Is Anyone Really Surprised By The “Wikipedia Trumps MySpace For Band Info” Story?

Mar 24th, 2008 // 19 Comments

rippedandpasted.pngIt may be staffed by a bunch of lunatics who make Comic Book Guy seem like a fountain of pedantic restraint, but Yahoo! users apparently prefer Wikipedia to MySpace when looking for information on their favorite artists, according to Billboard. This despite Wikipedia only having data on some tens of thousands of artists, while MySpace boasts more than three million. According to Yahoo! label relations head John Lenac, “The interest that people had to go to MySpace to find out more about their favorite band is waning in favor of going to Wikipedia…. In the last six months, it’s surpassed it.” While I’m not a Yahoo! searcher, I too have found that Wikipedia is more useful for finding out information on bands. Why? The answers lie in usability.

1. Wikipedia doesn’t use Flash. Or blinking backgrounds. Or huge images that take up 1,068 vertical pixels before you get to word one of any sort of useful information. Or other slideshows that jam up your computer and make it crash when you’re in the middle of writing something and on deadline and AAGGGH.

2. Wikipedia may be crazily draconian in its efforts to police entries for “objectivity” (the Billboard story points out that artists and managers are missing out on using the user-generated encyclopedia as a “resource” for getting out their propaganda, but that would probably result in many “neutral point of view” wars that would ultimately be a waste of said artists/managers’ time), but you sure aren’t going to get the real lowdown on, say, the differences between the two versions of LA Guns if you go to either of the current bands’ landing pages. And what is “objectivity,” anyway? Wait, that’s a question for my media studies night-school class. Sorry!

3. MySpace does have one advantage over Wiki: The access it gives you to artist photos is much, much better. However, to get to those photos, you have to log in, which means you have to have an account, which means you have to open yourself to the possibility that your identity might be stolen to hawk Macy’s gift cards and Fergie porn.

4. Seriously, you guys. The Flash. It can’t be just me, right? My computer isn’t that old.

Music fans prefer Wikipedia to MySpace [Reuters]


  1. loudersoft

    If it’s an artist with any kind of reasonable legacy, even a small one, Wikipedia is far better. MySpace is a great resource for information that the artists or their representatives find relevant, but Wikipedia is more reliable (though occasionally less detailed).

  2. Jfrankparnell

    Myspace is useless as a research tool. The player crashes my shit, or freezes it, and I’m left listening to something shitty most times, too. Wiki and allmusic, read-em both, and if no contradictions, you got your info.

    Sometimes, though, a band website includes a phone #. That’s always more fun anyway. And who cares whose # it is — it’s fun to pretend you’re David Fricke’s copy editor while on the phone with some 22-year-old ‘manager.’

  3. disinterested 3rd party

    Don’t mean to get all comic book guy on you, Maura, however…..

    Fountain of pedantic restrain?

    greatest. oxymoronic. metaphor. ever.

  4. iantenna

    these are the same arguments as to why allmusic bites the big one as well. terrible interface, slow as fuck, trying to sell you shit… plus, sure, it’s more spotty but i’ll often find extensive info on a band on wikipedia (esp. pre-1990s) that allmusic shows the album titles, maybe tracklistings, and that’s it.

  5. revmatty

    MySpace is such a usability nightmare I don’t bother using it. If a band can’t cough up $10 a year for a domain name and $5 a month for hosting I’m not going to bother with them and I sure as hell won’t be giving them my money.

    Another point missed by the article: MySpace is blocked in a lot of workplaces (like mine, for example).

  6. squashed

    Another useful thing about Wiki, (aside from actual information on it)

    One can estimate the importance of an artist by how extensive of an information a page have. (not very precise, but telling) An artist with brainy follower has very in depth entry, including if music what musical contribution that artist make.

    Myspace? All I can see is an artist has 4503 friends, and 12 of them with very bad photoshop skill.

  7. KurticusMaximus

    Don’t like Flash?

    Get Firefox, if you don’t already use it (which is a problem in itself, but whatever), and install the Flash Block extension. Problem solved.

  8. SuperUnison

    Wikipedia is a firefox widget, which means it’s just as fast as googlinh. Plus, it gives me pertinent information really quickly (and, if a few smart people are fans, sometimes with unexpected analytical depth) instead of just bad band in-jokes and backgrounds that render said in-jokes illegible.

  9. AcidReign

        I have to be really, really interested in a profile to actually click a myspace link. Having NoScript turned on in Firefox helps with the bloat, if not the awful themes and layout.

        I find Lyricwiki, and Wikipedia in general, very useful.

  10. Catbirdseat

    Here is my Web 2.0 business proposal, if any Venture Capitalists want to throw some millions my way to do it:

    Pt. 1: Create a wikipedia-ish site specifically for music, that would (after a short period of time for the userbase of the web’s music fanatics to generate all the content) become the de facto standard for band information (in the same way that the CDDB became the standard for CD data tracking).

    Pt. 2: Create some app/plugin/something that actually gives me fast (possibly automatic) access to the site’s info when I’m listening to all those myriad mp3s that have been downloaded and collected on my desk throughtout the week. I mean, inevitably, I launch a song to check it out, and if I end up liking it, I have to launch a browser, google the band’s name, then go to wherever (Myspace, band site, etc.) to get at any info. Really though, that info should probably all be tied directly to the mp3 in some way, much like an ID3 tag, and just a simple click away.

    I think the issue with this right now is that there is no clear consensus on just where the be-all-end-all of band info resides (is it the band’s site? their Myspace? the label page? Wikipedia?), which is why “Pt. 1″ above, needs to come into existence first.

    (This is the part where someone chimes in and explains some overly complicated system of Firefox plug-ins, command line statements, and voodoo chanting that will allow me to do all this, “really easily.”)

  11. Tenno

    It’s not you Maura,even the fastest computer can choke on Bloatspace at times; kids and their fucking scripts.

  12. Poubelle

    @Catbirdseat: Isn’t that pretty much what scrobbler is for?

  13. the rich girls are weeping

    @iantenna: allmusic? that crap is still around? oh yeah … they had a “redesign” and like, never bought google keywords for the new pages or something. i haven’t used them in YEARS. literally.

    @Catbirdseat: Ryan, that’s a great idea

    @Poubelle: and virb and etc. are social networks; the encylopaedic content is just indidental.

  14. the rich girls are weeping

    @the rich girls are weeping: duh, finish your thought, there, dude. Ryan, if anyone gives you money, can I come work for you? (:

  15. SuperUnison

    @Catbirdseat: If it ran inside of itunes it would totally be amazing. Apple/pitchfork might back it if it became something they could link back to the music store. The might ruin the objectivity of the content (and create an inadvertant media monopoly)but I still think that it might be great for like 4 months before everyone starts finding reasons to hate it.

  16. angshu

    Billboard correctly points out that Wikipedia doesn’t allow artists and their “managers” to get their propaganda out on the ‘net.

    Which is excellent as far as I’m concerned, because the last thing I’m interested in when I’m trying to find out about someone is why their mates think their album is the best thing since Exile on Main St.

    And Firefox’s Wikipedia search bar is a boon.

  17. Reidicus

    @Catbirdseat: If you managed to launch that service I would absolutely pay a reasonable fee to use it. Granted, as a professional music writer, I’m probably not a good test market for how likely it would be to gain rapid acceptance, but I’d use it and how.

  18. Anonymous

    Comment on Is Anyone Really Surprised By The “Wikipedia Trumps MySpace For Band There’s a source that I prefer to Wikipedia, although it’s admittedly not
    encyclopedic on contemporary stuff and hence not in competition with MySpace in
    any meaningful way: All Music Guide. On more historical matters, Wikipedia is
    faster, but AMG is generally more reliable and more complete. And if you
    just want basics, it’s OK on current acts, especially those that have had the
    effing effrontery to chart in Billboard–the charts and awards button is quite
    Another good source: books.
    Robert Christgau

    **************Create a Home Theater Like the Pros. Watch the video on AOL

  19. KurticusMaximus

    @Catbirdseat: Go download Songbird. Or Amarok, if you run Linux. Both will get you pretty close to that.

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