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"Power is poison"
—Henry Adams


Here are some words of advice that you don't want to hear.

  1. Think before reverting. Don't assume that you are always right and the other person is wrong. Question all of your assumptions.
  2. Talk pages are for talking. So talk. Try to allow a minimal amount of decency and consideration for the opinions of others. Remember that, though this is the English Wikipedia, there are people here from all over the world. In a real sense, we are separated by a common language. Take as long as you want to talk about an article. Deliberation requires slow, calm thought. Consensus is difficult. But there are no deadlines here. Wait a day or two to respond. Or a week.
  3. Everyone on the internet is a stranger. It's not the best means of communication. It's Internetworld, not the real world. This means talk is even more difficult. Misunderstanding and conflict occur. Therefore contributors should be given more freedom, not less, to speak, to discuss, and to understand each other. If people are afraid to talk, no work gets done and Wikipedia suffers. Wikipedia was built for conflict. Consensus is formed here, if at all, through error, disagreement, and conflict. The more speech is policed, the more timid, defensive, and suspicious people become. It's not just counterproductive. It's unhealthy and unethical.
  4. Before debating another person, state (if only in your mind) what that person's argument is before stating your own. Make sure you understand the other's point of view and reasons for edits.
  5. Aim for literal rather than figurative speech. Irony, sarcasm, and rhetorical questions don't work well on the internet. Don't read between the lines. Read the lines. Over and over.
  6. It's impossible to avoid human judgment. As long as humans (not bots) are doing the editing, Talk pages and every other page will contain opinion to some degree.
  7. Distinguish between fact and opinion. This sounds obvious, but it isn't when you are fan of a person, movement, or idea, and when you have strong feelings and opinions about a subject.
  8. On Wikipedia, I don't write about the subjects I care about most. That's critical disinterest, impartiality, neutrality. It's what all editors are supposed to have.
  9. Ask for help. Ask for clarification. Read the documentation. It's not always clear. Discuss it.
  10. It's OK to make mistakes and it's OK to be wrong. Don't let anyone fool you about this. But try to learn from your mistakes. Otherwise, you end up in a loop.
  11. Use the serial comma.
  12. Avoid turning your User page into a trophy room. It's the work that matters, not the awards, and all work on Wikipedia is collaborative. No article is yours. There is no private property here. Every article is the result of the efforts of many people. Given time, someone will come along and change your efforts, sometimes for the worse. That's a normal day. It's not about you, your interests, your desires, your opinions, your goals, your causes. Don't be a blinkered race horse. Take a Grand Canyon view of reality.
  • I would like to see my exchanges with people on Wikipedia improve, with the following in mind: Try to be less adversarial; don't assume that you are always right and other person is wrong. Try to avoid impulsivity and excessive emotion. Try to use less irony and sarcasm. Aim for honesty, sincerity, and literal rather than figurative language. Read the lines rather than between the lines. There's nothing between the lines but white space. The meaning is in the words. Try to be willing to answer simple, direct questions. Try to use plain, concrete English. Be specific. On Talk pages, talk. Take your time to deliberate and analyze. Mistakes are OK. Being wrong is OK. Learning is OK. Change is OK. There's very little at stake here. Don't take offense quickly. Don't worry about getting your feelings hurt. Wikipedia was designed for conflict. It's a demolition derby approach that comes right out of J.S. Mill. Keep the audience in mind. Write for the general reader, not a special interest or club or movement. Not everyone shares your interests. Not everyone sees things the way you do. Not everyone knows what you know.

Rescuing articles from deletion[edit]

There's a kind of religious sentiment or cult among some members of Wikipedia who object to articles being deleted. This must look odd to anyone who does editing in the real world, where the delete key is your best friend. Articles are inert data, not living beings, so it is false to say one is "saving" or "rescuing" articles or "resurrecting" them in some messianic way, as though one were saving drowning victims or baby seals. Deleting isn't killing. It isn't harmful in any way. Nothing on Wikipedia is deleted permanently. Deletion discussions should not be melodramatic. Figurative language has no place in an encyclopedia which is built on literal facts, not metaphors, fantasy, or wishful thinking. If not enough has been written or published on a subject, it's impossible to write a decent article about it. Articles come from sources. No sources, no articles. When an article is up for deletion, you not supposed to think "But I like this" or "But this is important". If you think it's that important, then you write it, otherwise stay out of the way. If you have good reasons to keep rather than delete, you will have a chance to give those reasons. Don't assume deletion is always wrong. No one's getting killed here. As editors we are supposed to be impartial. That means leaving at the door our preferences, desires, strong feelings, cheerleading, hopes, fears, causes, movements, politics, religion. Don't assume some mythical fairy godmother is down the road waiting to fix everything for us. Don't leave for others work that you are capable of doing.

  • Pages from The Unwritten Wikipedia Jazz Handbook

Citations the easy way[edit]

It is not enough to enter a link to show that a source exists. You must link directly to the information—not merely to the cover but to the content you are using. Easiest way to cite: If you are using Google Books, go to For any source that's on the internet, use cite web. In the editing window, go to the template on the far left under "Cite"; click the flippy triangle, select from the drop down menu marked Templates, and fill in what's needed. Of primary importance are the title of the article, the author of the article, the date of the article, the date you accessed the article, and the web site the article came from. For books, of primary importance are the title of the book, the author of the book, the page number(s) you used, the publisher of the copy you are using, the date of publication of the copy you are using. The pop up menu for citations makes all of this very easy.

The jazz project has been following the trend of Wikipedia overall by adding citations to every sentence. Please follow this. It's the best way to ensure that material is properly sourced, and it's the best way to try to prevent your work from being reverted. With sources, you have an argument. Without sources, you can't even begin one.


  • Avoid words like "currently", "recent", "now", which are time sensitive. Time will render those words false as soon as they have been written. Encyclopedias exist in a kind of eternal present.
  • Don't count albums, as in "Miles Davis's fourth album". Miles Davis died a long time ago, but albums by him are still being released. Discographies can be complicated. Albums are released at different times all over the world, sometimes under different titles, with different songs and different album covers by different labels. Sources for discographies differ. Put simply, you have more to lose than gain by counting albums. That goes for awards, too. Why count? Who cares? But you should still try to get the infobox chronology to match the discography in the article.
  • When you say "released through the Columbia label" or "released on Columbia", you make it sound like the musician is doing the company a favor. In most cases the opposite is true. Nonetheless, in legal and practical and real-world terms it is an exchange. A musician signs a contract with a label and provides music. The label records the music and distributes it. Each has a role to play. The word "release" belongs more to the label because the label records, distributes, and sells the album. Therefore it makes more sense to say "released by Columbia".
  • Pipe labels. Say "by Columbia" rather than "by Columbia Records" or "on the Columbia label" or "through Columbia" or "via Columbia". Keep it simple.
  • Try to avoid having two linked items next to each other. Link one or the other.
  • "Jazz guitarist" is preferable to "jazz musician". The particular is always better than the vague, general, or abstract.
  • Why do you say "artist" instead of "musician"? What's wrong with being a musician? The particular is always better than the vague. To me, an artist is someone with a paint brush and smock.
  • Saying "based in" is nearly meaningless because musicians are vagabonds. How do you know where they are at this moment? And what's it to you where they live, who they are married to, whether they have children, and which of them needs braces? What's the point? Are you planning to visit? Giving stalkers a little help? You didn't use the word "currently", did you? Musicians are mobile.

Personnel and instrument order[edit]

List personnel by instrument. Orchestral scores list them from high notes to low. So the jazz version is something like this:

  1. leader first, regardless of instrument. It's their album. Give them a break.
  2. brass (trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba, high notes to low)
  3. woodwinds (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor, baritone, high notes to low)
  4. strings (violin, viola, cello, high notes to low)
  5. keyboards or piano
  6. bass guitar or double bass
  7. drums
  8. percussion
  9. vocals or background vocals
  • Keyboards plug in. Pianos don't.
  • Bass guitars plug in. Double basses don't.
  • Within these categories, sort by last name.
  • Omit nicknames except in rare cases where the nickname is the default, as in Dizzy Gillespie.
  • Instruments are usually lowercased.
  • Don't link instruments unless it is exotic or unusual.

Writing discographies[edit]

As in other encyclopedias, reference works, and web sites, Wikipedia tries to maintain consistency. That's why there are templates and standards for organizing information. This makes it easier for everyone.

  • Use the header "Discography" , not "Select discography" or "Selected discography" or "Works"
  • If necessary, use headers for "As leader" and "As sideman" (or guest)
  • Put album titles in italics
  • If necessary, add co-leaders (not sidemen) and the word "with" next to album title. It can be hard to tell if someone is a co-leader or sideman or guest. Album cover might help. Might not.
  • Add label, comma, year of release.
  • Link and the pipe the label on its first occurrence in the list
  • List the albums in ascending order (oldest album comes first)
  • Use release dates, not recording dates
  • Omit details like "live", "reissued by Columbia in 2001", or "dedicated to his mother"
  • Omit catalog numbers and matrix numbers
  • Don't add chart positions and awards next to the album title; these have their own sections
  • If the information seems important, find a way to enter it in the body text of the article instead of the discography.
  • Songs belong on album pages, not in discographies or discography articles.
  • Use as a reference for help, but it can't be used as a reliable source (for citations, footnotes)
  • Under sidemen section, sort by last name
  • If there are more than two albums with the same leader, group them together
  • If there is only album with the leader, put those singles in a list under the bold typed title With others
  • Use bold type for sections with more than two albums
  • Don't put Wikilinks in headers. It will make the table of contents too long.
  • Concentrate on getting the facts right first. Worry about columns and other pretty things later.

Which albums to list?[edit]

Jazz presents some interesting problems when it comes to writing a discography. Here are some considerations:

  • Albums are released at different times all over the world, sometimes with different songs, titles, and album covers, by different labels and distributed by different companies. On the English Wikpedia please restrict yourself to albums released in America and the UK. Please avoid entering musicians who don't have articles.
  • Of course, there are exceptions. If you have a source saying a certain album is significant and released only in Sweden, feel fee to add it—using the source as citation to back it up.
  • Avoid compilations. Usually these are simply repetitious and redundant if the songs have already been released.
  • Of course, there are exceptions. LPs weren't popular until the 1950s, so early musicians often exist in best form in compilations and sometimes only on compilations, particularly if the musician is obscure.
  • Sometimes a compilation that has received high praise can be used a good example of that musician's work. Here again sources help.
  • I try to avoid listing 78s, 10" albums, and old singles, as they are difficult to obtain. At this point, most of the older music has been released on CD.
  • Avoid listing reissues and remasters. Add them only if you have a good reason, preferably because a reliable source said so.

List of reliable sources[edit]

Many discographies list recording dates but not release dates. Look for release dates first.

  • The album itself is the best source, if you own a copy. Album covers and liner notes sometimes have mistakes, but this is uncommon.
  • A published discography by a serious, reliable researcher and publisher
  • The musician's official site
  • The label's official site
  • For some reason, there are many mistakes in the jazz entries. Do your best. Four editions of the AllMusic Guide to Jazz were published in print. The last was in 2002.
  • Magazines or web sites such as Billboard, DownBeat, JazzTimes, Jazziz, Jazzweek, All About Jazz
  • Newspapers
  • Books
  • Google books
  • Both Sides Now
  • Discography of American Historical Recordings
  • The Jazz Discography by Tom Lord Except it lacks release dates
  • Try different kinds of searches on Google
  • Try search engines other than Google, such as DuckDuckGo or Bing
  • More Important than the Music: A History of Jazz Discography

List of unreliable sources[edit]

Wikipedia discourages the use of the following as sources:

  • Amazon
  • Blogspot
  • Blogs in general
  • CDBaby
  • CelebrityNetWorth
  • Chat rooms
  • College newspapers
  • Daily Caller
  • Daily Mail (UK)
  • Daily Star (UK)
  • Encyclopaedia Metallum
  • Epinions
  • Facebook
  • Family Search
  • Famous Birthdays
  • Fan sites
  • Find a Grave
  • Flickr
  • Forums
  • Gawker
  • Goodreads
  • IMDb
  • Instagram
  • iTunes
  • Last.FM
  • LinkedIn
  • MetroLyrics
  • Musicbrainz
  • NNDB
  • Pandora
  • Perez Hilton
  • Pinterest
  • PopCrush
  • Press releases
  • PressTV
  • Prog Archives
  • Rate Your Music
  • Reddit
  • Reverbnation
  • Revolvy
  • Soundcloud
  • Spotify
  • Sputnik
  • Stack Exchange
  • The Sun (UK)
  • Twitter
  • Who's Who
  • WhoSampled
  • Wikia
  • Wikidata
  • Wikileaks
  • WikiNews
  • Wordpress
  • YouTube

See: WikiProject Albums/Sources and Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Perennial_sources

Other sites

  • Blogs – Rarely. They can be used only when the blog is a web site run by an established, reputable critic, assuming there is such a thing.
  • Forums and chat rooms – Never.
  • Official site – Sometimes reliable. The official site can be used for certain simple facts but cannot be used when the information is intended as praise or promotion.
  • Record labels – Sometimes. Record label sites ought to be good places for discography information. But many labels engage in advertising and promotion to encourage people to buy music, and these labels have little sense of history, caring little for what came before them. Labels also re-release albums, making release dates and labels confusing.
  • Retail sites – You can't use a site where the main interest is selling, marketing, or promoting a product, service, person, cause, movement, or idea.
  • Venues – Rarely. Venues want you to come to the show. This leads to the use of promotional language. Good for them, bad for an encyclopedia, which must stick to the facts. There is usually not enough information here to be of value, though sometimes there is a brief interview.

Items that have little of nothing to do with jazz[edit]

Words are magical, aren't they? Not really. They're tools. If you dislike rolling up your sleeves, you probably dislike working with words. Here are some words that include the word "jazz" and yet have little or nothing to do with jazz. Imagine.

Omit these words from your vocabulary[edit]

  • actively
  • advocated for
  • along with
  • alongside
  • also
  • among others
  • amongst others
  • amongst
  • and others
  • and/or
  • area
  • based in
  • beginnings
  • bought out
  • countless
  • critically acclaimed
  • currently
  • decided to
  • died suddenly
  • eventually
  • fan base
  • featured
  • featuring
  • fellow
  • finally
  • first ever
  • formally
  • former
  • formerly
  • forthcoming
  • fronted
  • full length
  • iconic
  • immediately
  • impacted
  • in his/her own right
  • indeed
  • initially
  • later
  • laterly
  • launched
  • longtime
  • longstanding
  • lost out
  • major
  • majorly
  • new
  • now
  • now-x (where x is any word)
  • officially
  • origins
  • original
  • originally
  • others
  • prestigious
  • previously
  • quickly
  • reimagined
  • renowned
  • sold out
  • soon
  • stint
  • subsequently
  • tenure
  • then-x (where x is any word)
  • together with
  • ultimately
  • upon
  • various
  • very
  • whilst

Books on my shelf used for Wikipedia[edit]

Jazz books[edit]

  • Barth, Joe. Voices in Jazz Guitar
  • Berendt, Joachim. The Jazz Book
  • Carlton, Jim. Conversations with Great Jazz and Studio Guitarists
  • Cooke, Mervyn. Pat Metheny: The ECM Years
  • Erlewine, Michael. All Music Guide to Jazz (four editions were printed, last in 2002)
  • Feather, Leonard and Gitler, Ira. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz
  • Gioia, Ted. The History of Jazz
  • Gioia, Ted. The Jazz Standards
  • Kennedy, Rick. Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy: Gennett Records and the Rise of America's Musical Grassroots
  • Kennedy, Rick. Little Labels, Big Sound
  • Kernfeld, Barry Dean, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (3 vols.)
  • Kernfeld, Barry Dean. The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Jazz
  • Kirchner, Bill, ed. The Oxford Companion to Jazz
  • Milkowski, Bill. Jaco
  • Milner, Greg. Perfecting Sound Forever
  • Niles, Richard. The Pat Metheny Interviews
  • Sallis, James. The Guitar in Jazz
  • Yanow, Scott. Bebop
  • Yanow, Scott. Classic Jazz
  • Yanow, Scott. The Great Jazz Guitarists
  • Yanow, Scott. The Jazz Singers
  • Yanow, Scott. Swing

Other reference books[edit]

  • Garner, Bryan. Garner's Modern English Usage
  • Garner, Bryan. The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation
  • Garner, Bryan and Wallace, David Foster. Quack This Way
  • Fiske, Robert Hartwell. Dictionary of Unendurable English
  • Fiske, Robert Hartwell. To the Point
  • Jacobs, Alan. How to Think
  • Murphy, Lynne. The Prodigal Tongue
  • The American Heritage Dictionary
  • The New Oxford American Dictionary
  • Pocket World Figures
  • World Almanac

Distinction and membership[edit]

This editor is a
Senior Editor II
and is entitled to display this Rhodium
Editor Star
Jazzstubartwork.svgThis User is a member of WikiProject Jazz
Disambig.svgThis user is in the Disambiguator Hall of Fame.
Super Disambiguator's Barnstar.png The Super Disambiguator's Barnstar
The Super Disambiguator's Barnstar is awarded to the winners of the Disambiguation Pages With Links monthly challenge, who have gone above and beyond to remove ambiguous links.
This award is presented to Vmavanti, for successfully fixing 2297 links in the challenge of January 2018. This user is also recognized as the Bonus List Champion of January 2018.