Community update December 2017

Dear Freesounders,

Here we are again with our monthly community update about things that have been happening in the Freesound dev world.

This month we have not released new user-facing¬† features, but this does not mean we have not been working hard ūüôā We indeed made a lot of changes on things that are not so much visible, and we are also in the middle of implementing other new features that you will love but are not ready yet to be deployed. So here comes the list of things we did:

  • Make links to sounds whose author changed his username still work after the username change
  • Prevent some errors that could happen when users double-click submit buttons in forms
  • Improvements in the way the number of sounds per users and packs, the number of posts per users, and number of comments and ratings per sounds are stored and synchronized with the real counts
  • Minor improvements in moderation workflow
  • Deleting your user account now requires to re-enter your password
  • Fix bug that in some occasions showed wrong sound signatures
  • Speed optimizations in our admin pages
  • Improve the way in which we store and synchronize information about user donations
  • Other minor bugfixes and optimizations

This is quite a number of things… but we have more news! Just as a kind of Christmas present, we would like to annoucne that during the last months we have been working hard with a designer on a complete redesign of the Freesound look and feel. This means that at some point in the next year Freesound will get a renewed design, more modern and easier to use. As part of the design, we slightly updated the Freesound logo and this, ladies and gentleman, will be the new logo and “red” Freesound tone:

Looks great, doesn’t it? The design phase for the new look and feel has already finished, and we have just started the actual implementation phase. During the design phase, the goal has always been to update Freesound’s look while preserving existing functionalities and workflows. It is still too early to reliably estimate a release date, but we’ll keep you posted.¬† Exciting, isn’t it?

Aaaand that’s it for now, thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next post!

The Freesound Team

 

 

ps: don’t see the differences in the logo? put it next to the current one ūüėČ

 

 

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Community update November 2017

Hi again,

This is our monthly update of things happening in Freesound development! Remember we told you we’d try to write regularly-spaced-in-time blog posts letting you know what’s going on? Well we made it, so once month later here is a new issue ūüôā

Here are the new features deployed this month:

  • Sound signature. If you go to your settings page¬†you’ll see a new form field with the title Sound signature which allows you to introduce some text. You guessed it right? This text will be added at the end of the description of all of your sounds.¬†If you change the sound signature, it will automatically be updated on all of your sounds. This way you’ll be able to add attribution instructions or other information that you want to appear in each sound. What? You have uploaded no sounds? Maybe it’s time to start!
  • Subscribe/Unsusbscribe to forum threads at any time. Those of you who participate in the forums already know that when you post in a thread you have the option to¬†subscribe to the thread and get email notifications when new messages are posted. In these email notifications you have the option to¬†unsusbscribe¬†from the thread as well. Now these two operations can be easily performed from the thread page. This also means that you can receive notifications without actually participating in the conversation.

Besides these new features, we also made some other smaller changes and bugfixes:

  • Added minor improvements in the UI of the describe sounds page.
  • Fixed a bug which was wrongly reading metadata of some file formats including lossless version of M4a files.
  • Fixed a bug which disabled the¬†group by pack¬†option in search page.
  • Fixed a bug that caused some pack filters to fail in the search page when pack names contained non alphanumeric characters.
  • Fixed a bug in the search page which prevented sorting options other than¬†Automatic by relevance¬†to be used.
  • Correction of other smaller errors, significant code clean ups and internal optimizations.

That’s it for now, thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next post!

The Freesound Team

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Community update October 2017

Dear Freesounders,

We’ve been working hard on Freesound lately and have some news to share with you. You’ll remember that earlier this year we started a campaign to promote donations in Freesound. We had a public discussion in the forums where many of you participated (thanks!), and we finally started the donations campaign in July 2017 (see this forum post for details on the campaign). We’re now getting 15 times more donations than we used to get before starting the campaign which is a great start! It moves us closer to our sustainability goal and it has already allowed us to start spending more time and resources on improving Freesound for all of our users. Thank you all!

We have recently released some new user-visible features to Fresound:

  • Donations via stripe.¬†Some potential donors didn’t want to use Paypal to send donations to us.¬† As an alternative, we added support for donations by credit card using¬†Stripe.
  • Support for AAC files (.m4a extension). You can now upload sounds encoded using Advanced Audio Coding (AAC). AAC is a lossy audio compression standard designed to be the successor of MP3. Even though we still prefer sounds to be upload using uncompressed formats or non-proprietary formats like OGG, we’re sure that AAC support will come in handy for many Freesound users. [EDIT 20/10/2017: user guyburns¬†reported that lossless m4a files are also supported but that there seem to be problems detecting the number of channels].
  • Faster random sound navigation. We’ve always had the ability to randomly browse for a random sound in Freesound. Now this is faster, try it today!
  • Sound license history. We now keep track if a sound uploader changes the license of their sound. This is important because you may have downloaded a sound under one license, and when you go back to check its status some months later the license may have changed! We will now tell you what the license was when you downloaded the sound so that you can be sure of your rights and obligations.

We’ve also made a number of smaller changes which are not as visible, but help us improve Freesound for us and you:

  • We now keep a record of what the sound of the day was each day. Do you want a throwback to what the sound of the day was on a particular day of the year?¬†We’ll be able to tell you!
  • If you forget your password and your email address you can now reset it using just your username, much the same way that you can log in with both your username and email.
  • If you’re uploading many sounds at once with a geolocation, we now remember the last location that you added so that you can quickly add the next.
  • Tickets now show faster for our tireless team of moderators (thanks everyone!)
  • We’re making changes to move Freesound to a full HTTPS setup, protecting you when you enter passwords when logging in.
  • We’re fixing small programming errors that have accumulated over years of Freesound development. If you’ve ever got a message saying “You found some part of Freesound that’s broken”, then don’t worry, we get a notification of the error and we’re working to make sure that these errors happen less for our users.

That’s all for now! Hopefully this will be the first post of a series of more-or-less-regularly-spaced-in-time posts that we’ll be doing to keep you updated about things happening in the Freesound dev world. Want some more exciting news? Then wait for the next post ūüôā

Thanks for reading and keep on Freesounding!

The Freesound Team

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Maintenance downtime, Monday 3rd July 10:30 a.m. CEST [done]

Dear Freesounders,

On Monday 3rd at 10:30 a.m. CEST Freesound will be down for approximately two hours while we perform some maintenance on our servers. We’re sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.

Cheers,

 

edit: all servers have been updated and we’re back to normality (Monday 3rd 1 p.m.)

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Problems sending emails [fixed]

EDIT 8/6/2017:¬†email sending is back to normal. We’ve resent¬†emails with activation codes to all users that registered during the period while¬†the email service was not working properly.

Hello,

As some of you reported, Freesound is experiencing problems with emails. We have identified the issue and worked out the fix, but are still waiting for our email provider to do some extra stuff. We hope that email sending will go back to normal in the following hours.

After all email problems have been fixed, we will re-send activation emails to those users who registered after the problems started and could not activate their accounts.

In the meanwhile please be patient ūüôā

 

frederic

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Login with email and Twitter cards

Dear Freesounders,

This is post is to let you know about two features that we have just deployed for your enjoyment:

  • Login with email:¬†from now on you can login to Freesound either using your username or your email address. Might not be a game changer, but will certainly be helpful for many users.
  • Support for Twitter cards:¬†you can now share Freesound sounds on Twitter and these will be displayed in a nice card¬†with a Freesound player. All you need to do is to add a Freesound sound URL in your tweets ūüôā

Twitter Card screenshot

That’s it for now!!
Keep on Freesounding,

frederic

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The future sustainability of Freesound

Dear Freesound community,

We would like to give you an update about the current situation of Freesound funding and to get your feedback about some of our future plans regarding its sustainability. Be prepared for a rather long read ūüėČ

As most of you will know, Freesound was started in 2005 at the Music Technology Group (MTG) of Universitat Pompeu Fabra. The initial aim of the project was to create an open database of sounds that could also be used for scientific research. However Freesound became bigger and bigger and turned into a wide and active community of users which grew well beyond any initial goals. Freesound currently hosts more than 4400 hours of audio and serves around 50000 sounds per day. For more statistics, have a look at this blog post.

As you can imagine, the cost of maintaining Freesound has been increasing as the site has grown, and it is not an easy task to find resources (both human and machine) to maintain and keep improving Freesound. Freesound has always been developed and maintained by researchers at the MTG and, as hard as it might seem to believe, Freesound has never had a single person fully dedicated to it (with very few exceptions). This is because Freesound‚Äôs current sustainability model is based on maintaining and improving Freesound as a ‚Äúside-effect‚ÄĚ of other research projects.

Our current sustainability model only allows us to maintain Freesound and does not allow us to spend time working on adding new features or improving existing ones. To change that, we need to rethink the current sustainability model and get to a point where Freesound can generate enough to be partially sustained by itself. This means to generate enough regular income so that we can dedicate more resources to Freesound and make it a better place both for its user community and the research community.

Because of the nature of Freesound and the philosophy of openness, sharing and reuse that we promote, we think that the sustainability model that best fits our case is one based on user donations (similarly to Wikipedia). Even though Freesound has been accepting user donations since the beginning, it is something we have never promoted. Currently, we are *only* raising around 2000‚ā¨ per year in user donations, but we think we could raise much more. Considering the huge amount of users that regularly download content from Freesound, we estimate that with a very small yearly contribution from some of these users, we can collect enough to keep Freesound in good shape. For the sake of total transparency let us mention that, ideally, we want to raise enough to be able to maintain a couple of people dedicated full-time to do research and development with Freesound. We also want to be able to cover some of the expenses related to hosting and server maintenance. We estimate that this could be covered if we raise a minimum of 100000‚ā¨ a year. This means that we need to increase current donations by a factor of 50. Please note that we are not thinking of imposing any yearly fee for the use of Freesound. What we are suggesting is that if we reach a significant number of donors, donations as small as 10‚ā¨ a year would be enough to reach our goal.

In order to increase donations we are planning to start a campaign to actively promote them. We will do that by using banners and pop-ups, and occasionally sending some emails. Our main target is to reach those users who regularly download content and try not to impact users who are already contributing to Freesound by uploading sounds, by writing in forums or being part of the core community. We will also publish a regular report on how much money we raised and how we spend it.

Before making further steps with the donations campaign we wanted to share this with you and get your feedback. Feel free to tell us your thoughts in this forum thread that we set up for this occasion.

the Freesound team,

Alastair, Andrés, Bram, Frederic, Sonia, Xavier

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Results of the Freesound Survey 2017

Dear Freesounders,

As promised, here are some plots and charts and insights we got after analysing the more than 1,300 survey responses that you filled in¬†some weeks ago. Warning:¬†you’ll see some box plots in this post which might look strange. These are not really hard to interpret. In general, the more concentrated¬†the “box”¬†is¬†in the top scores, the better.

Let’s start with your answers to the question “I’d describe myself as…”:

I’d describe myself as a…

NOTE: this question (and some others below) multiple responses where accepted per participant. The percentage shown in the figure is calculated over total number of participants in the survey (therefore the sum of all bars > 100%). 

Apparently, Freesound user profiles are quite heterogeneous :). A similar observation can be made looking at your responses about what do you use the sounds you download for:

The Freesound sounds I download, I use them…

And, again, we also observe significant heterogeneity in the kinds of sounds you’re interested in finding:

In particular, I’m interested in finding the following kinds of sounds:

The previous chart can be compared with the¬†termcloud that we showed in our previous 2016 in numbers blog post, it seems to be quite well aligned, doesn’t¬†it?

Even though you are interested in¬†a wide variety of different sounds, the survey responses tell us that, when searching in Freesound, users typically end up finding what they’re¬†looking for (or at least some other useful sounds). Also,¬†the quality of uploaded sounds is also generally well valued.

When I search in Freesound…

And how often do you use Freesound? Well, apparently most of you are quite regular users and use Freesound at least a couple of times a month…

I normally use Freesound…

…but the majority of users only download sounds, do not upload:

I ¬†use Freesound…

This is nothing new. In fact, we know from our data that less than 1% of users do upload sounds (way less that what the survey suggests). This kind of balance between uploading/downloading (i.e. producing/consuming) is quite normal in the web.

For the questions regarding Creative Commons licenses, it seems that Freesound users are generally aware of Creative Commons licenses and consider them to be important (including downloaders). Also, there seems to be a tendency of users who would like to be able to use more CC licenses than those currently offered (CC0, CC-BY, and CC-BY-NC), but this does not seem to be a very generalized or strong claim.

About Freesound and Creative Commons licenses

Finally, lets finish this post with a chart with¬†the things you like the most about Freesound…

What are the things you like the most about Freesound?

Apparently you like lots of things about Freesound :), most prominently that fact that Freesound is free to use (as long as their sounds when license requirements are met), but also very importantly you value its philosophy and community of users.

Again, thanks for your participation in the survey, this certainly gives us insights to continue working in the future!

frederic

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Freesound Survey 2017 [closed]

EDIT 18/4/2017: Thank you all for participating in the survey! After having collected more than 1,300 responses we decided to close the survey form. We’ll analyse the collected data now and get back to you with some¬†conclusions in the coming weeks ūüôā

 

Dear Freesounders,

Some of you will remember that in 2012 we conducted a survey in the Freesound forums with the aim of getting a better understanding of what are your motivations for using Freesound, what are the uses you give to it and, in general, know more about the nature of Freesound itself (you can see the posts here: https://www.freesound.org/forum/freesound-project/32400/). Some of the outputs of this survey were published in this research paper: http://mtg.upf.edu/node/2479. Now five years have passed and we decided to run a new survey to get an updated status of the Freesound community.

So please participate in the survey and help us improve Freesound ūüôā
It should not take you more than 5 minutes. After we’ve collected all the data we will make it (anonymously) public for everyone.

Access the survey by clicking here

If you want to share or discuss anything related with the survey with the rest of the community you can do it in this forum thread.

Thanks for your participation!

 

the Freesound team

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Slowdowns [fixed]

Dear Freesounders,

We are experiencing problems with Freesound servers and as a result Freesound is being quite slow.¬†We are working on it and we’ll try to find a solution as soon as possible, we’ll let you know.

Thanks for your understanding!

EDIT: FYI, during the last weeks we made a number of improvements which significantly reduced the number of slowdowns, making them almost inappreciable most of the time. Yesterday (15th March 2017), we were finally able to deploy a new set of changes which should make the slowdowns completely disappear and make Freesound faster.

 

frederic

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