Tag Archives: Community

Ask music4dance: Why am I listed as Anonymous?

A few months ago I started working on a set of features with the goal of making music4dance more personalized.  This includes the ability to add new songs to the catalog, to see who else likes to dance specific styles to a song, and more. As I was working on this I realized that almost all members of the music4dance community have chosen the privacy setting to not share their profile. This was the default setting, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  While the features that I’ve written so far don’t even give one the ability to write a profile, I want to be as respectful as possible with everyone’s privacy and not show user names anywhere for members who had opted for privacy.  This is especially true because many members have chosen to use what appears to be their full name as their user name.

So I did some work to make sure that anyone who had chosen that setting is protected by not showing their name, and instead I use the single “Anonymous” moniker.  I’m still tracking who those users are by means of a randomly generated number, but other visitors to the site will only see the user as “Anonymous”.  That is even the case if you send a link to your songs to a friend.  For instance, I’ve marked my test user “Charlie” as not wanting to share his profile, so if I’m logged on as Charlie and look at a list of Charlie’s songs then the list and changes to the songs are attributed to Charlie.  But if I send that link to you, you’ll just see his changes attributed to Anonymous.

A search of all the songs “Charlie” has edited as Charlie sees it
The same list that is shown above as seen by anyone but Charlie

This isn’t the best user experience in my opinion.  I had some thought of having permanent anonymous names so that Charlie might be anonymous1 and you might be anonymous2, but that was a considerable amount of extra work for a pretty marginal improvement. 

What does that mean to you? If you’ve spent time voting on songs in the music4dance catalog, please consider turning the privacy feature off to allow sharing.  You can do that from the My Profile page. All changing that setting will currently do is show your user name in searches and attribute changes that you’ve made to a song to your user name.  If you happened to use your real name as your user name and would like to change it to something else, just contact me and I can make that change (if enough people want to do that, I’ll add a self-service feature).

I’m very interested in making this site a useful place to share ideas for songs to dance to and I believe part of that experience is being able to attribute changes to specific users. But it doesn’t matter too much right now if those users are connected to the real person that’s making those changes (more on that later). So please take the time to make it easier for other dancers to follow your work by changing that setting.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback so please share any thoughts and ideas you have about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here.  In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.

New Feature: More ways to see what’s going on at music4dance

One of my goals for music4dance is to build a system that people can use to share their knowledge of partner dance music with others.  I probably spent too much time early on in this project building bots and scrapers to seed the catalog with content and neglected the community aspect of the site.  So I am now trying to focus on more community-building features.  This includes everything from simplifying the system so that it’s easier to add new styles of dance to making it easier for members to add new songs to making it possible for members to see who else likes to dance to a song.

Following on to the feature where I added the ability to see the voting history on a song on the details page, I’ve added a couple of small feature-lets.

Now,  when you filter music on a user you will see a column  with that user’s changes:

If you know a user’s username, you can filter by a user in the advanced search page by typing the username and choosing what you want to filter on (likes, tags, etc.).  Or you can go down the path described in a previous post and click on a username anywhere that one shows up.  That will take you to a page that will let you filter on all the songs that the user has tagged or all the songs that that user has added to favorites among other things. Eventually, I’d like to have that page contain additional user profile information.

The other fun thing you can do is on the new music page.  The song list on that page has a similar column to the one above that shows latest change to each song and who made it.  That’s a way to find users that are actively adding songs and seeing what they’re up to.

And finally, when you’re exploring these features if you find a search that you want to share with others, you can just copy the URL and send it to a friend. That’s what I do with links back to the music4dance site with these blogs – so it’s not a new feature, but it is becoming more useful with the other community features that I’m building.

As always, I welcome feedback on not just the feature, but the site in general.  And if you find the site useful, please consider contributing in any way that you can.

New Feature: Adding Songs to the music4dance Catalog

I’m excited to announce that I’ve nearly completed a feature that will let you add songs to the music4dance catalog.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of kind folks test it so far and they’re pretty happy with it.  I’ve documented the feature here and am keeping it under beta for a little while longer – I’d love to have a few more people give it a try before I open this feature up to all music4dance members.  So please reach out to me soon if you’d like to give it a try.

Who else likes to dance to this song (and what do they dance to it)?

As I browse the music4dance catalog and find a song I like, it’s nice to be able to see who added it and use that as a way to find other songs that I might like.  To this end, I’ve added a new section to the song details page called Changes that lists the changes people (and the bots/scrapers that I’ve written) have made to the song.

For instance, I like dancing East Coast Swing to Demi Lovato‘s Confident.  If I look that up in the music4dance catalog (I can just search for that on the catalog page) – I can go to the song details by clicking on the title of the song and then look for the new Changes section in the lower right.

This shows me that ZacharyPachol, BatesBallooom and JonathanWolfgram have all voted for this song to be danced as an East Coast Swing.  So I can, for instance, click on ZacharyPachol and get to a list of all songs that he has voted on.  I can then click on “Change Search” to filter the list down to East Coast Swing songs that ZacharyPachol has voted on.  Or I can just click on any East Coast Swing tag in the original search and choose to filter the list that way.

Even as I write this, I see that there are several ways I might want to improve this feature.  But I have a limited amount of time and so many ideas, so please let me know if you find the feature useful and if you would like improvements. Also, I’m very interested in getting more direct participation in rating songs (the site is currently built much more on automation than direct user participation) – so let me know what would make rating songs interesting to you.

P.S. There are about ten other things I’d like to say about this, but I’m trying to keep this short so I can get out more posts.  But I can’t resist noting that you can also see that this song was used on Dancing with the Stars to dance Paso Doble and Ballroom Tango – a good example of how one can use a song for a performance piece that you might not want to dance (that dance style to) socially.

Introducing the music4dance Blog

I’m an amateur dancer and with some training in music who also happens to be a professional software engineer. I love dancing, and I particularly love dancing when I enjoy the music that I’m dancing to. This blog is going to be about my journey in trying to build a technical solution to this problem. I’m hoping to build some community around this idea since music and dance are both so personal that multiple viewpoints early will be essential to any kind of success in this area.

I’m hoping to keep this blog in the short and frequent post format, and may start building more article like content alongside it. So please  hop on over to my about page for a bit more detail, visit my alpha music catalog site and poke around and let me know what you think.