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Archive of the Community Portal - May-August 2011

In or Out: Graphic Collection with linking story

Or, to be more precise, a calendar with a linking story. The eBay seller's description of the calendar says (in part):

BORIS VALLEJO and JULIE BELLS FANTASY CALENDAR 2008 ... Thirteen all-new paintings herald the year. Weaving the images together is the engrossing original story "The Games of Nod" by C. J. Henderson.

So should that story be in the database? Chavey 05:23, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

I would say yes, and the art too. One day I'll get to my calendar collection (25 to 30 I think). I would have entered them without a second thought, since there are five Vallejo calendars with fiction like that by Philip José Farmer. --Willem H. 19:38, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. I've submitted a entry for this item. I had a hard time deciding how to enter it, though. Most calendars are listed as NonFiction (art) items, in "tp" format. "tp" seems somewhat inappropriate, because of the binding format, so I used "ph" instead. (Personally, I think all those other calendars should be "ph" as well.) And since the calendar is woven together with the story, I entered it as a chapterbook with illustrations, instead of the usual "Non-Fiction". But we'll have to see what the moderators do with the submission. Chavey 20:11, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Your longest collection/anthology?

I just entered "The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce" (edit not yet approved), a collection with 93 short stories and 5 essays. I almost didn't dare to press the submit button, for fear of losing the data because I would trigger some sort of technical limit in the database :-) So what's the longest (title count) collection or anthology that you have entered from scratch so far? Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 13:40, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

For me, it's the Drabble books. It's actually NONFICTION that gets the most contents though - see Science Fiction: The Early Years. BLongley 14:12, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
And there are technical issues with updating the Bleiler pub. When updating the pub the edits go through correctly but system error messages are generated which is why a second pub contains part of the data. It would actually be nice if there were a way to spread the entries over five publication records.--swfritter 18:40, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I see... I'm glad I don't own this one :-) Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 21:56, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
If you don't own it you are missing out on an incredible source of information about early science fiction. Once it goes of print the book may, like this pub, become hard to find and much more expensive.--swfritter 00:55, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
Of course, you could say that we're making such books obsolete by our work here. When we finally finish all Tuck Verifications possible, we may reduce the resale value to zero, for instance. (Remind me to sell mine before we finish THAT project - although I think we've got a few years left to go.) BLongley 01:20, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
The Bleiler book is much more about biographical material, plot summaries, and qualitative judgments than it is about bibliographical detail. --swfritter 15:53, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
And don't forget this one. It also has detailed plot summaries of stories that would be expensive to acquire often unrewarding to actually have to read.--swfritter 16:01, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, after reading both Bleilers from cover to cover, I'm happy to have avoided to read most of the stories descripted as they seem to be strictly unreadable these days. Hauck 05:22, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Using the header templates for wiki pages created from database pages

Just a reminder: if you're creating a Wiki page from a link on a record or author summary page in the database proper, you should always add a header to the wiki page. This will create an automatic return link from the wiki to the database. Otherwise there is no link and the page is in limbo if you enter it from the Wiki side (or you'd have to create a manual link). On Bibliographic Comments pages (created from a pub record) you should use the header {{PubHeader}}. On a Biography page (created from an author summary page) you should use {{BioHeader}}. On a Bibliographic Comments page (created from an author's summary page, you should use {{AuthorHeader}}. Thanks for cooperating. Mhhutchins 19:19, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

We could probably improve page creation to pre-populate such pages, much like "Upload new cover scan" does with the basic "Upload file" functionality. Although the desire for such probably indicates the lack of a "Notes" field for these entities, which would be an alternative or complementary Feature Request. BLongley 20:27, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
I second that motion. I know about adding the headers, and I almost always do it, but I know that I forget every once in a while. Pre-populating would prevent such senior moments. Chavey 17:48, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
I almost always don't - as I only ever get to such pages from the DB proper, the "Back" button is all I usually need. I also don't want to encourage too much effort on the Wiki-side of things, as that is lost to us when we try and use the DB backups. (And even if it was included, it'd be nearly unusable for searches.) But I'm happy to work on a few things like this that promote a little more harmony among editors. BLongley 18:36, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
FR 3300107 "Templates for wiki pages created from database pages" created. BLongley 20:10, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Code changes submitted. I don't have a local mediawiki implementation so the three preload templates were created on the live server - please don't delete them. BLongley 21:34, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
I like the automatic insertion of the header template. The "DO NOT DELETE - From Here..." ... "...To Here - DO NOT DELETE" comments are a bit scary. --Marc Kupper|talk 01:17, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
If you'd follow the threads about what has happened since the auto-filled template was implemented, you wouldn't think the DO NOT DELETE part was scary. Those lines still haven't stopped the template from being deleted. So I guess they're not scary to some editors, both new and veteran. Mhhutchins 04:23, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
We could make it mixed or lower-case rather than "ALL CAPS" if people want. The software updates are in, the Templates they use are still adjustable by anyone with a better suggestion. We still need to come up with a good way of suggesting that people at least edit those sections to make link-backs to ISFDB work in some cases. BLongley 17:04, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Instead of the all caps warning how about something like: "Do not delete the template. Make all edits below this statement." Mhhutchins 17:32, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Go for it. The software changes are in, it's now a matter of how best to deal with Humans, and I'm not so good at that. You can try it out on the Templates most (mis)used first and see how they go. BLongley 22:06, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

"Top ISFDB Verifiers" updated

The list of Top ISFDB Verifiers has been updated. It may take a little longer to load, but it now provides a breakdown of primary and secondary verifications. Ahasuerus 06:02, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Primary (Transient)? Nearly all of my verifications in this category are actually Primary Secondary verifications done before there was such an option.--swfritter 14:22, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Back when we added Primary 2-5, I asked Bill Longley to supply me with a list of my Transient verifications (I don't have a local copy of the db to do such inquiries). I was able to change the applicable ones (those that are truly Primary) to Primary 2s. It took awhile but was worth the trouble. Mhhutchins 14:37, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
I can easily supply a hyper-linked list of Primary Transients for any editor that wants to review their own. For instance, swfritter has 533 he might want to review at leisure. BLongley 14:51, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
By the way, now that we have "My Primary Verifications" too, I expect more people will be using this feature for "Books/Mags I Own" purposes, in which case we might want to add a few more "Primary"s. We're already maxed-out on several popular publications. BLongley 14:55, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for this list; I didn't realize I had worked my way up so far -- it seems like I'm just getting going. Chavey 22:48, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
We all started somewhere - and I think many of us old-timers have entered most of our collections now, if you have more you should climb rapidly. BLongley 00:10, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
I hope others don't mind, but I added the link to "Top Verifiers" to the Major Contributors list of links (linked from the Main Page). Chavey 22:48, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
I certainly don't mind - sometimes I think we're under-valuing the work that goes into verification. Somebody that doesn't change a single thing about a pub but stamps "Primary Verified" on it is adding useful data. (Of course, we might then hunt them down and ask questions....) BLongley 00:10, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
On Bill's point about more "Primary's", I'm currently going through my shelf list and comparing against my verifications. Of the first 330 books on my shelf list, only 2 of them had run out of primary verification spots. While it would be nice to have them verified, it's really not too hard to keep an extra list of "Books I Own" that aren't stored by ISFDB. (At least not for me; your mileage may vary.) Chavey 22:48, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Considering I invented Primary (Transient) and added Primaries 2-5 I'm actually well behind in using them. :-/ I don't even have all my books covered as my first pass was when there was only 1 Primary verification available, and before I did a second pass I acquired several thousand fanzines and magazines that still need doing. Never mind, I still have a few years left to live, I may yet catch up. BLongley 00:10, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Novel contains Short Story

It seems I should know this, but I don't. The novel At the Seventh Level, by Suzette Haden Elgin, contains a prologue titled "For the Love of Grace". As indicated on the copyright page, this prologue is actually the short story For the Sake of Grace, by the same author. Do I indicate this as a content listing in the novel? That seems odd, since the book isn't a collection, but that would seem to be the only way to have the short story bibliographic page "know" that the story was reprinted here. Chavey 02:36, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

We do have a provision for "bonus stories" as per Help:Screen:NewNovel:
  • Sometimes a novel is bound with a single short work of fiction by the same author ... In such a case it is often preferred to class the publication as a novel with a "Bonus story" rather than a 2-item collection or omnibus. This is particularly true if the publication has the same title as the novel. It is a judgment call, however.
However, in this case what would normally be a bonus story appears as part of the novel, so it's not shown separately. I remember going back and forth on this issue when I was verifying Communipath Worlds, an omnibus edition of this trilogy. Let's see what Michael, who primary-verified your pub, thinks. Ahasuerus 04:40, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
[before edit conflict] Does the section following "For the Love of Grace" have a separate title page for the novel At the Seventh Level? If not, (and it's not likely), the prologue is considered part of the novel. It should be noted in the novel's title record (not the pub record) that it incorporates the story. You can link to the story's title record if you wish. You can also update the story's title record, stating that it was incorporated into the novel At the Seventh Level and link to the novel's title record. Until we can create relationships between titles other than variants there's no other way to do this. It's similar to how we handle fixups and expansions (which this could be considered.) Mhhutchins 04:42, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
[after edit conflict] Oh, I have this book? I guess I do. You're not going to make me go look for it, are you? I think it should be handled as I described, even if I didn't have the book. Mhhutchins 04:45, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
The section immediately following the prologue looks like a chapter heading page, titled:
with the text beginning on the same page. The next section is "Abba Chapter 1".
The Table of Contents is interesting. It reads as:



So the ToC page is structured much like a collection. Certainly these other content(?) items are treated differently than the chapters of the book, which are not included in the ToC. Chavey 07:22, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
I have hundreds of novels which have titled chapters, prologues and epilogues, and tables of contents. They're still novels and I would never consider creating individual content records for their constituent parts. For example: Michael Bishop's Ancient of Days or Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus, both of which have a portion which was previously published as novellas. Mhhutchins 15:15, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Ok, leave it as is. Thank all, Chavey 00:47, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Advanced Search improvements

Advanced Search has been improved as follows:

  1. Title Search: Added Notes and Series to the drop-down list (also added Webpage, but it doesn't do anything for now)
  2. Author Search: Added Webpage to the drop-down list
  3. Publication search: Added Notes and "Image URL" to the drop-down list; fixed Cover Artist search

Many thanks to Bill and Marty for beating these scripts into submission! Please report any problems or suspicious behavior here. Ahasuerus 04:32, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

And please let us know how (or indeed, if) you're using these new features. I imagine they'll come in useful for people that want to know which audio-books "Jim Dale" narrated, or "Brian Stableford" translated/adapted. So if they do come in useful it might be a pointer as to how we can best improve elsewhere. There's a lot of Feature Requests outstanding, but sometimes we really don't know what people want most. BLongley 23:55, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm slightly disappointed with the lack of feedback. Has anyone actually used these? Was all our development/testing time in vain? :-( BLongley 22:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Copyright issues

Copyright scavengers. Similar to the song "Happy Birthday to You" which was a traditional song that had never been copyrighted. Somebody realized the situation and copyrighted it. So now every time you sing it without permission you are breaking the law.--swfritter 16:38, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

I think copyright laws only cover public performances, either on stage or one that is filmed or recorded for sale. Who's gonna arrest me for singing "Can't Buy Me Love" in the shower? Mhhutchins 17:34, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
You have the right to remain silent. The bigger issue is whether someone will claim the copyright on artwork material hosted on the isfdb. Some of this material was not properly copyrighted upon initial publication.--swfritter 12:45, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
As someone who pays several hundred $$ per year to the copyright companies for authorization to play music at public events, this is an area I know something about. So I'll make a few points:
(1) The copyright for "Happy Birthday to You" was registered in 1935, and has remained registered since then (see Wikipedia for details). Although the song predates that registration, in those days you didn't get a copyright automatically, so someone else could come along later and get a copyright. That is no longer legal. Since 1976, everything is automatically copyrighted by the author unless they specifically say it isn't. But it's not like the copyright scavengers did this "recently"; that was 75 years ago. (You can thank Sonny Bono and Disney that copyrights last so long.)
(2) Since all of our material has been written/scanned since 1976, everything on our site is covered by the ISFDB Copyright policy. No one else can legally claim a copyright "after the fact", although they could claim a copyright on something that predated us, and our use of that was not covered by Fair Use.
(3) The company referred to in the article that has been "scavenging" copyrights is actually working with the newspapers who already owned the copyrights on various pictures and news articles. The two newspaper involved, The Denver Post and The Las Vegas Review-Journal, have essentially out-sourced the tracking down and enforcement of their copyrights to Righthaven, a company that specializes in finding online copyright violations. Of course Righthaven gets a percentage of each settlement they win, so they have substantial incentive to attack any copyright violator. This can easily lead to public relationship ugliness, which I wish those papers would try to reign in.
(4) Copyrights on performances of music, video, open readings of text, etc. apply only to public performances. As a ballroom dance teacher, I need to pay royalties whenever I play music as part of my commercial work as a teacher, and whenever I play music at a "public" event, even if the event is free. I do not need to pay any type of royalty for a "private" event. A "private" event includes an event that includes only myself and my "friends" (in the social sense of "friends", not in the Facebook sense). For example, if you invite friends over to your house to watch a video that you own, even if some of them bring along a friend of theirs you don't know, you don't need to pay a royalty. If I play a purchased video at a family reunion held at a commercial establishment, but the only people who are invited to see it are family, I don't need to pay a royalty. But if I post an announcement at, say, my place of work, and I invite people there to come watch it (at work or at my house), I am now required to pay the royalty. I could go on at great length on the topic, but to prevent terminal boredom, I'll stop here. Chavey 23:53, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
If I understand Swfritter's concern correctly, he is only talking about the images that ISFDB hosts. At the moment we primarily host two types of images: cover scans and the dozen composite images that are used in the daily ISFDB logos. Cover scans, if our current understanding is correct, are OK regardless of who owns the copyright as long as they are low quality. Composite images may be iffy if the copyright owner objects to our use of said images. Presumably we claim secondary copyright, but that's way above my pay grade. Wost case scenario we may have to remove one or more images from the nightly logo rotation script.
Are there other types of images that you were thinking of, Stephen? Ahasuerus 00:07, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
We might want to review a couple of things in the Copyright statement that Chavey points out. "The ISFDB database is stored on a server in the State of Texas in the United States of America" - that's a hangover from our days, I think? I have no idea where our (virtual) server(s) is/are now. And "The ISFDB software is Copyright (c) 1995-2007 by Al von Ruff." - now that development has opened up, there's a lot more software, and a lot more authors. I'm happy to relinquish all rights to any changes that I've made, although I'd still like some credit so long as it doesn't come with legal liabilities. I don't particularly want to be the next Gary McKinnon. BLongley 00:30, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Good questions, Bill, but my guess is that only Al can answer most of them. Ahasuerus 03:25, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
There is nothing to stop someone from gobbling up a bunch of image copyrights very cheaply, perhaps from the estate of a deceased artist, and trying to collect for them. Note also from the New York Times article that taking down is not necessarily enough, especially if the image has been redistributed. In addition, according to a source in that article a major aspect of "fair use" is whether or not reposting material diminishes the market value. I have always felt uncomfortable with scanning images and think it is better to link to images at sites which specialize in providing such images.
The current copyright laws are totally Mickey Mouse and arguably unconstitutional. Most works from the 20's through the 40's are not available to the average person because of scarcity and price. It is nearly a form of censorship.--swfritter 02:02, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
I find it ironic that you refer to the copyright laws as "totally Mickey Mouse". Mickey Mouse appears to be the primary reason that the U.S. copyright laws allow a copyright to last as long as it does. Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, the copyright on him earns Disney millions of $$ a year, and The Walt Disney Company appears willing to pay/lobby whatever is necessary to ensure that their copyright on Mickey Mouse remains in effect. I suspect by the time the current copyright ends (in 2023), they will have managed to find a Sonny Bono replacement to push through another copyright extension act. Chavey 12:04, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Which is why I used the term Mickey Mouse. In many ways the Google Books Project is attempting to address this issue by allowing books to be published without pre-approval from the authors although sales would still generate income for the copyright holders. Unfortunately, this is way too much of an infringement on the rights of more contemporary authors. The courts have recently ruled against Google Books. According to the American Constitution the rights are supposed to be for a limited time. As things are going now I guess the definition of "limited time" is the duration of the existence of the USA.--swfritter 13:19, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
We certainly don't want to jeopardize the project, but the linked article talks about photographs, which can obviously be protected by copyright, whereas cover scans are a different animal -- at least Wikipedia and Goodreads think so. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to check with a lawyer, though. Ahasuerus 03:07, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Advanced Search and "OR"

The Advanced Search page allows you to use "AND" and "OR" to query the database, e.g.:

  • Find all Title records whose title contains "left" AND whose author's name contains "guin"
  • Find all publication records whose publisher contains "tor" OR whose price is $23.75

The "AND" functionality is obviously useful, but how often do we use "OR"? The reason I am asking is that "OR" is a pain to maintain programmatically. It also causes performance issues when it's run. If it's not something that really gets used, we could disable it and make our system much happier. So, do you find it useful? Ahasuerus 03:32, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

To be honest, I think I've only used it during testing. And it doesn't necessarily work as desired anyway: e.g. publications with Author of Pohl OR Author of Kornbluth will report their collaborations twice. BLongley 16:15, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
I've done Title searches that combine "and" and "or" plenty of times and it seems to work pretty well. But never in the Author or Publication sections of Advanced Search. Relatively speaking, it's not common, but I've found it quite useful when I have used it. I'd be willing to give it up if it makes the system work better, but consider this: Can it only be disabled under Author and Publication searches? Mhhutchins 18:41, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
I've also used it fairly regularly, but usually only in the Title search. (E.g. search for any book with "fubar" in the title that is of type NOVEL or COLLECTION.) I have used OR in an author search a few times, but not often. Chavey 23:05, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
I do most of my complex searches offline, as I do like to perform some searching that just doesn't work with the online database yet. For instance, "Begins with" searches are an outstanding Feature Request I think, and currency searches are still a bit broken due to currency symbols. And we don't have options for "field is NULL" (or "blank" for the non-programmers) although some searches are still possible for things like "binding = 'unk'". The recent Moderator-Only "Cleanup Scripts" (in hindsight, misnamed as they don't clean anything, just point out what might need cleaning) are a bit of a workaround. And even some of those should probably be disabled once the bulk of the work is done, or at least restricted a bit so that they're not continually rerun and bring the server to its knees. BLongley 01:04, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
To answer Mike's question: disabling "OR" searches can be done for just Author and Publication searches. And I'm happy to run "missing" options offline for people that haven't got a local copy. E.g. I'll happily run a search for anyone's "Primary (Transients)" - I think there's another FR to search by Verifier, but privacy issues have been raised about such, so I won't be offering to run such for anyone except the verifier. (This may be resolved, as anyone can download the data and do such themselves, but the current attitude seems to be "don't make it too easy".) BLongley 01:04, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
I think this is quite an important question, as it now seems clear that Advanced searches are particularly difficult to test for performance - stuff that kills my machine are easy for Marty's machine, and seem to bear little resemblance to the impact on the live server when we add something. Please be assured that if we DO have to remove a poorly performing feature, you still have a volunteer to post results - that's why we've had so many mini-cleanup-projects recently. And thanks for all the help on those. BLongley 01:04, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
I can see searches of the form "A and (B or C)" being useful. I'm happy to look into any poor performers and/or unexpected results. Just drop me a note about the terms involved. It would be nice if we could leave "OR" available while protecting the server. --MartyD 01:36, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Publication series and Unmerge changes

The Publication Series editor now lets you enter multiple Web pages per pub series.

The Unmerge behavior has been changed. When creating a new Title record, it now uses the unmerged pub's authors rather than the original Title's authors. Also, the Unmerge screen no longer makes Variant Titles eligible for the unmerge operation. Ahasuerus 06:00, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

I hate to point out problems with my own design/coding, but I'm not sure that the Unmerge of Contents titles works right yet. We might yet need some further improvements. (I'm still quite happy overall, the removal of the ability to unmerge titles that weren't actually available for unmerging has saved me a lot of headaches.) BLongley 22:18, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
I've yet to use the unmerge contents operation (although I've happily used the new unmerge pub records tool and haven't found any problems with it). The old way to unmerge contents is so ingrained in me that it's not only until after I've done it that I remember about the new method. Maybe next time... then I comment on any problems that may occur. Mhhutchins
I think Deagol has found a really nasty side-effect when trying to unmerge a content title to change the title and language. I'm looking into it. BLongley 16:11, 23 July 2011 (UTC)


Fleshcreepers is a series of juvenile novels retelling classic horror tales (Vampyre, Frankenstein, etc.) Should we keep it as a regular series or would it be better to convert it to a Publication Series? Ahasuerus 15:04, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

It's a publications series, as are dozens of juvenile series that are incorrectly entered as title series in the database. At the time they were created there was no other series to choose. Mhhutchins 18:18, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I have turned it into an eponymous publication series. Now if we could find the missing third volume... Ahasuerus 04:41, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
Not sure of the series numbers, but Worldcat seems to think we need to look for "Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Dennis Wheatley's The devil rides out". BLongley 14:07, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Two different "1st printings by number line"

I have two Tor tp copies of The Dazzle of Days by Molly Gloss. Both claim, by their number lines, to be first printings, yet they are clearly different printings.

  • One version costs $12.95; claims that the first trade paperback edition was published in April 1998; includes the notification of an earlier hardcover edition; includes a dedication "For Ed"; and has a copyright page set in the same font as the rest of the book.
  • The other version costs $13.95; claims that the first trade paperback edition was published in March 1998; does not mention the earlier hc edition, nor "Ed"; and has a copyright page set in a heavier font, which looks like the type of substitute font I've seen when something has to be changed late in the game.
  • The price & date listed in the ISFDB (presumably from Locus) is that of the $13.95 "first printing". (I purchased both editions from bookstores, a year apart, after forgetting that I already owned a copy; but I have no record of when I purchased them.)

Usually, I would expect a higher price to be associated with a later publication date, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. I'm not sure how I should enter these two versions. My guess is that I should just list them both as a first printing, list their publication dates as when the two versions respectively claimed the first printing was, and describe the conflict in the notes. But is there a better way to handle this? Chavey 04:15, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

It does happen on rare occasion. I don't think we have a way to account for it except in notes. Ahasuerus 04:25, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

"Note to Moderator" added to New Pub and Add Pub

A new field, "Note to Moderator", has been added to the New Pub and Add Pub pages. It can be used to provide additional information to the approving moderator when the information is transient and not meant to be kept in the Notes field after approval. For example, if you are performing an edit that requires multiple submissions, you can use this field to explain what you are doing. If everything works well, this field will be added to all other editing forms. Ahasuerus 04:23, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Thank you! A feature I've wished were available many times. I look forward to it appearing on PubUpdates as well. Chavey 05:08, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
Now I know what Ahasuerus has done with my changes, I'll start rolling them out to other types of edit. The initial choices were mostly so that Fixer can use them, and make moderating his submissions easier. The next set are intended to be more for human use. BLongley 16:22, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
Fixer is now using this feature, I hope it's appreciated. Three more types of edit are also scheduled for this improvement sometime soonish: "edit pub", "clone pub" and "edit title". I'll get round to some others later, but Ahasuerus and I are both feeble humans that do need to sleep occasionally. BLongley 01:29, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the feature is very much appreciated by those of us who work on Fixer submissions. It reduces by at least the half the necessary follow-up submissions for each of Fixer's. Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:24, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
We were hoping for 75%, but even 50% is a major step. We may even get a few more Mods to look at Fixer's submissions now - some days I feel like I'm the only one looking at them. :-( BLongley 12:16, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Edit Pub, Clone Pub and Add Pub now support Moderator Notes. Ahasuerus 05:39, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
Just used it for a pub update. My thanks to BLongley & you for implementing this. --JLaTondre 00:11, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
It looks like Bluesman was the first to receive such from a human. I hope he actually read it! BLongley 00:22, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
Of course I did, it was so touching to get a note....... ;-) --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:39, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Next step - get Fixer to apologise every time he adds another "X, the Y Fairy" title! ;-) And update the help to say that Mods need a little love occasionally, and things like "Thanks for looking at this!" or "Sorry about yet another controversial addition" or "I'll send you a free copy if you approve this?" are appreciated. ;-) BLongley 12:16, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, I see some humans using this now - still haven't got any free books out of it for all the moderating work I do though. I must work on a "Bribe offered" field as well. :-/ But in the meantime, which other edits do we want to roll this out to? Comments welcome from Editors that want to explain some strange stuff, or Moderators confused by stuff, it's all good. I'm a little fed up with Award Editing once it got into languages I can't read, and want to do some useful coding again. BLongley 22:28, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
I have, on occasion, wished that this note field was available for "Author Update". And it might be useful for "Make Title Variant". Chavey 23:00, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
OK, that's two areas I can work on. Thanks for the comments! BLongley 23:43, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
And Bill, when I get caught up on my current tasks, I'll try to work on some of the non-English awards. I can at least read a few of them. (And last week, I finished translating a math book from French to English!) Chavey 23:00, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
We seem to be doing quite well on bringing Awards up to date. Better than leaving Al to do it alone, and you and he have turned my temporary Awards page into a useful resource. Thanks again! (Which languages can you cope with? As I've exhausted my French, but realise we have a lot of Spanish and German titles too.) BLongley 23:43, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
I'd gladly give you some books if you're willing to pay for postage to the UK. Come to think about it, why not have a clearinghouse page, for those who want to donate second (and third, and fourth) copies of titles that they want to get rid of? Mhhutchins 22:45, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Postage is often the killer. :-/ But "Rhodaniens" got to Willem OK, it seems, so free exchanges look possible within our community. I've had 100+ spare books listed on "Read-it, Swap-it" for some time and would use it again if people actually had some stuff I want. BLongley 23:43, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Two improvements live

Two additional FRs have been implemented:

  1. When an editor accidentally enters an ISFDB Wiki page (rather than a file name) in the URL field, the system will now display an error.
  2. When adding Bio, Biblio and Pub comments, the appropriate template is automatically inserted at the top of the page.

Ahasuerus 04:57, 15 May 2011 (UTC)

Another minor change went live earlier tonight: when merging two publishers, identical URLs are merged. Also, the moderator approval page now links to each publisher's pages. Ahasuerus 05:19, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
The Bio, Biblio and Pub Wiki pages, if created from the ISFDB side, will now include a "DO NOT DELETE" warning around the automatic header. Additional comments could be added if desired. BLongley 16:01, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Apparently the idiot-proofing of the URL field could be further improved - we have a superior class of idiot here, it seems! ;-) Please let us know of the latest common errors and we can try and fix those too. BLongley 22:41, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Automatic Templates on Wiki pages are causing a little controversy - they're confusing some people, scaring some others, and they're not well-documented or self-explanatory. Anyone can try and improve those aspects. If we want them on other Wiki pages (or indeed, if we want new types of Wiki Pages easily creatable from ISFDB itself) please let the Developers know. BLongley 22:41, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Volunteers wanted for Magazine entry

I've been playing around with Award Editing today, and found a number of Short Fiction titles that we don't have that were nominated for awards. Some of them are in real dead-tree publications too! So if anyone would like to do some investigation, here's a few pointers:

"Escape Velocity" "Murky Depths" "Not One of Us"

There's a few webzines and nongenre magazines too:,,,,, but we probably don't want to go into as much detail there. BLongley 05:17, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Keep in mind that the webzines have to be issue based with a table of contents that can be clipped and saved as a jpg file so that we have permanent documentation of the contents as it appeared on the web.--swfritter 13:51, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Even better to keep in mind, most webzines are not eligible for inclusion on the ISFDB. Just because a story appeared on an obscure website and was nominated for a second-tier award doesn't make the webzine ISFDB-eligible. Which reminds me - how does one create a stub record for a title without an associated pub? In the past I've created a dummy pub just to add a title, and then deleted the pub. There must be a better way to do that. Mhhutchins 19:26, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
We certainly would not want to pollute the database by entering stories based upon their nomination for such trivial awards as the Hugo.--swfritter 13:30, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
True, we've got 44 award types at the moment, we might need to lose the trivial ones if we want to make editing such easier. And we might want to lose the insignificant publishers as well, 12,037 is a bit much to convert into a drop-down list. BLongley 15:00, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
That's pretty much it -- we wanted to make it relatively hard to create "hanging" titles. If you are entering a whole bunch of pub-less titles, you can create an Omnibus pub, enter then in the Context section and then delete the pub. Ahasuerus 22:30, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm not going to push for webzine-only stuff, but I understand the need to record "first published" data for award-nominated titles. If it's republished (as most award winners are) then a title-note suffices. As to creating stub records - why don't you want the pub to exist? BLongley 22:36, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
If the pub is a non-genre pub I see no reason for having a pub record for it. I've seen plenty of pubs like this that were put into the database because of one story and the whole contents have been entered. Stories by Dorothy Parker, Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, Richard Wright and John Dos Passos, although extraordinary authors, don't belong in this database. (Well, except for Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily".) Another reason: webzines that no longer exist. Why we create pub records for such webzines doesn't make sense, with few exceptions (Ellen Datlow's webzines Omni, Event Horizon and SciFiction). The title record should be sufficient if all you want to do is link an award record to it. And now that Ahasuerus taught me the omnibus trick, I could create title records for every hanging award in the database, and just record their original publication in the note field (once the individual title records are in the system.) I'd much rather do that than to take days to research and create individual records for pubs and their contents which aren't necessary. Mhhutchins 01:26, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Oh, please do! That will still be more valuable than having stray links. Although we're going to need some more software improvements before we can link all awards - we have some awards for publishers, for instance. BLongley 11:57, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Another thing: I'm one of the few editors who thinks it's a waste of time to create a pub record for an issue of Boys' Life because it has a story by A. M. Lightner, the info for which could just as well be added to the title record's note field. This pub record adds NOTHING of value to the database. Mhhutchins 01:26, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
While the single issue of Boys' Life may be uninteresting, seeing the genre content over the full run interests me somewhat. Even more so are records such as this which contain multiple stories or related cover art. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 02:32, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
True, but I think the biggest advantage of having pub records for Boys' Life and its brethren is that it enables us to do verification, which is only possible at the pub level. Ahasuerus 02:43, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

((Unindent)) It seems "Escape Velocity" is of no interest to any current editor, "Murky Depths" and "Not One of Us" to only a few. Can someone go and persuade new editors to attempt such? BLongley 22:49, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Title pages now support links to other sites

You can now link a Title record to other sites, e.g. A Bid for Fortune or Dr. Nikola's Vendetta (1895) now points to the Project Gutenberg and Project Gutenberg of Australia Web pages for this title. You can also use this field to link to Web pages about each Title. Many thanks to Bill Longley for implementing this functionality!

A dozen scripts had to be modified to support this Feature Request, so if you find bugs or unexpected behavior, please post them here. Also, we will need to update Help to match the new behavior. Ahasuerus 05:55, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

As is often the case, this has taken so long between FR creation and implementation that the reasons for the FR are a bit unclear now. I suspect that people have worked around the lack by placing links in Notes - so may I remind people that Searching Notes is another comparatively new feature that may help if people want to rework stuff. Do let us know what you find this useful for. BLongley 12:58, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
No comments? I can try and post some mini-projects if people want to use this. BLongley 22:52, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Trouble here is that the work-arounds have become the de facto standard, so that when the software catches up, editors will tend to stick with what they've been doing. Bill, you've been around slightly longer than I have so you know this to be a fact. I think we need some new blood who can take in all these changes with virgin eyes (and brains...), but where are they coming from and what efforts can we make to bring them aboard? Mhhutchins 23:18, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
You made me check - I thought you'd been around longer than me! But it seems your first greeting was 23 Feb 2007 and mine was 13 Jan 2007, so you've just been more prolific than me in the meantime. (OK, I had a full-time job when I started, so didn't really get going till 2010, by which time I was coding too.) I don't know of an easy way to introduce "Top Coders" to the "Top ISFDB contributors" list so you're likely to stay well ahead on most counts anyway. ;-) BLongley 00:15, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Anyway, back to "New Blood" - you do more to encourage new editors than I do. When I started the ISFDB Livejournal account I got some responses - maybe a dozen new editors. If somebody did the same for Facebook and MySpace and Bebo and all those other sites we'd probably get several dozen more. And as most authors these days have a website with a feedback page, even if only publisher-provided, we could promote ISFDB a little more. I've held back on such as I'm already fed-up with "Paranormal Romances". I think encouraging people like Darrah Chavey might be better from a Bibliographer's Point of View. BLongley 00:15, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

(Unindent) I used this today for the New Worlds Fanzine issues and wonder if they're actually noticeable? Do we need to make the links visible on the variant title's page too? BLongley 01:13, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

I had missed this update... may have to experiment some in the coming weeks... Thanks for bumping this. Kevin 03:26, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Award editing re-enabled for moderators and volunteers

Award editing has been re-enabled for moderators and volunteers [1]. The interface is rather clunky and the Help:Screen:AddAward Help page is a little raw, but it's functional. There are plans to improve various features in the near future. In the meantime, all and any feedback is welcome!

The key thing to keep in mind is that the ISFDB software currently supports two types of awards: title-based awards and arbitrary awards. Title-based awards are presumably self-explanatory. Arbitrary awards are given to entities other than Titles, e.g. publishers, films, etc. The two types of awards shouldn't be confused.

[1] At the moment the volunteer brigade consists of Darrah Chavey, but the more the merrier!

Ahasuerus 03:38, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

Bug #1: Updating an award fails when the author's name contains an apostrophe. Ahasuerus 22:11, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
I've just come across this with Stewart O'Nan's Stoker Awards. The update actually worked - I was correcting the category - but the process didn't complete due to the apostrophe. Something to bear in mind if you have to reject one of these, it may not need resubmitting. BLongley 15:36, 28 May 2011 (UTC)
A similar bug: you can't add an award with an apostrophe in. E.g. I just tried to add the 2005 "The Richard Laymon Award (President's Medal)", which is the existing format for this award, and it errored out. BLongley 16:04, 28 May 2011 (UTC)
Bug #2: Not all awards can be selected for editing at the moment, e.g. try editing the Prometheus Award associated with Norman Spinrad's Agent of Chaos. Ahasuerus 22:30, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
The help seems to imply this is expected: "At one point we entered Preliminary Nominees that showed up on the long list, before the final short list was selected. My best advice is: don't worry about those anymore. You can't edit the ones already in the database, and you can only enter new ones if you are very clever (hint: you would have to examine the display source code)." Do we have volunteers to maintain the long-lists if we reenable this? BLongley 15:58, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure it's crucial. I know the Tiptree people would like to have their Long List published, but I think that could be accommodated by adding a category "Long List" to the award. That would probably be simpler than enabling this extra feature. For other awards, that won't be the right solution, since "Long List" might appear too high up on the alphabetical list of categories, but for the Tiptree Award, it will work fine. I suggest waiting to see if there are other awards that seem to cry out for this where this "fix" doesn't work right. Chavey 18:02, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
I agree it's not crucial. But working on the Stoker Awards (for the last two days!) brought my attention to some stuff that needs fixing. And the further back I go, the more I see "Preliminary Nominees" that should link, and don't. I really don't want to delete these. so I guess we need to have a way to fix these, even if we still want to discourage further additions. (Which I'm not sure we do - but we don't seem to be getting a lot of Award Editors. Perhaps we've added too many new features too fast and people are working on other things?) BLongley 22:15, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
Most editors don't have access to the Award editing tools. Once we fix the bugs that we have found, we will re-enable it for everyone and then we may get a better idea of what everyone thinks. Ahasuerus 03:49, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
The AddAward system seems to work easily and intuitively, and the Help Page was good, although more "informal" than most of our Help pages. One thing I had a bit of trouble with resulted in my added two sentences at the end of the "Category" documentation in the Help:AddAward screen. Other issues: (1) In the case of the Tiptree award, there have been three awards to things we do not include in the ISFDB: two graphic novels and a piece of software. It seems that they should be listed on the awards page, but I don't know how to include them. (2) One award was given not to a book, but rather to a title series. The solution here shouldn't be to "pretend" the award was given to all 5 books in the series individually, but there doesn't seem to be a way to give an award to the title series. (3) In the list of awards, I suggest having the first item in the pull-down menu be " Select an award" (caught as an error by the software). This would prevent the problem that I expect will happen where someone forgets to "fill in" that field, resulting in a spurious submission for another "Analog Award". (4) Several of the awards we have currently include lists of "Nomination Below Cutoff", but we can't use this AddAward page to enter such books. (5) You can "award" a variant title, but a (known) bug prevents that award from showing up on the title page of other variants of that title. For example, the 1999 winner of the Tiptree Award was Johanna Sinisalo's "Not Before Sundown". That's the title as published in England, and that title record now lists the award. But it was originally published as "Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi" in Finland, and after the British publication, was published as "Troll: A Love Story" in the U.S. So the award does not appear on either of those other title records. (6) The Awards Index page is not automatically updated after new awards are recognized by the system, although the individual pages are built. So when awards are entered for a new year, this page needs to be updated manually. I doubt having that happen automatically will be a high-priority FR, so the help page should warn editors that they will have to do that step.
I haven't tried using the "Edit an Award" page or "Remove an Award", but I suspect that when I go back to proof-read my submissions, I'll find that I have that opportunity :-) Chavey 23:45, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Lots of good points. (1) I'll look into that. (2) There are certain awards that could be linked to something apart from a title, publishers for instance. I haven't really played with "Arbitrary" awards yet though. (3) sounds like a very desirable feature, I've made that mistake myself several times. (4) You actually can, but as mentioned above it seems to be discouraged. (5) We'll get round to that eventually, I'm sure. (6) I doubt the Awards index page will ever be updated automatically, that was created by me as a one-off a few years back and Al found it useful enough to maintain it when he found time to work on Awards. There is FR 2800762 "Create an Award Directory similar to the Author Directory" which may be a replacement? BLongley 15:58, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
That FR doesn't seem to address an "automatic" generation of that page, but as we update the awards, I would strongly endorse this FR to have a link to this awards page from the main page! Chavey 18:02, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
OK, how many people think Awards is as important/useful as, say, Magazines, which we do link to from the ISFDB software? Three years ago, I only intended it to be temporary. BLongley 22:25, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
I think it's important. But then again, I teach one college class based on one of the awards, and am working on developing another class based on another award. Chavey 06:55, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
"Awards" now linked, so maybe we'll see more activity or comments. BLongley 22:54, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
It should be fairly easy to create a basic "Awards" page within the main ISFDB system. For now, it can be a simple list of award-specific links, each one leading the user to a page which lists all years when the award was given out. When you click on the year, you get the standard award page. Once we have hundreds of awards listed (think the Tir na n-Og awards!, we'll want to add an "Award search", but the current list is manageable for now. I do need to add an index by award type before the table gets unwieldy. Ahasuerus 03:49, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
I think we should link from the main page to the Awards page. We need to clean up that page a bit, but I'm hereby volunteering to work on that. (Right after I get back from WisCon.) Chavey 06:55, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
OK, I'll take you up on that, you're making it look a lot more professional than it did when I started it. And the sort of extras you're adding are good pointers for what we will want in a final software solution - although it's likely we'll never totally replace the Wiki pages. (We haven't done with Magazines.) We might want to do subpages for each award to track progress on each project rather than dump such notes on the main page, but things like links to Award Rule webpages and Award Nomination History webpages are good. BLongley 16:24, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
On point (2), I was noticing that two other examples of awards being given to a title series, instead of a title, are in the Sidewise 1996 awards. That might imply that this might be more common than I initially thought. Chavey 20:03, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
I've found awards given to Blogs and Columns, but "Publisher" seems to be the biggest lack so far. But I've only worked on 5 Award series yet, and I'm still wondering why I chose the latest as I don't even read Horror. BLongley 22:32, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
I updated the "James White Award" entries today, which gave me a chance to check out the "Edit an Award" page. That screen is intuitive and easy to work with; I found no difficulties. The one additional issue (i.e. "Feature Request") that I ran across here was the ability to deal with awards given to unpublished items. The James White Award is given to outstanding unpublished short stories. They now guarantee that all of the winners will get published, but the top nominees usually don't. For years 2001-2003, these nominees are listed in the ISFDB, but link to title records that contain no publication records. For 2004-2010, it appears not possible to enter such awards through these screens, i.e. I suspect they can only be entered by manually entering data into the database. And, of course, there would be no way to edit or remove such records via standard screens. Obviously, handling such awards is a lower priority than the "normal awards", but should be evaluated for a future enhancement. Chavey 15:51, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
You seem to have figured it out now? :-) BLongley 17:00, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
Yup! Pretty straight-forward. There is a difference in how earlier "unpublished" awards appear, and how submissions from this process for unpublished awards appear. For example, if you go to the Janet Barron bibliographic page, it lists two short stories. If you looked at "Extemophenia" there, you would see that, as far as we know, it's never been published, but it did get a nomination for this award. That says something good about Janet. But if you go to the Gary Spencer bibliographic page, you can't discover that he received this nomination. Chavey 18:02, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
While working on the James Tiptree Award and the James White Award (probably a Freudian thing here; my son just changed his name to "James"), I tried to develop a suggested "standard" for organizing information on the "Awards" page, as shown on those two previous links. Chavey 15:51, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
Looks good. As mentioned above, this is probably always going to be a manual thing, so thanks for taking it on. BLongley 17:00, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
I can't imagine an automatic process that will get this page to look the way it should. But I'll add cleaning this page up to my "10-year To Do" list :-) Chavey 18:02, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
Why does everyone have a "10-year To Do" list? Don't they know this is a job for life? BLongley 00:08, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Just goes to show that genre bibliographers are optimists who expect to be around for at least another 10 years! :) Ahasuerus 03:49, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
And of course one of the things on my "10-year To Do list" is to construct the next "10-year To Do list" :-) Chavey 06:55, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

((Unindent)) Bug #4: "AwardMovie" entries are lost between submission and approval. They're in the XML but don't even display on the Mod screen. BLongley 16:28, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

Bug #5: Untitled awards for an author not shown on the Author's Awards Bibliography. E.g. Mark Worthen was a Richard Laymon Award winner in 2007, and that page links to the author, but his award bibliography doesn't mention it. BLongley 16:37, 28 May 2011 (UTC)
It seems this only applies to multiple-author awards, as this works for the 2009 Award Winner. BLongley 16:42, 28 May 2011 (UTC)
It seems there is a big difference between "Award Authors" and "Author Awards". :-/ When looking at the Award Authors, the software splits them up and tries to match by name. Which isn't perfect as many awards are given to pseudonyms. But it's even worse the other way round - when looking at an Author, it will only find exact matches on the full set of authors - so no author, pseudonym or not, gets credit for multi-authored/edited works. That's quickly fixable - just look for the author name within the "Award author name" list, and has the benefit of, say, giving "Emsh" credit for all "Emshwiller" awards, although not vice versa. Is this desirable? (I like "iterative" improvements rather than wait five years for a final solution.) BLongley 23:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Opinions about CHAPTERBOOK tag?

While fixing up the biblio summary display to show chapterbook series, I was noticing the somewhat overbearing prominence of the [CHAPTERBOOK] tag. If there's a consensus, I could substitute a shorter tag. Here's the current appearance:


Here is an abbreviation, [CHAP]:


Here is a shorter coding, [CB], along the lines of SF, NG, etc.:


I'm sure there are other possibilities. I won't be changing it unless there's a clear consensus, I just figured I'd mention it while I'm looking at it. --MartyD 02:36, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

"CHAPTERBOOK" is really a misnomer, it should be "chapbook". There are plans to change it throughout the application, but it's a low priority issue (considering how labor intensive it is), so who knows when it may happen.
I think "[CHAP]" is a step in the right direction whereas "[CB]" would need to be changed when we correct the term. Ahasuerus 02:45, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
"[CHAP]" is OK with me, but aren't we suppose to place the contents (SHORTFICTION record) into the series, not the CHAPTERBOOK title record? Mhhutchins 03:41, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, in most cases, but I think Marty is adding this feature to support things like the UK Perry Rhodan chapterbook series. Ahasuerus 03:46, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to go with "[CHAP]", and we can see how people like it. It's simple to change back (or to something else). The Chapterbook Series display is in response to User_talk:BLongley#Solution_to_the_PR_English_pub_problems. If the titles are in a series where there are other types of titles (e.g., Anthologies), they'll already display there. But if the series has nothing but Chapterbook titles, the series would not appear in the summary display. --MartyD 10:34, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
I like "[CHAP]" too. I filed the original bug for other reasons - a series of juvenile novels entered as chapterbooks rather than as novels with a title-length of "jvn". It's not something I'm likely to use myself often, but as people had tried to create such series and it wasn't working as desired, I filed the bug. BLongley 17:12, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

Review auto-link and (UK) pound display improvements

A couple of improvements went live a few minutes ago. Reviews are no longer auto-linked to POEMs or ESSAYs. The submission approval logic first tries to find a novel, collection, anthology, non-fiction, omnibus, non-genre or chapterbook that match the entered title and author(s). If nothing is found, then it looks for matching shortfiction. (I suspect that we will want to remove chapterbooks from the auto-link list since it's uncommon for a review to be linked to a chapterbook.)

Also, prices that start with "L" are now listed by the Title page as if they started with "£". Ahasuerus 03:44, 22 May 2011 (UTC)

You say "it's uncommon for a review to be linked to a chapterbook"...well, I may be wrong, but most of the reviews of chapterbooks that I enter, I make sure to link to the chapterbook title record and not the shortfiction record. 9 times in 10, the reviewer reviews the specifics of a particular publication: it's design, packaging, features, etc. I couldn't say what other editors are doing, but I suppose they allow the system do the automatic linking and check no further. Mhhutchins 04:01, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
I see. This may be another "evolving de facto standard" case, but if we link to chapterbook titles, then the review doesn't appear on the shortfiction title's page, which seems to be undesirable. Hm. Ahasuerus 22:32, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
Is it? I've never seen this as a problem with reviews of Anthologies or Collections. BLongley 23:25, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
I suppose we treat chapterbooks like collections in many ways. When entering a review of a collection, we link to the collection title, but if the reviewer also reviews individual stories in the collection, then we also enter reviews of individual shortfiction titles. If we use the same logic when entering chapterbook reviews, then we could enter one review record for the chapterbook and another for the shortfiction title. It would address the immediate problem, but it would also be somewhat counter-intuitive, especially if the titles are the same. Ahasuerus 22:32, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
Do we? I can't recall ever seeing reviews of shortfiction if there is a review of the container title. BLongley 23:25, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't clear. Must be distracted since I am knee deep in sub-series ordering tonight. I'll try to rephrase once I get it in shape. Ahasuerus 23:54, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
Help:Screen:NewPub says "A review for a work of short fiction should be entered only if the reviewer specifically comments on that specific story. If several stories from the same collection or anthology are discussed, each briefly, recording this as a review of the collection or anthology may be preferable." My interpretation was that when a reviewer reviews both the container title and the (say) 3 individual stories therein, then we should enter one review record for the container review and 3 review records for the story reviews.
However, checking a frequently reviewed anthology, Sometime, Never, I see that the 8 magazine records which contain reviews of this anthology do not include reviews of the constituent novellas. It's hard to imagine that none of the six reviewers reviewed the latter, which suggests that my interpretation may not match de facto practices. So, before we proceed any further, how do people enter reviews of container titles? Ahasuerus 04:05, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
I think you should move this question to a separate topic if you're really hoping to get feedback on it. --MartyD 10:46, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
Good point, I will. Ahasuerus 02:46, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
It would never occur to me to record reviews of contained items as additional content. From a practical point of view, where would you draw the line between a review's "reviewing" the contained works versus merely citing them? Many such reviews list some of the contained works; a few list all of them. That's not a review, is it? How about a review with several descriptive words (one sentence or less) dedicated to some of the contained works? E.g., "Fred's 'Sliced and Diced' chills, while Barney's 'Chopped to Bits' falls flat." --MartyD 10:46, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
Help provides some guidance in this area: "Note that you should only include books that are actually commented upon. If a reviewer mentions that a publisher has re-issued a work, but does not comment on the quality of the book, don't include it. Even a brief comment, such as "recommended", is enough to qualify, but without any comment the review should not be listed." By extension, if a story is simply mentioned, I wouldn't create a separate review record for it. But if an anthology contains three novellas and the reviewer dedicates a couple of paragraphs to each one, I would think we would want to create 4 review records: one for the anthology and then one per novella. That way when a user looks at the title records for the constituent novellas, he will see their reviews. Ahasuerus 02:46, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
From the cases I've seen of that treatment, it's usually not so much a review of the contained works as illustration of some point about the content choices. Does it matter if only some of the contained works are mentioned? There's a lot of inconsistency from review to review. That said, what is the ISFDB's purpose for having reviews recorded? --MartyD 10:46, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, the overarching goal of this project is to inter-link all meta-data about written SF (publications, series, awards, etc), so I have always seen reviews as one part of this goal. Parenthetically, another aspect of this interlinked approach is the requested ability to link titles directly to Authors so that you could display books and essays about authors on their Summary pages. Ahasuerus 02:46, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Alternatively, we could change the software so that when it's displaying reviews for a shortfiction title, it will also display any reviews of the chapterbooks that contain it. What do you think? Ahasuerus 22:32, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, it took a lot of time to get Chapterbooks (re)enabled anyway, I don't think there's too much hurry. But I really don't recognise the examples or problems you've just raised. BLongley 23:25, 22 May 2011 (UTC)

(Unindent) It might be worth moving this to a Rules discussion, as my Award editing has led me to linking some Awards to SHORTFICTION in CHAPTERBOOK titles, whereas I normally link a REVIEW to the CHAPTERBOOK. No hurry - it seems only 5 of us have tried out award-editing so far and we have few precedents yet. BLongley 00:21, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Michael Bishop's The Door Gunner

I've spent the last week doing the final (I hope) proofing of the new Michael Bishop collection that I'm editing for Subterranean Press. The galleys should be back in the mail to the publisher in a couple of days. Bill Schafer has posted the final (I hope) cover image on the Subterranean website, so I think it's safe to add it to the ISFDB database record. In case you're interested (and who wouldn't be?) you can pre-order from Amazon at a pretty good price, considering it's a signed limited edition. Mhhutchins 04:11, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Interesting. Amazon UK only offer a 9% discount rather than a 34% discount. :-/ BLongley 16:01, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
That's indeed a very good price (at, that is) and the cover is attractive. I doubt that people who buy Subterranean Press books go by covers, especially when the author is a well known writer like Bishop, but it doesn't hurt to have a good one. Ahasuerus

Sub-series ordering now available

Sub-series ordering has been implemented. Next time you edit a series record, it will let you specify an number which will then be used to order the sub-series within its parent series. For example, take a look at the way Terry Brooks's Shannara sub-series or R. A. Salvatore's Demon War sub-series now appear. 10 minutes ago they were out of order.

As an added bonus, the Wiki link from Series pages will now pre-populate the Series template on the Wiki side. All at no extra charge! Ahasuerus 05:10, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

Unless the editor removes the template upon creation of the page... Mhhutchins 19:22, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Or the Login process removes the template... it's not fool-proof. I'm just hoping that the Perry Rhodan editors don't submit all their changes at once! BLongley 21:01, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Someone please tell me this feature is being used? :-( BLongley 23:14, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Not yet, but it will be. Sub-series ordering is one of my wishes come true. I started with the Perry Rhodan cycles, and it works perfectly. I don't have much time to work on the database these days, but I try to to stay informed on the changes. --Willem H. 06:12, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
It's one of those things that you don't even think about 95% of the time, but when you need it, you really wish you had it. Earlier today I was massaging a new spin-off series and it had the temerity to appear before the original series. A few clicks and it was put in its place! 05:00, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

Linking awards to variant titles and making them visible on parent title records

Having gone back to linking the 2010 Locus Awards, I noticed something that perhaps may have been discussed and I missed it. Spell Games by Tim Pratt placed in the Fantasy Novel category, but you wouldn't know that if you click on the title record. The book was published as by T. A. Pratt, and it was to that title record that I linked the award. Is it possible to have Awards appear on both the variant page AND the parent title page, similar to the change that was made for reviews awhile back? (Faren Miller's Locus review is linked to the variant record, but visible on the parent title record's page also.) Mhhutchins 19:29, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

That sounds like Bug 3161128 "Awards are not displayed for variant titles". It should be fixable. BLongley 20:05, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
It's also feature request 3309989. Sorry Bill, I didn't realize you'd submitted it as a Bug. Chavey 15:08, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
I didn't create it as a Bug - Ahasuerus did. And it doesn't really cover Variant titles in a different language, just Author variants. Either way, we'll get round to fixing it eventually. BLongley 23:20, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Inclusion of painting reproductions?

The non-fiction book The Erotic World of Faery includes a cover and 9 internal photos which are reproductions of paintings, mostly 19th century, related to the book's theme. I've listed the painter of the cover as the cover artist, with a note about the painting. The 9 internal photos of artwork includes, for example, "the first science fiction painting", Tintoretto's "The Origin of the Milky Way", c. 1570. For now, I've not included these paintings in the content listing, but limited myself to a general description in the notes. Should I include those 9 paintings as content items? Chavey 14:48, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Because of the context in which they appear, I see no reason not to include them if they're spec-fic related. If the same works appeared in a book of Pre-Raphaelite paintings I would not include them. Mhhutchins 15:30, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
<aol>I agree</aol>. Ahasuerus 03:33, 4 June 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I'll add them. Should the title of the content item be the title of the painting, or the title of the book? If the later, then I would put the title of the painting into the notes for that content item. Chavey 18:38, 4 June 2011 (UTC)
That's a good question. Standards are that interiorart records should be titled the work that they illustrate. These aren't illustrating fiction as much as they're used to illustrate a point, if you will. I'd still go with giving them the book's title, and agree with your decision to note the original name in the interiorart record's note field (not in the pub record's note field.) Mhhutchins 19:01, 4 June 2011 (UTC)
Done. Chavey 02:38, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
You should disambiguate the title records by the same artist to keep another editor from merging them (regardless of the dates). Mhhutchins 04:15, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Done. Chavey 03:35, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Awards page linked

The Wiki Awards page is now linked from the main ISFDB menu. Ahasuerus 03:32, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

And much discussion ensued. (Hopefully.) There are bugs (at least five that I've noticed), improvements to be made (at least three of those that I've noticed), and many awards/categories/levels to be fixed. This may well be the biggest can of worms we've opened in the last five years. But do please comment, we can handle it. BLongley 00:32, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Advanced Search tweaks

The Advanced Search logic has been tweaked to make it more maintainable. There should be no changes in the way it behaves, so if you run into anything unusual/unexpected, please post here. Ahasuerus 03:29, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

ASINs: Why place them in the catalog #/ISBN field?

I've seen a few pubs come across lately that have Amazon's ASIN in the ISBN/Catalog # field. Most of the time I've removed them, placing them in the Note field. I can see no reason to include the number in the record at all. They're not linkable, they're not actually stated in the book itself, and they only serve as tools for Amazon to sell their products. I don't think the ISFDB should be a tool for Amazon, unless they're giving us a kickback on sales made through our links. Anyone else have an opinion about ASINs? Mhhutchins 17:52, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately, ASINs are the only identifiers for many Kindle books. When that happens, they effectively serve as catalog IDs. That said, I have seen cases where a book had an ISBN, but Amazon wasn't aware of it and listed the ASIN instead, so we have to be careful.
The long term solution is to add support for "identifiers", which would cover OCLC numbers, LCCNs, ASINs, Reginald's numbers, and a multitude of other sins. It's not terribly hard to do, just requires a fair amount of tinkering. Ahasuerus 18:26, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
It's my belief, mistaken or not, that the ISBN/Catalog # field should reflect only what is stated in the pub itself. If a Kindle ebook has the ASIN embedded in its files, then I can see it being placed in the ISBN/Catalog # field of the ISFDB record. I wouldn't argue with the creation of a new "identifier" field, but that it have its own purpose which would separate it from any field that contains data that is stated in the book. In the meantime, where do you suggest ASINs be recorded? We've already established that LCCNs Mhhutchins 20:49, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
The one benefit of recording the ASIN in the ISBN/Catalog # field is that it shows up in the summary listings in various places (the title page, the publisher-year page), where it can be helpful in distinguishing one publication from another. I don't have a Kindle and have no idea whether ASINs are embedded in the ebooks or not, but we do record data not present in the pub itself in other fields -- e.g, the publication date and the cover artist. Would using a secondary source for a catalogue number be all that inconsistent? --MartyD 01:33, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I believe it would be. A date goes in the date field, a cover artist goes into the cover artist field, an ASIN is neither an ISBN nor a catalog number and should not go into the ISBN/Catalog # field. When a date or cover artist is not stated in the book, we SHOULD record the source in the note field (which I have insistently drilled into the heads of new editors to the point that even I'm sick of saying it again, and again, and again...) Now I see that I didn't complete my last thought in my previous posting above. It should be: We've already established that LCCNs should not go into the ISBN/Catalog # field. Aren't LCCNs as much an identifier as an ASIN? At least LCCNs can be linked to an LoC online record (99% of the time). Mhhutchins 04:26, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
BTW, I have found several cases recently where Amazon's Kindle Store lists just an ASIN and no ISBN, but the ISBN is available on the publisher's site or can be seen (explicitly for the ebook) in the Look Inside of the print edition. --MartyD 01:33, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
Good enough evidence that we shouldn't be relying on Amazon to provide us with an identifier. Mhhutchins 04:26, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps the more important downside of the ASIN is it's not a universal identifier -- it's just an Amazon catalogue number. If we consider an ebook edition to be a single publication, independent of format, ASIN is not meaningful if there's any format other than Kindle. So unless we wanted to track each ebook format of the otherwise same edition separately, it's not even an identifier the way an LCCN is. --MartyD 09:58, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
Recording an ASIN for a Kindle Edition makes sense - we could even update the linking logic to take you straight to the relevant Amazon page. But I don't want to play favourites - even if Al is getting a kickback from such links, I don't want to favour Kindle editions over Nook editions or Sony editions etc. Recording an ASIN for other stuff that Amazon haven't got a proper ID for is a definite No-No. One thing to watch out for though - sometimes the ASIN is actually the ISBN-10. Always worth a check if it's not a "B000" format. BLongley 11:46, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
There's only 31 "B000" pubs left in the database. I've been removing them for the past few years, or clearing the field. They were mostly pre-ISBN books. The only ones left now are all either "Kindle", "e-book", "ebook" or "e-book (Kindle)" (we MUST come up with a standard!) and one solitary book where the verifier places Amazon's catalog number in the field under the mistaken belief that it will link to their record. Mhhutchins 20:58, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
A while back (at least in 2007) ISFDB was not validating ISBNs and so linking to an ASIN worked. There was a fix in early 2009 to deal with linking to ISBN-13s and this likely "broke" linking to ASINs. I've updated the one solitary book to not have a catalog #. --Marc Kupper|talk 18:40, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
So do you want ASINs to link? We could add that like we link to Project Gutenberg. I'm still slightly against it unless we balance it out with other identifiers. And I'm aware that we do have a (higher-priority, IMO) request for just adding a second Catalogue Number field which we could use for DAW Book Order Numbers, or Library Bindings where the internal ISBN no longer matches the external one, etc. But the effort is big and we do have quite a backlog of changes still. BLongley 23:21, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
I borrowed my mother's Kindle and used it to search the Amazon store for The Dervish House. See Image:Kindle example.jpg for what the book description page looks like. I downloaded the sample and from that did MENU and selected Book Description. It wanted to turn the Kindle's wifi interface back on and then showed me a page that's identical to the what I saw when I viewed this book in the "store."
I assume this book is the same as Amazon ASIN B004XE0MGQ. The problem is that on the Kindle itself the ASIN or other identification code is not visible. For the books that my mother has purchased I don't know how much she paid and would need to look them up on via title/author. Kindles do not show the front/back cover nor do they show the title page, copyright page, etc. I don't know how reliable it is but from the home page, which is a directory of all your books, you can right-arrow on a title a few times and it'll take you to a page with a thumbnail of the cover. I did not see a way to get additional information from the Kindle. It's possible that if I signed into Amazon using my mother's account that I could learn more about a book that was purchased.
In terms of ISFDB I could see adding publication records and linking to the ASIN. A person doing this could even "primary verify" the publication based on what's on the web site. There are some caveats:
Amazon has "[Kindle Edition]" appended to the title. They only show the base title on the Kindle.
Amazon shows:
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 835 KB
Print Length: 410 pages
Publisher: Pyr (April 20, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,150 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Kindle shows:
Sales Rank: #5,150 in Kindle Store
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
Print Length: 410 pages
Published: Apr 20, 2011
Publisher: Pyr
We would need to document the date in the notes for all publication records for Kindle editions.
I guess we would use the "Digital List Price" --Marc Kupper|talk 20:19, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure we can. I don't get to see them to check: e.g. Silver Snakes was entered with a hyperlink to allow you to buy it from Amazon UK, where it shows up with a seller of "Amazon Media EU S.à r.l." and a price of £0.71. On I see "Kindle Price: $1.13 includes VAT" sold by "Amazon Digital Services". You can buy it on Smashwords for $0.99, which is what I suspect is what most US residents can get it for from Amazon - can someone please check? BLongley 23:17, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) I guess the big question is whether a Kindle book is available through Amazon and Amazon only. If it is and there is no other ID (like ISBN or book club ID), then the ASIN serves as the only unique identifier for the book and we can use it as a "Catalog ID". If, however, the same Kindle book can be found at other stores, then there is no reason to privilege Amazon. I know little about their business model, but perhaps some Kindle user knows more? Ahasuerus 05:34, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

Kindle-format books {"mobi") are available from other sites like Project Gutenberg. I suspect the Amazon-only Kindle books will be sold by "Amazon Digital Services" - however, that doesn't mean they're published by Amazon. BLongley 16:00, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

Slow responding server, anyone?

The server has been particularly slow over the past few days...or is it just me? Mhhutchins 20:50, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

I've been having similar problems. And instead of the evening slow-down hitting around 2 or 3, it seems to be starting noticeably earlier than that. Chavey 21:18, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
It just took a minute to add my last comment, so there's definitely a slow-down. It's usually around this time of day for me. BLongley 16:06, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
The slowness appears to be mostly on the Wiki side. I will see if I can purge all bu the last 50 versions of all page over the weekend. Ahasuerus 05:58, 9 June 2011 (UTC)


Is there anything that can be done about the spammers? For a couple of years there were sporadic outbreaks, but we were able to control it. For the past several months it's been relentless and seems to be getting worse. Frankly, I'm getting tired of blocking users and deleting pages. Something happened in February that opened the floodgates, with more than 1500 fake accounts that have been blocked. There were only 16 in all of 2010, 11 in 2009, and only one case in 2008 (which wasn't a spammer, but a vandal). Why don't we just block the ISP of the people that are doing this, as all of them seem to have one source? Even it it means blocking out possible editors on the same ISP. Mhhutchins 00:06, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately, it may not be that simple. If we are under a "botnet" attack, then they are using hundreds of computers from different ISPs. If we are under a manual attack from places like Senegal (cheap labor), then they may be going through proxy servers. But I agree that it's getting worse and we need to do something about. I need to parse the log files to see where these guys are coming from and whether there is something simple that can be done. The ultimate solution is requiring new accounts to be approved by a moderator, but that would make it harder for new users to register and contribute. Ahasuerus 05:22, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure about the approach with wikis, but an approach that has had value in other situations is a single challenge-response cycle: The new user requests an account, and provides an email address; the system generates an email to them with a specific URL and parameter value; they respond to that email by clicking the embedded link; then the account is generated for them. It generally only slows down a human user a little, but might hamper bots. And it doesn't require moderator work. Chavey 06:24, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
If such a method for registration could be arranged, that would be ideal. If giving an email address discourages some editors, then so be it. Mhhutchins 16:36, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
I was reviewing our logs the other day and noticed that checking the "Block IP" box is helpful: there are many attempts to spam us that we never see because the spammer uses a blocked IP address. However, it turns out that by default our Wiki software blocks IP addresses for just 24 hours. I went ahead and customized the configuration settings to keep IPs banned for about 4 months. We'll see how much it will help. Ahasuerus 05:57, 9 June 2011 (UTC)
I have downloaded a list of "known spam IPs" (as recommended by MediaWiki) and added it to our blacklist. It covers over 75,000 IPs, so hopefully it will help. Of course, when you ban that many IPs, accidents can happen, so if you suddenly find yourself banned, please shoot me an e-mail (username ahasuerus and the e-mail server is and we'll sort it out. Ahasuerus 02:52, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't know what you did, but it really is working. Not a single spammer since your update. Thanks a million. Mhhutchins 19:10, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
And as soon as you posted this, a spammer showed up and was promptly blocked :-) I am afraid it's a never-ending battle as spammers find new and exciting ways to get around our safeguards and system administrators find new ways to identify and block spammers. There are many fancy tools that we could use to combat spammers, but these tools are resource-intensive and can adversely affect the Wiki. For example, I got a couple of blank pages when I posted on the Moderator Noticeboard 3 hours ago and I suspect that it may be due to the increased memory requirements of the newly installed spamblock. Ahasuerus 20:03, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
It was nice to have 14 hour without spammers. Block and delete gets boring after the first 500. I do have a question. If I read the above correctly, is it true that all we did was block the spammer's username for infinity, while the IP adress of the spammer was only blocked for 24 hours. Then all the spammer needed to do was wait for 24 hours, and spam again with a new username. This doesn't sound logical to me. I expected the spammer and his IP adress to be blocked forever. Could it be that the spamless period was because of the new 4 month block of IP's? The List of blocked IP addresses and usernames makes me think so. If you look at the block log for the IP last used by user "Zebahea", you find 2 different expiry dates, so I blocked that adress at least twice (and maybe 50 times over the last months)? Unfortunately I can't see the IP adresses, so I can't check this. Is it possible to find out which IP's have been blocked multiple times, and block those for infinity? --Willem H. 20:42, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
The reason that the Wiki software blocks IP addresses for only 24 hours by default is that most IP addresses are dynamically assigned when you connect to your ISP. Thus, even though Elmer the evil spammer may be using a particular IP address today, tomorrow the same IP address may be used by Fred the friendly contributor.
In our case, all spammers seem to be coming from the same source, so I thought that it might be worth trying a longer blocking period. However, it didn't seem to make as much difference as I had expected, so I had to use more drastic measures. As of 5 minutes ago, new users can't create new pages for the first 24 hours of their account's existence. This may cause problems for authors who just want to add their bio to the Wiki, so it's not an ideal solution. Let me poke around the documentation to see if certain namespaces can be excluded... Ahasuerus 22:26, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
The last solution didn't work and has been undone. Still reviewing the documentation... Ahasuerus 04:18, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
A new solution has been implemented: new users can't edit pages outside of currently existing Wiki namespaces for 24 hours. They should still be able to create and edit Bio, Author, User, Talk and other common pages. What they won't be able to do is create pages named "Low Car Insurance rates". I have done limited testing and it seems to work, so here is to hope. Ahasuerus 05:29, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
What a shame ;-), there are things so exotic to block (all this business about loans for example) Hauck 10:30, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, as Willem said, it's only fun the first 500 times or so :-) Ahasuerus 20:35, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
BTW as a Frenchman I'm disappointed by the lack of "racy" pictures :-(. Hauck 10:30, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
Spammers are quite sophisticated these days. The pages that they create may not even be meant for human consumption. It can be just an attempt to trick Google and other search engines into thinking that the URLs that they add are linked to from multiple other sites and therefore should be displayed first when users search for "car loan" and such.
Anyway, I have added another safeguard. Effective immediately, new users must have at least 5 Wiki edits before they are allowed to create or edit pages in the "main Wiki namespace". The 24 hour requirement is still in effect, so you have to wait 24 hours and have 5 edits before you can create/edit pages outside of the standard Bio/Author/Talk/ISFDB/User/etc namespaces. Ahasuerus 20:35, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
Looks like this works! Over 15 hours without spammers, and still I keep checking every 15 minutes. I sure hope it will stay this way. Thanks! --Willem H. 20:32, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) So far so good, but if the spammers are human, they may inform their superiors that this Wiki no longer lets them post spam. At that point the issue may be escalated to the more technically savvy folks within the spamming organization, who may come up with a more sophisticated strategy. We'll see... Ahasuerus 20:41, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

The spam is so consistent that I suspect it's mostly automated and hopefully we've been slamming them down so fast that their temporary entries here haven't helped them anywhere else - hence not worth their effort to get round our protections. It would be nice to return to ISFDB each day and not have to block a spammer and delete some pages before I've even had my first coffee though. :-/ BLongley 21:49, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
Exactly what I think (except that for me it's AFTER my first cup of tea and before going to work). Hauck 14:51, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

Unmerging of a pub record from a title record still doesn't work

I finally got the first opportunity since its retooling to unmerge a pub from a title record. Sorry, but it's still not working. The unmerged title record's name was changed to the name of the pub (at least the page number was retained!) It happened to be an interview which was first published in Locus as uncredited, but reprinted with Charles Brown as the author. So instead of doing the usual "remove content title record from the pub and create a new title record" method, I went to the title record, clicked "Unmerge Titles" and got the bad results. The subject of the interview also disappeared. So is the problem that it was an interview or would this have happened if it had been a SHORTFICTION or ESSAY type record? Mhhutchins 04:04, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

Sounds like a bug. I'll take a look tomorrow. Ahasuerus 05:28, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
It's quite possibly my fault. I worked on fixing the bug that meant unmerging content titles lost page numbers, and think that was mostly OK although there are other things that we might want to preserve during such an unmerge too. And I also worked on fixing container title unmerges to preserve the Publication Authors rather than the Title authors. There are obviously big differences in required behaviour for the two types of unmerge that I didn't think through. :-/ BLongley 22:01, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
There's at least three different problems and fixes here. Unmerging a container title, i.e. a publication, now retains the Pub Authors, which is usually why we are doing the unmerge. Unmerging content titles now retains the page number - but should also retain the original authors and title. And I'm not sure unmerging Interviews and Reviews ever worked correctly - ALL the associated authors get made "title authors" rather than reviewers or interviewers. I've submitted a fix but it is going to require a lot of testing, there's so many different title types. I'd hold off on any unmerging of contents for now, till Ahasuerus says it's OK. BLongley 16:22, 23 July 2011 (UTC)


I've added a ARC of A Beautiful Friendship 354142. I would usually only use it for data on the real pub but it has a different ISBN than the book will. Agreed? Dana Carson 07:18, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure there's a policy against creating records for ARC, but I couldn't tell you where it's documented. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to every rule... Mhhutchins 19:12, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
I too thought there was a note somewhere about not entering ARC editions. However, I can't find it. Some previous discussions are:
We should mention ARCs in either the FAQ or rules but I suspect people don't want to get bogged down in a long discussion to see if consensus is possible. --Marc Kupper|talk 18:23, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
Without trying to reopen the whole discussion, it seems to me this one case -- where there is an ISBN assigned to the ARC -- is somewhat special. Wouldn't we want the ISBN recorded in the ISFDB (especially since we might reasonably expect someone to encounter the copy and attempt to research it)? That seems to be the inclination of several people, both here and in the past discussions. What about allowing that specific case "in" and requiring the pub record be dated 8888-00-00 (a.k.a. "unpublished"), with any actual date relegated to the notes? --MartyD 19:13, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
"Reserving" an ISBN for something seems good to me. I wish I'd done that with more Angry Robot books. BLongley 23:41, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
Will update the date. Putting anything with an ISBN in that fits otherwise makes sense to me which is why I put it in in the first place. Baen seems to want to push Weber to the YA market. A $100,000 marketing budget with 1500 ARCs sent out according to the back cover. Dana Carson 03:07, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Using 8888-00-00 for ARCs is a slick idea. For the BAEN ARCs I'd record them as standard publications, including the date, as they are being sold for real $ implying "publication" and thus they have a "publication date." See and It makes sense that ARCs marked "not to be sold" would get an 8888-00-00 date. --Marc Kupper|talk 17:43, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Wiki purged

Old revisions of all Wiki pages have been purged. It will alleviate the nightly outages during the backup window and may help with performance. Ahasuerus 04:27, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

Thank you - I was seeing error 500 Internal Server Errors on the longer wiki pages. --Marc Kupper|talk 16:57, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm still waiting up to a minute for Wiki updates at the moment. :-( BLongley 15:16, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

What If? -- Anthology or Non-Fiction?

I submitted What Ifs? Of American History as an anthology of Alternate History. I just realized the same book (different edition, though) was also submitted as a non-fiction collection of essays. (I realized I had done this when I made a similar submission for "What Ifs? #2".) Obviously, these title records need to be combined, but as an Anthology or as NonFic? Chavey 11:26, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Most sources call them essays. Have you read the book and can confirm they're actually fiction? If so, then there would be no problem to merge the titles and reconcile the differences. Mhhutchins 13:30, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
I've gone through about half of "What If? 2 ...", and so far there are only two "fiction" stories; all the rest are essays. (The fiction stories generally start with a basic essay to set the situation, then become an alternate history story for more than half of the "essay".) So I've gone ahead with the merges to list them as Non-Fiction, and then I'll tag those individual content items that are actually fiction stories. Chavey 01:11, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

New Dr. Who website

Just newly [online], created by Isaac Wilcott, also known for the ISCHI Van Vogt site. --~ Bill, Bluesman 20:15, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

DAW Books with UK prices?

The page makes it looks like there would be a DAW Books publication that's priced £6.99. The publisher line is suspicious "Publisher: DAW; Original edition (27 Jan 2011)" Original edition? Maybe for the U.K. It was available November 2011 in the USA.

Have any of our U.K. based editors seen a DAW publication with U.K. £ pricing? --Marc Kupper|talk 17:08, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

I've never seen one, but I guess they could have started such. BLongley 11:18, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

An ISFDB publication search for DAW and £ gets zero hits. However, a similar search looking for $ prices also gets zero hits and so I guess that idea does not work. It'd be great if I could search for ^[^$] and so I put in a feature request. --Marc Kupper|talk 17:08, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Price search is currently exact-match-only, and is confused by "£" anyway. My comment in that section of the code is "# Exact match on price - not very useful?" and it's something I've been meaning to get back to - some moderators have been letting odd prices from Fixer submissions through without spotting a US pub with data from Amazon UK, or vice versa. BLongley 11:18, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

Wiki changes

A couple of Wiki changes have been implemented:

  • The page view counter is no longer displayed at the bottom of each page, which should help display pages a little bit faster
  • Users who have been around for a bit and proved that they are not robots are no longer asked to solve math problems before they can post

If you encounter any harmful side effects, please post them here. Ahasuerus 10:47, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

Also increased the maximum amount of memory a script may use from 32MB to 48MB. Ahasuerus 11:33, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

House Name unlinked?

I'm confused about the "House Name" Robin Tallis. The summary bibliography says "Pseudonym. See: Debra Doyle, James D. Macdonald". But if I go to the title series Planet Builders, which is the series written under this name, I see that the authors of books in that series include not only those two authors, but Bruce Coville, Sherwood Smith, Mary Frances Zambreno, Bruce Talkington, and Jymn Magon. But none of those authors is listed under "Robin Tallis" as a pseudonym. If I go to either Doyle or Macdonald, their bibliographies say "Used These Alternate Names: ... Robyn Tallis...", but none of the other five have that. That would seem to imply that someone set up the variant titles incorrectly, but I can see no difference in how the variants for Doyle & Macdonald were set up versus how those for the other books were set up. (Some of them were set up with titles "Planet Builders #8: ...", which violates our rules, and I've submitted corrections to that, but that can't explain the problems I'm seeing.) Can anyone tell how to fix these entries? Chavey 03:31, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

This means variant titles have been put in place, but pseudonyms haven't been set up. Compare with, say, James Axler. One name can be a pseudonym of many other names, so you can make Robin Tallis a pseudonym of each of the others that is missing. --MartyD 09:51, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
Ah, that's the source of my confusion! Thanks much. I submitted the pseudonym linkings. Chavey 13:32, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
Which I had to reject as they were all the wrong way round. I think I've submitted the correct ones, please check. BLongley 16:37, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
At least I'm consistent :-). All looks right now; thanks! Chavey 17:49, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

L. A. Banks

I'm not sure how many people know already, but Leslie is severely ill and there's an auction site created to raise funds for medical expenses. Not my cup of tea, but there appear to be some good book bargains to be had if you're into that sort of thing. BLongley 18:17, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

She has late-stage adrenal cancer, and it really doesn't look good. Thanks for the link to the auction, though. I'll pass it on to a list that has several people who will want to support her. There's another page for folks who just want to donate. Chavey 20:56, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

Multilingual support enhancements

Numerous language-related enhancements were installed about an hour ago. You can now choose a language when entering new pubs, editing titles, adding a VT to a title or creating a new VT. Languages should also be properly handled when displaying, merging and unmerging titles -- see, e.g. how this title and its VTs are displayed. As always, please post anything unusual that you may run into here -- 25 scripts were created or modified, so the probability of something going wrong is fairly high.

This is a big step on the road to full multilingual support. We still need to tweak the Summary display logic as well as add a new field to the Author record and another field to the Title record, but we are getting there. Once everything is in place, we will be able to enter all pubs exactly as they appear and set up VTs for all translations. The software will be smart enough to only show you the languages that you are interested in.

In other news, you can now enter "Moderator notes" when editing a title record. Ahasuerus 06:39, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

So do we now accept translated title records as variants of the original title record, or is there another way to handle it? Mhhutchins 15:17, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
We are not quite ready to change the data entry rules (yet), although I see that Bill is experimenting with Dan Simmons as I type. There are a few more things that need to be implemented first. Ahasuerus 16:04, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I played with Phases of Gravity for a bit as there were three other languages under it. I'm quite pleased with the results, is everyone else? I then went on to do some "Imaginaire" Awards where we didn't have any publications - it would have been handy to be able to correct the title Language while adding the only publication under it, but it wasn't too bad. BLongley 22:20, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Also, will all of the pubs that are currently in the database under the original title record have to be unmerged and made into variants. Mhhutchins 15:17, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's basically what will need to happen once we are ready to change the rules, although the implementation details are still up in the air (see below.) Ahasuerus 16:04, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
And how do we add languages to pubs already in the database? Mhhutchins 15:17, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
At this time, pubs do not have languages associated with them, only titles do. Ahasuerus 16:04, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I tried to do so from the pub record and wasn't able to. The only thing I could do was 1) unmerge the pub from its English title record, 2) update the title record to add language and 3) make the new title record into a variant of the English title record. Will the thousands of foreign language pubs already in the database have to go through the same manual process? Mhhutchins 15:17, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Some pubs, e.g. the Italian magazines that Ernesto did a while back, will have to be redone manually. The majority of translations can be (most likely) identified programmatically, but I haven't done any work on it yet. Ahasuerus 16:04, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Whew! (...wiping his brow and walking away.) Mhhutchins 17:24, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I think I could provide scripts that update Container titles according to the ISBN prefixes, or by any other rules considered safe to apply. Or provide some Project pages where people can manually do the necessary work on identified titles. Or somewhere in between with a new page like "Unmerge Titles", that will unmerge a title, provide a new language for it, and make it a variant of the title it was just unmerged from. I think Ahasuerus deserves a rest (as well as a round of applause) after all the work put into getting us this far, so let's just spend some time trying this out and we'll see what's needed next. (I'm afraid comments will have to be in English if you want me to work on them though! ;-) ) BLongley 22:35, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
That will be most interesting as I'll probably have to correct a couple thousands of french titles :-(. Hauck 05:24, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, but it was a joint effort, so we'll have to share the blame/credit! :) But yes, I could use some R&R, so I may take it easy for a few days. Ahasuerus 23:29, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

(Unindent) I've spotted a small Display issue in Series Display, e.g. here where the Uglies entry gets an unnecessary "[also as by Scott Westerfeld ]" - the French title has the same name and author as the English one. BLongley 18:20, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Yup, it's one of the things that will need to be changed before we can change the data entry rules. Ahasuerus 22:54, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) Will language support be added at the publication level or is the plan to roll all of it up to the title level? --Marc Kupper|talk 20:47, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

At the moment there are no plans to add a Language field to publication records. Pubs can contain texts in multiple languages, e.g. ESOL books often contain an introduction in a different language. We'll see how well the current approach works when it's fully implemented. Ahasuerus 14:44, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

I added Dracula the Undead a while back and recall thinking I did not want to clutter an English language author's bibliography with the translations. For a more popular work there's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which also has the foreign language editions under an English language title record. --Marc Kupper|talk 20:47, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

I believe that we will have Korean, French and German Variant titles for Dracula the Undead with each publication under the appropriate title. I'm glad to see we support all the necessary languages for our current "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" pubs too. BLongley 15:24, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
I suspect a language field on editpub would help. It would get its value from the title-reference's language. On the moderator side the code would:
  1. Check that we have a parent title record for the publication - bail out if we don't.
  2. If the parent title is a VT them move up to the parent
  3. Scan the title, and all child titles looking for one that matches the desired language and that matches the publication title. If a title record's language is not set then that matches any publication language. The title-text comparison should first truncate the titles at the first " (".
    1. If there is a matching title record
      1. If the matching title's language is not set then set it
      2. If needed, change publication's parent title to use the one we found.
    2. If there is a no matching title
      1. Create a new child title record with its language being the one desired and the title-text being the truncated version of the publication title.
      2. change publication's parent title to use the new title.
    3. If we are on a child title, and it's not English, and the parent's language is not set then set the parent to English.
For example, if edit the publication Harri Potter a Maen Yr Athronydd and identify it as a Welsh language edition then we'd end up with
  1. The title Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone gets set to English.
  2. We would have a new VT for a Welsh language edition of Harri Potter a Maen Yr Athronydd
  3. The publication's Title Reference would be for the new Harri Potter a Maen Yr Athronydd record.
--Marc Kupper|talk 22:28, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
A bit complex, but possible. I mentioned elsewhere that an "Unmerge Foreign Title" option that unmerges a set of publications to a title with the correct language, and makes it a variant of the original, with all the selected publications under it, all in one go, might be desirable. I want to see how the editors whose native language is NOT English are using the latest improvements for a bit longer though - it took several weeks to get the last set of Language-Support changes in, I don't want to rush the next set. Particularly as I'm a mono-lingual idiot that can't even tell Finnish from Swedish. (And do we have a Welsh Editor to test such anyway?) BLongley 08:56, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

(Unindent) I've just seen this: Language Variants.jpg
Obviously, the languages are wrong, how can we improve? BLongley 09:12, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

The "Make VT" page does let you pick the language of the new canonical title. However, it defaults it to "English", so if you forget to change the value, you will end up with an incorrect language assigned. I suppose we could eliminate the default, but that would make the VT creation process more time consuming. Ahasuerus 14:13, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
We could change the default to the user's own preference? Obviously mine would stay as English, but editors concentrating on one other language in particular might benefit. Although most people working on non-English publications are pretty proficient in English as well - I guess they have to be, as all our help is in English only! BLongley 16:10, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
That would be a nice option. Then I could set my preference to German or Dutch or English (or French etc), depending on what part of my collection I'm working on. You have my vote! --Willem H. 16:52, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I imagine it would be handy, especially when entering new pubs. VTs are less predictable, but it will still be an improvement. Ahasuerus 17:35, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
Next Phase - maybe.


Should I submit this for consideration, or go back a step and make sure we have "Klingon" and "Lolcat" as Language options? ;-) BLongley 01:55, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
Changes submitted for testing. BLongley 16:55, 16 July 2011 (UTC)


The software has been updated to credit 1632, Inc. for any and all images hosted by,, and Thanks, Marty! Ahasuerus 02:57, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

CHAPTERBOOK series implemented; multi-author awards corrected

CHAPTERBOOK series are now supported. They are uncommon because most of the time it's the fiction Title that is part of a series, but there are some corner case where they can be useful, e.g. see Kurt Brand's bibliography.

In addition, the Award Bibliography page now displays multi-author awards -- e.g., see Jerry Pournelle's list of awards. Ahasuerus 16:52, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

That could probably be improved further: e.g.
1975 - The Mote in God's Eye Hugo Award, Best Novel (Nomination) [with Larry Niven]
Suggestions welcome. BLongley 20:48, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Further award improvements

A couple of award improvements were implemented a few minutes ago. "New Awards" are now linked from the "Recent Integrations" and "My Edits" pages. Asimov's Readers' Poll now displays rankings. Ahasuerus 02:52, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

Thanks! I have a suspicion that more than Locus and Asimov polls need rankings, so if people know of any others tell us. In the long-term, I think such should be configurable at the "Award Type" level, but as there's a massive amount of testing before that's ready it can wait for later. BLongley 16:39, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Can some Locus Reader tell me if Locus has stopped doing positions for its "awards"? This suggests that it's changed to Winner Plus Nominations, which would mess us up rather. :-( BLongley 23:28, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
The complete results (including positions) are in the july issue (#606). I received my e-copy this weekend. --Willem H. 08:56, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
So are you going to add the positions? Award-Editing seems to have been little used so far. :-( BLongley 16:48, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Needs Review by Moderator Conversant in French

The bibliography of Allen Thiher needs some cleaning up by someone familiar with the French language, as the titles are mostly in French. The majority of entries are listed as novels, but almost all appear to fall in the non-fiction category, especially as they are identified as articles. Many appear to be non-genre related. I've reclassified some of the works in English that I could find descriptions of, but that's as far as I want to go.--Rkihara 21:49, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Of all of the things listed as "Novels", only "Celine: The Novel as Delerium" (if Delirium were spelled correctly) is actually a book. Every other thing listed there is an article in an academic journal. ISFDB rules of inclusion for such articles says "Debatable - Academia-produced magazines. Can we realistically compete with, say, the SFRD?". I checked the SFRD (aka SFFRD) database, and none of those articles are included there. If someone wants us to accept them, I think they would have to be acceptable to the SFFRD. I'm ok at French, and none of those articles sound like they have anything to do with Spec Fic. As for "Celine", my library's card catalog describes it as about "Mental illness in literature". That doesn't sound relevant. I could go down later this week and look at it more carefully if that seems useful, but it sure doesn't look like it belongs in. The books listed as "Non-fiction" all seem, at best, tangentially relevant to spec fic. I suspect a few of them might have a spec fic book or two listed in their index, but none of them appear to actually be about spec fic. A quick check shows:

Words in Reflection: Fiction-History and Criticism; Postmodernism; Language and Languages.
Raymond Queneau: A biography of an author who wrote 18 novels, 1 of which is spec fic.
Franz Kafka: A biography of an author with some spec fic among lots of other work.
The Power of Tautology: The Roots of Literary Theory: My library doesn't have this, but I doubt anything on "The Roots of Literary Theory" is going to have any substantial spec fic.
Fiction Rivals Science: About literature and science. No reason to believe there's any spec fic.
Revels in Madness: As with "Celine", it's about mental illness in literature.
Reflections on the Aesthetics of Futurism: Futurism has essentially nothing to do with spec fic. And, again, this is an article in an academia-produced magazine that SFFRD doesn't include.
Fiction Refracts Science: Modernist Writers...: This might be relevant (!). See the product description at Amazon. My library doesn't have this book, and I could imagine that it's all about the interaction between science and literature, but the product description does mention "thought experiments" in literature.

Personally, I would drop everything except for "Fiction Refracts Science" and maybe the Kafka book. I can check out the Kafka book to see if it has enough to say (presumably about "Metamorphosis") to justify keeping. Interestingly enough, I just went back to the SFFRD database and did a more general search on this author, and they include exactly the two titles ("Refracts" and "Kafka") that I just suggested could be worth keeping. Chavey 00:29, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Most of this non-genre was added in 2004 & a bit in 2003/2005 just like all the titles(2005). I deleted most of it last year but missed this author.Kraang 02:58, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Same advice as Darrah, the whole lot of "Novels" looks to me (by their titles) to be 1) Nonfiction, 2) not novels (essays ?) and 3) not about SF (except in a very peripheric way like Breton who was a surrealist).Hauck 05:19, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
If no one has any objections I'll delete the Allen Thiher page.Kraang 01:26, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
That's fine with me.--Rkihara 03:34, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Same here. Hauck 05:19, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Author Directory

There's a proposed redesign at ISFDB:Proposed_Design_Changes#Author_Directory which allows us to recover several hundred Authors consigned to oblivion due to a pesky apostrophe as second character of their surname. So if you're a fan of an O'Brien or a D'Andrea you might like to take a look - it seems people don't look at that page very often, so I thought I'd mention it here. It's not "full-language support" by any means, but I think it improves Western-Alphabet Support a bit. Comments welcome. BLongley 17:39, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

As a fan of Madeleine L'Engle, I approve! The change will be useful, and the design is natural. It also reminded me of a feature request I'd had, but hadn't submitted. It's now Feature Request 3362115: have author searches work even if you've entered a "curly apostrophe" instead of a regular apostrophe, such as when pasting a name in from a word processing program. Chavey 19:05, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I like it! I use this feature when I'm looking for different spellings of an author's name. This covers the majority of authors left out of the matrix I think. Only a few weird names (like H.d.R. or the Dutch author, not yet in the database, called "Henry J.") will still be missing, but I don't think they're worth the programming time. Thanks! --Willem H. 19:44, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, now I've deciphered Al's clever-but-limited code it would be possible to deal with additional "letters" like "." for your "J." example. I might be able to deal with "curly apostrophe" too, I'll look into that. Some recent changes are leading us into areas I can no longer even attempt - improved "Language Support" in particular - but there's still some mid-hanging fruit I can deal with without learning a new language or ten. Thanks for the feedback! BLongley 20:06, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm all for it, I always wondered if that was an oversight. Then there are oddballs like Paul Bo'ld. Maybe a general lookup for quotes, single or double under the heading of each letter.--Rkihara 19:15, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

"Diff Pubs" changes

The "Diff Pubs" page has been updated to display publication notes and the cover art (when available.) Ahasuerus 07:46, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

It'll be interesting to see comments on this. I suspect many people have given up on using this feature, and I'm not sure I've done enough to make it more desirable. BLongley 22:46, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
It's very useful when you are trying to determine whether there are discrepancies between the contents of two collections/anthologies. Originally, we had a ton of mismatched pubs, but things have improved since the option to Import/Export contents was added. Ahasuerus 05:51, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
As it's an Editor feature rather than a Mod one, I suspect even you would have trouble seeing if it's being used. (Apache Logs are hard to read on default settings.) But still, I'd like to see comments on whether we need to add more details. BLongley 01:32, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Moderator notes added to the "Make Variant" screen

You can now enter Moderator notes on the "Make Variant" page. Ahasuerus 05:53, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

In addition, attempting to remove titles from a Fanzine no longer results in a spurious warning mesage. Ahasuerus 10:07, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
And finally, publishers and publication series with embedded double quotes should no longer be butchered when you edit them either directly or indirectly (via Edit Pub.) Ahasuerus 00:26, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
Glad to see yet another improvement, but you're not taking the credit for the stuff you added! BLongley 01:26, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, much of what we have been doing is a joint effort with you doing the original development and me doing the rest. I usually remember to add myself to the copyright line, but it's not like I expect to get a job as a software developer on the strength of my ISFDB work :-) Stranger things have been known to happen, though! Ahasuerus 04:49, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
I hope so - I've seen my latest bank balance and really must try to find some paying work soon. Man cannot live by kudos alone. :-( BLongley 06:41, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Clute & Langford's Encyclopedia of SF, Third Edition

Very interesting press release from Orion Publishing Group. Mhhutchins 06:24, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

It's only about five years later than planned... BLongley 17:06, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Based on our experience, an open beta is not a bad idea. However, SFE3's problem appears to be editor-provided content rather than software stability, which may present a different set of challenges. Ahasuerus 18:05, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Strange that they haven't approached us for guidance. After all, we've had software and editor instability for about the same length of time! ;-) BLongley 18:38, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Someone on their Facebook page asked if they'd be linking to external sites, and mentioned the ISFDB specifically. I responded that I don't think there's been any correspondence between us. But that it would be nice if we could link to their articles on specific authors and books just as we do now for Wikipedia articles. It shouldn't be too hard to implement, should it? Mhhutchins 22:04, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, we could add new fields to Author and Title records once SFE3 is out and proves to be stable. Until we do that, we could use the currently existing "Web Page" fields in the Title and Author records. Ahasuerus 00:11, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
I think there's a FReq out there somewhere (from Marc Kupper or Stephen Fritter maybe?) that wants all sorts of webpages available for all sorts of entities along with a Name for the link-type. (I'm sure I did a small improvement along those lines, which is why I recall it. Vaguely.) I remember thinking that Wikipedia links shouldn't be any more special than Librivox or Gutenberg links, so while we add a lot more flexibility we would also move our links to IMDB and Wikipedia to a more generic "See Also..." set of links. A simple SFE3 field would be easier - and we're going to have to address the fact that we currently verify against "Clute/Nicholls" - the 2nd edition. I know Dave Langford by sight and can probably go find him at a convention - but I really don't know if we're considered competition or complementary. BLongley 01:28, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
I doubt we are in competition with the SFE3 project although there is some inevitable overlap. For what it's worth, Al and I did a fair amount of bibliographic legwork for Dave and Co when they were working on The Encyclopedia of Fantasy -- we are listed in the acknowledgments section right next to Lawrence Watt-Evans. Ahasuerus 08:18, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Fantasy Sports

Are pubs on fantasy sports, e.g., fantasy or rotisserie baseball, and related essays in or out? Seems to me they're essentially game related and should be deleted.--Rkihara 16:35, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

I had to look-up "rotisserie baseball" - seems similar to "Fantasy Football" in the UK. I'd say it's out. Pubs on non-existent fantasy sports should be in though - e.g. Quidditch Through the Ages. BLongley 17:00, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
They're fantasy only in that they're usually played by overweight men who would never have a chance to participate in the real sports. Mhhutchins 17:22, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
There is "Fantasy Sumo"... BLongley 17:25, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
I also agree that fantasy sports pubs should be "out". I try to reject them while they are still in Fixer's internal queue, but one or two may have snuck in. Ahasuerus 17:43, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments, I'll delete them as I find them.--Rkihara 22:17, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Design for phase 4(?) of foreign language support

There's another design change I'd like feedback on: ISFDB:Proposed_Design_Changes#Unmerge_Foreign_Title.28s.29. It should make the reworking of non-English pubs under the English title much easier, and the sooner we get there the less rework will be needed overall. But I don't want to rush this in if there are other things we need to fix first - e.g. as I pinched most of the code from the existing Unmerge then there are probably issues with Reviews and Interviews that will need sorting at some point. BLongley 00:29, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

I should probably mention that I've built this on top of an as-yet-unimplemented Phase 3 FR 2823394 "Improve handling of foreign language Titles. Let users choose a default language that will be used when creating new publications or titles, or editing a title with no language set yet." That seemed to be fairly straightforward, so I designed and coded that without soliciting feedback - but feel free to explain where I went wrong with that too. BLongley 00:38, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
This will be useful once we change our data entry rules and allow the creation of separate Title records for individual languages. Before we can do that, though, we need to add a "language" field to the Author record and make all Author Bibliography pages aware of it. It's on my list of things to do, but first I need to catch up with the rest of your submitted changes, Bill. Ahasuerus 01:19, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, I can certainly add a "language" field to the Author record. Making all Author Bibliography pages aware is a bit trickier as I don't understand them all yet. Actually, I have very little understanding of any of them since Marty reworked some, and I'm aware that there are inconsistencies between them anyway, which may need sorting out. But this is why I'm asking for feedback rather than just dumping a load more changes on you - if people comment, they might keep me busy enough with things I can improve that you get to catch up! :-) BLongley 01:52, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
I had a bit more of a play with my proposal and after a mere hour created this: Foreign Variants.jpg
Obviously, we don't expect editors to work on every single language, though it would be nice if they would work on the ones they are familiar with: I don't think we've got any Ancient Greek editors (for instance) so there will still need to be some flexibility if we're going to get it all right. One thing I did discover though - even if we don't immediately add suppression of languages you're not interested in, the title page doesn't get much longer. And if you are interested in a non-English language, you'll be able to find such much more easily. Well, after thousands of hours of rework by our non-English experts, or a few dangerous mass-update scripts. :-/ So maybe there's not too many things that need fixing before this can go in? BLongley 03:16, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
Great! It's just great what you are doing. Without doubt there will be cases that will cause some stumbling, but I think that those should be overcome eventually. I have (at the moment) just one question of understanding: would the choosing of a preferred language be permanent or could it be changed, e.g. from one log-in to another? Stonecreek 14:26, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
It can be changed at any time and takes effect immediately - you won't even have to log out and log back in. And as it only affects default languages in edits, you'd only change it if you're going to do a significant number of edits in one language - you don't have to change it for just one or two edits. BLongley 15:13, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
I will work on any language I'm even faintly familiar with (no, ancient Greek is not my thing). One thing I would like to have added before starting on translations is the translator field (or the certainty it won't be added), to prevent rework upon rework. My Dutch collection is on second and third row, not very easily accessible. Setting a default language would be very useful to me. --Willem H. 14:41, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, in ISFDB:Proposed_Design_Changes#Enhanced_support_for_other_languages, Ahasuerus said "The thorny issue of translators will be ignored for now -- pseudonymous translators would be a pain to implement and will require more thought. I'd love to implement it at the same time as the language codes, but it would likely overwhelm the project." However, GaborLajos claimed to have a working prototype for translation, I'll see if I can reproduce his work. It'll take some effort to move all the translators we have in title or pub notes anyway, I can foresee a few Project pages being needed when support is added. BLongley 15:42, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
Looking even further ahead: is this where a Translator field should go? Translator1.jpg
I think I can do one translator at a time, but the "Add Additional Translator" button is a bit difficult and I might suggest this as good-enough-for-now in the same way that we deal with additional web-pages. But I still haven't looked at how to display such on Author (Translator) pages yet and pseudonyms of translators are going to be even harder. But do tell me if I'm going in the right direction. BLongley 01:03, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't think we want to add the ability to add just one translator with no support for pseudonyms as it will mean incorrect/incomplete data in the database and even more rework down the line. To do it right will require a significant amount of work and we need to get the basics (primarily making the Summary pages language-aware) out of the way first. Ahasuerus 03:48, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
This is adding one translator a time, not limiting it to one translator in total. The data would be correct (if entries in canonical_author are all that's required at first) and people could start capturing it properly rather than in notes. Still, if you consider the display issues more of a show-stopper I'll see if I can start on "working languages" - I doubt I can complete such, but I can get it to the stage were people can start setting them by author. BLongley 18:08, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
Ah, I see! That shouldn't be a problem, I have taught myself enough JavaScript to be able to add an "Add Translator" button without too much trouble. Our JavaScript generator is somewhat convoluted and needs to be rewritten (it's on my list of things to do), but it's not a show-stopper. Ahasuerus 02:40, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
Glad to hear it! I thought I could do it too, but it seems the current code is designed for just one "ADD" button per section. BLongley 19:11, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
The real issue here is adding the logic that will be necessary to handle this multiply occurring (per Title record) data element -- which is further complicated by pseudonymous translators -- throughout the application. Remember how small the original list of modified scripts was when Round 2 of language support was first committed? And how long it was by the time it was ready to be installed? Well, that was nothing (5-10% of the manhours) compared to the amount of work that will be required to add support for translators. But even if we have the manpower, we need to agree on the underlying table design first -- how VTs will be handled etc. Ahasuerus 02:40, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
I think we can divide this into "data capture" and "future use" changes - if we get the data into canonical_author then we can use it later. But yes, there is still a big decision to make - e.g. do we make identical titles with different translators variants, or do we want to create a new "TRANSLATOR" content type like "REVIEW" and "INTERVIEW"? BLongley 19:11, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
As far as GaborLajos' proposed approach to translators goes, I spent a fair amount of time trying to explain my understanding of the issues involved to him, but I don't think we ever got to the same page. Ahasuerus 03:48, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
You seem to be much farther then I imagined. As I see it you are going into the totally right direction. For the problem of translators and their pseudonyms: I'd say to advise users in editing the canonical name and to note every departure from that name. I'd love to be part of this in the coming weeks, but now is the time for my summer vacation and I'll be back in later August. Keep up the great work!Stonecreek 09:53, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, we might be going in different directions behind the scenes, but hopefully we'll get talking about it and can agree a way or two forward. Sometimes I look at the outstanding Bug and Feature Request lists and wonder how on earth this site is usable at all - but I'm glad it is, and that people like you are encouraging us to do even better. BLongley 19:11, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Merge Titles and Wikipedia links

Merge Titles should no longer choose the wrong Wikipedia URL. Ahasuerus 03:41, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Review of a Letter to the Editor

I'm entering data about a fanzine. The editorial in that issue is, essentially, reviewing a letter to the editor from Arthur C. Clarke to Time Magazine. ("Some women, Commander Norton had decided long ago, should not be allowed aboard ship; weightlessness did things to their breast that were too damn distracting."). Should I enter it as a review? Should I enter Arthur Clarke's letter as an "Essay" from him? It seems that he's important enough that noting this letter might be worthwhile. Chavey 23:42, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

I would opt for ESSAY type. Making essays into reviews which refer to a previously published essay (regardless of the extent) is a slippery slope. Perhaps if it referred to a spec-fic book (e.g. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama) and the intent of the essay as a review is very explicit, an exception might be made. Otherwise I don't see the value. Is the Clarke letter spec-fic related or science related? It's against ISFDB standards to add a pub record for a non-genre magazine (Time) in order to create a record for a non-spec-fic essay (Clarke's letter). Imagine having pub records for non-genre magazines in which Asimov's essays were first published. You can always give the reference to the letter in the note field of the editorial. Mhhutchins 19:27, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. REVIEW is really intended to make sure we have the relevant Fiction, or Spec-Fic related Non-Fiction. I might look into a software improvement that prevents the sillier stuff - although it might turn out that people want to record REVIEWs of COVERART. There's sometimes no telling what people really want to do here, but it keeps us on our toes. BLongley 00:35, 26 July 2011 (UTC)


Does anyone know anything about a magazine (fanzine?) titled Xenos? The submissions adding several more issues of it have been in the queue for several weeks now, with no response from the message left on the submitter's talk page. It was published in the 90s and is indexed by Fictionmags, but not by Miller/Contento. There are a few familiar names, e.g. Rhys Hughes. I can find no information on the internet that states outright that this is a spec-fic magazine. If we choose to handle it as non-genre we'd have to know which contents are spec-fic, if any. I'll contact Rhys and ask if he can shed light on the matter. Mhhutchins 23:40, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

I think the reason it's been left for weeks is that we obviously DON'T know anything about it. :-/ I looked at them a while back and recognised some names that might be "above a certain threshold", but not enough to approve and remove the extra contents. If you can contact one of the authors, great - We might see an empty submission queue again! (Yes, you have been missed.) BLongley 00:26, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
Rhys Hughes' response: "Yes I remember XENOS. It was primarily a science fiction magazine that also published fantasy, but it never (or rarely) published other kinds of fiction; though I did smuggle a 'magic realism' piece into it once. I can't remember but I think I had 4 or 5 stories in there in total over a period of a few years." I'll accept the submissions. Mhhutchins 15:29, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
Sounds like a good review to me. Maybe Phil Stephensen-Payne will upgrade HIS data if we cover it better. BLongley 00:27, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Title link for variant review records

I just noticed this morning that when a variant of a review is created only the variant (original credit) record links to the title record of the book being reviewed, but not the parent record. See these two records for example: variant record and parent record. Is this intentional (to avoid duplicate reviews under the reviewed book's title record) or is it a bug? Mhhutchins 16:19, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

I think it's intentional, but as I didn't code it I can't be sure. I think I recall making a fix so that a variant review would at least keep the involved authors and reviewers credited, but the more that variants and display issues are involved the less competent I feel. Is this actually causing any problems? BLongley 23:31, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

We have a regular non-fiction series called "Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy" and an eponymous publication series. As far as I can tell, it's the same series, so the question then is what kind of series it should be. Preferences? Suggestions? Ahasuerus 17:42, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

I entered most of those before the publication series feature was created. I feel they should all be converted to a publication series, and the title series should be deleted. Mhhutchins 18:07, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
I second the motion. Hauck 18:11, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good! Ahasuerus 01:15, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Submissions to make this change have been completed. Chavey 21:40, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
And I've added all missing titles to the series. Chavey 00:22, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, Darrah. Good job. Mhhutchins 00:31, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, well done. Looks good, and probably only McFarland & Company could do better. BLongley 00:36, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Strange results of a cover art unmerge

This record for Hiroko's cover art for Auel's The Mammoth Hunters contained two pubs (the 2002 Bantam reprints) which had different cover art. So I unmerged those pubs using the "Unmerge Titles" function. The two unmerged records disappeared. So I went looking for them and found that the "author" credit had changed to Jean M. Auel, the author of the book, here and here. Strange results indeed. Was this bug caused by the recent updates of that function? And should we stop doing unmerges entirely until that function is repaired? Mhhutchins 22:34, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

I believe that Unmerges work well (and hopefully slightly better than before) with "Container titles", but that I broke some content titles. Sorry! I've submitted a proposed fix for those, and for the content types that I suspect have never worked right. But Ahasuerus is very over-worked at present and I don't know when that will go in, there's a lot of scenarios to check. BLongley 23:09, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
My opinion as an alleged software expert (now severely in question!) is that unmerging 'ANTHOLOGY', 'COLLECTION', 'NOVEL', 'NONFICTION', 'NONGENRE', 'OMNIBUS' (and maybe 'CHAPTERBOOK' and 'EDITOR') should be OK. I think I personally broke 'COVERART' and 'SHORTFICTION'. :-( I didn't touch 'INTERIORART', 'ESSAY', 'INTERVIEW', 'POEM', 'REVIEW' or 'SERIAL' until recently so any problems in those is probably not down to me. And 'BACKCOVERART' seems to have been a dream of Al's that never materialised. BLongley 23:09, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation. I'll hold off submitting (and accepting) any unmerges for the problem types. Mhhutchins 23:31, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

What should spaceships look like?

Here's an interesting news article about the influence of SF artists. BLongley 18:00, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

Publisher Web pages

When editing publisher records with pre-existing Web pages, URLs should no longer appear incorrectly. Ahasuerus 01:49, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

Find Duplicates and Reviews

"Find Duplicates" no longer lists Reviews because many reviewers have been known to publish different reviews of the same work. You can still merge Reviews using Show All Titles and Advanced Search if you are sure that the text is identical. Ahasuerus 04:31, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Changes to user-submitted tags

Three popular tags have been added to the drop-down list: "young-adult horror", "zombies" and "werewolf". (I have no idea why "werewolf" is more popular than "werewolves".) Also, the Edit Tags page will now display a blank tag field when editing a title with pre-existing tags. Ahasuerus 05:20, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Thinking aloud

After a long time of approving things with unknown dates, and teaching people not to use copyright dates or first printing dates for later printings, it strikes me that we could at least help people with setting an UPPER limit on a submission by recording the date the entry was submitted, or approved. "Primary verified" is of course better, and entries for forthcoming books are always going to be questionable until they appear. Does anyone else think this is desirable? I know we have "printing number support" on the wishlist but that's only going to help with printings within a publisher and won't necessarily distinguish all "0000-00-00" books. BLongley 10:59, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't know if we can retroactively populate the details for existing submissions - I suspect we can since the time ISFDB opened to editing, but there's no data in the downloads to allow me to check such - and we'd have to agree on when a tentative record became a likely record. BLongley 10:59, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

How would this work? I can see some value in it, i.e. creating a range from which the publication had to have been published, but how would the dates be displayed in the pub record. And how would they be displayed in the title record's list of publications? Giving the record creation date would confuse many typical db users, IMHO. (Wondering aloud.) Mhhutchins 02:20, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I really don't know, which is why I threw the idea out for discussion. I think we could do something useful in ordering the "0000-00-00" titles, but I don't think it should be particularly visible for dated editions/printings. BLongley 02:27, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

I haven't made any edits yet because I CAN NOT LOG ON TO ISFDB, but I have been using the database extensively for about five years, copying data for my catalog. Often I'm cataloging books in hand, though my format includes a chronology of all known editions. When I have a book lacking stated edition and or printing, I look for any clues as to actual printing date. Catalog number and price are good indications, as are any other titles listed, by the same author or whatever. One source I have not seen cited here are ads. Avon in particular used dated ads for many years, so for those titles they are at least as new as the newest ad. In some cases a printing indicated only by number line can be checked with a Locus citation, to verify the proximity of date of printing with most recent advert. I've spent countless hours working to date unstated printings and would like to contribute to ISFDB, IF ONLY I COULD LOG ON.

Please help. Username: lindzay Login failed: Bad user name (WHY?) Lindsay G. Crawford, Springfield OR, September 02, 2011 (GMT -0700) or Lindzay 22:33, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

I've responded on your user page and via email as to your Login problems. I hope that helps you get in, it sounds like you have some interesting ideas. BLongley 01:04, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Broken links to images on Fantascienza

It appears that with the death of Ernesto Vegetti, the server (Fantascienza) which hosted his bibliography of Italian SF, has revamped both his work (tremendous improvement) and the URLs. This means the links that he placed to several hundred, maybe more than a thousand cover images, no longer work. Most of the records for Urania remain intact because they link to Mondourania not Fantascienza. But there appears to be just a change in folders. So has become We need to replace #cervo=Cov/00 with imgbank/cover. Is there a way to update the links from all of these records without having to do them manually? Mhhutchins 02:16, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Yes, there is. Let me see if I can write the script - it won't be used till Ahasuerus can check it out, of course, but I'd hate to lose all the work Ernesto did. If Ahasuerus is too wary of such then I can at least provide a project page we can work on. Thanks for pointing out the problem! BLongley 02:33, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Doh! I forgot that we can now search for Coverart URLs in Advanced Publication search, a project page would be redundant. BLongley 23:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
No worries. I'd forgotten as well. A quick check sees that we have more than 700 records which link to Fantascienza. Mhhutchins 00:09, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
It's a bit worrying that even the guy that coded them can't remember the new features. :-/ We obviously not only need the coders, and testers, and implementers, but people to do the help page updates and publicity. How am I going to put all this work on my CV if I can't recall what I did or whether it's gone live yet? :-( BLongley 00:32, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Aside - do we have anyone with Italian language skills that can check if such linking is still OK? BLongley 02:35, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I checked a few - it's not quite as simple as Michael suggested, there's 22 subdirectories to fix, although we could cover well over 500 just with his suggestion alone (I guess Ernesto didn't live long enough to cover all the later titles). And I could probably fix 740 before it gets into non-numerical sub-directories. BLongley 00:21, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
The big question remains - do we still have permission to do so? BLongley 00:21, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Looking at the actual images, they're all rather sad. (Compare the images on Fantascienza with those on Mondourania and you'll see the differences.) We may have to start looking for another site to see if a) they have better images and b) can we link to them. Mhhutchins 01:41, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Language display on Magazine Appearance variants

As an experiment I changed this title record to the translated Italian name and changed the language to Italian. But the language doesn't display under the parent title record. I've tried with a couple more, so I think the new foreign language support software displays the language only for NOVEL and SHORTFICTION title variants, but not SERIAL title records. Just a heads up before foreign language support is fully implemented. Mhhutchins 03:55, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Another Language issue

I changed Asimov's story to the Italian title in this publication, making it a variant of the English title. When I went back to remove the English title from the pub I got a message I've never seen before. Go to the record and choose "Remove Titles From This Pub". You'll see what I mean. What does this message mean? Mhhutchins 04:06, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Figured out the message has nothing to do with what changes I made in the record. The same message is given for every pub record under this series when you attempt to remove a content record. They all say they're missing the same record number: 1046795. There is not a title record for that number in the database. Curiouser and curiouser. Mhhutchins 04:10, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I spoke too soon. Not all of them give the error message. Only those from Issue #11 through Issue #43, and they don't all return the same missing title record. The later ones are missing 1046800. Mhhutchins 04:15, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Interesting. I don't think it's a language issue as it also affects this - there's over 300 stray pub_contents that need clearing up. It's probably easiest if Ahasuerus just runs some SQL like:
delete from pub_content pc
where not exists (select 1 
                  from titles t 
                  where t.title_id = pc.title_id)
as the only manual way I can think of cleaning these up is to clone the pub (which doesn't seem to copy over the duff content) and delete the original - which loses the verifications and requires even more steps when it's a Magazine, which has to be changed to something else first to allow the cloning. BLongley 16:49, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Obviously we can't ask Ernesto what he did to his magazines, but maybe Willem can recall what he did to "The Remarkable Exploits of Lancelot Biggs: Spaceman"? BLongley 16:49, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I can't recall doing anything special to this pub. I went back to my edits of June 4, 2010 (when I verified the pub), and could only find 3 "PubUpdate" edits, probably the notes. Most likely this was a new pub by fixer. The system seems to expect title #217841 in this pub, which doesn't exist. Is it possible to find out what this title record was, and how it disappeared (merge, delete)? Sorry I can't help more. --Willem H. 18:04, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for checking. I'm looking at all the problem records and suspect merging might be the cause - most of the records are in more than one publication, e.g. there were 5 duff "Belgarath the Sorcerer" and 3 duff "Polgara The Sorceress" - although those were even worse as they didn't have NOVEL contents and seem to be duplicates of properly-entered pubs. I've deleted those and will carry on until I can find more recent examples. BLongley 18:43, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
It's good to know this issue had nothing to do with foreign language support. This was an error message I'd never seen before. Mhhutchins 19:17, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Ooh, here's a fun one! Missing Man has three missing titles. As has The Second Generation. BLongley 20:03, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
If it helps, I know what three they were: at one time this was a collection with three shortfiction content records. All the pubs of this title (a fix-up novel) were converted to novels and the content records were removed. Are there other pub records that have this same history? Mhhutchins 22:20, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
There might be a title-removal problem then. Thanks for the info - I still haven't solved it yet, but any more clues will help. BLongley 00:49, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm seventy records through now, and discovered another oddity: title 127682 has an entry in pub_contents with no pub_id. I don't think that should be possible, and suspect we should add "NOT NULL" database constraints to prevent this - better to have an error message up front than introduce data corruption. I'm no closer to guessing what the underlying problem is yet though - but the Gremlins seem to be particularly fond of David and Leigh Eddings. BLongley 21:06, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Eddings had many foreign language titles, which I had to research to discover what the original English titles were. Than I had to merge the title records, retaining the English title (still the procedure to handle non-English titles until full conversion of foreign language support). Are you finding that most of the pubs were foreign language works? Mhhutchins 22:25, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
No, the really big problems (missing title and missing "container title") are mostly with the Eddings, but still English titles. At one point I thought it might be Art credits (it still might be - I think we have bugs in COVERART credit removals but I've never been able to recreate such). The good news (maybe) is that I haven't found such problems with anything I know has been added recently, so we may have fixed the problem already without knowing it. I'll keep looking - this is an interesting problem and beats moderating Fixer submissions any day! :-) BLongley 00:49, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

(Unindent) In case anyone else is looking at these - Clive Barker's Books of Blood: Volume VI has two missing titles. Also Avon Fantasy Reader, No. 4, 1947. BLongley 17:12, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

And "Cybersex" had eleven. I'm still at a loss as to what the underlying problem is/was, but I'm halfway through now and have fixed the ones that a Clone & Delete can fix. BLongley 18:13, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
I've finished the ones detectable in my last-downloaded ISFDB data, but didn't dare mess with Verified publications. I've flagged the problem up with Ahasuerus and hopefully we'll get to the bottom of it. If not, I'll try and produce mini-project pages for Verifiers of the problem publications and ask them to see if they can recall anything odd about them. BLongley 23:25, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Damien Graves; an interesting story

A few of us are working on correcting links for books and stories currently assigned to a pseudonym, but not linked to the actual author. One such pseudonym is Damien Graves, a house pseudonym, but for which most of the time we know who actually wrote the books. One we didn't know was the book End Game, where attributions for the book say it was written by Ben Jeapes and Robin Wasserman. It's actually a collection of 3 stories, so the obvious assumption was that some of those stories were written by Ben, and some by Robin. As it turns out, that's not the case! In email conversation, Ben wrote:

I honestly have no idea who Robin Wasserman is or whether he even exists: as far as I'm aware I was the sole author of [all 3 stories].

So I wrote to Robin to get his/her story. Robin wrote back:

Thanks for checking, and I'm glad you did, because actually, it's a mistake that my name is attached to that book at all. (It somehow got into the computer system that way at Scholastic, and has spread across the globe.) I edited the stories for Americanization purposes, but all the author credit should really go to Ben Jeapes. I just did a little mopping up after the fact.
What a cool website -- good luck putting everything together!

So they agree on what happened! Ben wrote the stories, and Robin translated some phrases from British English to American English. So, unless there's objections, I'm going to credit Ben with these stories (and the book) and explain in the notes Robin's role. Chavey 05:15, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for doing the enquiries - there's very few of us that can spare the time to chase the authors down and make them confess to stuff! ;-) BLongley 01:09, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
And hopefully no authors were irreparably harmed in the process of wringing confessions out of them!:-) Ahasuerus 15:09, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
Well if the next book comes out withallthewordsstucktogetherwithoutspaces we'll know we went too far with the thumb-screws. :-) BLongley 16:27, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
Following up on this conversation: I've assigned credit for all the stories to Ben Jeapes. In reviewing past work, I noticed that the book itself was still assigned to both authors (of course, since I hadn't changed that). I was going to change that, but of course for a collection we normally would include the editor of the collection, and Robin did serve (at least partially) in that capacity. Should I change the collection author credit, or leave her in as co-author of the book (with a note, of course)? Chavey 12:31, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
It should be changed to credit Jeapes only. Your statement that "of course for a collection we normally would include the editor of the collection" is incorrect. Editors of collections are not credited in the author field, but can be credited in the title record's note field. Only editors of anthologies, nonfiction and magazines are assigned author credit. (We had this same discussion about a Charlotte Perkins Gilman collection that I still believe is wrongly attributed, based on ISFDB standards. And I say all this as an editor of two collections for which I'm not credited, based on ISFDB standards.) Mhhutchins 15:24, 23 September 2011 (UTC)