Standard Internet Piracy Formatting
Doesn’t matter what you’re filing or why, it’s nice to have everything using the same labeling system. Dewey decimal system? You bet we do!
(Not original. It was in Questionable Content a while ago. There are lots of good library jokes in Questionable Content.)
Happily, that urge for convenient labels seems to manifest even in the maintainers of bootleg libraries. Remember bootlegging back in the Napster days? An episode of Friends (example picked for convenience; I doubt anyone tech-savvy enough to use early file-sharing services actually watched Friends) might have been labeled “friends ep 14″ or “friends air date sep 7 1997″ or just “my favorite friends episode ever!!11″
That has been a long-standing problem. But happily, it seems to be on its way out, at least for television shows. So on the off-chance that you’re planning on sharing some files illegally (a practice which we wholeheartedly condemn here at MA101, and would never participate in and shame on you), please be sure to use what I refer to as SIP (Standard Internet Piracy) formatting.
A universal format for the season and episode numbers is key here. You want to make it possible for all users to fill in the same blanks when they’re searching. Therefore, a simple format that puts all the variably numbers into a single bloc:
[Full Show Title] ([year aired]) S[two-digit season number]E[two-digit episode number]
Example: The West Wing (1999) S01E14
The above example would mean the fourteenth episode of the first season of The West Wing.
Including the full episode title after the season/episode bloc is a nice gesture to thoroughness but not necessary. There are very few stand-alone episodes so famous that people are likely to be hunting them specifically by name (Star Trek‘s “Trouble with Tribbles” is the only one that springs to my mind, but I’m sure there are a few others — point being that it’s only a few).
The show’s date, however, is vital for TV shows with common words in the title. HBO’sGirls is not the first thing that pops up if you search for “girls” on a typical torrent site, I assure you. Not that the other offerings aren’t interesting, in their own way, but some days you really just want to watch Lena Dunham make coffee.
It’s all right; I don’t judge you for it.
Movies are trickier. Title followed by date, as in SIP formatting for TV shows, seems to be pretty solidly established by now, but what follows the date varies by host. I’ve seen director’s names, the encoding and original file types, and even occasionally the star actor’s name, typically when the movie was basically a star vehicle. Work to be done there yet. For my part, I prefer including the director, to help with titles that have been used multiple times or re-made:
[movie title] (Year) [director]
Example: Flight of the Phoenix (2004) John Moore
That way there’s more than enough information to let everyone know that this is the shitty remake rather than the original with James Stewart in it. Seriously, why are you even hosting that dog?
Albums? Very straightforward:
[artist name] – [album name] ([year released]) [version where relevant]
Example: The Who – Who’s Next (1971) 1995 reissue w/bonus tracks
You want artist name before album name so that people sorting search results by artist get it in their first hits.
But what if you’re not hosting the album? Do you still include the album title with the standalone song, so people know where it’s from?
Answer is yes, but further down in the formatting:
[artist] – [song name] (Track [track number] [album title] [year]
Example: The Who – Behind Blue Eyes (Track 8 Who’s Next 1971)
Not all of these have caught on universally yet, of course. And I’m willing to believe that an actual librarian could improve vastly on the formatting, which is at best a loose consensus among functional anarchists.
But for now these seem to be the “best practice” labels for your bootleg files.
And now you know.