There are a lot of undocumented guidelines that come from discussion in the Database Forum and in staff-only forums which no longer exist.

This is the place to collect all these undocumented guidelines.

Note that this is work in progress, and as these are not Guidelines, you cannot just take whatever is written here as the one and only truth. Use the Database forum to discuss the issues and seek consensus.


Details regarding General Rules

Authority of staff

Comments by the database manager (nik) or the Discogs founder (teo) carry extra weight. They speak with authority on matters of general policy and intent, database and website capabilities, and expectations of users. Their positions on some issues have changed over time, and they can be influenced by the opinions of users.

Guidelines are not Rules

TODO: go through the quotes and check context. condense to 1 or 2 quotes.


Details regarding Label / Catalog

Cat# "none" is rarely allowed on multi-label releases

Only use "none" as a catalog number when the release has no catalog number printed whatsoever. When there's at least one catalog number, and there are more label entities than catalog numbers, the labels without numbers should use the first catalog number in alphabetical order, not "none".


Details regarding Tracklisting

Track duration difference: ±5 seconds

Durations printed on CD releases should not be corrected in the tracklist and explained in the notes (as permitted by RSG § 12.6.5) unless the difference is at least 5 seconds.

When measuring your own durations, there will always be a margin of error

Although it is correct to enter durations printed on the release, there are no guidelines for making your own determination of the actual durations, other than that you must obtain the durations from your own copy of the release. Some differences between your measurements and the printed durations are to be expected, since durations can be measured in different ways. For example, it's common for printed durations to only be for the musical content, not counting silent passages between songs, whereas CD players do include the silent passages when reporting track durations. Other considerations include how fractional seconds are rounded, analog playback speed variations when making your own measurements, uncertainty about where a fade-out ends when there's a lot of background noise, and printed durations intentionally omitting intros and fade-outs for the benefit of radio DJs. If unsure about whether a printed duration is "correct", ask in the Database forum.

Track positions for double-A-side releases use as-on-release side designations when different

There is no requirement that double-A-sided releases be entered with "A" and "AA" track positions. If sides are designated on the release, those designations must be used. When sides are not designated, "A" and "B" positions remain standard, even if both sides have the same content.

Additional comment from mjb:

Some (many?) users were in the habit of using "A" and "AA" when the sides were not designated, but the guidelines don't actually support this.

Track positions for double-A-side releases with undesignated sides depend on content

For double-A-side releases (no side seeming to be promoted more than the other), if the sides aren't designated and the content differs, some effort must be made to ascertain which side to call side "A". External sources should be consulted, including charts, official artist/label sites, promotional materials, related releases, and common sense.

Additional comment from mjb:

Some users think the sequence of matrix numbers matters, with the lower number being the "A" side, but this is completely arbitrary; those numbers are normally just chronologically assigned IDs for master recordings or lacquer cuts. They only matter when one has an "A" suffix and the other has a "B" suffix.

Stars around track title on a 7" or 12" indicate the "plug" side

Radio promo 7" releases sometimes designate one side as the "plug side", indicating which song is intended to be promoted. Sometimes instead of explicitly using the word "plug", there will just be stars around one of the track titles. The stars are not part of the titles; they're just another way of marking the plug side. These markings can be used, along with the other usual factors, to determine which side to consider the "A" side.

The Promo tag can usually be added to such releases even without explicit "for promotional use only"-type text, although this may be in conflict with RSG § 6.12.2 if the markings are added by means of a stamp rather than being professionally printed on the labels.

Single-sided release track positions must include side "A" indicator

Track positions for single-sided releases should still use sides—e.g., the numbers will be A1, A2, A3, etc., even though there's not going to be B1, B2, B3, etc.


Details regarding Format

Promo tag can be added to 7" or 12" releases with a designated "plug" side

See the info above re: Stars around track title.

How to handle retail editions made into promos by stamps, stickers, punches/cuts, etc.

RSG § 6.12.2 says that a retail release with a promo notice added by means of a stamp, sticker, or "similar" alteration to the cover is not to be considered a separate promo release. It is forbidden to submit such releases as promos, and there is no forum consensus for even adding a release note along the lines of "some copies are gold-stamp promos". Users with such items should simply add the retail release to their collections, wantlists, and for-sale listings, and then use the collection notes, wantlist notes, or for-sale listing description to mention the stamp, sticker, or whatever.

Heat-transfer promo notice overlays don't turn retail releases into promos on Discogs

RSG § 6.12.2 says that a retail release with a promo notice added by means of a stamp, sticker, or "similar" alteration to the cover is not to be considered a separate promo release. This also applies to alterations to the media itself, such as when the disc face of a retail CD is altered by means of heat-transfer (silkscreen-like) print overlay.

Some additional screen-print overlays do turn retail releases into promos on Discogs

Many Japanese retail CDs are made into promos by the addition of "Sample" and/or "Loaned" text (often in Japanese characters) on the hub of the disc, along with stickers or stamps on the printed matter. The hub text is not currently considered to be a post-manufacture alteration, so these CDs are OK to submit as separate releases.


Details regarding Master Release

Submission notes are optional

When editing a master release (MR), this is the only place on Discogs where you have the option of leaving Submission Notes blank. For just adding one or two stray, unremarkable releases to the MR, that's fine, but if you are making major changes or doing something that people might not understand, then please mention why you are doing it. Use the Database forum to ask about anything major.

Remix and reissue editions usually belong with original releases

Reissues and remix editions usually belong in the same MR as the original releases, regardless of release date and regardless of variations in release titles, track versions, and B-sides. Likewise, albums released with different titles and track order in different regions usually belong with all the other editions of an album.

The guidelines which apply are 16.2.2 ("Master Release is intended to contain as many releases as reasonable") and 16.2.1 ("[The release] Is a...remix...or other such variation" / "Single including Maxi Single - all versions should be bundled in the Master Release, including Maxi and Remix versions.")

Ask in the Database forum if unsure, because exceptions are sometimes made, per 16.2.1: "Releases shouldn't be forced into a Master Release - if the addition of a release to a MR is contentious, confusing, or difficult, then it should probably not be part of the Master Release in question."

Additional comment from mjb:

If Discogs were to add the ability to have sub-MRs (groupings of releases within an MR), it would go a long way toward reducing the number of arguments about this topic.

Certain types of releases usually get their own Master Release

Generally:

  • Album samplers do not go with the albums.
  • Live albums do not go with studio albums.
  • Total re-recordings do not go with original recordings.
  • Double-A-side/back-to-back-hits types of reissue singles do not go with original singles.
  • 4-song 7" EPs (usually French) from the 1950s & 1960s do not go with the 2-song singles.

Again, ask in the Database forum if unsure.

Some supporting discussion:

Partial re-recordings may or may not get their own Master Release

Total re-recordings usually belong in a separate Master Release, but partial re-recordings may or may not need to be separate. Use the Database forum to discuss specific cases. It can be said that guideline 16.2.3 applies (if a recording belongs in multiple MRs, don't put it in any of them), but ultimately it comes down to whatever the users decide for a particular example.

Additional comment from mjb:

There is debate over how to distinguish a partial re-recording from a remix with additional production. Sometimes it's just marketing, especially in cases where the artist is billed as "Artist1 vs. Artist2" with producer credits but no explicit remix credit. Some users consider these to be just remixes which belong in the same MR as originals, but others keep them separate, especially if vocals were re-recorded.