ISFDB:Community Portal/Archive/Archive07

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Contents

For Those Working On Fritz Leiber

As a last bit of this many-day-long, many-handed effort, I think I've figured out what do do with this puppy 155747. I've created a new anthology here 420221 that has actual contents, which will in due course migrate to the Leiber page and be merged where appropriate. If you think this is the wrong approach, let me know: I'll hold off deleting the offending "collection" for a few days to let you think. (Scott Latham 20:52, 6 Mar 2007 (CST))

There are two questions.
1) Why would someone think this is the wrong approach? It all seems fine to me.
I thought there might be those who would want to see this publication on the Leiber page, since all the content except the Introduction, the Afterword, and the Letters is by Leiber. (Scott Latham 10:37, 7 Mar 2007 (CST))
2) I'm moderately puzzled as to why you created a new publication with contents rather than adding the contents to the existing publication record for this book.
I was reliving the trauma of once trying to convert a collection to an anthology which seemed to take a gazillion edit passes, so I opted just to start afresh, particularly since the content, which was moderately lengthy, had to be entered either way. (Scott Latham 10:37, 7 Mar 2007 (CST))
It should just be one edit per publication and on any one of those publications you would also change the title type for the parent title record (down in the Contents section). I usually approve changes to the title type without a second thought as there's next to zero data loss and most people understand very clearly the difference between a novel, collection, anthology, omnibus, etc. meaning it's quite unlikely they will be making a mistake. I agree it's a pain if you have dozens of publications that need to be changed. Marc Kupper (talk) 21:32, 7 Mar 2007 (CST)
The only issues with the old publication record seem to be
  • An extra colon in the title
  • The month is February vs. May.
  • The page count is 323 vs 328.
  • The pub-type is NOVEL instead of ANTHOLOGY.
  • BTW - is the cover image correct? You might as well copy its URL to your new record. Marc Kupper (talk) 03:42, 7 Mar 2007 (CST)

All to be done, as well as adding the hardcover publication. (Scott Latham 10:37, 7 Mar 2007 (CST))

Leading spaces in author names

There are hundreds of author records whose canonical name begins with a space. Rather than hunt them manually, I think it would be better to correct (and merge where appropriate) them all at once with a SQL command. --JVjr 07:46, 9 Mar 2007 (CST)

Different problem - I tried that Search link and got an error for "http://localhost/cgi-bin/edit/aa_search.cgi?author_canonical%3D+record%3D100" when I tried to click through to the next 100 records. If the first 100 are on ISFDB, why would it think the next 100 are on MY PC? BLongley 15:39, 21 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Yup, it's Page 2 of Advanced Search for author results uses localhost :) Ahasuerus 19:17, 21 Mar 2007 (CDT)
It turned out to be fairly fast to deal with this manually and to clean up things like author names with a period at the end. A couple of mysterious authors remain.
  • (space) - a single space
  • A - Usually with an author named N
Marc Kupper (talk) 00:11, 10 Mar 2007 (CST)
Thank you, Marc, this has been a particularly vexing problem since spaces are hard to see in HTML tables.
Also, just as a heads up for new editors, we have a sporadically active ISFDB:Author Names Cleanup project. So far I have contributed a Perl (to be migrated to Python at some point) script that finds questionable suffixed and Marc has come up with a table of anonymous and uncredited authors. Feel free to add more tools, tables, etc modulo free time and scripting skills :) Ahasuerus 01:14, 10 Mar 2007 (CST)
Playing around with the SQL dump, I also found one author with a trailing space in its name. This review: 316481 is supposedly written by the same publication it's a review of, which is screwy even aside from the trailing space in the "author"'s name. --WimLewis 22:10, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Probably just a cut-and-paste gone awry. I have all Quantums in my collection, which I will be able to check in late April, but I believe that Michael has them as well and can probably get to this issue first. Ahasuerus 22:21, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Reference book up for adoption

I have a copy of The MIT Science Fiction Society's Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1951-1965 that I picked up at Barnes & Noble in the mid-70s and have never used. I'd like it to go to a good home, so I'm offering it here. Moderators get first dibs, then editors. You can respond here or on my Talk page. (Scott Latham 12:21, 9 Mar 2007 (CST))

I'm definitely interested -- how much do you want for it? I'm getting on a plane in a few hours, though, and will be away from computers for a week, so I won't be able to respond again for a while. Mike Christie (talk) 20:56, 9 Mar 2007 (CST)
Yes, I'd like to see someone like Mike with a bunch of magazines get it. My magazine collection is small and while this sounds interesting my main use for something like this would be as a secondary verification source for ISFDB. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:28, 9 Mar 2007 (CST)

Mike gets it. (Scott Latham 13:01, 10 Mar 2007 (CST))


Magazine entries duplicated after submitting data

Added some interior artists and essays to Imagination, Nov 1951. Entries appear twice on web-page. DB error or is it possible to accidentally hit the submit button twice and have this happen? Clean up by clearing data out of duplicate entries? --Swfritter 17:20, 12 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Very interesting! It does look like a duplicate submission, probably something for Al to look into when he gets back. Ahasuerus 01:34, 13 Mar 2007 (CDT)
To add to the mystery - A check only found one submission.
2007-03-12 13:02:29 415191 - PubUpdate Swfritter Ahasuerus Imagination, November 1951
http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/mod/pv_update.cgi?415191
Marc Kupper (talk) 19:55, 13 Mar 2007 (CDT)
ps: I took a look at the title record numbers and it looks like a single submission was integrated twice as the numbers go from 441041 to 441111 and then duplicate in the same title order as records 441121 to 441191. Ahasuerus was the only active moderator at the time and so it probably was not a race condition between him and someone else. I then saw about a minute later an approval for a second magazine update, Imagination, June 1951, and it's contents are duplicated too implying that something was wrong with the code or database at the time. A casual check of other integrations around that time period did not find any problems. Marc Kupper (talk) 04:32, 14 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Wonder Story Annual 1951

This is not exactly a request for physical verification, so I will post it here. Could someone with a copy of Tuck's and/or Clute/Nicholls' encyclopedias please check who edited Wonder Story Annual 1951? It was right around the time when Mines took over from Merwin at the Standard Twins, IIRC, and I don't have my references here. TIA! Ahasuerus 23:02, 17 Mar 2007 (CDT)

I checked my copy of Clute/Nicholls and the first two issues were edited by Sam Merwin and the other two by Samuel Mines.:) Kraang 00:39, 18 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Thanks, all fixed now :) Ahasuerus 01:20, 18 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Error in Oldest Authors listing

The list of ISFDB Oldest Living Authors begins with "0000-00-00 - Richard_Parks (2007)". The strange thing is that he has "Birthdate: 15 June 1955" given. I even tried to AuthorUpdate his data, deleting the Birthdate and retyping it again in case it was a wrong kind of hyphens or something like that, but it didn't appear in the diff summary as any change, so apparently the format was all right but there must be an error somewhere deep in the SQL data. Which I hereby commend to expert attention. --JVjr 14:20, 20 Mar 2007 (CDT)

I have tried changing his DOB to 1980-00-00 and back and he still showed up as 0000-00-00 on that page. I suspect it's the punctuation characters in his Author record that confuse the Python script:

query = "select author_birthdate,author_canonical,YEAR(NOW())-YEAR(author_birthdate) as age from authors where author_birthdate is not null and author_deathdate is null and YEAR(NOW())-YEAR(author_birthdate) > 74 order by author_birthdate;"Ahasuerus 22:57, 20 Mar 2007 (CDT)

My first thought was that there must be two author's named Richard Parks. Bingo - I don't know how you display an author by record # but there were
I merged them and inspection finds the extra Parks was probably created as a result of something related to the shortfiction The Golden Star as extra copies of that showed up on the bibliography when I hit refresh after the merge. Marc Kupper (talk) 01:38, 22 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Does James Patterson write specfict?

I was diligently working through the New Submissions list, when I realized I'd just approved several title merges that were translations of James Patterson novels. I looked at the James Patterson page and was astonished by the number of entries. I've read very little of his work, but I'm under the general impression that it's mystery/thriller, not speculative fiction, and I'm not aware of any specfict work from this author. What do you think? (Scott Latham 13:46, 22 Mar 2007 (CDT))

I have run across a number of non-specfict authors in ISFDB. For now I've decided to let them be in hopes that some day we will have a data export capability where we could generate an export dump that could be put on the author's bibliographic wiki and if someone then wants the data for their own bibliography it's there. A thought is to use the new "tags" things to tags the titles non-genre. That will preserve the existing title codes and bibliographic layout but also make it easy to find the non-genre works down the road. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:05, 22 Mar 2007 (CDT)
That's more or less what I had in mind as well. We can convert these worthy folks' "NOVELS" to "NONGENRE" for now (time permitting), although keep in mind that the Summary display logic ignores the two Series-related fields in NONGENRE Titles and displays them chronologically within the NONGENRE section. Ahasuerus 23:58, 22 Mar 2007 (CDT)
I did this once (long ago) and afterwards was not happy with the result as the bibliography had been nicely divided into novels, omnibuses, anthologies, plus shortfiction and afterwards everything was lumped into non-genre. James_Patterson's bibliography, while all non-genre, looks pretty good at the moment except for some foreign language titles that I assume are translations and should be merged with the English titles. Marc Kupper (talk) 18:47, 23 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Our current nomenclature is somewhat limited. If a Title is marked as NONGENRE, it can't be a NOVEL, a COLLECTION or a NONFICTION Title at the same time. Analogously, a NONFICTION title can't be an ANTHOLOGY title, so a compendium of articles about SF can't be easily distinguished from a monograph. I have been arguing for adding more axes to our taxonomical model for some time now, but it's likely too much work at the moment given our limited programming resources and other priorities :( Ahasuerus 20:06, 23 Mar 2007 (CDT)
That's why I had suggested using a non-genre tag. From James_Patterson I started chasing down the co-authors tagging away as the story titles looked like detective mysteries until I got to Stephen_King who I have not read at all other than one shortfiction but I believe he's specfict horror for some (all?) titles. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:37, 23 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Yes, mostly supernatural horror plus some fantasy and some science fiction. Ahasuerus 00:11, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)
The nongenre tag allowed me to keep the structure of the existing bibliographies and if someone disagrees with a choice they can change the tag. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:37, 23 Mar 2007 (CDT)
That's a reasonable approach that Al has advocated for some time, but, unfortunately, it hides genre information 1 level below the surface. I think there is a great deal of value to separating genre and non-genre Titles at the top level in a genre-specific (or at least genre-privileged) database, but I readily admit that our current implementation of NONGENRE Titles leaves much to be desired. Ahasuerus 00:11, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)
I just realized I've read some Dean_Koontz that qualified as specfict though he does not have much on isfdb, for example I suspect Sole Survivor should be added. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:37, 23 Mar 2007 (CDT)
He is (much) better known to ISFDB as Dean_R._Koontz :) Ahasuerus 00:11, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Those edits that alerted Scott were mine (I got to Patterson as it was his birthday on Thursday, and I have a mini-project of gradual checking internal consistency of those authors who get on the ISFDB homepage due to biographic anniversaries); I had a similar feeling, expressed at Author:James Patterson. I suppose when the data is already in the database, it would be a waste to delete them, but I sincerely hope that more books like these, especially translations, won't be imported further without human control (and immediate processing). Really, I think wanting to document every translated edition of any English-language SF book is too huge a task; countries mostly have their own bibliographies, which can handle such a specialization much better, while for ISFDB it is out of the primary scope and creates many difficult problems (for example, what about foreign collections/anthologies without a direct 1:1 counterpart in English? recently it took me quite some time to find that "Siebte Schrein" is apparently a complete translation of Silverberg's anthology Legends and not just a half of that), for minimum use.
Another interesting bug of the workaround with "non-genre" tag: after I merged a few more translated Patterson titles, their tags were merged irregardless off duplicity, so now several books there have the tag twice and even thrice, although from a single editor. Marc, can you check whether you can delete the superfluous tags? --JVjr 11:52, 25 Mar 2007 (CDT)
P. S. Meseems that "Modern Hungarian Society in the Making : The Unfinished Experience (A Central European University Press Book)" will be by another Patterson... :-)
and a p.s. from Marc - I was reading https://tv.ku.edu/blog/frank/2006/dec/04/readers-cant-get-enough-patterson/ and see that there apparently are a couple of specfict titles in James_Patterson's bibliography - When the Wind Blows, The Lake House, and the Maximum Ride young adult series.
Thank you for the reminder on merging - I did a merge and had wondered if the code would spot and merge the duplicate tags but forgot to check this afterwards. Fortunately, if you click on the tag name it takes you to a list that have the titles with the most tags sorted on top and so locating/removing the duplicates was easy. This afternoon I finished Ken_Follett's Triple and out of curiosity checked ISFDB - yep, yet another non-genre author and I'm wishing for a way to tag all of an author's works as non-genre in one shot. Follett's bibliography is a mess but he's clearly non-genre and so I'll leave it alone for now. Marc Kupper (talk) 00:49, 26 Mar 2007 (CDT)
In thinking about thus further and about how to keep the focus on spec-fict I'm starting to lean towards
  • If we identify an author as non-genre we just delete everything.
  • If an author has a mix of genre and non-genre works then the non-genre novels would use the NONGENRE title type but other title types (Anthology, collection, etc.) would also get changed to NONGENRE but also have something like "(non-genre anthology)" appended to the title so that people will know it's original type. If the titles were part of a series that would be removed and added to the notes instead.
Marc Kupper (talk) 00:49, 26 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Oh yes, I've come across Maximum Ride on the Wikipedia, but managed to forget it before I came here. I've added synopses to the two adult books about winged children (another question is whether Maximum Ride should be treated as their sub-series, but I'll happily leave that to dedicated bibliographers); so, can you delete the non-genre tag from them? --JVjr 10:23, 26 Mar 2007 (CDT)
BTW - deleting/changing tags is easy. From a title click on [Add Tags], delete the tags (leave them blank), and click [Submit Data], it's not connected to the moderator system meaning your updates are immediate. I went ahead with removing the non-genre from the Patterson sci-fi books plus also reclassified the remainder of his books using title-type non-genre. James_Patterson looks fine to me at the moment in that the spec-fict titles are all on top and the non-genre is now all collected at the bottom of the page. Fortunately, he did not have shortfiction as then it would have been messy to go case-by-case to decide which should be non-genre and to move those into the title-type nongenre. Marc Kupper (talk) 13:34, 26 Mar 2007 (CDT)

still broken

The site still seems to be broken; I tried to edit some errors I happened to come across; when I try to correct an error it tells me "Login required to edit. You have to login to edit data," and then when I log in and go back to the page, it tells me "Login required to edit. You have to login to edit data" This is somewhat frustrating. ("reload" doesn't help.)

Earlier in the beta, some of our editors had problems with logging in, mostly due to the fact that we are using a rather old version of the MediaWiki software, but I thought they have all been resolved by now. I wonder if that period in your username is causing the problem? Could you please try to create a new username withour a period in it and try again? Ahasuerus 19:14, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Also, what is this all about? from trying to use the "dup candidates" button: 404 Not Found The requested URL /cgi-bin/find_dups.cgi was not found on this server. Apache/2.0.55 (FreeBSD) DAV/2 mod_fastcgi/2.4.2 SVN/1.4.2 mod_ssl/2.0.55 OpenSSL/0.9.8a mod_apreq2-20051231/2.5.7 mod_perl/2.0.2 Perl/v5.8.8 Server at isfdb.tamu.edu Port 80

If the URL isn't there, why is it a link? Geoffrey.landis 14:27, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)

The Dup Candidates button is relatively new, but it has been working fine for me and other editors for the last couple of weeks. I just used it on Heinlein's biblio and got the expected results. What do you see when you click on this link? Ahasuerus 19:14, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Moderator Schedule Page?

I will be going to a place with virtually no internet and plenty of alligators in about 12 hours. With luck, I will return to what passes for civilization by Thursday. I will make a note of it on my User page, but I wonder if we could use a "Moderator Availability" matrix? It may help explain queue length spikes, submission approval delays, etc. Ahasuerus 15:21, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)

If the queue is long then the moderators are not around. I've been mulling over ways to allow for automated approval as most of the submissions are "safe" and can be approved with no research and the moderators exist to deal with submissions that could lead to data loss. My own schedule is iffy - I'm around but can't spend a lot of time on ISFDB meaning I'll check in from time to time and deal with the queue as best as possible. Marc Kupper (talk) 13:06, 26 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Nominating Bill Longley for moderatorship

Ref: Moderator Qualifications#Becoming a moderator for the nomination process.

Nomination statement

I nominate Bill Longley (talkcontribs1 and contribs2) for moderatorship; he has accepted the nomination. Bill has 1933 edits as "BLongley" and 147 edits as "BillLongley" (due to login issues at one point) to date. Based on my experience with his submissions, Bill has mastered the Novel/Collection side of the application, although, as he points out on his Talk page, he hasn't had much experience with Magazines as of yet. Most importantly, Bill has been a meticulous and careful editor, resolving outstanding issues in a patient, methodical and amiable fashion -- see his Talk page. Ahasuerus 19:01, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Support

  1. Support, as nominator. Ahasuerus 19:01, 24 Mar 2007 (CDT)
  2. Support, has done lots of quality edits, is good at resolving issues and is responsive on his talk page. --Unapersson 03:26, 25 Mar 2007 (CDT)
  3. Support. Mike Christie (talk) 07:54, 25 Mar 2007 (CDT)
  4. Support - the more (mods), the merrier (or at least faster, more robust etc.). --JVjr 11:52, 25 Mar 2007 (CDT)
  5. Support - Bill is a careful and thoughtful (and prolific) editor, and would make a swell moderator. (Scott Latham 15:07, 25 Mar 2007 (CDT))
  6. Support - Excellent! Marc Kupper (talk) 21:57, 25 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Oppose

Comments/Neutral

  1. Comments I seem to be doomed to more work. :-/ Does nobody want to test the "Oppose" option? I even have to test the "Comments/Neutral" myself, it seems! ;-) BLongley 16:15, 28 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Nomination closed. I have promoted BLongley to moderator per the consensus. Mike Christie (talk) 22:31, 29 Mar 2007 (CDT)

OK, I've tried a few Moderatory things tonight, PLEASE DO let me know if I've done any damage. BLongley 16:03, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Rhondi (Vilott) Salsitz

"Pick a name, any name, no, don't show me it, just point it at the camera..." ;-) According to here this lady is Emily Drake, Anne Knight, Elizabeth Forrest, Charles Ingrid, Rhondi Vilott Salsitz, R.A.V. Salsitz, Rhondi Vilott and Rhondi Greening. And maybe a few more by the time I finish typing. This site confirms a few names. Does anyone here have a preference for a canonical name, or any decent biographical info? We've got at least five of her pseudonyms already, no biographical data, and my Clutes have let me down. Locus does suggest a birthdate of 1949, that's it. BLongley 14:16, 25 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Her real/canonical name is Rhondi_A._Vilott_Salsitz and she has a variety of pen names for the various genre she writes in. I've e-mailed her before and she responds back quickly meaning it should be easy enough to confirm details. Marc Kupper (talk) 21:47, 25 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Thanks Marc! It would have to be THAT one, it's the only one where ALL publications are questionable. :-/ (First five look as though they should be R. A. V. Salsitz, last might have a missing "The" in the title and an extra "A." in her name.) I'll dump the references I've found into biblio notes, verify the one pub I've got, create the OTHER variant name, and AVOID this one, I think. I only have the book because of a former Unicorn-loving girlfriend... Still, I found the "About the Author" page before I threw it on the "To be disposed of" pile. BLongley 14:16, 26 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Oh, by the way - WHICH email works? And did you find out what the "A." is for? BLongley 17:47, 26 Mar 2007 (CDT)
I used the contact that's on http://www.magickers.com/ and she e-mailed me back from that e-mail. I wondered what the "A." stood for but assumed it's her personal business and never asked about it. Marc Kupper (talk) 14:16, 27 Mar 2007 (CDT)
OK - I thought a DOB question might be more personal (never ask a lady her age!), and I don't add email addresses anywhere without (sometimes presumed) permission, so don't really want to pursue it over a publication I'm not going to keep. (Nothing wrong with the book, just not my cup of tea.) Google shows people have discussed Pseudonyms here before, with her as a great example: we're not going to keep the questions secret anyway, so maybe the simplest thing to do is ask her to do her own biography - and maybe the bibliography? :-) BLongley 16:10, 27 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Unknown by Unknown

Moderators - how do you think this record was constructed?

480141 MakeVariant submitter: unknown, title: unknown
  • [1] shows
    • Proposed Make Variant Submission
    • Submitted by: unknown
    • HOLD Approve

This may be related to that at the very top of the moderator table it says

parse error on: Rudam Filomena & Greg & Rikki-Tikki & Barlow & the Alien 98529 57714

A title search for "Rikki-Tikki" finds

  • 187386 Filomena & Greg & Rikki-Tikki & Barlow & the Alien by James Tiptree, Jr.
  • 98529 Filomena & Greg & Rikki-Tikki & Barlow & the Alien by James Tiptree, Jr.

Marc Kupper (talk) 12:55, 28 Mar 2007 (CDT)

I'd guess this title was involved too... "Make Variant" of an already variant maybe? BLongley 15:58, 28 Mar 2007 (CDT)
I submitted a merge of 187386 and 98529 - that looked fine on the moderator page and they have been merged. I agree that it's likely it involves 57714. Hopefully Rudam will remember what he was trying to do. Making a variant where one already exists is handled well by ISFDB. Marc Kupper (talk) 17:16, 28 Mar 2007 (CDT)

First, there's a mod tool that will help you look at the XML data to help debug situations like this. If you change the URL from:

   http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/mod/kv_new.cgi?480141

to:

   http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/mod/dumpxml.cgi?480141

it will show the XML data as it appears in the database, without trying to parse the XML. In this particular case it was the Tiptree title above, but the ampersands in the subject line were not escaped. This caused an XML exception, which was "gracefully" caught and the app then exited.

I've repaired the record, and updated submitmkvar1.cgi and submitmkpseudo.cgi (which also failed to perform an XML escape). Alvonruff 08:06, 1 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Thank you very much Al! Marc Kupper (talk) 22:15, 1 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I just came across another way of generating these. I submitted a title update to link to the Wikipedia entry for "The Monkey's Paw", and got a Python error. "Aha, that apostrophe breaks things. Fair enough", I thought, "Let's try escaping that part of the URL manually". So I entered an "&apost;" instead and submitted it. That's when I got an Unknown by Unknown in the submission queue. Now you may have already spotted what I did wrong there - it's "'" not "&apost;" - but the error isn't particularly obvious even when looking at the xml dump, so watch out for it. BLongley 13:56, 12 May 2007 (CDT)

Another Strange Submission

Here's another odd one. The submission says

  • 481981 ON HOLD (Marc Kupper) MakePseudonym 2007-03-28 21:43:45 Kraang C. Gross
Proposed Make Pseudonym Submission
Pseudonym [Record #74271] Parent Author [Record #141422]
C. Gross
Submitted by: unknown
HOLD Approve

I'm assuming Kraang submitted a Make Pseudonym with a parent # of 141422 and that the code did not validate it but let's see if Al can figure out the XML blob. Marc Kupper (talk) 22:26, 28 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Marc I had a look and the title # is right the authors name is Charles Gross. Did my submitter ID not turnup? Also a couple of times i've gotten a different edit page, giant logo, different format, these edits seem to vanish. Is this the monitors page?Kraang 20:35, 29 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Kraang, the list of new submissions has a summary view and you click on a record to see the details. With your submissions the summary looks ok but the details page is a mess. When an editor creates a submission it's packaged into something we call an XML blob. There's code on the editor's side to create the blob and code on the moderator's side to decode and display it. For two recent transactions something went wrong and either the blob has an invalid format or the decoder code is not set up to recognize something in the blob. Once Al gets back he can inspect the blobs and determine what needs to get fixed.
The giant logo and different format is related to an intermittent error where the web server is not delivering the biblio.css file. This is the style sheet that tells how the ISFDB web page should look and when it's missing the results can be disconcerting. I'm not sure if something is going wrong with the server or if it's a software fault but I have been seeing a number of malformed submissions lately. There will be title merges where one of the titles is missing, the blown up submissions that are listed here, and some other strangeness. Marc Kupper (talk) 22:15, 29 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Using the handy-dandy XML dump shows
<MakePseudonym>
<Submitter>Kraang</Submitter>
<Subject>C. Gross</Subject>
<Record>74271</Record>
<Parent>141422</Parent>
</MakePseudonym>
The XML looks ok other than the Parent record # is far out of range and caused the moderator display-details page to show a white blank for the Parent Author name instead of the usual green background and for the submitter name to be displayed as "unknown". I did a "Make This Author a Pseudonym" using Charles Gross as the parent name. The resulting blob is
<MakePseudonym>
<Submitter>Marc Kupper</Submitter>
<Subject>C. Gross</Subject>
<Record>74271</Record>
<Parent>26554</Parent>
</MakePseudonym>
That displays ok and I approved it. I then did a second "Make This Author a Pseudonym" with a Parent # of 141422 and was able to replicate Kraang's sbumission and the resulting detail-display. Kraang, I'll assume you entered Charles Gross and that something blew up badly in the author record # lookup. Marc Kupper (talk) 22:34, 1 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Hayford Peirce novel, The Spark of Life, in Russian

Hi! A while ago, when I first started inputting some info here, I made a clumsy attempt to put in the Russian edition of Napoleon Disentimed. Someone almost instantly corrected my fonts with the correct Russian info and cyrillic fonts. So there is apparently some Russian database that some of the members of this project can tap into. I've just remembered that just about 2 years ago I got a $400 check from Wildside for a Russian edition of my novel The Spark of Life. I wonder if there's any way anyone here can dig up any info on the Russian edition? Aside from banking their sale money, I doubt if Wildside knows anything more about it.... Thanks for any help you can offer! Best, Hayford Peirce 19:04, 29 Mar 2007 (CDT)

I think they looked the book up on http://www.sigla.ru - I did a search for Искра (Spark) by Peirce, Hayford and found
Author: Ремарк, Эрих Мария (I assume this is the translator)
Title: Искра жизни : Роман / Эрих Мария Ремарк; Пер. с нем. В.Котелкина
Imprint: Москва; Харьков : АСТ; Фолио, 1998
Marc Kupper (talk) 03:11, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
ps - I just looked up the English pub and it's a 2001 book meaning that's another "Spark of Life" by someone else.
There's a Russian edition of Napoleon Disentimed but I can't find a Spark of Life that's yours.
Small world - I just went to http://www.wildsidepress.com and they are featuring an SF anthology I noticed in the library the other day. Marc Kupper (talk) 03:49, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Sorry, but the Author is Erich Maria Remarque :-) and the Title is his Spark of Life; the translator (V. Kotelkin or possibly Kotelkina - I'm not sure whether this is female nominative or male genitive they seem to use often in listing translations) is listed at the end of that line.
In this case the translator's name is "V. Kotelkin". The reason that the posted record uses the genitive form is that "Пер. с нем. В.Котелкина" stands for "Tr.[anslated] from Ger.[man] [by] V. Kotelkin". Although irritating, this form of attribution is reasonably unambiguous. Things would be much worse if they used "Пер. В.Котелкина", which could stand for either "Tr.[anslator] V. Kotelkina" or "Tr.[anslated by] V. Kotelkin". I am sure we will run into these issues at some point :( Ahasuerus 13:55, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
My Russian is weak and I have no experience in using Sigla (which is also rather slow currently); looking up Hayford Peirce as author seems to give only results outside Russia. Googling gave me the Cyrillic transcription of the name (Хейфорд Пирс) as well as an older (? the website itself seems continuously updated) bibliography of translations (http://bibliograph.ru/Biblio/P/PeirceH/PEIRCE.html ) but there is no page with the name and the Russian word for "spark" (the first one in the Title above); cutting the first name to the initial gets just static from Pierce Brosnan :-) There are many bookseller websites listing Napoleon Disentimed (Наполеон вне времени), but it's always just that one book.
So I'd say that if there was a recent translation of The Spark of Life, it was quite well-hidden. For deeper digging, I'm afraid we'll have to rely on Ahasuerus, or ask elsewhere. --JVjr 05:49, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Unfortunately, the Russian language bibliographies that we link to are not indexed by author, so this kind of research can be rather time consuming. Ironically, Sigla.ru, even though it is based in Moscow, is better at finding English language records since it doesn't have to worry about transliterations, competing encodings, etc. As free implementations of Z39.50 go, it's not bad, but it has its share of bugs and suboptimal design decisions. To get full blown Z39.50 search capabilities -- which we may want to at some point -- we will have to buy Bookwhere or write our own search engine. Ahasuerus 13:55, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Many thanks, guys, for all the work you've put into this! Sorry that it turned out to be so inconclusive. The easy explanation is that the book hasn't yet been published in Russian. Which seems strange to me, since they *did* pay me that money a little over two years ago. I know from bitter experience how strange the publishing world can be, particularly the delays in publication, but *most* American authors are complaining about how their novels are being published in Russia *without* permission and/or payment, and here I am complaining that they've paid me but haven't published the book.... Thanks again! Hayford Peirce 11:29, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
A cursory review of the same sources that Jan used suggests that the book is yet to be published by a major Russian language publisher, although it's possible that some semi-pro folks did it as a side project. All I see is Napoleon Disentimed and a couple of stories published in the SF/F magazine Esli (If) in 1997-1998. Ahasuerus 13:55, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Thanks for the additional info. The shorts were obviously rip-offs, since I knew nothing about them until just now. SFWA published a list of ripped-off authors a couple of years ago and I looked for myself there but didn't see any mention. Oh, well, life is too short to try running down 50 ruples from some (probably) vanished Russian crooks.... Hayford Peirce 16:45, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Oh, they are still around and remain the 800 lb gorilla of Russian magazine SF. I don't think there would be any harm in asking them about their June 1997 and June 1998 issues. The former contains "Ekspress Rudnyj Shar", i.e. The Ore-Ball Express (pp. 3-24, tr. Arkady Kabalkin) and the latter contains the mysteriously named "Posrednik" ("Intermediary", pp. 93-139), which was a collaboration with David (M.) Alexander, so it is either Best of Breed or Finder's Fee. Click on the 06/98 cover and you'll see that the two of you were the main attraction :)
There has been a concerted (and intermittently successful) US/EU effort to clean up copyright messes in China, Russia, SE Asia and a few other places over the last decade, which has apparently had some effect on the Russian book market. Esli's e-mail address is info@esli.ru -- let us know how it goes if you decide to give it a shot :) Ahasuerus 23:23, 30 Mar 2007 (CDT)
Gazillions of thanks for all this info! I'll talk it over with Dave Alexander, who, fortunately for me, in his day job is a 100% certified lawyer. I can probably sweet-talk him into handling this issue for both of us. I'll keep you posted on what happens.... Thanks again! Hayford Peirce 11:31, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT)

Nominating Michael Hutchins for moderatorship

Ref: (http://isfdb.tamu.edu/wiki/index.php/Moderator_Qualifications#Becoming_a_moderator) for the nomination process.

Nomination statement

I nominate Michael Hutchins (http://isfdb.tamu.edu/wiki/index.php/User_talk:Mhhutchins) for moderatorship; he has accepted the nomination. Michael has more than 2,000 edits (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/topcontrib.cgi) as "Mhhutchins" to date. Based on my experience with his submissions, Michael has mastered both the Novel/Collection side of the application and the Magazine side, including fanmags, often the most difficult to do. His strong suit is his attention to detail, and drive to ensure that absolutely all of the contents of a publication is entered. Michael has been a meticulously careful editor, resolves issues in a patient, methodical and friendly fashion, and in my experience, never makes the same mistake twice. (Scott Latham 12:55, 2 Apr 2007 (CDT))

Support

  1. Support, as nominator. (Scott Latham 12:55, 2 Apr 2007 (CDT))
  2. Support. Yes, please, before I go cross-eyed approving his edits :) Ahasuerus 13:08, 2 Apr 2007 (CDT)
  3. Support. Lots of quality edits, and is responsive on his talk page. BLongley 13:22, 2 Apr 2007 (CDT)
  4. Support per nom. Mike Christie (talk) 17:24, 2 Apr 2007 (CDT)
  5. Support Yes, please add Michael asap. I'm also thinking we need to make sure to revisit the idea of color coding moderator submitted entries (assuming we ever get the free time to do this...). Marc Kupper (talk) 21:51, 2 Apr 2007 (CDT)
  6. Support Throwing my hat in the ring late, but a definite yes from my point of view. --Unapersson 14:38, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Oppose


Comments/Neutral


Nomination closed. I have promoted Mhhutchins to moderator per the consensus. Mike Christie (talk) 15:02, 7 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Simon Raven

Raven was well-known in England as a semi-comic, semi-satiric novelist and man of letters more or less in the tradition of Evelyn Waugh. Apparently totally unknown in the States, however.

According to the OCLC catalog, there were some American reprints in the 1960s-1980s, but he is not exactly a household name on this side of the pond. If he is anything like Waugh, though, I may give him a try some day :) Ahasuerus 00:35, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)

He wrote a number of novels that have apparently supernatural elements, most of which are eventually explained as being non-SF, although sometimes the explanations are more ridiculous than the SF element. I used to read him and reread him but haven't for a number of years now. Does anyone here know anything about him? I still have many of his books, including his 10-book series "Alms for Oblivion". If you think it's worthwhile, I could probably try to start rereading him for the umpteenth time with an eye to entering any pertinent info in the database. (He is in the database, but only with a single short story.) Hayford Peirce 22:33, 4 Apr 2007 (CDT)

When you say that "most are eventually explained as being non-SF", are we talking about effectively 100% along the lines of Scooby-Doo's "Oh, look, a ghost! Er, never mind, it's just another crook..."? Or is there some SF residue left at the end of some stories? If it's the latter, then we can certainly catalog the series, but if it's the former, then it will probably remain unlisted along with other "faux specfic" books. But please don't let this stop you from re-reading the series :) Ahasuerus 00:35, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)
My recollection is that most of them turn out to be John Dickson Carr thingees -- the apparent vampire really isn't. But a *couple* of times there may be actual supernatural stuff that isn't explained away, particularly in a couple of books that don't belong to the "Alms for Oblivion" series. I guess I'll just have to start rereading them when I have a (long) moment. Anything that fits the SF criteria I'll put in.Hayford Peirce 13:20, 7 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Nominating JVjr for moderatorship

Ref: Becoming a moderator for the nomination process.

Nomination statement

I nominate JVjr (talkcontribs) for moderatorship; he has accepted the nomination. JV has over 2,400 edits to date, and has been involved in the project since early November of 2006: here's his first edit on the wiki. I haven't moderated all that many of his submissions myself, but what I've seen has been reliable work, and I am confident he can moderate his own submissions -- no small consideration given how prolific he is. He is also a thorough communicator, and I believe he would be effective at working with other editors to resolve any issues that come up in his moderation. Mike Christie (talk) 12:58, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Support

  1. Support, as nominator. Mike Christie (talk) 12:58, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)
  2. Support. I have seen quite a few of his edits, and they're good quality and often in complex areas. --Unapersson 14:23, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)
  3. Support Prolific and wide-ranging, he should join the general fun! (Scott Latham 15:15, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT))
  4. Support Suits me fine - he's obviously got his head screwed on the right way, judging by recent conversations. He can do the Magazine Submissions I daren't touch. ;-) BLongley 15:23, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)
  5. Support but only if Jan promises to keep his sentences under 30 words when responding to editors :-) Ahasuerus 15:28, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Careful - he might make the words longer to construct shorter sentences! And one would conjecture that we are collectively unanimous in eschewing polysyllabic verbiage? ;-) BLongley 17:20, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)
  1. Support Marc Kupper (talk) (testing brevity) 00:35, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Oppose

Comments/Neutral

Actually, I don't dare touch magazines either - or at least I don't have reasons to do it much. I'm not a magazine collector, and magazines aren't prone to glaring duplicities of either titles or publications, which is what I concentrate upon. (Well, except that most issues of Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine have an entry both as a magazine and anthology, see Kristine_Kathryn_Rusch. What to do with that?) But I gather it's not that different from anthologies, if one steers away from EDITOR entries.

Ahasuerus: Willco! Or at least try, that is, unless something happens that would prevent me from it, I can't guarantee anything, I have this problem you see... I guess. Using the period more often. Is the way. No matter whether I feel. A comma or at most semicolon would be much better. Stylistically and logically. "I'm a living stream of consciousness," Škvorecký puts it in The Engineer in Human Souls. --JVjr 18:53, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Is there a process for double support? :-) Here is a second potential moderator willing to challenge the conventions of the moderation nomination process! (Which so far have been "find a victim, gang up on him with multiple supports from the overworked, throw him into ISFDB Moderator slavery") ;-)
Seriously, I think this is another plus point. We're not trying to find slave-masters or nit-pickers to reject stuff: we're trying to find people that will do their best at what they know best, question the undefined or unfindable, and leave the rest alone (IMO). A good sense of humour helps. BLongley 19:23, 5 Apr 2007 (CDT)


Nomination closed. I have promoted JVjr to moderator per the consensus. Mike Christie (talk) 14:41, 10 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Community Portal overload?

The other day we had about 35 substantive (and 5 cosmetic) Community Portal edits over a 24 hour period. Given the limitations of the Wiki technology, is it getting hard to keep track of the changes? Is the model approaching a breaking point? Do we need to consider moving some of the discussions to a different Wiki page the way we did requests for verifications earlier? Do we need a real message board for general discussions? How many of us would have technical problems with our backup Google board? Ahasuerus 03:06, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)

I'd strongly prefer to keep to the Wiki approach, but I agree the CP is getting overloaded. I think a moderator noticeboard, as someone suggested a while back, would be a good idea. Suppose we have the following topics:
  • Verification requests
  • Moderator noticeboard
  • Rules and standards discussions
  • Help desk
  • Community portal
The first one is already well-defined. The second would be where an editor needs to get the attention of a moderator for any reason; or also for discussions about moderator issues, though of course the debate is open to everyone. The third would be for discussions such as the regularization debate. The fourth would be "How do I do X?" in any form; the last would be whatever's left over.
If we adopt some such approach, I think one thing necessary to make it work is for us all to remove sections in the wrong place and move them to the right place, leaving a note on the editor's talk page about where they've been moved to, and possibly also a link under the edited section here, though that would clutter the page. That would get people in the habit of going to multiple places, and using the watchlist and recent changes list.
I think we have to remember that the number of edits isn't going to go down; all we can do is organize them better. The wiki system does have organizational approaches we can use -- we just have to implement them and stick to the rules.
If we like this approach, let's go ahead and create these pages and move any discussions from here that appear to be active over to those pages. We'd also need to expand the note at the top saying "You may also want one of these pages". Mike Christie (talk) 08:39, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I think that Mike's approach makes sense and that we should implement it ASAP. (Scott Latham 11:50, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT))
The main problem I have with this approach is that it pretty much forces everyone (editors and moderators) to continuously check multiple pages for potential updates (possibly in the middle of the page and even in the middle of a thread) or to be looking at the Special:Recentchanges which includes a lot of noise as it shows all edits. I barely have time for ISFDB these days meaning I'll just pick up stuff at random and will ignore the rest. As it is - I've been thinking of a way to link from the moderator queue directly to a user talk message because right now when I put something on hold I need to remember to recheck from time to time to see if I've gotten feedback and can clear the item from the queue. The wiki-talk model adds a significant amount of overhead compared things like e-mail message boards. Marc Kupper (talk) 13:08, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I understand the objection, and it's a real problem, but I think the alternative is worse. The email approach can't be used for building/refining pages such as the help templates, so we'd have to monitor two places instead of one. I agree Recent Changes is noisy -- that's a good sign, of course; it means we're getting busier. The standard Wiki approach to filtering noise is to use the watchlist, and I believe that would be an improvement.
If a consensus does develop that the pages I've outlined are the right way to go, I volunteer to set them up and move the relevant CP sections to those pages. If the consensus goes in the other direction, I think we already have a Google group set up that we can use. Mike Christie (talk) 14:27, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I'm pretty much against the Google approach, I have enough tabs open that another place to check would be a hassle. I'd reorder the suggested categories though: possibly this order so that new people don't get put off by the difficulties, can have fun comparing biggest edits/silliest titles or whatever, do some simple work, learn when NOT to bother a mod, and can help change entire policies. I wouldn't close any of them off to anybody: but we're getting to the stage where the fun side is looking like a burden on people reading CP for serious matters, and we're going nowhere on important policy decisions.
*Help desk
*Community portal
*Verification requests
*Moderator noticeboard
*Rules and standards discussions
BLongley 19:43, 7 Apr 2007 (CDT)
As usual, Bill's suggestion makes sense and I support it. I certainly could have used the Help Desk and Moderator Noticeboard when I was a rooky editor...(Scott Latham 20:15, 8 Apr 2007 (CDT))

Possible Wiki Bug?

Not sure if this is a bug or not, but if I use the "Edit" tab at the top of a page, either a Talk page, or the Community Portal, when I submit the page, I'm automatically Logged Out. I don't remember this happening before yesterday, but I really didn't use either of these that much before then either, so may just not have noticed. CoachPaul 08:22, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Yup. I noticed it myself when I was new here, and deduced the problem is this: There are 3 different domains for ISFDB (which every SEO consultant will tell you is A Bad Thing, but let's leave that to some other time): www.isfdb.org, isfdb.org and isfdb.tamu.edu; the same holds for its /wiki/ directory. Apparently ISFDB itself remembers one is logged-in no matter which domain you access; but not the wiki. (This seems to be rather a bug deep in MediaWiki program than something Al von Ruff could cure - I had a similar problem at an istallation elsewhere at a domain which also could be accessed with or without the "www.") The links to wiki from the ISFDB are always absolute to isfdb.tamu.edu/wiki/ even if your are on the .org domains; what's more, after you save a page in the wiki, you end up at tamu.edu even if you were at the other domains - and as I've explained first, you aren't logged-in there. I am not a CS expert, so I just guess this may be both an inherent problem of MediaWiki or ISFDB's DNS setting that could in principle be changed.
However, easiest, fastest and surest once-for-all solution/workaround is just this: go to http://isfdb.tamu.edu/wiki/index.php/Special:Userlogin , log in permanently and this won't happen to you anymore. I admit it is a kind of quick-and-dirty kludge and not an ideologically pure Solution that finds and destroys the root of evil forever, so my inner hacker isn't very happy, but hey, this is an imperfect world and we have very limited resources. If all ISFDB bugs could be bypassed this easily, I'd be... well, at least not terribly discontent. --JVjr 11:25, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Thank you very much for that explanation. Most of the time I never get into a mode where ISFDB asks me to log in again but from time to time it'll pop-up at random when I am on a user page and hit --edit--. Next time it happens I'll have to pay attention and see if the domain is changing. Marc Kupper (talk) 12:34, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Perry Rhodan

Can't seem to find any entries for this series of over 100 publications. The author listed for the 2 I have in hand is Kurt Brand who I also can't find in the db. The series seems to be part anthology, part magazine. Can anybody point me to some previous entries so I can find an example of what to select from these to enter? Thx, rbh 22:26, 7 Apr 2007 (CDT)

I don't see anything Rhodanesque in the database either, which is somewhat surprising given the number of issues. There is a fairly comprehensive history of the English language version on Wikipedia, which explains some of its quirks. I have the first 118+5 volumes in my collection, but, as usual, my access to it sporadic at best, so if anybody else wants to enter the magazine, please go ahead. I can later cross-check the results and fill any lacunae. Ahasuerus 23:17, 7 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Book blurbs/synopsis - what are the restrictions?

Ahasuerus had written the following to an editor:

I see that the synopsis that you proposed for "All Encompassing Trip" is also on Amazon.com, which doesn't credit it. Would you happen to know whether it comes from the publisher's and/or author's description/blurb? If it does, then we can use it, but if it's something that was written by a reviewer, then we would need to get permission to quote it or, better yet, write our own synopsis :) Ahasuerus 13:03, 6 Apr 2007 (CDT)

ISFDB uses the Creative_Commons_License and so I had been wondering what the rules were in terms of entering book blurbs or a synopsis found in a book or at an author or publisher's web site. I personally tend to excerpt a very small part of the blurb (under fair-use) and to give the source of where I found it where the main thing that enters my mind at the time is if the blurb is available in multiple locations if there's a clean way to indicate the multiple sources. Right now there's no way for someone to come long and say "the same text is over here too." That aside - what are the rules should someone want to enter or copy/paste the entire blurb found in a book? I've done it in the past for FantasticFiction but there I'd source it (usually with the comment "from the back cover") but also know that site is copyrighted meaning someone then copy/pasting text could run into a legal issue where ISFDB is Creative Commons which places far fewer restrictions on what people can copy/use from this site. I guess the question is - when authors or publishers write a blurb or synopsis about/of a book is it implicitly in the "public domain" and thus available for copy/paste into ISFDB? I know that Google for pretty much any blurb for a common book will find multiple copies on the web but I don't think that's permissions to just start copy/pasting them. Marc Kupper (talk) 13:45, 8 Apr 2007 (CDT)

I don't know whether copying a blurb verbatim is a copyright violation (typically I just copy a few lines), but as an FYI, the Library of Congress has an impressive online collection of descriptions provided by publishers. I am not sure how stable the URLs are, but here is one example that I linked on Usenet a few weeks ago. Ahasuerus 01:22, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Help desk and moderator noticeboard

Bill and Scott commented above that they would like to see additional pages created to address the overload problem. Marc demurred. I think this is a step that, as Marc points out, moves us irrevocably down the Wiki path to communication, and makes the alternatives less likely. I'd really like to get a consensus here before we take this step. I'd like to hear from the editors (moderators and otherwise) who use this page whether they feel this is the right step. And Marc, please comment again; if you're still opposed, let's see if you can convince us you have a better idea. I'd like to get at least a couple more editors in agreement before we make this change. Mike Christie (talk) 20:54, 8 Apr 2007 (CDT)

I won't hammer, but we need more, and more identifiable, spaces to deal with the editorate. (Scott Latham 21:46, 8 Apr 2007 (CDT))
Let's see if we can list the pluses and minuses of Google Groups. Pluses:
  • Full support of multiple threads allows faster filtering and processing of information
  • A single forum to monitor as opposed to multiple Wiki pages
  • Supports e-mail notifications as a secondary communication mechanism in addition to the regular board view
Minuses:
  • A learning curve for editors who are not familiar with Google Groups
  • Fragments the discussion space
  • Makes it harder to link to users' Talk pages and other Wiki pages
  • Doesn't support various Wiki notations and conventions
Does this about sum it up or am I missing something?
Personally, I don't have strong opinions one way or the other since either option would be better than what we currently have. Perhaps the Wiki-based approach is preferable simply because it's less radical and easier to implement. If we find that it's not working for some reason, we can always move our discussions (or some parts thereof) to Google Groups or other places. Ahasuerus 23:38, 8 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Either way will work for me for the fairly little traffic we have at the moment. I do agree that it's a huge help that with the wiki we have templates that allow for linking to ISFDB, user pages, other wiki pages, etc. What I do find happening is I will loose track of wiki discussions as they quickly get pushed up the page meaning I'm regularly re-scanning the text looking for updates. With Google groups it's only one line per thread (the subject line) and maybe one line per message and not an entire screen full per page meaning a lot more can be kept on the radar.
I'll look around to see if there's some sort of message board view for wiki or maybe I'll code one. What it would do is monitor a wiki page and as changes are made create a view that looks like a message board or e-mail in-box that lists the thread subject, who made the last edit, when, and maybe a preview that shows the whole thread but with the new stuff highlighted. Marc Kupper (talk) 00:22, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Well, on the basis of these responses I'll go ahead and create two or three additional pages this evening (most likely) and move the CP sections into the appropriate pages. I'll put a note at the top of the CP explaining the changes. I'll also create archives; material that has been dealt with on help or noticeboard pages should be archived fairly quickly. (It would be nice if we could use something like this bot to auto-archive article talk pages.) When I'm done I'll post another explanatory note here. Mike Christie (talk) 09:45, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)
One question about Google Groups: does email address have to be shown? Even in the, for example 'ahasue...@email.com' shortened form? I once solved my SPAM problem by making sure I created and gave out unique email addresses to anyone only semi-trustworthy that demanded one, e.g. Amex could contact me at Amex@mydomain.org.uk but if they abused it or sold it on I'd redirect that name to spam@uce.gov or some other bit-bucket. After a few rediverts like that, my spam stopped entirely: even though anything on an unknown email@mydomain.org.uk would get through to me. And sure enough, when I appeared on Google Groups someone tried spamming the shortened version of my name and the "..." obfuscation actually let it through! It's not too much of a problem for me now (another redivert, 420 or so left to go) but it could be a problem for someone that runs their domain directly. BLongley 15:00, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Doctor Who and the ISFDB

I thought I'd have a go at verifying some of these, but the search was severely broken - Python errors after a certain number of pubs were listed. I checked the last pub before the breakdown, and could usually fix these by adding the missing details (i.e. pretty much everything!) so now you can search for "Doctor Who and the Cybermen" and avoid the search problems. However, that title still doesn't look right (fewer entries than expected) and I'm worried I may have corrupted something. Or that there were corrupted somethings that I fixed, but not in the way I expected. I think we break down at "Doctor Who and the ?" stage with tag problems, so there's probably lots of other examples to play with. I just think I may have played too much. :-( I shall now go to bed with no supper and let the experienced mods tell me where I went wrong. BLongley 18:14, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)

OK, it seems we can search for "Doctor Who and the A", "Doctor Who and the B", "Doctor Who and the C", but currently "Doctor Who and the D" gives you the Python error still. BLongley 18:23, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Hm, I am able to search on "Doctor Who and the D", "...E", etc just fine. I wonder if you tried it while Al was rearranging the furniture behind the curtain? Ahasuerus 20:07, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)
It's only the advanced pub search that breaks, sorry, I should have been clearer. I'm really puzzled by this. For the Cybermen problem, it appeared to be pub records 136531, 136701 and 137051 in error: from the last backup, all fields bar pub_id and pub_title are NULL. Putting some values in fixed them so they at least appear in the search now, but obviously with so little info they're not worth keeping. I suspect my backup is too out of date now as ALL the 'Daemons' title look wrong in the backup but fine here - until you try the advanced search. :-/ BLongley 08:40, 10 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Oh, you used the bottom third of the Advanced Search form to search for Publication records! Sorry, that part of the search logic has been mostly broken ever since the ISFDB1-to-ISFDB2 conversion -- see Open Display Bugs 20002, 20007, etc. Ahasuerus 12:30, 10 Apr 2007 (CDT)
This is the first time I've seen it break when ONLY using the pub title though. I've already learnt not to use it for anything else. :-/ BLongley 13:24, 10 Apr 2007 (CDT)
P.S. I am under the weather, so will be unlikely to do much moderating for a bit. It's a good thing we have found more moderators to sla^H^H^H help out. [smiles slyly] Ahasuerus 20:07, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)

New pages created

As you'll have seen if you've looked at the recent changes page tonight, I've created the new pages discussed above, and transferred community portal sections to them as seemed most appropriate. The new pages are:

Let's see how this works out over the next week or two. I would encourage everyone to be energetic about moving posts on the Community Portal to the appropriate subpage -- I'd rather err on the side of over enthusiasm here, in order to encourage use of the new pages. When you move a post, it's probably also polite to put a note on the talk page of the user who posted it, just so they know where it's gone. That's probably wise even if it's an experienced user -- don't worry about being rude by moving them; so long as you use a polite edit summary and leave a talk page note, you're working towards the right end.

The distinction between the rules and standards discussion and the help desk was occasionally a bit blurred. The rule I tried to establish in the definitions was that if you are dealing with data that already existed, but you aren't sure it's right, that's a Help Desk question. If you know what you want to do, but don't know how, that's also a Help Desk question. If you're dealing with a book in hand, and don't know the best way to enter it, that's a Rules and Standards question. Here's the actual text from the top of each page:

Moderator noticeboard: "This page is for when you are trying to get the attention of one or more moderators. Moderators are encouraged to keep this page on their watchlists."

Rules and standards discussion: "This page is for discussions about the rules and standards, such as whether certain kinds of publications belong in the ISFDB, or whether the help text defining capitalization should be modified. It also includes questions about interpretation, such as whether a SERIAL type can be used for sequences of short stories subsequently republished as a novel."

Help desk: "This page is for questions about how to do something, either in the ISFDB or the ISFDB Wiki. This includes both questions about how to do a specific task, and also more general questions about what should be done about particular situations where the information is clearly wrong and the solution is not obvious."

Please improve these as needed. Any other suggestions or comments, or complaints -- go ahead and post here . . . . Mike Christie (talk) 20:48, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Seems to be working OK so far: I was rather hoping that "Community Portal" would be left a bit more "social" than it currently appears though. :-/ One possible quick improvement is to move the Moderator Nominations to the Moderator Noticeboard: we've had a rush of new moderators recently and it might make it easier to spot who will be a little slower and dithery than other moderators (well, I am, not sure about the others!) BLongley 17:49, 12 Apr 2007 (CDT)
OK, another suggestion to get the "feel" of THIS forum right (IMO). Archive a lot of the dead chats and/or move the important ones elsewhere - e.g. I like the XML dump utility and want it easily available, but it shouldn't be kept here just because this is the only place I'll recall it having been seen! If I was more sober and ruthless (and clueful about HOW to move things safely), I'd make these changes:
1 How to change a story title in a publication’s contents    * Help desk
2 For Those Working On Fritz Leiber    * Archive
3 Leading spaces in author names    * Archive
4 Reference book up for adoption    * Archive
5 Pretty Site that may be of use    * Rules and standards discussions
6 Magazine entries duplicated after submitting data    * Moderator noticeboard
7 Wonder Story Annual 1951    * Archive
8 Error in Oldest Authors listing    * Archive
9 Does James Patterson write specfict?    * Help desk
10 still broken    * Archive
11 Moderator Schedule Page?    * Archive
12 Nominating Bill Longley for moderatorship    * Moderator noticeboard
13 Rhondi (Vilott) Salsitz    * Archive
14 Unknown by Unknown    * Moderator noticeboard
15 Another Strange Submission    * Moderator noticeboard
16 Hayford Peirce novel, The Spark of Life, in Russian    * Archive
17 Nominating Michael Hutchins for moderatorship    * Moderator noticeboard
18 Simon Raven    * Rules and standards discussions
19 Nominating JVjr for moderatorship    * Moderator noticeboard
20 Community Portal overload?
21 Possible Wiki Bug?    * Help desk
22 Perry Rhodan
23 Book blurbs/synopsis - what are the restrictions?    * Rules and standards discussions
24 Help desk and moderator noticeboard    * Moderator noticeboard
25 Doctor Who and the ISFDB    * Moderator noticeboard
26 New pages created
27 Author cleanup
My thinking is that THIS forum should still be fun while informative. All Mod-only talk should go away immediately. Keep the encouragement going: announce the end of clean-up projects, milestones on number of edits or verifications, or publications or titles or authors. Add relevant news: e.g. did this site go down for a while today as the news of Kurt Vonnegut's death overloaded the server? (Something did...) Let's make this a COMMUNITY again! BLongley 18:18, 12 Apr 2007 (CDT)
The breakdown looks reasonable and I will try to do something about it later today.
The "fun" component of the project has been admittedly somewhat lacking ever since we started beta. At least in my case, chaperoning 6,000+ submissions through the approval process (and that's not counting another couple of thousand changes that I had to make myself) has been rather time consuming. It's only now that we have more moderators that I have a little bit of time to spend on editing. Once the whole thing is running reasonably smoothly in a few months, we may have more time for levity :) Ahasuerus 20:16, 12 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Author cleanup

I see that some folks are diligently working on cleaning up Author records, a very laudable project. I have finally found the rudimentary Author name cleanup script that I wrote last year and posted it in the appropriate project area. Please feel free to post yours as well since it's arguably more important to develop tools that we can use over and over than to clean up individual author records.

P.S. Although my script was quickly thrown together using Perl, our preferred language is Python (I blame Al!), so we will probably want to migrate all scripts to Python at some point. Ahasuerus 22:17, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)

I've been doing a bit of work on Bradbury since I noticed so many things that needed fixing while working on "The Stories of Ray Bradbury", but I don't know squat about programming in Pearl, (make that Perl), or much any other computer language for that matter. Should I stop the cleanup, or continue on? CoachPaul 22:58, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Oh no, the "author cleanup" mentioned above is limited to just author names. For example, if we had:
  • a duplicate author record for Ray Bradbury, or
  • a record with two spaces between the first name and the last name, or
  • a record with a stray comma embedded somewhere
then they could be found programmatically. The kind of work you have been doing can't be easily automated, at least not until I finish my Artificial Intelligentsia project! Ahasuerus 23:08, 9 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I have asked a question that might fit in with this Author Clean-up in the new Help Desk section of the CP under the title of "Adventures in Tomorrow". CoachPaul 16:36, 10 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I ran a check of the outstanding questionable suffixes list, and since it was last updated we've fixed 28 and only have 34 left - well done all, let's blitz those last few! :-) And then someone can post the results of the latest scripts and see how much more work there is - but not just yet please? :-/ BLongley 17:09, 12 Apr 2007 (CDT)
OK, I tried the blitz myself. If I got them right, 28 fixes in just over 56 minutes. If not - well, I have annoyed a lot of Moderators, as I'm NOT approving them myself until I've slept. ;-) (In the mean-time, I DO recommend Wychwood "Green Goblin" cider - nothing to do with those Marvel comics that need blitzing occasionally.) BLongley 19:47, 12 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I processed these Author merges while Bill was recovering from the "Green Goblin incident" :) Most of them were fine, but in a couple of cases the proposed Author name already existed in the database, so we would have ended up with two Author records with the same Canonical name, which would confuse the software. I merged these Author record pairs instead.
Also, the Title/Publication records for these misspelled Autors were (not entirely surprisingly) often quite dirty and needed to be either deleted or rebuilt. That's why these data cleanup projects usually end up being more time consuming than originally planned... Ahasuerus 00:52, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I saw some author updates and wondered if it's ok to change the canonical name. I ran a test and was quite please to discover that when I changed the canonical name that it updated both my test title and test publication implying they were both linked to the same string. Marc Kupper (talk) 01:04, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)

(unindent) Yes, Title records and Publication records point to the same Author table, so if you change the canonical name in the Author table, it will affect all related Titles and Publications. However -- as an FYI for other editors since I am sure Marc knows this -- if you change the Author's name in a Title record, it won't affect any of the associated Publication records. They will need to be updated manually, a common follow-up task for moderators. Ahasuerus 01:20, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Merge Bibliographic Rules with ISFDB:Rules and standards discussions?

Should we merge Bibliographic Rules with ISFDB:Rules and standards discussions Seems like they're really the same thing -- this was an oversight on my part when I created the new page. If we want to merge, I like the latter name slightly better (perhaps without the "ISFDB:" at the front?) but will go with consensus. If we agree to do this, I'll move all the sections into the target and then create an archive to capture the merged history. Mike Christie (talk) 07:57, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Concur with the merger, would prefer without the leading "ISFDB:". (Scott Latham 12:12, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT))
Thirding the merge as per the discussion above. As far as the "ISFDB:" prefix goes, I seem to recall that it has a special meaning in the Wikiworld since it marks pages as associated with the main Wiki project, in our case "ISFDB". I am not sure whether it would make much difference in our case, though. Jan or Al may know more about the implications of using the prefix. Ahasuerus 15:51, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Verbing a number and Fourthing the merge. BLongley 17:07, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Unless someone wants to take the fifth, I'll merge -- but I'll wait a day or so or until I hear about the "ISFDB" prefix. There is an ISFDB namespace set up here, but I don't know what that does for us beyond allowing a separate search facility. We don't have a policy on what the namespaces are for, do we? Mike Christie (talk) 18:47, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)
As far as I'm concerned, the only reason for any namespace is to insure that autogenerated page links are unique. We use Author:Page_Name just to make sure it doesn't collide with Bio:Page_Name or Magazine:Page_Name (which is admitably unlikely, but there could be an author named Pandora which would match the magazine Pandora). Alvonruff 19:26, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Cover Art URLs

I've been trying to add art from Amazon where possible since I found out how, but now it seems I have to CORRECT it too. And I'm wondering whether there's an auto-population script messing things up? (Dissembler, I'm looking at YOU!) For instance this pub had this art which is fine for the Hard-Cover (which doesn't have any right now, will fix in a mo), but should have had this for the paperback. Can 1) someone remind me where I learnt how to do this, as help needs updating, and 2) check if the artwork is coming in skewed or if us humans are doing it? BLongley 18:37, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Since Dissembler is shy, I'll speak for it: I believe that dissembler does artwork okay, with the exception of books that don't have any artwork available. In that particular case, the URL amazon returns is bogus, and the result is a big blank rectangle of white. I know how to detect this, and will fix in the near future. There are cases (say forthcoming books that are greater than 4 months out) where the artwork is wrong on Amazon, so the resulting artwork will also be wrong in the ISFDB. Dissembler doesn't update images, so that would require human help.
I'm suspicious of the above image links, as valid image links at amazon are generally of the form:
   http://images.amazon.com/images/P/ISBN_GOES_HERE.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
So the image associated with the above book would be:
   http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0575074019.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
Which matches the paperback artwork. In this particular case, the book is a UK book, and Dissembler only does image links for US books, so it's pretty likely that one of those confounded humans did this. Alvonruff 19:18, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Pesky humans! Exterminate! Exterminate! (Sorry, been watching too much Doctor Who with Daleks in tonight...) OK: "images-eu.amazon" are human errors: Delete! Delete! (Sorry, been watching too much Doctor Who with Cybermen in tonight as well...) There's some useful, possibly stable URLs to be found, I think, but point me at where the advice came from as we seem to have to go up to .41. rather than .01. in the UK, and for those foreigners in Europe too, and that's a lot of checking... (I did a lot of .01. through .09. checking for another title, unfortunately I can't recall what for - but ISBN alone isn't enough to match a particular pub. BLongley 21:26, 13 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I'm getting quite addicted to this now. I can see some major advantages in, for instance, posting this rather than this - no way would you confuse the two different editions! And it seems Robert Rankin is trying to get as many coverart entries as titles, the way the reprints are looking.... ;-) BLongley 07:52, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Nice timing as I just added a feature request related to images at Feature:90144_Check_for_and_use_Amazon_images and then decided to check the community portal for traffic. In reading this thread I realize it's probably better to check using AWS as that would give the image URLs that have the correct .01. or .02. where Amazon seems to support multiple covers sharing the same ISBN. Marc Kupper (talk) 12:43, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Better way to list verification requests?

From reading the other ISFDB instruction pages, it sounds like the original idea was that verification requests and other issues would be noted and discussed on the individual titles'/publications' wiki pages. OTOH, most requests are getting posted to ISFDB:Verification requests instead (or before that, to the ISFDB:Community Portal). To me, it seems that posting a request on the publication's page is likely to get lost in the linkless vastness of the database (especially if it's for some little-known author or rare edition), and so having a single centralized spot for requests makes sense. But on the other hand, the verification requests page is starting to get cluttered, and in the long run, putting verification requests on the publication's or title's page seems like the right way to do things.

Thinking about this, I realized that the mediawiki Template or Category, what-links-here, and transclusion features could maybe combine to provide the best of both worlds. We could move all verification requests to their subjects' pages, and include either a "verification request" template or a "Category:Verification Requests" category on each one. The existing verification requests page could remain, for general discussion or for requests that don't fit well on a different page, and it could have a link to either the "what links here" page for the template, or to the "list of pages in this category" page for the category.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be possible to transclude either of those special pages into the general verification-requests page— that would be ideal, IMHO.

So, I'd like to propose moving verification requests to their separate pages. What do people think about this idea? And is there an advantage to using templates vs. categories for this purpose? Or should we use both: Wikipedia's Candidates for Deletion template includes code to place the candidate page in the CfD category, for example.

WimLewis 19:09, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)

One thing that we probably need to do sooner rather than later is to create an Archvie section for answered Verification requests, which should help with clutter. Another thing that comes to mind is that we can set a time limit on unanswered Verification requests, say, 2-4 weeks. If no answer is forthcoming, we would then move the question to the Publication's Wiki page. Does it sound like a reasonable compromise? Ahasuerus 22:25, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Hm. I think that verification requests that turn out to be entry errors can simply be deleted once the database is corrected (I can't think of a reason anyone would need to refer back to them, and the conversation will still be recorded in the wiki history, after all). Verification requests that leave the odd-looking entry in the database should result in a Note attached to the entry, explaining the situation. I've been leaving my requests in place on the page partly so I have somewhere to put the "thanks for looking it up!" acknowledgement, but I should probably go and tidy them up. --WimLewis 04:17, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Re the compromise, that seems reasonable to me (of course I haven't been around here all that long) though I wonder if you see some problem with going full-steam-ahead, or just want to get started de-cluttering the page? Anyway, unless someone objects, in a few days I'll try moving the older verification requests to separate pages, and maybe I'll try putting my own new requests on separate pages as well to see how well that works out. --WimLewis 21:27, 16 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Actually, I kind of like the category approach, because it means that you simultaneously get to see the request in two places -- a central list and at each publication page. I think what you'd really want, though, is transclusion of each pub page request into a central location; kind of like the way AfD works on Wikipedia. That might be too much trouble. Mike Christie (talk) 21:34, 16 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Michael Gilbert heads-up

Oh, my, there is *real* confusion at the Michael Gilbert page. A non-genre novel is shown there, "The Body of a Girl". The trouble is that *that* Michael Gilbert was a veddy veddy distinguished English mystery writer who was *not* born in 1947 -- his actual dates are 1912-2006. He was enormously prolific for 50 years but I'm pretty sure that he never wrote anything remotely SF. Apparently there's a SF Michael Gilbert as well that I've never heard of.... Hayford Peirce 21:24, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Yup, we have had a few cases like that, most notably the UK SF writer Dominic Green, who is not to be confused with the UK writer/musician Dominic Green (born 3 years later).
In this case, I am looking at our Michael Gilbert bibliography and wondering if all of the short fiction pieces that we currently list belong to the 1912-2006/mystery Michael Gilbert. They were all originally published in some kind of mystery magazine/book and "our", i.e. SF, Michael Gilbert appears to have been an artist and not a writer. Ahasuerus 21:47, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I think you're almost certainly right that the 4 short stories listed are by the 1912-2006 writer: they are all in mystery anthologies of the sort that would include a Gilbert story. I have 3 or 4 non-series Gilbert collections of short stories and I'll check tomorrow to see if any of these four are included. But like other Brits, such as Michael Innes, he wrote dozens and dozens of shorts that were published in newspapers and magazines and that were never collected. I've always wondered how these guys generated their ideas -- and then developed the talent to, apparently, knock off a weekly story in an hour or so while they held down their *real* jobs AND wrote an annual novel or two.... Hayford Peirce 23:44, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)
There's a high risk of this happening more and more, especially as the number of UK works increases: keeping a unique name PER COUNTRY seems more common than being unique world-wide. :-/ I've had to separate two Roger Prices recently, and fix a Dave Stone entry that got confused with the ARTIST David Stone: and I have a new John Carter to fit in at some point too. BLongley 08:04, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)
As per Hayford's submission, I have deleted the non-genre novel. I am now looking at the 4 non-genre stories that we have on file and wondering if we want to have somebody check the suspect Publications first and determine their SF content. Judging by the titles, they are most likey non-SF anthologies with one or two speculative stories thrown in. We probably want to identify these SF stories and delete everything else, espcially since we don't have a way to distinguish between SF and nongenre short stories. (But that's another headache...) Ahasuerus 23:28, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Thanks for taking care of the Michael Gilbert novel. As for your comments about the shorts, this is the same problem that I encountered (and wrote about) a while ago anent some Ellery Queen shorts that are listed because they are in anthologies with a couple of speculative fiction stories. I'm afraid that there's gonna be an enormous amount of work involved if you ever try to sort and eliminate the stories in these Alfred Hitchcock and similar anthologies.... Hayford Peirce 11:32, 16 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Merge completed

I've completed the merge of the old Bibliographic Rules page with ISFDB:Rules and standards discussions and the resulting page is at Rules and standards discussions. Let me know if there are any loose ends.

Any objections if I also remove the leading "ISFDB:" from the help desk, moderator noticeboard and verification requests page? Mike Christie (talk) 07:06, 16 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Back when I first noticed the wiki name spaces on ISFDB I realized that nearly all of the ordinary pages were in the ISFDB namespace but that a few were in the (articles) namespace but are hard to spot because there's a lot of clutter from things that should be in their own namespace. My thinking is that the following name spaces should be added to help clean up (articles).
  • Author (671 pages)
  • Bio (21 pages)
  • DisplayBug (7 pages)
  • EditBug (14 pages)
  • Magazine (139 pages)
  • Reference (6 pages)
  • Series (23 pages)
  • Feature (26 pages)
  • Publication (74 pages)
and
Once the name spaces are set up then we could take a look at (articles) vs. ISFDB and see if they should be merged or if there's some split that would make sense where some pages would be under (articles) and others under ISFDB.
I believe the name spaces are of greatest value to newcomers exploring and trying to understand what's here. I know when I first spotted (articles) it was depressing because there's so much there that needed to be weeded out so that I could then see the articles. Marc Kupper (talk) 18:08, 17 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

Can anyone explain why this title shows two first editions, and the links are to the same publication? Mhhutchins 20:47, 16 Apr 2007 (CDT)

This one is a known annoyance. If you pull it up in Publication Editor, you will see that this Title is listed twice in the Contents section, which is what making the Title page misbehave. This used to happen fairly often when editors merged Title records that were listed in the same Publication record. That's why that big yellow warning has been added :) The fix is to remove the Title from the Publication (which will remove both duplicate pointers) and readd/merge it manually. Ahasuerus 21:44, 16 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Elladan Elrohir

There are two of them, but there should only be one. How do I merge them into only one Artist? CoachPaul 15:07, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)

"Advanced Search", and put "Elladan Elrohir" into Term 1 of "ISFDB Author Search Form" (the second section). Hit the "Submit Query" for that section and you'll see both records with a "Merge Selected Records" option. BLongley 15:12, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Walter S. Tevis

I've started to verify my Tevis books and have discovered that NOT ONE OF THEM is by "Walter S. Tevis". They're all by "Walter Tevis", which ISFDB states is a pseudonym. Checking Strauss's Index, his first story (in Galaxy, Apr 1957) "The Ifth of Oofth" is by "Walter S. Tevis, Jr.", and so is the second one "Operation Gold Brick" (in If, June 1957). The next story "The Big Bounce" (Galaxy, Feb 1958) is by "Walter S. Tevis", and it's the last time he used the middle initial. The other stories are by "Walter Tevis". The novels The Man Who Fell to Earth and Mockingbird and the collection Far from Home are by "Walter Tevis". Considering the evidence wouldn't it make more sense that those first three stories should be pseudonymous, as everything after 1958 is by "Walter Tevis"? Mhhutchins 15:35, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)

I don't know the author, but I agree that Canonical names and variants are often the wrong way round for my tastes. Sometimes there's a reason for it - e.g. when a "Real" name is used by someone else apart from the "Real" person, or if the Canonical name is for a collaboration. Unfortunately there's a few display bugs still, and we don't seem to be clear on WHAT we want displayed either in the various views possible. :-/ The big sticking point for me is that it's NOT easy to change them around anyway, even with our Superior mod powers (or did I miss a lesson during mod Training School - oh wait, I missed ALL of those!): so I just tend to make sure the data is correct, and hope Al comes up with a definite plan and some more good tools eventually. (Although I see he's getting bugged with suggestions from capable programmers already...) BLongley 16:46, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
There's another one of these I've just come up against. Saki/H. H. Munro has two entries, each with full details. Which should be the canonical name? I'd say Saki as that's what he is most known as. Does anyone favour the other direction? --Unapersson 17:26, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I'd heard of "Saki" before (although I hadn't realised he was here at all) and not Munro, so I'd support that. BLongley 18:20, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I agree that he is best known as "Saki", although some pieces have been published as by Munro.
As far as Tevis goes, the reason that we list him as "Walter S. Tevis" is presumably due to the fact that the middle initial is typically used by encyclopedias, OCLC Fiction Finder, the Library of Congress Online Catalog, etc. I do agree that we want to get rid of it, though. Ahasuerus 18:42, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I went ahead and made the changes, as follows: 1. Changed the canonical name to "Walter Tevis"; 2. Created the alternate name "Walter S. Tevis, Jr."; 3. Created the alternate name "Walter S. Tevis"' 4. Attributed each of his first three stories to the pseudonyms used in their original publications; 5. Created variant titles for those three stories.
Everything else automatically changed to "Walter Tevis" by changing the canonical name, so I didn't have to update any book titles or publications. It went a lot easier than I thought! Mhhutchins 19:42, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Wholesale changes to canonical names when you are just correcting a data entry error are not that difficult. Unfortunately, things get much messier when you are trying to flip flop an pre-existing relationship between variant names. For example, if at some point we decide to make "David Farland" the canonical name and "Dave Wolverton" a pseudonym, reversing the relationship will be painful. I have been thinking of creating a feature request for these situations, but I am not sure they are common enough to justify spending precious programmer time. Ahasuerus 20:15, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I just corrected a "Julie Smith" back to "Julia Smith" and had to do ONE pub correction afterwards for the artist "Julie Smith", it DOES seem rather easy after all. However, I seem to have messed up "Julia Gray" titles a bit, so as always - take care out there, there's no telling WHAT will happen! BLongley 15:53, 28 Apr 2007 (CDT)

ISFDB vs. Wikipedia

We have a new editor who comes from a Wikipedia background and he had some questions about ISFDB vs. Wikipedia which I have answered on his Talk page. I wonder if this explanation (ignore the Modesitt-specific discussion at the bottom of the page) is something that we may want to beef up a little and convert into a static Help page? It's probably a safe assumption that quite a few new editors will have at least some Wikipedia background in the foreseeable future. Ahasuerus 01:42, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)

I thought there already was an explanation about the db vs wiki and the bibliographies but it is good to see the system from a new person's view. Marc Kupper (talk) 01:23, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Well, that's what I thought too, but the editor (Chris Wesling) is a programmer according to his Wikipedia User page, and if the current explanation doesn't do it for programmers, what can you expect from the rest of the user community? :) Ahasuerus 10:19, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I R Programmer! (At least that's what they pay me for during my non-ISFDB non-sleeping non-travelling time) and found the distinction perfectly clear, but then again I used ISFDB1 and have never tried to be a Wikipedia editor... is anyone watching the new editors and seeing what background the active ones are coming from? And how active are they - we seem to have developed a nice little Mod community, are we getting elitist and not looking at the new-comers as much as we should? BLongley 15:01, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)
There has been a definite slowdown in new editor activity lately. Then again, we have been open for business for 5 months now, so it's likely that the first wave of editors has crested. There may well be other folks out there who would like to participate, but don't know about our existence or are not computer savvy enough to be able to sort things out. Heck, Geoff Landis has tried contributing twice and was unsuccessful -- and he is not only an Analog author, but also an MIT professor and a NASA heavyweight! Ahasuerus 17:15, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I suspect the slowdown will be temporary - I welcomed a new editor this morning and also this morning an author e-mailed me about the ISFDB pages for both her and her husband. The husband was interesting as he is Tim_Richards (ISFDB has very little at the moment) and apparently in Melbourne there are two Tim Richards both writing specfict. I'm figuring out which Tim Richards wrote what and will see if they can add the data to ISFDB. Marc Kupper (talk) Marc Kupper (talk) 23:42, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Oh, sure, we will be getting new contributors via good old word of mouth advertising, Google searches, etc, but I would be surprised if we were to see 1.5 new active editor/week (which was our average a few weeks ago) on a consistent basis. Of course, I love surprises! :) Ahasuerus 23:53, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)

ISFDB Google Group

There was an ISFDB slowdown a few days ago and a couple of editors used our backup discussion board on Google Groups to discuss its impact. Well, it so happened that Google Groups had a meltdown right about that same time and it took them about 48 hours to catch up. They are still a little flaky. Which goes to show that you can never have too many backup systems :) Ahasuerus 21:40, 28 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Take a look at the SMTP header to see if the delay was within Google Groups or in delivery to your account.
Oh, it was Google Groups all right -- the news was all over the Web with obligatory Googleslams popping up within hours of the meltdown :) Ahasuerus 17:06, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Considering strangeness - I had a battle last night with Publisher:DAW/Titles in that I updated the page, previewed it, and when I saved it the wiki gave me a 100% blank page. I struggled for a while with editing out sections of the page and in the end it started working again. The page was literally blank and did not have the side/top margin wiki-stuff. Marc Kupper (talk) 14:52, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Yes, I noticed :( It happens with other pages as well, e.g. sometimes I get stuck in "Preview" mode and can't post. Sometimes the Wiki keeps telling me that somebody else has just posted to the same page, so once again I can't post. At least it's free software, so we are definitely getting more than our money's worth :) Ahasuerus 17:06, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Well, I just had a battle with MediaWiki where my title list again came up blank. I broke it into three separate lists of about 100K each and thought I was set until I found that page two of the three was coming up blank. I ended up dropping the links for the Logo # and Author name (only the title has a link now). This got the pages to 64K bytes and they seem to be working though in the past I've had 700K byte pages that worked. It's possible I'm doing something wrong in the wikitext though about all that's changing is that more and more titles are getting verified meaning 18-bytes per title got added to change the color using bgcolor="#ccffff". Maybe I should change the unverified rows to bgcolor="#ffffff" to force the page size up to the worse case. I've also run into a number of spurious "not logged in" wiki prompts though can see that's related to that I access the wiki from both www.isfdb.org and isfdb.tamu.edu. The puzzle is, now I can't see how I got to isfdb.tamu.edu - all of the links I just checked seem to use the existing site meaning if I'm on www.isfdb.org then it stays on www.isfdb.org. Somewhere there must be a link to isfdb.tamu.edu - in fact - I just looked up and see that's what I'm on now. Marc Kupper (talk) 17:00, 2 May 2007 (CDT)

Analog - British versions

This belongs in all the other areas as well, but I thought I'd throw the example in here and let people see what they want to discuss. Compare this pub with this one.

Brain-dump of MY thoughts: originally, I thought I wanted a "Clone Magazine" feature, but there's so many more differences than expected that it would be only half the help it normally is: I'm glad to see Visco could supply the British cover as well: I don't know if there's more art in the British edition than the US one, but a full verification might help: some contents of the Feb US issue are promised as appearing NEXT UK issue, and some of the June UK issue appeared in the March US issue: we seem to have different reviewers of different books, some of which don't appear here yet despite being US titles: we have variant names all over the place: we'll create dozens of merges: the Title will cause problems, if only the price or notes distinguishes editions: and I'm REALLY beginning to hate magazine entry problems. :-( BLongley 17:34, 29 Apr 2007 (CDT)

This is a rather thorny area. On the one hand, there have been magazines that were printed in 2 countries without almost any changes made to their contents, e.g. some Canadian reprints of US pulps. On the other hand, there have been cases when the reprint version was so different from the original that you could argue that we almost have to have two separate magazine series for them -- with the Notes field used to link the (barely) related issues. If you check the 3rd volume of Tuck's Encyclopedia, that's exactly what he did with the UK version of Astounding/Analog since there were so many differences in contents, numbering, etc. I suspect we will have little choice but to follow his lead. Ahasuerus 21:36, 29 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Well, I don't have Tuck and am not acquiring it for one magazine! How does he title the British version? Another thought I had is that we will have to figure out what to do with serials - look at "Space Viking" now. BLongley 13:18, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)
"Space Viking" on H._Beam_Piper looks fine to me - what needs to be done about serials? Marc Kupper (talk) 14:55, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)
"(Conclusion)" may or may not be the same as (Part 4 of 4). Without the other editions, I can't tell if it's, say, a (Part 3 of 3) instead. But we're obviously mixing the serials anyway due to a lexical match, what if they ARE different? BLongley 16:58, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)
When something seems strange to me I just leave lots of publication and title notes around. Some day someone will come along with physical copies of the publications, will see the notes, and can revise the notes based on what's available in their publication. I ran into this today where I learned that a single edition of a story (the first British paperback publication of Night Walk by Bob_Shaw) that's been reprinted by several publishers does not have the full story. In that case I added a title note plus a publication note in the one edition that is smaller. Hopefully the publication will say why it's abridged and if not that the person will have access to an edition that has the full story so they can compare and see what's different. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:30, 30 Apr 2007 (CDT)

"Mac" bug

Is there a known bug about the automatic capitalization of the letter following "Mac.."? I've just noticed that when I correct the spelling of "MacMillan" to "Macmillan", or "MacDonald" to "Macdonald" (both are the actual spellings of the publishers' names), the ISFDB will not change it. Mhhutchins 10:03, 2 May 2007 (CDT)

Just entered another publication from Macmillan and it took the correct name. So does the bug only happen on works that have already been entered with the incorrect name? Mhhutchins 11:11, 2 May 2007 (CDT)

ISFDB has logic where it reverts an author's name to the existing case that's already in ISFDB if you try to change it via edit-title or edit-pub. If you see something like Macdonald and it should be MacDonald then go to the author's record, click "Author Data" in the navbar, and change the Canonical Name to MacDonald. This will change the name system-wide as all title and publication records reference the same string. Marc Kupper (talk) 16:44, 2 May 2007 (CDT)
Useful comments Marc, but this was apparently PUBLISHER info? (I must write a long rant about that at some point... Publisher info is pretty useless at the moment.) BLongley 17:17, 2 May 2007 (CDT)
Oops - Bill, I needed to stare/parse at your comment for a couple of minutes before I understood what you, and then Mhhutchins, meant. Yes, what he said! :-) ISFDB does some internal magic with publisher names where it stores one copy of each unique string. When you enter or change the publisher name ISFDB does a case-insensitive search of the publisher table and if it finds a match the publication is linked to that publisher record. If the name is not found then a new publisher record is added. Marc Kupper (talk) 01:56, 3 May 2007 (CDT)
ps: it ties in with the ISFDB:Community_Portal#Walter_S._Tevis discussion above but this case-insensitive search to locate an existing publisher record or to add a new one is also how the author names work for both titles and publications. If you enter a publication as by Philip Jose Farmer then the case-insensitive search will match Philip José Farmer's author record as e and é are the same except for a accent-shift-key being held down. When you use the "Author Data" link from a bibliography page you are editing the author record directly, and not doing this search-link thing, meaning you can change a Macdonald into MacDonald and when you do so the change will be reflected in all titles and publications that reference the author record you just edited. ISFDB does not have a publisher-editor function otherwise fixing a publisher name would be easy. Marc Kupper (talk) 03:04, 3 May 2007 (CDT)
Ooh, so this is why there are so many "TOR Books" even though specially singled out as a bad example at Template:PublicationFields:Publisher? I wanted to change one somewhere recently, but either I didn't get to it, or didn't notice the result. Oh damn, another bug report to submit... --JVjr 03:32, 3 May 2007 (CDT)
Does the case-insensitivity extend only to accented letters? I just did a name search for "Patrick Suskind", and it came back as not in the db. With a roundabout search I got to the listing here on ISFDB: "Patrick Süskind". I have no way of entering accented or umlaut letters from my keyboard (at least, I don't think so). How would the average searcher find what they're looking for? Mhhutchins 15:58, 3 May 2007 (CDT)
Mike, if you have an "Alt Gr" key (to the right of the space-bar on my keyboard) you might have an easy short-cut to the most common accents (according to Microsoft, probably) for each letter. E.g. a -> á , e -> é , i - > í , o -> ó , u -> ú. So far I've only ever used it here for Philip José Farmer. And you MUSTN'T use that for 'ISFDB Author Search Form' or you don't find him! Perhaps "I hate Unicode" should be a required attitude for new mods? :-/ I blame the Europeans (that lot over there, next to Asia, don't include us Brits). For once the US had the right idea about eliminating unnecessary accents from our precious English alphabet, although I do think they go too far in trying to eliminate the letter "u"... ;-) You can generate a lot more corrupted letters with the Alt key and the number-pad, but why would anyone want to? ;-) BLongley 16:34, 3 May 2007 (CDT)
I use the GNOME character palette under Ubuntu (Add to Panel -> Utilities). It provides a drop down menu from the panel which provides a menu where most combinations of characters are easily accessible. I just need to click to select the character then middle click to paste. It makes the more obscure names quite easy. --Unapersson 15:26, 4 May 2007 (CDT)
As for why there so many "TOR Books" - I suspect it's because Al likes publisher names as much as Unicode and thus chose to not define rules about publisher credits. It's messy because of all the imprints involved and that the publishing companies keep merging, dividing, etc. and a single publication can have a bewildering array of potential publisher names that could be entered into the database.
re: Does the case-insensitivity extend only to accented letters? Well, it should work for all of the letters, "U" should match any of "uÚúÙùÛûÜüŨũŮůŪūŬŭŲųŰűύμυЋћЦц" but testing finds that the matching code needs more work as you found with u and ü. Part of the problem for the moment is this matching is done by SQL. ISFDB itself does not have any special-case matching code. If someone's a MySQL wizard then perhaps they can propose a fix.
As for how to enter accented or decorated characters
  • Most of the time I use the Windows Character Map application. It's available under Programs / Accessories / System Tools on my win-2000 machine and should be somewhere in that area for other versions of Windows.
  • If we had a newer version of wikimedia then the bottom of the edit box would have a list of characters you can copy/paste from. Maybe that list is in a template?
  • You can enter the characters on any windows keyboard by holding the ALT key down and entering it's code on the numeric keypad. The windows character map thing tells you the code. Click on a letter, umlaut u for example, and in the lower-right corner will say Keystroke: ALT-0252 which gets ü.
  • If you have Microsoft Word then the Insert / Symbol menu function brings up a rather interesting applet that's like the character map thing.
  • There are many web pages (google for "umlaut u" alt finds 691). Find one and make it a favorite.
  • Overall - it's a pain. From time to time I've taken a stab at creating my own page and give up. It's something I'm dealing with right now in that I have a windows console app that's supposed to accept unicode input and am discovering that stuff about codepages, virtual key codes, scan codes, plus other junk but it's not help me do what I want to do. Marc Kupper (talk) 19:06, 4 May 2007 (CDT)
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