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LCCN report resurrected

As avid readers of this page know, the latest LCCN cleanup report was a fiasco. It crashed the database engine when it tried to run and had to be disabled.

I am happy to report that it has been resurrected and should generate new data overnight. The algorithm has been tweaked to identify pubs with notes that include "LCCN:" or "LCCN [digit]". The report has been renamed accordingly. The new and improved version lets moderators "ignore" pubs.

There are roughly 3,500 affected publication records, so the report is currently limited to the first 500 matches. Ahasuerus 18:31, 1 June 2018 (EDT)

Just on time for the weekend. Thanks! Annie 20:11, 1 June 2018 (EDT)
I think that there is a bug in the (first 500) when ignores are allowed. Before today's regeneration, the report was clean and the numbers was saying (500)(273 (I think)) - which meant that I had ignore 227 titles (sounds about right) and 273 were cleaned the regular way. After the regeneration, it shows me only 274 titles (and the numbers show (500)(274)). It looks like the first 500 are selected before the ignores are taken into account. Which will become a problem in a couple of days when I keep ignoring. :) I will leave that report alone tonight so you can see it. Annie 03:07, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
Investigating... Ahasuerus 10:47, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
It was the first "(500)" report to support the ability to "ignore" records. As you surmised, the processing logic didn't handle this combination of conditions correctly. I ended up lifting the 500 limit for this report; it should no longer be a problem once the nightly process runs. As of this morning we have less than 3,000 affected pubs, which should be manageable without the limit. Please feel free to process what's currently displayed! Ahasuerus 15:04, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
I was not sure how we handle the ignores (separate table?) but figured that something like that is going on. This report is very similar to the Amazon links one - a lot of false alerts (here because we are not filtering for the external ID; in the amazon links one because we also catch the links). I agree, 3000 is manageable. Thanks! :) Annie 15:14, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

Author biblios - near-identical author names are no longer confused

The other day Annie came across a bug in the software that drives author biblio pages. Near-identical author names like Ed Acuna and Ed Acuña could be confused with one substituting for the other. I ended up rewriting that part of the software (to make it better, stronger, faster!), which fixed the bug and, as a side effect, made the process of loading Summary pages a little bit faster.

As always, if you encounter anything unusual, please report your findings here. Ahasuerus 17:58, 3 June 2018 (EDT)


As some of you may recall, closed down in 2017, but we still have 100+ links to that domain. Looking for volunteers to identify all defunct URLs using Advanced Author Search and replace them with links (if available.) Ahasuerus 00:14, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

Some of them are already done, I will see what I can do for the rest over the next few days. Annie 18:13, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
Thanks! Ahasuerus 18:16, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
I think that someone else was either fixing them alongside me or someone had done that before - the whole second page was already done :). All are done now - except for a handful, they were salvageable from the Way Back Machine even though a lot of them had to go really back in time. From the problematic ones - most had forwarders put at one point and for others google found a new link. Annie 21:51, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
Excellent! I have changed the 3 URLs used by our title records, so we should be all set. Well, almost -- we have another 5 title records with "" in Notes. I will get to them tomorrow unless someone else beats me to it. Ahasuerus 22:11, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
Got them. 4 are replaced with links; 1 with the new author's site page. All done now :) Annie 22:25, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
After re-checking all URLs and Notes I was about to close SR 115, but then I re-read the comments section of the SR and remembered that we still had a dozen e-mail addresses on file. Sorry, this should be last chapter! Ahasuerus 22:41, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
While finding other mails may be possible, it will be too work intensive and quite unneeded in my opinion. So I think we should just delete them and be done with them. What do you think? Annie 22:56, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
<click-click-click> All right, one e-mail address has been replaced with a new one, the rest have been deleted. The SR has been closed. Victory! :-) Ahasuerus 23:20, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
I had been working on this with a search. Uzume 15:16, 9 June 2018 (EDT)

Redesigning prices

Roadmap 2017 says:

  • Support multiple prices per publication

A year ago we had an extensive discussion of the desired software behavior. More recently, we tweaked the cleanup report responsible for prices to look for extra spaces between the currency symbol and the price.

I have been thinking about these issues for the last few weeks and here are my preliminary thoughts re: where we want to end up:

  1. Each publication record should allow an unlimited number of prices. This will be accomplished by converting the "Price" field to a "multi-field", which will use the standard "+" mechanism for adding additional prices.
  2. Within editing forms, each price row will contain two sub-fields per price: "currency symbol" and "price value". The look-and-feel will be similar to that of the "External ID" multi-field, which also contains two sub-fields (External ID type and External ID value) per row.
  3. Within each publication, prices should be displayed in "priority order". For example, a UK book which has one price for the UK, another price for Australia and a third price for New Zealand should display the UK price first. Note that this is different from the behavior of other "multi-fields", e.g. the order of authors within publications/titles is not enforced while external IDs are displayed alphabetically.
  4. Each displayed price should contain three components:
    • The price value, e.g. "24.00", "60,000" or "2/6"
    • The currency symbol, e.g. "£", "€", "$", "¥", "Kč" or "FF". The currency symbol should be displayed before or after the price value depending on the currency. Some symbols should be adjacent to the price value while other symbols should be separated with a space. Some currencies, like the old UK currency and "other", will have an empty displayed currency symbol. There will be a drop-down list of supported currency symbols similar to the drop-down lists of supported formats, external IDs, etc. The drop-down list will include additional information to facilitate the data entry process, e.g. "C$ - Canadian dollars" or "A$ - Australian dollars".
    • Currency-specific text displayed as a mouse-over bubble, similar to the way we display mouse-over information for publication formats. It will contain information about the currency, including the countries where it is/was used and any applicable ISO-4217 codes (some currencies have had multiple ISO-4217 codes and some older ones have none.) It will also be used to explain the formatting of obscure and unusual currencies like the old UK system.
  5. Prices whose currency is not in the drop-down list of supported currency symbols will be entered as follows:
    • The editor will select "other" in the list of currency symbols
    • The editor will enter the currency symbol and the price in the "price value" field
    • Once a critical mass of publications with the same unsupported currency has been reached, the currency will be added to the list of supported currencies, at which point the currency symbol will be moved from the "price value" field to the "currency symbol" field in the affected publications.
  6. Common currencies will be converted to the new design automatically. There will be one or more cleanup reports to handle uncommon currencies, typos, etc. There will be additional cleanup reports to find publications with price information in Notes.

I also have a preliminary design of the underlying database tables needed to support these requirements/design, but it's probably too technical to post here.

So, what do you think? Ahasuerus 12:32, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

General Discussion

Sounds usable and readable. What'll be the guidelines for which currencies to enter--for example, only ones that are on the book cover and/or publisher's website? What are acceptable data sources? --Vasha 12:44, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

I don't think the proposed redesign will require changes to the "acceptable data sources" part of our data entry rules, will it? Ahasuerus 13:50, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

I like the idea a lot :) A few questions/proposals:

How will the priority be determined? During the edit/add of publication? Based on publisher? Something in between? Annie 14:09, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
In most cases you can tell by looking at the book. For example, the cover of this pub says "U.S. $4.95 (Canada $5.95)", which tells us that the US price should be displayed first. UK-published books tend to start the price "block" with the UK price, e.g. "UK 35p, Australia $1.10; New Zealand $0.85; Malta 40c; Canada $1.35". If the ordering -- as presented within the book -- is ambiguous, then the way we order it within the database is probably not terribly important either. Ahasuerus 16:02, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
When you work from a book in hand, it is clear. But a lot of our records are either from secondary sources or by new/inexperienced editors and in such cases someone somewhere needs to make a decision. I guess common sense will need to be applied for now :) Annie 16:17, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
Hoping this (buried) comment doesn't get missed: Your example of US (Canada) is misleading - the cover is often identical for US and Canadian printings, because the cover is printed in the US, but the book will be printed in Canada. The only way to tell is to check the printing location on the copyright page. See this US and this Canadian as examples. Doesn't invalidate the solution, just the conversion. ../Doug H 08:57, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
Thanks for the clarification! Ahasuerus 09:06, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
Can we have a statistics page coded at the same time that gives the split of publications per priority currency (similar to the one we have for title language for example) and per currency at all (for example we won't have a lot of prices in Maltese or Austrian currency as a priority one but a lot of the European ones are coded for one or both of those as additional price as well? Annie 14:09, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
I am sure we will want something like that, although I can't promise that it will happen as part of the original rollout. Ahasuerus 17:42, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
When this is implemented, it may be a good idea to start keeping a table in the help pages with all the currency we already know about per country (so that a new editor does not wonder how to record something new - like the Spanish peseta or the French franc that are now recorded in multiple ways) Annie 14:09, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
I expect that some of this information will be made available in the "currency symbol" drop-down list, but it's entirely possible that some of it will have to be spun off as a Help page. Ahasuerus 17:45, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
Yes, for the ones that make it in the "Currency symbol" drop-down. I am thinking about the ones that do not and need to be frre-styled - we cannot count how many Lev are there if people use BGN, BGL, Lev, Levs, Lv., Leva and Lv interchangeably. And even if the regular editors know, a moderator/editor that does not work in the language should have an easy way to find the correct currency abbreviation/symbol.  :)Annie 17:55, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

Multiple Prices in the Same Currency

One corner case to think of is the double prices in the same currency (the devaluation of currency had happened in more than one country) - for example Bulgarian books carried two prices for awhile, both being lev (unlike some other countries that added old/new to one of the two states, we just kept on rolling with the same name (different ISO codes though (BGL vs BGN) - we just lost 3 zeroes) - and then there are 2 earlier iteration of the same process (with double prices again but no ISO codes to differentiate). We need the ability to record both but give priority to one of them. It sounds like the design will handle that but just throwing it in. Annie 14:09, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

Something vaguely similar happened in the UK during the "decimalisation" reform in 1971. Some books had stickers with new, decimal, prices on top of the original pre-decimal prices. However, I am not aware of any books that had two sets of prices printed on the covers.
The Bulgarian denomination appears to be closer to the most recent Russian denomination (1998) when the banknotes lost 3 zeroes and the ISO code was changed. Luckily, as we discovered a few years ago, Russian books didn't have list prices at the time, so there was nothing for us to record. Was it different in Bulgaria? If it was, then we may need to record two prices per pub, which should be supported by the proposed design. Mouse-over Help for the lev will need to explain what's going on. Ahasuerus 17:14, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
Bulgarian books had both prices printed on both the back cover and the copyright pages for a few months - allowing the book to be sold before and after the change easily. Not all publishers did it but a few did (and they publish in our genres - I guess they wanted to be ready for the change) and it did not last long but there was definitely a period of a few months when that was the reality. We can use just notes for that if need be but just wanted to point out the case. I've asked someone that has access to their books to verify again that my memory about the back covers is not faulty (just in case) but I do remember these double prices. Annie 17:45, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
A friend did a spot check last night and it seems like my memories of this being a common practice are a bit foggy (it had been awhile). Most of the ones I was thinking of had a single price on them although a few non-genre ones had both. So that may be less of a problem than I thought it will be. On the other hand, apparently these days they add the euro price on a lot of books (which won't be a problem but it is still funny). Annie 14:16, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
This also raises another question: what do we do when e-prices change? Normally, we record the list price and ignore any discounted prices used by Amazon and other online stores. (Sometimes I record the Kindle price at publication time if it's drastically different from the list price, but I do it in Notes, which is a free-for-all area.) Lately, however, I have been seeing cases where the original list e-price was reset by the publisher when something happened. In most cases the trigger event seems to be the appearance of another edition of the same book. For example, suppose a book was first released as a hardcover ($26.99) and as an ebook ($14.99.) 12 months later a mass market version of the book is released ($7.99) and the list price of the ebook edition is lowered to $6.99. At the moment we pretty much ignore all post hoc list price changes, but we may have to reconsider if this becomes more common. Ahasuerus 17:14, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
We have a secondary problem here as well - ebooks get updated and we already have some pairs in the DB (v 1.04 and v1.05 for example). And then there are books only available only in some markets... Annie 14:16, 5 June 2018 (EDT)

Price-specific Notes

One more thing that I do not think the design covers - sometimes we may have two separate prices in the same currency but meant for different countries. Example: this publication. It has two Euro prices for 2 different countries. Just adding the two prices will be losing data - we need to be able to add the country to the price. That will come up a lot when we have common currencies in multiple countries. Annie 14:16, 5 June 2018 (EDT)

The proposed "price value" sub-field will allow arbitrary text, so I guess we could simply enter:
  • Price 1: "€" in the "currency symbol" sub-field; "24.99 (Germany)" in the "price value" sub-field
  • Price 2: "€" in the "currency symbol" sub-field; "25.70 (Austria)" in the "price value" sub-field
Ahasuerus 14:44, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
While that may work in theory, that will open the door for all kinds of non-standard inputs AND searching will become a nightmare (how do I find all books that cost €4.99 (we are a DB, this is a basic query)? If we decide to go that route, we need to be careful about formatting (and then what happens with books that have only one price - do you tag it for the country or not? I'd much rather see a third field that gets populated based on the currency symbol (or even just a simple "comments/additional details" field on the same level where you can add the country name or any other note (old/new price for the Bulgarian books above for example).
This way you have the currency in one field, the price in another (which now can be validated to be a number and so on) and then any other notes in a third one - empty for most prices; useful for the ones that have some notes to be added. Annie 14:55, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
An interesting point. Conceptually I agree that we should try to define our data elements in a way that mimics the real world, which, in this case, would mean having a separate sub-field for notes.
I actually considered having a third sub-field for notes early in the design process, but then I was swayed by the fact that the original conversion process would result in a lot of unstructured data left in the "price value" field. That shouldn't be a significant factor, though, because we'll have a manual post-conversion cleanup/review process, which will give us an opportunity to move typo'd currency symbols and "free text" notes to the right sub-field. Ahasuerus 15:26, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
Then we clean them up properly later on - pull everything up to the the numbers (plus dots and commas) only in the middle field during the automated conversion, dump the rest in the third field and then we can clean/move based on that. This way you actually have a better way to clean because the "10 din." will end up with ("no currency symbol", "10", "din.") - which then can have a second automated process that gets predefined strings (once we see the results, patterns will emerge) from the third field and converts them properly into the second (we have a lot of "din" ones for example.
I still think that the 3 fields approach is not just cleaner but also will make the migration easier.
Or we can even start thinking a bit differently - leave the middle field for the price only (always). Then the currency either goes in the third field or we do some UI magic to show it first. Then during the conversion, we can leave just the numbers in the field anyway and the third field will collect "Lv" from both "Lv 10" and "10 Lv" for example. Annie 15:44, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
I am sorry, I may not have been clear. I was saying that I was tentatively inclined to agree with the addition of a third sub-field for price-specific notes. I was simply explaining why I had decided against it early on. Ahasuerus 15:55, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
Ah, ok. Sorry - I think I was just on a roll and kept typing :) I was mostly thinking with my fingers about what I had seen in some of the international publications (and of what kind of cleanup they will require). Annie 16:04, 5 June 2018 (EDT)


Do you have any timeline for this change (if there aren't too many objections)? I am hitting the DNB IDs hard these days and we have a lot of "other prices" there so if this is coming, I can leave them alone for a bit and then get them cleaned up when I can also pull the prices out :) Annie 14:09, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

My monthly routine consists of three components:
  • Fixer and other regular maintenance (weekly/monthly backups, e-mail, performance, etc)
  • Bug fixes and minor FRs requested on the Community Portal
  • Roadmap 2017 implementation
At the moment, my Roadmap priorities are:
  • Support multiple ISBNs per publication (still needs final design tweaks)
  • Create a history of changes to primary-verified publications by storing a snapshot of the way each verified pub looked like right before it was changed
  • Support multiple prices per publication (once the design has been finalized)
I can do these three in any order, so it's up to vox populi. However, something else has come up recently, namely security enhancements, and I need to work on them first. I just wanted to post the proposed redesign here so that we could all discuss it while I am working on security. Ahasuerus 16:13, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
Ok then. Have fun with the security changes :) Annie 16:17, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

Publishers and Imprints

PS: Does the multiple ISBNs also mean multiple publishers or do we track the two separately? Annie 16:17, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

Multiple publishers (and imprints!) are a whole different can of worms. Big juicy worms too... Ahasuerus 16:38, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
I'd argue that multiple publishers (two separate publishers being printed on the title page and considered the publisher of the book) (as in the Russian editions of way too many books or the first (and some later) books in this Bulgarian series is a very different problem from the imprints one (and their cannibalization, selling, reselling, merging, splitting (now I need a dictionary to find more words...)). They may be falling under the same umbrella of "fix the way we handle publishers" but they are different and can be tackles separately. Annie 17:08, 4 June 2018 (EDT)
There are certain issues with imprints which make it hard to separate them from publishers. The first one is the fact that:
  • some imprints get spun off and become publishers
  • some publishers get purchased by larger companies and become imprints
In addition, there are complex multi-level publishing pyramids which make it hard to distinguish publishers from imprints -- see this picture. Also, back when we were looking into Russian publishers, we discovered that in many cases what we thought were "co-published" books had been published by one publisher which had spun off some of its departments/imprints as semi-independent companies for some (legal? tax?) reason.
Finally, some books include both the name of the publisher (and/or its parent companies) as well as the name of the imprint. OTOH, certain other books include the name of the imprint and nothing else. A "naive" editor will have no way of telling whether there is more to the stated imprint and will enter it as the name of the book's publisher. And, of course, sometimes publishers print slightly different versions of their name in their books, which may or may not be significant.
Ideally, our ultimate solution should account for all of these permutations. Perhaps we could borrow the concept of "variants" and "pseudonyms" from other parts of our software: capture the data as it is printed in the book and then variant it to the publisher's "canonical name".
It will probably take a fair amount of work to come up with a comprehensive solution. Ahasuerus 17:39, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

But yeah, it is not the same as the ISBNs ones (hope and so on :) ). And then we have the Translators as well... Annie 17:08, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

Tentative Outcome

FR 1158 has been created. It incorporates Annie's proposed separation of "price value" and "price comment". Ahasuerus 12:40, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

I won't comment on the outcome of this "discussion" (between two persons) as I've other things to do than to discuss something that is already decided or where the possible input of some is simply ignored. Hauck 14:22, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
Are you referring to your proposal that we should use the "XXX<space>888.88" format "where XXX is the ISO code" for displayed currency designations? If so, then the issue of ISO codes is addressed in the proposal language where it says:
  • Currency-specific text displayed as a mouse-over bubble, similar to the way we display mouse-over information for publication formats. It will contain information about the currency, including the countries where it is/was used and any applicable ISO-4217 codes (some currencies have had multiple ISO-4217 codes and some older ones have none.)
Based on the discussion that followed and the issues with ISO-4217 that are mentioned in parentheses above, it was the best way to incorporate this information into the database that I could think of. Ahasuerus 15:17, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
Just for the record "FF" is not a symbol and is simply not used in France (as logically we talk about "Francs" and not "French Francs").Hauck 14:22, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
One of the advantages of the proposed approach is that all currency symbols (perhaps a more generic term like "currency designations" might be better) would be table-driven. If and when we were to decide to change a currency designation, we would need to alter a single value in the database, e.g. "F" to "Fr" or to "FRF", instead of having to find and convert thousands of prices manually. Ahasuerus 14:58, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
One thing I do not see in the proposed design - the price also needs to be optional. Think of publications like this one or the Australian ones. You want to specify the currency (so it is searchable for it and obvious that it is an Australian edition) but you do not know the value. Annie 17:05, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
Good point. I have clarified that "blank values are allowed if we know the currency, but not the price." Ahasuerus 17:29, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

Currency Symbol vs. Currency Designation

Based on the discussion above, I'd like to propose that we change the name of the envisioned table-driven currency sub-field from "currency symbol" to "currency designation" since the latter covers a wider range of scenarios. Can anyone think of a better term? Ahasuerus 15:24, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

Why not just "currency"? We can use a symbol, a short form, a complete name - whatever makes sense for that specific currency - it still is the currency. Annie 16:43, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
Sure, we can do that too. If we were to further simplify, the names of the three sub-fields would be:
  • Currency [drop-down list]
  • Value
  • Comment
Ahasuerus 17:26, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
The FR has been updated with shorter sub-field names. Ahasuerus 12:43, 25 June 2018 (EDT)

Price as stated

After re-reading the discussion that we had last year, I'd like to discuss one suggestion that was not incorporated in the design outlined above:

  • ... one thing that has always troubled me about the price field is that in many cases it doesn't reflect what's printed on the item but attempts to translate it into a standard, but the standard is rather loose and has perhaps more exceptions than actual rules.
  • In my dream database there's a field where you can record each price directly as it's listed on the pub, then a separate field (or fields) where you can enter a proper amount and identify the currency for sorting and comparison purposes... Albinoflea 23:17, 3 July 2017 (EDT)
    • I agree with this idea. I work in a world of compiling information from disparate sources where there is no uniform reporting standard, and we have found it best to capture and preserve as-reported and to maintain normalized/computed separately. --MartyD 09:26, 4 July 2017 (EDT)

Here are some of the more common scenarios that I have encountered:

  1. One or more list prices (including the currency designation) are explicitly stated in the publication.
  2. A price value is stated, but the currency is not specified, typically because it is assumed to be the currency of the country where the book was published.
  3. A price may have been stated, but the verification copy doesn't have it, typically because the dust jack is not available.
  4. There is no price present, so we have to use a secondary source (or sources) to determine what it was. Things can get complicated, especially when dealing with e-books.

Does this list match other editors' experience? If so, then I can see how having a separate field for "price(s) as stated in the publication" would be beneficial when dealing with Scenario 2. When dealing with Scenario 1, the additional information would be duplicative. Under scenarios 3 and 4, we would pretty much have to record what we have been able to discover in Notes.

Given these scenarios, I am not sure the advantages of having the proposed field would outweigh the costs associated with the extra complexity and data duplication. Are there additional considerations or scenarios that I am missing? Ahasuerus 16:31, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

I like that idea a lot actually. Even if there is duplication, it will have the "data as on the book" which I find very appealing. Maybe as a totally new field (and not as a comment next to each price) - because if it says "$10.99/CAN10.99", you want 2 separate prices but you want the exact price information in one field, supporting new lines (br or \n). (I think - I can also see it on each price individually). Of course we can just use the notes for it but having a separate field have the advantage of being searchable on its own and for people to remember to collect that information. Annie 16:54, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
Well, if we were to capture the price data "as stated" verbatim, including new lines, then, as you said, it would become a new "notes" field at the publication level. We would be effectively splitting the current Note field into two: "Price Notes" for price information and regular "Notes" for everything else.
From the technical perspective, it would be doable, but would our users find this separation helpful? Also, if we were to go down that path, are there other field-specific parts of Notes that we would want to put into separate Note fields? Ahasuerus 10:24, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
I've been thinking about this conversation this morning - and wonder if we are not treating the Price as a special component when it is not. Our current notes field contain 2 different types of information:
  • Information from the book as is (copyright page, title page, covers, pages, differences in page numbers between TOC and stories and so on (only ob PV'd books)
  • Information from other sources: dates notes (that the date is from Amazon and/or from another source or from publisher's site), data from secondary sources and differences between them and what we have, connection to other books (covers credit based on that and so on)
Depending on the editor style, these may be easily recognizable or it may be a bit of a head-scratcher to figure out what is from the book and what is from OCLC/DNB/Amazon/you name it. So I was thinking that if we are going to split the Notes field, that is the more logical line for a split than getting separate fields per element (if we are keeping as is that is).
I know that the 600K or so publications that we have (I know we are closer to 700K in the IDs but we also have a lot of deletions so I am estimating) Annie 13:41, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
According to the "ISFDB Statistics" page, we have 505,922 publications. 145,024 of them have been verified. Ahasuerus 13:56, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
OK, apparently I need more coffee because I forgot we have this specific statistics page. Thanks for the correction :) Annie 14:18, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
don't have the split and it is almost impossible to make it retro-actively but... they can be marked as "unsplit" or something so it is clear that they are not and we could split going forward.
I am not sure how useful that will be but I personally would love that (and yes, that means that for non-English books, the "as is" Notes will be in the foreign language. Which is fine for me. An editor can provide a translation in the other field. I know that we are an English - language DB but as is does not exist just for the books that happen to be in English. Annie 13:41, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
I agree that it's useful to distinguish between what's stated in the book and what we derived from secondary sources. However, in many cases primary and secondary information overlap, e.g. "Publication date not stated, taken from OCLC 123456" or "Price not stated, taken from the SFCB catalog". I suspect that splitting it and making it available in two separate Notes fields would make it harder to digest. Ahasuerus 20:48, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
Both of these will stay in the "not as-is" field though... And the as-is won't be a mandatory field (notes are not either so... no problem) - it will be for editors that want to record as is, for data like this (so it get archived with the record and not as part of the wiki only) for example and so on. For some series, it may be important to record the editors from a copyright pages, for some languages, it may be the exact spelling of some data... and for some, it will be the price as stated. Or for the exact spelling of the author names and titles. I may be overthinking it but at the moment all is a big jumble of quotes, foreign language text (with translation I will admit) (the German book's edition information for example), lists, paragraphs and what's not. Trying to figure out how was Kelly credited on some books when I was switching the canonical was like pulling teeth - not because our editors do not record the information but because everyone has their own style and some of them using the same style meant diffent things ("Kelly credited on the copyright page" for example).
As I said - I was just thinking about the price "As is" field this morning and wondered if we should not look at the whole thing from a different angle... Annie 21:13, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
I see. I think I understand where you are coming from, but I am not sure creating a new Notes field for our "as is" data would be the best way to address the need. Perhaps it would be best to sleep on it and then start a separate discussion section to see if we could come up with more specific requirements that would ultimately lead to choosing a design. Other editors may be more likely to chime in if the discussion is "fresh". Ahasuerus 23:35, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
Absolutely. Have a good night :) Annie 00:16, 13 June 2018 (EDT)

Authors without a Working Language

When you have a chance, can you throw in another letter in Authors without a Working Language (or convert to first 500 or something else like that)? A few people had been steadily working on the list in the last months and we need some new blood in that report while dealing with the remaining ones there... :) Thanks! Annie 16:22, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

OK, the letter "W" has been added. The data -- approximately 3,900 author records -- will become available tomorrow morning. Ahasuerus 18:06, 4 June 2018 (EDT)

Security changes - step 1

As previously indicated, I am currently working on security enhancements. I am about to install the first patch in what I expect to be a series of patches.

The annoying thing about security enhancements is that most changes do not have any visible benefits and sometimes break unrelated things. Hopefully, nothing significant will be broken in our case, but if you seen anything unusual, please post your findings here. Ahasuerus 18:32, 5 June 2018 (EDT)

The first patch has been installed. Ahasuerus 18:34, 5 June 2018 (EDT)
Patch 2 has been installed. It affected the way all of our data editing forms are submitted. If your browser experiences issues creating submissions, please post the details here. Ahasuerus 13:26, 6 June 2018 (EDT)
Patch 3 has been installed. There shouldn't be any user-experienced changes. Ahasuerus 20:38, 7 June 2018 (EDT)
Patch 4 has been installed. From this point on we can assume that all security patches are supposed to have no effect on the end user experience unless explicitly noted. Ahasuerus 15:30, 8 June 2018 (EDT)
Patch 5 has been installed. It tweaked the way our software determines which field to put the cursor on when Web pages is loaded. There should be no user-experienced changes, but you may need to force a full page reload (Control-F5 in most browsers) in order to sync everything. Ahasuerus 14:34, 9 June 2018 (EDT)
Patch 6 has been installed. It cleaned up after the previous patch and also made some changes to the way Edit Award and Add Award are handled behind the scenes. If you see anything unusual and Control-F5 doesn't fix it, please post your findings here. Ahasuerus 18:55, 9 June 2018 (EDT)
Patch 7 has been installed. It changed the way pop-up validation works behind the scenes, but there should be no user-experienced changes. As always, if you see anything unusual and Control-F5 doesn't fix it, please post your findings here. Ahasuerus 20:12, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
Patch 8 has been installed. There should be no user-experienced changes, but you will definitely need to do a full page reload (usually Control-F5) for everything to work correctly. Ahasuerus 12:35, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
Path 9 has been installed. It changed the way External IDs are handled behind the scenes. The only user-experienced difference is that the question mark icon and the associated mouseover help are now limited to the first displayed external ID. Ahasuerus 16:13, 14 June 2018 (EDT)
Patch 10 has been installed. It finalized the External ID changes which were started in the previous patch. You will definitely want to do a full page reload (Control-F5 in most browsers) before using the "+" sign to add External IDs. Ahasuerus 18:51, 14 June 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) Path 11 has been installed. It changed the way Advanced Search works behind the scene. There should be no user-experienced changes. You will want to do a full page reload (Control-F5 in most browsers) the first time you use Advanced Search. Ahasuerus 10:26, 15 June 2018 (EDT)

Baron de La Motte Fouqué surname?

What is the "principal" surname of Baron Friedrich de La Motte Fouqué? He has a huge number of variants of his name in the database, and they aren't all set to the same directory entry. He is usually referred to as "Fouqué" in English. In the DNB he is "Fouqué, Friedrich de La Motte," and in Neue Deutsche Biographie he is "Fouqué, Friedrich." Would it be OK to set the directory entry of all his variants to "Fouque"? --Vasha 17:09, 6 June 2018 (EDT)

Pseudonyms do not need to have the same directory entry - if anything, they are supposed to be different for different spellings to enable the finding of the authors.
Look at them a bit more carefully. Directory name is not the same as "common name" or "most common name". It is "the last name as written in that variant with the special characters taken care of". On a quick glance, this variant and this one can never get the directory entry as Fouque (they were missing its "-" because of an older policy on special characters but for that spelling, the directory name is "Motte-Fouque". And this one is a totally different cattle of fish as well.
Now if you are asking if the ones without the hyphen should be Fouque or "Motte Fouque", that's a legitimate question. I personally look for that author under "M"... but that's just me :) Annie 17:24, 6 June 2018 (EDT)
Why M? If he was French it would be "La Motte." We need a German speaker to decide what the directory entry for all those variants is. Or for the ones that are English language publications, the library of congess uses "La Motte-Fouqué, Friedrich Heinrich Karl, Freiherr de." (and says, Fouqué, Friedrich Heinrich Karl, Freiherr de La Motte, see La Motte-Fouqué).--Vasha 17:36, 6 June 2018 (EDT)
Because this is where I had seen him shelved - not that it could not have been wrong (or weird - I just shared where *I* would look for it). People can still share opinions, right? As I said - it is a legitimate question but not for all the pseudomyms - the 3 I listed above cannot have just Fouque because of their spelling. Annie 17:46, 6 June 2018 (EDT)
No, it is not a weird opinion at all. Just a non-English one. But should we go with La Motte as the directory entry for English language publications where possible? The British Library also shelves him under "La Motte." --Vasha 17:51, 6 June 2018 (EDT)
Sorry but I am going to reject all of your attempts to edits on this until at least someone else agrees/disagrees. Give it a few days, hopefully a few more people will chime in. You cannot start a discussion, give it under 36 hours and just do what you wanted to do anyway. A little patience please - give it at least a few days (including at least the weekend) - not everyone lives in ISFDB 24/7. Annie 01:03, 8 June 2018 (EDT)
A difficult case, but DNB as well as my general encyclopedia file him under F (for Fouqué), so it seems that is the canonical surname for him, at least for the German language. Stonecreek 04:09, 8 June 2018 (EDT)
If I may introduce my own Lumbricus terrestris into this can of worms (and a reheated one, IIRC), the Library of Congress entry as "La Motte-Fouqué, Friedrich Heinrich Karl, Freiherr de" seems to me the correct one, as it complies with the Gallic way of treating French proper names containing the nobility particle de which is never taken into account as far as classification is concerned (and never has a capital D) : Jean de La Fontaine appears under “L”, Alfred de Musset under “M”, etc. That the good baron was German doesn't change the fact that the place-name following de starts with an L (La Motte-Fouqué, originally La Motte-Fouquet in Normandy) which does take the capital. This to say that I am all for a La Motte-Fouqué entry. Linguist 11:36, 10 June 2018 (EDT).

(unindent) Yes, it's clear enough that the English-language practice is to file him under "La Motte" a.k.a. Lamotte a.k.a. La Motte-Fouqué and it seems (I think?) that we ought to use those forms with "La" as the directory entry for any variant that only has publications in English. But the German practice is to file him under Fouqué: as well as the two sources I cited above, the De Gruyter Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie has "Fouqué, Friedrich (Heinrich Karl);" has "Fouqué, Friedrich de la Motte;" etc. etc. So what does that mean for us? Any variant of his name that has only German publications should use the directory entry Fouqué; but what should we do about any that has a mix of German and English publications, and about his main record? --Vasha 15:46, 10 June 2018 (EDT)

As far as I know, this db mostly follows the English usage, and the main record should be under La Motte-Fouqué. I don't really see the problem, since all pseudos will lead to it. As for the German usage, it is just not coherent with the history of the name, period. Anyway, it is our decision. Linguist 16:03, 10 June 2018 (EDT).

Possible Software Solution

Let me put my software designer cap on for a minute.

One thing that we have discovered over the last few years is that the old expression "When you come to a fork in the road, take it" is pretty good advice when deciding how the ISFDB software should work. For example, we debated the best way to implement transliterations for many months until we realized that we didn't have to choose between different transliteration systems -- we could support all of them if we set up the proposed "transliterated value" fields as infinitely repeating "multi-fields".

Similarly, we could make the "Directory Entry" field a "multi-field", at which point we could make this author appear in the Author Directory under "La Motte-Fouque" and under "Fouque". It would also facilitate creating Author Directories for other alphabets/scripts, e.g. Айзек Азимов would appear under "Asimov" as well as under "Азимов".

The only catch is that directory entry values are also used to sort authors on certain Web pages. Unlike our "transliterated" fields, where the order of values is not important, the first entered "Directory Name" value would have to be used for sorting purposes, so the order would be significant. Still, it would be much better than the current system which restricts authors to only one position in the Author Directory. Ahasuerus 20:05, 10 June 2018 (EDT)

Having a "sorting name" and "directory name(s)" actually makes a lot of sense - leave the existing field just for sorting and add a brand new multi-field for the directory. That way we won't need to be extra careful about the order of names in the field. Annie 22:16, 10 June 2018 (EDT)
I can see how separating "sorting names" from "directory names" can make the design cleaner. However, wouldn't that result in data duplication since "sorting names" are a subset of "directory names"? Or are there cases where a sorting name is not one of the directory names? Ahasuerus 13:52, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
If you're going to manage this by storing the data in that multi-field in an ordered manner, then you could make the entry form have the first space labeled "Sorting name", the second "additional directory entry 1," etc. ,-Vasha 14:00, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
And as one of the resident editors with a language that does not use the Latin alphabet, being able to use non-Latin names in the directory field (and being able to find them under those name) will be a great improvement. Annie 22:16, 10 June 2018 (EDT)
Earlier today I spent a couple of hours experimenting with Cyrillic alphabets. There are quite a few of them. They all share the same core letters of the Cyrillic script, but some alphabets add less common characters to the "alphabet soup". If we were to support all of them in a hypothetical "Cyrillic Author Directory", we would end up with a "60 by 60" or "70 by 70" grid, which would be unwieldy.
Of course, we have the same problem with Latin alphabets. We get around it by replacing accented letters with their unaccented counterparts in the Directory Entry field, which lets us keep the directory grid manageable. We could use the same approach for Cyrillic languages, but it would only get us so far. For example, I can't think of "unaccented" analogs of the Serbian "ђ", "џ" or "ћ" which would make any kind of sense.
We'll have to think about this some more. Perhaps we could get away with a simple alphabetized list of all Cyrillic characters:
  • А
  • Б
  • В
etc instead of a grid. Ahasuerus 13:52, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
Technically, if we do it completely, it should be a directory per language (that will also solve the whole German vs English vs Dutch sorting and policies on what is called last name). But I will leave that pink pony alone for now. :)
I would agree that a list based on the first letter is enough for now -- we can expand that later but we do not have that many authors that will have a Cyrillic based spelling (no point adding it if the author is not published anywhere in the Cyrillic script world and frankly, you never know how the publishers will decide to spell one's name). Now - that is not as feasible for Japanese and Chinese - way too many characters there... Still doable but...
However - if you are thinking of a "divide and conquer" solution where we sort the exotic alphabets one by one, I am all for it. Annie 14:24, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
To put Chinese characters in order, you group them by radical then order by stroke count. However, I'm told that it's more common to alphabetized according to pinyin transliteration nowadays. --Vasha 14:56, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
I know how to order them - I was just commenting on the length of the list for them (for a first character list) compared to the list for an alphabet-based writing. As for what is more common - that depends on where you look :) Annie 16:22, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) Hmm.... We also had a suggestion to add a field to enter the name without all the non-latin characters (you need that for the sake of searching, and right now it is being put in the transliteration field, where it doesn't really belong, being a different thing). If we implemented all of these things, the data entry form would be really long and complicated. Transliteration (multiple) and "latinized" form, then and transliteration of it, then sorting name, then multiple directory entries. I feel like I could deal with this just fine but it'd be intimidating at first. At least this would all be invisible except when editing the data. --Vasha 00:01, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

Changes to the image upload process

The image upload process has been modified. The new version automatically adds the database ID of the artist to the template, which should facilitate linking artists whose names contain accented and/or non-Latin characters. Please note that at this time the new functionality is only available for publications with one cover artist. Ahasuerus 11:11, 7 June 2018 (EDT)

Add Tercera Fundación to external IDs?

La Tercera Fundación is a remarkably complete source of secondary information about Spanish-language spec fic publications. I have been trying to include the LTF record number in the notes of Spanish publications that I add, and I've noticed that I'm not the only one who's done that. Would it be worthwhile adding LTF to the external IDs? They have a simple way of generating URls:<ID>. I cannot guarantee that their record IDs are stable, but I did check one that was noted down five years ago, and it's still accurate. --Vasha 12:23, 7 June 2018 (EDT)

I believe that you mentioned that you have an account there? Any chance you can discover how often the IDs change? Annie 12:27, 7 June 2018 (EDT)
Would it be possible to ask them if their IDs are stable and whether they plan to keep them that way? Ahasuerus 12:27, 7 June 2018 (EDT)
How about adding a template in the meantime? We have the links now anyway, having them as a template will reduce the number of technical mistakes and if they ever change the format, we can swap them easily. No need to conver the existing links yet but the new ones will be safe. And it will be easy to convert them out if the external identifier is added. Annie 00:48, 8 June 2018 (EDT)
Well, templates and external IDs usually go hand in hand. If we determine that La Tercera Fundación's IDs are stable, we will create a new template and a new external ID. If, on the other hand, we determine that their IDs are not stable, we probably won't want to create either. Ahasuerus 09:45, 8 June 2018 (EDT)
We had templates much longer than identifiers though - although I see your point. I was thinking about the ability to identify them easier but that link seems to be pretty standard (and the address is long enough) so that should not be as much of s problem as it is with some of the other ones. Just links it is then until we can figure out the stability. Annie 14:17, 8 June 2018 (EDT)

I still haven't figured out who to write to in order to ask about this. I will let you know when I do. --Vasha 15:30, 8 June 2018 (EDT)

Thanks for looking into this! Ahasuerus 15:36, 8 June 2018 (EDT)
Maybe try their forums? Annie 17:13, 8 June 2018 (EDT)

Hello, I am the technical chief of La Tercera Fundacion. The user Vasha contacted us in our forums regarding this question. The record IDs of LTF are the primary keys of the database and thus are immutable (we only have changed or deleted records when we have detected significant errors on the data). Also, if we can do anything in order to ease the linking process, do not hesitate on contacting us. --Francis Gerard 10:16, 10 June 2018 (CEST)

Thanks a lot! I have created FR 1157 and added its implementation to the development queue. Ahasuerus 09:43, 10 June 2018 (EDT)

Libro vs. Ficha

I was poking around at the notes that we have and we seem to have two separate types of URL around the DB:

If I am reading this correctly, the "libro" one is the one for a publication; the "ficha" one is for what we consider a title around here. Which means that all these ficha links will need to be changed if we are going to use an external ID on the pub level (even when there seems to be 1 book only inside of it - there may be more later (like here. Or am I missing something? Annie 18:37, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

You are exactly right. It would have been easy to mistakenly link to the ficha/title record (and I see that some of those mistakes are by me, ouch) but all the links should be changed to the libro/publication record. --Vasha 18:49, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
So we probably should do as we did with the FantLab and the SFBG links - 1 external ID (for libro/book), 2 templates (for ficha/title and libro/book) (because you may want to link to the ficha one in notes somewhere). And when we are moving the ficha ones, whoever does it, needs to click through and find the correct libro. Annie 18:53, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
Yep; and unfortunately the IDs for ficha and libro have the same form, so there is no automatic way to spot that you have the wrong one. The editors and moderators will just have to be mindful of clicking through to double-check when a new one is added. --Vasha 18:57, 11 June 2018 (EDT)
FantLab is the same in the characters that matter (which is what we use in the field and in the templates) - I always check that the external ID is the proper type of ID and someone did not copy from the wrong page. Plus anyone submitting should be checking their links post submitting in all cases anyway so an editor should spot easily enough that this link is not correct so between the editor and the moderator, someone should catch the mistaken ones. Annie 19:02, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

Naming the templates and the ID type

It sounds like we are ready to implement this functionality. What should we use as the display names for the two templates (ficha and libro) and the new external ID type? Ahasuerus 13:44, 12 June 2018 (EDT)

For the templates: LTF-title (ficha) and LTF-pub (libro) to keep it consistent with the FantLab and SFBG ones? And I woult think that LTF should be ok for the external ID. Annie 14:00, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
Sounds reasonable. If there are no other ideas, I will start working on it tomorrow. Ahasuerus 20:37, 12 June 2018 (EDT)


The FR has been implemented. A new external ID, "LTF", has been added. Two new templates, "LTF-title" and "LTF-pub", are now supported. Help:Using Templates and HTML in Note Fields has been updated. Ahasuerus 18:08, 13 June 2018 (EDT)

Great, thanks. And I just fixed a typo on the Help page. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 18:59, 13 June 2018 (EDT)

Marie, Queen of Roumania (names)

The discussion of Friedrich Fouque above prompted me to check Marie, Queen of Roumania, under that name and pseudonyms. I added most of the novel title and publication records myself perhaps a year ago. Probably we have changed the design concerning Legal Name and Directory Name fields since then.

Let me begin by asking what is and should be the criterion for "Directory entry: Roumania", which is the current value for all three of her names in the database. --Pwendt|talk 13:57, 7 June 2018 (EDT)

As it is the last part of the name, the software will automatically use Roumania as the directory name on all the variants - so I doubt that there was a human decision involved... I wonder if in this case, the complete name should not be the directory entry (as she has no last name and people would look for her under Marie in her main entry). The pseudonyms are a bit weird but it does not matter what we chose there - chances are that noone will look under any of the letters anyway. Annie 14:16, 7 June 2018 (EDT)
Both pseudonyms are supported by title page images that show "by the". The relevant lines in title page layout begin once with "the" 1913 at HathiTrust and once with "by the" 1915 as Ebook #40950. The canonical name is also supported by one pre-1923 title page image 1916 at HathiTrust and it matches what library records report for the later works. ...
I agree that "Marie, Queen of Roumania" would be a good choice. Ahasuerus 17:22, 7 June 2018 (EDT)
The Library of Congress uses canonical name "Marie, Queen, consort of Ferdinand I, King of Romania, 1875-1938", LCCN: n50-43679; that, too, is directory entry under "Marie,". --Pwendt|talk 17:31, 8 June 2018 (EDT)

Cover photography, cover design

The two COVERART titles 990980 and 712113 should be revised and merged. Their four publications in the database are reported 3rd to 6th printings of one 2000 edition. Two database contributors have credited the photographer alone and two the designer alone. Just now with a copy of the 6th printing in hand I submitted a title Note that quotes both credits Submission #3863640. --Pwendt|talk 17:39, 11 June 2018 (EDT)

As we do not credit designers (just illustrators for the most part), the one blocking the merge is actually your PV'd one that credits the designer. If you want to switch it over, I will fix the other one that is there with yours and we all can meet under the photographer... Or do you think that the designer needs to be credited here? That's a very slippery slope. Annie 13:44, 12 June 2018 (EDT)
Offhand I prefer to minimize the numbers of both photographers and book designers in the database. But it's valuable to identify publications that share a cover illustration, and covers that look identical as in this case, and assignment of cover art author credit is essential for that, under our design, I understand.
I moved the COVERART title Note from 712113 to 990980 and submitted both Remove 712113 and Import 990980 for both of the 712113 publication records --5 submissions. That will leave title 712113 to be deleted. --Pwendt|talk 19:03, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
I wiped it out of existence as soon as you jettisoned it out from the last of its publications :) Annie 19:10, 13 June 2018 (EDT)

Bruno Frank's The Magician and Other Stories

The Magician and Other Stories was a posthumous (1946) collection of Bruno Frank's stories. I can't find any evidence to suggest that it contains speculative fiction. Here is what Kirkus Review had to say about it:

"A goodly collection of short stories, notable for their serenity and un-sensationalism, well written and translated so that never are you conscious of the translator. There's a story here for every taste, mostly about Germans of the upper-class, usually intellectuals, and all but one pre-Hitler. Frank has the knack of packing the whole of an impression and a situation into the bounds of a real short story. The stories are romantic, philosophical, always credible and never sensational nor violent, even when dealing with crime. Perhaps most noteworthy of all is his ability to create characters quickly and attitudes neatly. Quiet humor, a fine polish, and intelligence -- stories which all who enjoy this form will find worth reading."

W. Somerset Maugham's introduction is also available online, but it doesn't say much about the stories.

I suspect that the book may have been added because it has the world "Magician" in the title. Would anyone happen to know more about this? Ahasuerus 13:06, 13 June 2018 (EDT)

Series, Magazines and Fanzines migrated to the database

Now that all Wiki-based Series, Magazine and Fanzine pages have been either migrated to the database side or linked via the "Web pages" field, Series pages no longer need to display Wiki links based on the infamous "lexical match." (If you weren't around when SERIALs were linked "lexically", consider yourself lucky.) The software has been updated accordingly. Ahasuerus 19:15, 13 June 2018 (EDT)

Do the 12 relevant reports self-retire or do you need to retire them manually (in case you did not do that already of course)? Annie 19:29, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
The next time the reports run, they should find 0 matching Wiki pages, so they won't appear on the standard list of cleanup reports. I plan to keep them around for some time in case an editor degafiates and uses the old method of entering the data. I expect that we will eventually deactivate them in order to speed up the nightly regeneration process. Ahasuerus 19:49, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
As long as these 5 get off the list (they are all linked somewhere - Winston is on pub series; the other 4 on regular ones but with different names. Annie 20:08, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
I guess we can do it one of two ways: I can disable this particular report or we can move the five affected Wiki pages to a different namespace. I would prefer not to disable the report for now, so I wonder if there is anything preventing us from changing the namespaces? Ahasuerus 20:32, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
Moving them sounds like a plan. Do you need me to give you the 5 places there are linked at or do you have them? Annie 20:39, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
As long as these 5 Wiki pages are linked on the database side, we should be fine. We'll just need to adjust the URLs in the "Webpages" field in case their Wiki directs are zapped at some future point. Ahasuerus 21:00, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
Badly worded question on my side. I was asking if you need me to list the 5 entries in the DB where these 5 are linked :) Annie 21:08, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
Hm. It looks like these five pages may benefit from a more in-depth review. For example, Series:Star Trek Pocket Books is, for the most part, a duplicate of this publication series in the database. We may be able to delete it and, perhaps, the other 4 pages once we copy any non-duplicate data to the database. Ahasuerus 22:50, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
Probably although it is not just these 5 if you really want to eliminate the wiki completely. I have the Star Trek one on my list of things to look at and untangle but I just do not have the patience for it today. But the other 4 either contain pictures (the Winston - and the wiki is much better suited for that) or can be recreated in the notes but the effort is substantial (which was one of the ground rules for keeping them as links although I hated leaving links behind so they had to be really messy for me not to move the data). Which is why I said that at some point we need to review all local wiki pages now linked - data evolves and these do not change anymore and as long as there are no pictures, moving them comes down to time and effort only. If you rather have them stay on the report until someone decides to work on them - we can do that. Phase 2 of the cleaning of the wiki I guess. Annie 23:07, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
Make that just 3 actually - two of them (ST and Mammoth) are still resolvable with some patience but we still have the Winston one to deal with. But we may want to group those linked pages - not just the ones here but all linked through the DB in a separate set of new namespaces that make it clear that they are linked in the DB. But that is again Phase 2 in my book. At the end of the day, the less we have in the wiki, the less likely to lose information (based on how we do backups). Annie 23:20, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
Makes sense. I was just observing that Series:Star Trek Pocket Books looked like it should be doable -- it was originally created back when we had no support for publication series, so most of its data is duplicative. The Winston page can be moved to a different Wiki namespace for now, so that it wouldn't appear on this cleanup report anymore.
Re: creating a way to track Wiki pages that the database links to, I think it's an interesting idea, but we may need to think about it some more. There are a few different ways to skin this particular cat (no offense to cats!) Ahasuerus 23:26, 13 June 2018 (EDT)
Oh, it is doable. Guess I will look at it and the Mammoth one again later this week - my brain can handle just some replacements at the moment and this will need some concetration. As for the tracking - thus me calling it Phase 2 :) One step at a time - someone around here had a quote about striving to perfection :) It seems to apply to this. Annie 23:41, 13 June 2018 (EDT)

Security upgrade - Phase 2

The second phase of the security upgrade is now underway. The way the "+" signs associated with "multi-fields" are handled has been changed. The only user-experienced change is that the label of the "Author" field has been standardized across edit forms. In the past the software tried to display "Author" or "Editor" depending on the context, but it did it inconsistently, creating more confusion that clarity. For now I have changed the label to "Author" and will revisit it at a later point.

The changes were fairly extensively, so a full page reload (Control-F5 in most browsers) will be needed. If you see anything odd, please report your findings here. Ahasuerus 18:32, 15 June 2018 (EDT)

There is something odd in Firefox but not Microsoft Edge (the only two browsers I have to compare). In Advanced Search the first dropdown box in Publication Search is not showing up (see screenshot). --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 19:07, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
CTRL + F5 or restart FF (or both)? Loosk fine for me in FF (60.0.2). Annie 19:17, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
No, I did completely restart. And what's more I cannot edit in Microsoft Edge at all! (keep gettin "Error: Invalid Publication Type" when I submit anything). --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 19:21, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
Reboot. And do a Ctrl + F5 (if you are on Windows). There may be a cache somewhere on the networking layers. Annie 19:26, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
Neither of those helps. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 19:35, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
Plugins? Disable them all, see if that helps and then start enabling them one by one until you find the offending one? Annie 20:12, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
A quick review suggests that Internet Explorer 11 is not happy with the latest round of changes. Firefox (with NoScript, but no other plugins) and Chrome appear to be OK. Investigating... Ahasuerus 20:29, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
Annie was right, it was Adblocker Ultimate that was messing with the search page. I am going to test some other adblockers now. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 20:33, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
In related news, I have found the code that Internet Explorer was unhappy with. It's supported by all other browsers (and the relevant standards), but it wasn't implemented in IE before it was superseded by Edge. Let me see if I can fix it real quick. Ahasuerus 20:37, 15 June 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) The problem with Internet Explorer has been fixed. You may need to restart it before the fix takes effect -- Control-F5 doesn't always work cleanly under IE.

Unfortunately, I am unable to test Edge since the development server is running Windows 7. (It may be possible to get IE11 to work in a VM environment, but I haven't experimented with it yet.) Are you still experiencing problems, Vasha?

P.S. I have added additional validation to prevent confused browsers from submitting publications with invalid formats. Ahasuerus 21:12, 15 June 2018 (EDT)

I am getting reports indicating that the changes deployed on 2018-06-14 made "" (as opposed to "") effectively inaccessible. Although "" has never been officially supported, we need to make it redirect to "" cleanly and transparently. I will need to make changes to our Web server settings, which may cause brief outages while I am tinkering with the server setup. I expect to start working on it on Saturday morning and will post an update when I am done. Ahasuerus 21:22, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
No, Edge is not working, although I refreshed and restarted it. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 21:43, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
I was hoping that the IE fixes would also help Edge, but apparently not. Any other Edge users experiencing problems?
Also, Vasha, is the Edge error message consistently "Error: Invalid Publication Type"? If so, it suggests that Edge doesn't create the list of publication types correctly when it builds the Publication Editor page. Could you please access the Publication Editor page, pull up the source code (Control-U), copy the text and upload it to a Wiki page? In addition, if you press F12 when you are on the Publication Editor page and select the "Console" tab, it will display a list of errors and warnings that Edge is unhappy about -- here is a screenshot and a brief guide. Ahasuerus 22:00, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
I get that warning when trying to submit edits to every type of publication I have tried so far (but no problem with title edits). I have copied the code & console messages here. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 22:29, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
Thanks, investigating... Ahasuerus 22:54, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
I had a problem earlier this week with Edge and certain pub types (pb and tp), but not others (ebook). It would put a extra character on the end, even though I was picking things out of the combo menu. I just tried now and cannot reproduce it, but I had been doing a lot more form-based editing when I ran into it than I had been doing tonight. --MartyD 23:01, 15 June 2018 (EDT)
Thanks, Marty! I have checked the HTML that Vasha posted against the W3C validator and it looks fine. My best guess is that it adds an extra character to some values when it sends the form data to the server. Let me modify the error processing logic to display the "bad" data -- it may help with reporting.
Re: the errors and warnings that Edge displays in F12, they look similar to what IE 11 displays and are generally harmless. "Numeric character reference does not resolve to a valid character" is just Microsoft's way of complaining about Unicode characters. The fact that Edge doesn't support 'manifest-src' shouldn't matter because it ignores it. Ahasuerus 23:09, 15 June 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) It turns out that this is a known issue with the current version of Edge. According to a Microsoft employee:

  • ... a fix has already been written, and servicing is in progress. I’m not the person responsible for the team writing the servicing fix, but I think the update should be part of the next patch Tuesday, which is (I think) due on the second Tuesday of the month of June.

The MS employee also suggested a workaround. Let me see if I can implement it real quick. Ahasuerus 23:23, 15 June 2018 (EDT)

OK, a partial workaround has been installed. I have no way of running Edge, but it *may* (emphasis on "may") make Edit Pub work under Edge. Please note that it's not a comprehensive fix: even if it works, it only applies to Edit Title and Edit/Add/Clone/New Pub. It would take a lot of testing to implement this workaround everywhere. Since it's not guaranteed to work and since Microsoft plans to fix Edge shortly, I think I'll stop here. Ahasuerus 14:51, 16 June 2018 (EDT)

Default external ID preference?

Would it be possible to have the option in Preferences to choose which external ID comes up at the top of the list by default? --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 09:56, 16 June 2018 (EDT)

Technically speaking, it's possible and not particularly difficult. If there is enough demand for it, we can move it up the list of priorities. Ahasuerus 10:24, 16 June 2018 (EDT)
FR 1163 has been created. Ahasuerus 11:04, 26 June 2018 (EDT)

"" fixed

The security patches installed on 2018-06-14 affected our users' ability to view "" -- note the absence of "www" in the URL. I have deployed a patch to make "" behave the way it behaved 3 days ago.

P.S. Please note that using "" instead of "" is not (and has never been) recommended because it keeps a separate copy of your login information, which can result in confusing login/logout messages. Ahasuerus 18:49, 16 June 2018 (EDT)

Security upgrade - Phase 3

The way "New Cover/Title/Review/Interview" buttons work has been tweaked. There should be no user-experienced changes. A full page reload (Control-F5 in most browsers) may be required for everything to work correctly. Ahasuerus 13:28, 17 June 2018 (EDT)

A big change today -- the "Add" buttons on New/Edit/Add/Clone Pub pages have redone. A full page reload (Control-F5 in most browsers) is required. If you run into anything odd, please describe the details here. Ahasuerus 17:33, 18 June 2018 (EDT)
Another patch has been installed. It leveraged the software changes made over the last 2 weeks to tighten our security settings. In theory, it shouldn't affect the software behavior, but it's hard to be 100% sure because some things are browser-specific. If you see anything unusual, especially with pop-up validation and/or mouseover behavior, please post you findings here. Ahasuerus 11:18, 19 June 2018 (EDT)
The final patch in the current series of security patches has been installed. The core ISFDB software is now fully compliant with CSP best practices and security has been tightened accordingly. It's not the final word in the security saga, but it's a big step in the right direction. Please note that a number of "stats" graphs may not display correctly until tomorrow morning. Ahasuerus 16:41, 19 June 2018 (EDT)

Authors By Debut Year tweaked

Authors By Debut Year has been tweaked to display transliterated author names. The header has been changed to mention the fact that the report is limited to authors with at least 6 eligible titles (novels, short fiction, serials, poems or collections.) Ahasuerus 11:53, 19 June 2018 (EDT)

Any chance this report can be changed to show the split of works based on type (I'd be interested in someone with 10 novels but I really do not care about someone with 10 poems for example)? Not urgent of course - I was just wondering. Annie 13:47, 19 June 2018 (EDT)
I agree that the current selection logic is not perfect. There are a few different ways we could improve it. For example, we could change the eligibility criteria to something like:
  • All authors with at least X book-length works [novels, collections, anthologies (?), EDITOR (?)] OR Y fiction [any length] works
We just need to decide what makes the most sense. Also, given the length of the list and the fact that it's already sorted by year, it may be better to change the main page from a list to an annual grid. Ahasuerus 14:34, 19 June 2018 (EDT)
And that would miss someone like Ted Chiang - who does not have enough full length works but excluding him makes no sense at all considering the awards and all that. Thus the idea of a "per type" columns - we include everyone that published the required 6 pieces of fiction but we show the different numbers per type as well so people can look for whatever interests them the most. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Anniemod (talkcontribs) .
It depends on the values of X and Y. If we make X, say, 2 and Y 6, then anyone with 6+ stories will be eligible even if they haven't published any book-length works. Ahasuerus 14:49, 19 June 2018 (EDT)
Ah, I missed that part. But it will still not make a difference between someone with 10 poems and someone with 10 stories (poetry vs prose) which is what I usually care about. But then not all reports should do what I really want them to - so just thinking aloud :) Annie 15:11, 19 June 2018 (EDT)
And looking at some of those numbers, our treatment of excerpts as short fiction makes some of those number inconsistent (really depends on the editors and if the excerpts at the end of novels are added or not). I wonder if it is not time for a new flag on the short fiction level (excerpt) so these can be filterable... Annie 13:47, 19 June 2018 (EDT)
In the past, there were some technical issues associated with adding new "length" values, but they were resolved last year. At this point it should be easy to add anything we want, we just need to reach consensus. The last discussion was inconclusive, but we made a fair amount of progress. Perhaps the next round will be final. Ahasuerus 14:42, 19 June 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) After sleeping on it, I came up with a different design and rewrote this report. The main page has been converted from a list of decades to a year grid, which should make individual pages more manageable. The new data will become available when the nightly process runs at 1am server time. Ahasuerus 20:10, 20 June 2018 (EDT)

I like it - it loads faster :) Although a quick look through some pages made me realize that we have a lot of authors in the wrong year - because we do not have their first works (especially the non-English ones). I've always known that of course - but the split into years made me notice it even more. Annie 17:08, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Non-genre authors can be particularly misleading. Consider E. Phillips Oppenheim or P. G. Wodehouse. Ahasuerus 17:15, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Oh yes... there is that as well. I was mostly looking at the small presses ones - where some of our coverage is still lacking. The few I checked from the 2018 lists are not 2018 debuts. I think I will put that on my list of things to work on - get the current year list and see if any of them have earlier publications (the ones I looked at cannot be caught with the public Fixer pages because the debuts are in anthologies...). Then start moving back in time. Annie 17:19, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Sounds like a good plan! Ahasuerus 17:26, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Except that it creates exponential amount of work - adding an anthology to get one's story adds 10+ new (or newish) authors which also need to have their complete list added and so on in perpetuity. That would take while. :) Annie 18:33, 21 June 2018 (EDT)

Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards

(Moved from user's page--Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 08:56, 21 June 2018 (EDT))

I would like to add a SF&F Translation Award to a title, but couldn't find the award on the list. May I request to add this award onto the award list? Although it's in defunction, it's quite authoritative and influential during its four-year life. See: Its official site is still working. sanfeng 05:26, 21 June 2018 (EDT)

Our software doesn't support awards given to translators (at least not well.) However, it looks like these awards were given to authors as well as translators, so there shouldn't be a problem. Ahasuerus 10:01, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Thanks for considering adding this award. sanfeng 01:02, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
If there are no objections, I will plan to add this award tomorrow night (server time.) Ahasuerus 14:28, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
The new award type and 3 award categories have been created. Please feel free to submit the winners and nominees. The short lists for each year are available here. The long lists are also available for 2010, 2011 and 2012. Ahasuerus 18:36, 23 June 2018 (EDT)
Got it. Thanks a lot. sanfeng 23:07, 23 June 2018 (EDT)
Sure thing! Ahasuerus 23:27, 23 June 2018 (EDT)
I added awards to available titles. For three unavailable titles, I tried to add new titles too. All pending for approval. sanfeng 00:57, 24 June 2018 (EDT)

Most-viewed titles tweaked

The lists of most-viewed novels and short fiction have been tweaked to display the title year. They have also been changed to display 500 titles to match the list of most-viewed authors. Ahasuerus 11:34, 21 June 2018 (EDT)

Are those unique hits or all hits? Annie 16:53, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
It's a count of all Web page views -- every time a page is displayed, a counter is increment within the title record. Unfortunately, variants and translations are not counted at this time, which skews the picture quite a bit. I'd like to rewrite the logic to include VTs the way some award reports do. Ahasuerus 17:01, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Thanks! That makes sense. I know that I am hitting some pages all the time because my auto complete defaults on them so I was just wondering. Annie 17:04, 21 June 2018 (EDT)

Adding empty anthologies, magazines and collections

I had been trying to work through a few of the debut authors from 2018 and figure out if they are indeed that new and I kept stumbling on collections and anthologies that had been added months (and sometimes years) after release (so the content was already available) and which were either left empty or with a single story entered (presumably by the author or their representative). What is the point of having these in the DB if we do not have the fiction records?

We have a report: Container Titles in Publications with no Contents but it requires one of the publications to have content so most of the 20xx anthologies and collections (and virtually all of the small press ones) do not make the cut (as they are yet to be reprinted so there is a single publication).

With this in mind, I had been thinking about 2 things:

  • Add a new template {{Content incomplete}} that populates as "Content not (entirely) clear yet" that can be used when an anthology/collection/magazine is either too new or too old (or is still forthcoming) and there is no way to find the complete content so these can be tracked and populated later. And automatically add this tag to all collections and anthologies and magazines in the DB that do not have at least one fiction title.
  • Require that the content be entered when the publication is entered (or with an edit/import after that).

None of this will require changes in the software (except adding the template and the automated adding of the tag to the old records); it is just a small policy change that will ensure that we actually add the books completely... Thoughts? Annie 20:24, 21 June 2018 (EDT)

This topic was discussed back in January. The outcome was the creation of FR 1120, "Automate the anthology/collection tracker".
My current thinking is that templates would work, but it may be better to create a new field in publication records. The supported values would be something like "Fiction Contents Complete" and "Fiction Contents Incomplete". It would make the report generation process much faster and won't require editors to memorize additional template names. Ahasuerus 20:43, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
I vaguely remember that discussion now that you mention it - I think it was in between a few of my business trips so I was mostly missing (and thus I did not think of it) :) I'll drop the topic then. Any timeline? Annie 20:57, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
My 2¢... It is a significant amount of work to add the contents of a collection or anthology, far trickier than adding the rest of the publication record. I don't really blame people for skipping over that; I would personally rather have a record of the publication in the database, even without contents. It's good to know what anthologies and collections exist. So I don't think it would be a good idea to require that all new anthologies and collections must be added with contents. Adding the contents to the thousands of publications that don't have them currently will take a very long time, but it's doable. A tool to make finding them easier would be nice. Sloppy or incomplete contents is a bigger problem than missing contents because it's a lot harder to find those. I do think that moderators should not be allowing inexperienced users to add partial contents (though that doesn't help with the ones that already exist).
As to the suggestion of a field. It's a good idea, but would be much more useful if associated with notes. If there weren't notes, I'd want it divided among more levels or categories of completeness. This field, with notes, would mostly replace the tracker, which would then only be used for keeping an eye out for forthcoming ones that haven't been added to the database yet. Unfortunately, it could not be automatically populated for existing publications, apart from ones with no contents being set to incomplete. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 22:20, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
So if someone skips the content even when it is available, they should just skip the book altogether. Once the book is in the system, people that first check by ISBN before adding new books may not even open the book - assuming that whoever added it did it properly. While there may be some value in having an empty container in the DB, we are a fiction DB - I find the fiction to be the most important part here... But to each their own. Annie 22:43, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
I try to find as many 2018 anthologies/collections as I can, but I don't spot them all; and it is really useful to have other people adding them to the database. Please do not make them avoid doing so just because they don't have the contents (they may genuinely not be able to find them out yet). As to the problem of not noticing that it has no contents when you look it up... Don't we have something called "bibliographic warnings" that you can display optionally in preferences? I don't know what that is but it sounds like the right kind of thing. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 22:56, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Want to reread what I said above? I am not talking about new anthologies that noone has the content of or old ones that need someone to go to a library for (thus the request for the template so we can have them and tag them properly) but someone adding a 2017 Kindle and/or small press anthology in 2018 has access to the content (for example). Lack of content is not one of the things that the bibliographic warnings are checking for - they check for things like missing prices, unknown formats and so on. Annie 23:12, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
I have come across a number of different scenarios which lead to the creation of contents-less container titles. The most common one is Fixer finding and adding new anthologies/collections. Unfortunately, more often than not I don't have the bandwidth to add the contents items even if they are available via Look Inside or the publisher's Web site, so the added containers remain "empty" until someone comes along and adds the stories. Hopefully, things will improve once we revamp our handling of Fixer's data. Ahasuerus 23:27, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
True... although Fixer's submissions are easy to spot - not that easy to find. I wonder if we cannot figure out a special template just for Fixer (regardless if he submits on his own or you do it for him) which will allow someone to find the book and submit the contents later? Especially on the AddPub when Fixer knows it is a collection/anthology (it can be added manually when a moderator handles a NewPub that needs type change)? I just think we should encourage people a bit more to enter the contents of the books they are adding - not stop them from adding without content but make it clear that it is recommended. Annie 23:52, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Hm, it's a thought. Let me sleep on it... Ahasuerus 00:13, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
With amazon's look inside there's also the problem that the types of the contents are not always clear: there is a difference between SHORTFICTION and POEMS, for example (or it may be in fact an ESSAY). I do add the contents if they are clear (because the text is displayed, the type is mentioned, or the title is already in the database), but I think it'd be better to leave a title out, for which the type can only be guessed than to have a possible erroneous statement. I do enter a note that the contents are incomplete, though. Stonecreek 05:48, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
Seconding Stonecreek's opinion. Also, for example, this publication was added from Amazon with complete contents and the note "Unclear whether all of the stories are genre." Personally my practice would be to glance through reviews and descriptions and only index the stories I think are genre, with the others listed in notes, to be shifted to the contents if they do turn out to be genre. But that's just my own thoughts. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 11:30, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
Common sense is always needed and corner cases will always exist. But there are enough cases where it is obvious that it is one of our anthologies/collections. And as long as people actually record their decision ("content not added as it is not clear which stories are genre", that is still better than what we do now in a lot of cases. Annie 12:11, 22 June 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) It sounds like we have two separate issues here. The first one is encouraging editors to add Contents titles to submitted publications. I think it's a worthy goal, although, as per the discussion above, there are various limitations that we have to deal with.

The second one is making it easier to find Contents-less publications. I have reviewed and reworked FR 1120, which should, hopefully, better reflect the desired functionality. Does the new design look like it should cover most of the bases? Ahasuerus 14:26, 22 June 2018 (EDT)

Could we have a report that lists ANTHOLOGY, COLLECTION, MAGAZINE, and OMNIBUS records with 3 or fewer content title entries? It should have an ignore button in case the item really does only have 3 or few content titles. This would at least give a place where they could all be found easily. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 15:13, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
It would be easy to do, although I would exclude OMNIBUSES, which already have a separate cleanup report. The main problem is that it would find a lot of eligible pubs. Counting just ANTHOLOGIES, COLLECTIONS, MAGAZINES with N fiction (SHORTFICTION, POEM, NOVEL, SERIAL) titles, here is what we have at the moment:
  • N is 0, i.e. "empty" containers: 12,139
  • N is 1: 16,447
  • N is 2: 7,985
  • N is 3: 5,444
Another problem is that we don't necessarily want to ignore publications with unavailable Contents titles. What's unknown today may become known tomorrow. Ahasuerus 15:59, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
I don't see the problem with that. It's true there's a lot of empty or nearly empty containers, but we knew that. To break the list up into smaller pieces, maybe divide them by years because the more recent ones will usually be easier to find information about. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 17:33, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
That's a good point. Breaking the list up by year would definitely make it more manageable. Here is how many fiction-less container pubs we have for the last 18 years:
| 2000 |             163 |
| 2001 |             202 |
| 2002 |             174 |
| 2003 |             178 |
| 2004 |             260 |
| 2005 |             228 |
| 2006 |             169 |
| 2007 |             251 |
| 2008 |             381 |
| 2009 |             387 |
| 2010 |             553 |
| 2011 |             619 |
| 2012 |             684 |
| 2013 |             651 |
| 2014 |             674 |
| 2015 |             631 |
| 2016 |             653 |
| 2017 |             561 |
| 2018 |             170 |
| 8888 |              50 |
The problem is that the standard cleanup software doesn't support this level of granularity. I would have to create a custom report, but it's certainly feasible and much easier than adding another field to publication records. Ahasuerus 18:15, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
And your second objection, I don't understand. Do you mean that we should somehow have two ways of marking records we have examined, one being "ignore" (the contents are correct as is) and the other (a tag or template?) saying "I have looked for information about this publication's contents and couldn't find any"? --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 17:33, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
Yes, something like that. If we were to go with this approach, we would have 2 cleanup reports. The first one would run every night and find empty or near-empty container publications. It would let moderators mark publications "OK as is/ignore" or "Contents currently unknown".
The second cleanup report wouldn't need to be re-run nightly and would be limited to publications previously marked "Contents currently unknown". It would let moderators "ignore" publications.
The more I think about this approach, the more I like it compared to what FR 1120 currently envisions. The new cleanup reports would be non-standard, so they would require a certain amount of custom development, but nothing insurmountable. I think it would be a cleaner solution than adding a new field. Ahasuerus 18:25, 22 June 2018 (EDT)
Another thought: when you're compiling these reports, you should omit container titles that are marked Non-genre, because they're supposed to have partial contents anyway. And presumably (hopefully) wouldn't have been added at all if the genre contents weren't added at the same time. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 10:27, 23 June 2018 (EDT)
We could start with fairly restrictive selection criteria and then relax them once the low-hanging fruit has been taken care of. For example, we could limit the first version of the report to genre containers without any fiction titles. Once they have been processed, we could move on to containers with only one fiction titles, then two, then add non-genre. As long as the report supports the ability to "ignore" containers, it's just a question of convenience. Ahasuerus 12:14, 23 June 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) If there are no objections, I will retire FR 1120 and create a new FR for the two cleanup reports discussed above. Ahasuerus 12:44, 25 June 2018 (EDT)

Sounds good to me. FYI, I ran a series of searches for notes containing words like partial contents, contents not complete, etc.; the results, excluding those with 3 or fewer fiction contents, are here. It's only another 277. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 19:16, 25 June 2018 (EDT)
We could also tweak the proposed cleanup report to look for notes with "partial content[s]", "content[s] not complete" etc and add it to the mix. Ahasuerus 21:32, 25 June 2018 (EDT)

Outcome of the empty anthologies, magazines and collections discussion

FR 1164 has been created. FR 1120 has been closed. Ahasuerus 15:34, 26 June 2018 (EDT)

I just had an afterthought about the design of this two-report solution. Maybe people shouldn't move publications from the first report to the second unless they've looked for Internet sources of information and couldn't find adequate ones; that way, when something was in the second report, people would know it probably wasn't worth their time to repeat that search. Does that make sense? And what would be a way to indicate this being the case? --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 10:32, 29 June 2018 (EDT)
Unlike the vast majority of cleanup reports, the proposed dynamic duo will be custom-coded, so we will have more flexibility in their design. The current plan calls for 2 options per publication -- "Ignore" and "Save" -- but we could implement additional, more granular, options. Something like "Ignore", "Researched but no contents items found", "Requires research", perhaps? We could then sort the second report by status. Also, we could capture the date of the last status update and display it on the second report. Ahasuerus 14:05, 29 June 2018 (EDT)
Yes, that'd be a good way to record what has already been done. "Researched but no contents found" seems adequate to indicate that at the very least, online sources have been consulted. Some people would use that to indicate that they looked into Tuck, etc. while others don't have access to such sources, but short of notes we can't get too fine-grained! and I think notes wouldn't be a good idea because they'd get out-of-date too readily. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 16:27, 29 June 2018 (EDT)
After thinking some more about this, my thinking is that we could name the three columns something like "OK as is" [formerly "Ignore"], "Contents not found" and "Needs research" for the sake of clarity and brevity. Ahasuerus 16:37, 29 June 2018 (EDT)

Display of cover artist names

Do you think it would be a good idea to display pseudonymous cover artists in publication records the way we do other authors, "Cover: John Artist [as by Jack Artist]"? I ask because we recently had a case where the credit in the magazine was a misprint; currently, when you look at the publication record, you just see the cover credited to a nonexistent name, with no obvious indication of who the real artist is. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 06:46, 29 June 2018 (EDT)

I like this idea. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 13:03, 29 June 2018 (EDT)
I didn't realize that pseudonymous covers did not display the artist's canonical name on publication pages -- see The Hero of Varay for an example. I agree that it would make sense to use the standard "[as by]" convention for covers. Ahasuerus 13:53, 29 June 2018 (EDT)
One more vote "for" :) Annie 14:04, 29 June 2018 (EDT)
FR 1165 has been created. Ahasuerus 10:15, 1 July 2018 (EDT)

ISFDB e-mail status update

A quick reminder that the ISFDB e-mail system has been down since October 2016, apparently due to an OS upgrade.

Al took care of similar problems in years past, but his ISFDB time is almost non-existent these days. I plan to take a look in the near future and see if I can fix it on my own. Unfortunately, the security changes that I worked on earlier this month pushed everything else back, so now I am behind on Fixer and still trying to catch up. Ahasuerus 23:48, 29 June 2018 (EDT)

Are you sure that it is completely down? Because I got a mail with the usual ISFDB headers from an editor here in April and quite a few in 2017... Unless all those editors somehow managed to find my mail from elsewhere and decided to put "ISFDB e-mail" as a subject on their own which is not impossible but a bit unlikely. Annie 00:10, 30 June 2018 (EDT)
PS: And one of them (from July 2017) said that she clicked on the mail link because she did not see a reply button on her Talk page -- so it was definitely working at this point and the one from April this year looks the same so I think it came from here directly as well. Maybe the relay works only with some mail servers (I am at yahoo)? Annie 00:19, 30 June 2018 (EDT)
I very recently -- within the past few weeks -- used ISFDB email (in both directions) for an exchange with a new editor. So it does work in some cases. --MartyD 08:03, 30 June 2018 (EDT)
How very odd! I re-tested it using my account just the other day and the test e-mail didn't go through. I wonder if our e-mail server has been blacklisted by the DNSBL system or some other party? Ahasuerus 09:18, 30 June 2018 (EDT) says that we are not blacklisted by DNSBL blacklists. Ahasuerus 09:23, 30 June 2018 (EDT)
Test e-mail messages have been sent to Annie and Marty. We'll take the rest of this discussion elsewhere since most editors are probably not interested in the debugging process. Ahasuerus 10:13, 30 June 2018 (EDT)

Problem Identified

It looks like Annie and Marty have been able to track it down. The problem is the discrepancy between what is stated in the "From" field of the e-mail messages that the ISFDB server sends and the name of the ISFDB server. For example, when I use ISFDB mail to send an e-mail to another user, the message says "From: ahasuerus [at]", but the actual sending server is "". When another e-mail server receives an e-mail message with this type of conflict, it becomes suspicious of it because of the long history of e-mail abuse (spam, phishing, etc.) Depending on server settings, the following happens:

  • some servers deliver the message
  • some servers flag it as "spam"
  • some servers refuse to deliver it to the addressee and simply delete it

This explains why some e-mail messages made it to the their destinations and some didn't. Next we'll need to figure out how to fix the problem... Ahasuerus 15:37, 1 July 2018 (EDT)

Changes Made

Our email settings have been tweaked. From now on, email messages sent using ISFDB mail will have "" in the "From" field and the sending user's e-mail address in the "Reply-To" field. When the recipient clicks "Reply", the e-mail will be sent to the address in the "Reply-To" field.

Hopefully, this change will help reduce the number of undelivered e-mail messages. Ahasuerus 17:13, 2 July 2018 (EDT)

"Journey to the West" and Wu Cheng'en

Although 西遊記/Journey to the West is often attributed to Wu Cheng'en, that isn't certain and it was originally published without a named author, so we have its canonical author as "uncredited." Some excerpts from the novel remain on Wu's page at present. If no one has any objection, I'm going to give them all an uncredited parent title and assign them to the existing series "西遊記 / Monkey." --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 13:36, 30 June 2018 (EDT)

Your best/latest author?

Who's the best new hard sf/space opera author you've read in the past 12 months? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Magillaonfire (talkcontribs) .

Me, though my story isn't done yet. ;) ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 15:34, 2 July 2018 (EDT)
For reference purposes, we have a list of all titles tagged "space opera" by ISFDB users. Ahasuerus 16:28, 2 July 2018 (EDT)

Looking for print run info

Hi, does anyone know how you might easily find out roughly how many copies of any particular book were ever published. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mjc42 (talkcontribs) .

It depends on the book. Some limited editions make this information readily available. Also, some bibliographers research publisher records and include it in their bibliographies. More recently, certain self-published authors have been known to post this information on their Web sites. Otherwise it can be difficult to find. Ahasuerus 12:12, 3 July 2018 (EDT)

The reason I ask is that I have a copy of 'OUT OF TIME ' by George Langelaan, the 1966 Four Square Books paperback collection of stories which contains Langelaan's well know story : 'The Fly'. I can't seem to find one for sale anywhere (other than my own) including bookfinder, Abebooks, Alibris etc. I get the impression that it is quite rare, but I don't really know why. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mjc42 (talkcontribs) .

Advanced Title Search Results and Tags and user preference

If you use Advanced Title Search and one or more of the results have too many tags, the tags column squishes the rest of the fields and takes over most of the screen. Here is an example (stolen from the original conversation here). Can we add a new user preference (similar to the "Do not display bibliographic warnings on Title pages") that controls if a user sees the tags in advanced search at all? This way if someone really does not care about the tags can stop them from cluttering the page. Annie 13:03, 3 July 2018 (EDT)

Either that, or set a hard width for the column (either a percentage or a specific pixel width). ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 13:14, 3 July 2018 (EDT)
Please do not do "specific pixel width" - this will make small screens unusable - I do a lot of work on my phone and I suspect that a lot of people use it for searching. Percentage can work... Annie 14:33, 3 July 2018 (EDT)
I don't know which solution would be better, but I have created FR 1166 to make sure we that don't forget about this issue.
I suspect that using "hard column width" may result in a lot of screen real estate getting wasted due to near-empty cells in other columns, but I'll have to experiment to confirm. Ahasuerus 15:46, 5 July 2018 (EDT)

Facebook page

I made a Facebook page for ISFDB. In case anyone is interested. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 14:18, 3 July 2018 (EDT)

Nice, thanks! What sort of things are you thinking of posting on it? --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 15:10, 5 July 2018 (EDT)
No idea. Feel free to brainstorm. Also, go like the page if you can, and share it around. Right now, it's got almost 100 people following it about two days after it was created. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 15:19, 5 July 2018 (EDT)

Slate Magazine: include their fiction under existing rules?

Slate Magazine (online, nongenre, non-issues) is running a monthly series of science fiction stories. I think these can be included in the database (and should be, because it's featuring authors like Charlie Jane Anders and Nnedi Okorafor), on the grounds of the existing rule about SFWA-qualifying markets, which Slate clearly is. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 18:21, 4 July 2018 (EDT)

I am not sure that it actually qualifies (do they pay 6c per word or at least $3,000 for ALL their fiction(other than reprints or serializations)? - publishing known authors does not male them eligible on its own) I cannot find any statement on their page that will make them "clearly qualifying" - can you post a link to it? Annie 19:12, 4 July 2018 (EDT) says that they pay well and promptly but one freelancer reports being offered $100 for a 3000-word piece of investigative reporting. That site isn't a lot of help. I can't find anything official yet. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 19:37, 4 July 2018 (EDT)
(We were cross-posting so I will still post that:) ). This is a report from a few people what they were paid for specific pieces; it is not clear how/if they pay for the fiction (and all the fiction) - which is what SFWA is concerned about. Is there a guideline published by Slate somewhere? We are talking about the "Future Tense Fiction", right? I know that they started with stories from anthologies and not original fiction and then had some original ones (like this one but did not know that they had turned it into a monthly feature. I guess we can let them in under the "Other Qualifying Markets" (Slate being a webzine but I am not sure how much that rule apply for webzines) but will that open a door we are not ready to open? On the other hand, if New Yorker decide to publish an exclusive story on their site, that won't qualify it based on this clause. How many original stories are we talking about at the moment? Annie 20:01, 4 July 2018 (EDT)
All of the stories from this year are original. As for "opening doors we don't want to open," yes, that's potentially a problem because it is so hard to figure out whether magazines qualify. I think Slate probably does because of all the talk on the web about them being one of the best-paying places to submit writing, but if we assume Slate qualifies without knowing for certain, what else are we going to let in on the basis of assumptions? I have to agree with you, let's leave Slate out for now unless someone has an idea how to get better information. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 20:14, 4 July 2018 (EDT)
I couldn't see anywhere to submit to Future Tense. It may be that they are simply inviting authors who share Slate's political views to submit stories. All of the stories there seem to lean left. Regardless of that, I don't know that this would qualify even under the currently proposed expansion of scope for ISFDB. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 14:05, 5 July 2018 (EDT)
Nope, it won't - not for now anyway(single stories in a non-genre non-issues based webzine). Their only chance is under the SFWA exception - and I just cannot find enough information to prove that they are eligible under it. :) In the long run we want these stories but... baby steps and all that. Annie 14:09, 5 July 2018 (EDT)
Well, if they are any good, they will likely be reprinted in an anthology or collection at some point. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 14:53, 5 July 2018 (EDT)
It's certainly true that these days most stories which appear online get reprinted in e-books or paper books sooner rather than later. However, I recall some vignettes which didn't get reprinted until much later. Hopefully we'll address this issue during the next round of R&S discussions. Ahasuerus 15:01, 5 July 2018 (EDT)
Even if they get reprinted, we still want the first publication record eventually - we are a bibliography after all :) And yes - this kind of stories will be a prime candidate for the next wave of changes (if the current changes pass and all looks fine after that). We'll get there eventually :)Annie 15:08, 5 July 2018 (EDT)

Robert Sidney Bowen's "Dusty Ayres" novels - Looking for volunteers

As SFE3 notes, Robert Sidney Bowen's "Dusty Ayres" stories, which were originally published in the eponymous 1934-1935 pulp magazine, are "of SF interest". At this time we have only 8 of them on file.

Looking for volunteers to enter the rest of the pulp issues, flesh out our "skeleton" publications, enter the recent paperback reprints (see Amazon) and research his bio data.

Please note that SFE3 and Wikipedia differ re: his legal name and date of birth. I have sent an e-mail to Dave Langford re: SFE3's bio data, which seems to be out of date. Further research may be needed. Ahasuerus 13:25, 5 July 2018 (EDT)

Only the last 12 issues of the "Battle Birds" are eligible, right (July 1934 - July/Aug 1935 -- after the name change to "Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds")? Annie 16:17, 5 July 2018 (EDT)
Right. AFAIK, only Bowen's "Dusty Ayres" stories were about "future war". The original "Battle Birds" version of the magazine was non-SF. Ahasuerus 16:23, 5 July 2018 (EDT)
Yeah, I've seen one of the older ones - they are a decent aviation pulp but they are not speculative in any way or form. Annie 16:31, 5 July 2018 (EDT)
I can add them later this week together with the reprints. I will see what I can do about his biography but if one of our specialists in authors research wants to do that, I will be more than happy to hand off that job :) Annie 16:17, 5 July 2018 (EDT)


What is the justification for this Psychocrat as a 'series' and can anyone tell me where that name comes from? The word 'psychocrat' does not appear in either of the novels and the stories do not appear to have any relation to each other at all. SF&F-fan 14:43, 8 July 2018 (EDT)

Checking Google Books, I see the following sentence in Android in Arms (2015 edition):
  • The Mengians were the heirs of the Psychocrats, and Psychocrats were men (or emotionless superendowed likenesses of me) who admittedly knew more about the human mind and body than any scientists before or since.
That said, there are two things to keep in mind. First, a lot of Norton's books were set in the same universe. Some form clear sub-series, but there is a lot of cross-pollination. The last time we tried to sort everything out, we ended up with a collective headache.
Second, some of her books were re-edited after the end of the Cold War. For example, the "Reds" in the "Time Trader" books became "Great Russians". It's possible that the "Psychocrats" were also affected in some way. Ahasuerus 14:56, 8 July 2018 (EDT)

BAEN has indeed published those 2 novels together under the tile "Gods and Androids ", but BAEN books have many editions of completely unrelated books. I think these 2 novels should be listed as stand-alone. SF&F-fan 14:43, 8 July 2018 (EDT)

SFE3 also lists these two under the same series name, but unsure who is leading who. I'm not seeing anything that ties these two together. The Amazon Look Inside for the omnibus doesn't show a introduction or anything else that claims they are related. Additionally, Ice Crown specifically references the Psychocrats (they established the colony and the whole setup for the book) so it would be a more natural pairing with Android in Arms. -- JLaTondre (talk) 15:33, 8 July 2018 (EDT)

You are correct, Ahasuerus, J LaTondre. Thank you for the comments. I was mistaken about psychocrats not being mentioned in those books. I did check again without the case sensitive checked, and then the word did show up in "Androids at Arms", but not in "Wraiths of Time". The word doesappears in "Ice Crown", so those 2 would indeed be a better match for a 'psychocrat' sub-series.

I provided a link to a page that lists pretty much everything that belongs there. The original page did also provide some explanation about the various linkages between the books. SF&F-fan 23:34, 8 July 2018 (EDT)

Andre Norton - Forerunner Universe

Andre Norton's most important 'Universe' is the Forerunner universe. It may not be as clearly defined as Heinlein's, but it is a well acknowledged Future History.

Unlike with many other authors I do not see Andre Norton's related works grouped together. How can that be realized? I'm not familiar enough with the page editing to link groups into a larger one. Can the moderators do that?

This AMAZON page may be a guide line for the works to include. SF&F-fan 20:56, 8 July 2018 (EDT)

As I mentioned earlier, it's generally agreed upon that a lot of Norton's books were set in the same universe. Some form clear sub-series, but there is a lot of cross-pollination. The last time we tried to sort everything out, we ended up with a collective headache. As I recall, John Wenn's bibliography of Norton's works was also convoluted with multiple books belonging to multiple sub-series.
It would be great if we could find an expert who would be familiar with all of her series and sub-series and how they are linked. Ahasuerus 23:43, 8 July 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) I was able to get the original page of that Amazon link with the full comments (reverts after 3 seconds to the linked 'idea page'); see full comments below. There are a few books that I don't see an obvious link, but going from the point of view that was used for other future histories of other authors as well: if it is distant enough future and not obviously in conflict with the rest, it probably belongs.

------------------- QUOTE

Andre Norton's Forerunner universe, chronological order Elise (profile link is no longer valid)

The list author says: "As humans explore the galaxy, they find the ruins of ancient alien civilizations that have mysteriously vanished. Apparently these "Forerunners" destroyed themselves with high-tech war machines ... and of course, certain humans are eager to salvage whatever they can of this alien technology. Meanwhile, the good guys work to establish a peaceful new civilization. Will it come to the same end as the Forerunners did?

What a fun series this is, old-fashioned science fiction adventures suitable for young readers but definitely for grown-ups, too. (They would probably be rated PG, for occasional violence that is not depicted in a very graphic way, and for a few mild "adult themes.") Some of these stories feature medieval societies and mystical powers that resemble Norton's Witch World series (Moonsinger, Ice Crown, Dread Companion), while others focus more on spaceships and laser guns.

The books can be read in almost any order, since most of them are only loosely related to each other, but I wish I had read them in chronological order. Between the two pivotal wars described in "Warlock" and "Dark Companion," many of the books overlap in time; they are cited here mostly in order of publication. The first one on this list, "Star Guard," contains details that don't quite seem to fit with the rest of the series, and yet it does seem to be part of this same universe."

Star Soldiers

"Contains Star Guard (Central Control limits human exploration of space) and Star Rangers (takes place at the end of the series, as Central Control collapses, same time period as "Dark Piper")"

The Solar Queen

"Contains books #1 and #2 in the very enjoyable Solar Queen series: Sargasso of Space, and Plague Ship. A young man joins the crew of a Free Trader ship that makes cargo runs to planets that few humans have ever seen."

Voodoo Planet

"Solar Queen book #3. Three of the Queen's crew members go on a hunting safari, but a local voodoo priest stalks them through the jungle. This very short novel has also been published in one volume with Star Hunter."

Star Hunter & Voodoo Planet

"Two novels in one volume: Voodoo Planet is Solar Queen book #3. Star Hunter takes place later, same time period as Masks of the Outcasts. Both involve wildlife safaris where the hunters become the hunted."

Postmarked the Stars

"Solar Queen book #4. Making postal deliveries between planets, the Solar Queen is sabotaged. The crew ends up running from the law, alien creatures, and homicidal criminals."

Redline the Stars

"Solar Queen book #5, co-written by P. M. Griffin. The Queen's crew demonstrates bravery and resourcefulness during a horrific disaster in a spaceport."

Derelict for Trade: A Great New Solar Queen Adventure

"Solar Queen book #6, co-written by Sherwood Smith. The crew salvages a derelict spaceship near a spaceport, but uncovers a sinister conspiracy that threatens to destroy them."

A Mind for Trade: A Great New Solar Queen Adventure (A Solar Queen adventure)

"Solar Queen book #7, co-written by Sherwood Smith. While retrieving cargo from a dangerous planet, the crew encounters evil villains and mysterious survivors of a previous expedition."

Eye Of The Monster

"The reptilian natives of Ishkur stage a massacre against humans and Salariki aliens who have set up trading posts on their world. Several survivors flee through the jungle, hoping to reach the last fortified settlement, but murderous Ishkurians are hunting them."

The Game of Stars and Comets

"Scheduled for release early in 2009, this volume will include four short books: Eye of the Monster, The X-Factor, The Sioux Spaceman, and Voorloper."


"Contains all three Shann Lantee books. Storm Over Warlock and Ordeal in Otherwhere occur during the Council-Confederation war, which is a turning point in the series. Forerunner Foray takes place a generation later."

Masks of the Outcasts

"Contains Catseye and Night of Masks. Both start in a slum called the Dipple (short for "displaced people") on the planet Korwar soon after the Council-Confederation war."

Star Hunter

"Two characters who don't like each other very well leave the Dipple and end up trekking across an unexplored planet, pursued by bizarre creatures, trying to figure out an alien device that has killed all the humans who have come before. This very short novel has also been published in one volume with Voodoo Planet."


"Contains Judgement on Janus, and Victory on Janus. An indentured servant leaves the Dipple, escapes on a remote planet, and finds himself aligning with the creepy aliens instead of his fellow humans."

The X Factor

"A misfit son steals a spaceship and travels to the planet Mimir, where he gets mixed up with a Zacathan alien, a guild of criminals, and Forerunner ruins."


"Contains books #1 and #2 of the excellent Moonsinger series: Moon of Three Rings, and Exiles of the Stars. A spaceman meets a body-swapping alien who helps him learn a lot about the Forerunners."

Flight in Yiktor

"Moonsinger book #3. A deformed alien can't remember how he ended up in the Dipple, a slum on a world that is not his home. Maelen the moonsinger and Krip the spaceman help him flee to the planet Yiktor, but villains pursue them."

Dare to Go A-Hunting

"Moonsinger book #4. Maelen, Krip, and Farree the alien embark on a quest to find Farree's home world. In the process, they learn some surprising things about the Forerunners."

Brother to Shadows

"An assassin becomes bodyguard to a Zacathan alien searching for Forerunner artifacts. Their efforts are undermined by a sort of geisha girl who is also an assassin."

The Zero Stone

"A gem dealer and an intelligent mutant cat try to find the origin of a mysterious stone that has connections to the Forerunners."

Uncharted Stars

"Sequel to "The Zero Stone." Jern Murdock and Eet the mutant feline continue their search for the source of the Zero Stone and discover that it is even more powerful than they realized."

Search for the Star Stones

"Scheduled for release in November 2008, this volume contains both "The Zero Stone" and "Uncharted Stars.""


"On a planet where many races mingle together, a human meets a descendant of the mysterious Forerunners. They travel to an ancient ruined city, where her Forerunner ancestry manifests itself."

Forerunner: The Second Venture

"Sequel to "Forerunner." After Simsa escapes from researchers who want to study her, she finds herself on a world left barren by an ancient war among the Forerunners."


Ice Crown

"Searching for Forerunner artifacts, archeologists land on a world where humans have created a medieval society. One of them befriends a local princess and is swept into dangerous adventures and political intrigue."

The Iron Cage

"On a planet few humans have seen, three human orphans are adopted into a tribe of aliens who are so primitive that they are almost animals. When a spaceship full of humans arrives, the children find themselves torn between the two societies. Although it's not quite clear, this book seems to be discussing the Psychocrats who make an appearance in "Ice Crown" and "Gods and Androids.""

Dark Companion

"Contains Dread Companion (features Forerunner descendants) and Dark Piper (takes place as Central Control is collapsing, same time period as "Star Rangers")"

Gods and Androids

"Contains books #1 and #2 in the Psychocrat miniseries: Android at Arms, and Wraiths of Time. Has a skewed /alternate timeline." END QUOTE -------------------

Hope this helps. SF&F-fan 23:40, 8 July 2018 (EDT)

Thanks! It's a good place to start, but I would be a little hesitant to start creating nested series (i.e. putting series into super-series) without being able to consult a Norton expert who could confirm that nothing got messed up. Back in the 1990s and 2000s I would have asked on Usenet, but Usenet is moribund now. Perhaps Goodreads or Reddit may work. Ahasuerus 11:10, 10 July 2018 (EDT)
Andre Norton Books seems to have things pretty well organized into series. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 13:47, 10 July 2018 (EDT)

Nonfiction in "Eternal Haunted Summer"

Eternal Haunted Summer is a non-genre magazine, whose topic is the practice of paganism. Most, but not all of its fiction & poetry is either speculative or on mythic themes, and the magazine has been indexed in this DB since 2016 due to poetry having been Rhysling-nominated. My question is about the nonfiction, none of which is genre-related except for some of the reviews, and some interviews of spec fic writers. Question 1: In general, should non-genre nonfiction in this type of publication be included in the database? Question 2: Given that the nonfiction in Eternal Haunted Summer already has been added, should it be removed? --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 00:30, 9 July 2018 (EDT)

If we classify this magazine as non-genre, then no non-fiction from it is eligible (regardless if it is a review of Lord of the Rings or an article from Asimov). I do not see the non-genre flag on it though so I wonder if whoever is entering these issues thinks that the magazine is genre for some reason (which would change the rules for the non-fiction). We probably should find the editor(s) adding the issues and invite them to the discussion if they do not chime in. Annie 12:52, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
Vasha, do you speak of removing the non-genre essays or all of them? I do advocate the inclusion of genre essays (that is, essays & reviews on speculative fiction), if an issue of a magazine is included in the database: it may be interesting to some of us. Stonecreek 14:24, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
I think there is an explicit policy against including nonfiction in nongenre magazines, although I don't see it in the ROA--can you quote it, Annie? Be that as it may, the case of EHS highlights something that we overlooked when revising the inclusion policy for webzines: we didn't change the wording of the exception for award-nominated publications. It still says "Online publications available exclusively as a Web page, but only if shortlisted for a major award." Besides needing to be updated to something like "Online publications not otherwise eligible if shortlisted..." this wording doesn't make it clear that we've decided that having a content item nominated makes the publication eligible, not just the whole magazine having been shortlisted. And, going back to the problem at hand, the question of whether we do or don't include a nongenre magazine with award-nominated contents is separate from the question of what we do with its nonfiction. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 15:44, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
It is not in the ROA - it was somewhere else in the help pages I think (or maybe in an old discussion somewhere from way back when?). I will see if I can track it down. We had this discussion awhile back. I still think the same - mainly because if we include them from one publication, it does open the door for all reviews and articles about sf in all mainstream media - and we are mainly a fiction DB after all... It sounds great on paper but we need to consider consistency as well. Maybe we should start a new discussion in "Rules and Standards" about what we include from non-genre magazines/books? Annie 17:02, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
Found it. The two relevant sections:
  • Sometimes, a non-genre magazine will devote an entire issue to speculative fiction and/or articles about it. This can be regarded as a genre publication and genre non-fiction should be cataloged along with the fiction (even though we do not normally catalog non-fiction from non-genre magazines).
  • Interior art specifically associated with a speculative fiction story may be entered, if the data is available. Otherwise do not enter any interior art. Normally no editorials, letters, or essays will be entered. Reviews of SF works may be entered, but this will be rare. Significant essays specifically connected with SF works may optionally be entered, but this also will be rare.
We are not in the first case (this is not a special issue of the magazine/webzine). Unless someone wants to make the case that we should enter more content from online publications than we do from a non-online ones, I'd say that this applies here. The door IS open if there is speculative fiction so technically the SF-related ones can stay (and I won't kill them if I am moderating this) but I do not think that just any essay/review should be added... Annie 17:17, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
That second section leaves it open to the editor's choice whether to add reviews & articles about spec fic. That figures; if we can't reach consensus (we had Stonecreek & Annie expressing opposite opinions today) then it's open... It's worded in such a way as to urge people to be cautious, though. Only include nonfic if you really think it's relevant. When in doubt, leave it out. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 17:40, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
To some extent. There is that word "significant" over there that kind of points to the fact that we really do not want all the essays. I don't disagree with Christian that this information will be interesting to some people (if anything, I much rather prefer to add a complete magazine than just pieces of it) but we come own to what the DB is - the reason we allow the non-genre books and magazines at all is because they decided to print one of our stories. Otherwise, I'd love to have all the SF related reviews and essays from LRB, NYRB, NYRTB, TLS and so on indexed but that's not really the focus of the DB. :) Annie 18:26, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
Well, whether or not we include reviews of genre fiction and suchlike when we index a nongenre publication, we definitely do not want completely irrelevant contents, right? There is nothing in the "award exception" that says, when something in the magazine has been nominated for an award, include the whole magazine including articles that have nothing to do with spec fic.... --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 18:50, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
Unless it is considered a genre magazine altogether (which the lack of the "non-gnre" flag makes me wonder about). We catalog everything in OUR magazines. Thus my proposal to try to find who entered them and work with them before any action is taken - or at least give this thread a few days so people can see it. :) Annie 18:55, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
Let me see if I can find the submissions which added non-fiction titles to Eternal Haunted Summer. Ahasuerus 19:33, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
No need. I have entered several issues of the magazine, perhaps all of them, and as I recall it was because of nominations for the Rhysling awards. Firstly, I don't know that I would consider this to be a non-genre magazine and I certainly didn't enter it as one. The issues seem to be predominantly poetry and fiction and many of the reviews are of genre works. Thus I entered them as regular magazines as opposed to non-genre ones (i.e. actual editor rather than "Editors of Eternal Haunted Summer"). I will note that the magazine having a dual focus on fiction and paganism doesn't worry me any more than Analog having a dual focus on SF and science. At the time I entered these I only entered issues that had nominated poems. The way I read the exception for genre award nominations was that it qualified the entire issue, not just those items that were nominated. Whether that was a correct interpretation is somewhat moot given the recently expanded scope. That leave only the argument as to whether this webzine is genre or not. I lean towards inclusion in edge cases and would continue to argue that this is an eligible webzine on its own merits. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 19:40, 9 July 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) Thanks, Ron. I have only looked at one issue in detail (Summer Solstice 2017) but I have also read other issues in part, and I would like to disagree slightly. The subtitle of the magazine is "Pagan Songs and Tales;" and that strikes me as a very apt description. The poems included in the SS17 issue are largely of a devotional nature: they retell myths for the purpose of elucidating their spiritual meaning. "The Popaeg Dirge," "For Agni," "The Breaking of the Waters," "Quetzalcoatl in a Cowboy Hat," "Geomystica," etc... As for the fiction, three are speculative (one a myth-retelling, two depictions of religious rites in which literal miracles occur); the fourth, "Languid Guidance," is a non-genre depiction of a modern pagan gathering. Then there is the essay "Eight Minutes to Reach the Sun?" which is entirely concerned with spiritual guidance. The other nonfiction: First, four interviews (an astrologer, a songwriter, a poet, a pagan spiritual leader); none of those people are in our database from any other publication except EHS. Then, reviews: three nonfiction works about paganism, two collections of poetry, and three novels (all three speculative). As you can see, religion is a common element in every single item in this magazine; speculative fiction is not. Depending on how you categorize the poetry, only a minority of the magazine may have to do with spec fic. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 20:03, 9 July 2018 (EDT)

Internationalization of softcover formats ("pb" and "tp")

I'm trying to give the still unresolved "softcover problem", which has been discussed several times so far, another shot. As requested on my my talk page, I created a separate page which describes the problem, gives a detailed example and contains all possible solutions and non-solutions which have come up in several threads about this issue so far. Which means I also included the "counterproductive" ones in order to get a full picture. I hope I didn't miss something.

Here's the page: Softcover publication formats on international markets

My idea is to collect questions, remarks and ideas about the problem which are described there here, improve that page based on the answers, and hopefully and eventually the page will become the bases for a vote on the R&D page.

Jens Hitspacebar 12:45, 9 July 2018 (EDT)

Thanks for posting this one, Jens! I think that we have another option as well (a modification of your option 1 with a more palatable alternative) - leave tp/pb in place (so we do not destroy all the information that had been collected so far) but add a third one: "softcover" (sc) for the books where we do not know the size or where the tp/pb distinction does not really matter. This way Bulgarian and Russian books can be just sc (and the 16 or so possible formats are noted in the notes); same for the UK A/B/C formats. That way sc will be the defacto standard for non-US books; US books will still be split into UK/US. It is inconsistent but this started as a US DB after all - and destroying the data just makes no sense. Alternatively (as you already mentioned), we can delete the old pb/tp AND add a new field for sizing (which is populated with mmpb/tp for the books that now are marked as such). But that will mean changing all kinds of lists to actually show the new sizing field together with the format (so where is says pb now, it would say sc (mmpb).
I am against having separate country-based formats (they won't be language based but country based - because a Bulgarian language book printed in Germany will use the German formats) and it will get extremely complicated to actually figure out what a possible format is for a book. And the list of formats will get unmanageable long (and confusing). Annie 13:35, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
I don't see a difference in your proposal regarding a new "sc" format compared to the first solution ("1. Add a new "softcover" format and keep "pb" and "tp"") presented on that page. Jens Hitspacebar 14:26, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
Maybe the numbering scheme I initially used ("1a" and "1b") was confusing. I changed it to a simple "1" to "6". Jens Hitspacebar 14:35, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
It sounds very reasonable, Jens! We would finally get rid of those endless discussions & misunderstandings, if we just add 'softcover' to the list of possibilities. The one remaining question is: can we migrate the existing publications to the new standard? Christian Stonecreek 14:36, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
I added more flesh to the existing text about migrating to "sc" on the page. Look for "Affected existing non-English publication" there. Jens Hitspacebar 15:15, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
I could have sworn that the "keep the pb/tp and add sc" was not there this morning (but I was reading from my phone so might have just scrolled badly). :) My bad. Annie 16:46, 9 July 2018 (EDT)


One thing to keep in mind is that "pb" and "tp" as defined by the ISFDB data entry standards do not match the industry-standard US definition either. In the US, the distinction between "trade paperbacks" and "mass market paperbacks" is as follows.

  • "Trade paperback". If a book fails to sell during a certain period of time, it is returned to the distributor/publisher. The vast majority of "trade" paperbacks are larger in size ("tp" in ISFDB terms), but it doesn't have to be that way. Some "small size" paperbacks ("pb" in ISFDB terms) published by certain specialty publishers are technically "trade" paperbacks; they are supposed to be returned to the publisher if they do not sell. Some of them carry a special warning on the copyright page to prevent bookstore employees from treating them as regular mass market paperbacks.
  • "Mass market paperback". If a book fails to sell during a certain period of time, its cover is stripped. The rest of the book is then pulped while the stripped cover is returned to the publisher as proof that the book has been destroyed. (You may occasionally find stolen cover-less mass market paperbacks sold at flea markets.) Most "strippable" paperbacks are "pb" size, but some are larger than what we define as the "pb" format.

Back when the project started, Al and I were only dimly aware of the differences between trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks. Later on, when the distinction was made clear to us, we decided to continue using the terms "pb" and "tp" to capture book sizes instead of the way they are used by bookstores and publishers.

What this means is that our "pb" and "tp" are uniquely ISFDB designations which do not map neatly onto current publishing practices in the US or anywhere else. And I should probably copy this explanation to Jen's page so that I wouldn't have to type it again in the future :-) Ahasuerus 15:21, 9 July 2018 (EDT)

I wasn't aware of that. Yes, please add this information to the page. Jens Hitspacebar 15:37, 9 July 2018 (EDT)
Done! Ahasuerus 15:56, 9 July 2018 (EDT)

Invisible characters nixed

The data entry filter which is applied to all ISFDB submissions has been modified to filter out a number of "invisible" characters and they have been removed from the database. "Invisible" characters are typically added to submissions when editors copy-and-paste notes from other Web sites (OCLC is a known offender), so their removal should not impact what we do. If anything looks odd, please post your findings here. Ahasuerus 16:16, 10 July 2018 (EDT)

Publication pages: Cover art changes

As per the outcome of this discussion, the way cover art titles appear on Publication pages has been changed to match the way other variants are displayed. Some examples:

Ahasuerus 18:11, 10 July 2018 (EDT)

I like this change. :) ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 19:30, 10 July 2018 (EDT)
In retrospect it was the obvious thing to do. Then again, most things are obvious in retrospect :-) Ahasuerus 20:46, 10 July 2018 (EDT)

E-mail validation added

"Edit Author" has been modified to perform basic validation of email addresses. The validation logic is not very thorough, but it should prevent editors from accidentally entering Web page URLs into the "Email Address" field. Ahasuerus 20:45, 10 July 2018 (EDT)

Display of VTs on parent title pages

This Help Desk discussion of the way we display VTs on their parent titles' pages is still ongoing. As an experiment, I tweaked the software to display VTs' Notes as mouseover bubbles where available -- see the "Year" column of the "Translations" table on this title page for an example.

Admittedly, it's a quick and dirty solution, in part because I know of no way to make mouseover text display embedded HTML (tables, lists, etc) correctly, but it was easy to implement. If it looks like an improvement, we can keep it. If not, I will revert the change. Ahasuerus 21:53, 11 July 2018 (EDT)

I like it - as much as it may look ugly for longer notes, it is serviceable (and until we end up moving the translators in their own field, there is probably no better way anyway). I did not even think about the mouseovers. Annie 00:19, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
One small thing. Look at this one. All of the 1 line entries are now 2-lines ones. Any chance the year column can be made slightly wider? Annie 01:15, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
Fixed! Ahasuerus 11:40, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
Nice addition. As for "make mouseover text display embedded HTML": it's possible using pure CSS. See "CSS Tooltip" at Instead of putting the text you want to display in the "title" attribute of a SPAN, you have to put it inside a DIV, which will be hidden when the page is rendered and only becomes visible on mouseover ("hover"). Jens Hitspacebar 04:46, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
Thanks, I'll take a look. Ahasuerus 10:40, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
Can something else than a question mark be used? I don't know, maybe it's the space between the number and question mark that makes it stand out more than those used for transliterations, formats, etc. To me though, it looks like we're questioning if the date is correct. Given this is more use for an experienced editor, perhaps don't use a symbol at all and just put the mouse overs on the years? -- JLaTondre (talk) 07:18, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
Good point. A better alternative may be one the following "plus" characters, which are often used to indicate that there is more content: ⊞ or ⊕ Jens Hitspacebar 07:41, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
This is very useful. I may still put the full set (duplication) with explanations and directions in the main title note after a BREAK or a separate wiki page to assist first time viewers, which means I would like to format the information, but any table layout would not be in the individual translated titles and hence not in the mouseover. I'd also prefer a different symbol, but offer ⌕ and ⓘ. Although how these look as superscripts may eliminate them - I have enough trouble telling it's a question mark and not a 7. ../ Doug H 09:20, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
Good points. I have changed them to ⓘ for now. Let's see if it works for everybody. Ahasuerus 11:40, 12 July 2018 (EDT)

HTML now allowed in mouseover bubbles

I ended up using Jens's idea to allow HTML in mouseover bubbles. See the 1982 German translation of Heinlein's "Life-Line" for an example of how it works. The software changes needed to support this functionality were fairly significant, so if anything looks off, please let me know. Also, you will need to force a full page reload (Control-F5 in most browsers) for the new bubbles to take effect. Ahasuerus 19:04, 12 July 2018 (EDT)

I like. Both the bubbles & the symbol. Thanks. -- JLaTondre (talk) 21:11, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
There is also the nice side effect that the new code works on my mobile phone browser (Firefox for Android) where the old one didn't. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 21:39, 12 July 2018 (EDT)
Thanks, looks good. However, the readability (contrast) is not the best with white font on grey background. I suggest to change the font color to black, the background color to white and add a black border to the CSS class:
.tooltip .tooltiptext {
    visibility: hidden;
    width: 150px;
    background-color: black;
    color: white;
    text-align: left;
    padding: 5px 0;
    padding-left: 3px;
    border-radius: 6px;
    border: 1px solid black;
    /* Position the tooltip text */
    position: absolute;
    z-index: 1;
Jens Hitspacebar 06:50, 13 July 2018 (EDT)
The bubble's width also could be bigger. This record is an example with a long note in the variant title and therefore a big mouseover bubble. Maybe increase to 300px or 400px width? Jens Hitspacebar 07:05, 13 July 2018 (EDT)
I think it would be more intuitive for the mouseover bubble to activate over the language column, rather than the year.--Rkihara 12:44, 13 July 2018 (EDT)
Granted, it would make more sense for translations, but the bubble is also displayed for regular VTs which do not have the language column. If we want to stay consistent across tables, our choices are the year column and the title/pseudonym column. The title column would be problematic because it would potentially have 2 mouseover bubbles: one for transliterations and one for VT notes. Which leaves the year column as the only solution that I could think of :-\ Ahasuerus 13:20, 13 July 2018 (EDT)

Display Tweaks -- 2018-07-13

I have tweaked the bubbles to be in line with what Jens suggested. You'll need to force a full page reload (Control-F5 in most browsers) to see the changes.

The only thing that I didn't implement was the proposed increase from 150px to 300-400px. I have the following concerns:

  • Would it cause problems for mobile users who have limited real estate?
  • It would result in mostly empty bubbles for short transliterations

I guess the second issue could be addressed by having two types of bubbles: smaller ones for transliterations and longer ones for VT notes. I don't know how much of an issue 300-400px would be for mobile users, so I'll wait for their feedback. Ahasuerus 14:18, 13 July 2018 (EDT)

Those things are un-clickable on IOS anyway (on the IPhone at least) - the transliterations ones don't work either (I think I mentioned it when we moved to the new way to show transliterations and we never resolved it). But as a whole making a popup so large that you need to scroll so you can close it is always a bad idea. I like it as it is now - if someone sees something interesting they want to look into, they can always just open the title. Annie 14:30, 13 July 2018 (EDT)
Ahasuerus, you have forgotten to change "color" to "black" and "background-color" to "white" :) It now has white text on black background, which makes links in notes almost unreadable, see example. Jens Hitspacebar 15:28, 13 July 2018 (EDT)
Oops, I just realized that I didn't post the correct CSS above. It doesn't match the text of my suggestion there. The CSS should be "color: black" and "background-color: white". Can you change it, please? Jens Hitspacebar 15:56, 13 July 2018 (EDT)
Done! I have also changed the width value. "Question mark" bubbles remain at 150 pixels while "informational" bubbles have been expanded to 300 pixels. Let's see how well it works. (And yes, you'll need to hit Control-F5 again to see the latest formatting.) Ahasuerus 16:54, 13 July 2018 (EDT)
I think this width is OK. I do have to zoom out my mobile phone screen a little more than I usually would in order to fit the bubble on the screen, but it doesn't make the text too small to read; and this is a good compromise between being readable in mobile and being ridiculously long and narrow in other browsers. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 17:19, 13 July 2018 (EDT)
Thanks, folks. I guess we can declare victory for now and see if anything else comes up. Ahasuerus 20:15, 13 July 2018 (EDT)

Nepali and Pashto/Pushto added to the list of supported languages

Nepali and Pashto/Pushto have been added to the list of supported languages. Ahasuerus 16:09, 12 July 2018 (EDT)

Tables: what do we need?

There have been various discussions of using tables in notes lately. A few hundred publications currently have simple tables in notes used for putting lists into parallel columns and things like that (example 1, example 2). There are also tables like this that have borders between cells to make them more readable. We are about to transition to using BBCodes instead of HTML, which means that there won't be any attributes available, not even the option to choose whether to have borders or not, as well as things like centering text or left or right alignment, etc.

Ahasuerus has said that he could create some custom BBCodes which would allow some options beyond just one way to make a table. Question for anyone here who has used tables or might: what options do you think would be really necessary?

Personally I think we could do with just having two versions of tables, one with borders and one without; I think it's the only thing that would make a major difference to readability, and having no control over alignment, column width, etc. would just make the tables a bit less pretty. Rowspan/colspan is helpful but rarely used. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 16:18, 12 July 2018 (EDT)

I think, you need only a table with borders, this is more readable.--Wolfram.winkler 02:25, 16 July 2018 (EDT)

Fixer: defining the manual submission process

As many of you know, we have been using a data acquisition robot, User:Fixer, to keep up with new US/UK (and some Canadian) releases since late 2008. Fixer finds new books, cleans up the data (regularizes publisher names etc), prioritizes major publishers, creates submissions and so on.

The current process, which is described here, works reasonably well, but it's increasingly labor-intensive, which has become an issue.

Description of the Problem


There are two fundamental problems. The first one is that there are a lot more new books getting published these days than we ever expected. Every month Fixer finds up to 10,000+ new ISBNs and up to 20,000+ new ISBN-less ASINs. I have been slowly beefing up Fixer's semi-automated processes which assign priorities to new ISBNs, but there is only so much that can be done without human intervention. Over time, I have been spending more and more of my time on organizing and massaging Fixer's monthly haul.

Data Quality

The second problem is that Fixer's submissions are not as clean as human-created submissions. There is a special Help page, Help:How to work with Records Built by Robots, which describes all kinds of things which can go wrong with robot-generated submissions. This means that moderators have to spend additional time and effort when processing Fixer's submissions. Because they compete with human-generated submissions for moderators' limited time, they tend to sit in the queue longer. In addition, unless a moderator has been working on Fixer's submissions for a long time, he or she has a good chance of missing invalid or incomplete data.

For these reasons, I have been adding most Fixer-identified ISBNs personally, which is very time-consuming and affects my development work.

Original Solution

Originally we planned to enhance the current ISFDB submission process to address this issue. The idea was that Fixer would continue creating regular submissions, but they would be added to a special "robots only" submission queue instead of the standard "New Submissions" queue. These "special" submissions would be later massaged by editors and converted to regular submissions which would then be approved by moderators. It was a nifty idea, but, unfortunately, it would require a great deal of work to implement.

New Solution

A few months ago Annie and I began working on a less ambitious approach which wouldn't be as nifty but could be implemented much faster. The basic idea was that we would have Fixer build Wiki pages with basic information about each Fixer-identified ISBN. These Wiki pages would then be used by human editors to create regular submissions following User:Fixer/Public/Instructions. It should result in higher quality submissions, which should in turn make it possible for moderators to approve them quickly. Annie's testing seems to suggest that the approach should be viable.

At this point we have three types of Fixer-maintained Wiki pages:

but we can always add more types. For example, if everything works as well as we hope it will, we can start leveraging Fixer's data from other sources, notably OCLC, including non-English ISBNs, but that's Phase 2.

For now, the editors who are interested in working on adding Fixer-identified ISBNs to the database are encouraged to review User:Fixer/Public, User:Fixer/Public/Instructions and Help:How to work with Records Built by Robots. Does the process look viable? Anything that you would like to see changed or added? Ahasuerus 18:22, 16 July 2018 (EDT)

Amazon removing books by some SF authors

FYI, Amazon has removed the majority of books by certain indie SF authors like J. A. Cipriano and Michael-Scott Earle. Apparently it has something to do with the ongoing controversy surrounding Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, but the important thing is that it emphasizes that Amazon's data is not permanent and is subject to change at any time. Ahasuerus 18:39, 17 July 2018 (EDT)

They are a seller - they may be the biggest and meanest of them all but they are not a bibliography, they are a seller. At least they seem to still be hosting the covers (that was my first thought when I saw the dust up with Cipriano a few days ago)... Annie 19:54, 17 July 2018 (EDT)
Yes, they never seem to delete or change addresses of cover images, even when the books have long vanished or they've changed the image displayed on the book's page. Damned good thing too, since we don't have the storage space they do. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 20:31, 17 July 2018 (EDT)
At the moment we host 141,240 covers and link to 269,746 Amazon covers. We do have enough space to host everything that we link to, although I would have to change our backup process to be more efficient. The big problem would be the amount of time and effort that it would take to upload and link 269,747 cover scans. Ahasuerus 21:04, 17 July 2018 (EDT)
Being as images aren't our main priority, would it really be a disaster if they disappeared sometime? --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 20:31, 17 July 2018 (EDT)
Sometimes a cover change is all that differentiates editions - so yes, they are important in some cases. Plus we care about the artists - not having the images makes it very hard to get their works properly varianted and/or merged especially when one is looking at an interior art or a reprinted cover :) Annie 20:41, 17 July 2018 (EDT)
Their policy seems to have changed over the last few years. It used to be that they almost never deleted ISBNs even if they were cancelled prior to publication. This was usually bad for publishers and authors, but sometimes good for bibliographers.
A few years ago the policy apparently changed; their ISBNs disappear much more frequently now. Amazon is still a good resource, but I tend to be more cautious when working with their data these days. Ahasuerus 21:00, 17 July 2018 (EDT)
This can be especially true for print-on-demand and e-books. I've bought books with one cover, then a new edition comes out and the cover changes, or the e-book will have a completely different cover. Publishers can be very nonchalant about their publishing practices. MLB 03:37, 18 July 2018 (EDT)

(unindent) Cipriano's and Earle's bibliographies have been updated with a little help from Fixer's internal database. Ahasuerus 20:23, 19 July 2018 (EDT)

YouTube Narrations.

I've entered a number of these to this site under the story's "webpage" field, but it seems to be a possibly fruitless, and anonymous listing, especially since several stories have multiple narrations. Would it be possible to create a whole new field for these youtube narrations? My favorite narrators being people like Morgan Scorpion and Ian Gordon (HorrorBabble). It could be something simple, like the story's name, author, narrator, story's length, and website. It would be so much easier to find these narrations that way otherwise they may be lost on this site. We list webzines and PDH files, why not these? Some of these may never be transferred to something more solid like Audible or CDs. Maybe it's me, but I grew up listening to these narrations (I'm sixty, so they are nothing new), and recorded books seem to becoming more popular, so why not. Just tossing this out there for discussion. Maybe I'm posting this on the wrong forum. Lemme know if I've wandered off on the wrong track. MLB 03:33, 18 July 2018 (EDT)

Are these for older books? If so, we may want to treat them as audiobooks. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 11:48, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
Are those downloadable? If they are, it will fit under "digital audio download" just fine - together with all podcasts and what's not that read you a story. If they are not, we have yet another iteration of the "web only story" kind of thing.
Technically narrators and lengths go into the Notes fields these days (same way Translators do)... Annie 12:21, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
Well, if it's on YouTube, it can be downloaded using any number of downloaders like youtube-dl. However, that's third party processing, which may not count as "digital audio download". In addition, YouTube's Terms of Service say:
  • You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content
So I guess the answer depends on whether:
  • these public domain narrations are available for download elsewhere, e.g. on LibriVox
  • if not, then whether YouTube makes them downloadable
Ahasuerus 12:40, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
I believe you can only download your own videos from YouTube[1]. As for youtube-dl and the ilk, I can save a web page to my computer using my browser. I don't think we want to go down that route as then everything is downloadable. External links seems the best case for this for now. -- JLaTondre (talk) 18:26, 18 July 2018 (EDT)

Magazines and fanzines can now be cloned

As per FR 745, the software has been modified to allow cloning magazines and fanzines. Ahasuerus 19:43, 18 July 2018 (EDT)

Publication page - magazine issues

Back in March we changed all publication pages to display container titles at the top of the Contents section -- see FR 1127 for details. What we didn't realize at the time was that it resulted in link duplication for magazine/fanzine issues.

Consider Apex Magazine, June 2009. The container line says:

which is as it should be. However, the same link, , is also displayed at the top of the page where it is called "(View All Issues)".

My thinking is that we could get rid of "(View All Issues)" and move "(View Issue Grid)" to the "Editor Title" line as follows:

What do you think? Ahasuerus 19:57, 18 July 2018 (EDT)

Even though it is the same link, it is a different label and it serves different purposes in my mind. Removing "View All Issues" will make it very hard for someone that does not understand how our magazines work to find how to find all the issues (it may not dawn on them that they need to click the thing in the square brackets to find all of the issues). So I would prefer to keep both in place - despite the duplication. Annie 20:11, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
Agreed; the Editor Title line is a list of information about the magazine, so don't mix it up with view options, a different thing. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 20:14, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
In that case, how about we insert a new line, "Related Issues", between "Publication" and "Editor", and move "(View All Issues)" and "(View Issue Grid)" to it? Ahasuerus 09:29, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
That line shouldn't be between "Publication" and "Editor" (it's true that that would keep it where it was before, but the location nonetheless makes no sense); instead, it should be between "Format" and "Notes." --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 14:01, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
Why are we trying to move it at all? It makes sense where it is (the same way Edit makes sense on the upper right corner even though it is also on the left menu)... Annie 14:09, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
The main problem that I have encountered is wrapping. Depending on the size of your monitor and the resolution that you use, it can force wrapping, e.g. Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1971 wraps on a 27" monitor at 150%. Ahasuerus 14:31, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
So it will solve the problem for people with narrow screens but will cause an issue for ones with short ones (I like the link being there as soon as I open a magazine and without the need to scroll down. How about playing with the space that is now occupied by "Publication Record # 57137"? This is the real problem in the real estate in that line in my opinion, not the two links. I know that it wraps in two columns and I can see what the problem on a smaller screen but I still do not think that we should move them away. Annie 15:02, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
I do like having the publication number where it is. Ahasuerus is right that four item mms on a line is a lot. How about this: put the View All Issues on the right under the pub number and edit link. That way, both action items on the right out of the column of info about the issue. --Vasha (cazadora de tildes) 18:01, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
As for using related - does related mean same editor, same stories, similar topic, same month? I know what you mean, I am not sure a visitor would. Annie 14:09, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
Perhaps "Other Issues"? Ahasuerus 14:33, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
Better than related. :) Annie 15:02, 19 July 2018 (EDT)

Magazines with multiple formats

A lot of our magazines have multiple formats these days (ebook and printed for example or even ebook, web and printed for some). Our current solution is to either keep the EDITOR records in one series (which makes the grid look weird) or separate series (which makes it nearly impossible to figure out what issues we have, where they are and if we miss any - or for someone searching a record to understand why the print and digital issue of Clarksworld are not connected anywhere for example). One possible option to solve these problem is to change the Grid page a bit to show the format (when there are multiple formats) thus allowing us to have both the ebook and the printed versions under the same editor record. That will also clean the editor's pages (see Neil Clarke for an example) - I had been reluctant to add the Asimov's, Interzone's and Analog's ebook editions because of that even though I've been getting some of them for years. Anyone has any better ideas? Annie 20:03, 18 July 2018 (EDT)

I like this idea. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 20:09, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
It would be easy to append the format to each issue. However, first we need to decide whether we want to display the format for each displayed issues. Here are the options that I can think of:
  1. Display the format of each issue, e.g. "November [pulp]" or "April 24 [webzine]".
  2. Display the formats only if there are multiple formats anywhere in the grid. For example, it would mean displaying all formats in the Astounding (1937-1971) grid because its format changed from pulp to digest to bedsheet and then back to digest between 1943 and 1966.
  3. Display the formats only if there are multiple formats within a cell. No formats would be displayed for Astounding because there is only one issue per cell. On the other hand, the "August" and "September" cells of the 2014 row in the Fantastic Stories of the Imagination grid would display "[tp]" and "[ebook]" next to each issue.
  4. (Obsolete: When the question originally came up on my Talk page, I suggested that it may be viable to differentiate between paper and non-paper formats, but I no longer think so because we can also have multiple paper and/or multiple non-paper formats per issue.)
My current thinking is that #3 may be our best bet, but I'll have to think about it some more. Ahasuerus 10:03, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
I am more in favor of 2 (or even 1). 3 will leave a very inconsistent display and will make it even harder for an editor to figure out what we have (is that single issue the ebook or the paper one? did this magazine changed format (we have the data, why not make it easy to find)? and so on). Plus this allow us to clean some long-lingering format issues (when you can see them in a table, it is so much easier to spot that there is a switch and go investigate and fix it).
We can always add a user preference or a toggle to show/hide those from magazines that never changed formats (or from issues that we have in single format only). Annie 13:20, 19 July 2018 (EDT)

Series transliterations

It seems like just about everything else has transliterations implemented. Is there a timeline for when series will have this feature? ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 20:10, 18 July 2018 (EDT)

I'd support such a change - I won't admit how often I start transliterating one of those and then realize that the field is actually for a parent, not for transliteration :)! Annie 20:14, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
I have been thinking about this issue for some time. The problem with series names is that they frequently include translations, e.g.:
Suppose we were to create a "Transliterated Series Name" multifield. What would we put there for these 3 series?
The only way I can think of addressing this issue would be to move all English (and other) translations to the Notes field. Which, now that I am thinking about it, may work reasonably well and would be consistent with the way we handle other fields. Ahasuerus 21:46, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
I do not see a problem. Transliterate the non-Latin text, leave the Latin one as is. So for the "Понедельник начинается в субботу / Monday Begins on Saturday", I will put "Ponedel'nik nachinaetsya v subbotu / Monday Begins on Saturday" the same way we do it for all other mixed alphabets elements. It is a transliteration - Latin letters, numbers, dots, commas and so on do not get changed; non-Latin characters get transliterated. Annie 21:58, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
PS: Moving the translations out sounds like a good idea until you see an English book with all the stories in series with strange letters - I don't mind but... I have a feeling this is not what we want. We seem to have a conversation that ties with this over in R&S :) Annie 22:04, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
Let me make sure that I understand correctly. Your concern is that moving English translations from the series name field to the notes field would make the Contents section of publication pages harder to interpret. What currently reads:
  • The Dream of the Lion King • [Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活Ex (Re: Zero Ex) • 1] • novel by 長月達平? (trans. of 獅子王の見た夢? 2015) [as by Tappei Nagatsuki]
would become:
  • The Dream of the Lion King • [Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活Ex • 1] • novel by 長月達平 (trans. of 獅子王の見た夢 2015) [as by Tappei Nagatsuki]
which would be more difficult to process, right? Ahasuerus 12:03, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
Yes. And will also require an English editor to somehow know how to find the series that has no English words into it so they can add it to their book. In a perfect world, this display will be able to show the series in the title language
  • The Dream of the Lion King • [Re: Zero Ex • 1] • novel by 長月達平 (trans. of 獅子王の見た夢 2015) [as by Tappei Nagatsuki]
  • 獅子王の見た夢 • [Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活Ex • 1] • novel by 長月達平
but we are nowhere near this at the moment. If we decide to pull the translations from the names, I am fine with that but it is not a requirement for having transliterations added. :) Annie 13:13, 19 July 2018 (EDT)

H. P. Lovecraft

I believe that Out of the Aeons, Out of the Eons, and Out of the Aeon might very well be the same story and should be combined, and variated. Anybody have any ideas? MLB 20:37, 18 July 2018 (EDT)

We also have Out of the Aeons already varianted under the main record so I would say that you are right and all of these are the same stories. Rtrace had verified books/magazines with two of those spellings - maybe we can ping him to check those 2? Annie 20:48, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
They're the same story. It appears that "Aeons" was introduced by S.T. Joshi in the corrected edition of The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions. Unfortunately, neither his note on the texts nor his notes in Sixty Years of Arkham House mention the reason for the change in spelling. Joshi states that he only had access to autograph manuscripts or typescripts for a few of the titles in HITM, and this story was not one of them. The remainder were taken from their first magazine appearances with corrections made for spelling and stating that "we have reinstated Lovecraft's normal punctuation, stylistic and syntactic usages", which is a possible explanation. He further contends that Lovecraft wrote "nearly the entirety" of the stories he revised for Heald. Despite this, I would recommend that we use this title as the canonical title, which is as first published. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 22:21, 18 July 2018 (EDT)
Will variant them soon. MLB 06:50, 19 July 2018 (EDT)
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