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Editing ISFDB

Editing the ISFDB Wiki

If none of the pages linked here have the information you need, the best place to ask is at the Help Desk. If you don't get a response there, feel free to post on the Moderator noticeboard.

The ISFDB Wiki supports the ISFDB, and provides additional information, index pages, and a way to record and view information about the bibliographic work that is done in the ISFDB.

How the ISFDB Wiki supports the ISFDB

The ISFDB itself is a user-modifiable database of speculative fiction publications, and their associated bibliographic data, such as awards, pseudonyms, and series connections. The ISFDB provides editing tools that permit users to add, delete and modify all the records associated with this information. These modifications are reviewed by users with "moderator" privileges, who may choose to approve or reject the modifications. This step is necessary to avoid vandalism to the database.

The purpose of the ISFDB Wiki is to support this editing process. Several ways in which the Wiki can support the ISFDB have been identified, but this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Help pages, such as this one, live in the ISFDB Wiki and can be freely updated by an editor.
  • Index pages such as Magazine:Amazing Stories, which provide a single point of access to all issues of a magazine.
  • Communication with other editors
  • Project pages, to coordinate the actions of a group of editors interesting in improving related bibliographic data. Five types of project have been identified:
    • Author projects. For example Author:Robert A. Heinlein is a page at which editors who are interested in and knowledgeable about Heinlein can keep track of work that has been done on maintaining Heinlein-related data in the ISFDB. The organization of information on a project page is up to the project team members.
    • Series projects. Where a series spans multiple authors, as is the case with some shared world anthologies, such as Thieves' World, the author project organization is not the most natural way to manage the data.
    • Magazine projects. The magazine pages, such as Magazine:Amazing Stories, can also be used to keep track of the bibliographic verification work that has been done on those magazines.
    • Publisher projects collect information about a publisher, such as DAW Books, and also catalogue/list their works in ways to help identify “points” that can be used to identify when a book was published or other information that may not be readily apparent from a publication.
    • Cleanup projects. These group links to database records with (or possibly with) similar problems, so that users can make similar corrections to them, and can organize and share the progress of such corrections. Several of these are often in progress at once. For example Project:Data Consistency and ISFDB:Chapterbook cleanup.


See ISFDB:Policy#Biography_Policy for general policy guidelines re: entering author biographies.

Brief, neutrally-written author biographies can be included in author notes. They should be professional in tone, not facetious, "cutesy", or blatantly promotional. Biographies which include more than a few sentences should be separated from the main body of the Note field using the {{BREAK}} template.

The purpose of ISFDB-hosted biographies is to inform users and other editors briefly about the facts of the author's life. They ought to be factual in content and the facts ought to be verifiable. If a matter is questionable, sources can be cited.

Biographies should not include blurbs from or summaries of the author's works. Note that some authors engage in jokes in printed "About the author" sections of books, or on their own websites, but the ISFDB is not the place for such writing. In general, personal accounts, "what inspired the author", what the author's "visions" or intent is, and the like are not appropriate.

Lists of works published, particularly those which are, or could be recorded in the ISFDB database, are discouraged.

Although the ISFDB encourages linking author records to Wikipedia articles, note that Wikipedia's criteria for inclusion have varied over time and are not always consistently enforced, so we can't rely on Wikipedia articles staying around forever, especially for less prominent authors. In general Wikipedia demands a certain level of "notability" or "significance" and the existence of secondary reliable sources. Specifically, the Wikipedia notability criteria for biographies say:

  • A person is presumed to be notable if he or she has been the subject of published secondary source material which is reliable, intellectually independent, and independent of the subject. If the depth of coverage is not substantial, then multiple independent sources may be needed to prove notability.


  • The person has created, or played a major role in co-creating, a significant or well-known work, or collective body of work, which has been the subject of an independent book or feature-length film, or of multiple independent periodical articles or reviews.

among other criteria.


It is a good but not required practice to note sources for facts in author notes.

What the ISFDB Wiki is not

The ISFDB Wiki should not be used for posting book reviews, whether favorable, unfavorable, or neutral in tone. It should not be used to publish advertisements or announcements of events, even if SF-related, such as conventions. It should not be used to publish advertisements for books or merchandise. Lists of an author's work ought to be made as entries in the regular database, not as Wiki-pages, but such lists may be useful temporarily, while database records are being entered or modified.

Of course, the Wiki should never be used to post personal attacks on an author, artist, or anyone else.

The Wiki is a support tool for the ISFDB, and should not be used for anything that is not appropriate for that purpose.

Editing the Wiki pages

The ISFDB uses the MediaWiki software package, which is also used by Wikipedia. Almost every page can be edited by anyone who is logged in. Simply click the "edit" tab at the top of the page, or one of the "edit" links at the top right of a section. For information on how to edit wiki pages, see Help:Editing and the other pages in Category:Wiki Help