THE TOP 5 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT DISCOGS...AND THE TOP 5 THINGS I HATE!
I have been selling on Discogs for many years, and in 2020 it became the source of the majority of my sales, taking over from Ebay. For online sellers of vinyl records (as well as CD's and cassettes) it is certainly without peer in the marketplace.
There's plenty to admire about the site, but in my opinion it also has flaws, so here I present the top 5 things I love about Discogs...and the top 5 things I hate.
THINGS I LOVE:
1. FREE LISTING: Whilst Ebay continues to charge, listing on Discogs is entirely free. I understand the reason why Ebay maintains this policy, because they allow almost anything to be sold, offering free unlimited listings would soon flood the site and it would become even more of a tat bazaar than it already is.
Because Discogs has a relatively narrow offer, they can allow free listing. With around 65,000,000 items for sale, the choice for buyers is second to none, and I can list as much as I want (I currently have around 25,000 items for sale) without worrying about a large bill for listing each month.
2. THE COLLECTIONS FEATURE: For collectors, the option to build a collection on Discogs is incredibly useful. As well as selling vinyl, I am also a keen collector of certain artists, and with a click of the mouse I can add a record to my collection. The app automatically calculates the value of your collection, and there are various ways of viewing, including thumbnails of album and single covers, or simpler text lists. You can also add notes to each entry, including condition, as well as unique customisable folders for each artist etc.
3. ABILITY TO BLOCK NIGHTMARE BUYERS: Don't get me wrong, 99% of the buyers I encounter on Discogs are wonderful, and transactions go through smoothly, but now and again a member of the awkward squad appears, so the option to filter them out makes life a little easier. Quite rightly, the rights of online buyers are protected by consumer law, so it's nice to have one little tool in our box to protect ourselves from the unreasonable buyer.
4. LISTING IS QUICK AND EASY: Unlike Ebay, where you are required to create pictures of each item, as well as a detailed description, often with track listings, and a whole slew of unique "item specifics", most of these tasks are pre-filled on Discogs. You do have to be diligent in selecting the exact version of a release, for example Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" has 1,044 different versions in the database, and a degree of knowledge (and patience) is required to ensure you list the correct version.
Collectors are understandably seeking the exact version they want, and rightly get annoyed when you send them the wrong one. The only flaw with such a general approach is the picture that represents each version is not the one the buyer gets, and trust is needed by the buyer that the seller is honest with their description of their copy.
5. THE DATABASE IS ESSENTIAL FOR COLLECTORS: There are other sites like 45cat and Popsike that can assist collectors, but Discogs has got it all. If you just want to browse you can, if you are building a collection you can, if you want to sell, you can. It's ambition to be all things to all people does mean it can appear messy and a little overwhelming to the casual viewer, but this is inevitable due to its user-generated content.
THINGS I HATE:
1. THE GRADING SYSTEM: It was obvious when Discogs started that there had to be some system of uniform grading for both vinyl and their sleeves that would, across the entire site, offer a consistent table of grading. The biggest mistake they made was adopting the US "Goldmine" grading system, which for some bizarre reason, does not include the grading of "excellent", it drops directly from "near mint" down to "very good plus" - by bypassing "excellent", Discogs rules out 90% of my stock, which ranges from excellent plus, excellent, to excellent minus.
I would love for Discogs to adopt the UK "Record Collector Magazine" grading, which includes "excellent". You see many sellers add the "excellent" grading in their notes for each item for sale, while this is a workaround, it risks confusing buyers.
2. NO "CHRISTIAN ROCK" GENRE OPTION: One of the "item specifics" within each entry is "genres", with Rock, Blues, Reggae etc all present and correct, with many hundreds of additional "styles" available via drop-down menus to more accurately describe what you are listing.
Within rock there are a massive 102 styles to choose from, including Sludge Metal, Crust, and Horror Rock, but try and list a "Christian Rock" record and you will be stuck, there's no option. Why? When I went on the Community Forums to enquire, I was hit with a barrage of odd arguments, some touching on politics, others getting quite philosophical, but none could give me a logical reason why such an established "style" such as Christian Rock couldn't be selected.
It's not as if I am religious myself, so I have no axe to grind in that respect. Just a real strange decision.
3. INCORRECT POSTAGE CALCULATIONS: Discogs is not the only online site that struggles with calculating postage rates for sellers, I haven't yet encountered a site whose postage calculator doesn't require the seller to have a degree in advanced mathematics to grasp the rules, but there's one on Discogs that is a constant headache. When you list a 7" single, Discogs default calculation is a weight of 60g and it "counts as 1", one problem is "shaped" 7" picture discs - which although only have the playing area of a standard 7" single, it's shape means it has to be posted as an album, which is up to three times the cost.
There are other examples, which often results in me having to ask buyers for extra postage after the sale.
4. ORDERS ARE NOT SEARCHABLE: On Ebay, if I need to search for an order, I can do, using the buyers name, the artist etc, then I can deal with a problem quickly.
I have had over 8000 orders through Discogs, yet there is no search option, so if I need to see the details of an order, it can become daunting if it's more than a few days in the past. It shouldn't be too hard to add a search option.
5. NO MULTI-FOLDER OPTION IN "COLLECTIONS": This last one is relatively minor, but still irksome. It's great that you can create customisable folders for anything you like, artists, genres etc, but you are only able to assign a database entry once. I collect both Elvis Costello and The Beatles, and have a folder for each, but what do I do with the records I have that feature Elvis and Paul McCartney together?
I can only put them in one or the other, which means my collection of one or the other will not be complete. I admit it's a minor quibble, and I understand the thinking - having the option to list in both folders would also lead to an inaccurate tally as one record would be counted twice. No perfect solution for this one.
So, there are some of the pro's and cons of the Discogs site. Overall it is an excellent (or should I say, very good plus!) resource for buyers, sellers, and just plain collectors, and long may it last.