Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives (commonly known as Metal Archives per the URL or just MA) is a website which lists bands from various forms of heavy metal music. However, there are exceptions for bands which fall under disputed genres not accepted by the website; see the site rules for further information.
Encyclopaedia Metallum attempts to provide comprehensive information on each band, such as a discography, logos, pictures, lyrics, line-ups, biography, trivia and user-submitted reviews.
The site also provides a system for submitting bands to the archives, and users are encouraged to use it. As of August 2008, the site boasts 62,000+ bands listed, 143,000+ releases, 1,016,000+ tracks, 38,000+ reviews and 166,000+ registered users (114,000+ of which are "currently active"). It is one of the top 500 most-visited websites in one country, and the fifth most popular music website.
As an incentive to get people to submit data, the site uses a "point" system, in which registered users gain points and move up ranks with the amount and value of data and information they submit. When joining as a member of the site all new members start off with the ranking of "mallcore kid". The more valuable and complete the information, the more points are awarded. Also submitting reviews of band releases is another way to gain points on the site. Typically though, the website offers more points to those who submit info about a band itself. The most points are given to users when actual bands they submit to the site are accepted.
The website is notably completely free of advertisements, and as of June 2008 is run completely independently. Some, however, question whether or not this affects the quality of the website. Since the middle of 2005, frequent visitors noticed that the site was often down, though the stability situation began to improve in the beginning of 2006. Through the first three months of 2007 the site ran relatively free of downtime, with the exception of late March. The site also went down unexpectedly for five days at the end of December.. This was in part due to an issue with the company that hosted the site. When the company changed its business strategy, Metal Archives was left out of the process and was subsequently ignored. The issue has since been corrected and the site is running normally again.
Traditional/heavy metal and NWOBHM genres have stringent rulings; users are warned in the rules section, to consider bands submitted under these classifications as "ambiguous", in the sense that if a band is submitted with these terms as their genre, the music will be extensively reviewed by the moderators before they decide whether or not to accept the band onto the website. This is because in the past, some submissions labeled with those genres have turned out not to be metal, according to the site's guidelines. Some bands which are commonly referred to as Traditional/heavy metal and NWOBHM, such as Def Leppard and Stryper, are on the website due to only one or two of the bands' albums meeting the website's specifications.
Additionally, there are some non-metal bands featured on the site that are considered to be part of the metal scene despite not being metal themselves (usually dark ambient and folk bands, examples being Mortiis, Elend, Nest, :Of The Wand & The Moon:, Autumn Tears, Stille Volk, etc). These bands are selected by the moderators "in an admittedly arbitrary fashion," and their submission by normal users is discouraged.
Bands that are associated with the nu metal label are completely forbidden and have been since the website started. However, certain bands which are commonly regarded as nu metal were also accepted, if the moderators considered certain albums "metal" enough.
The site runners have standards which exclude some bands that are considered by some sites (such as Allmusic and others) as founding and definitive heavy metal acts, such as Led Zeppelin and Blue Cheer; the website's runners consider these acts as hard rock, despite their often-attributed influence and history. However, there are some websites specialising in rock and metal music that, like Encyclopaedia Metallum, also exclude Led Zeppelin or just mention Led Zeppelin as "hard rock".
In fact, many of what are often viewed as the original 1970s heavy metal bands are missing from the website, such as Blue Öyster Cult, Uriah Heep, Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Dust, Power of Zeus and many more. A small amount of users have questioned these exclusions on the website's message board in the past. On the other hand, other 1970s bands such as Deep Purple, Flower Travellin' Band, Scorpions, Sir Lord Baltimore, Rush, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Budgie and Pentagram are accepted.