absence of a multi-dimensional recommendations system (which I’m not sure would be a good idea anyway), I give a if something is one or more of:
- an interesting musical experiment
- thoughtful arrangement and/or production
- I just happen to like it

Things that turn me off:
- when it sounds (to my subjective ears) like a random collage of samples hurriedly smacked together without much apparent thought
- badly mismatched key signatures
- badly mismatched rhythmic feel
- token sample use to make it count as a “remix”, although it is really an original work
- remixers that have been extended the courtesy of being reviewed and recommended numerous times, but don’t ever seem to review and/or recommend anyone else.
- getting multiple recommends from somebody in 15-60 second intervals (only happened once to me here at ccM)

If someone has already a lot of recommends, then (almost subconsciously) my standards get higher.

When someone has zero recommends I’m often a bit more lenient.

When somebody is a new remixer and it sounds like they’ve put a lot of work into their first attempt at remixing, I tend to be more lenient.
permalink   duckett Mon, Sep 8, 2008 @ 11:27 AM
Thanks for chiming in, spin-
you make a lot of good points.

You know, I had forgotten about the ; that is a good way of indicating an extra level of “Hell yeah!” For anyone reading, I usually put one, where others might put three; it doesn’t mean I like it less, i just save multiple ’s for “This was so good, I wet myself” moments.

I also don’t like cursory “Oh yeah, here’s 2 sec. worth of a buried sample so it’ll technically be a remix” stuff; if people want to promote their own homegrown fully mixed tracks, there’s a lot of other sites (many of them also free) better suited for that.
*** Topic deleted by author ***
permalink   spinmeister Tue, Sep 9, 2008 @ 6:41 PM
I mean those “remixes” that use one crash cymbal hit and everything else is original. And I don’t flag those, they just turn me off and won’t likely get a from me. No more - no less.
permalink   fourstones Tue, Sep 9, 2008 @ 7:05 PM
The community does flag those and I, for one, moderate them. One kick samples does not a CC sample-based remix make.

And yes, people uploading stems to the “just pell+original” would go a long way to enriching the Commons.
permalink   Subliminal Mon, Sep 8, 2008 @ 12:17 PM
Well, I am not a 3-digit reviewer, but here goes…

If I like something then I will recommend it, and most of the time, if not always, that has nothing to do with production skills, but with my personal taste. I will not always write a review, except when I think that I have something relevant to say, like something about fries (french or preferably belgian) and mayo. However, writing a review or not has nothing to do with how much I like a remix. It’s just a question of finding the right (english) words that express what I think, which not always comes that easy.

The fact that the more ‘mainstream’ music gets more attention / recommends / reviews doesn’t surprise me. That’s a fact of life, even in a community where people might be more open-minded than generally is the case. After all, this is no avant-garde rock community. I myself am a sucker for both a good pop tune and more ‘experimental’ music, but I understand why the latter is not everybody’s cup of tea / mug of coffee / glass of wine.

And on an even more personal note, I know I have the tendency to being not too overenthousiastic with some of my own efforts. Most of the time that has to do with the difference between what I had in mind before starting with the remix and the end result. Sometimes it is a result of the long and frustrating proces of remixing / writing a song. So why do I upload it anyway? I agree with Spinmeister in questioning the motives of such remixers. After all, among friends I have a reputation of deleting more ideas than humanly possible. On the other hand, some of these remixes where I had my doubts seem to resonate with some people, so maybe I don’t always have the most objective view of them. And I do want to remix all of the Calendar Songs, even if not all of them are to my liking.

I hope this makes some sense.
permalink   duckett Mon, Sep 8, 2008 @ 10:02 PM
Makes sense to me…
You make a good point in reminding me that there are many people here whose first language is not English, or don’t really read or speak it much at all; if I had to rely on Google’s translator in order to simply read or write track descriptions, reviews, or forum posts like this one, I’d be known as the silent type…

I heard that “If only…” back there!