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If you want to help with maintaining the database, please send e-mail to Anselm to find out what you can (and would like to) do.

We would be particularly interested in somebody (or some bodies) who would be prepared to help maintain tune data. There are loads of things to be done with tunes in the database. This has the distinct potential of eating up all your spare time but the upside is that (a) it may be exactly the thing for you when you’ve just been dumped by your boyfriend/girlfriend and you need something to take your mind off things, and (b) at SCD events, while Anselm is around, you will never go thirsty.

Mailing Lists

There is a (very-low-volume) mailing list for people who are interested in SCD database matters (including SCD database volunteers). You can subscribe to this list by sending an empty message to dancedata-friends+subscribe@strathspey.org and following the instructions in the automated reply.

We expect all database volunteers to subscribe to this mailing list. It is our prime medium for database-related information.


When people enter “corrections or additions” through the button on every database detail page, these end up as “issues” in a special area of the database. These issues are linked to the database entry in question and can be “assigned” to a volunteer who is then in charge of clearing them up. (Usually what happens is that you assign a new issue to yourself if you think you have the time and expertise to deal with it within a reasonable time frame. An issue may be assigned to you by somebody else if it is obvious that you’re the only person who can reasonably take care of it, e.g., all issues to do with Keith Rose’s diagrams go to Keith because only he can fix them.)

As a database volunteer, one of the obvious things you can do is taking care of issues, either — in simple cases such as obvious typoes — by making the required changes to the database directly (see “Editing Privileges” below) or, in more complex cases, by researching the problem at hand, which may involve looking at original dance descriptions, tune collections, or generally information sources outwith the database, or even asking around in places like the Strathspey mailing list. It is customary to change the “Disposition” field of the issue to “Accepted” or ”Being handled” while this is going on. (“Accepted” means that we agree that this is something we need to deal with and will handle in due course, rather than some sort of misunderstanding on the submitting user’s part or fluke. That sort of non-issue is reported occasionally, and we set it to “Ignored” to tell ourselves that it needs no further action. “Being handled” means that the ticket is being actively worked on.) Once an issue has been dealt with to your satisfaction, you can finish it off by setting its “Disposition” to “Fixed”. We database volunteers like the list of open issues to be short.

If you’re a new volunteer (or even if you are thinking about volunteering), one way of getting your feet wet is by looking at the issue list to see whether there is something there that you feel comfortable taking on. Some issues have been with us for a very long time and any help clearing them up would be most welcome. Even if you can’t yet edit the database, you will be able to submit additional information that will be brought to the attention of people who can, and can eventually lead to our closing issues.

As a volunteer, you may also ask Anselm to be added to the scddb-issue-recipients user group on the Strathspey system. This will cause you to be proactively notified (by e-mail to the address in your my.strathspey.org profile) of incoming issues as they appear, and you will be able to call dibs on them while they’re still fresh from the Tree of Unsolved Enigmas. You will also receive e-mail about actions taken on specific issues, and be able to participate in discussion of these issues by e-mail in addition to the web interface. Note that occasionally this may feel like drinking from the fire hose, so if you don’t like receiving e-mail, don’t do this.

Editing Privileges

If you do volunteer, you will eventually be granted direct editing privileges on the database. This means you get to add to or change the various bits of information that the database stores on all matters SCD, as well as the interconnections between them. (Unfortunately most of this is not documented very well at all, but we’re working on that.)

It is important to consider that while this provides you with ample opportunity to make the world better, it also provides you with ample opportunity to break things and make the world worse. We would therefore like you to exercise due caution in everyone’s interest. Please do not embark on huge editing sprees without checking back with the dancedata-friends mailing list (see above) or with Anselm directly. Remember the Spider-Man motto:

With great power comes great responsibility.

Also note that while we’re grateful for any help that we can get, we would like to see a certain level of participation on the part of our volunteers. As a security precaution, we reserve the right to withdraw editing privileges from people who apparently have not done anything in a very long time.

Speaking of editing sprees, many tasks that would require days or weeks in the web-based interface can be accomplished in minutes with direct access to the database at the Python or SQL level, so if you’re contemplating one of these then by all means discuss your plans on the mailing list first. It may well be that we can find a more direct way of doing what needs to be doing, so you will be able to spend your spare time on something less tedious.

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