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Archive of messages from September - December 2011

Contents

James Duncan Lawrence: another interesting story

From the website of Jim Lawrence: "From the mid-1950s to 1967 he worked for the Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate, producing several of the Hardy Boys books under the house pseudonym "Franklin W. Dixon," some of the Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins books using the pseudonym "Sherry Lemmon", and 23 of the 33 Tom Swift, Jr. books under the house pseudonym "Victor Appleton II." The latter can be verified using Reginald3, pages 38-39. --Dirk P Broer 22:16, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

We've so far credited these 23 to Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. --Dirk P Broer 22:53, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
If you have a copy of Reginald3 feel free to correct the credits for the series. Does Reginald show who wrote the other 10 books? (BTW, the link you give is not to any official website of Lawrence's, but to an author page on the Open Library website. I'd use Reginald3 as a source before this website.) Thanks for the info. Mhhutchins 23:01, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
Reginald3, page 655 states that the Richard McKenna that wrote the last three Tom Swift Jr. books is *NOT* the writer Richard Milton McKenna (1913-1964). --Dirk P Broer 12:14, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, it seems that the Jim Lawrence website credits 28 Tom Swift titles, which we've reduced to 25 due to variants, not quite sure how you get down to 23. There's probably a few errors still, but I think we've improved the data quite a bit - thanks! BLongley 01:19, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Harrison Geillor

I wonder if the real name of the writer behind Harrison Geillor, the author of the "Lake Woebegotton" books, has been made public? (Cf. "Garrison Keillor" and "Lake Wobegon".) Ahasuerus 22:05, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

You mean Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor (born August 7, 1942)? --Dirk P Broer 23:54, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Or a parody on the Wobegon books? --Dirk P Broer 23:56, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
The man may have parodied himself, he fits the Geillor profile. --Dirk P Broer 00:05, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Disambiguating Authors

We seem to have acquired a new Richard McKenna today 161322, but square brackets prevent the creation of Author Biography or Bibliographic Comments pages. What would be the least confusing alternative? BLongley 01:42, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

I use parentheses, e. g. Author (I). I'm not sure if they cause problems in templates. Mhhutchins 05:55, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
No problems with the templates, but if we're using just a number it may be confused with a line of ancestry, e.g. Jack C. Haldeman, II. Dirk's still working on finding out more about the Tom Swift Junior authors so we may yet get a Country or DoB disambiguation. BLongley 17:20, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
I've used the Roman numbers method that is used on the IMDB to disambiguate individuals. I would hope that the average user wouldn't confuse John Smith, II with John Smith (II), but you know what H. L. Mencken said about no one ever losing money underestimating intelligence... Mhhutchins 19:20, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
We probably need to address the 41 authors with a "[" in to remove the Wiki problems - and some "as" or "as by" misuses. Probably best if a Mod does some mass merges - and for some problems like "Håkan Larsson" and "Svend Åge Madsen" and "Tor Åge Bringsvaerd" and "Bertil Mårtensson" we need a non-English expert as I have no idea why they show up in such a search. BLongley 22:41, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Sam's Dot Publishing

I never seem able to access their website, does anyone else have this problem? I've been asked to add David C. Kopaska-Merkel's speculative poetry collection Brushfires, published October 2010 by Sam's Dot Publishing: Shelly Bryant's poetry collection Under the Ash, published December 2010 by Sam's Dot Publishing, and Beyond Centauri, Issue 32, April 2011 (edited by Tyree Campbell and published by Sam's Dot Publishing) - but can't get at the data.

No problem here. Can't understand why you're unable to, unless they block foreign ISPs. I'll try to look up those publications. Mhhutchins 19:23, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Checked it out. All the publications are listed, but only Issue #32 of Beyond Centauri gives the contents.

Stories // Phil M. Berger: Charlie of Enceladus / Ellen Wrin: End Game / Marc Colten: Punching Bag / J Alan Erwine: The Martian Orphans and the Moons of Jupiter / Ailynn Collins: Escape! / Karen L. Newman: The Dollhouse / Alexandra Seidel: How Red Riding Hood Stole The Moon / Walt Socha: Out On A Date In My Daddy's Car / Lorie Calkins: Big Foot And The River Adventure / K. S. Hardy: The Great Newspaper Migration / Fred Warren: The Flying House / David Lewis: Oversight / Melora J. Bell: Afternoon at the Carnival / Kendra E. Vasquez: Alien Smell / Lawrence Barker: A Man Who Leaves A Crop To The Weeds // Poems // Sylvan Bree Baker: I Choose / Tony Thorne: Monument / Art Holcomb: Evil Robot Overlords / Debby Feo: Out There / Lyz Frerking: Sailing to the Moon / MonkeyJohn: Martian Blight / Kim L. Neidigh: The Little Shop Of Dreams / Debby Feo: Heavenly Concerts / Lauren McBride: Dead Animals Live / John Grey: Planet In The Rear-View Mirror / Terrie Leigh Relf: She Once Had A Radio Flyer // Features // Eric Bonholtzer: The Outsider [flash fiction] / Tyree Campbell: Pyra and the Tektites [Part 7]

The only other information given is the price which is $6.00 for all publications. No page count, no binding format (probably tp), no date of publication. I don't even think Sam's Dot books have ISBNs. Mhhutchins 19:29, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

A side note: if someone urgently wants you to add a publication to the database, shouldn't they be as urgently willing to provide you with data? Just asking. Mhhutchins 19:34, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, he provided contents for one (although we had all but his illustration anyway) but claims lack of time. He did point me at a Facebook page for Sam's Dot, but I'm not on Facebook and never intend to be. I'm getting a few offers of help, but mostly pointers to sites we could grab the data from. BLongley 22:30, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Facebook pages are little more than advertising, and provide even less real data. Mhhutchins 03:49, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
There is one offer to allow access to Abyss & Apex's Archive - presumably just for research purposes. I haven't accepted it yet - if someone else has the time and interest I'll put them forward for the role, I would use it very slowly. BLongley 22:30, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
This appears to be a webzine with a password-protected archive, nothing more. All contents of the current issue are readable as web pages. The unprotected area of the website gives very little information about the delivery method of the archived stories. Without this information, it can only be assumed that the contents are not downloadable as an ebook, thus making it ineligible for the database. Ask your contact for more details and explain our criteria about db eligibility. Mhhutchins 03:49, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
The name "Abyss & Apex" keeps coming up in Awards listings, Honourable Mentions, "Best Of" Anthologies and many of our authors' bibliographies so I can understand wanting to capture at least "First Published in" Data even if we don't have a Mod-Level Sponsor to do the whole lot, like we do with "Strange Horizons". If nobody wants to take it on then I'll probably use it for stub research only, I can't spare the time to do the whole lot. (It appears there's 39 issues so far.) BLongley 17:13, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

The Destroyer

The Series is either pretty empty of Publications we need to fill in, or has a lot of titles we need to delete. I have no real preference either way, I just heard that the "New Destroyer" series has been cancelled so though I'd revisit the topic. BLongley 01:10, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

A visit to Wikipedia leads me to think this is not spec fic. Do any of the titles have a publication entered or have they been deleted and the titles forgotten? If there are no objections I'll belete the titles and there linked variants.Kraang 01:51, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
For the most part it was an action/adventure series with a light touch, but there were also many SF elements. For example, our intrepid heroes fight an android in 18, vampires in 29 and 88, a human-animal hybrid in 32, etc. The main character, Remo, has effectively superhuman abilities -- to quote a fan site, "[a] master can hold his breath over an hour, rip steel doors from their hinges, dodge bullets, overturn a moving tank, outrun a car, seem invisible - you get the idea. They have mastered the full potential of the human body." I am in favor of keeping the series even though there are a few installments that have very little SF stuff going on and an occasional red herring, e.g. a fake "alien". Ahasuerus 05:08, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, if an expert can divide them into NONGENRE and sfnal NOVEL titles then the rest of us will know which to allow publications for. BLongley 16:52, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I am not an expert, but I suspect that even an expert will have a hard time separating non-genre entries from SF entries since there are occasional references to vampires, the goddess Kali and such throughout the series. And besides, when the protagonist, who is a reincarnation of the god Shiva (or at least can occasionally channel his powers) can outrun cars and dodge bullets, even fighting mobsters and spies acquires a certain SFnal feel. Ahasuerus 18:52, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
OK, let's leave them all IN for now. If we've got the Titles here, then people can at least note why each should be kept. BLongley 01:54, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I've added first editions for #5-10, and I'll add more later (I have 50 or so of them). It will be a while before I can add synopsis for them though, and what's Spec Fic about them (other than Remo and Chiun always being impossibly good martial arts superheroes), because I'll have to re-read (or skim) the books again. So far as I can tell, all of these books are really attributed to "Richard Sapir" and "Warren Murphy", not "Richard Ben Sapir" and "Warren B. Murphy", as shown in the current titles. That's at least true for every book in my collection (1971-1991), and the covers (at least) for all of the editions on Amazon that I looked at. Consequently, I will be changing a lot of title records to reflect this author attribution. Chavey 04:29, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Contents: Essay/Advertising. In or Out?

Two books in "The Destroyer" series (so far) include a 4 page essay introducing the reader to "The Executioner" series, by Don Pendleton. Although Pendleton is mostly an action/adventure author, and that series is in that genre, we do have a dozen books by Pendleton in the ISFDB. The essay is mostly about the themes in the Executioner series, and primarily qualifies as advertising (suggesting "Out") but it includes substantial biographical information about Pendleton (suggesting "In"). Should I include this essay in the contents, or only in the notes? Opinions? Chavey 03:21, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

I'd lean towards inclusion if it includes substantial biographical information - after a few years here I'm beginning to appreciate good ways to find Author data in publications I own. But I suspect "The Executioner" series needs as thorough a check as "The Destroyer" series does, although I suspect "The Executioner" will have far less Spec-Fic in. BLongley 23:56, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

"I love you, but... "

It's a bit disheartening when you see that "but" isn't it? :-/

In my role as Speaker-to-LiveJournal I came across a comment "But only one more week of me needing to read through ISFDB, huzzah." I asked the author about it and apparently "reading a whole year's worth of titles, 100 at a time, in that font on those lines really is a chore. Also your advanced search interface is really annoying for doing what I want". I'll try and pin down the exact problems (Should we make the 100 limit user-selectable? Do we need a choice of fonts? etc.) and will take those opinions on board and maybe even fix some things if it doesn't cripple our server - but it seems we're even more user-vicious than I thought.

The good thing is that our data is appreciated. We're being used for a series of posts on Tor.com "Revisiting the Hugos". Apparently "every week it turns out to be worth dredging through the ISFDB’s unintuitive interface and making my eyes cross."

As a regular contributor and moderator, and an occasional developer, here, I'm a bit worried that the USER interface isn't up to scratch. Does anyone else know of users, or potential users, that have problems we don't know about? What are those problems and why don't we know about them? BLongley 23:52, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

I confirm that our user interface for retrieving data is not very intuitive (let's not speak about ENTERING data) and (as I said before) that the problem will get worse with non-english users. But 1) as any bibliographical tool, it needs a certain learning period. A fact who must be known to any person who has already dwelled in this field (for example try using a Locus index from scratch) and 2) my position is that any vocal critic should be backed by concrete work for the ISFDB which, as said, is a free resource only in monetary terms. That reason and the fact that I like to "repay" for the work that I use are what have leaded me to collaborate to this enterprise. Hauck 06:47, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Maybe I'm being defensive, but I can see no reason why anyone would feel the need "to read through ISFDB". It's a database, not an encyclopedia. Mhhutchins 00:50, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Wading through hundreds of search results is typically an indication that the user was unable to narrow down the search to what he or she wanted. In this case Bill's quote ("every week it turns out to be worth dredging through the ISFDB’s unintuitive interface and making my eyes cross") apparently comes from Jo Walton's post reviewing 1999 Hugo nominees and, more broadly, all notable SF published in 1998. It looks like Jo was specifically looking for all "notable" SF published in 1998 and not nominated for a major award. She presumably had to search for all book length SF published in 1998 and review the results line by line, which can indeed make one's eyes cross. Unfortunately, that's not something that we can easily automate.
However, it brings up another point. Perhaps we could add a way to generate bibliographies of award-winning and/or award nominated books (and, separately, short fiction) by year. Ahasuerus 08:23, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes Please. I would love a simple interface to generate (and be able to link to) a semi-permanent but constantly updated list of all "Hugo Novella Winners, by year", "Hugo Novel Short List Nominees, By Year (or by Author, or even title)", "Sidewise Award by year, author, title", etc so on and so forth. But simply Winners or Nominees by year would be good enough to start. Kevin 11:33, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
There's quite a backlog on the Award Changes at present - over a dozen modules will need to change just to allow for new Award Types like "Hugo" or "Nebula" - but at least that coding is in the pipeline. If/when those go in we need to standardise "Award Categories" like "Novella" - as opposed to "Best Novella" or "Superior Achievement in a Novella". Well, maybe - just because I don't want 424 different categories doesn't mean others don't - but I'm sure there's a few typos to clean up. Then we can get into Award Levels - Winners are easy: Nominations, shortlists, honourable mentions, nominated but disqualified, preliminary nominees and so on mess things up a bit. And then we get into the notable awards that don't or can't actually link to a title: an award to a Magazine could work if it still exists as one Editor Record, or if the Award was for an entire year of work, for merged titles. An Editor award will work for Editors of an Anthology, but not for editors of a Collection as we don't record them. Awards to publishers are totally absent at present. And if we solve all the above, we still have the problem of Awards going to things we don't include - yet - like some webzines that are becoming more interesting to us. And awards for things we probably never will, like TV shows. BLongley 00:16, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
On the upside: somewhere in the above, we'll get to a stage where we can do pages for Award Categories within Award Type by year, or across Award Types for the same Award Category, or slice and dice many other ways. BLongley 00:16, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
As for the disparaging remarks, I find it disheartening that someone would stand from afar and throw stones, when it's just as easy to walk up, introduce himself, and say "Hey, here's what I don't like about you." To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, why don't they help us help them? Tell us what they like and what they don't like. Tell us how to be better. I don't think anyone of us would not want to listen. Mhhutchins 00:50, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I think you're right to be a bit defensive - I dread to think how much the ISFDB would have cost if we got paid for developing and populating it (my own contributions would be $100k Plus, if I charged for my time), so criticism of our free resource elsewhere hurts me. I don't expect every user to fill in a poll about how useful our site was (although I might do such on LJ, when I'm a little less upset) but I am certainly disappointed to learn about this that way. Maybe somebody on Facebook or MySpace or some other "Social Networking" site will be able to tell us a bit more. BLongley 02:11, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Having said all that, I just made a strange discovery. There is no way for anyone to "walk up" and introduce themselves other than going through the steps of joining with a log-in. We have built a moat that makes us only accessible with a log-in. There is no contact link anywhere that I could find. How could anyone tell us what we're doing wrong, when they can't even say hello? I think we need a user-friendly interface for those who have no desire of ever becoming an editor. Maybe we've lost sight of that, because we're bounded in a nutshell, thinking we're the kings of infinite space. Mhhutchins 00:50, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, we could certainly provide more simple anonymous ways of contacting us - a generic email address, a Blogger account (actually. don't we have one there already?), a Facebook one, whatever. It's only because I've become "Speaker-to-LiveJournal" that I heard about this opinion. And it's a valid one. I'd be happy to publicise the "Speaker-to-LiveJournal" address (anonymous comments aren't barred there yet) but a "Speaker-to-Facebook" or "Speaker-to-MySpace" or ""Speaker-to-Bebo" might help. BLongley 02:11, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
The requirement to log in in order to post here was added as part a long time ago as part of our ongoing battle with spammers. That said, the login process could probably be streamlined and a "Contact ISFDB staff" link could be added. We'll just have to decide where it should lead. Ahasuerus 08:01, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think there should be a problem with spammers just by creating a contact page. Questions could be sent to the Blogger account. (Now, if you want to make submissions to change data, I believe you should have an account and logged in.) Mhhutchins 00:29, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Do we actually read the Blogger page? I know I only do when I have connection problems here. BLongley 00:37, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I get an email anytime it's updated, which I suppose all moderators would, if they're members of the group. I don't think it's that hard to sign up. Mhhutchins 00:48, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm really slow on email responses - days or weeks can go by before I catch up. I presume some other Mods are a bit more diligent. BLongley 02:08, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I see that the purpose of that Blogger account is to have contacts in case the ISFDB server goes down. Couldn't we start one just for outside contacts? Mhhutchins 00:50, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, we could. We just need volunteers to staff it. BLongley 02:08, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Aren't we re-inventing the wheel...the rest of the web runs on email contacts... why can't we have a 'Contact Us' link on the top right of the ISFDB Banner. Set up a second Group Gmail account and set it to autoforward to all moderators less anyone who opts out. It would be foolish of us to present a clunky tool when the world already revolves around email. Kevin 02:14, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

"Note to moderator" now available when adding or removing pseudonyms

The "Note to moderator" functionality is now available when adding or removing pseudonyms. The new screen layout for pseudonym removal (especially when a name is a pseudonym for multiple authors) looks a little awkward, so if you can think of a better way to arrange it, please post here. Ahasuerus 07:52, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

I see you ran into the same design problem I did! :-/ Ideally, we'd have ONE "Note to Moderator" for the entire "Remove a Pseudonym" section, rather than one for each existing Pseudonym - but I don't know how to do that. BLongley 23:33, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
We'd have to combine all HTML forms into one and also merge the "submit" and moderator approval scripts. It's possible, but probably too much work for something relatively minor. Ahasuerus 23:40, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, it's low priority. The change got in just too late for it to be useful with the Destroyer series changes, and I don't know when we'll next see a pseudonym removal. I think we see far more pseudonym creations which is why I concentrated on that side. (To anyone watching - I did the creation changes, Ahasuerus did the removal changes and blamed them on me. ;-) ) BLongley 00:28, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

The Destroyer series

There are 148 books in The Destroyer series (not all of which even have title records, much less pub records). I now have first editions for the first 70 titles entered, so I'm about half done. With #71, there is a change in author attributions that I need advice on. Many of the earlier books were credited to Sapir & Murphy, but with uncredited co-authors. With #71, they no longer even credit Sapir/Murphy. The covers say "Created by Warren Murphy & Richard Sapir", and the title pages usually say the same thing. Should I continue crediting those two authors as the "authors of record" for these books? (That's what Amazon and WorldCat do.) Should I bother with a "Note" about the "Created by"?

On a deeper question, there are challenges in trying to determine who the actual writers are for these books once the ghost-writing begins. And, apparently, some of the books credited to Sapir & Murphy were written by just one of them. The master list of the "actual writers" appears to be at "sinanju.net", and the (uncredited) author of that page claims to have much of the data directly from the authors. But I feel a little uncomfortable using as a source a web site that doesn't say anywhere who's responsible for it, especially when the site's home page uses a blink tag :-). However, it does seem fairly authoritative, Wikipedia uses it as its primary source, and they have certainly put a lot more work into this series than I (or anyone else here) wants to do. Should I accept their claims as good enough for our work? Chavey 04:45, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Continue to credit the authors as presented in the book, even if that credit is only "Created by..." and don't worry about who actually wrote the books until we have a reliable source. I saw the list you link to and find it lacking in reliability: "talks with authors and help from online friends". Really, couldn't they even name a few of those sources, or is it such a deep dark secret that no one wants to be go on the record? And just because Wikipedia uses it as a source, believe me, the nature of Wikipedia is that there can be no original scholarship, and anyone can create a webpage, then turn around and make that the source for a Wikipedia article. For now just enter the books as credited and let them stand as a reliable record of the works as published. Mhhutchins 05:24, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I do have some books where I have authoritative sources for authorship other than the credited, e.g. a published interview with one of the ghost-writers. So those I'll set up as VTs. For other books, should I add notes along the lines of "Non-authoritative sources claim this book was ghost-written by ..."? Chavey 00:07, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Notes are always welcome - they stop us killing each other over a slight difference in interpretation of the rules, or a disagreement with the rules. ;-) I must try and enable them for more things - a lot is being recorded only in the Wiki which should be available in the Database itself. BLongley 00:08, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I'll agree with the idea of extending Notes to other places. I'd like to see notes on Title Series and Publication Series, for example. Chavey 16:59, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, more Note fields are in the Master Plan (tm). Ahasuerus 18:52, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
And they're probably in the Slave Plan too, but Master doesn't prioritise. ;-) BLongley 01:55, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Locus

Are there any other editors here who have a hardcopy subscription to Locus? There's a situation which I would not want to discuss publicly until I've had a chance to speak with other subscribers. Just let me know here, or email me using the link on my talk page. Thanks. Mhhutchins 05:35, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I have (subscriber for more than 20 years). Hauck 06:25, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I have a huge (and very heavy) box full of Locuses from the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, but nothing recent, I am afraid. Ahasuerus 05:02, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Michael Stern Hart - RIP

Apparently the founder of Project Gutenberg has died. I found out via a Register news article which seems a little less respectful of Speculative Fiction ("The man who arguably gave the world its first glimpse of non-Sci-Fi e-books"). But I think most of our editors here appreciate the contribution he made to electronic publishing. BLongley 00:04, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Project: Enter data from Bibliographies

Presumably, a major "project" for ISFDB is to enter all of the data from the various standard SF Bibliographies, such as Bleiler, Reginald, Locus, etc. But there isn't a "Project Page" for this project, presumably because it's a much larger project than the other things listed there. But is there any record of how far we've gotten through, say, Reginald1 in terms of entering data? Or something similar for any of the standard sources? In other words, if I wanted to try to work on some of that, is there any easy way of knowing which books/parts of books are done and which still need data entry? Chavey 20:46, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

My Projects include entering and verifying data from Tuck and Reginald1. I've already entered all data from the hard copies of Locus (up through the end of 1983, the date when coverage on Locus1 starts). I've completed A-Chri of Tuck (about 21%) and A-Blac (less than 9%) of Regina1d1. I don't know of any other persons doing such a systematic approach, although I've seen many Tuck and Reginald1 verifications throughout the db. In fact, I do this myself: anytime I'm checking either source I'll complete the entry of that author's works. So the actual percentage of verifications to data entries is higher than the figures I've given. I'd gladly share this project with any person who wants to volunteer. I'm leaving tonight to go on vacation so this will be my last post, but feel free to set up a project page and include the info I've given here. From there volunteers can choose sections of the references to enter/verify. Mhhutchins 22:02, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
It's a good idea, but keep in mind that Reginald-3 contains numerous (and I mean numerous) corrections and additions for Reginald-1. I have found that it is more productive to use both tomes when verifying an author. Ahasuerus 22:21, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I only own Reginald-1, so that's all I would be able to work with. I assume, though, the corrections and additions in Reginald-3 are arranged so that it would be relatively easy to locate the entries that needed updating? In other words, that a Reginald-3 armed editor wouldn't have to re-do all the work of someone like me wielding only Reginald-1? Chavey 01:21, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
It's fairly straightforward: the two Reginalds use the same numbering scheme and all corrected records in Reginald-3 use the book ID from Reginald-1. I suppose if all you have is Reginald-3, some entries may require additional research, but it should be manageable. Ahasuerus 03:01, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
I've created an initial stab at a Project Page for this. I included the progress Mhhutchins listed above, and if anyone else wants to add something (or improve the page in other ways), please do. Chavey 03:05, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Series ordering

The help screens for Title Series warns us that we can't be sure about how things will be ordered (other than books with a specific Series Number). However, it does seem to be the case that within a particular series the following ordering is always observed:

  1. Books/stories in the series with no assigned numbers (in "random" order);
  2. Books in the series with assigned numbers, in the defined order;
  3. All sub-series (in "random" order).

Am I correct that this "partial ordering" will always hold? Chavey 00:49, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

I'd have to check the code again - I don't think it's random any more, I did a bit of work on Sub-Series Ordering although the desired effect may not have been achieved. I presume this is from your recent Destroyer/New Destroyer work? I'm not sure we know how to deal with it perfectly - I'm not happy with "Discworld" and "Discworld - Childrens" and "Tiffany Aching" series yet, but am at a loss as to how to cope with a title being in multiple series/sub-series, which I think is the underlying problem. BLongley 02:35, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
One thing I have found recently is that I'm a bit dissatisfied with the inability to insert shortfiction within a "series" into the slots between novels. It may be time to consider decimal series numbers like "3.5" to indicate a shortfiction that takes place between Novels 3 and 4. BLongley 02:35, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the question arose from "The Destroyer" and "The New Destroyer". I wanted the latter series to come after all the titles of the former, so initially I set its "Series Parent Position" to be the value one after the last book of the primary series. That had the desired effect of putting it at the end; but made it look like the entire new series was book #146 of the old series. So I'm assuming that if I just remove that number that the sub-series will still appear after all of the original books, which is the desired effect. But it made me wonder if there was at least that level of consistency in how the code handled the series ordering. I was surprised, for example, that the unnumbered books in a series weren't in alphabetical order, nor chronological order, nor separated between novels and short fiction, nor any other obvious ordering. So I wasn't sure I could count on my assumption about even this level of ordering.
By the way, I like your idea about inserting shortfiction as "3.5", although if you implement that, I would suggest that such a title be ordered properly, but left unnumbered in the series presentation. Chavey 02:56, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Ah, the right theme at the right time. I have an problem in the ordering of this series. There is a (three-part) sub-series which ran as #22-#24 of the main shortfiction series. I would have liked to put it in the right order, but that didn't work out: instead it is put at the end of the list. Would it be possible to solve that (minor) problem?Stonecreek 15:50, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't think there's any way to do what you want, at least not with the current code. The system will always try to put sub-series after any numbered books, which will prevent your getting the results you want. I've accomplished some ordering of sub-series in Rainbow Magic, but I had the advantage of all of the numbered books being in sub-series -- although I had to use the overall numbering (which the publishers do) instead of numbering each sub-series from 1 to 7 (like Amazon, etc., do). Chavey 03:49, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Actually, you could have used 1 to 7 for books within each sub-series. BLongley 16:18, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking about doing that, and still using the number positions for the individual sub-series, since that would keep everything in the correct order. So then "Jewel Fairies" would be #22, but the first book in the series would be Jewel Fairies #1. The two advantages of using the continuous numbering in this situation were: (1) That's the numbering used by Orchard Books on their web site; (2) Because of the large number of books in the series, this makes it easy to verify that we actually have all of the books (in this part) of the series. But I suspect those reasons wouldn't apply to very many other situations. Chavey 17:23, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
But I don't think that will be applicable for you. I suspect your only hope is to file a Feature Request to add that capability, and then try to remember that you wanted this fix-up when/if that FR is implemented. Chavey 03:49, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Bill, thank you for your overview, I think in this case I will 'ignore' the sub-series and put the information in brackets (Die Elianer #1 etc.). That way they remain in the correct order. Stonecreek 08:24, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I'm not one of the "Bill"s; in real life I go by "Darrah". But around here "Bill" is a good default first name to try if you're not sure :-) And I agree with your solution. Chavey 12:45, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Google+

Is anyone here on it, or planning to join now that anyone can? I don't, but it seems we're being talked about - e.g. "Chuck Taggart" said "As I was doing some research on the fabulous ISFDB.com (Internet Speculative Fiction Database)...". I really can't spare the time to take on another social networking site, but if anyone is on there it would be nice to thank him for the "fabulous" comment and point out we're a dot org rather than a dot com. BLongley 00:59, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

We also seem to have impressed Anton Gully: "Wow, I'm on the The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. And so are a lot of you..." and Tomara Armstrong: "Hey! I'm there too. What a trip!". BLongley 01:14, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Oh, slight warning - as "Speaker to Livejournal" I've accumulated 910 friends - using a more popular social network may lead to even more stress. BLongley 00:59, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Passing on another compliment: T. J. McIntyre uses us for research before conducting interviews, and says "Thanks for what you do! " BLongley 16:12, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Daisy Meadows and "X the Y Fairy"

I hereby declare this series complete, at least as far as I'm concerned. The Rainbow Magic series, and all its sub-series, appears to be complete with respect to titles through the end of this year. I believe I have first editions of all these books listed, although there are surely other editions of these books which are not included. (Just in case anyone else wishes to share in the fun of the "X the Y Fairy" series :-)

I have identified nearly all of the publications of the 9 ghost-writers for the books in the series. Excluding recently released books that don't have the "Look Inside" feature online (yet), there are only 3 books whose true author is not identified. If you have even a passing interest in this series (or the experience of annoyance at least), I invite you to read/update/correct my "Series Comments", in which I suggest that editors try not to add later printings, non-English translations, etc. Those comments also include a link to the "Daisy Meadows" Bibliographic Comments, where I outline how the ghost-writers can be identified, including two known errors on the part of the publishers attributing a book to the wrong ghost-writer. Chavey 04:01, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Noting Sources...Version 127

Can we all agree that it's important to note the source of data for records of books that we don't have in-hand? [Here I pause so that I can see everyone is nodding their heads.] Then why is it so often that editors (including moderators) are entering and updating records without noting their sources? Anyone who has worked on the database more than a few months knows (or should know) the frustration of working on records for which the source of data hasn't been noted and then trying to research the validity of that data. Or am I the only one who feels that the integrity of the whole database is undermined when we allow records into the database without question? I'm having to be the "bad cop" with new editors in order to drill this basic premise into them, and then I see moderators accepting (and making) submissions that have no source noted and are not primary verified. What do we have to do to make this practice second nature for every editor? Or am I wrong in believing this database should be more than just a jumble of unreliable data? Mhhutchins 16:42, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

I tend to assume good intentions - if no source is credited in Notes or Notes to Mod, that's OK by me - they might well later verify it against the source. But I wouldn't want people to verify BEFORE approval of their edits. BLongley 19:15, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Operative word here: might. I'm afraid this is the prevailing thought among moderators and it becomes the rule that editors will follow throughout the remainder of their work on the ISFDB. Habits, either good or bad, tend to be hard to break. I see no reason why an editor would have to wait until approval of an update before verifying the record. It's just as easy to remove a verification as it is to update the record. At least it lets the moderator know the editor has the book. Mhhutchins 19:37, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
"Verifications" are still pretty broken software-wise. I don't think there's anything in help to explain how to remove a verification, or change it from a Primary to a Transient, for instance, and the feedback when removing a verification does look like an error message. And I always have been reluctant to verify a record that doesn't yet look right. Maybe I just mistrust moderators. BLongley 00:12, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Our standard has always been, every additional level of data was optional. The bare minimum being author, title, and type. With that said, data is data.. and so long as it's an unverified record, who is anyone to say that reasonable data is wrong. Once a record is verified to some level, then I start caring about the source of the data.. because I have to judge it against the prior verifications for scope, etc. (& or Co in a publishers name from a bibliography is almost always suspect as a couple examples) Kevin 00:17, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
It's not the level to which the editor wishes to add data that I'm concerned about or even questioning. It's about the reliability of the data. Why should it be difficult, complicated, invasive or personal to ask where the data came from? How can a moderator accept a submission without doing any research or questioning its reliability regardless of how detailed the data is? I've spent too many hours of my life working on the ISFDB to have it considered unreliable to any degree. Any editor or moderator with a casual regard to the data presented in this database shouldn't participate in building it. Mhhutchins 01:02, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Maybe we could do something with the software so that any new pub has the potential verification done in advance? E.g. if you're entering data from Primary Source, then it will be Primary Verified on approval. If people are working on Locus or Bleiler or Reginald or Tuck sources, it will be verified that way. (We can still argue about the default "source" - I'd assume "Primary", but am open to persuasion.) BLongley 19:15, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Now that we have the "Note to Moderator" field, why not ask that submitters let us know that they're working from a book in-hand? If they're working from a recognized reliable source how difficult is it to type "Info from OCLC", or "Info from Tuck" into the note field? Good intentions or not, five seconds of effort would save a later user five minutes of research. Mhhutchins 19:37, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
We still need to roll out "Note to Mod" to other types of edit. With all the latest activity on Authors, I think "Author Notes" are becoming more desirable, for instance. But I'm suggesting a ONE-second solution (if people believe it is a problem) - click the button that applies to your source. I would not support Amazon or any other seller as a Verification source, but I'd be fairly comfortable with adding a "one-click before submission" option for such. A button for "Info from OCLC", or "Info from Tuck" or "Book in-Hand" is fairly simple. BLongley 00:12, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I like the idea of a single button for each source...a lot. And having the option of choosing more than one would be even better. Great solution. Mhhutchins 01:02, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Alternatively, I already use bookmarklets to add an Amazon image URL to a new pub I'm entering that has an ISBN-10 - that could be expanded. There wasn't much of a take-up on the previous bookmarklet offers, though. :-/ BLongley 00:12, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
The balance we need to find is between "ease of entry" and "accuracy". I know from experience that we are user-vicious on the former. On the latter, we are still divided on such issues as "Binding" and "Publisher". I personally view an entry as "a jumble of unreliable data" if I'm looking at anything that hasn't been Primary Verified, and sometimes not even then if I don't trust the verifier. Noting secondary sources is fine by me - it gives people a chance to decide whether the information is good based on their experience with the source. I've learned to cope with the woolly edges of ISFDB - we haven't deleted all Al von Ruff's work for being unsourced, for instance. (Although I am reworking a lot of his award entries...) BLongley 00:12, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
As far as I'm concerned, I only consider as reliable data the one that is PVed and had (shame on me) always regarded the "secondary source" business as not very relevant (as surely everyone of us, I've already found errors in any of these sources). I agree with Michael that data entered on non-PVed titles should be sourced (e. g. I often stumble on books with indicated prices although there is none physically on them), but also think (as Bill, if I understand correctly) that a too high level of exigence will probably disgust potential contributors. Let's not speak of our mannierisms (I wonder if it's an english term) and the general difficulty of any serious bibliographic enterprise. Hauck 05:26, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Variant titles / Other languages

I want the German and Spanish translations of 'Sam, of de Pluterdag' to appear as variant titles, like the Swedish, French, Hungarian and English editions. Is it enough the unmerge them, and then make those records variant titles of 'Sam of de Pluterdag', or am I missing something obvious? --Dirk P Broer 21:39, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

It should work, but it's not officially supported - yet. We haven't got the display software ready to cope with massive numbers of variant titles of popular works. I'd say give it a try, and become one of our Alpha-Testers.  ;-) BLongley 00:25, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
And as a bonus, that author's page is relatively uncluttered and can serve as a reasonable baseline of what we expect or hope to coax out of the system. Kevin 04:15, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I also notice it seems to be going with the unofficial (but better IMHO) practice of leaving the 'new' date with each variant, instead of backdating each variant to the original title publication date..... it lets you 'see' the title propagate across languages/countries Kevin 04:17, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
The obvious thing I missed is that there needs to be a record for the variant's language. As I had not done any merging of those records with the publications I think I have had some assistance from the moderator side, or the database can automatically pick the correct variant. The first seems far more likely, Occam-wise, than the latter. --Dirk P Broer 15:16, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, you've probably been helped a little, languages are still entirely manually chosen. I notice we still think the original "Sam, of de Pluterdag" is English. BLongley 15:37, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I see "Language: Dutch" now, so apparently that's been sorted. Thanks to whoever did that - I am not qualified to submit or approve such changes. We're getting there with the Language changes, I think? BLongley 23:48, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
It was me. I'd noticed that when Dirk created the Spanish variant that there was already a publication with that title under the original title record. So I unmerged the Spanish pub from the original and then merged the new title records. (Total: 3 submissions, one from Dirk, two from me.) It would have taken two submissions by first unmerging the pub, then making it into a variant. (Unmerging a pub creates a new title record automatically, so the first variant creation was unnecessary.) Of course, you also have to change the language for all non-English titles regardless of the procedure you use, unless the book was entered after we added the option to assign languages to non-English pubs. Mhhutchins 16:18, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
The end product looks just as I intended: It is easy to see how many translations there are for a given title, when they were translated, and in which language. We will just need more editors from non-English speaking countries to make it really work. --Dirk P Broer 18:17, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it looks good to me too. And when we catch up on the development backlog, I'll submit the code changes for ISFDB:Proposed Design Changes#Unmerge Foreign Title(s) too, which should make things easier. (Comments on that are still welcome, I'd be surprised if I got the requirements 100% right at the first attempt.) BLongley 20:24, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

100,000 Titles?

I did a count this evening of the number of genre titles we have in the system (different titles, not publications), including novels, collections, anthologies, omnibuses, chapterbooks, and nonfiction. "Advanced Search" told me we had 101,832 such book titles. However, that count includes variants, hence many titles are being counted twice. Still, it looks like we're approaching 100,000 titles. Does anyone know an easy way (other than writing a customized script) to keep track of how many actual books (excluding those variants) are in the system? I think it would be kind of neat to know when the odometer rolls over. Chavey 03:24, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

There's a Statistics page which excludes variants. Counting the types you're interested in gives 91,199 titles. (If we include Magazines and fanzines, we're already well past the 100,000.) BLongley 15:22, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! Maybe my next project will be to get us to 100,000 :-) Chavey 16:40, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
That sounds like a HUGE project - good luck! In the meantime, feel free to make Feature Requests - e.g. it sounds like "exclude variants" or "variants only" options might be handy for Advanced Title searches? BLongley 20:28, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Nominating user Chavey for moderator

See Moderator Qualifications#Becoming a moderator for the nomination process.

Chavey (talkcontribs) has been with us for some time now. He has volunteered for and initiated several projects, added feature requests, and has at this moment 6485 edits on his name. His latest outburst of "Daisy Meadows" submissions made me wish he'd already been a moderator. His user page shows good communicating skills. Darrah is willing and I think he meets the Moderator Requirements and will be a valuable addition to the team.

Support

  1. Support, as nominator. I've had no problems with his submissions for some time now. --Willem H. 13:05, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  2. Support. Mhhutchins 15:25, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  3. Support. And if his next project will be to get us to 100,000 titles from our current 91,199 titles (see section above) then I'd rather he do self-approval for now rather than overworking the rest of us. BLongley 00:29, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
  4. Support. Hauck 17:57, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  5. Support. Chris J 21:53, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  6. Support. Ahasuerus 22:28, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  7. Support. Kraang 01:16, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
  8. Support. Kevin 04:10, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
  9. Support. MartyD 22:46, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
  10. Support. See note below for Christian, came across his nomination first. And after all those "Fairy" submissions recently Lord Longley will worship the ground you walk on as the dreaded Fixer submissions may not fall so heavily on his part of the Empire!! :-) --~ Bill, Bluesman 23:26, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
A bit too late, I had to deal with a lot of the English submissions. Darrah and Christian can figure out who does the German versions. ;-) BLongley 23:44, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Oppose

Neutral/Comments

Outcome

  • The nomination was successful and the moderator flag has been set. Congratulations! Ahasuerus 19:51, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Nominating user Stonecreek for moderator

See Moderator Qualifications#Becoming a moderator for the nomination process.

Stonecreek (talkcontribs) has been adding to the database for almost a year now, and for me, his help with (and taking over of) the German Perry Rhodan series has been a great relief (never enough time). His 3546 edits may not look very impressive, but there are a lot of German publications among those contributions. His user page and the PR-discussion board show good communicating skills. The ability to at least self-moderate would help him work faster, and might prevent other moderators from getting RSI complaints. Christian is willing and I think he meets the Moderator Requirements. His knowledge of German publishing alone makes him an asset i.m.o.

Support

  1. Support, as nominator. It's a pleasure to work with Christian. --Willem H. 14:01, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  2. Support. Mhhutchins 15:26, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  3. Support. And 3,546 edits IS very impressive - it's rare that we get a new editor to stick with us for a hundred, let alone several thousand. BLongley 15:30, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  4. Support. Hauck 17:57, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  5. Support. Chris J 21:56, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  6. Support. Ahasuerus 22:29, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  7. Support.Kraang 01:16, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
  8. Support. Kevin 04:11, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
  9. Support. MartyD 22:47, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
  10. Support. Moderating is the best part, because you get to see all your mistakes before someone else does! My only suggestion is to proofread your own submissions before hitting "Accept". The "I can't believe I just typed that..." is more common that the waders at the 'deep' end of the pool will sometimes admit. I am prefect example of that. First rule is to have fun. Welcome aboard! --~ Bill, Bluesman 23:17, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
    • Bluesman's advice re: having fun is spot on. The more responsibilities we have, the easier it is to drown in them, so it's important to take a step back now and then and make sure you are still enjoying the process. Ahasuerus 19:56, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Oppose

Neutral/Comments

Outcome

  • Success -- the moderator flag has been set. Congratulations! Ahasuerus 19:56, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Noting Sources made easy - Attempt 1

I've spent a little time experimenting: how does this look?

Image:Sources.jpg

Of course, the defaults can be changed, the ordering or colours can be changed, other sources can be added, some of the lesser-used ones can be removed, the two new sections could be combined, or moved to other positions, the labels can be improved, etc: this is just a first attempt for discussion purposes. BLongley 19:40, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

I haven't got to the next stage yet, i.e. what the Moderator's approval screen would look like, and the final step as to what this actually does to the database is up for discussion too. Is it desirable to automatically Verify or should that remain a separate step for when the Editor agrees that the publication looks right? Is it OK to just generate an automatic note, or do we need a new "Source" field for publications? BLongley 19:40, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Thinking even further ahead, we could make the defaults user-selectable so that if someone wants to do a session of Tuck or Bleiler or Reginald entries they can do such without having to change the default each time. BLongley 19:40, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

I like it. I'm not sure who uses those dealer sites as sources, so I'd forego those if given a limit in displaying of sources. Mhhutchins 20:11, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
We could make those appear or not according to the "My Web Sites" preferences a user can set? I've coded it so that the Verification sources will all still work if people add some more, with the exception of Primary 2 through 5 - I envision the code automatically filling in the next available primary slot (if any) if auto-verification is desirable. BLongley 21:11, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
It's also possible to let the Moderators control the full list of other sources in the same way they can edit the Ref List. But that is so rarely used (I can't recall anyone but me changing it in the last few years) that I'm not sure it's worth the development time. BLongley 21:11, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I've already thought of some more. I included "The Whole Science Fiction Data Base" as that is something Don Erikson reqularly quotes, but now I remember that Bluesman often quotes the British Library, and many people refer to the Library of Congress. And some of our Magazines are entered from fictionmag entries that come from ebay listings... BLongley 21:25, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Frankly, BLIC is a better resource than either Clute/Nicholls or Clute/Grant and have better records than OCLC [though just for UK publications]. The data available there is quite superior, even in the 'stub/minimal' records. I add links to their records frequently. --~ Bill, Bluesman 23:55, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I see no reason why Primary Verification should remain a separate step. There have been many times I've failed to do a Primary Verification because I went on to another pub without going back to verify a record I'd just submitted. I'm sure other editors have experienced the same. Do you know of any reason why someone working from a pub in-hand would want to wait until the submission has been accepted before verifying it? Mhhutchins 20:11, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, I can understand an editor wanting to check that his updates went through without additional moderator interference first. There are things that a Moderator can be absolutely sure of and might helpfully correct - e.g. I regularly fix "trade paperback" to "tp" and let them know I've done it - but on some of the woolier areas like "publisher" I might have a strong opinion on exactly how I want it entered and would not verify it if someone changed it. E.g. if someone "helpfully" changed my "Triad Panther" to "Triad / Panther" or "Panther / Triad" I'd object strongly. But I agree that in most cases we should do the verification(s) automatically - but I'd still allow people to opt-out. BLongley 21:11, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
One, and only one, verification source raises a different issue/problem: OCLC. Because of the structure/format of the site, there can be multiple records [some dreadful, many just stubs] for any given publication. I would like to see it mandated, not just preferred, that at least the record number being used is added to the notes [html better, but only for those comfortable with it]. --~ Bill, Bluesman 23:55, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
That could be arranged. I only verify against OCLC without a number if they provide a record that matches based on our automated ISBN-lookup there. When that's not automated, I check them out - I've recently corrected people that refer to an OCLC record that only quoted copyright date and not printing date. We can get the software to do the hyper-link generation automatically, if we agree that an OCLC verification against an unknown number is valueless - but how stable are their links? Are they fixing stuff as well/often as we are? Do we need to link our publication level verifications to all their (duplicated) entries for such?BLongley 00:17, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
They fix nothing. I've sent numerous e-mails/feedback and it's totally ignored. BLIC is extremely responsive, what a treat! --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:05, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Otherwise such verifications are vaporware. I'm still not sure why we encourage editors to wait for submission approvals before verifying at any level [other than OCLC] as reversing a verification is ridiculously easy. It's the only unmoderated step we have [not sure that should be the case, but it's what is]. --~ Bill, Bluesman 23:55, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
It's not the only unmoderated step, see title tagging. And I don't trust people to stick around to UN-verify if they don't think it went their way - we get a load of people that do a little bit then quit as "it's too difficult" here. And it's not that intuitive to unverify anyway - nor is it clear when we're allowed or encouraged to. I've many concerns about adding automatic verification (primary or transient) as it currently is not possible to restore a verification you over-wrote, and we're not clear when that would be OK in the first place either. I wish Brin1 or ALibrarian would come back and answer questions, or that Scott Latham still communicated, but Verification is still open to abuse and shouldn't be. When we've got all the Primary slots filled up, do we want to allow a newcomer to overwrite some just so that he or she can use "My Primary Verifications" as a personal catalogue of books he or she has got? When we were less active, that seemed OK. Now I suspect it could be abused - I know I can't use it that way without stepping on someone's toes. More Primary Verification slots are easily possible but we haven't coped with the underlying problem - verification is not the perfect answer however many slots we have and however many secondaries we allow. BLongley 00:36, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Automatic verification? That would be a mistake. Verifications, even secondary, have to mean something, otherwise it's just racking up numbers [and being the one with the most secondary verifications, the numbers mean nothing; such are there to simply let another editor know the source has been 'visited', and to those who do such without notes, get with the program!! ;-)]. --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:05, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
It's an option for the people that deliberately check "I own this publication" or "I am working from this publication but will not have it permanently" (on the option below - this one seems dead now) rather than have them forget to come back after approval and figure out which Primary slot is still available. I'm just throwing out options for discussion, although I do seem to be getting into a "if you lot don't know what you want, you're getting nothing!" mood. I thought I was only supposed to have that attitude when I had children! :-) BLongley 02:32, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
As for your last question: No, we don't need a separate field for source. I'd rather have a field for printing or a second catalog number or editor before a source field. The note field should be sufficient. A question: will the checked non-reference sources (those other than Primary, Tuck, Currey, etc.) appear in the note field upon acceptance of the submission? Mhhutchins 20:11, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
My initial thoughts are that we'd automatically generate a note for anything that can be automated - the ones with "(please state which in Notes)" would still need to be manually added. BLongley 21:11, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
All rise and applaud loudly (or longley). I like it very much. One question though, shouldn't the checkboxes be on the left of the choices? The pre-checked Primary Verification looks like a Clute/Nicholls one to me. --Willem H. 20:18, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I borrowed the Labelling order from the "Verify Publication" screen but of course it could be reversed. Or just better spaced so there's a bigger gap between options? BLongley 21:17, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
As I usually work with printed sources (old-fashioned me!), perhaps an "Author's bibliography (state in notes)" box should be added (for example, it'll permit to point to the GCP or Borgo bibliographies). Hauck 20:35, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Perfectly possible, if you think "Other source (please state which in Notes)" doesn't cover it. We could even allow people to put in the title id of the bibliography being quoted, if it's one we have an entry for, and make it a hyperlink? BLongley 21:20, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
An hyperlink would be nice but, IMHO, overcomplicated (I suppose that the title have to be exactly the same as entered which could easily become problematic). Hauck 09:16, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
It would be an optional extra for expert users: formatting the HTML for such links is fraught with danger (you can make a pub uneditable with some basic errors) and I'd like the software to help us out. We could extend such for LCCN and OCLC entries as well. BLongley 17:02, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I think this is over the top... I'm very concerned that this will scare people away more than anything else we could do to the input form. I could go for 2 check boxes... 1. I Have the book in hand. 2. I'm using a secondary source followed by an entry box where they could type Worldcat, Amazon, ebay, whatever. Kevin 23:49, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I understand the concerns. I really don't expect people to just give a Yes/No vote to this - it wouldn't be my decision in the end anyway, only Ahasuerus or Al can put such changes live. I'm looking for opinions. And if "keep it as it is, and let people choose if they want some options like this" is OK, that's fine by me. I'll see if I can dummy up an example for "1. I Have the book in hand. 2. I'm using a secondary source" tomorrow, although that option seems too little to me rather than too much. But if we demanded 100% agreement on everything than Al wouldn't have let us loose on his precious data... ;-) BLongley 00:22, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I Understand, 2 might be too minimalist.. but once you go more than 4-6 check boxes.. I swear people just start tuning them all out. (I work in/on a database at work that has a checkbox screen to initiate a query that has 60+ checkboxes.... perhaps I've been burned (or burned out), but I think I've seen peoples heads spin around the first time we show it to them. Heheh) Kevin 04:07, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
We're not talking 60+ checkboxes here which would spin anyone's head. Given a choice, infinitely more people are going to check them with 20 than they would with 0. People aren't beating down our doors now to edit data. Why would sourcing drive away the relative few that are willing to contribute? And if the idea of sourcing drives away an undetermined percentage of possible contributors, I don't look at it as a great loss. Those who remain would be serious bibliographers who might even stick around longer when they realize the potential of the project with its high standards and its academic approach. I would not miss the casual editor who throws a few breadcrumbs into the database and then disappears because they're unwilling to follow our standards. If that's elitist, I wear it proudly. Mhhutchins 04:56, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm quite ambivalent about this issue. IMHO all this is : 1) necessary to avoid future interrogations on the source of data, 2) clearly overcomplicated (not to mention quite obscure and very taxing for a casual editor) 3) of limited use (I mean that it interests editors who practise "secondary source bibliography", a stage to which I still haven't ascended (and that I'm not overtly fond of). Why not propose a choice between a "standard" (the present one, which can even be simplified but with the PV included) and a "extensive" entering screen for more seasoned or "secondary-inclined" users ? Hauck 09:31, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Mhhutchins, ease of use is orthogonal to serious bibliography. If a new person feels overwhelmed by the software, they may decide it's too hard even if they are a serious bibliographer. --JLaTondre 14:06, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I admit the example doesn't have 60 check boxes... but it does have 34... which is a lot.. which is my primary concern... wherever that fuzzy line is... what we've got here crosses it I'm afraid. Kevin 15:39, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Does this really solve anything? If all the data comes from a single source, it works. But it seems to me that as soon as data comes from multiple sources, we're right back at the same problem. Without a note, how do you know which data came from where? For example, I've added a number of books from small pubs that don't have a publication date, only a copyright date. I'll enter those with a note like "No date other than year. Publication date from Amazon.com as of xxx." Having source check boxes seems to me to encourage people (at least new ones) to only check the box and not add a note as to which information can from where. --JLaTondre 14:06, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Now that's a checkbox I could support... 'Month of publication from Amazon'. And we could maybe put it below the date entry box... that way it's not overwhelming in a huge section of boxes. Kevin 15:39, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Noting Sources made easy - Attempt 2

OK, thanks for all the feedback. It's obvious that my worst-case scenario is worrying people (as I suspected it would) so here's another option: Image:Sources2.jpg

This is probably less scary and yet still allows people to add a Primary or Primary (Transient) verification in one go, and hopefully encourages people to add notes about the source(s). Note that these options do NOT have to be mutually exclusive - it's possible to implement them all and have "beginner", "advanced" and "expert" options in user preferences. Comment away! BLongley 16:52, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

I prefer this one, its intent is noticeably clearer. Hauck 18:09, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I like it. Kevin 18:53, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree: this more simpler approach might get more cooperation. Although, I'd prefer that the checkboxes be on the left of the options, and listing them vertically in a single column might improve the display's visual appeal. Mhhutchins 18:53, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree... checkboxes should be to the left. Kevin 19:18, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
OK, I'll dummy up another version tomorrow. Did I get the number of options right and in the right order? Should there be a default option? Sometimes I feel I have to throw a mental hand-grenade into the mix to get a response. :-/ BLongley 23:01, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Beating the horse [not quite dead, I hope] if other website is OCLC, add record #. --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:12, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
I'll include that as an option and see if people like it as a recommendation or a mandatory requirement. The problem is we have now got to the stage where we have more opinions than editors, more editors than moderators (good!), more moderators than developers (understandable), and about as many developers as bureaucrats - with about as many of each active. It's not a surprise we are getting to sound a bit pissy with each other. BLongley 00:44, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Hopefully, we're all better 'adjusted' than that!  :-) the basic problem seems to be that our "Help" pages do anything but. I find them useless, hard to navigate [I can never seem to find the part about the sites we can download images from, and for some strange reason it isn't a part of the page that describes how to download them?¿?¿?] and counterintuitive in the extreme. This is the visual age, yet our Help pages are nothing but script/words. I remember very fondly/distinctly asking for diagrams/examples [I'm a carpenter, visuals work] and Bill Longley providing such for a couple of editing problems I was having. They were invaluable. I am not 'computer-savvy', in development or software I am a zero, yet I function very well here and 'get' nearly all the nuances of the 'system'. That's just from perseverance, not necessarily in-depth understanding. Most new editors aren't going to last, no matter how friendly the system is or may become. There aren't that many who dig/love/crave bibliography beyond a certain level [author/series/genre would be pushing it]. It's what we, as moderators or editors just have to accept. It's also what makes Moderating new editors so hard, most aren't going to stay [Michael has unbelievable patience, wish I did]. Overloading them with choices obviously isn't wise, but if it weeds out the "I'm only doing this for your benefit" type, so be it. The current batch of editors, and about-to-be moderators seem to 'get' the project. Short of seeming elitist, weeding the 'gene' pool works. And not mentioning that Ahasuerus eats rookie editors might be a wise thing!!  :-)) --~ Bill, Bluesman 01:16, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Unfair, totally unfair! Why, it's been weeks (if not months) since I ate a rookie editor! Besides, they taste much better once they are a little more seasoned (as it were.) Ahasuerus 04:11, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the compliments in all that! I suspect my time at present may be better spent on doing more diagrams, examples, photos, (maybe even videos?), if we know what we need them FOR and where to put them so people FIND them? Those are the big questions, but those seem more important than me shaving a few seconds off the submission time for an experienced editor. BLongley 02:16, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
You are most welcome! If I had the requisite expertise to do such diagrams, I'd jump in with all three feet [or meter, as required], but I don't. The most obvious areas would be merges, entering new titles under the correct version [where Variants exist]; the absolute necessity of using "Add Pub" or "Clone" instead of "New Pub"; image linking [we don't even describe how to do a link to anything in the notes properly!!!]. I can't think of any part of Help that wouldn't be better with diagrams/pictures/examples. We seem only to note the 'correct' way [in words], seldom noting the 'incorrect' way. Every 'Field" entry should have examples of both. Not all our editors are English-first, so wading through really obnoxious prose can't do anything but turn some away [moi included]. Examples of proper HTML coding would go a long to eliminating the same messages to new editors over and over. --~ Bill, Bluesman 03:44, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Policy change: Use "B" for works credited to "A writing as B"

Per this discussion, the help has been changed to say that if a title page credits "A writing as B", "B" should be recorded as the author (with "A"'s mention recorded in the notes). This is a change in policy: The previous help called for "A" to be recorded. --MartyD 23:08, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

So, are you going to rework all such of my pubs for me? Or post a project for such? BLongley 02:22, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Sort Order for Dead SF Writers

I noticed that the home page listing of "SF Writers Who Died on this Day" is sorted by birthdate. I wonder if it would make more sense to sort it by the deathdate? Any thoughts on adding a list of "SF Writers Who Died in the Last Thirty Days?"--Rkihara 19:37, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

It should be trivial to do either. Personally, I try to avoid looking at anything that morbid. :-/ BLongley 23:04, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Fantasy Publishing Co.

This publisher appears in our records as: (1) Fantasy Publishing Co. [4 pubs]; (2) Fantasy Publishing Co., Inc. [13 pubs]; (3) Fantasy Publishing Company [1 pub]; (4) Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. [18 pubs]; (5) FPCI [30 pubs]. I would like to standardize on one name. Can you suggest a reason to prefer one over the others? Chavey 03:28, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

There appears to be a fuzzy line between how the books and the magazines are credited. I'd hold off standardizing them until the verifiers get a chance to recheck their pubs. Ron (Rtrace) seems to have verified the most pubs and their credits are pretty well distributed among the different forms of the name. Perhaps he should be the consulted first before doing any merging. Ahasuerus and Swfritter have many of the magazines (Fantasy Book and Spaceways). Hauck and Willem have verified records as well. Mhhutchins
As far as I'm concerned, I welcome this standardization and have no problem with any of the propositions. Hauck 05:09, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
I only have one of these, Planets of Adventure. The publisher was in the database as FPCI at the time of verification, which seemed like a standardized name at the time (and printed like that on the spine of the dustjacket), so I left it that way. In the pub the name is stated as "Fantasy Publishing Co., Inc.". One of these two would be my preferred spelling, unless Ron thinks otherwise. --Willem H. 18:55, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Going by title pages, I've got 5 with "Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc.", 5 (including 1 magazine) with "Fantasy Publishing Co., Inc." and 2 with simply "Fantasy Publishing Company". I've also got 1 Griffin Publishing House (One of William L. Crawford's other imprints) which has "Distributed by Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc." on the jacket flap. All of the spines, have the publisher as "FPCI" if they list a publisher at all (7 out 10, 1 is missing 90% of the spine). Clute/Nichols has "FPCI" redirecting to the main article at "Fantasy Publishing Company Inc.". The Chalker/Owings article is under "Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. (FPCI)" and alphabetically sorted as FPCI. Eshbach uses "Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc." in both the chapter on the press, and the bibliography in the appendix. I think it is a fine idea to collapse these into one canonical publisher name. While I like the idea of "FPCI" since it is easy to type, I think that "Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc." seems like the best choice, since we don't really track much in the way of publisher data and the abbreviation, though commonly used, may not appear on all publications. However, I don't feel strongly about which form we go with, and would be happy with any of the variants. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 02:12, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I've changed all non-verified records' publisher credit to "Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc." and left all other records for the verifiers to change. I've left all magazines as is, until Stephen Fritter has a chance to see this discussion. I've a feeling he'll want them to remain as is, because he's very explicit in recording publisher credits for the magazines that he's verified. Mhhutchins 03:03, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
No problems here. I changed mine.--Willem H. 06:23, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Noting Sources made easy - Attempt 3

A minor rearrangement: Image:Sources3.jpg

The idea is that for a New Pub or Add Pub submission, the first option would automatically Primary Verify it, the second would Primary (Transient) Verify it: the next three will automatically generate additional notes like "Data from Publisher website", "Data from Author website", "Data from OCLC Record Number" (the last being a generated hyperlink if the record number is supplied) and for the remainder it's up to them to supply notes. BLongley 17:20, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

I can find nothing wrong with this, but will allow all the naysayers their opinions as to why it won't work. I applaud your efforts in finding this solution to earlier suggestions. Good job, Bill. Mhhutchins 17:42, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Nice work. Hauck 17:57, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
I was enthusiastic about the first effort. This is even better. --Willem H. 19:02, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Pip, pip!! What a smashing success! One minor question: what format would the automated notes take? I don't mean the wording, so much, as HTML/???? My only thought there is that the additional notes added by the editor should follow the same format, so it should be something easy to match. --~ Bill, Bluesman 21:50, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Good question about the automated notes. They could be added at the beginning with a break before the rest of the editor's notes following, or at the end with a break before it. (Trying to figure out whether the manually entered notes already quotes a source is too much effort.) Does anyone have a preference? BLongley 01:11, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I feel the auto-generated notes should follow any of the editor's manually-entered notes (after an HTML line break, of course.) Mhhutchins 01:43, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Only an OCLC reference number would generate anything more complex than "break" tags - and of course, if people want to quote several OCLC sources then they will still have to be manual. We can build in a few checks as well - e.g. make Primary and Primary (Transient) mutually exclusive. And either consider the most likely option and make that a default, or leave it with no default and not selecting at least one of them would be an error. (I suspect there is a risk of data-loss if we make it mandatory up front, I know I've lost a lot of work when the up-front checks complain about a missing author or date.) But it sounds like we've got stage one mostly sorted now, I'll give it a little longer to gather feedback and then will dummy-up what the Moderator will see, and make sure that my suggestions for the final effect are actually possible. BLongley 01:11, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that the "no default" option is better. On the format of the notes, I confess to prefer strongly the simplest one (with only breaks). I personally found the more sophisticated (with lines, bullets or whatever) formats nicer to the eye but mostly quite painful to add to. Hauck 05:29, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I Like it. Outstanding! One question.. to be sure I understood.... The auto 'verifications' will only happen for a 'new pub' or 'add pub' action right? Because this removes the sticky question of over-writing previous verifications. Can I also suggest 'clone pub' to include this behavior? Thanks! Kevin 16:26, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, once I've cracked it for 'add pub' (the one I'm working on first) then 'new pub' and 'clone pub' should be a doddle. I'm not thinking further ahead than those for now, although editing an unverified pub could benefit from something like this too. Editing a primary verified one probably needs a separate discussion, as I don't think it should be too easy to mess with such. BLongley 17:01, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

(Unindent) Most people won't be interested in this bit, but here's the visible bit of Stage 2 of the process: Image:Sourcing.jpg - or Image:Sourcing2.jpg if you supply the OCLC/Worldcat number.

Submission with an XML parse error in the queue

Can any moderator who can read XML figure out what the problem is with this submission? I'd hate to have to reject it since there appears to have been a lot of work involved in entering the contents. Mhhutchins 17:39, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Would there be any harm in approving the submission (if possible) and then repairing any problems? Mhhutchins 17:46, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
It's the odd character � at the end of Author "Martha Hubbard" that's causing the error. So if it will approve, it's easy to fix afterwards. BLongley 18:18, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, I approved it, and this was the result. Maybe you can fix it? I can find no pub in the system with record 1687041. Mhhutchins 18:28, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Now I see it remains in the queue, even after accepting it. I'm going to remove the hold and let a moderator more experienced with XML handle it. Mhhutchins 22:47, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Looking into it... Ahasuerus 01:05, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I have rejected the submission and left a note on Dwarzel's Talk page. In general, it's much safer not to approve submissions that complain about problems with XML. Most of the time, they can be repaired by using low level database tools, but it's not always a straightforward process. If I mistype a command it can affect the wrong record or, if we are really unlucky, destroy the database and force us to go back to the backups. Been there, done that. Ahasuerus 01:35, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Publisher Info

We started, then stalled, on Publisher regularisation. But since the Mods started getting warnings about NEW publishers being created I don't think the problem has got significantly worse, and may even be improving. I'd like to extend this a bit and warn the Mods when a Publication is being entered for an existing Publisher or Imprint that just didn't exist at the time of that publication. This would help us spot things like TSR books published by "Wizards of the Coast" before WotC even started. Or "Borgo Press" books actually published by "Wildside". BLongley 01:41, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

This would mainly affect the bot submissions, but would also help with editors that (mistakenly) trust sources like Amazon. Is it worth the effort for me to develop such checks? It would require people to edit publishers with information about when they started, and sadly also when they ended - e.g. Drollerie Press and SRM Publisher seem to be recently defunct. Even if the checks are determined to be undesirable, such data might be considered desirable against a publisher - they don't always justify a Wikipedia page, and recording their website after they've gone out of business hardly helps. Thoughts please? BLongley 01:41, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

I think a highlight of color and a flag warning "Print date outside known publisher dates" or something similar could be very useful. Kevin 03:51, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I also believe it to be very useful. And would it be possible to instal the same feature for publication series? It'd be equally useful, I think. Stonecreek 02:39, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Moderators see a warning when a new publication series is part of a "add new pub" submission. Mhhutchins 02:51, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Oh, you mean a range of dates for a publication series! Sorry, I thought you meant a warning about a new publication series. Mhhutchins 02:54, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Just thought of another potential check: record the main currency for a publisher and maybe we'll have a better chance of spotting when Fixer is submitting US Pubs from Amazon UK or vice versa? BLongley 16:16, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Image:EditPublisher.jpg
I like it. I suppose current publishers will have an open end date. Mhhutchins 17:26, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes - I would hope that people do try and find a start date though. Amazon's habit of crediting older books to their current publisher has probably meant a lot of duff data here. I still daren't try and sort out Harper/Collins/Voyager... :-( BLongley 18:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
And it will only work if moderators follow-up on warnings. I've found that the "new publisher" warning sometimes goes unheeded. For example, there is no such thing as "Delacorte Books for Young Readers" (all books are published as by Delacorte Press, and that's how they're credited on the title pages, regardless of how Amazon records their publications). So every now and then I check to make sure they're correctly entered, and usually have to update them. (Also there's no "Berkley Trade", a generic publisher name for Berkley Books, Berkley Heat, Berkley Prime Crime, and Berkley Sensation for their trade paperbacks.) Again, I'm having to update them. It only takes one to get through and then the warning disappears. Sometimes all it takes is a half-minute for the moderator to check out the warning. Mhhutchins 17:26, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
It would also be possible to prevent an invalid date on a publication from being approved - if the moderator finds that the date-range for the publisher is incorrect, then correcting that would allow the submission to get through. But it would be rather unfriendly on submissions that had a minor typo. (Which reminds me, we don't warn people about 5-digit years...) BLongley 18:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Bill Longley gave me a list of one-pub publishers a year or so ago. I worked on it for a few days and gave it up as it was very frustrating. This comment may have devolved into the publisher regularisation issue (like that spelling, Bill?), but it does hinder a user's ability to find all the books from any particular publisher. Mhhutchins 17:26, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
There's a lot of problems with publishers still. I suspect making the publisher record more useful will encourage people to consolidate all the variants rather than have to duplicate the data - but of course people may decide to use it the other way and start separating, for instance, "Tor Science Fiction" and "Tor Fantasy". BLongley 18:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
And maybe I'm working on the wrong Publisher problem - you can't "find all the books from any particular publisher" easily unless they have a pretty unique name. Maybe working on advanced search so that we can do "Begins with" or "Ends with" or "Exact match" might be better use of my time? Searching for "Tor" as a publisher throws up "Seven Stories Press", and many people are biased against book club editions - if they're biased for then "ends with SFBC" would be a plus. I'm open to suggestions. BLongley 18:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps this kind of advanced search can become part of a cleanup script, e. g. listaing all publishers beginning by the same group of letters (Arrow giving Arrow and Arrow Books which seems good candidates for merging) or being near duplicates (one letter divergence or differing by "&" instead of "and"). For me, the problem when entering publishers is to decide to add the status of the firm (Inc., Gmbh, SA, Ltd.) and the localisation (New York, London, Paris) or not as the rule "Enter as printed on title page of the book" seems to have been greatly relaxed.

Can't upload cover image

When I try to upload a cover image, I get the message:

Error creating thumbnail: /var/www/html/wiki//bin/ulimit4.sh: line 4: /usr/local/bin/convert: No such file or directory

Anyone know what's up with that? Chavey 21:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Are you talking about this file? Looks like you've uploaded two identical versions. The files are on the server. It's just that they're larger than the suggested limits, but not by much. You'll need to change your preferences to a larger dimension if you want to see them on the wiki page. Go to Preferences, click on Files, and change the "Limit images on file" selection to the largest one possible. Are you also aware that you uploaded this image without adding a license to it? (It would appear on the image's Wiki page.) That's only done automatically if you upload from the database side using the "Upload Cover Scan" link on the pub record's page. Otherwise you have to add the license manually. Mhhutchins 22:20, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
It would have been better to first create a record for the book (I can't find a record for it), and after it's in the db, use the "Upload Cover Scan" function. If you need assistance in creating a license tag for the image, let me know. Mhhutchins 22:27, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
That fixed my problem. I deleted the earlier file, so the link above to the image doesn't work anymore. The record for it does exist, but you didn't find it because the date "1925" in the image name is an approximate date for that edition of "Peter and Wendy". So I switched to doing the uploads as you suggested, but I'm not sure what's up with the license. When I go to my recent cover upload Wiki pages for The Purple Cloud and Peter and Wendy, I find no reference to "License" on that page, and the same thing is true when I go to Wiki pages for cover art uploaded by other users. Specifically, I checked covers from the last 6 editors to upload cover art, and neither "license" nor "licensing" occurred anywhere on any of those pages. So I assume it's called something else on those pages? Chavey 04:30, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
There are two licenses which are generated when you use the semi-automated "Upload Cover Scan" function. The first is the "Fair Use Image Data" (blue bar) and the second is the "Fair Use Image Rationale" (pink bar). They're simply a way to explain that we don't own the images, but feel we can display them under the "fair use" laws. (I'm not aware of any lawyers beating down our doors if we didn't attach a license to the image, but it's better to be safe than sorry.) Here's a list of all of the license tags, the most common one is the one we use for images. If you do a manual upload of an image, you have to edit the wiki page for the image using the CID1 template:

{{Cover Image Data
|Title=<publication title>
|Edition=<date and/or publisher>
|Pub=<the publication record number or tag>
|Publisher=<Name of publisher>
|Artist=<name of cover artist>
|Source=<origin of image>
}}

These license tags are created automatically when you use the "Upload Cover Scan" or "Upload New Cover Scan" functions. Mhhutchins 05:05, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

8888 Dates and unpublished books

I have a situation with a book that is listed on Amazon, but was never published. The author writes:

It was a children's book that was submitted but the editor of the publishing company took off with the bank account that year and the publishing company went under. Amazon will not remove the book because the editor put it up and only she could take it off (per their rules).

Thus the book is eligible for an "8888-00-00" number as unpublished, except that our rules state:

8888-00-00 means that the book has been announced but not published 
and is reserved for well known examples like Last Dangerous Visions.

The book does not qualify under the last clause. So if I delete the book, is there anything I should do to ensure that, say, Fixer or some editor doesn't try to bring it back later? Chavey 12:08, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

I think we need to relax the "well known example" rule. I'm regretting deleting many Angry Robot books that were pre-announced with HarperCollins ISBNs, then actually published under another once they'd moved to Osprey group. Recording the Vapourware is the only way we can avoid it reappearing. BLongley 17:22, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree the rule needs to be amended. (It's not being interpreted that way, at least by this editor.) There's a good case for keeping records of these ISBNs, just so that Fixer or an editor using non-confirmed data from secondary sources will try to enter pubs again...and again...and again. Using 8888 for all such pubs and keeping an ISFDB record for it will at least prevent that from happening. Another thing: anytime you see "Out of Print--Limited Availability" in an Amazon listing without any used copies from its partners, 9 times out of 10 it's vaporware. Mhhutchins 18:03, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree -- there is value in being able to quickly determine that an ISBN was canceled. Ahasuerus 02:37, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I've updated the standard, and hope I'm not presumptuous in doing so. Mhhutchins 04:22, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I appreciate the change, and have now labelled the book in question as "Unpublished". Which means that we have everything about it that Amazon does, but more :-) Which is a worthy goal. Chavey 13:44, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Science Fiction Awards Watch

...are seeking a new owner and if they don't find one the site will close down. This would be a shame as our award coverage is not as complete as theirs (yet). If anyone knows someone who has the time and money to take over please let them know about this. If not, can anyone capture the data for the awards we don't cover yet? BLongley 13:50, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

I just did a full site download, 2701 files, 88 Mg (hence it fits on one CD). I'll try to remember to do another full dump later in the month as well, in case there are additional updates. It will be a shame to see it go, because it certainly is useful for many of the lesser-known awards. I got much of my data from them as I was building up my lists of Awards For Us To Add. As they say themselves, most viewers are interested in the big awards, and those are well covered by other sites, but it's all the other awards that have made them important. This might be a good time for us to work more on incorporating these other awards into our system, since for many of them we might become the best remaining location for that information. Chavey 17:42, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! There's a stack of Award improvements awaiting Ahasuerus when he can finally catch up on sleep. It's good to know we're not losing the data forever, though. :-) BLongley 21:06, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
That's what HTTrack is for :-) From Ahaseurus
Or, since I'm on a Mac, SiteSucker. Chavey 21:58, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
It seems to have survived the transition to new owner Steve Davidson. BLongley 18:47, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (SFE)

The beta version of SFE has gone live. (Which begs the question: why isn't it the ESF?) Mhhutchins 19:19, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

Probably one of those Euro-French things.... Though this is a nice resource. We might want to consider a 'named' weblink slot for authors at least (like Wikipedia and IMDB) to the SFE. Kevin 20:05, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
FWIW, the browser says "Science Fiction Encyclopedia". Ahasuerus 22:34, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. And that they'd be linked automatically instead of having to link each one manually (sigh). Mhhutchins 20:39, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
It looks like a good resource and worth linking to, but it requires some thought/research. For example, how stable are the URLs, e.g. do they have plans to change URLs when they complete the beta phase? Also, since they cover not just authors, but also publishers, magazines, series, etc, we may need to add new fields to a number of different records. Ahasuerus 22:34, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Well, we can ask them. We could even have a stab at generating the author links automatically, but it's a shame that they seem to use "Lastname, Firstname" while we don't. BLongley 16:39, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
It's nice to see that we still cover a lot more people than they do, and that they have foreign language difficulties too. BLongley 16:39, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Keith and Donald Monroe

According to Boys' Life, October 1965, "Dale Colombo is the pen name which a pair of well-known authors use for the Boys' Life space-travel stories they write together. Both are veteran Scout leaders." We also learn in "He Stayed for the Dividends" by Mac Gardner, which appeared in Scouting, January-February 1970, pp.18-19 and 42 (as pointed out to me by Bill Higgins) that Keith Monroe was one half of Dale Colombo. Since both Monroes were scout leaders, I am tempted to assume that Donald was the other half of "Dale Colombo", but it would be nice to have more solid proof. Anyone?

BTW, there are two Web pages dedicated to Keith Monroe's and Donald Monroe's Time Machine series -- http://planettom.livejournal.com/301351.html and http://beamjockey.livejournal.com/150027.html -- in case someone wants to fill in the gaps in our coverage. Unfortunately, neither author appears to know which stories were used to put together Mutiny in the Time Machine and Time Machine to the Rescue. Ahasuerus 05:01, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

SFE3 versus ISFDB - Kenneth Bulmer German Editions

Now that the Science Fiction Encyclopedia is in beta text, I thought I'd see where they have better coverage than us. They do seem to cover the Dray Prescot series further than we do, and have more information about the original German titles. Would one of our German-reading Editors care to look at their coverage and see how we compare? It would be a good test of our latest language support improvements, and we may be able to claim some superiority in certain areas - e.g. they translate "Die Banditen von Antares" as "Bandits of Antares" but we seem fairly sure the English version is "Gangs of Antares". BLongley 17:06, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Yep, it is "Gangs of Antares", as this book states. It covers the series up to #52, with the announcement of a possible publication of #53. I will take a further look into the matter. Stonecreek 18:41, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I added the first three of the 'original' German editions that weren't already in our database. Now we have three titles and the German title with Kenneth Bulmer as author (look here for an example) seems a bit superfluous. What do you think? Stonecreek 19:26, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
It does - I think there should just be the Akers German title and the Bulmer English one. By the way, do you know if they were originally written in German? If so, the German title would be considered the canonical one and the English one the variant. BLongley 13:30, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
They were written for the German market, but not in German (Andreas Decker at least translated the later ones), so I think it is better to keep the English titles as parents. I will delete the German Bulmer titles and keep adding the missing titles.

The question is if the English titles (prior to #46) should be redated, since they were already published in the first half of the Nineties in German. Stonecreek 15:08, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

It looks as if current practice is moving away from what help says: "variant titles do not have their own dates". I think I'd prefer to keep different dates for different languages - but the canonical title's date should be the earliest. Time for a Rules and Standards discussion? (New features will often lead to such, there's very few Rules that are immutable.) BLongley 18:38, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree - provided you mean the English title by 'canonical'.
I added #50 today but have a problem with #51: the Heyne bibliography gives the title as 'Mord auf Antares', Deutsche Nationalbibliothek as 'Mord auf Kregen'. Heyne gives the corresponding original title 'Murder on Antares' (D. N. gives none), while the other two title of the Phantom cycle (#52 and the proposed #53) have 'Kregen' in their titles. I'll see if I get to any other bibliographies or may actually have a grip on the book in a secondhand shop (the latter will take some time, though). Stonecreek 08:09, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
This site shows it as 'Mord auf Kregen' with supporting cover-picture. BLongley 14:18, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Well, thank you! This clarifies the matter. Stonecreek 18:46, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Quite a pretty site, we must cross-check some more. I'm surprised there's only 2 Italian editions, but I don't think the page has been updated in some time. (Someone might tell them they have mislabeled 40.) BLongley 19:28, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Amazon Publishing launches spec fic imprint

Of possible interest to us --
Publisher's Weekly just posted an article titled "Amazon Launches Sci Fi/Fantasy Imprint 47North". They write:

"Amazon has added another genre to its publishing stable, with the launch of 47North, a science fiction/fantasy/horror imprint that will publish original and previously published works from new and established authors as well as out-of-print books...."

The full article is available here. A whole bunch of new ebooks, and the associated problems they bring.

Andre Norton's "Star Born"

In verifying my copy of the 1957 Star Born, by Andre Norton, the existing listing has a catalog number of "HC257". On the other hand, the back cover of the jacket has the number "1736" at the bottom, looking very much like a catalog number. Does anyone know where the "HC257" came from? Chavey 01:19, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm personally against any hardcover having a catalog number (other than the ISBN) unless there's absolute certainty that the number in question is a catalog number. I see all kinds of numbers on dustjackets and couldn't begin to tell you which ones are "catalog numbers". So record them all in the notes (and let God sort them out.) Mhhutchins 02:30, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
That number came from the [Norton] website. I've e-mailed Jay to see where he got it from. Best guess would be one of those publisher lists that fill back covers sometimes. I'll let you know what he says. --~ Bill, Bluesman 20:34, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Just received a reply: The HC-257 comes from the private notes I have from the Author of "Andre Norton: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography" and she says it is on the bottom corner of DJ of her first edition. Is it possible the number '1736' is a book club number? --~ Bill, Bluesman 14:54, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
Possibly, but there's no evidence it was ever a selection of Doubleday's SFBC. Maybe another book club? I still wouldn't put the numbers (HC257 or 1736) into the catalog # field, based on the evidence as presented. Look at this record. Maybe Willem can explain. His number follows yours sequentially and chronologically. Mhhutchins 05:59, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
My copy of "The Time Traders" has #1846 printed on the backcover (as stated in the notes, and i.m.h.o. this is a catalog number), but there is also "WP958" on the copyright page (see scan here. At the time of verifying I thought that stood for "World Publishing 1958", but on secont thought (Darrah, does "Star Born" have HC257 on the copyright page?) could this be a printing statement, like the gutter code? In that case "Star Born" (published in march 1957) was printed in february 1957, and "The Time Traders" in september 1958 (I added a note about this to my pub). There is no metion of any book club in the book, and the price is printed on the front flap of the dustjacket. Hope this helps. --Willem H. 10:27, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

(Unindent) It appears that you're right about this code being a printing date. My copy of "Star Born" has the code "8HC67" on the copyright page. Although there is no other indication that this isn't the 1957 printing, the "About the Author" note refers to a book published in 1965. And checking my receipt on purchasing this book from Heritage Auctions (who are pretty good at identifying such details), they list it as a "Later imprint". So it's pretty clear that this is a 1967 printing. From the codes below, it appears that this is an 8th imprint. I found the following World Publishing Co. books in the system that noted such codes:

  • Harry had a 3rd printing of "The Stars are Ours!" (1st ed. 1954) with the code "3HC1058", i.e. "3rd printing, 10-58".
  • Bluesman has a 7th printing of "Space Pioneers" (1st ed. 1954) listed as a 1967 printing, with a code of "7HC67".
  • We have Willem's "The Time Traders" mentioned above.
  • The 1st ed. of "Star Born", mentioned above, has the code "H257", which would imply a printing date of Feb. 1957, consistent with the listed release date of March 1957.
  • The listed copy of Storm Over Warlock is listed with a "catalog number" of WP260, and a release date of 4-1960; also consistent with a printing date/release date (and, as Mike notes, NOT a catalog number).
  • The listed copy of Key Out of Time is listed with a "catalog number" of WP363, and a release date of 1963.
  • The listed copy of Steel Magic is listed with a "catalog number" of BPWP865, and a release date of 9-1965. (I wonder what the "BP" stands for?).

For other verified World Publishing Co. books, I've asked the verifiers for the existence of any such codes on their books. I propose that we begin treating this code similar to the way we treat gutter codes for SFBC books, i.e. assuming that these are proper statements of printing editions, and using the printing dates as valid approximations for publication dates unless we have an authoritative statement of the actual release date. However, I don't know if we should actually list them as separate printings; we don't list separate printings for the SFBC books, except to note the reprint gutter codes elsewhere. Chavey 02:04, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

The Currey note about this pub should help the discussion. I mildly disagree about whether we should create new records. If it can be determined that these are reprint codes, I think it should be treated the same as we would any trade publisher's later printings. Mhhutchins 05:12, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Fur Magic has no code. There is a number line on page 176 (the last page, otherwise empty and so far overlooked) of "1 2 3 4 5 72 71 70 69 68" and a (unverified) release date of october 1968. --Willem H. 17:37, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

"Wonder Stories" - In or Out

The 1920 book Wonder Stories, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, is primarily a retelling of Greek myths. As such, it would not be eligible for inclusion. Three of her stories are unknown to me, and may be "original" with the author, but it's more likely that I just didn't know them before. However, three of the stories in the collection are original enough re-interpretations that Bailey has credited them to their modern authors: Two by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and one by Alfred Church. In particular, Hawthorne's Pygmies introduces little people not in the Greek myths into a Hercules story (although this element appears to date back to the 16th century at least). Hawthorne's other story, a re-interpretation of Pandora, is similarly original with him. (Church's version of the Cyclops tale has a modest amount of originality, but is primarily a "retelling".) Are these three attributed stories, enough to include this book in the DB? Chavey 02:27, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

In borderline cases, I'm an inclusionist. (Is that a real word?) Mhhutchins 02:36, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
It's a real enough word for me (chuckle). Also Chavey, the older the work, the more inclusionist we all seem to become... the line was much blurrier back in the day. Kevin 02:59, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Mucho gracias. The book is now listed and verified. (With all 45 content items!). Chavey 02:00, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

"Steev Higgins"

I wonder if it's possible to tell if Steev Higgins is the same person as "Steve Higgins? Ahasuerus 17:10, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

According to the fanac.org History of British fandom: "...Steev Higgins (who used this form of his name until he got embarrassed and started spelling it sensibly in later years)...". In Ansible 15, Feb. 1981, they report "Steiv Higgsni, formerly known to a palpitating universe as Steev (sic) Higgins, wishes to be addressed in future as Steve Higgins (sic)." Steev Higgins has a book review in the Oct. 1980 issue of "Vector" (issue #99). Steve Higgins has two book reviews in the Dec. 1980 issue of "Vector" (#100), and those are the only things we have listed under his name. This seems like conclusive evidence that they are the same person. Chavey 00:52, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Great, thanks! Ahasuerus 00:58, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Regularizing records for Scribner publications

I'm in the process of regularizing the various publisher names used by Scribner under its various incarnations. Research has shown the following facts:
1846 - 1850: Baker & Scribner
1850 - 1870: Charles Scribner
1870 - 1877: Scribner & Co.
1877 - 1978: Charles Scribner's Sons
1978 - 1984: Charles Scribner's Sons (imprint of The Scribner Book Company)
1984 - 1997: Charles Scribner's Sons (imprint of The Macmillan Publishing Company)
1997 - present: Scribner (imprint of Simon & Schuster)

I intend to keep all books published from 1877 to 1997 (the time of its acquisition by Simon & Shuster) as "Charles Scribner's Sons". This was the stated publisher for those 120 years. All books published under Simon & Schuster use the imprint "Scribner" (not "Scribner's" or "Scribners"). All non-verified books from 1877 to 1997 have been regularized to "Charles Scribner's Sons" leaving only a handful of verified records. There are a few verified records currently under the name of Scribner by Bluesman, Chavey, Hauck, and Willem H. A quick glance at the title pages of these verified books will show the publisher as the full name. Normally I wouldn't bother about using a complete publisher name, but believe this case is different. By the time "Scribner" became an actual imprint, it was far removed from the original publisher. I hope the verifiers agree. Mhhutchins 20:08, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Quite so. Have corrected the one I had verified. There are likely a few records out there created from OCLC who are inconsistent with Scribner in many 'forms', often listing it as C. Scribner and C. Scribner's Sons. --~ Bill, Bluesman 20:21, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Those I've already regularized (and there were more than few.) I've used the dates I've researched above to determine which form of the name to place it under. Mhhutchins 20:25, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm all for standardization. Corrected the two I verified. --Willem H. 20:40, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
My book did say "Charles Scribner's Sons", and has now been corrected. Chavey 23:23, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Same here. Hauck 05:14, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
It seems the feature ISFDB:Community_Portal#Publisher_Info might be desirable after all. :-) (I might drop the Currency thing if it helps this get through, I'd forgotten about the bloody Euro problems. :-/ )BLongley 00:19, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks to all the verifiers. All the books from 1877-1997 are under the same publisher name. Now I have to straighten out the post-1997 books. Most are under Scribner while some are under Scribner / Simon & Schuster. I prefer the latter because it gives the actual publisher name, but I'll get with any primary verifiers to see how they feel their records should be entered. Thanks. Mhhutchins 15:55, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Dissertations

I think we need to draw the line when it comes to dissertations. They're not really "published" in the traditional sense of the word. UMI's printing of them are the same as their supplying a photocopy of a newspaper. Just my 2 cents and I'd like to hear how other editors feel about it. (What brings this up is Fixer's submissions for a butt-load of them.) Mhhutchins 06:16, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

I lean toward exclusion. None of them appear to be by existing authors of any note - even if "Christopher J. Pizzino" is our "Christopher Pizzino". BLongley 13:39, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
I also favor exclusion. In my little obsessive corner of SF, there are (that I know of) 4 Ph.D. theses and 5 Master's theses on, or with at least a chapter on, James Tiptree, Jr.. It would be appropriate for those to be listed in a bibliography devoted to Tiptree (which would also include various other items not appropriate for ISFDB). But only 2 of those theses have been "published" in a traditional sense (van der Spek and Shaw), and those two are included here. These other theses might also be appropriately included in the SFRA database. But I don't think they belong here. Speaking for myself, my Ph.D. thesis had 6 hc copies bound (with additional spiral bound copies), but I would not view it as being "published". I can't think of any CV I've seen that included a thesis under the list of "publications"; it's always listed separately. Some theses are revised to become publications (as with van der Spek and Shaw), and others generate papers that get published (such as mine), but at least in academia, we do not view the thesis itself as a "publication". For example, the standard academic reviews cover book and journal publications, but they do not review theses. Chavey 16:52, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
I can support excluding them until they are re-published... but I expect in 2-10 years people will be E-pubbing them, then using POD to order the required paper copies... which will then being them in through a different door as self published literary criticism. Kevin 23:47, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
By then, I hope we'll have enough moderators to cope with such. And software capable of excluding such from general searches. And I'll have been given a government grant to work here. And won the Nobel Peace Prize for my efforts in stopping us hating each other. Maybe the Literature Prize as well for my efforts in multi-language support. A few honorary degrees on the way, maybe. A Turing Award, maybe, unless Ahasuerus gets Fixer to pass the Turing Test. (I'm babbling, aren't I?) BLongley 00:46, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
I thought there may be more interest in dissertations, but apparently not. Oh well, reject away, although I suspect that we will revisit the issue at a later point as part of a larger review of academic publications. Ahasuerus 02:02, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Locus1/Contento database[s] info

In a recent e-mail from Bill Contento, he noted that "I added a code to my programs that automatically standardizes different forms of a person's name". Since so much of the data, at least in unverified records, has come from either of the two databases above it is imperative that no editor create pseudonyms or variants based solely on such records. This also applies to artists. It also makes it more than necessary to cite what data comes from what source [in general] so it can be 'weighed' properly. Cheers to all! --~ Bill, Bluesman 23:17, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

I agree totally. We should always be careful about creating variants and pseudonyms from secondary sources. I'd rather merge similar titles than to create false variants. And I can't agree more strongly about citing secondary sources. Thanks. Mhhutchins 23:31, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
We could add some coding to warn people when merging or varianting a Locus1/Contento title, or warn the moderators when approving. But I suspect a lot of primary verifications have just followed the herd and assumed that one verification against a secondary source was better than "book-in-hand". :-( BLongley 01:05, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Nominating user JLaTondre for moderator

See Moderator Qualifications#Becoming a moderator for the nomination process.

JLaTondre (talkcontribs) has been adding to the database for over 3 years now, and although 4079 edits may not look very impressive, there are a lot of good fixes among those contributions. Unlike some editors, he asks the right questions before submitting, and sometimes even responds to help requests before current moderators. JLaTondre is willing and I think he meets the Moderator Requirements.

Support

  1. Support, as nominator. BLongley 14:34, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
  2. Support, I've not seen many of his submissions, but had no problems with or questions about any of those. --Willem H. 14:58, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
  3. Support. Mhhutchins 15:06, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
  4. Support. Hauck 16:26, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
  5. Support. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 16:31, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
  6. Support. Kevin 23:14, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
  7. Support. --MartyD 23:51, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
  8. Support. I was thinking the same thing earlier this month. Ahasuerus 03:33, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
  9. Support, I equally have not seen many of his submissions, but those I have seen were very reliable. Stonecreek 08:51, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
  10. Support. --Chris J 19:42, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
  11. Support. --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:45, 25 October 2011 (UTC)


Oppose

Neutral/Comments

Time to close this? It's been 5 days now. BLongley 21:07, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Outcome

The nomination was a success and the moderator flag has been set. Ahasuerus 03:36, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Swfritter

Does anyone know anything about what may have happened to Swfritter? It's been three months since he last responded to his talk page, and the only activity since then has been a monthly upload of the TOC images for Daily Science Fiction. He's not updated his status on the Moderator page either. Just getting a little worried. He's one of the few go-to guys when it comes to magazines. Mhhutchins 22:12, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Unless this discussion made him despair, I know of no reason. Ironically, I've actually helped with half-a-dozen entirely new magazines and fanzines recently, and do miss his input. I hope he is well and just taking a well-deserved break. BLongley 00:18, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Hopefully just a hiatus. Genre bibliographers (and other sercon fans) seem to go through periods of gafiation. Ahasuerus 03:36, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Has anyone heard anything? I got reminded as we're now falling behind on Clarkesworld, Lightspeed and Fantasy Magazine. BLongley 00:20, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
I dropped Stephen a note and let him know that we're getting worried. Hopefully he's just taking a break.--Rkihara 06:12, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
Any response? "Daily Science Fiction" is a bit behind now too, and as there are now Kindle editions of all the completed months for sale I was hoping someone would add those and credit the cover artists too. BLongley 01:52, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
No response so far, but his Facebook page shows some activity. I'll try an alternate address.--Rkihara 04:09, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
I just heard back from Stephen. He's fine, just taking a break.--Rkihara 17:03, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Book View Cafe

Some members of the author cooperative known as the "Book View Cafe" are anxious to have their BVC e-books listed in ISFDB. I gave it a shot, but it's been slow because the Web site doesn't provide publication dates, tables contents, ISBNs (even when available) or, in some cases, even a list of available file formats. Sometimes this information can be found elsewhere (Amazon's Look Inside, online reviews, etc), but it takes time to find it. Also, their Web pages are not always inter-linked and the site is fairly slow, so finding stuff takes time.

I have done about a dozen e-books starting with B. W. Clough's titles since she was the one who contacted me first, but I am about to give up because I need to go back to development/testing. It's a shame since many of their authors are quite well know (Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, etc) and we definitely want their e-books. Anyone want to volunteer? Ahasuerus 05:20, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

I did two and found a couple of problems. 1) If I look them up on amazon.com it spots that I'm in the UK and adjusts the prices, presumably to include VAT (sales tax). For instance, it offers me The Dagger and the Cross for "Kindle Price: $5.84 includes VAT & free international wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet". Converting back would introduce rounding errors, and I don't think they're using the correct rate of VAT anyway - it recently went up from 17.5% to 20%. 2) When you do find and use the Kindle ISBN our links to Amazon don't work - presumably there's a different format to link to the Kindle store? BLongley 16:30, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Hm, Amazon does find this pub when you search on the ISBN, but the URL that it coughs up contains its ASIN, which, for Kindles, is not the same as the ISBN. It looks like we won't be able to link ISBN-enabled Kindles to Amazon until we start capturing "pub identifiers" like ASINs in the database. (There are similar issues with linking Google books to Powells etc.) Ahasuerus 19:29, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
I think I'd prefer Amazon to change to match us rather than us change to match them. If they don't want ISBNs to link, that's their problem - we shouldn't have preferences. I know historically we have had relationships with the big online book-stores, and that there may be a small kick-back to be had - and if it was to fund this site alone I wouldn't mind too much. But we're not an Amazon subsidiary, and if we ever become one I want a share in the takeover money and will then quit editing. BLongley 00:47, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
Hear, hear. The delegate from the Southern US colony stands firm with his colleague from across the pond. Mhhutchins 03:03, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
My comment above was not meant to suggest that we should start capturing ASINs in the "ISBN/Catalog#" field. That's a bibliographic field and shouldn't be extended to capture unrelated data.
What I was referring to was third party "publication identifiers" like LCCNs, OCLC numbers, OpenLibrary IDs, GoodReads IDs, Google Books IDs, LibraryThing IDs, Amazon's ASINs, etc. As I mentioned a few months ago, we will need to add a new multiply occurring couple of fields to capture them and another couple to capture Title identifiers.
Interlinking IDs used by different databases is the most important building block of the Semantic Web, Web 3.0, etc. (We will also need to make our record IDs persistent, but that's a whole different headache.) Ahasuerus 05:05, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
I think we're a long way away from being Web 3.0 here. And I don't think many people are working towards it - as a data provider we offer very limited machine access, and as data recorders we seem to leave a lot of information in unstructured notes or wiki pages. BLongley 16:30, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
In a way, we are already a part of Web 3.0 since our data is periodically downloaded and parsed by computer programs, e.g. Freebase and "Solr powered ISFDB". Unfortunately, our identifiers are mutable, e.g. Title records can be merged, Pub records and Series records can be deleted and later recreated, etc. In addition, as you said, a lot of potentially structured data is hidden in Notes.
The good news is that adding Publication identifiers (and eventually Title identifiers) will let us move a lot of this data, starting with links to OCLC IDs and LCCNs, out of Notes, and make it much easier to search for these data elements. Certainly not the highest priority on the list, but hopefully something that we can do in the next 12 months. Ahasuerus 01:37, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't mind third party identifiers so long as we don't play favourites - or at least play favourites based on what they can do for us. Our Wikipedia links tend to be beneficial as they often link back. Amazon provides some images for us. Google throws up our entries for publications more and more often. OCLC is a good source for other editions. But I think we should prioritise any moves toward better interlinking based on mutual benefits. BLongley 16:30, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
When we add support for favo(u)rites, we will have a moderator-maintained table of "known identifier sources", so we will be able to add new sources quite easily. As far as the issue of benefits goes, having better links to other sites helps everybody. For example, if we have a Kindle edition cataloged, adding the ability to go look it up on Amazon with one click helps the end users as much as it helps Amazon. Ahasuerus 01:37, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
I really like the idea of linking identifiers. I think lacking auto linking of ASINs will become a liability within 12 months (Or January depending on the number of Kindles sold for Christmas). Similar for Smashwords and like sites. I think we are about to under go a 'deluge' of re-published backlist via self/indie publishing houses over the next 18 months. Kristine Kathryn Rusch is doing it now. Her husband and she are running workshops of 15-30 authors at a time teaching them to do the same thing both electronically and into POD editions. (She has 129 items up at Smashwords... which is feeding into a number of other electronic stores just as an example of one author just beginning to tap into her backlist) Kevin 02:16, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm quite fond of Smashwords for bibliographical purposes: their Online Reading HTML samples are excellent for finding ToCs and Cover Artists in a format you can actually copy'n'paste, unlike Amazon Look-Inside. They also seem to be able to able to provide ISBN look-ups, e.g. here - does anyone else think they'd be a useful addition to our "Other Sites:" section? BLongley 19:16, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes please. They would be number 1 on my list. Kevin 03:26, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Feature Request logged, coded and submitted for consideration. BLongley 16:27, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it's already happening, e.g. Lawrence Watt-Evans has made over 30 titles available on Kindle over the last 18 months. There are almost 90,000 ISBN-less Kindle books sitting in one of Fixer's queues and they can't be submitted until we have a way to determine which Kindles are in the database and which ones are not. (Reviewing and approving them is a whole different problem.)
There will be other things to consider too. For example, if 50-70%+ of all short fiction ever published becomes available as e-books over the next 10 years, does it really make sense to show Chapterbooks on the Summary page? Ahasuerus 08:01, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
We'll probably need to add some more user display options to suppress them when the problem becomes too big, but I'm keener on getting such for Language support bumped up first. BLongley 19:16, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Setting Priorities

So there are 90,000 Kindle e-books sitting in Fixer's queue? That number is mind-boggling and so overwhelming that I can only back away. We (meaning the moderators who are actually handling them) can barely deal with the hundred or so submissions that Fixer gives us each day. At that rate, 90,000 submissions are literally impossible to handle. Every time I open Reginald or Tuck, I'm adding records. So how can we expect to move forward to entering e-books when we don't even have all of the books published before 1968 in the database? We have to set priorities, and they must be established before any of those books in Fixer's queues are released: priorities based on author, publisher, genre or whatever, but priorities nonetheless. I'm really getting tired of dealing with all of those self-published books filling the submission queue: books that maybe a few dozen people in the world will even know about, much less actually read. Until there are a thousand ISFDB moderators, we have to realize our limitations and determine how to best use our available resources. Mhhutchins 17:02, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

I concur. I'm trying in my limited way to deal with Fixer subs (even if my own priority is for the time being to enter the books that I can physically access) but I'm thinking that our drive to exhaustivity is a bit too ambitious for a negligible result. As Michael said, who cares about all those self-published items ? To their authors, they're probably important but they're too taxiing for now. It's just a question of resource allotment not of intrinsic worth. Hauck 18:15, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
Fear not, there are no current plans to have Fixer submit the 90,000 Kindle books that are sitting in his "Kindle queue".
First of all, at this time Fixer has no way of telling which Kindles are already in the database because 99% of them do not have listed ISBNs. We will need to add support for "pub identifiers" before Fixer can use ASINs to make this determination.
Second, as you said, the volume would overwhelm us. In the last 90 days Amazon added 1,217 science fiction paperbacks, 265 hardcovers, 150 audio books and 3,220 (sic) Kindle books. It's almost as bad in the fantasy section: 1,401 paperbacks, 248 hardcovers, 100 audio books and 2,975 Kindles. And it's only going to get worse as more and more stories appear as $0.49 and $0.99 Kindles.
So for now Fixer is simply capturing this data and setting it aside. We'll have to figure out how to tackle this challenge intelligently.
Re: paper bound books, although Fixer is auto-suspending vanity publishers and self-published books left and right (you should see his slush pile!), it's harder than it sounds. I keep adding vanity publishers to Fixer's black list, but there are a lot of them and new ones sprout every day. In addition, some established authors are now self-publishing, so I have to tread gently or risk zapping legitimate publications. I will try to do a better job of keeping the undesirables out, though. Ahasuerus 18:23, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
You could probably also suspend pubs where "Publisher" is exactly the same as "Author". Self-publishers are also supposed to do their self-promotion, aren't they? If so, they can come and add it manually. They may enjoy the experience enough that they'll add other authors' works too. (I know, that's VERY optimistic!) BLongley 20:57, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm glad that we're not going to see 90000 Kindle books just yet. I think you mentioned that there's about 115,000 books in the 1990-2011 Amazon backlog, does that include the Kindle ones with ISBNs? I'd far rather work on the paper ones. BLongley 20:57, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
The captured ISBNs can be further broken down by binding:
  • 16K hardcovers
  • 10K school/library bindings
  • 67K paperbacks
  • 2.5K turtleback
There are only 33 (sic) e-books and a few hundred oddballs of various kinds -- maps, "loose leaf", "spiral-bound", diskette, DVDs, wall charts (!), etc. BTW, the reason that the total is less than 115K is that this script only looked at the US data for each ISBN. Some ISBNs are only known to Amazon.co.uk (and vice versa) and there are occasional mismatches (It's a hardcover! No, it's a paperback!!), but the breakdown should be roughly the same. Fixer tries to guess which store's data to use when creating submissions, but it's not a foolproof algorithm by any means. Ahasuerus 06:45, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
And if I modify the script to run by year, here is what we get:
  • 2011 - 5K
  • 2010 - 4K
  • 2009 - 10K
  • 2008 - 11K
  • 2007 - 9K
  • 2006 - 7K
  • 2005 - 5.5K
  • 2004 - 5K
  • 2003 - 6K
  • 2002 - 6K
  • 2001 - 5.5K
  • 2000 - 5K
  • 1999 - 5.5K
  • 1998 - 4.5K
  • 1997 - 4K
  • 1996 - 3.5K
  • 1995 - 3.3K
  • 1994 - 2.7K
  • 1993 - 2.2K
  • 1992 - 2K
  • 1991 - 2K
  • 1990 - 2K
Unfortunately, the quality of Amazon's data gets progressively worse the farther back you go. Based on what I have seen, I wouldn't trust their pricing data for anything earlier than 2005 or so. Ahasuerus 06:45, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Could we maybe let anything by an award winning or nominated author in... and bypass getting stuck in limbo for a year or more? That seems like it could be a fairly high bar, yet a simply mechanical check Fixer could perform. Kevin 03:32, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I plan to prioritize "known authors" (i.e. authors with records in ISFDB) and known publishers, but it can get murky. For example, some Amazon records state that the author of "The Time Machine" was "Herbert George Wells", "Wells" or even "G. H. Wells" (sic). Ahasuerus 06:45, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
But the good news is that today is October 27, one day after the new Amazon API went live, and Fixer is still alive and chugging along. I am still trying to resolve various side issues that this transition spawned, but in the end we will have a better and more robust (although sadly more time consuming) process. I just need to have the discipline to stop tweaking it when it's "good enough" and go back to regular development/testing so that we could finally get awards and foreign language support finished... Ahasuerus 06:45, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
One of the things that needs checking is whether we are actually entitled to use our affiliate status for Kindle books. From what I've read on the Smashwords documentation, and recent experiences with Kindle examples, we are NOT an affiliate for Kindle purposes, just for titles in the "Books" section, not the "Kindle Store". (There's a "Comics & Graphic Novels" section as well that we should only use to EXclude stuff.) It may be that we do not WANT to link such, even if we found volunteers for the 90,000. BLongley 00:23, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Linking to BLIC records

Will the editor who is linking ISFDB records to the BLIC find a way to do it without the user having to log into the BLIC website? I've come across several in the past week or so, including this one. Thanks. Mhhutchins 04:17, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

The record's current URL is http://catalogue.bl.uk:80/F/APPHFHMSRSSBQ87V7UJ92YNBBI7GB3QSVQDMQK1SFREV2RGPGH-01074?func=full-set-set&set_number=000048&set_entry=000001&format=999 and going there you're asked for a reader number and password.
But when I went directly to their catalog website and did a search for the item, it returned the record with this URL: http://catalogue.bl.uk/F/1Y3JSUP8MMCT9Y7PJVCI7YR3S3M1SDQNJKK3XRS9NIXJEL8C3Q-21662?func=full-set-set&set_number=002738&set_entry=000001&format=999 which will link you directly to the record without your having to log-in. Those two URLs are so different that I can't see how the first one got linked unless the editor who entered it was logged into the BLIC at the time of the search. (I've never had to log-in to search their catalog.) Mhhutchins 04:36, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
There are more than 1600 records in the database that have "catalogue.bl.uk" in the note field, and, after more than a dozen random attempts, I've been unable to find one that actually links to the BLIC record. Mhhutchins 04:45, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
And [now] a third URL for the same record. Could these be randomly generated? There seems to be no rationale behind such a long URL in the first place. At first I thought it might have to do with whether or not 'cookies' were enabled [once I'm logged in here I set them on 'never' for all other sites] but with or without them I still got the above URL. I wonder if by tomorrow any of these will be valid, which would make linking to BLIC pointless. --~ Bill, Bluesman 05:27, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
But that third link still requires a login, while the one I found is still linked without a log-in. I went this morning and did an alternate search for the same book and came back with this URL: http://catalogue.bl.uk/F/7S35QUYPSEAFYGJEHNHMG245DIQ59MK5QX8NTRHKSSFS3YG7J8-41872?func=full-set-set&set_number=086945&set_entry=000001&format=999, and there's still no login required. I wonder why your searches require one and mine don't. Are you able to go directly to the records without logging in? I see your links have a different website: catalogue.bl.uk:80, and mine are catalogue.bl.uk. Might it have something to do with the location of the user's server? Mhhutchins 12:42, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
And now the first link you had requires a log-in.... --~ Bill, Bluesman 15:19, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
It looks like the URL includes a session ID, and sessions expire after a certain amount of time. The last link hasn't quite expired yet so I get taken to the correct entry, but it's only because Firefox asks me to confirm whether I will allow the redirect to the login page. BLongley 16:36, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
If they're not even stable for one day, then it's obvious: we shouldn't link to BLIC until they have dedicated URLs for each record. Mhhutchins 16:30, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, their URLs are, as Bill said, session-specific. As soon as the session expires on their server, the URL is no longer valid. Their sessions seem to last longer than the usual 5-30 minutes, but even 24 hours is not good enough for our purposes. With something like LCCN you know that the link will remain stable for years, but with BLIC it will be gone in a day... Ahasuerus 17:51, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
And only 1600 to 'fix'??¿¿?? Oy ve...... --~ Bill, Bluesman 18:56, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
I guess we moderators should check on each other a bit more often, before such problems get out of hand. :-/ BLongley 19:25, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't think BLIC exposes its internal IDs to the outside world or at least I am unaware of any way to get to them. On the other hand, BLIC's data is now a part of COPAC and COPAC does support persistent identifiers. For example, if you determine that the persistent ID of the 1939 Methuen edition of Thorne Smith's Night Life of the Gods is 04B28716887, you can easily link to it from Notes. Unfortunately, the resulting record is in XML and is not easy to read unless you are used to the format :-( It will be fairly easy to make it readable once we have support for persistent identifiers, though. Ahasuerus 06:59, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Just tried COPAC for the record with all the 'broken' links above and while it gives one from [BLIC] it is not the BLIC record which includes the price [main reason I've been linking to those records]. COPAC seems to create their own version of whatever source they are using, just like OCLC does. --~ Bill, Bluesman 15:32, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Ah, so they only exposed a part of their data to COPAC. That's unfortunate... Ahasuerus 17:57, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Fairy Tales

I'm trying to understand what the policy is, in practice, with respect to "Fairy Tales" being included in the ISFDB. The stated policy is:

Speculative fiction is defined to exclude: ... Fairy tales with no known author (?) ...

I assume the "?" means that it's undecided as to whether this really is our policy. Looking for such Fairy Tales, I see that we do include things like Grimm's Fairy Tales, Fairy Tales from All Nations, Irish Folk and Fairy Tales, Ozark Folk Tales, and certainly a few dozen other "fairy tales from the oral traditions" of various cultures. We also include versions of The Mabinogian, The Panchatantra, Mother Goose, the Roman Cupid and Psyche and other Classical Mythology -- all of which are historical versions of "Fairy tales with no known author". So has this "exclusion" been effectively dropped at this point? Or is some version of it still in effect? Chavey 21:20, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

I suspect that this has become a dropped exclusion in the eyes of most moderators for collection titles, but perhaps not for the individual stories. (You may notice that most(all?) of those collections are empty and without contents. I imagine it was Ahasuerus's attempt to avoid us judging 'who' the author of a particular story was, especially those that have been written, re-written, adapted, but no-one in particular is acknowledged as the author. The ISFDB at hand when he wrote that may not have anticipated the 'unknown' author. Feel free to bring this up as a change / clarification to the rules. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Kpulliam (talkcontribs) .
Well, the original idea was to exclude traditional fairy tales but include any fairy tales that have been adapted by known authors. The former seem to be rather remote from SF as we understand it while the latter can be very close to it.
The reason that I left a "?" there was that I wasn't sure where to draw the line -- there are collections of fairly tales where the editor made almost no effort to change the text, which, under the current rules, would put them in a grey area.
That said, I don't think Al and I felt particularly strongly about it in 2006, when the Policy was written. It was just an attempt to formalize what had happened within the scope of ISFDB 1.0 in 1995-2005. Things have certainly evolved in the intervening years. Ahasuerus 01:20, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Some of us still don't particularly feel strongly about it. Books like My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales seem in, and I know I've moderated several other "retellings" that I've allowed in. It's one of those fuzzy areas where we mostly don't submit them and it's only when Fixer does that we have these discussions. We might need to tighten up the rules a bit to keep the workload manageable, but I think I'd prefer that we educate Editors and New Moderators, so that we can let someone else deal with borderline cases. More and more often, the fuzzy cases come down to "have you got a moderator willing to support such?" BLongley 01:43, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

L. J. Smith

I'm not sure if anyone's aware of this, but some of the latest books are or will be ghost-written: see here. We have "Stefan's Diaries" already and those will need correcting. It's strange - normally a real author's name is only taken over when they become old, infirm or dead - and Lisa is younger than I am! :-/ BLongley 03:25, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

I suppose I should make plans for my demise - who's going to ghost-write my snarky British-Point-of-View comments when I'm gone? :-( BLongley 03:25, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

About the name being "taken over", I think the popularity of the TV series has something to do with the sharecropping. It's nothing new. I can't believe R. L. Stine wrote all of the books under his name. At least James Patterson gives his ghost-writer credit as a co-author. The "Stefan's Diaries" books actually don't credit anyone as the author, only as "Based on the novels by L. J. Smith / and the TV series developed by Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec". There's not even a "special thanks" to the ghost-writer. Serendipitously, when I accepted the Fixer submissions for the latest books in the series just the other day, I noticed the triple credits and reduced them to only by L. J. Smith. As it stands now, we may just have to change all of them to "uncredited" and then make a variant once the ghost writer is revealed. Mhhutchins 05:01, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree R. L. Stine probably didn't write as much as we claim he did. We just haven't worked on those as much as Erin Hunter, Adam Blade, Nick Shadow, Rex Stone, etc. Or even Daisy Meadows. And I see three of those in Fixer's latest submissions, as well as another L. J. Smith title. Can we fast-track editors into moderating if they specialise on those? I'm fed up with them. :-/ BLongley 05:26, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Backup issues

The hard drive used to handle our backups died earlier this week. This is unfortunate because the primary development server is currently unable to process our backups properly. I will try to get it to play nice with MySQL over the weekend, but we'll see how it goes. There is no danger of data loss since I still download the nightly backup file every day, but the publicly available backups will not be available until the main server can take over. Or until I can resurrect the old server or perhaps set up a new server to handle the backups. Ahasuerus 05:12, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

But what are the plans for a backup Ahasuerus? BLongley 05:34, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
There are none at this time, although perhaps there should be. The hardest part to transition will be Fixer, since the database and the language are rather obscure. The rest is fairly straightforward, but can be time consuming. Ahasuerus 19:37, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
OK, the backups appear to be back in business. Unfortunately, MySQL 5.0 and 5.1 didn't want to play nice with Windows 7 and I had to use the latest version of MySQL (5.5), so there is some potential for problems. Marty and Bill, could you please download the 2011-11-05 backup and check if your development systems like it?
On to rebuilding the rest of the development system under Windows 7... Ahasuerus 06:53, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Mostly OK, it seems, once I'd removed the USING BTREE on the "pubs" table creation step. I'm still having performance issues with the Advanced Publication Notes search though, so it may be time for me to upgrade MySQL. What is the live version now? BLongley 23:06, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
The live database is running "5.0.45 Source distribution". It may be desirable to upgrade to 5.5, the current version which supposedly includes numerous improvements and optimizations, but I am hesitant to try it without Al, who installed and configured MySQL on this server. Ahasuerus 23:20, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm slightly ahead of the Live MySQL then, but probably behind or aside on the OS it runs on. (32-bit Win XP SP3 here.) I could try upgrading MySQL but I'm not that confident that what I do would replicate what you, Marty, or the live server would show. It would be nice to be slightly more in sync though. BLongley 01:40, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) The backup/development environment has been configured on the main server used by Fixer and other shady characters. Now to get the software to the version that we are currently running on the live server... Ahasuerus 04:28, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Problem with template Cover Image Data2

This template no longer links back to the record in the database. I can't say when it happened, but something must have changed since it was created. No one uses the template any longer (the automated system of uploading images uses this one), but there were hundreds of images uploaded using it. Here is an example of the problem. If you click on the book's title in the "Fair Use Image Data" box, it should carry you to that record in the database. It doesn't because it adds three extraneous brackets to the front and back of the record's tag along with the letters "Pub", making it an invalid record tag. Anybody know how to fix this? Mhhutchins 18:22, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

I have seen and corrected a number of those. Usually I click the link and remove the brackets and the letters "pub" from the adress to go to the right pub (in the example invalid becomes Inferno). Then I use "upload new cover scan", copy the summary statement, edit the image, paste the statement there and change my name to whoever uploaded the image in the first place. If there's an easier way to do this I would love to hear about it. :) --Willem H. 19:34, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

What would a German "Fixer" do?

Probably give us a headache like the Bibliothek der Science Fiction Literatur Publication Series. :-/ BLongley 01:28, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

I've spent a day trying out our latest Language Support from the German point-of-view and found it a bit wanting - some improvements are in the pipeline though. But it's also a pain for a non-German-speaker to moderate - whether taking Amazon.DE data and clearing it up via Worldcat lookups, or vice versa. So please forgive the mess that series is in: I think it's better than before but found difficulty with the Omnibuses and eventually gave up with what I presume are Anthologies from James Gunn. If anyone thinks they can do better, please do so and let me know how the editing and moderating issues can be improved. Or even just viewing - do we need "aka" on the publication series display as well? BLongley 01:28, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Hello, Bill! Thank you for your tremendous effort of putting together this publication series. In no way it looks bad! A reliable site is the page of Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (look at this page for the (first) publications of a collection by Arthur C. Clarke}. Alas, they don't list the month of publication and no cover artists. I will look into the series and add the found knowledge. One question: What is "aka"? I can't see it at this time (but probably it is my usual blindness in finding things). Stonecreek 17:43, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
It stands for "also known as" and is shown on displays such as the contents for So frustrieren wir Karl den Großen. As the number of languages covered increases, how we display such becomes more important. BLongley 18:08, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura

Call for volunteers: Spice and Wolf is a series of "light novels" (i.e. short illustrated novels, but not manga) by Isuna Hasekura. I'd enter them myself, but I am currently swamped with other things... Ahasuerus 04:33, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Working on it. Chavey 06:03, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Completed. Because this was a Japanese series translated into English, I'd appreciate if someone would look at the series and see if I organized it right. Japanese titles are transliterated from the Kanji symbols, although sub-titles occasionally had English words and lettering. Some of the sub-titles are repeated (two 2-volume sets and a 3-volume set), but these didn't seem appropriate to make into sub-series. Chavey 09:14, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Great, thanks! Ahasuerus 14:24, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

IMDB link question

I have been editing the author information for Charles A. Eastman, author of a volume of Sioux Folk Tales. I included an imdb link to the actor that played him in the movie "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", in which his character is one of the lead roles. Is that appropriate? Chavey 04:26, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

I'd say not. BLongley 16:26, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Bill. The connection is too tenuous. Mhhutchins 17:22, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
And if you let one actor in, you have to allow the rest - and I don't think we want all 50 Edgar Allan Poes. BLongley 17:34, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks much; I've deleted the link. Chavey 20:26, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

Author Images

I suppose this should have been addressed sooner, but I've noticed that most of the author images on our server do not have a license tag. It appears they're being snagged from other websites, uploaded to our server, and then linked to the author's summary pages. Even worse, many others are being deep-linked from the summary pages to another website's server. Whether this leaves us open to legal action, I can't say, but the least we can do is link only to websites that have given us permission (just as we do cover images). That permission should be stated on the author's biblio page. We can justify the use of cover images and add a license to the image. But when it comes to photographs uploaded to our server, (and photographers are even more litigious than artists), we have to add a license in which we justify their use. In most cases, I don't see a valid justification. Are we prepared to handle the first photographer who confronts us about the use of their image? Mhhutchins 21:49, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

What do you mean "we"? Al will take all the flack for it. ;-) But seriously, while I'm not a fan of having to declare "fair use" on every single cover image, I'm against bandwidth theft/unauthorised deep-linking. I could post a mini-project of author image URLs that aren't hosted on ISFDB so people can check them: what I can't do is check that we have approval recorded on the wiki. Or "snagged from other websites, uploaded to our server". (Although in that case, the TinEye service might help us track down where something came from.) BLongley 01:33, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
A list of pages that link to outside servers would be a good start. Better yet, we need to first stop adding new author images until the issue is resolved. Mhhutchins 01:53, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
Page created: ISFDB:Author_Images. BLongley 16:55, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

ISFDB maintenance

Starting at 6:40pm server time (Central Time (US)), ISFDB will be very slow and submission processing will be disabled for about 5 minutes while a new index is being created. Ahasuerus 00:32, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Maintenance has been completed. The new index has been added, but it doesn't seem to help as much on the live server as it did on the development server. Still, moderators may see faster response times when pulling up the list of recent integrations/rejections. Ahasuerus 00:56, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Phase 2 of the optimization process will start at 10pm server (Central US) time. Submissions will be disabled and the Wiki may be unresponsive for about 5-10 minutes. Ahasuerus 03:51, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Done. Ahasuerus 04:24, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Non-English Translated Titles

I see that in the last few weeks, many editors have jumped into the unmerging of non-English translated titles from the English titles, and then making variants. Until the implementation of software that fully supports such moves, is it a wise move to go forward with such submissions? What's going to happen if we discover during the beta testing of said support that certain changes will have to be made in these title and pub records which will require additional edits or even reversal of the edits that are now being made? This doesn't prohibit the entry of non-English original titles and pubs, but we should, in my opinion, hold off making any changes in translated titles until we've tested the software that supports these changes. Mhhutchins 19:45, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Generally, you are right to go a certain way cautiously, but I don't see where this moves could go completely wrong. The only thing that could possibly happen is that one has to edit the publications anew to implement different translations or translators. It should be mentioned quite often to every editor, but (in my opinion) with that in mind it's every modertors own responsibility. In my case, I decided to unmerge and make variants in a few cases to test this and to give a unified picture for a publication series ('Bibliothek der Science Fiction Literatur') and a few authors with a small body of work such as M. A. Foster. Stonecreek 20:21, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
I would advise against the unmerging for now - not because it won't work or because I can foresee problems ahead - but because I already have plans to make such a lot easier. As it stands, unmerging, changing the unmerged title's language, and varianting is a 3-step process and I think I can reduce that to one. Also, we still haven't fixed unmerging of content titles so I'm reluctant to recommend the use of such at present: again, I think I can make that a lot easier where we have English contents in Italian titles for instance. But that's still a way off. BLongley 20:26, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
I've been trying out the language improvements that we have put in for some months now, and testing features that aren't live or even submitted yet, and can't see any show-stoppers at present. We will want to improve the displays to suppress unwanted languages before we rework all our most-translated titles, which is why I'm keeping "Unmerge Foreign Title" to myself for now, but I'm sure we can cope with a few new foreign titles manually added. We're beginning to see more French, Dutch and German publications and having people do those is good feedback on where we can make things even easier. BLongley 20:26, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
I've been adding Dutch editions for a few weeks now, most from this series, some older works and Dutch authors. There's hardly any unmerging nessesary, because there were only a handful of Dutch translations present in the database, and besides, I wouldn't use the unmerge function anyway. I would add the translated title to the pub, remove the old one and then make the variant. I can hold this off of course, there's always more than enough to do. --Willem H. 20:44, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
That sounds like a four-step process once you've adjusted the title language as well? (For now - if/when "Default Language" goes in then it could be three, but that's not in yet.) If the European Moderators want to work on such before the software improvements go in - ISFDB:Proposed_Design_Changes#Unmerge_Foreign_Title.28s.29, feel free, but I wouldn't want to encourage non-mod editors to go the unmerge route in the mean-time, it'll just increase our workload. BLongley 21:17, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm doing now my "J'ai Lu" series (a few hundred titles) in the slow way : if already present, unmerge titles by other publishers - enter the pub - vt it. As there are numerous anthologies or collections it's quite a long process (about thirty edits for a standard item). I'm eagerly waiting for the automatic unmerging tool (at the novel or the global collection level). The next step will be the untangling of the short fiction (as I'm not sure without retrieving the book that the french titles for a given story are the same), I'll do this when I'll go back to already entered series. Hauck 06:55, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
That's exactly what Bill and I are asking editors not to do (the unmerging and varianting of translated titles originally published in English). Why go to all of this trouble when there's a possibility that the software change may make it easier to do? Or even worse, that the software change may negate the work you're doing now? And the changing and varianting of title records for contents in collections and anthologies are another can of worms that shouldn't be touched until full implementation. Why are the European editors so quick to jump on this when there are thousands of original non-English works that can be entered into the database? Just leave the original English titles alone until this can all be sorted out. Mhhutchins 07:08, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Probably because "European editors" are stupid (not to mention that they love to lost their insignificant time) and you're not. Hauck 07:37, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Please don't get snippy with one another. BLongley 08:44, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, please. If anything, it's my fault -- I released the first couple of rounds of changes to support multiple languages and then put the issue on the back burner while I was struggling with the latest Amazon changes. Partially implemented features always cause problems as we have seen over the last few years. Ahasuerus 14:30, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
"European editors" are probably more intelligent than our North American ones - they have to be, as all our help is English only. I'm trying to see things from both sides - I don't mind the moderators experimenting, it's useful feedback - but am wary of encouraging non-mods to do things we aren't yet set up for. If a moderator is willing to coach an editor in such that would be fine by me too, I'm just pointing out that things will get easier eventually and it may be worth waiting. (I think I may need to apply "language preferences" to the submission queue at some point so moderators can stick with the languages they know.) BLongley 08:44, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Apologies all around. I hadn't realized that "European" had become a pejorative. I'll try to keep the word out of my vocabulary. But I won't apologize for asking all editors to hold off changing works translated from English, and asking in a manner that was definitely not "snippy", something that can't be said about Hauck's response. My "snippitude" has yet to show its full measure. 14:22, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Snippitude, not to mention snippiness, doesn't pay, especially on all-volunteer projects. Contributors just become frustrated and stop contributing. And then everyone loses... Ahasuerus 15:01, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
As an example of putting the cart before the horse: this record. Look at how the story by Fredric Brown is displayed. Is this an English story in the French collection? No, it's just that the story's title didn't change, so the system can't figure out how to display it. Even worse is how it's displayed on the author's summary page: "Armageddon (1941) [also as by Fredric Brown ]" Any new user to the database has no idea what this means (I bet most current users couldn't figure it out either!) It is anomalies like this that have to be worked out before we jump in head first. Mhhutchins 07:20, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
I've already mentioned this problem. Hauck 07:37, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
There are many such problems: e.g. Homo divisus is the same in at least four languages. We will sort this out eventually. Please balance experimentation (useful) and encouraging practices we're not ready for. BLongley 08:53, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Proposal of a statement to leave it at that: We strongly recommend to wait with unmerging publications and turning them into variant titles at this point (also to give no bad impression to non-moderators that we can do something they aren't allowed at this moment - because of the extra and unnecessary workload). It's better to concentrate on original language publications for the time being. I could live with this for a while. Stonecreek 18:18, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
I could live with that too. Of course, as soon as some more language improvements go in I'd appreciate testing and feedback. There is still a long way to go, and I'll probably need some help for the display issues. It seems clear that this is becoming a priority and I'm willing to work on that to the best of my abilities. I'm not sure if the phrasing is right - mods CAN do some things that non-mods aren't allowed to do - but I do think that we shouldn't encourage people that can't clear up their own messes just yet. Prioritising the changes may be helpful - I think "Default Language" for editors would be immensely helpful, but only Ahasuerus can decide which changes go in first. I can take suggestions on what to add to the queue though. And if a European moderator or editor can also test my stuff it may help. Any volunteers? BLongley 01:22, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
OK, if nobody else is willing to test, I'll do it. Just tell me what there is to do. Stonecreek 18:30, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I must have missed this part. Of course I'll test any changes. In fact, I have been testing for some weeks now but except for some (known) display issues and a remark about contents, discussed here I found no problems. --Willem H. 19:37, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, testing recently implemented changes is good, but what we could do with is for people to set up a local ISFDB and test the things that haven't gone live yet. It may save Ahasuerus some time if other people find faults before he has to look at them. BLongley 19:44, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm afraid I can't help there. My programming skills are virtually non-existent. I looked at this page before, and it makes no sense to me. Sorry --Willem H. 20:06, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
If my present unemployment holds on I might be able to lend a hand. I do have some programming skills and databases are a hobby of me. --Dirk P Broer 21:56, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
My programming skills are also virtually non-existent. Sorry I can't testing it. Rudam 22:02, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, it's possible to implement some of the new features on a "mod-only" or "selected users only" basis? We did that for Award Editing, although our only non-mod volunteer for that has now become a Mod. BLongley 03:17, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
I really would like to move the software forward, but appreciate that with just me and Ahasuerus coding and testing at present there's always a risk that we'll break something. But I can sense the frustration building up over language support and maybe we can persuade Ahasuerus to put something small, but useful, live for interested testers only? I'd guess "Default Language" would help several of you become more productive for little risk. Some of the "Other Site" link improvements are so trivial to reverse I don't know why we haven't got at least one to try out yet. BLongley 03:17, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
My own local ISFDB implementation is now about six months ahead of the live one, and more and more often I find myself copying data from a live ISFDB submission to my local one because there are so many extra options available for data-checking. I don't want to keep those to myself! BLongley 03:17, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, but I hadn't anything to do with programming apart from those old SAS routines that are quite special and simple. Stonecreek 09:30, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

Arabian Nights, in 81 languages

After realizing that we had the "Arabian Nights" entered as a book first published in 1978(!), I spent too much time trying to clean up that particular title. I created a title series that contains (i) all English editions from the 18th century; (ii) the most important 19th century English editions; (iii) the (apparent) first editions in all languages where WorldCat knew of a version. That gave me a title series containing books in 60 of the 73 languages for which we have language tags, just in case anyone wants to look at what such a thing would look like. (Most of the 18th century English editions are listed under the 1704 "Arabian Nights Entertainment" title in that series.) I partly did this to stress test this aspect of the multi-language support. I only tested the ability to enter new books under the known languages, not the changing of existing books which (apparently) is the location of more problems. In doing this, I didn't really run into many problems. The only problem I had was for languages that we don't have listed in the pull-down menu. My notes for the series contain several details about my efforts, including (a) a list of all the language 1st edition dates in a format easier to read (IMHO) than that provided by the series Bibliography; and (b) comments for the 21 languages into which the book has been translated (as known to WorldCat) that are not on our language tag list. (Look in the language list in those notes for the phrase "not included here".) After doing this, I came to the conclusion that we don't want to try to include every possible language on the tag list; we probably don't want to provide the option to type in your own choice of language; but we probably should have an "other" language option, where the language would just go into the notes. A few of those 21 languages might be candidates for inclusion in the language list, but none of them really jumped out as "obvious" additions. (E.g., Swahili is a widely used language, but spec fic in Swahili is probably fairly limited.) Another idea that suggests itself, when you look at that long list of the books in 60 languages, almost none of which you can identify from the title, is the possibility of having such bibliographic entries include the language, where ideally this language would be suppressed either for "English" or for the language preference of the current user. Chavey 13:59, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

How similar do variant titles need to be?

We currently list Joan Aiken's 1980 Delacorte collection "A Touch of Chill: Tales for Sleepless Nights" as a variant title for her 1979 Gollancz collection "A Touch of Chill: Stories of Horror, Suspense and Fantasy". They overlap by 8 stories of the 15 in each. Is that enough to view them as variants? I might note that whoever set up the Delacorte collection apparently imported the contents from the Gollancz collection without verifying that the contents were correct. (I'm correcting that as I verify my copy.) Chavey 20:45, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

As I look at them now, they're not variants. All of the pubs are under one title record. Did someone merge them after you posted this message? I've changed the Dell pb contents to match those of the Delacorte hc (the OCLC record gives contents that match your verified hc record). I think the two US editions should be unmerged, then merged under one title record which would be a variant of the UK record. Mhhutchins 21:56, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
No, they were all merged when I first looked at them, which is why I was asking. Chavey 06:37, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
Then why did you write that they were "currently [listed as] variants"? That's what prompted my response. Or was I misreading what was written? Mhhutchins 08:42, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
My mistake. They were all listed under the same title record, but two of them had different titles than the other 3. That's what _I_ meant by "variant", and I clearly misused that term. My apologies for the confusion. Chavey 14:10, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree they're different enough to be unmerged. They're so different that I wouldn't make them variants of each other afterwards though, and would probably just add a note to each title that they should not be merged with the similarly-named other collection. BLongley 02:54, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
I've separated out the US titles, and merged them, which leaves us with two title records: the UK version and the US edition. It seems there's agreement on that. I haven't VT'd the US title, because we don't seem to have agreement on that yet, and I have a slight preference for listing them separately. Chavey 06:37, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
Looks good to me. There's probably a lot of collections with slight differences that are still under the same title, and I don't mind too much unless there's no warning at title level that differences exist across the editions. But the bigger the difference, the more I prefer separate titles, e.g. The Terminal Beach versus Terminal Beach. (Which I see has slightly misleading notes now that the UK pub has a US version and the US pub has a Dutch version...) BLongley 15:27, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Pub format = binding

Why does a field change it's name between the entry or update form and when it's displayed in the pub record? I never realized this before. I could argue (but won't) that "pub format" and "binding" are not synonymous terms. Regardless of what we choose to call it, it should retain the same name throughout. Mhhutchins 00:23, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Agreed, it should be more standard. And if someone can herd us well enough to get agreement on what the terms mean we might get some nice simple drop-down options to choose from instead. It's annoying that we get books with other than "hc", "tp", "pb" or "ph" "bindings". Audiobooks I can understand being a "pub format" but then we need the sub-formats like LP, cassette, CD, MP3 CD, or any other audio download format. Ebooks too - some publishers do actually provide ISBNs for each format, like they're supposed to. BLongley 02:43, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
All this is codeable if the design can be agreed. THAT is the trickiest part. BLongley 02:43, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Golden Gryphon books at 50% off

Books ordered from their website are 50% off list price. This is a great deal, and this publisher needs our support. Most of their books are still in print. I hope this isn't considered spam. If you're not interested, just ignore. Just thought there may be one or two of you looking for a bargain. Mhhutchins 06:13, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Near completion of the Locus project, assistance requested

I've completed the entry of all issues of Locus in my collection and am asking for help to add the contents of the following issues:
#208, January-February 1978
#209, March 1978
#210, April 1978
#211, May 1978
#214, September 1978
#485, June 2001 Someone had already entered the reviews published in this last issue, and I added records for the usual columns (on faith).
For anyone who has these issues, it shouldn't take more than an hour or so to enter them. (Back in 1978, the typical issue had no more than 20-25 content titles, unlike today's 60-70 titles.) If you have these issues and are willing to index them, please take a moment to look at the contemporaneous issues for the entry format. I'll gladly answer any questions that may arise. Thanks. Mhhutchins 03:47, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

<sounds of papers being shuffled> I have extricated all 1978 issues from their cubbyhole and set them aside. It's probably more efficient use of my time to work on the software, but if I am the only editor who has access to this data, I can make it a "filler" project to work on when I am too tired to code. Ahasuerus 05:35, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Done for #485, for the rest, my Locus collection only starts in 1979.Hauck 07:06, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, Hauck & Ahasuerus. Mhhutchins 07:37, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Congratulations! This must have been a major task. I have only a few copies of Locus and can imagine what it must've been like. Stonecreek 15:48, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
It was arduous and tedious at times, and the reason why it took so long was that I had to take breaks between long stretches of entering the contents. Thanks for the congratulations. I only wish Charles Brown lived long enough to see it finished. Mhhutchins 16:47, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
#208 is done I think. Can you take a look? If it's ok, I'll do the others too. I think it's better for us if Ahasuerus works on the software. --Willem H. 16:30, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Looks great, Willem (except for one typo: "Moorcoch"). If you can do the others, I'd really appreciate it, and Ahasuerus can be let off the hook (but sent back to the grindstone of programming!). Thanks to all. Mhhutchins 16:47, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
And I thought I checked everything. #209 and #210 finished. The last two tomorrow (I hope) --Willem H. 21:17, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Finished the last two. Michael, congratulations on reaching the end of a major project. I appreciate your effort a lot! --Willem H. 21:25, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, congratulations! Of course the project is ongoing, but that's a magnificent effort in catching-up on a long-established valuable 'zine. BLongley 00:28, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
Well done! Locus and other reviewzines can be intimidating because they cover SO much stuff. Ahasuerus 03:21, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Wilum Pugmire...

... Is not well. See here if you would like to send good wishes. BLongley 05:18, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Miller/Jack Miller, 1930's artist

The stories "The King of the Black Bowl" (1930) and "A Rescue in Space" (1930) are both in Hugo Gernsback publications, and are credited as having internal art by "Jack Miller". The stories "The Secret of the Tomb" (1930), "The Mechanical Man" (1930), and "The Man of Bronze" (1931) are all stories in Hugo Gernsback publications, and are credited as having internal art by "Miller". Is that enough to conclude that the artist of the last three stories is Jack Miller? Chavey 07:45, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Terri Windling

Another genre Author/Editor in need. See here for details of the fundraiser. BLongley 19:24, 28 November 2011 (UTC)<

"Out of the Unknown", A. E. van Vogt & E. Mayne Hull

I'm verifying the 1st edition of this book. We have the publication year (1948), but no publication month. My copy is signed and dated by the authors on Feb. 13, 1948, which tells us they had a copy by then. But my copy also includes a postcard "FPCI announces the publication of ... Out of the Unknown". That card is postmarked April 28, 1948. So I am inclined to use that postcard as a formal "release date" for the book (and tentatively list it that way). Opinions? Chavey 04:45, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

As long as you've sourced the date in the record's note field (which I see you've already done), I see no problem. Mhhutchins 05:15, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Same opinion here. Stonecreek 10:28, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Python errors in many accesses

I, at least, am suddenly getting Python errors in almost all of my queries to the ISFDB. I search for and access title records and publication records. But any attempt to access an author record (or a series record) is failing with an error in the code. If this is happening to you, and you're not a coder, please have patience until someone is able to repair this problem. (Although it would be nice if someone would "Me too!" this note, so I don't start worrying that it's just something goofy on my machine.) Chavey 06:15, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Me too! Mhhutchins 06:18, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Could you please post a screenshot of the error? I am not seeing any errors when browsing using my main account or when I am logged out. Ahasuerus 06:29, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
As I note below, once I saw your note about "language support" (as if we've never supported "language" before), I went to the "My Preferences" page, chose one, and now the author pages are back to normal. Mhhutchins 06:32, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I see what the problem is. Let me see if I can fix it quickly... Ahasuerus 06:33, 30 November 2011 (UTC)


Here's the error. Chavey 06:38, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Image:Load_author_bug.jpg

Author Summary Pages are gone

It happened just after the latest patch was installed. I can't say that's the cause. Mhhutchins 06:16, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Fixed once I chose a language preference. Mhhutchins 06:30, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Language support - Phase 3 has been activated

Patch r2011-61 was installed a few minutes ago. As previously discussed, you can now select whether you want to see VTs in all languages on the Summary and Series pages. If you don't, then you can choose which languages you'd like to see displayed -- see the My Preferences page, which is hopefully self-explanatory. Of course, canonical titles are always displayed irrespective of the language. Similarly, Title pages always show all VTs.

Users who are not signed in will only see English language VTs, VTs with no language information and VTs whose language matches the language of their parent title. Once we confirm that everything is working as intended, we should probably display a banner at the top of the Summary page which will read something like "Create a free account to display translated titles on this page!"

Once we confirm that there are no bugs, we can discuss whether it's time to change the official policy re: entering translations as VTs. Ahasuerus 06:25, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Please start the discussion. I'm ready to give my two cents worth. Mhhutchins 08:14, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
What's to discuss? Doesn't the change require that translations are entered as variant titles? Why close the barn door now? The software pretty much dictates the policy. Mhhutchins 01:16, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, we can avoid changing the policy until the language preferences apply to title displays, and the other bibliographic summaries. We could hold off until we get translator support as well. We could hold off until we get foreign-alphabet support - I know that I cannot cope with Japanese characters for instance. We could hold off until language preferences apply to the submission queue (i.e. what we're asked to moderate - which is becoming increasingly hard. Not coded anything for that yet). We can unrestrict it for certain languages where we have a fluent moderator. There's plenty that could be discussed, that's at least five topics I've mentioned just there. BLongley 01:39, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
But the change of policy Ahasuerus was referring to was "entering translations as VTs". And that's already been done, thus my remarks. Mhhutchins 23:22, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
The software change facilitates entering translations as VTs, but it doesn't require it. You can still enter them as pubs under the canonical title and everything will work just like it has always worked. Ahasuerus 00:23, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
Then why have so many editors taken the software change to mean they can now make translated titles into variant titles without question or discussion? What's preventing an editor from unmerging and varianting a pub that's been entered under the canonical title? They're already doing that, because they assume the changes you've made have given them the right to do so. Your responses up till now have made it clear that this was the design all along. So are you actually saying that we can now discuss if we should retain the current policy after all the changes for language support have been made? I'm going to start a new topic to address the issue. Mhhutchins 00:53, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
I can't answer for those editors, but I guess it's because they think we've done enough to start it off. Which I partly agree with - new publications under a new foreign title that need varianting aren't going to get any easier (except maybe for my change which would reduce "Default Language of English" errors). But I agree some moderators are jumping ahead and doing rework the long way, which seems wasted effort to me. But if that's all they've got left to work on, or that's their main interest, I can understand it. The big issue with a policy change is that non-moderators might start using it heavily - not a big issue for me if other moderators can handle them. And if we got editors for all 73 languages we'd probably get a huge mess, worse than the example I tried, but I think we mostly only have half a dozen represented at present. If the display issues are severe, we don't change the policy till we've fixed them. I think we're getting there, but I can understand people wanting to hold off until the next round of changes are in, or even the one or two after that. BLongley 01:22, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I waffled a bit there. I'll try and be more concise in the new topic. BLongley 01:22, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
The question remains then: why are any editors, especially moderators who should know better, disregarding the current policy and varianting translated titles? Looking at the recent integrations list, it's like a kid's been let loose in the candy store. Mhhutchins 01:32, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
Who said moderators know better? ;-) I think we're pretty sure this will be the correct way for the future, and a few more test titles make it easier for the developers to test future changes (creating test data is a major time-sink). And those future changes can address your issues with translations not being variant titles in your eyes, or my issues with alphabets I can't support in my browser being shown, and any other show-stoppers people bring up. (This is the problem with iterative development, what's an improvement for one person is a stop-gap or backward step for another.) I take "like a kid's been let loose in the candy store" as a positive sign for now. The parents or the store-owner might be upset with the chaos in the meantime, but I'm looking at the naughty kids and saying "you're going to have to clean this up"! BLongley 02:52, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
The "kid in the candy store" metaphor seems apt in this case. Software limitations have forced us to do convoluted, counter-intuitive and just plain unnatural things to enter non-English translations, which has been a major pain for everyone involved. The development team had been promising improvements in this area for over 2 years, but progress was very slow and then suddenly - bam! - a patch that puts us in a position to get rid of these hated convoluted conventions and enter data as it appears in pubs. As far as I know, everyone else has been aware that "using VTs for translations" is the direction that we have been pursuing for the last 2 years, so we figured that there was a consensus on this issue and changing the policy would be a mere formality. (For a while I thought that we would want to implement some other improvements before we changed the policy, but, as Voltaire supposedly said, "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" or "The perfect is the enemy of the good".) Ahasuerus 03:56, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
As probably one of the "kids", I don't think that such patronizing and close to insulting terms will help to have a serene debate. Hauck 11:12, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
There is no way that I intended the phrase to be either patronizing or insulting. Look it up. And another one. And one more. Mhhutchins 03:32, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
I suppose it's possible to use the "kid in the candy store" expression in a patronizing way, but mostly it's just used to describe someone who is very excited and happy. For example, I could say "One time I was vacationing in Australia and ran into a used bookstore with all kinds of neat stuff from the 1940s-1960s. Their prices were amazingly low, so I was like a kid in the candy store!" Ahasuerus 19:27, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
Possible but unlikely. Hauck 19:49, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
Before you come to a decision about my true intention in using the phrase, you should get a better understanding of English idiom, or better yet, ask me. I would have told you it was not a personal attack. Mhhutchins 03:32, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
"Development team" might be overstating it a bit currently. :-/ We had a few developers addressing the "low-hanging fruit", with small, easily-checked, changes. Now we're into the bigger stuff and there's fewer of us (maybe just Ahasuerus and me) willing to submit suggested improvements as this is an almost-incredibly complex application overall. I think we've changed it beyond Al von Ruff's recognition, and there is nobody alive that fully understands it. It would be good to improve communications between developers so we know what needs doing: I think Marty would be far better than me at display issues (which is mostly what is left on this topic, software-wise), for instance. Another example: I think I know how to address "Translator" entry, but would be lost in adding the "Translations" section to an "Author"'s page for weeks. I think I know how to do "Unmerge Foreign title" rather than let people do it the hard way: but we haven't got the fix for the current unmerge bug in yet. I must admit I'm unhappy that other people are unhappy, and think I can still understand both sides of the change/no-change discussion. But sometimes I want to give up - I know you can't please everybody all the time, but a bit more of a supportive atmosphere would be good. If we're improving language support, perhaps those using it can translate the help pages into the ones it's useful for? Should we ask that Moderators declare their language skills? Do we want to improve the software so that Mods don't have to look at things they admit they don't understand? Can people explain what they want a bit more clearly? It's not a Software versus Rules issue, all users can contribute to the discussions. BLongley 04:52, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
I'd like to make sure I understand some things. If you look at my Arabian Nights series page, I have versions of that book in 60 languages. I currently have all non-English books listed as main title records, not as VTs, so anybody looking at that page will see all of those languages. To enable the "hiding" of titles in languages someone doesn't want to see, my understanding is that I should either (1) convert them all into VT's; or (2) wait until "the language preferences apply to title displays". Do I understand correctly that waiting for that stage will allow future users to only see the titles in this series that they want to see? In this particular case, I have a strong preference for avoiding the use of VT's. The problems with VTs in this particular case are: (a) There are a small number of "original translations" (from various combinations of rare manuscripts) that are used as starting points for later translations, and they are really not VT's of each other (none of them is "more canonical" than others). So to make one book a VT of one of these, I have to know from which one they were working when they created that translation, and that's not usually known; and (b) There are examples of, for instance, the Malay version being a translation of a Russian edition, which was a translation of an "original" French version. (That's annoying enough as it is, but we could just list it as a VT of that French title, if I knew which French title the Russian was a translation from.) But in many of these cases, the Malay version may only include some of the stories from the original French, so deciding whether it really should be listed as a true VT of that French title raises some challenging issues. (To put a book in the title series, I just required that it have at least a modest collection of the stories, e.g. that the page count was long enough to imply that.) So, is my understanding of the status correct, and it's OK to wait? (For how long?) Or, as Mike says, should all of these non-English titles be entered as a VT of something? Chavey 20:41, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
I think this is a perfect example of "leave it till we get translator support". Which is a long way off - I've got as far as being able to enter translators for a title (only one at a time) and warn or preserve them through merges. And I've fixed some displays where a translator would be given co-author credit. But there's many more displays to look at, and a whole new section of an author's page to create. And variants or pseudonyms of translator's names to cope with. Plenty to keep me busy while Ahasuerus catches up on the current outstanding changes. I can't answer "For how long?" but I would estimate months rather than weeks. BLongley 00:58, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree that Darrah's example is different -- for starters, there is no obvious parent record -- and we probably want to leave it as is for now.
Also, to answer one of the questions above, there are no current plans to suppress the display of canonical titles regardless of the language. The only exception is the planned suppression of translated titles with no analog in the original language. For example, Bizarre Beziehungen is an original omnibus collecting German translations of The Lovers, A Woman a Day, Strange Relations and an interview with Farmer. Ideally, we wouldn't want to display it on the Summary page unless the user listed German as one of his preferred languages. This will be facilitated by the recently coded addition of the "language" field to the Author record, but first we need to determine how to distinguish between books like Bizarre Beziehungen and books like Sam Lundwall's Alice's World and 2018 A.D. or the King Kong Blues, which were written in English even though the author's first language is Swedish. Presumably we want to suppress the former and keep the latter. Ahasuerus 04:14, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

As an added bonus, publication pages now link to Smashwords. Ahasuerus 06:25, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

There was a bug in the original patch: users who never selected language preferences were getting errors when accessing Summary and Series pages. (It wasn't noticed during testing because it didn't manifest itself if you selected language preferences and then removed them.) The bug was (hopefully) fixed in an emergency patch installed 5 minutes ago. Thanks to Darrah and Michael for reporting the problem quickly! Ahasuerus 06:54, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes! That's the way I like it. If no other bugs pop up, here's one satisfied contributor! Thank you very much! Stonecreek 13:56, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

r2011-63 installed

r2011-63 has been installed. It fixed a bug that caused a VT not to appear on the Summary page if the canonical title had a language code defined and the VT didn't. Ahasuerus 06:13, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Patch r2011-64 - more links to other sites added

Patch r2011-64 was installed a few minutes ago. Publication pages now link to OpenLibrary, Google Books, LibraryThing, Shelfari, Goodreads, Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, European Library and COPAC as long as the pub has an ISBN.

"European Library" (which is primarily a gateway to individual libraries and union catalogs throughout Europe) had to be split into "European Library (Simple)" and "European Library (Complex)" because its constituent catalogs support different query syntaxes. Next we need to add these links to the Moderator approval page so that moderators could look things up prior to approval. Ahasuerus 07:20, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Note that this means there are now multiple ways to get to some sources: e.g. using the Librarything link will take you to a page with links to Amazon, Abebooks, Google Books and WorldCat. If you prefer to go the scenic route, remember you can switch off any redundant links via "My Web Sites" in "User Preferences". BLongley 16:47, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Note also that "European Library" is a good way to get into the British Library so it's not just for foreign titles. The British Library, and the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, are good sources for prices, unlike most other sources. BLongley 16:47, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, many of these sites take some getting used to. For example, LibraryThing will redirect you to their version of the Title record page and you will need to click on the Editions link to see all ISBNs. But when you get there, their ISBN list is very comprehensive, so it's a useful resource.
To use another example, COPAC is a good source of UK data, but on rare occasion their ISBNs for US books are incorrect. Ahasuerus 16:57, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

New Help page on HTML use

I have just created Help:Using HTML in Note Fields, as I recall that this subject confused many editors, both in how to enter HTML and how to understand HTML that had been entered by others. It is not yet linked from any other help page. Please take a look and let me know your views, and whether you think this is acceptable to link to from appropriate parts of the help system. -DES Talk 02:23, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Looks good, though I'm not sure that it's correct to say that <br> "is considered poor style" in a guide to writing HTML. Just because <br /> is required in XHTML, that doesn't mean <br> isn't proper HTML. Or maybe things have changed since I learned HTML. Will HTML5 require a slash to close single tags (like <p> and <hr>), not just the paired tags? (I think XHTML requires everything to be closed.) Mhhutchins 03:31, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
XHTML does require everything to be closed, and won't accept <br> or similar formations, as I understand it. Current texts on HTML discourage the <br> form. However, I just looked through the HTML5 docs in some detail, and found that it considers <br> to be normal. I will change the text. -DES Talk 04:42, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
BTW HTML5 is treating <p> as a paired tag, with the end of the paragraph to be marked with </p>. It is removing many "purely presentational" elements and attributes that were previously deprecated in favor of CSS3, such as the font tag. -DES Talk 06:59, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Looks useful, but I'm a little concerned about what it might encourage. It's possible to totally break a submission with invalid HTML/XML that means it can't be fixed without really special knowledge on the part of a moderator. (No, I'm not going to explain how to submit such.) I agree with Michael that "is considered poor style" probably isn't that helpful at the moment. But if the "Links" section can be left till later, I'm fairly OK with it. But it's 4AM here and I may not be talking sense. (I seem to be speaking up for European Mods and Editors that DO go to sleep at natural hours, to talk to North American Editors that find this time quite OK.) BLongley 04:03, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Since people DO use these, and they are present in many existing records, new editors will see them. This means that a) thy will want to know what they mean and do, and b) existing examples will be imitated. Therfore I thought it better to provide a very limited list of acceptable HTML to show people what forms are acceptable, and how to do them correctly. I thought it would also serve as a reference for moderators on what HTML constructs are safe, with the idea that anything not in this list would be at least queried by a mod when approving. It would be nice to have the software itself warn of possibly invalid html when a submisison is presented for approval -- maybe someday. -DES Talk 04:42, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I like the page; I think it finds a good balance between completeness and simplicity. I would offer a few suggestions: (1) I think you could improve that balance a bit by not mentioning the nested <ul> commands; I think that's used rarely enough that it's not necessary; (2) You write as if the use of <li> without a matching </li> is going to fail at some point. The HTML 4 Standard recommends using that format. There are so many web pages written in HTML 4 that I cannot imagine any situation under which browsers will not be able to properly interpret a strict 4.0 page. (3) Others have raised concerns about your wording on <br> vs. <br />. I think the current wording is still misleading. In particular, you write "However future versions of HTML are expected to support the <br> form", which sounds as if earlier versions did not support the <br> tag. Yet that has been the recommended tag from HTML 1.0 through 4.0 (yes, I did build web pages in HTML 1.0). And I think that the wording that "some editors consider <br> to be poor style" almost certainly exaggerates the number of such editors (it would be like saying "some Geologists believe in the young Earth theory"). (4) Under the section on "Links", it might be worth noting that editors should only add links to pages that won't change; and possibly mention that links to Locus1 are not permanent links, and hence shouldn't be used.
Regardless of my list of issues, I think this is quite a useful help page. Chavey 08:16, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I like it. I think if you mentioned in the intro section (or make it have two sub-sections, one for "paired tags" and one for) "unpaired tags", and then described that they can be unclosed or self-closed and gave an example, that might help. It keeps the opening/closing concept all in one spot. Then when you get to BR you can call it an unpaired tag and mention they might see it one of two ways, with no further explanation. --MartyD 11:27, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) Thank you for your comments. Earlier this year, I took an HTML & CSS course where both professor and text strongly encouraged writing all HTML so that it was also XHTML compliant, and I got the impression that this was likely to be required in future versions. But on reading through the HTML5 current draft, I find that it explicitly preserves the distinction between HTML and XHTML syntax checking, and explicitly says that rendering agents arexpected to ignore minor syntax errors in HTML mode, and also explicitly permits the <li> tag's closing tag to be omitted even in strict XHTML mode, IF the next element is another <li> tag or the end of the document. (This seems to mean that if the list is properly closed, the very last li element must be closed or an error will occur in strict XHTML mode. But that is a subtlety not relevant to HTML documents, it seems.)

On nested lists, the reason that I mentioned them is that I know that they have been used in the ISFDB, in fact I think i may have created one or two myself, and I know I have edited notes where another editor had created them. I wanted to document forms that editors might see in valid note entries. Do you think, in light of that, that I should omit them from the page?

I will rewrite the page simplifying further, not privilaging XHTML syntax, and incorporating other suggestions above. -DES Talk 16:27, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Rewrite done, opinions sought. -DES Talk 17:54, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Very nice! Some comments: (i) I made 3 minor changes to the "Links" section (see the history for the details). (ii) There's a little bit of redundancy between the section on "Unpaired Tags" and the following section on "Line Breaks", you might want to re-read those together and see if that can be improved a bit; (iii) You have a section on "Unnumbered Lists", for the <ul> tag. The HTML 4.0 Standard says the name of that tag is "Unordered Lists" (emphasis mine), which is the only way to make sense of the name "Ordered List" for the <ol> tag. (iv) You asked about whether you should leave in the nested Unordered lists. I have mixed feelings about it, but I guess that I wouldn't mind leaving it in, but would prefer if you left it for the end of that section, e.g. after the "Example". (Always do the standard stuff first, the special cases later.) (v) I'm tempted to recommend the inclusion of the Ordered list tag. I don't remember ever seeing it in a note, but it's fairly common in Wiki pages that editors may be looking at as well. However, opening the floodgates to the html they'll see in those Wiki pages is fraught with dangers. Chavey 04:29, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Thank you. Your changes are fine with me.
Yes there is redundancy between the unpaired tags section and the stuff about the br tag, one is the general concept and the other is the specifc example, they are intentionally a trifle redundant, IMO most good instructional writing is a bit redundant to drive points home.
You are correct that the formal name for the construct created by the ul tag is "unordered list" but i've never liked that because it isn't unordered, the order of the li items is preserved, it is simply unnumbered.
I thought about including ordered (numbered) lists, but doing so would implicitly authorize use of them in note fields, which I'm not at all sure we want to do. The help pages on wiki editing already describe how to create numbered lists in wiki-code, which is rather different than the HTML ol tag anyway (although it translates into an ol tag for the browser, no one sees that unless they use "view source" on the rendered wiki page).
If I move the nested list after the example it has to be in a subsection of its own, which I thought would lend it undue importance. It is at the end of the description, everything after it is example. But it could be moved if people prefer.
Do you think this is ready to go live? That is, be linked from existing help pages, and perhaps have the "not final" header removed? -DES Talk 06:07, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm ok with it, although I agree with Darrah's redundancy comment. My thinking about putting the "unpaired tag" information in the intro section was to keep the tag sections simple -- most people won't need the technical detail, just information about what to do. A suggested revision:
Line breaks are perhaps the most common HTML used in ISFDB note fields, and the only commonly used unpaired tag that is not part of a tag pair.
Simply entering a return into a notes field will not cause a line break to display. A line break can be forced by using a "break" tag. This is often entered as <br />. The closing slash marks the break tag as "self-closing", that is, not part of a tag pair. The shortcut form <br> also works, the closing slash is strictly optional. This is true in all current versions of HTML and all current browsers. Moreover, future versions of HTML are expected to continue to support the <br> form, so editors may use either form in ISFDB note fields.
If you want to keep some of the additional semi-technical information about HTML and browser support, I suggest incorporating it into that new unpaired tags section. --MartyD 11:11, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Reasonable idea, revision done. Any other comments from anyone? -DES Talk 15:26, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Father Brown stories -- delete?

I notice that we have some 22 items in the Father Brown series by G. K. Chesterton. It has been a while since I read these, but as I recall none involve speculative or supernatural elements -- surely most of them don't. Would there be any objection to deleting these, after double checking for possible speculative elements -- I do have the complete Father Brown. -DES Talk 05:59, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Knowing very little about most of his work, I believe the only spec-fic Chesterton wrote was The Man Who Was Thursday. I do know the Father Brown stories are not spec-fic, so I can't see any objection to deleting them from the database. Mhhutchins 06:12, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I think I recall some spec-fic elements in The Napoleon of Notting Hill but I'm not sure. The Man Who Was Thursday is clearly spec-fic, although of an unusual type. -DES Talk 06:55, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I think I read all of the Father Brown stories back in the day and I don't recall any SF content. There were a few cases where the puzzle was of the "Why, but that is impossible!" variety, but they were all revealed to have a mundane explanation in the end.
The Man Who Was Thursday (which I suspect was inspired by the Azef affair) is Chesterton's best known SF, but he also wrote other stories and novels which were either "near future SF" or fantasies -- there a list in Clute/Nicholls. Ahasuerus 16:16, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Help:Converting a NOVEL publication to a CHAPTERBOOK

I'm trying to follow the directions on How to convert a novel to a chapterbook. The first three steps say:

  • The publication record must be edited and its type changed from NOVEL to CHAPTERBOOK.
  • A CHAPTERBOOK title record must be added to the publication. This will usually have the same title and author(s) as the publication.
  • The title record for the novel must have its type changed from NOVEL to CHAPTERBOOK. If the novel has only one publication on record, this can be done from the same Publication Editor dialog where the other changes are made; otherwise the editor must click on the link from the publication record to the title record and click "Edit Title Data" to get the Title Editor dialog and make the change there.

After following step 1, I am unable to find any reasonable way to follow step 2. There certainly isn’t any direct way from a publication record to, say, click a link that creates a title record for that pub. The field for "Title Record" that is usually in the publication display is missing in this case. Step 3 creates more problems for me. I was certainly unable to do this change "from the same Publication Editor dialog where the other changes are made". Furthermore, the next clause says to "click on the link from the publication record to the title record ...", but as I said, that link disappeared as soon as step 1 was completed. So unless I've missed something which has been omitted from this help page, these directions are not helpful.

I don't know if this was how I was supposed to proceed, but I do have an example of a publication record with no title record, and the appropriate title record with no publication record, but I can't figure out how to link them together. So, in conclusion, my attempts to follow this help screen have been a total failure. Help? Chavey 07:01, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

I agree the help text is confusing. The solution is quite simple however. The publication now has no container title, and can't find anything to link to (what you normally see as "Title Reference" in the pub listing). You only have to add the container title (edit the pub and add a CHAPTERBOOK type title with the same title and author as the shortfiction record). --Willem H. 07:32, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Wow, I never would have thought of that! I want the publication to sit inside a title record. So I add a Chapterbook as a CONTENT item inside the publication?? I assume that protocol was invented by someone who thinks it's natural to shutdown Windows by clicking on the "Start" button? :-) But it worked! I think I'll work a little on that help page though, since I'm sure I'll never remember that sequence the next time I have to do it. Chavey 07:46, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
There is a certain sense in which title records sit inside publication records. More exactly, publication records contain pointers to title records, and when a content item is added to a publication a new title record is created. This is actually what happens when you add stories to a collection or anthology, or novels to an omnibus: each addition creates a new title record. This is why titles must be merged after such manual additions if another version already exists. In fact, most title records are created by adding them to publications or by creating publications at the same time (the new novel screen does the latter). This makes more sense for adding fiction items than it does for adding container title records, the latter is an unusual step that only happens in conversions and fixing damaged records and similar situations. -DES Talk 07:55, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
If there was an existing title record, whether of type NOVEL or of type CHAPTERBOOK, it may well need to be merged with the title record that will be created by addign it to the contents.
This help probably needs to be improved, perhaps with some screen shots of the process. Which I can safely say since I drafted significant parts of the existing text, i think. -DES Talk 07:43, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
I can just delete that other title record; it doesn't have any additional information. But I certainly invite your help in fixing up that help page. Chavey 07:46, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Getting late for me -- I'll try to look at it tomorrow. Perhaps I'll create a test record and take screenshots going through the process. -DES Talk 07:58, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) I created a draft revision for this section at Help:Converting a NOVEL publication to a CHAPTERBOOK/Conversion-draft including a new example sub-section with lots of screen shots. I would appreciate some feedback before I move this over the existing section. -DES Talk 03:18, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

The screenshots are a nice addition. I think you need to also cover titles with multiple publications, where this simple conversion case is not possible - as you go through a stage of mismatched pub and title types that is confusing for almost everyone. BLongley 14:23, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I can add a 2nd example covering the more complex case. Do you think I should use a case where the "novel" to be converted is also included in an anthology or collection as well as there being multiple publications of the novel/chapterbook? -DES Talk 16:28, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm surprised to see myself write this, but if anything I think there might be a few too many screen shots. For example, the 3rd picture shows where you click to edit the publication record. Do we really want someone who doesn't know this step to be under-taking such a conversion? Then 3 pictures later, we get into a collection of 4 pictures showing the process of selecting a new title type for the title record and the content entry type. That's helpful, but we should be able to assume the editor knows how to use a pull-down menu. Instead of 2 pictures for each action, I'd rather see a single picture with a bit more of the context. For example, unless you know what you're looking for, or get it by reading the text, it's a challenge to realize that the second pair of pictures is referring to a content item listing. A little bit more of the screen real-estate around that picture would make it much more obvious what was going on. Chavey 14:52, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I see your points. I do assume that anyone trying to use this help page will read the text as well as look at the pictures, and I did specifically write "scroll down to the content section". But I do see that a shot more clearly showing that it is part of the content section would be helpful, and that the before&after pairs for the pull-down are not needed -- i'll keep only the after state I think. Does anyone else have a comment? -DES Talk 16:28, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Example of Cover variants vs. merging

I have a cute example of the use of cover variants & merging: The Boris Vallejo cover for The Demon in the Mirror, by Richard Lyon and Andrew Offut. The book was published under both that title and under "Demon in the Mirror", and the covers are substantially different, due to cropping on the later. Then the cover was re-used by an Italian publishing company for their edition of the Catherine L. Moore [sic] book "Jirel Delle Lande di Joiry". That cover is also cropped, but quite differently, and with different framing on the cover. The two variants of the "Demon" cover are also merged with other identical covers, so it gives examples of the use of merging covers as well. But mostly I like the re-envisioning of "Jirel". I wonder if Editrice Nord got permission to use that artwork? Chavey 17:39, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Have also a look here. Hauck 18:29, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Great! And that one's not even cropped differently than the "canonical" cover, but having the different wording on the cover justifies it being a variant, but not a "merged title". So I added it as a variant to the "canonical" cover. Chavey 20:56, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

r2011-65 installed - ISFDB FAQ linked from the main page

Based on user feedback, a link to the ISFDB FAQ has been added to the main page. Ahasuerus 17:42, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

It's linked on every page of the database. Mhhutchins 18:03, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it was added to the main navigation bar, so it appears on all pages. The original intent was to add it to the main page, but when I realized that it would appear on all pages, I decided to leave it that way because many casual users are sent directly to Author and Pub pages when they search the Web. Ahasuerus 18:27, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Darrell K. Sweet

I recently heard of his passing, and thought I'd tidy up his page a bit. And it struck me that we don't seem to use series for Coverart, although people are talking about his WoT and Xanth covers. Is anybody interested in such a project? I could write something that looks for covers by the same artist for publications in the same title series as a starting point. BLongley 04:33, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

As most of the "main" artist's covers will at some point be used by other countries for widely different titles, I'm not fond of the idea, but it's only my 2 cents. Hauck 06:20, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
I suspect series covers are far less likely to be reused for unassociated titles. And when they are reused for translations, then it would probably help to group them. Still, there seems to be no particular call for this, so I'll put it on the back-burner - it's not as if there isn't any other stuff to work on. BLongley 00:41, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, the cover mentioned two topics above was from the series "War of the Wizards", and it got re-used with publications from two different authors. Granted, I doubt that Vallejo's Tarzan covers will be re-used outside of Tarzan, but I suspect the percent of covers that are locked for all time with a particular series would be fairly small. Chavey 02:28, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm quite in favour of this title series for art! And since we treat re-used art works as different titles, (because they would have other words on the cover, wouldn't they?) I don't see much of a problem in this. Stonecreek 19:42, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
My understanding of the discussion on the Help Page is that re-used cover art is handled as a variant title, not a top-level title in its own right. Chavey 02:50, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, re-used cover art on a different title gets a variant. When we spot it - and in my experience the Europeans tend to be better at spotting such. IF a series of cover images gets reused for covers in a different series then we might have problems, but I'm not aware of any such problems coming. But I'm waiting for people to try it out, rather than pushing for such work to be done - could someone please show me an example of it working, or not working? BLongley 06:11, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I dumped the raw data on Author:Darrell_K._Sweet for now, if anybody wants to try it out and see how it looks. (I'd suggest starting with a short series like "A Wizard in Rhyme" volumes 1 to 4 before tackling "Xanth" though!) Just looking at the raw data makes me think such an exercise might help in filling in author credits for some titles, or de-duplicating titles where the Novels have been merged but the covers haven't, etc. I can do this for any other artist if people are interested in someone else. BLongley 00:07, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

For me it'd be most useful for the 'Perry Rhodan' series. It may be more practical to implement this once the whole series has been submitted, though (provided there is a 'mechanical' solution for this problem). Stonecreek 11:11, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

For something that massive, yes, a script would be useful. I'm thinking smaller at the moment - e.g. Josh Kirby's Discworld covers, followed by Paul Kidby's. I guess it rather depends on how often we're used for Artist searches: we have been linked to as a source for Darrell K. Sweet covers, but I'm not sure how many people think we're good enough yet. BLongley 06:11, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Web page link bug

There is a bug that causes both web page links to be removed from an author's summary page data, if you choose to remove only Web Page 1. Mhhutchins 21:25, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Yes, that's Bug 3267292. BLongley 22:06, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
So now there's at least two of us who are aware of it. Hopefully other moderators will know how to handle any submissions that delete Web Page 1. Mhhutchins 03:41, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I hope some are, and those that don't know at least know to leave such to another Mod better-suited to it. For editors, my advice would be to move the bottom Web page(s) over the one(s) you want to remove and save a bit of mod work. I think there are other places in the software where a gap in a set of entries loses data accidentally, but I haven't tracked them all down - my general advice for now is that "gaps are bad". BLongley 05:47, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
As we grow, I'm becoming less certain of what each Mod is capable of - I'm pretty sure that we've got to the stage where none of us have the skills required to moderate everything. I'd put myself in the Top 10 Moderators in terms of ability and experience, but I know my limitations - it might help if we knew each other's a bit better though. I think I know where to turn for French, German and Dutch advice (I even think I know where I could have gone for Hungarian and Italian help, if it wasn't too late), and am vaguely aware that someone handled Polish quite well, but I also dealt with Spanish, Finnish, Korean and Macedonian today and have no idea of any Mod that I might have been able to leave them to. I'm quite flattered that people turn to me with software questions, even when it's one of the areas I've not yet learned, and I am always happy to help people query our data on an offline MySQL copy from our weekly downloads. But I'm useless at explaining SFBC editions or Canadian printing numbers or Aus/NZ pricing, for instance, and am glad we have others to help. I think I recently commented that it would be nice for a Mod to be able to Hold a submission for a different Mod to look at - in hindsight that might work now, for things where we have one expert Mod only, long-term it won't when we have multiple Mods with overlapping expertise. But it would be nice to have a bit more information about what each Mod feels they are capable of doing. And maybe what they feel they are not capable of - which in my case seems to include not being able to go to sleep, and not keep posts here short and clear. :-/ BLongley 05:47, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, something like that would be useful, e.g. it may not be immediately obvious that User:Tpi knows Finnish. In addition, we have ISFDB:Foreign Language Abbreviations, which we may want to expand. Ahasuerus 06:51, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
You're right, I'd totally forgotten that Tpi lives in Finland. (And I suspect that "where you live" is not always a definitive sign of what languages you can deal with - I'm pretty sure I could get by if I moved to Wales or Scotland, but it wouldn't mean I could handle Welsh or Gaelic.) ISFDB:Foreign Language Abbreviations does look useful, but it needs some major expansion: not just for "Foreign" languages either, some things as common as "tp" and "pb" have different meanings on either side of the pond. BLongley 07:13, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I am thinking that if we create a resource matrix, we probably want to have at least three "skill levels": Ahasuerus 06:51, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking more on the lines of Hervé's modest "Can help on french titles" rather than a full matrix. I'd happily add "can help on British paperbacks, or British and Commonwealth prices" to my entry but wouldn't dare to suggest I know anything special about British first edition hardcovers, for instance. BLongley 07:32, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Also, there is some very useful info on French publication practices here: User:Hauck#Some_bibliographic_notes_on_French_SF_books - it would be nice to centralise this and do the same for our other speciality countries. BLongley 19:38, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Subject Matter Expert, i.e. someone who is familiar with the country's SF, authors, publishers, publication series, etc
  • Language Expert, i.e. someone who can translate synopses, identify misspellings, etc.
  • Cataloger, i.e. someone who can handle catalog records in that language
The last skill level doesn't require a great deal of knowledge, but it has its limitations. For example, last week I was testing the new European Library links, so I pulled up a latinized Serbian record for a French novel and something looked wrong. After staring at it for a second I realized that the translated title couldn't possibly be in Serbian, so I dug a little deeper and found that it was indeed a Hungarian translation while someone who couldn't distinguish between Slavic and Hungarian records would have no reason to suspect that anything was amiss. Similarly, although I know (or used to know) enough French, German and Russian to be reasonably comfortable with catalog records which use Romance, Germanic and Slavic languages, I would be on shaky ground if I tried entering Korean or Japanese records. Ahasuerus 06:51, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
To be honest, I'd score myself low on all three categories - for instance, as "Language" is not the same as "Country". Only today I was reading something on my Kindle where a word triggered my spelling-sense - only to discover that "fagot" is an allowable version of "faggot". (Strangely, the Kindle dictionary look-up doesn't mention how offensive the word can be. A few days ago I was surprised to see "Honkies" in a comparatively-recent Leinster reissue - maybe it was because in that case it applied to green-skinned people and was therefore OK?) "Publication Series" seem to be misused by many, and yet not used enough by mainland European editors. I think we can usefully declare strengths and weaknesses without fitting ourselves into your matrix. BLongley 07:54, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I'd say that at this point it seems we can handle publications in the 'known' 4-6 languages, but what would be needed are contributors experienced in other languages and - even more - experienced in the scene of certain countries. This last point leads nearly inevitably to native contributors, I think. And that's the problem: how could we get hold of them? Maybe there's some information in the Locus essays on countries? Or could some googling be helpful? Stonecreek 14:18, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, it might be time to try contacting some former editors and seeing if they're willing to come back and do some rework: GaborLajos was active in Hungarian for instance. Or maybe we still need to implement Translator Support and Unmerge Foreign title first before we send out the call. I've been spreading news of our software improvements as they're implemented to my LJ author friends but so far few have even worked on their own English bibliographies, let alone their foreign titles. BLongley 18:54, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Uncommon binding

Just entered a pub as a "digest" and got a warning that it was an uncommon binding. With several thousand records, at what point does it become "common"? I know it's just a matter of capitalization, but if we prefer "pb", "hc", and "tp", why do we then prefer "Digest" over "digest"? Mhhutchins 01:38, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

This may be a not-so-subtle reminder that if we don't like what help says, we should actually change the help. I did bring the matter up here: ISFDB:Moderator_noticeboard#Patch_r2011-66_installed but as I started two of the previous discussions and got nowhere I think there's probably a better use of my time, particularly as I'm not somebody that enters anything but allowable codes anyway. (In recent edits, e.g. some "Playboy" stubs, I preferred to leave them blank than argue the case. Which is probably not the intended desire.) If anyone feels the desire to contest any "Uncommon binding" I can check how really uncommon they are. "First they came for the quarto, and I didn't protest as I never used quarto. Then they came for the digest, and I didn't protest as I never used digest..." :-( BLongley 03:17, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
How about a list of all currently used bindings that have more than, say, 1000 records? At least we'll be able to determine how common they are. Much appreciated. Mhhutchins 03:52, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Easy. The obvious ones are:
pb	78556
hc	57859
tp	46708
then we have "Null" and blank and unknown:
null 	7938 
	2761
unk	851
"digest" seems preferred over "Digest"
digest	6352
Not sure how useful this is without stating the kind of ebook:
ebook	3782
Into the magazines:
quarto	2126
Pulp	1692
ph	963
webzine	858
A4	822
bedsheet	724
A5	624
And to think I was concerned about the audiobooks last two times! I suspect they may be a large part of the "unknown, blank and null" pubs but I'm not that keen on working on those and we don't get many submitted manually. BLongley 04:41, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. This should give us better standing when we attempt to change the help page. And adjust the warning based on that page. Mhhutchins 05:23, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

First edition of "Dracula"

Newport Vintage Books has a First Edition Errors web page that lists the top dozen misidentified first editions (often resulting from people assuming that a copyright date implies a publication date). Their #1 most misidentified first edition is a belief that the 1927 Grosset & Dunlap edition of Dracula is actually an 1897 first edition. When I checked our records, sure enough, we had that incorrect publisher attribution for the 1st edition. I verified the Newport Vintage Books claim through a current listing at Sotheby's Auction House for a 1st edition (2nd impression) of Dracula. I corrected our listing, added a few notes about the common error, and added additional notes in the "Bibliographic Comments". (Aside: The biblographic comments for that book says "This page is the wiki-page for the publication DRCLXMHPRS1897 ...". I didn't check, but I hope there's a feature request to replace that ID string with the actual book name.) Because of the importance of this book, I thought I would mention that change here.

I might add that this particular web page has a plethora of information, that we don't, on early editions of "Dracula", "Tarzan of the Apes", "Phantom of the Opera", and "Hound of the Baskervilles" -- just in case anyone wants to work on cleaning up any of those titles. Chavey 07:53, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Thomas Hobbes "Leviathan"

Anybody have any idea why we have this book in the system? It's a non-fiction book (by a non-SF author) about political theory. Granted, in the early editions it has a giant on the cover, but that giant is a metaphor for the combination of earthly powers and the power of the church, and represents a Biblical reference: "There is no power on earth to be compared to him. Job 41.24". Doesn't seem like it qualifies as spec fic. Chavey 15:21, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

I couldn't say how it got into the db (except through the oblique step you give). I see no problem in removing it. Mhhutchins 19:32, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Publisher merge?

I've noticed that books from the Le Livre de Poche series and its subseries (there's actually a single catalog with individual books or printings assigned or not to a "subseries", it gets messier with other publishers) are entered under three different publishers: "Librairie Générale Française", "LGF", and "Le Livre de Poche".

To the best of my knowledge, there is no such thing as a publishing company operating under the name "Le Livre de Poche". The company's name is Librairie Générale Française (eventually abbreviated to "LGF"), but AFAIK it only prints into a single collection that is so famous the publisher has deemphasized its own name (making it almost function like a publisher who would have a single imprint with a name unrelated to the company's). Nonetheless "Le Livre de Poche" remains only the title of the collection (as noted in the notes for the series!), and the spread of the books over three publishers (one of which clearly incorrect) is a problem that seem as if it would require manually editing ca. 100 books (to change the publishers, or add them to the series).

As there is currently no clear mechanism for combining publishers, I figured I'd throw it out here for the more experienced users to discuss. Circeus 20:05, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Moderators can merge publishers. I'll leave it to those who are more familiar with the publisher and series to perform the merge. Thanks for asking. I find too many submissions in the queue that are updating the publisher fields in multiple pub records when all that's needed is to post a message on the Wiki and have a moderator do the task a couple of submissions. Mhhutchins 20:14, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
Technically the publisher can be said to be LGF (as per printing statement on most of the last pages of books) but on the title pages of the books the publisher (at the bottom) is clearly identified as "Le livre de poche" (at least when the pages are not erroneous duplicates of those of the first french occurences). As far as I'm concerned, I'd stick with "le livre de poche" as it's probably clearer to most users and bibliographers (see here). Note that nearly all the verified pubs are under the LDP publisher (I know because i've entered them myself) and that the data entered for LGF titles is sometimes a bit surprising (e.g. 1989 pubs priced in Euros). Hauck 20:47, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
I'd agree that there seems to be justification for merging these "publishers", but I would hesitate about discounting "Le livre de poche" as "just" a publication series. The official address that LGF uses is "Librairie générale française (Le Livre de poche) 31, rue de Fleurus 75278 Paris Cedex 06.", which implies at least an "imprint" view of these books, not a "series" view. The home page for Hachette, the company which owns Librairie Générale Française, does not list LGF, but instead lists "Le livre de poche", and three times refers to it as a publisher, e.g. saying that Le livre de poche "is France’s top commercial paperback publisher." If the company that owns them says they are the publisher, I suggest that we should also. One option, though, might be to use the "imprint / publisher" format, i.e. "Le Livre de Poche / LGF", if as Hauck says, LGF is how they list themselves within the book. Chavey 21:02, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
Darrah's option is probably the best way to combine all this. But, personally, I won't do it as the data presented is not conclusive and also because for me all these titles should be merged under "Le livre de Poche" if only for the sake of readability.Hauck 11:29, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

[undent] They do show "le Livre de Poche" on _some_ title pages (i.e. if they are the initial publisher), but AFAIK, their usual practice is to show the first French publisher (e.g. Albin Michel in the case of Bernard Werber's books). Everything else is just part of the "capitalize on the famous name" strategy to me and as long as they themselves will print their address with the Librairie [...] name in their books, I don't why we should give what amounts IMO to inaccurate bibliographic information. For what it's worth, BNF appears to agree with interpretation. The point was mostly to note the need for a merge. I'll accept whatever the decision ends being even if I disagree, but I have the strong feeling it shouldn't be made on the premise that merging to a certain name will mean altering less records. Circeus 22:29, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Francis Bacon: New Atlantis/La Nouvelle Atlantide

I recently added a 1664 edition of Francis Bacon's "New Atlantis" (as a chapterbook), and then a 1702 French edition, also as a chapterbook. I have a couple of questions about the French edition that I added:

  1. Both the chapterbook and its contents are entered as French language items. When I turn off French in my language preferences, I no longer see "La Nouvelle Atlantide de François Bacon" in the Chapterbook list, but I do still see its contents, of the same name, in the Shortfiction list. Is this the intended behavior?
  2. This book is 253 pages, which makes it seem odd to be viewed as a "chapterbook". I suspect this is because it includes, according to the sub-titles, "Reflexions sur l'Institution & les Occupations des Académies Françoise des Sciences & des Inscriptions", apparently an essay (written by the translator?) about how the book's contents relate to the French equivalents of the English institutions that Bacon was analyzing. However, I don't think I have enough detail about that essay to be certain. I've left some notes in the book about that, but my question is whether I should view this book as a variant of the English-language chapterbook (as, for now, I have), or as a separate title?
Chavey 21:32, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
  1. Language preferences only block out "title variants" for works which are not the same as the languages you set. Look at the preference list again and you'll see that the original language is always shown, regardless of your preference. If you don't make this French title record into a variant of an English language title record, the system thinks French is the original language of the work and will display it regardless of your preference. Mhhutchins 22:43, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
  2. It's a chapterbook because it publishes a work of less than 40K words, a novelette in this case. As I mentioned before, "chapterbook" doesn't refer to page count, but to the length of the work. Mhhutchins 22:45, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
Page counts are handy because they are easier to find than word counts, but there are cases when they can be quite misleading. I have a few 1.5" by 1.5" (sic) books and we wouldn't want to use their page count to determine whether they are novels or short stories :-) Ahasuerus 00:06, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, I'm still concerned that the page count is an accurate reflection of the length, and that this length represents the "New Atlantis" novelette + translator's essay; but I'll leave it as is. I think I understand the language issue now; I had set the Chapterbook to be a variant of an English title, but not the short story. As Mike said, once I set that variant as well (which I should have done before), the language oddity went away. Chavey 03:43, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
Page count is an inaccurate reflection of a story's length. Consider font, spacing, margins, illustrations, introductions, afterwords, indexes, notes etc. That's too many factors to consider page count as anything other than the number of pages in a publication. Mhhutchins 04:42, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Is it possible to merge publication series?

I had the idea to unify the pub. series Heyne Science Fiction and Heyne Science Fiction & Fantasy by denominating them with the same name. For the reasons: see this discussion. This doesn't worked out as I intended. We have now two series with the same name who can't be merged as it seems. Or is there any way to do it? Stonecreek 21:07, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

I believe that each record must be changed in individual submissions. Just like title series, you can change the name of the series, but you can't merge one with another one. Maybe there's some kind of behind-the-scenes manipulation that could be done by one of the programmers. I couldn't say. Mhhutchins 21:26, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Someone (i.e., Ahasuerus) with access to the database could do it using a SQL update command. I don't know what sort of remuneration he might require for any such service.... --MartyD 00:27, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
He probably wouldn't require remuneration, but he might take a lot of convincing as to the benefit versus the risk - mass-update scripts are dangerous. I know that when merging publishers was implemented, with all sorts of checks to make sure that only identical publishers could be merged, and only Mods could do so, it was still used in such a way that I almost quit editing. :-( There are many areas where an improvement could be done via a mass update - we could rework a lot of foreign language titles in one go, for instance - but people would be rather unhappy if every German title suddenly became Klingon, for instance. (OK, maybe Lawrence M. Schoen would be happy.) BLongley 01:25, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
There were only 82 pubs involved, so I did it manually. Ahasuerus 19:48, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

The Victorian Hugos: 1889

An interesting article, even if it does say "the ISFDB, usually outstanding, is, sadly, unreliable when it comes to the Victorian era." BLongley 00:01, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

I'd really like to see the author's database, since he/she's "relying on my own numbers." I find the tone of the article to be rather "precious" with a conceit that wears thin as it goes on. Why not just a serious article about what the author thinks is the best sf of the year under consideration? Mhhutchins 01:28, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
It appears that his primary source is his own The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana. But when the cheapest price bookfinder.com can get for it is $621, I doubt any of us can rush out to get that just to help. Jerry Boyajian verified a copy of the book in 2008, but he appears not to have been active since then. Chavey 17:28, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
It's rare (or as rare as any book published in 2005 can be) and expensive, but thankfully an early version is available online. Ahasuerus 05:17, 26 December 2011 (UTC)
How many of us would trust a site that has "CON" in big red (illustrated, even) letters? ;-) And for all its claims of Englishness, the use of the word "colored" suggests some interference from our American cousins. Not that things have improved since the early days of the new-fangled steam-powered "internet" - one cannot use the correct spelling "coloured" without offence it seems. :-( BLongley 05:54, 26 December 2011 (UTC)
Double-checking his nominations, we seem to have them all anyway. Although The Last American is a Chapterbook by our standards. (I wonder what "novel-length" would have been in those days?) BLongley 16:38, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
Not only his nominations, but every book and every story he mentions is in the ISFDB! I mentioned that in a comment on his blog. (Traditional problem: You can't find his "Lucy Hooper" story easily, because it's listed under "Lucy H. Hooper".) Nevertheless, he is correct that we are weak on the Victorian-era (and earlier) material. For example, before I worked on The Arabian Nights, we had it listed as first published in 1997! Some books I've worked on this month, with earliest publication before and after I added pubs include:
I also added 8 Victorian editions of Frankenstein (and verified one), and added Victorian spec fic books by Francis Hodgson Burnett and Daphne Dale. In looking at other classic titles, I see that Gulliver's Travels (from 1726) has an earliest publication in ISFDB of 1909, and the only Victorian-era "King Arthur" that we have listed is Sir James Knowles The Legends Of King Arthur And His Knights, from 1886, but represented in the ISFDB only by a 2005 publication. So I would tend to agree with Nevins that we are still inaccurate when it comes to Victorian material. With the rising interest in Steampunk, it would be nice to improve our coverage here. But of course that's just one of many projects we're working on, and we can't (yet) be all things to all people. Chavey 17:28, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
It's gaps in the ISFDB like this that make me cringe at the thought of working on Fixer submissions for self-published books and dreading the possibility of having to deal with a million ebooks. I personally feel we should go forward by first going backward. If we could only get Reginald1 entries into the db, it would be a good start, as I respect his opinions on what constitutes spec-fic. Many 19th century works fall in the cracks between polemic and fiction that it becomes difficult to decide what should be in the database. Mhhutchins 17:42, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
The Fixer revamp necessitated by the Amazon changes in October actually made it easier to control what Fixer submits and what he leaves in reserve. Earlier today I finished the latest round of improvements and Fixer's submissions are now limited to publishers who have at least 25 pubs in the ISFDB database. It's not a 100% full-proof algorithm, e.g. if Amazon.com has one publisher on file and Amazon UK has another, it can result in a submission for an "under 25" publisher, but it should help quite a bit. Take a look at Fixer's submissions since 2011-12-25 21:22:45 for a sample selection. Ahasuerus 03:45, 26 December 2011 (UTC)
Hm, I see another loophole. Fixer uses the first word of each publisher's name in order to avoid problems with trailing "LLC", "Co." and so on. Unfortunately, some common words like "Midnight" are shared by established publishers and vanity houses. I guess I'll just have to expand Fixer's blacklist... Ahasuerus 05:07, 26 December 2011 (UTC)
If it WAS a 100% full-proof algorithm then it wouldn't need moderating, would it? I don't think we're anywhere near that, and you haven't unleashed Amazon.DE and Amazon.FR on us yet :-/ BLongley 06:01, 26 December 2011 (UTC)
There are no immediate plans to submit non-English pubs automatically, but I am in the process of grabbing any and all SF-flavored European ISBNs since they may be harder to identify come next year. Italy has been completed and Spain is currently in progress, but it's turned out to be a more time consuming process than I originally expected because of various obscure technical problems. The story of my life... Ahasuerus 23:38, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) I agree with Mike that the older works should be a higher priority, and I'm trying to do some of that myself, but I would hesitate to impose my priorities on others. Although I've been jumping around a bit on projects lately, one project is to get my copy of Reginald1 scanned into pdf, then run through an OCR program to convert it into electronic text. Then I'll probably try to convert it into a somewhat "standardized" spreadsheet format to make it easier to create macros to compare those entries with what we have. (That's the way I'm currently comparing Contento to ISFDB). My hope is that this will make it easier to determine what we have and don't have from that book, but I've still got a way to go on this. Chavey 18:06, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Have you checked with User talk:Robertreginald to see if he has, or would be interested in, an electronic version? He doesn't seem to be averse to ebooks. BLongley 18:30, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Use of ISBN-13

I wonder why there are so many recent publications that are primary verified with ISBN-10. Could it be that the original records were entered by a bot and that the verifiers didn't notice the ISBN-10? For example look at how many 2009 DAW Books are verified with ISBN-10s. And there are even more 2008 books. Could DAW have been that slow to record the ISBN-13? I changed the records for 2010 and 2011 (about 10 in each year), and there was even a record for a 2012 publication with ISBN-10! Mhhutchins 19:32, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

What does it really mean to be "primary verified with ISBN-10"? The ISFDB software displays both the 10 and 13 versions in such cases. I would assume that the versifiers are validating that the displayed ISBN 13 matches their hardcopy. Is it really important which version is entered in the record? -- JLaTondre (talk) 21:00, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
A few reasons why the correct ISBN should be recorded in the pub record: 1) Look at the links above and you'll see that the pubs are numerically listed by ISBN, so using the ISBN-10 places them out of order. 2) Look at the pubs listed under the title record and you'll see that only the entered ISBN is displayed, not both. 3) (The most important...) It's ISFDB policy to record data as close as possible to what's listed in the publication. Given a little time, I could probably come up with more reasons. Mhhutchins 21:32, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
I can see the possibility for confusion in displaying only the 10 version in the first two cases, but not much. I think most people looking for a specific ISBN will use search and that works. As for the order, I don't see that as an issue other than a possible software improvement (changing the sort algorithm to handle). With respect to #3, that comes down to semantics. The publication record shows the 13 version so we are indeed recording as close as possible to what's listed in the publication. If it's important to distinguish whether a publication has only version 10, both version 10 and 13, or only version 13, then software changes would be required as that's not the way the software is implemented (could add a selection box that allows that to be recorded). That said, I normally do change the ISBN on the edit screen to what's shown on the book. -- JLaTondre (talk) 21:54, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm sure others would too, if they were aware of the difference. That's the point of the post. Mhhutchins 01:01, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
The difference is going to be more and more important as time goes on - at the moment we're merrily converting one form to the other and that is just going to NOT work when we get the 979 prefixes arriving. Unfortunately a lot of sites we link to are still ISBN-10-based and we're going to have to watch them to see when they update. BLongley 19:38, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
In general, it's always safer to record information as it appears in the book. Industry conventions and the ISFDB software can change, but the hard data in the database will remain the same.
To go back to the original question, I have spot checked a few books using Amazon's Look Inside and even 2008 pubs have ISBN-13s on the back cover. Ahasuerus 06:10, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
Conversion started in 2005, so it's not unusual that by 2008 publishers were using ISBN-13. Or did you mean to say that in 2008 some publishers were still using ISBN-10? That's likely, as many US publishers were slow to convert. I'm not asking for a universal change in database records based on a specific cut-off date. I'm just asking verifiers to record the stated ISBN. Mhhutchins 03:37, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't very clear. I meant to say that I picked a few pubs published by DAW in 2008-2009 (which were verified with ISBN-10s) and checked their ISBNs using Amazon's Look Inside. They all had ISBN-13s printed on the back cover. Ahasuerus 04:02, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Bibliothèque nationale de France linked

Bibliothèque nationale de France has been linked from the Publication page. Unfortunately, it appears as "Bibliotheque nationale de France" (no accent) due to software limitations, at least for now. Ahasuerus 06:32, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

P.S. I *think* the URL that I found is stable, but it's 810 (sic) characters long, which is a little suspicious. Ahasuerus 06:39, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

21 Languages Added

The 21 additional languages identified by User:Chavey over on Series:Arabian Nights Entertainments have been added to the database. Ahasuerus 09:27, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

I've added the first publications of the Arabian Nights in those 21 languages. That gives 80 languages for that title; even "Harry Potter" is only in WorldCat in 67 languages. Anyone want to add all those? :-). You'll force Ahasuerus to add 5 new languages! (Faroese, Kalatdlisut, Luxembourgish, Nepali, and Occitan.) Chavey 18:08, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
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