Tate Talk 2017 #2: Removing Filler from Your Annotations

First off, shout out to @CalebMac116 for getting Tate Talk popping again. No dates this year; just post sporadically if you have something dope to discuss :)

Yes, there’s a tl;dr version


Today I’d like to talk about filler in annotations, from short word groups to whole paragraphs. It’s easy to include it in your work; you’ve probably seen many others do the same, but what is it and how do you get rid of it? In general, filler is anything that lengthens your annotations but doesn’t give new, relevant information.

General annotations

Did you see that line I just used between the first and second paragraphs? Maybe the large font just above? I’m afraid neither should be present in any annotation whatsoever. Linebreaks and titles are great for longer articles to distinguish between groups of paragraphs, but they’re unfit for anything the length of an annotation. In the event your annotation truly is that long, it should be phrased and chronicled in such an easily digestible way no breaks or titles are necessary.

Lyric annotations

I’d like to use an (unfortunately) made up line for example annotations. Let’s go with the following:

Like Rob Markman I don’t want to wait
@streetlights and fireworks ‘cause it’s NYE day
- “I’m a Genius,” Kanye West, 2018

An easy pitfall when annotating lyrics is beginning with “Kanye says/is saying/is talking about.” In the extremely early days of Genius, editors received strict instructions (which was #rare) to never use this because it tires REALLY quickly. The rule has since been retired because there aren’t many example annotations for contributors to be influenced by. In addition, it’s an indicator of a “restatement of the line” and the whole paragraph likely requires deletion.

You don’t see “[artist] is saying” around much nowadays, but we’ve sneakily introduced “[artist] is referring to/is referencing” as an alternative. It’s important to get to the punch immediately. So, rather than say

Kanye is referring to “I Don’t Wanna Wait” by rapper and Genius employee Rob Markman…

Another way to say this is:

“I Don’t Wanna Wait” is a single by rapper and Genius employee Rob Markman…

We’ve been overusing the word “reference” way too much lately, and this is a great way to avoid that. By simply mentioning the song, you’re already implying it’s a reference (unless otherwise stated.) This, however, doesn’t mean you should completely stop using the term, but saying “this is a reference to New Year’s Eve” for the second example line just looks odd and is the primary reason we’ve decided the use the word less.


In addition to claiming “reference,” it’s easy to include pictures that shouldn’t be there. In the first example line, people are quick to add a photo of Rob Markman. Although I love seeing pictures of Rob, it’s not the most relevant piece of media. What is? Well, a picture of the song art—maybe album art if it’s the titular track? Let’s discuss in the comments—or even better, a YouTube video!

In the streetlights line, I reference producer and Genius employee @streetlights. While I don’t mention a lyric, song, or album of his, there are definitely better things to include than a picture of him. People don’t wonder “What does he look like?” but “What is he known for?” The best possible action to take is to explain just that. A photo doesn’t add much substance (unless someone’s appearance is referenced), but listing/linking important media (albums, movies, books, etc.) or careers/actions (brand ownership, politician, magnate, etc.) does.

Other filler pictures are those of things that don’t need explaining. I wouldn’t include a photo of fireworks on NYE in the annotation because everybody knows what they are.

Bio annotations

Last but most notably, we’ve bios. Particularly on songs, it’s almost been tradition to say what we would now consider “restating metadata.” You’ll come across this almost anywhere, and, unfortunately, we can’t delete most song bios. What we can do, however, is write amazing bios on new, popping songs to impact future users.

Basically, you should not include metadata in the bio. The only reason to do so is if you can make them exceptionally interesting, and even then they might be more relevant to the Q&A section. Some oft-listed metadata are:

  • Primary artist
  • Featured artist
  • Album and tracklist number
  • Producer
  • Release date

Tl;dr: don’t use line breaks and weird fonts; don’t say “[artist] is saying/referring to” but get straight to the juice; listing a person’s achievement is usually more relevant than a photo of their appearance; don’t use images for words that are straightforward (“firework, "thunder,” etc.); don’t restate metadata in bios.


Anyway, that’s what I wanted to talk about today. Anything you don’t agree with? Anything you’d like to add? Oh, and don’t hesitate to make your own Tate Talk; it’s free! <3 Dyazz

@genius-editorial-board @genius-internationals

July 30th, 2017 | edited July 30th, 2017

Dope write-up @Dyazz . I love the reminder you put “Kanye refers to his song Famous” but to put “Famous by Kanye West bla bla bla” Great write-up and way to keep it going.

July 30th, 2017

Woo, some great stuff here @Dyazz I’m one of those “refer to” users but now, I will try to refrain from using it, thanks :)

July 30th, 2017

I’m one of those “refer to” users but now, I will try to refrain from using it
I’m the same way @Chancelorr
Great write up. I’ll be more direct with my future tates

July 30th, 2017

Yo, dope pickups @Dyazz. I often “is referring to” or “is a reference to,” and never thought anything of it. I guess I’ll have to re-evaluate my ‘tates ;)

July 30th, 2017

Like Rob Markman I don’t want to wait
@streetlights and fireworks ‘cause it’s NYE day

-Kanye West

Lol Street would freak out if this hapoened

July 30th, 2017

@Dyazz Just to be clear, its best to not add a photo to the annotation if it’s not helping to further add important info?

Like, say If A rapper had said,

I’m a Black Star who’s mos definitely qualified than the common rapper
Moments of clarity filled with awe and prestigious glamour

-MC Bubble Buddy “It Was His Hat Mr. Krabs”

The Annotation would explain the reference to the Jay Z line on Moment Of Clarity from his Black Album and the Black Star reference along with Common. Is a photo necessary?

July 30th, 2017 | edited July 30th, 2017

If y'all feel like we should continue introducing our annotations that way, let me know though! Perhaps there’s a great argument for it that I haven’t thought of.

@BigBabyGOAT-116 Yeah, a photo of Jay, Common, or Black Star wouldn’t add much here imo. Ideally, a video for “Moment of Clarity” would be perfect, but we all know how Jay handles the online presence of his music. What’s great is that this ‘tate wouldn’t even need a picture or video to look appealing; you can put in a block quote of the Jay lyrics.

July 30th, 2017

LOVE THIS!!

defs seeing a lot more “This song is the third single from XYZ’s 10th album and features ABC."—delete it! Drop some knowledge and tell me something I don’t already know!

What topic should we tackle next?

Some people I could see dropping tate knowledge on all of us—@BrianErwin, @GaryTheJerk, @UnBalanced, @SmashBeezy, @poeticimmunity, @roy068, @Aenex

July 31st, 2017

I’m also a filthy refers to user thanks for pointing out my crimes
Dope talk though, I always see “This is the 2nd track on-” and it’s pointless, same goes for random images that don’t add anything to the tate!

And Michael I am honoured…. what knowledge could I drop though…. that isn’t already on the ground….. hm…
I feel like I would do either artwork annotations or instrumental annotations (but I’d have to actually do one of the latter first oops)

July 31st, 2017

This reply refers to the fact that @Michael called me in to talk about taters. As far as the “refer” thing @Dyazz is talking about, sometimes a line might be subliminal or a quote from another song or talking about an event and someone could say “This line is in reference to the Genius King of R&B posting in the Tate Talk thread” to introduce whatever they’re annotating. I haven’t felt the need to eliminate those intros but I could edit them out of future tater tots if necessary.

However, the “This is Song #3 on this album” song bio is easily one of the most annoying things on here. I recently attempted to mass scrub these “song bios” off one album but got “p-boxed” after three songs because I was going too fast. And if I saw THIS SONG BIO unreviewed, I would be tempted to reject it just because of the first two sentences despite the content in the main paragraph. ッ

July 31st, 2017

@Dyazz the 🐑 !!!

couldn’t agree more with the points made in the OP, especially the “getting right to the information” bit instead of always saying “This is a reference to” or “This is alluding to,” etc. sometimes it’s necessary, but a lot of the time you can cut right to the meat and potatoes which is a) more interesting to read and b) more varied.

if anyone wants some help on that or any of these other dope pointers, def hit me up and we can work on some examples! also it’s something we chat about & edit a lot in weekly Top to Bottom hangouts so come join in if you can to see it in action.

August 1st, 2017

Thanks @Dyazz really great read always wondered how to properly execute song/album bios even got some help from @Empath recently.

having left Genius before the bio tates got revamped I kinda found it hard to understand why people would just repeat things we already knew like “this song is produced by” – or “this song samples” etc.
Thought to myself there could be more done in terms of explanation. Didn’t want to delete anything coz I had just lost my mod status (2k18 return 😝) and didn’t want to rush into any major controversy but now I know what to look for and do better.

One last thing tho, what about bios that just have a quote from the artist? Are they valid should we perhaps add more flesh to them without straying too far from what is being said?

August 1st, 2017

@Fran-soul I think it really depends on the song. like if there’s really nothing else interesting to say about it—which is honestly sometimes the case—then the artist quote is probably our best bet for a robust song bio. but if there’s already a ton to say about the song then it’s probably best to just put the artist quote as an answer to the “What have the artists said about this song?” Q&A for now.

def down to talk about some examples if you wanna link them!

August 2nd, 2017 | edited August 2nd, 2017

Aww fuck, I’m guilty of a lot of this shit lol. Anyway great write up and def something I should read to help me improve.

August 2nd, 2017

@Empath yea I thought the same.. why not just move quotes to the Q&A section

Got some examples here that I ran across while cleaning up some albums the other day.

  • regarding bios with just quotes

here’s a song bio that I was also involved in editing

August 4th, 2017
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