2018 in numbers

Dear all,

Following the tradition of the last years, here are some statistics about the use of Freesound during 2018 🙂 . The statistics are presented following the same structure as in 2016′s and 2017′s post, with a special focus on analyzing sound ratings at the very end.  But let’s start from the beginning: the number of new sounds uploaded during 2018 is (drum roll)…

36,006 new sounds!

which corresponds to…

697 hours of audio!

Awesome isn’t it? That is about 500 less sounds than last year, but almost 40 more hours of audio! On average, uploaded sounds in 2018 are 6 seconds longer than in 2017, and in 2017 sounds were already 5 seconds longer than in 2016. Why is this happening? No idea, but we’ll see if the tendency continues next year…

Now let’s look at the distribution of licenses of these 36k uploaded sounds:

It’s indeed quite similar to last year’s distribution, but Creative Commons 0 (CC0) has gained an extra 3% in detriment of Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (CC-BY-NC). Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) stays at 25%. It’s good to see how many sounds are being shared in the public domain.

As we predicted in 2017 in numbers post, this year Freesound has passed the mark of 400k uploaded sounds (although it happened at the very end of the year!). That’s bringing us closer to the half a million mark but there’s still long road ahead for that. Here you can see the evolution of the total number of sounds hosted in Freesound since the beginning of time (see the last dot right above 400k):

In fact, if you wanted to embark on the task of listening to all sounds uploaded to Freesound it would now take 242 days and 16 hours! Don’t try and do it yourself, instead let’s take this opportunity to thank our amazing team of moderators who do indeed listen to countless sounds and make all this possible: qubodup, InspectorJ, parabolix, Erdie, Headphaze, tim.kahn, philsapphire, AlienXXX and balloonhead.

Let’s now look at the tagcloud of the sounds uploaded during this year:

Again field-recording is the king, and many of the other typical frequently-used tags are also visible here: ambience (sharing the glory with ambient), synth, loop, electronic, etc. Not many big changes in that area, at least changes that can be easily spotted. Maybe for a future freesound in numbers blog post we’ll have a deeper look at this tag cloud.

Here is the ranking of uploaders by number of sounds and by duration of uploaded sounds. Yeah, this is what you were waiting for:

Username # uploaded sounds Username uploaded time (hours)
#1 kyles 3284 #1 kyles 113
#2 craigsmith 1233 #2 awaka 31
#3 frederic.font 514 #3 csengeri 25
#4 @realdavidfloat 509 #4 klankbeeld 23
#5 awaka 351 #5 craigsmith 20
#6 deleted_user_2731495 297 #6 kevp888 16
#7 Greek555 287 #7 gis_sweden 14
#8 gis_sweden 279 #8 Roses1401 10
#9 penetrermind 263 #9 tim.kahn 7
#10 AudioPapkin 262 #10 inchadney 7
#11 Jaszunio15 251 #11 Greek555 6
#12 Anthousai 230 #12 janrou 5
#13 javapimp 220 #13 felix.blume 5
#14 toiletrolltube 217 #14 wjoojoo 5
#15 kevp888 210 #15 soundX360 5
#16 arnaud coutancier 210 #16 Martin.Sadoux 5
#17 proyectosonidosias 197 #17 himura.kazuto 4
#18 Mattix 194 #18 Glen_Hoban 4
#19 Soundholder 190 #19 PleasureKing 4
#20 DirtyArchives 184 #20 Diegolar 4

This time we have the same winner in both rankings, user kyles with 3284 uploaded sounds corresponding to 113 hours of audio. A thing that the 3 users in the top ranking of # uploaded sounds have in common is that they all used the new bulk describe feature that was introduced last June 🙂 . For those who don’t know, uploading full sound collections now is easier with this tool. Just like craigsmith did with the USC optical sound effects library, and kyles is doing with his own recorded professional collection. In any case, it’s simply marvelous that there are so many contributions from so many users. On behalf of the Freesound user community and everyone that uses Freesound, huge thanks to all uploaders! You know our twitter timeline is full of people really grateful to all of you right?

Let’s continue with some quick numbers about downloads. The number of sound downloads (including packs) during 2018 was…

19,010,374 downloads!

So yes, that’s beating records again, with 2.5M more downloads than last year:

We’ll see what happens next year, but it doesn’t look like these numbers are going to get any lower. Freesound accumulates now more than 129M downloads! And how could you maximize the number of downloads of your sounds? Look at the cloud of query terms to see what people is searching for:

Again, not many changes with respect to the last year. wind, music, explosion and whoosh are again in the first positions, although a sudden interest for piano and car seems to have appeared. Remember that there are around 150k queries per day, so there’s really room for everyone here!

Finally, we’d like to finish this post with some more general statistics. In 2018, you’ve exchanged 19k messages, 1.4k forum posts and made 44k sound comments. These numbers are very similar to those of 2017. Regarding sound ratings, this year there have been 158k sound ratings, which confirms a tendency of increasing ratings from 2016 and 2017. Here we show the histogram of the number of ratings per sound:

This histogram should be read like “50% of the sounds in Freesound have never been rated”, “5% have been rated 3 times”, and so on. Even though the average number of ratings per sound (dashed line) is of 3.5, this is just because a few sounds have been rated many times. This is similar to what happens with the number of downloads and that we reported last year in the 2017 in numbers post. However, in this case the number of ratings is much lower than the number of downloads 🙁 .  In old Freesound times we used to show a popup asking for a rating right after downloading and this resulted in many more sounds being rated. We’ll have to think whether or not something like this could be re-added to Freesound, specially now that we’re re-thinking and updating the whole Freesound interface… Another interesting aspect about ratings is to look at the histogram of the average rating value per sound:

What this figure shows is that sounds are typically rated very high (average of 4 stars), so users normally rate a sound only when they like it, but do not use low ratings to penalize sounds they dislike. Interesting food for thought, should we forget about 5-star rating system a move into a binary like/dislike option?

Aaaand that’s it for this year’s post. We hope you found it interesting. Thanks for reading and enjoy a 2019 full of sounds!

 

frederic, on behalf of the Freesound Team

 

EDIT: after writing the post Alastair suggested me the idea of  making a summary of the Freesound year in audio. Good news is that I already developed a tool some time ago that would make just that automatically 🙂 I set myself to run the tool and record the output… and here it is the Freesound 2018 in Sounds:

Freesound 2018 in Sounds comes in two different flavours, check the description of each sound for more information 🙂

 

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Community update December 2018

Hi again dear Freesounders,

Welcome back to our (not really) monthly blog post about things happening in the Freesound dev world! You’ll have noticed that lately we’ve been a bit less active writing in the blog. This is because some of us have been on a leave (well, me!) and others have been concentrating more on some research work which is also an essential part of Freesound – even though its impacts are not immediately seen in the website. Also we’ve been doing some work on the new interface which, in fact, is always happening silently in the background. Nevertheless here are some small updates we deployed to Freesound lately:

  • Usability improvements in advanced search
  • Removed the <> from URLs in emails we sent which caused some email clients to not show the links properly
  • Improved live “username existing” check when registering new users
  • Improvements in admin pages for managing sound flags which should allow us to manage these more easily
  • Improved support for old Freesound v1 links (so that these still work properly)
  • Other minor bug fixes and optimizations

That’s it for now, thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next post… Oh, and have and nice holiday break those of you who have it 🙂 Get ready for the next year because we have many great plans for Freesound!

The Freesound Team

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Preserving the USC Optical Sound Effects Library

[Guest blog post by Craig Smith]

Last August, I uploaded 1,233 vintage optical sound effects from various Hollywood productions ranging from the 1930s to 1950s.  This is part of a large project I’ve been working on for nearly three years.  This collection contains many sounds that give us clues about how sound effects were created during the “golden era”.

Here are few examples:

  • Extras on a courtroom set being coached to created dramatic crowd sounds:

  • Western bar fight recorded in sync with camera as production sound, but used as a sound effect many many times since then:

  • A mic in placed in the audience of The Jack Benny Show picks up laughter and applause that can be used for any audience scene:

  • An edited sequence of many sounds from an RKO film that was then used as an effect in low budget films and serials:

  • Leftover wild track of Ginger Rogers laughing for the 1938 RKO musical “Carefree”:

Here is the story of where these sounds came from:

In early 2016, I was working on an experimental western using B-roll found footage from the 1940 film Arizona. This involved my creating a new soundtrack that would sound like it also was from 1940.  My intent was to create a layered track using newer commercial sound effects, then “age” it with digital processing.

But it sounded entirely wrong.  No matter how much noise and distortion I added, it sounded too close and present, and did not “stick” to the image.  It seemed something was wrong with the the sounds I was selecting.  I had to rethink my methods.  After studying the few vintage sound effects I could find, I realized what the problem was.

Until the mid 1950s, there were two ways to record sounds: on a phonograph disk, or on a 35mm optical film track.  Since you can’t edit a record, film sound was nearly always recorded onto film.  The recorders looked like motion picture camera without lenses. The signal from the microphone was used to modulate a light beam which was then was exposed on the edge of the film. The film was then developed at the lab, and copies of it were made for the sound editors. These sounds were hand edited into several “tracks” that would be used for the final mix.

The quality of these original recordings was actually quite good.  The reason these old effects sound different from our new ones is that they were recorded using a different philosophy of where the mic should be, and how much sound should be recorded at once.  For one thing, sound designers were limited in the number of tracks they could create for a mix.  It’s common now to have hundreds of tracks playing back from a computer.  But back then, every track had to be threaded onto a large machine called “dubber”.  Most films probably didn’t use more than a dozen tracks. If you had 12 tracks, you needed 12 dubbers.

Therefore, the recordings were more inclusive.  If we build a western street scene now, we generally add every sonic element individually.  Back then, they would stage the whole scene with people walking, chattering, horse footsteps, wagons, etc.  Then record it with one microphone.  All of it was staged in a way that would support the image, and fit in with whatever sync sound that had been captured during photography.

As for indoor effects, they were usually recorded in large, somewhat reverberant rooms, as opposed to the small, dry, quiet foley stages that are common now.  Once again, perspective was created while recording. The microphone was moved away from the source to create the desired balance between direct and reflected sound.

After realizing that I was using the wrong sounds, I got to work trying to find the right ones.  I contacted several film archives, expecting them to have vast collections of studio sound effects.  To my surprise, they didn’t.  It turns out the studios didn’t really value their sound effects, and the rolls of optical film sound generally were taken by the sound editors as they moved from job to job.  Editors shared and traded sounds with their friends, much like what we do with freesound.org.

The last place I tried was the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive. I went to the USC film school in the 1970s, and remembered there were a lot of old noisy effects in the Sound Department.  Archivist Dino Everett told me that yes, they did still have those effects, but they were about to throw them out.  Did I want them?  Yes!

Not knowing what I was getting into, I went to USC and picked up 12 bankers boxes of 1/4” tapes.  These tapes were first generation full-track recordings made in the early 1970s. USC Sound TAs would thread up small bits of 35mm optical film, then transfer each one to tape. Most of the tapes are in good condition, but unfortunately, most of the metadata (what the effects were and where they came from) is missing.  While asking around to see if anyone might have a copy of the metadata, I found out that the Gold Library portion of the collection (the effects I have uploaded to freesound.org) had originally been transferred by Ben Burtt.  Ben did this as a summer job while he was a USC Sound TA.  Soon after graduating, Ben was hired by George Lukas to design sounds for the first Star Wars film.

I contacted Ben and discovered that he still had his hand-written notes from when he did all those transfers!  (Moral: Never throw anything away.)  Ben generously made me a copy of these notes, and I was ready to start.

Except, of course, I had no idea how much time it would take to transfer, edit, and label all these effects.  I do have a full-time job, and a family, so it hasn’t been easy.  The tapes were transferred from a Nagra IV-L recorder into Pro Tools at 96 kHz, 32-bit floating point.  They were then separated into individual files, and individual effects were level adjusted to -24 dB LKFS.

Typing in all that metadata was the biggest hurdle.  After much effort, I got a couple of grants that allowed me to hire an assistant and buy supplies.  And Soundly gave a very generous in-kind grant of cloud space, and their software, which was used to create and manage the metadata. (Checkout Soundly’s software if you haven’t. Besides being a great way to organize your sounds, it connects to and searches Freesound.

In August, after all the help I received, I was able to upload the 1,233 sounds of the Gold Library to Freesound (tip: I used the new bulk description feature which really saved me a lot of time). Since then, I have been receiving comments almost every day.  This makes me so happy!  The next installment, the Red Library, will hopefully go up next summer. My aim in all this is to make sure these sound effects don’t disappear again.  So keep using them, and keep sharing them.

I couldn’t have done this my self. I want to thank Dino Everett, Ben Burtt, Leanna Kaiser, Randy Haberkamp, Andrew Kim, Peder Jørgensen, Christian Schaanning, Frederic Font, and Lynn Becker.

—Craig Smith

 


Craig Smith has been recording and manipulating sound since 1964. After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, he worked as a sound editor and production mixer in Hollywood, specializing in noisy action-adventure films that are blamed for the downfall of society. He left that world in 1986 to teach sound in the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts, where he is now Academic Sound Coordinator.

Craig’s own work experiments with implied narrative and accidental sound design – putting together sounds & images that have nothing to do with each other to create unexpected stories.

Craig is a member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and the Audio Engineering Society.

 

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Community update September 2018

Hi again…

…and welcome back to our community update post! This month we don’t have any major user-ready features to show, but there are a number of things we’ve been doing in the background which will allow nice new stuff in the future. Here is a list of things:

  • New analysis of sounds with Audio Commons audio analysis tools. For the last 3 years we’ve been coordinating a project called Audio Commons (see original post in this blog here), focused on developing audio analysis tools and promoting CC audio. We have now analysed Freesound with some tools developed in the project. The analysis results are already available and usable through the Freesound API, but still are experimental and work in progress. This analysis will allow us in a near future to deploy new features, specially in the search page. For example, would you like to be able to filter search results by things like “only sounds including 1 sound event”, or “sounds isolated from background noise” or “only bright sounds”? Well, we have many ideas in mind but these are some of the features we’re planning to research and deploy to Freesound in the near future.
  • Improve tracking of email addresses that bounce. This is important because it will allow us to stop sending emails to addresses that no longer exist and reduce problems with blocked emails.
  • Other minor bug fixes, security upgrades and optimizations.

Also we’d like to take this opportunity to give a quick update about the new interface design that we announced almost 1 year ago. We never gave an estimated release date because we knew these things sometimes tend to require more time than planned, and we did good 🙂 It has happened that even though the design phase has been finished for a number of months now (and we’re really happy with it!), the implementation has been very slow and we’re are not yet ready to give any estimate other than “at some point during 2019”. But yeah, it is coming! Aaaaand as a prize for your patient waiting here you have a little teaser so you can have an idea of the main design lines:

That’s it for now, enjoy Freesound!

The Freesound Team

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Community update August 2018

Hi everyone,

Summer’s been hot in Barcelona but we’ve been working hard (well, we did some holidays as well!) and we have some new things deployed to Freesound 🙂 These are the new main things:

  • “Streets” layer in maps: some of you reported that the new maps we introduced a couple of months ago missed the streets layer with street names, etc., and told us that this made your geotagging workflow much harder. Well, we’ve added now a streets layer that we hope will be useful to all of you 🙂

  • Fav icon: believe it or not, we did not have a proper fav icon until now… Thanks superanton for your contribution!

As usual, we have also been working and released a number of other fixes and improvements:

  • Improved spam reports which will help dealing with spam faster (for admins)
  • Small improvements in moderation interface
  • Better monitoring of  our email sending
  • Improvements in invalidation of HTML caches
  • Other minor bug fixes and optimizations

Do you remember a couple of months ago we released the Bulk upload feature? Well, we’re starting to harvest its fruits as you can see by checking this amazing collection of ~1200 sounds uploaded by craigsmith 🙂 Thanks for these great contributions Craig!

That’s it for now, enjoy Freesound!

 

The Freesound Team

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Community update June 2018: Bulk description

Dear Freesounders,

Welcome back to the Freesound-dev world monthly post! This month we are very excited to let you know that we finally released a long awaited feature that we think hardcore sound uploaders will love. And possibly non-hardcore uploaders will love as well… hmm and downloaders too!

  • Bulk sound description: we have just added an option in the describe page to let you describe many sounds at once by uploading a data file in CSV or Excel  formats. In this way, you can prepare the descriptions of all your sounds offline in your  computer and using any spreadsheet editing software you like. Then, when you’re ready, save descriptions to a file, upload it to Freesound, and sit down to watch how your sounds are described automatically and appear on the site 🙂  You’ll still need to first upload your audio files to Freesound normally, but this is really easy as the upload page allows you to drag all the sounds you want and upload them at once. Checkout this FAQ entry to get a better idea of how the process works.  I just used it now to upload this pack of 508 sounds, and it worked great!

By adding this feature we expect to make life easier for Freesound uploaders (and others who are not yet uploaders) that have collections of sounds that have not been uploaded to Freesound because it would take too much time. Now you have no excuse 😉

Note that bulk sound description is currently only available for uploaders that have contributed 40 sounds or more. Therefore, if you want to use that feature and are still below the threshold, you’ll have to train yourselves a bit more on uploading sounds 🙂

Even though we tested the bulk description feature quite a lot, it is a big change and it could happen that some things do not work as expected. Just in case, we opened this forum thread so you can leave comments and let us know how it works.

We’ve been also been busy as usual with lots of internal improvements in our code which prepare Freesound for the future. For those curious, remember that you can follow the development at our public code repository.

Aaaaaaan that’s it for now, time to get your data files ready and upload all those great sound collections that have been sitting for ages in lonely hard drives 🙂

Enjoy Freesound!

The Freesound Team

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Community update May 2018: Maps

Dear Freesounders,

Here we are back with some more news about things happening in the Freesound dev world! We have just released a couple of new features and have been working on a big third new feature but that won’t finally make it until next month. These are the  newly introduced features:

  • New maps: we’ve just got brand new fresh maps! We switched to a new maps provider called Mapbox (which uses some imagery data from OpenStreetMap) and have taken the opportunity to add some improvements to the way maps work in Freesound. If you go to the sounds map page you’ll notice that, besides the new icons for sounds and clusters, the maps now show terrain labels to easily locate places, and there is a search bar that you can use to enter locations and fly to these in the map. That’s a huge usability improvement as in old maps you had to manually navigate to whatever place in the world you wanted to hear sounds from 🙂 This search bar has also been added to the small map that you use to add geotags when describing your sounds.Together with these improvements we also improved map share links and map embeds. To share map with a link, you can now simply copy the link from the address bar while you’re browsing in the map page. Map embeds now have extra options that allow you to choose the size of the embed and to decide whether you want sounds to be clustered (or not). This is particularly useful for projects that use Freesound map embeds like Sons de Barcelona.

Sounds of Amsterdam

Sounds of New Zealand

  • Simpler registration page: believe it or not, we spend a lot of time answering support requests from users that have trouble registering. We detected that our login form was a bit problematic sometimes gave rather confusing messages about the status of the registration process. That’s why we decided to fix it and we have now a brand new and much simpler form that hopefully will reduce the number of support requests we get from registration. Ah, and we also took the opportunity to get rid of the first name and last name fields which we actually never used and don’t store anymore 🙂

As usual, we have also been working and released a number of fixes and improvements:

  • Fixes in moderation pages
  • Improve cache invalidation for sound pages: to save some efforts to our servers we use caching. This means that there are portions of the HTML we render that are not computed every time you request them but that are already cached and reused for everyone. It can happen that sometimes the cached pages go out of sync with the real data in Freesound. We have improved the mechanisms to invalidate cache so that these will be better in sync with Freesound.
  • Fix a bug in sound comment email notifications which in some situations was ignoring user email preferences.
  • Improved sync between our stored counts of downloads per user and the actual real numbers.

That’s it for now, enjoy Freesound!

 

The Freesound Team

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Introducing Freesound Datasets (and more!)

Dear Freesounders,

Today we are very happy to introduce you to Freesound Datasets, a new platform that we’ve been developing during the last year to foster the re-use of Freesound content in research contexts and that will eventually help us make Freesound better and better. Curious? Check out the website at https://datasets.freesound.org/.

But what exactly is a dataset? To say it short, a dataset is a collection of items (sounds) annotated with labels chosen from a limited vocabulary of concepts. Well-curated datasets are one of the most important things that are needed to advance research in many fields, including sound and music related research.

Freesound Datasets is a platform that allows users to explore the contents of datasets made with Freesound sounds. But even more importantly, Freesound Datasets allows anyone to help make the datasets better by providing new annotations. Furthermore, it also promotes discussion about the datasets that it hosts, and allows (or better said, will allow) anyone to download different timestamped versions of them. If you’d like a more academic description about the platform, you can check out this paper we presented at the International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference last year: Freesound Datasets: A Platform for the Creation of Open Audio Datasets.

Using Freesound Datasets, we already started creating a first dataset which we called FSD. FSD is a big, general-purpose dataset composed of Freesound content and annotated with labels from Google’s AudioSet Ontology (a vocabulary of more than 600 sound classes). Currently, FSD is still much smaller than what we would like, but we are sure with the help of people all around the world it will get bigger and bigger. Needless to say, you are more than welcome to contribute to it (or in other words, please contribute!). All you need to do is visit the Freesound Datasets website and click on Get started with our annotation tasks! We will simply ask you to listen to some sounds and have fun 🙂 You’ll see an interface like this (you can login with your Freesound credentials):

That’s really cool, isn’t it!?

Yeah that’s awesome, take me to this interface because I can’t wait any longer to start annotating!

But you know what? There is even more! We have been awarded a Google Faculty Research Award to support the development of Freesound Datasets and FSD, and, in relation to that, have started a collaboration with some colleagues from Google’s Machine Perception Team to do research on machine listening. As the first outcome of this collaboration, we recently launched a competition in Kaggle  (see Freesound General-Purpose Audio Tagging Challenge), in which participants are challenged to build artificial intelligence algorithms able to recognize 41 diverse categories of everyday sounds. The dataset used for this competition is a small subset of FSD.

The great great great thing is that the outcomes of all these research efforts will help us improve Freesound in many ways. By training our search engine with FSD, we would, for example, be able to find search results inside sounds (for example, a fragment of a field recording with bird chirps), or be able to allow you to browse Freesound sounds using a hierarchical structure. This, and many other things that we will find out in the future 🙂

That’s it for now, thanks for reading…

the Freesound Team

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Community update March 2018

Dear Freesounders,

Here is our monthly list of things happening in the Freesound dev world. Again, most of the deployed things are rather small improvements:

  • Updates in the moderation interface and in the “sounds pending moderation” page.
  • Disallow use of symbol @ in new usernames.
  • In the browse by geotags page tag filters are now case-insensitive (e.g. https://freesound.org/browse/geotags/Ship/ shows the same as https://freesound.org/browse/geotags/ship/).
  • Treat email addresses as case-insensitive.
  • Improvements in the API documentation.
  • Internal improvements (quite important!) in the way we store downloads information.
  • Other minor bugfixes and optimizations.

Let’s see if by next month we can release one of the big new features that we are developing in parallel to all of the smaller changes and the development of the new frontend 😉 This one coming will hopefully make uploaders very happy! Stay tuned for the next post…

The Freesound Team

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Community update February 2018

Dear all,

Welcome to our monthly update about things happening in the Freesound dev world! We have no significant new user-facing features to showcase this month but, as usual, we’ve been working in the background and been making some backend changes and developing some stuff which is not yet ready to be launched (but will be shortly!). We also continue to advance (maybe a bit slowly than expected) in the implementation of the new font-end interface 🙂 Here is the list of updates/fixes for this month:

  • Store the sounds that are downloaded every time a pack is downloaded. This will allow us to tell you which sounds (and with which licenses) were inside a pack when you downloaded it.
  • Change the way we store the count of downloads that you make.
  • New anti-spam measures to prevent spammers from using “about” and “URL” profile fields for spamming.
  • Currently we show a warning when including images from non-HTTPS locations in sound descriptions. Now this warning is extended to other fields that also support including images.
  • Improvements in the API documentation.
  • Other minor bugfixes and optimizations.

Aaaaand that’s for February. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next post!

The Freesound Team

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