Canonical Source for Episode Numbers
June 24, 2015 1:39 AM - Subscribe

What should we do when no sources of episode numbers match?

I noticed this because when I posted latest episode of Regular Show, I used the episode number from Wikipedia and didn't realize until after I hit post that it didn't match up with the episodes already posted here. In fact, none of Wikipedia, Google, IMDB, TV Guide, or Zap2It agree with FanFare or each other. I didn't look at iTunes, but the Amazon season and episode numbers are a mess. Hulu is more reasonable, but they don't have every season for every show.

Since Freebase is getting folded into Wikidata, is there a canonical source for episode numbers anymore?
posted by ob1quixote (7 comments total)
Amazon does this with Adventure Time too, as they've essentially made their own season breaks so people don't get too many episodes with their season pass.
posted by drezdn at 6:09 AM on June 24, 2015

We had this problem with Star Wars: Rebels and generally, I just ended up going with the numbering I began with and numbering until the end of the season as denoted by the production. For something like Adventure Time or Regular Show, it may better to see if you can just figure out when the production company called it done for the season and use that as the demarcation. I think the only important element to episode numbers is to be sure every episode gets counted, not to serve as the definitive source for the episode numbering and what not.
posted by Atreides at 8:21 AM on June 24, 2015

And immediately after posting, I just realized that the numbering would help people find the episode for purposes of re-watch or recording. So, hrm. I guess it's better to go off the episode's title in that regard.
posted by Atreides at 8:22 AM on June 24, 2015

One reason that it matters is so that the right page here shows up in search results about a show or movie. When FanFare first started, I had seen some Google I/O talk about creating tiny knowledge graphs, and I thought that we could somehow leverage those techniques to automatically get details like episode numbers and titles. If we had the right tags in the header, maybe FanFare discussions could even wind up in the Knowledge Graph box for an episode, or at least above the links to "Full Episodes" of questionable origin. As it stands, the FanFare page for “Death Kwon Do-Livery” is on page two of the results, below both "" and even 4chan.

Then it was decided to merge Freebase into Wikidata. So Freebase is read only now and nothing new is being added. Which is fine except that there's no facility to query Wikidata directly yet. I don't know if there's an automated or even easy way to find out how to link into the Google Knowledge Graph.

In the course of writing this comment, I convinced myself and then changed my mind that the numbers you get when you search Google for "<show> episodes" are probably the best choice in most cases. The biggest problem is that only the last 50 or so episodes appear in the list. Then if you look at Adventure Time, what it listed is the as-aired double episodes with an original and a repeat in each listing.

So I'm still at a loss.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:47 PM on June 24, 2015

TheTVDB might be a viable reference point. Alternately, TVRage. I don't know a ton about them beyond that they're commonly used for things like Filebot and Plex, but they're pretty useful for myself at least.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:42 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the fundamental answer is that there isn't a canonical source. Go the TVDB forums and see pages long arguments over the proper numbering.

Mythbusters is pretty infamous for this... people can't even agree on which season they are on now.
posted by smackfu at 12:28 PM on June 25, 2015

We don't have a standard here and unfortunately I don't have a better answer about a canonical source. I think we'll just keep doing the best we can with our loose, original-poster-chooses system. I've gone to Wikipedia and IMDb a handful of times for some shows. They're pretty good and generally match in most cases, but yeah, not perfect. Especially so for shows that don't fit the 30/60 minute mold.
posted by pb at 1:09 PM on June 25, 2015

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