About four months ago the sites Bookogs, Comicogs, Filmogs, Gearogs and Posterogs closed down.
What, you may ask, were Bookogs, Comicogs, Filmogs, Gearogs and Posterogs?
Bookogs, Comicogs, Filmogs, Gearogs and Posterogs were offshoot database projects by (and for the users of) Discogs (hence the names) launched successively starting in 2014. They provided some of the same features as Discogs (the audio recordings database) but (as their names suggest) catered specifically for the cataloguing of books, comics, films, audio gear, and posters, respectively.
In fact, requests for such facilities had long been voiced at Discogs, and when they finally did launch, its users (collectors and trainspotters that we are) were utterly delighted.
Posterogs is a user-built database of posters from the team behind Discogs. We are on a mission to create the most comprehensive database of posters in the world. The Posterogs database is currently focused on music posters, such as gig and concert posters, album release promo posters, music festival posters, as well as film posters.
Sounds promising, doesn’t it?
Indeed, the ventures were quite ambitious.
With your help we’ll list every turntable, audio recorder, amplifier, effects pedal, microphone, and every other piece of audio gear conceived. Any equipment that records, amplifies, mixes, or reproduces audio, belongs here.
Discogs members piled into the systems with sheer gusto in order to populate them with data or simply to goof around and test their limits. Features and supporting guidelines gradually got refined to their specific requirements. It didn’t take long before they had created and uploaded thousands of entries (read: metadata points) and images.
Crowdsourcing works; people want to contribute and share. It’s in their nature.
Rudimentary marketplace features followed, and certain database profile entries got integrated into the main Discogs database. Although they remained in a permanent state of public beta and development had stagnated, things did look upbeat for a while.
The nerds were happy.
However, in July 2020 the first bomb dropped.
Dear Comicogs Community,
We will be shutting down Comicogs on July 31, 2020. This was not an easy decision, but we have not been able to give this project the attention and focus that it needs to prosper. At the same time, there are still many opportunities and things to improve on Discogs, so we will be putting all of our focus on Discogs.
Thank you for your contributions to and support for this project over the past six years. During that time we’ve had over 55,000 comics submitted and 5,000 registered users.
We will be preserving the data. Our monthly data exports are still available, so please download the latest if you would like to have your own copy of the data. We will also be storing the last export on archive.org, with images. If you would like a JSON-format export of your own contributions and your Collection and Wantlist, please fill out this export request form and we will send it to you once it is ready.
You may be wondering what is happening to the other “ogs” sites. We will also be closing Gearogs, Filmogs, Bookogs, and Posterogs, but those will be closed about one month later while we make sure we haven’t overlooked anything. VinylHub will remain open.
If you have any questions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again for your support.
Kevin Lewandowski & The Discogs Team
Users were left “feeling deceived. Hundreds of hours flushed down the toilet”.
I’ve submitted 1393 comics, 270 books & 136 movies and spent a lot of time on writing profiles and adding links for credits.
I should have trusted my gut instinct and leave when staff said that there will be no database improvements for the foreseeable future, but i kept on submitting, because we were told that the sites will continue to exist as they are and that there are no plans to take them down.
9 months later you take them down. Way to treat the people who helped you with your mission.
This mission certainly failed.
My heart goes out to those who collectively wasted thousands upon thousands of hours inputting and editing data — effectively for nothing!
By the time Bookogs closed down in August, users had entered as many as 155,120 books.
The other databases boasted similar numbers: 55,870 comics, 70,993 viz. 50,548 film releases (more on that later), 21,255 pieces of gear, 42,589 posters, and even larger numbers for related description texts. The entry for Isaac Asimov, for instance, not only showcases a voluminous body of work by the author but an equally dedicated fan- and userbase.
One can only assume that the sites were closed for financial reasons or lack of monetisation prospects. Lack of dedicated curation was another issue. Displeasure ensued.
Personally, I was barely dismayed about the few occasions I spent playing around and entering a small selection of items. When the closures were announced, I requested backups of my pithy contributions and pulled the latest data dumps.
The sites were shoved into the Internet Archive. Here are the most recent and useful archived versions of Bookogs, Comicogs, Filmogs, Gearogs and Posterogs.
That said, the five sites were interesting playgrounds with much potential (being databases based on physical items) but I didn’t “need” them as such — least of all Posterogs: I have no posters left; my teenage years of a room plastered full of Iron Maiden posters are over.
“Bummer!” I thought, and that’s where the story ends.
Or does it?
It didn’t take long before I unearthed new/old material from the basement archives during the latest archaeological dig. Some had even been previously bookmarked specifically for entry in the sites.
So now what? What are the alternatives?
I do maintain an anti-library (books I’ve thrown out) at LibraryThing. If you compare, for instance, this book’s entry to the one at Bookogs, you may notice that the latter does have more data about the physical properties of the book — unlike its entry at Goodreads, another oft-mentioned alternative.
Each site takes its own specific approach, and each site caters to specific audience needs.
For comics, there’s a site called Comic Vine, for audio gear there are Tapeheads.Net, Vinyl Engine or HiFi Engine, and for films there’s the venerable IMDB. So where’s the problem?
Ah, films! Now this is where the discogsian approach used at Filmogs truly shone: There are films, and there’s media. Films must appear on a media carrier. A media carrier will include one or more films (or a part thereof). A media carrier will have certain metadata, of which the film’s title is but one set. There are many types of media carriers (think VHS, DVD, VCD, UMD, LaserDisc, Blu-ray, and so forth). Box sets will contain one of more media carriers (perhaps even different media types) and, accordingly, one or more films — or different edits, versions, or translations of the same film. Additionally, there may be bonus items in the form of making-ofs, commentary tracks, postcards, and so on.
You see where I’m going with this?
Take the original Star Wars film as an example: The movie itself has its own plethora of information by way of cast, crew, production companies and anything else which one could objectively quantify (which the IMDB does a good job of maintaining) — but what of the range of versions and different media carriers available to the end consumer?
It is these physical items which collectors keep on their shelves and want to catalogue.
The LaserDisc Database caters for LaserDisc and a range of other obsolete formats like HD-DVD. VHS Collector caters for, unsurprisingly, VHS. There’s nothing to be found for Betamax or UMD or Video2000 or other exotic formats, let alone a singular database that supports all possible formats and international editions — past and present.
I’m looking into 45cat, but also libib. The latter allows batch entry through csv. I successfully uploaded 655 moving image releases last night from a single batch 2000 or so that I have UPC codes entered in my own database (i.e. the ones I had uploaded to filmogs). So it’s not perfect, but that’s 655 I don’t have to manually upload at least. It also allows for barcode scanning, a facility I like. Libib appears to be release only based – ie if you have a box set of 3 films its simply one entry. I liked the release / film facility in filmogs, it was neat solution even if it confused some… I have adapted a similar approach on my domestic database.
While Libib and Collectorz might be fine (commercial) software for users’ personal collections, I think it was Filmogs that had the potential to become an amazing resource available to the general movie-collecting public.
Finally, there’s 45worlds who make an effort to support current media formats like DVD/BD as well as some of the obsolete ones. Indeed, they’ve welcomed Bookogs, Comicogs, Filmogs, Gearogs and Posterogs users with open arms because they afford the space for just about anything one might collect: 78 RPM company sleeves, bank notes, blank audio cassettes, match books, and biscuits!
There are some truly strange people out there. I think I’m going to sign up.
It truly truly hurts when peoples work is flushed like that. Discogs made a similar step recently when it got rid of access to high-res images – millions(?) of lovingly scanned images turned unreadable.
A lot of Bookogs people went over to BookBrainz btw! MusicBrainz was actually initially created after a similar fiasco where the supposedly ‘open’ CDDB was privatized, but that’s another story… Discogs is a EXCELLENT site, no doubt, but I don’t think I would ever trust a private company with my editing time if there’s an alternative. Too many cautionary tales ):
Well, they’ve certainly managed to alienate many users with that particular stunt, nor am I seeing those resources being redirected into further development of the core Discogs database.
As for BookBrainz/MusicBrainz, I do consider them a viable alternative (one that could just as quickly go away, though) but also the one that seems to be held in higher regard by the music industry and academia — despite having a lesser amount of data/releases (my latest blog post touches on this topic). Discogs has a huge amount of potential (and worth) but they need to re-focus on what they’re truly excellent at, and blatantly disregard the rest.
As for my book anti-library, I’ve long settled in at LibraryThing.
Ooh, I’ve been very careful not to start cataloguing books (music is an endless task, as you know…), but it’s great to see multiple sites tackling it.
Even just editing MusicBrainz it is so valuable to have other DB’s to dip into, like Discogs and Rate Your Music, who each have their own bright spots. RYM’s genre system is excellent. Discogs dropping digital completely might leave some gaps in a few discographies/catalogue number orders etc which makes me wince, but I understand the sentiment :P
I so wish those DB’s would allow cross-linking between them as well.
btw MetaBrainz projects can’t go away easily – the structure was specifically set up to prevent hijacking, in the CDDB wreckage. If some corp. did manage it, somehow, anyone can host and clone the openly available DB + frontend (and quite a few do anyway) so it would be a pointless endeavour. So I sleep soundly. ish ;)
Looking forward to browsing the rest of your blog, this entry comes up near the top when you search ‘Bookogs’, and it’s a excellent rundown.
To be honest, I haven’t thought of RYM for years! So they’re still around.
I think it’s MusicBrainz’s data model that impresses me the most, particularly their artist cross-references to agencies like viaf.org or isni.org and so forth (which I’ve a feeling aren’t maintained manually). Either way, we’re in 2022 and there still isn’t a common, free and global database that everyone can access and update with honest intention based on real products that actually made it to market (read: the public) which doesn’t have some sort of commercial or self-promotional interest. Spotify may just be the unexpected shining light although their purpose isn’t exactly altruistic either. Nobody wants to work for free, and servers also cost money.
Ah the data model, the best thing about it as well as the casual users kryptonite. I’m trying to avoid being an MB shill but I have to say that there really is as little commercial or self-promotional interest there as you can have while still hosting a DB and employing some people to keep wheels turning. Good luck to any commercial sponsors that try and make demands! The lack of self-promotional interest is their second kryptonite, lovingly embedded into every outdated UI element or tech-heavy document…
Can’t say I see any shining light coming from Spotify whatsoever, the hellish curse on music that has taken advantage of the drowsy leviathan that was music’s first hellish curse (major labels/’the music industry’) but I am also a Bandcamp shill FYI ;P