One of the areas most often requested for clarification and a better way to deal with things has been for those issues with multiple versions. This includes variant covers, reprintings, director's cuts, new editions of TPBs, etc.
I have just finished installing an overhaul for these issues that significantly changes the way that we deal with them. From now on, there are no more "variant covers". Each version of an issue is treated as a separate issue, but added differently than regular issues. Initially confusing, I know.
The benefits to the new system will be apparent. Most importantly, we will be able to separate cover artists for the appropriate covers. No longer will we need to see Jim Lee's name when looking at a George Perez cover of Infinite Crisis. This will also clear up artists' cover galleries having images of covers that they didn't work on (again, see Lee for an example).
Additionally, you will be able to add specific variants to your collection so that you know which version you have.
To give a concrete example, take a look at X-Men (1991) #1
. The issue was originally released with 5 covers. The cover showing for this issue is the Beast cover. There is now a section that says, "There are other versions of this issue in the database:" with the variants listed below.
Each of these variant entries are issues in and of themselves but will not show up in the issue listing on the title page. To add a variant, you can either click on the "Edit This Issue" button and click the appropriate link at the bottom of the page, or you can click the link on the issue page that says, "Change this cover or add a variant".
If you click the link to change the cover, you will notice that the variant cover upload is gone. In its place is the link to adding the variant issue.
Adding a variant issue:
Most of adding a variant issue is identical to cloning an issue, since most information is the same in variants/reprints. You can change most everything if it is necessary.
The important thing to remember is that you need to give the variant a label. This may be the characters on the cover, the cover artist's name, the official title of the variant ("Director's Cut", for example). Whatever it is, it needs to be unique and needs to identify the issue so that people know what they will see when they click the link to that issue.
This is definitely a change from how we have been doing it and will take some getting used to. There's also going to need to be some considerable work done on replacing the variant covers that are currently in the database with variant issue entries. But once done, this should definitely be a step forward for the database in terms of accuracy with regard to variants and reprints.
I expect that this new system will need some fine tuning (and hopefully very little bug fixing). As always, don't hesitate to let me know if you have ideas on how to improve it.