Meet the Superusers behind IMDb, the internet’s favorite movie site

Brumburgh’s failed book project and five-hour-a-day habit may be unique, but his explanation of what motivates him is not. Like other so-called super contributors, he believes he is working in the service of an art form and all who see it. Completeness and accuracy are a source of pride.

As of December 2022, IMDb contained pages for over 625,000 movies and over 230,000 TV series. The site now also includes reference information on podcasts, music videos and video games, plus trailers, original content, showtimes and watchlists. In total, these pages contain more than 484 million pieces of data, from a long synopsis of a movie to its exact running time.

Anyone who opens an IMDb account can submit additions and edits to the site. But not all entries are created equal. The site is operated by a Contributor’s charterlike 109 instruction guidesof how to mention to land (origin of funding, not location of filming) or wigs are part of the costume department (they are not). Contributions are reviewed by IMDb, though the company is opaque when it comes to exactly what that process entails. An IMDb representative wouldn’t say how many moderators and editors are employed by the site, nor how much they can collect or revise content themselves — only that they have “teams and mechanisms to review data to ensure it’s as accurate as possible.” and be reliable”. if possible.”

At least some of those contributors, as well as CEO Col Needham, are also active in the IMDb Community Forums, where the contribution system itself is under constant scrutiny and often revised through complaints, suggestions, and debate. The section of the forum dedicated to “Data issues and policy discussions” is by far the most active, with nearly 40,000 conversations. A popular post seeks support to “MAKE THE PUBLICIST’S UNIT AN IMDB FEATURE CATEGORY” instead of lumping the role with “Additional Crew”. A typical staff announcement explains that the site is now able to properly categorize podcast series submissions after a successful beta test with contributors. These public negotiations over the functioning of the site demonstrate the careful balance that underpins the model: it should allow as many new contributors as possible, but also encourage some of them to contribute profusely. The top 10 users successfully submitted 22,910,419 items last year, or nearly 5 percent of all data items listed on the site. To be on the year-end top contributor leaderboard, a user had to have made at least 17,000 submissions.

Contributors have different tastes and areas of expertise, ranging from punctuation to Indian soap operas – and it’s those interests, more than any business plan, that determine how the data on IMDb expands and changes each year. Les Adams, the Texan with the press books, reckons his crusade to fix incomplete non-US distributors of US movies probably landed him on the 2003 Top Contributor list. Christian is an editor and translator in Spain and the man behind Pegg1976, the sixth all-time contributor to IMDb by the end of 2022. He has made nearly 3 million contributions, corrected mistakes other users make and IMDb overlooks: accents, capitalization, and , especially character names.

Other super contributors work to ensure that content from their country is featured on the site. Dibyayan Chakravorty, a 31-year-old engineer in Kolkata, India, started adding to IMDb when he saw how little Indian content contained detailed information. (Since then, he has become the most popular IMDb polls author of all time.) Miriam Vazquez Fraga, a journalist ranked 17th on the list of all-time contributors, was a student when she started adding information about Spanish television shows and their actors in her spare time. And for every Dibyayan and Miriam there is someone else who is committed to Romanian actors or Philippine films, for example.

A few contributors are called to even more esoteric fields. When Joe Wawrzyniak isn’t working retail in New Jersey, he’s trying to find information on the multitudes of movie pros who have never put their name in the spotlight – or anywhere, really. Early Stunt Actors, niche horror writers, dog actors. “It’s a lot of fun and quite a challenge to look up information about these people,” he told me. He is the all-time leader in biographies, having written more than 3,000. To get information on the lesser-known, Wawrzyniak is caught up in niche online communities and film and TV Facebook groups, such as one for 1980s extras, where he can contact actors and confirm details.

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