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Archive of messages from May - September 2012

Make Variant bug fixed

It's no longer possible to create "Make Variant" submissions with an empty "Year" field. Ahasuerus 04:08, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Michael Butterworth

I've just received a 17 page bibliography from Michael Butterworth with more to come, relating to a discussion earlier about his works. Maybe 33% is not spec-fic and falls outside of our rules of acquisition. There's so much stuff here it would be shame to leave some of it out, so I was wondering if it is possible to upload the document (with his permission) into the ISFDB and link it back to the author page?--Rkihara 23:37, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

What format is the file? If it's fairly plain text, just copy'n'paste on to the wiki page and we can trim it as the 'proper' entries are created/checked. I'd be reluctant to introduce a proprietary file format here. BLongley 10:23, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
It's an MS Word file. Not sure how to do the copy and paste to the wiki or what wiki page you are referring to. Should I create a new page and link back?--Rkihara 17:23, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

"Macmillan Canada", or "Macmillan of Canada"

(Moved from the Community Portal Talk page, where it didn't belong :-( ) Chavey 05:18, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

This publisher began with an official name of "Macmillan Company of Canada", then became "Macmillan of Canada", then became "Macmillan Canada". I have been unable to determine the dates at which those name changes happened, but whenever it was, we don't have it recorded correctly. We have "Macmillan of Canada" publishing from 1965-1979, and "Macmillan Canada" publishing from 1947-1986. None of the 12 books listed under these publishers have been verified. I suggest that unless we get some verifications, that we merge these two sets of books under one common (and I don't care which name). Chavey 16:02, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

I suggest that we use the name of the publisher as it appears in the books when they were actually published. That's the ISFDB standard. And without primary verifications we use secondary sources, which appear to be how they are presently entered. I've gone through and changed the publisher of most of those listed under "Macmillan Canada" to either "Macmillan of Cananda" (post-1964) or "Macmillan Co. of Canada" (pre-1964), based on OCLC records. The only publication that remains under "Macmillan Canada" (here) appears to be one that you created from the US edition. I can't find an OCLC record for it. Also, this was posted on the wrong page. This is a page to discuss the Community Portal, not to post a message to the community. :) Mhhutchins 15:59, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Well, I wonder how I got here when I thought I was at the Community Portal? I'm going to have to get my GPS unit checked, apparently I'm wandering lost across pages :-)
I changed the 1948 book to be consistent with that time period. (I'm pretty sure I had looked up what others used for "Macmillan", and used what appeared common for that time.) Thanks for checking the WorldCat records on this. Chavey 05:15, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Stalked by Daisy Meadows

Aaaargh! As soon as I deal with the latest "Rainbow Magic" submissions from fixer, I discover they're coming to my town! If you know anyone that wants to go, see if you can get them to make people admit what titles they've ghost-written. Same for "Adam Blade". BLongley 12:54, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

I missed her at SXSW, but heard she's playing Bonnaroo in June. Most likely she fills the stage. Mhhutchins 16:24, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

German Books

It seems that most of the German books I run into around here all have titles that end with periods. I assume that's some type of German standard for listing book titles, but I've been erasing all of those periods when I find them. Should I be doing so? Or is there some reason to leave them there? Chavey 16:57, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Sounds like something a robot would do. I'd bet none of them have been verified. If they haven't been verified, feel free to remove the period. Now capitalization is another matter. I'd leave that to those editors more familiar with the language. Mhhutchins 17:25, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Hmmm, I don't remember entering one of those (or running across one of them). Most probably they shouldn't end with a period. Do you have an example at hand? Stonecreek 17:56, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Mike is correct that so far I haven't seen any such titles with verified publications. As for examples, I've corrected many that I've seen, but from novels alphabetically through D, I see the following: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. All of these books are German. In the same alphabetical range of novels, I found one such book that wasn't German (which I corrected), and hence I wondered if it was something special about how German books were sometimes listed. Chavey 20:30, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
That's how some German/Austrian libraries display some of their titles, e.g. Herbert W. Franke's Der grüne Komet appears as "Franke, Herbert. -Herbert W. Franke. Der grüne Komet. Utopisch-technische Kurzgeschichten." and as "Der grüne Komet. Science-fiction-Erzählungen. (1. Aufl.)" in the Austrian National Library. uses the same convention on occasion, e.g. "Der grüne Komet.". Ahasuerus 03:21, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
That explains where they're coming from. I assume, though, that I should continue deleting those periods when I find them? Chavey 03:25, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I say we vote them off the island :) Ahasuerus 05:40, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, they are to be dropped for sure. They may be stated with a period in national libraries, but this differs from the title stated on title pages, spines and covers. It is used only seldom when there are two different titles stated (as in the case of a collection with only two shortfictions). And I'd use the common English colon to separate titles from undertitles as in this example. Stonecreek 08:15, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I've seen this on many German books from Amazon UK, and have been correcting them as I come across them. If fixer ever gets let loose on Amazon DE it's something to bear in mind. BLongley 12:18, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
All german book titles with a period were submitted in the early years of ISFDB. All newer german book entries are without a perid. As Ahasuerus said, the period is only a part of some german bibliographies and libraries but never part on the title pages. I've always deleted a period, when I've found it. Some sources of german books seperate the title from a subtitle with a period. As Stonecreek, I use a colon and it is as well a ISFDB rule. Rudam 19:34, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I did a fairly thorough search, and found 53 books with spurious periods at the ends of their titles, which I have removed. (Most, but not all, were German books.) Along the way, I also corrected a bunch of periods that were obviously title line separators, which I converted to colons. Chavey 02:04, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Good job! Regularizing the universe, one period at a time! (Or is it "regularising"? :-) Ahasuerus 04:35, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, thanks for your effort! What's with normalizing (or is it "normalising"? - zerfix, that leads to the same problem.) Stonecreek 14:31, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
I've found far more than 53, but am working through them. Although I was a bit disheartened by this title - how's that for sweeping problem pubs under the rug? :-( BLongley 16:29, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) Wow! I wonder who did that one. I only did a search on titles, so I see that there are lots of pubs that are listed differently than their titles, with respect to that little period. Let me know if you want help on that, or I can let you pursue the pubs on your own. (See the next topic for what I'm up to this week and next.) Chavey 22:06, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Feel free to dive in and help me moderate the unmerges - the way I'm working means the dot-removal is easy but the remaining steps are still a pain. I'm trying to get as many done as possible before next backup, as the search is best done with fresh data. BLongley 15:36, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I believe I have now removed all of the terminal periods from publication records as well as the title records I did before. Chavey 05:50, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
At one point (about 2-3 years ago?) we discussed Nora Roberts' work and whether she was over the proverbial "certain threshold". Someone (DES, I think) pointed out that she had more SF titles than many genre authors who are above the threshold. I suspect that her non-genre titles were then merged by a moderator who meant to sort them out later, except that the "later" never happened. Ahasuerus 23:54, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I was the moderator, and I wasn't looking for non-genre titles, even though I did pull out several "In Death" translations. None of these pubs were under a English title record, and the only way to clean up Roberts page was to first determine if a title was non-genre or not. So I merged them all into one title record. Anyone with the time can then go through each pub, looking for which English title it refers to, and then determine whether it's a genre title. If it is, then unmerging it and then varianting it would just take a couple of submissions. Or, if it's determined that it's a non-genre title, then the pub record can be easily deleted. And I disagree that she is above the "certain threshold". The ISFDB is no place to record her 209 romance novels unless they have a fantasy element. I think DES's argument silly (if he were the one that posed it). I believe the threshold should be based on an author's status in the field, not just quantity. And looking at her page now, the ISFDB user would have to assume that she only wrote one non-genre novel, and that everything else is speculative fiction. Mhhutchins 02:35, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
I did make that argument, and I still make it. Over 40 SF titles in the "In death" series alone, plus I think something like a quarter to a third of her other books have a fantasy, paranormal, or supernatural element large enough to make them IN, although this is hard to verify from secondary sources. Her non-genre novels should be marked as such, and I have marked several which I could be sure were, and I have added tags to several to indicate the nature of the genre elements. "Stature" is a very subjective judgement, and I think that quantity plus "bestselling" for a 35+ novel SF series, plus far more fantasy than Mary Stewart ever wrote is enough to put her over the threshold. -DES Talk 00:01, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
The "certain threshold" mentioned earlier is notoriously hard to define, so disagreements are to be expected. My personal approach to this issue tends to be utilitarian: does adding a particular author's non-genre titles add to the value of our bibliography? And does it help our users find useful and/or otherwise hard-to-find information? Based on these criteria, here is what I usually do:
  • For established non-genre authors like Dickens, Twain and Daudet our users' expectation is that we won't be listing their non-genre works (which are readily available elsewhere and which would only make our biblio harder to use), so I don't include them.
  • For "primarily genre" authors adding non-genre titles helps present a complete view of their oeuvre, so I include them.
  • For authors who have done a fair amount of work in and out of genre, I don't delete their non-genre titles if they are already in the database. If they are missing, I add any non-genre titles that can be mistaken for SF (usually due to suggestive titles) and add a comment explaining the nature of each title. If the author has relatively few non-genre titles, I will add them so that a "naive" user wouldn't have to wonder if we may have omitted a particular title by accident. Everything else falls into a kind of "grey zone".
In Nora Roberts' case, if all of her SF was limited to one or two series, then IMHO there would be no reason to list her non-genre works. However, she has published lots of SF in multiple series (plus, apparently, some standalones), so I think it would be useful to have her non-genre work listed simply to ensure that our users could easily determine whether a particular book is SF or not. Not that I am volunteering to work on it myself :)
There are other issues with her bibliography, e.g. "Silhouette Special Edition" and "Silhouette Romance" need to be converted from regular series to pub series, but that's a different story. Ahasuerus 05:46, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Non-English language publishers

I recently discovered the Wikipedia pages on Book publishing companies by country and Publishing companies by country. So I began checking each such publishing company to see if they appeared in ISFDB, and adding basic links and data to their publisher entry if it wasn't there already. As I did that, I realized that going to those publisher pages and lists of books was a good way to identify many (although not all) books that had been entered prior to our support for title language. These books are generally still listed as a publication under an English (or "default language") title, usually with a note as to the actual language. So I'm now systematically converting these books to the current system. That usually means something like: Unmerge the non-English title, set the language of the main title to English, set the language of the unmerged title to the correct non-English language (with a trip to WorldCat to verify language if I'm not positive), then set the non-English title to be a variant of the English title. (There are, of course, lots of variations on this theme.) Alphabetically working my way through countries, I'm now about half-way through "France".

I mention this here because I am not going to the effort to inform verifiers of non-English publications that I have created new title recs, with language, for their verified publications. I'm partly justifying this on the grounds that I haven't actually changed anything about your verified publication record -- only the title record that links to it. But in fact, it's really just that there would be far too many such notifications I would have to send. I've currently created about 300 such new title records, adding languages to them and adding "English" to the main title record if it was still blank. I expect that by the time I'm done, I'll have created about 1000 such new title records, and I don't want to write that many "I changed your pub" notifications (and you don't want to read them :-). But I thought I should post here a general notice that this is going on under your noses. (Especially Hauck's nose, who had entered lots of French publications back before language support, when he had to add notes to all of them :-). Chavey 22:07, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

I thought that there was a kind of automated procedure forthcoming which would do exactly this. I don't know at what stage you're now but the total of French titles to be converted is more likely in the 2000 range.Hauck 06:01, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
We're still quite a way off from that. There's three language-related fixes outstanding for Ahasuerus to test, plus the unmerge bug to fix, before I offer up "Unmerge Foreign title" for consideration. That will do the unmerge, set language and make variant in one step rather than three - it won't assume the parent is English. That should make things a lot faster but is still working title by title. Mass-update scripts are possible but their risk has to be assessed against the benefits - 2000 titles would obviously be done better automatically, but thoroughly testing a change that only works on 100 may take longer than doing it manually. BLongley 13:53, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I have several semi-automated macro scripts I'm using that speed up the process. Generally that means that once I've identified a publication to unmerge, it takes me about 6 key-strokes to do it. But to avoid some of the serious testing required of automated scripts, these scripts require that I actually look at all of the submissions before I accept them, which makes them a lot safer to use. These scripts also don't assume the parent title is English -- that's just the most common scenario. Chavey 14:20, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, semi-automated is a safe alternative, if slow. If Ahasuerus is unwilling to pass a fully automated solution then it's fairly easily to post project pages or even let Data Thief submit batches for review. BLongley 14:54, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I timed myself on a recent batch of conversions, and I'm converting them at a rate of about 50 an hour. If there are about 3000 such books (a reasonable guess, based on Hauck's estimate of his submissions), that's about 60 hours of work. That's a couple of weeks when I'm trying to avoid my real job :-) One of the things I've run across that's a bit of a nuisance is that when I unmerge multiple pubs with, say, the same French title, I need to merge those titles together. But our Advanced search can't handle searches that have diacritical marks. (I assume that's a known bug.) So I can't then just search on the newly extracted title to find the pubs to merge, and generally have to be a bit more devious. Chavey 15:53, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I use the "back" button a lot on these. Use the title link to find the title number, then after approving it go back and go through each publication one by one to get to the unmerged title and submit a make variant, then go back twice. I know that doesn't help non-mods, but it's the best suggestion I can make for now. BLongley 20:44, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
Searching trick: You can use "%" as a zero-or-more-characters wildcard ("a%b" will match "ab", "aXb", "a123b", and so on), and "_" as a one-character wildcard ("a_b" will match "aXb" but NOT "ab" or "a123b"). So if you have at least a few letters without diacriticals, you can replace the others with one of those and usually get reasonable results. --MartyD 10:44, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
Note also that this manual process seems to create some variant titles of variant titles as per corresponding cleanup script. Hauck 17:40, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

Display problem with "s in subtitles?

In publications of Lovecraft: A Look Behind the "Cthulhu Mythos" the actual work is not displayed in the TOC. For example in 155681

   * xi • Introduction: The Shadow Over Providence • essay by Lin Carter
   * 185 • Appendix: A Complete Biliography of the Mythos • essay by Lin Carter

But not the actual body of the work at page 1.

Seems like a display bug to me or is there a reason to not show it? Dana Carson 19:38, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

It's nothing to do with subtitles or quotation marks. In a NONFICTION-typed pub record, the title work isn't displayed, only contents. The same is true of NOVEL-typed records, if there are no "extra" contents added to the record. For example: two different records for Mission of Gravity: this one does not display a record for the novel (only the title reference link in the metadata), but this one does, and that's only because an afterword content has been added to it. It's not a bug, just a display choice, which is somewhat arbitrary when you start to think about it. Either it should be displayed all the time or none of the time. Mhhutchins 20:51, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
It's also true of COLLECTION and ANTHOLOGY-typed records. The title isn't displayed in the contents, which makes perfect sense. So I don't see a reason for displaying a content title for NONFICTION-typed records. Mhhutchins 20:57, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
I would think a NONFICTION-type should work the same as a NOVEL-type (if there is extra content, then list the main content). Collections and anthologies don't have a actual content that is solely designated by their title, but both novels and non-fiction works do. The way novels work is much more intuitive than the non-fiction record above. -- JLaTondre (talk) 21:36, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
Agreed. If nothing is shown that's fine but if you show some of the contents the missing part looks strange and confused me at least. Dana Carson 11:54, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
BTW, I just changed the spelling of "Biliography" to "Bibliography" in the content record you used as an example. Mhhutchins 20:58, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. Dana Carson 11:54, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Pan > Pan Books

After some discussion among a few editors, we came to the conclusion that records currently giving "Pan" as the publisher should be changed to "Pan Books". It helps when searching because so many publishers have "pan" in their name, as in "company". And most OCLC records also give the full name of the publisher. Is there anyone who has primary verified records credited to "Pan" who objects to the change? Mhhutchins 07:40, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

I support this change, and have several "Pan" books. I'm also OK with subsets like "Pan Giant" being turned into publication series - so long as I don't have to do the work! BLongley 19:54, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
No objection here. Ahasuerus 02:44, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
Same question for "OUP" which appears in all "grOUP" names. May i change this to the full "Oxford University Press"? BLongley 11:13, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
I think "OUP" only exists because of Fixer records. Anytime I handle one, I always correct it to Oxford University Press. I think they all should be changed. Mhhutchins 13:51, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
Fixer seems to have acquired a load of "OUP Oxford" titles recently, which prompted this question. Unless there's an "OUP" not in Oxford (maybe OUP US?) these seem to contain repetitive and redundant information. BLongley 15:02, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
It seems to be an Amazon quirk. I have tweaked Fixer to change "OUP Oxford" to "Oxford University Press" on sight. Ahasuerus 17:23, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Patch r2012-10

Patch r2012-10 has been installed. It implemented certain changes to the submission approval process so that if moderators approve submissions out of order, it will no longer result in publications whose contents can't be removed. The following two scenario were known to cause this problem to occur:

1. Create a Clone Pub submission, then delete or merge the reference (i.e. "main") title found in the original pub. 2. Create a Clone or Import/Export submission, then merge one or more of the titles found in the original pub.

Please note that the implemented fix will prevent these problems from occurring in the future, but it didn't fix the 200+ pubs that are current affected by this issue. I will work on cleaning them up tomorrow -- I'd like to identify and notify the verifiers since some of the pubs may need to be re-checked. Ahasuerus 04:53, 20 May 2012 (UTC)

The data has been cleaned up. It is now possible to remove titles from pubs like Oriental Stories, December-January 1931. The next step is to identify all pubs that list the same title more than once. Stay tuned... Ahasuerus 01:33, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
The following pubs contain duplicate titles, which need to be removed:
| pub_id |
|  88741 |
|  49480 |
| 130351 |
|  56609 |
| 360598 |
|  12299 |
| 270530 |
| 273246 |
| 273771 |
|  83124 |
| 307179 |
| 321306 |
| 321848 |
| 323953 |
| 328329 |
| 328745 |
| 329094 |?
| 330354 |
| 331344 |
| 330035 |No way!
|  14613 |
| 359455 |
| 368122 |
| 382437 |
| 382438 |
| 385605 |
Next I need to fix the approval script so that import/export submissions would ignore titles that are already present in the destination pub. Ahasuerus 02:13, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
I've started removing the duplicate records and will indicate a pub is finished by striking out its record number. Mhhutchins 03:30, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
I fixed all but two. In the first one (329094) I could find no duplicate content records, and the second one (330035)...well, let's say I don't have a few hours to look for duplicates in that one! Surely there's got to be a better way to remove them. Will you run the script again and see if I removed all of the duplicates from the other ones? Thanks. Mhhutchins 04:13, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
Sorry about 329094. I fixed it as part of my testing and forgot to remove it from the posted list. Everything else looks good, but I have just realized that I ran my script against the last backup, which doesn't include the latest offenders from the Magic Carpet adventure. Running the script against the live data, I see that 387122, 387289, 387359 and 387576 have problems. The culprit is "The Souk (Oriental Stories, October-November 1930)", an INTERIORART record which has multiple versions in all of these pubs. And it seems strange that the same interior art (including the month/year) would be used in 10 different issues of Oriental Stories and The Magic Carpet. It looks like a title merge gone awry. Ahasuerus 05:18, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
I accepted the submission to merge all of them, assuming that it was a spot illustration that was used in every issue to illustrate the editorial/letter column ("The Souk"). I'll try to see if there's anything I can do to fix it. Mhhutchins 05:25, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't really see this as a problem. If the same piece appears three times in a single publication (as it does in the book that collects three issues) then why shouldn't it be displayed on the book's publication page for each appearance ? And why shouldn't the publication be displayed three times on the title record's page. It may be rare, but it happens, as this case proves. Mhhutchins 05:37, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
Well, it's possible for the same title record to appear twice (or even multiple times) in a pub, e.g. a poem may appear at the beginning and at the end of a book. It's uncommon, but we have run into this scenario a few times. Unfortunately, our software doesn't handle these cases well and will only display the first occurrence of each title. I will poke around to see if we can change the display logic to show each occurrence of each title rather than just the first one. Ahasuerus 05:51, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

"Mr" vs. "Mr." in titles

The canonical title of a well-known book is "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". The first edition writes this without the periods, i.e. as "Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". Initially, I assumed this wouldn't make a difference -- e.g. our help pages are clear that if I saw the author "Arthur C Clarke", I should correct that to "Arthur C. Clarke" (with the period). However, in re-reading, the Title Help Screen, under the section on "Symbols and punctuation," it is fairly obsessive over small variations in a title. But it doesn't quite address the issue of periods for abbreviations. So should I: (1) Correct it to the canonical title (adding the missing periods); (2) Leave the periods out of the publication title, but leave it in the same title rec; or (3) Create a variant title rec for this (minor) title variation? Chavey 14:34, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Without looking at what the help page says, I personally feel the canonical title should be exactly as it was first published...but I would not create a variant if later printings add a period in the title. Just enter the title field of the publication record exactly as it is published but keep the publication under the same title record. This method only becomes a problem when a title is included in a larger work (e.g. novels in omnibuses). I think the variant function has been overworked and the creation of variants is overdone, and in some cases to the point of being ridiculous. It adds questionable value to the database and in the long run confuses the user. Clarity is a much better commodity than perfection. (And this is coming from a perfectionist.) Mhhutchins 18:31, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't think we've decided "Mr" vs. "Mr." for authors even! :-/ For container titles, "no variant needed for punctuation differences" seems to be OK for the publications under it - we can still record "exactly what it says". So that would be (2). BLongley 23:13, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
As for "the variant function has been overworked" - I agree. "Variant" is a misnomer now, it covers title changes, author changes, serialisations, translations... and still needs to be extended to cover translations by different translators! We're still at the point (IMO) where we can use the functionality usefully, but help is now very unclear on when and why to use it. One more extension and we really need to look at the "X relates to Y in Z way" final(?) solution. (OK, it won't be final if we sort out how to relate fix-up novels to constituent stories.) BLongley 23:13, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Source for cover info

Pulp cover artists might be figured out by looking for the cover at which has many from the Robert Lesser Pulp Art Collection. Dana Carson 06:11, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia & "Publication history at ISFDB"

There are just under 1700 books with their own Wikipedia pages that include a link at the end to their "publication history at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database". This strikes me as a very neat thing to do, both for Wikipedia and for our own PR. A random sample implied that most of these seem to be for books where we do have a pretty good publication history. However, I ran across this phenomena with Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" where what we had was the original 1891 publication and exactly one other edition prior to 1950. That's a pretty sad "publication history". In this particular case, I searched WorldCat and added all 37 other publications (in 11 languages) that they WorldCat knew about through 1920. So this particular instance now has at least a reasonable claim to a "publication history" for that text. But I wonder how many of the other 1,688 titles we have linked this way fail to fulfill our claim? Chavey 19:24, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Our claim??? Where do we claim to have a "publication history" of any title? That's part of the Wikipedia template that we're not responsible for. If I knew how, and if no one would jump down my throat, which happens too often when I try to edit Wikipedia, I'd change the template to be a more accurate reflection of what the link entails. Mhhutchins 19:39, 28 May 2012 (UTC)
I changed the ISFDB template on Wikipedia from "Publication history at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database." to "Summary page for publications of this title at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database." Let's see how long it takes before someone there complains about my edit. Mhhutchins 19:52, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Coutts Brisbane's "The Law of the Universe" vs. "The Dominant Factor"

Would anyone happen to know whether Coutts Brisbane's "The Law of the Universe" is a VT of "The Dominant Factor" as discussed here? Ahasuerus 19:29, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Movie posters from an alternate universe

Here is a fun site dedicated to movie posters from an alternate universe. Almost half of the movies are SF, so it's vaguely on topic :) Ahasuerus 00:11, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

"The Gate to Women's Country", by Sheri S. Tepper

I entered an edition of this book that consists of remaindered copies of the true first edition book, with a new dust jacket that says the book is "Free with purchase of Raising the Stones." The book itself is identical to the true first edition, including the claim that it's a first edition printed in Sept. 1988. However, the dust jacket was printed in 1990, was only used with this edition, and is being used as a promotional item for a 1990 book by Tepper. As such, I assume it should be entered with a "publication date" of 1990. But was I right in giving it a price of "$0" (with a note explaining that)? Chavey 03:39, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

I'd say so. At least the blurb said 'Free with purchase...'. That is not enough reason to assume a price of $0.00. Stonecreek 00:07, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I disagree. Bibliographically, your copy is not a new edition. It's the first edition with a new dustjacket, making it a variant. It should be sufficient to add a note to the record for the first edition that some copies of the edition were issued in a different dustjacket as you described. Just my two cents. Mhhutchins 21:51, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Ah, yes. But your 2 cents counts for at least a nickel :-) Chavey 02:46, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, the exchange rate fluctuates, based on the perception of the editor receiving the advice. I would venture to say that there are some who believe the value is less than one cent. Thanks. Mhhutchins 03:57, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
It could be worse, sometimes my opinion seems worth less than a Greek Euro. :-/ BLongley 11:21, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Exchange rates aside. Mike, is your objection to a separate publication record for the re-jacketing general or because it is the same publisher? I recently encountered a similar situation. Unsold copies of the first edition (ERB Inc) of Burroughs' Back to the Stone Age was apparently remaindered and sold by Grosset & Dunlap with a new jacket at a reduced price. This is explicitly noted in both Zeuschner and Heins. I think Tuck is trying to state the same thing by putting both "states" within the same set of parentheses. We already had separate records for these two states when I first encountered them. My own opinion (I've no idea how many Mhhutchins or BLongleys it is worth)is that separate publication records are proper in this instance. We have a new date, price, publisher and potentially cover artist (not for Stone Age) that would need to be noted. Though, now that I think about it, none of these items are going to be reflected on the title page of the re-jacketed state. The print bibliographies all seem to list it separately to some degree. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 12:24, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
This is not really my area - I'm a pb collector and only reluctantly buy tp or hc - but I would suggest (gently) that a new date, price, publisher or cover artist would be worth a new record. But this is straying into Michael's specialist area, much like the SFBC rules. (Which I am not personally happy with, as it prevents verification of individual gutter codes etc.) But as I'm unlikely to ever Primary Verify one of these I appreciate my view is comparatively low here. BLongley 13:03, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps my objection to creating a new record for a different "state" may have been a knee-jerk reaction. But now that I've had more time to think it over, I can find one rationale for not having a new ISFDB record: a jacketless copy of a book doesn't make it anything less than a copy with a jacket. It's less valuable, of course, but the books themselves remain the same edition. Remove the jackets of the two books in discussion and you have the same book. (The librarians and editors at OCLC enter all data from the actual books and nothing from the dustjacket, which is not considered to be an essential part of the publication.) If the bindings have changed, even though the pages come from the same printing, I would think a separate record would be necessary. This happens when titles are issued simultaneously in hardcover and trade paperback, or when a limited edition only adds a tipped-in signature sheet, but is otherwise identical to the regular edition. This is just my personal opinion, and I'm not going to be deleting records for false entries like this. I've learned to choose my battles more wisely. Mhhutchins 19:00, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Hitchcock anthologies

I have dozen Alfred Hitchcock anthologies to enter; how do I determine which stories or anthologies to input? Many stories in them are SF or by authors of SF interest. So the question is, do I pick and choose or enter them all?Don Erikson 18:27, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Any stories that are definitely spec-fic [and the book they appear in] should be added. "Authors of SF interest" is a different subject. My unwritten rule of thumb: if an author is already on the DB, I'm inclined to add stories that are non-genre but only if spec-fic is that author's primary writing genre. It is a judgment call. The Help isn't really specific, nor can it be. There is no hard and fast 'line' drawn [not yet anyway]. You've entered enough data to have a pretty good feel here, use your best judgement. --~ Bill, Bluesman 23:32, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Dark Harvest

I have to wonder why [this] author is included in the db when none of his works are spec-fic?? A note on the title record for one pub: "Crime thriller, included in the ISFDB in order to create a complete bibliography for the specialty publisher Dark Harvest" seems to answer the question but when did we start listing every genre by any publisher [large/small/specialty] just for 'completeness'?? How did this even get on the db in the first place?? --~ Bill, Bluesman 22:44, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Some of his shortfiction was published in genre sources (Make a Prison was even collected in multiple "best of" anthologies"). Those certainly belong in the database. Personally, I don't think he meets the "certain threshold" of the Rules of Acquisition (#4 & #5) so wouldn't include the non-genre works. I also don't see a need to include every work by a publisher. -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:48, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
Other than the one title noted, do you know which other short fiction works do belong? Certainly seems like the bibliographic tree needs pruning. --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:06, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
A quick click through the shortfiction titles will show you that:
Those are likely to be genre (and even if not, I would recommend including based on the publication). Several more might or might not be depending on how stringent the "supernatural" portion of "supernatural horror" is applied. "How Would You Like It?" is in a verified publication so the verifier (Stonecreek) should be consulted on that one. -- JLaTondre (talk) 00:28, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
I was the editor who created pub records for the Dark Harvest editions of Block's nongenre books, which I see someone has already deleted from the database. (So why weren't the other nongenre publications by Block deleted?) I still believe Dark Harvest deserves a complete bibliographic record in the ISFDB, and most people familiar with the specialty press field would agree. Block's The Sins of the Fathers (whose introduction by Stephen King is now a stray title record because the pub record was deleted) is a non-supernatural thriller, just as Bloch's Psycho, Tryon's The Other, and King's Dolores Claiborne. I've seen the rules bent in much less important instances to include nongenre publications, most often because a work was reviewed in a genre magazine. I'd much rather see a record for a nongenre book by Lawrence Block in the database than a nonfiction book about Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement by a writer who has no genre work. So when do we delete Thomas Harris's works from the database? And all nongenre works by nongenre writers? For example, authors like Nora Roberts whose spec-fic works are such a relatively small portion of her output, most of which are not listed correctly on her summary page as nongenre. Mhhutchins 21:41, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Nominate Biomassbob for Moderator

I would like to nominate Biomassbob for moderator status. Though only editing here for for a little over four months, the range is impressive. The willingness to learn and adapt is easy to see. Communicates very well, and is willing. --~ Bill, Bluesman 14:43, 13 June 2012 (UTC)


  1. Support, as nominator. --~ Bill, Bluesman 14:43, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. Support, as moderator who has seen quite a bit of his submits. Stonecreek 13:06, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
  3. Support Kraang 02:28, 16 June 2012 (UTC)


  1. Oppose, as moderator who has handled many of his submissions. Bob is doing excellent work, is nicely detail-oriented, and has been very receptive to feedback, but I think he has more to learn and needs more experience with the "gotchas". That, and it would be nice to see a lower frequency of typos/mechanical mistakes. 20 or so comments -- mostly on submissions -- in half a month is a much higher frequency than we should be seeing for someone ready to become a moderator. He's well on his way, but I think he needs a little more of Ahasuerus' oregano. --MartyD 18:14, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. Oppose. As the moderator who has handled most of Bob's submissions, I ditto Marty's remarks. I only ask those who support this nomination, many of whom have handled relatively few of his submissions, to read Bob's talk page in order to get a better understanding of his progress as an editor. Mhhutchins 21:11, 18 June 2012 (UTC)



  1. I haven't done much work on Biomassbob's submissions, but a review of the suspect's, er, I mean the nominee's Talk page suggests that although Bob is very detail-oriented, he may still be in the process of learning certain core areas of the application, e.g. see Making variants of existing titles, Titles and authors in reviews, Titles of serials. Perhaps a bit more seasoning may be indicated? (I'll provide the oregano!) Ahasuerus 05:26, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. The one major thing he has got to learn (and that I took a while to learn, too) is that it's often better to slow down to avoid typos and other mistakes you didn't intend. Otherwise, I think he is getting better and better. Stonecreek 15:58, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
  3. He's definitely improving although I appreciate his early submissions and ideas were a bit stressful on moderators. Let's give him a bit more tuition. (I have a load of spices I rarely use.) BLongley 11:46, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
  4. His talk page does show improvement in editing. His good intentions and communications skills are clear, just needs some marinating. --Willem H. 13:54, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
  5. I see no problem returning to this nomination at a later date, or re-nominating in the future if this one needs to be closed. Often just being nominated can clarify areas that need improvement. --~ Bill, Bluesman 21:20, 20 June 2012 (UTC)


  • Based on the lack of consensus above, the nomination is not successful at this time. The issue will be revisited once the nominee has been further indoctrina..., er, seasoned. Ahasuerus 05:19, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

Free Book!

Now that I have your attention, I must admit it's more of a pamphlet at the moment, it's not by anyone famous (i.e. it's by me) and it's NONFICTION. What it is is a beginner's guide tentatively called "Using the ISFDB (Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase)" and is intended as a supplement to our help pages: i.e. it will show graphical examples, admits to problems, explains some background, and how to interpret results. What I would like, before I waste too much time on it, is some feedback on the first draft. So if anyone would like to review it privately for me, drop me a line on my talk page. All reviewers will get a credit (unless of course the review says "just improve the help pages and forget the book".) BLongley 12:16, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

It's still very rough so I'm not really looking for style comments, just accuracy checks and suggestions for extra completeness. This is Volume 1 in an intended series and is supposed to only cover non-editor usage. Books 2-4 will cover submission of edits (so will probably take a year to complete and be out of date immediately), moderation tips, and how to contribute software developments. Maybe a fifth book to encourage people to use our API, but that can wait till we have a few more moderators, we can barely cope with the active bots we have at present. BLongley 12:16, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Title Series question

I created a title series for the many variations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. While this is a somewhat unusual use of a title series, it seems to be included in our definition that a title series "are linked by common characters, story lines or settings." In doing this, I included a couple of essays as well as poems, novels, and short stories. Are essays appropriate? The Help Page says that title series may include only novels, or may include short stories and novels. It doesn't explicitly exclude non-fiction, but that doesn't seem to have considered when creating that page. (It also doesn't include the possibility of Poems, Collections, Chapterbooks, or Omnibuses, but I would assume that those are implied options.) Chavey 08:27, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Yes, it's appropriate. The software will handle most title types in series. The "major" series type is Fiction Series. If a series has some NOVEL, COLLECTION, OMNIBUS, or SERIAL in it, it will be labeled as a Fiction Series no matter what else is in it (including NONFICTION and ESSAY). Otherwise, the series type displayed corresponds to the title type: Anthology, (Magazine) Editor, Nonfiction, Nongenre, Chapterbook, Short Fiction, Essay, and Poem. The author's bibliography tries to keep the series and the group of works of that type next to each other in the display. One little quirk you might run into is that the same logic used for "Fiction Series" is actually applied to all of the series, in the order I listed. So if a bunch of SHORTFICTION and ESSAY and POEM titles were put in one series, this would be labeled as a "Short Fiction Series". --MartyD 12:06, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Because of the summary page display design, I personally feel nonfiction pieces should not be entered into a title series that is primarily fiction, and vice versa. You have the option to create a title series for the nonfiction. (Although, I personally don't find any great value in doing so, as it clutters up an author's summary page.) Mhhutchins 14:11, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
There's also the option of using sub-series, either for both or for just the non-fiction. Because the parent series will drive the listing, it would still be shown in the Fiction Series section, but with some thoughtful naming it could be pretty clear that the non-fiction series is works about the fiction series. --MartyD 12:32, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Nominating editor Pete Young as moderator

This editor has improved steadily since his first submit. Now he has understood the basics of the ISFDB and most of the finer details as well. His work is overall responsible and he usually is careful towards other moderators and the good of the database. Plus: he is willing, although I shocked him with the form of my question. Stonecreek 17:57, 21 June 2012 (UTC)


  1. Support, as nominator. Stonecreek 17:57, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. Support. I appreciate he will remain short on time but I think he'll be a useful addition. (I can't do Thai.) BLongley 11:56, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
  3. Support. I never had a major problem with his submissions. --Willem H. 12:25, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
  4. Support. Have approved a wide range of his submissions and all have been fine.Kraang 01:05, 29 June 2012 (UTC)



  1. With only 1200 submissions, I'm not sure that he's had enough time to encounter all of the intricacies of the database and the moderation of a wide range of submissions. But I like that he's communicative, and believe he's capable of working on his own submissions. And I don't think he would moderate anything of which he's not entirely certain. Mhhutchins 13:39, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. I have had only limited exposure to Pete's work, so all I can do is echo Michael's sentiments. Ahasuerus 05:39, 25 June 2012 (UTC)


Outcome: The nomination is successful and the moderator flag has been set. Congratulations! Ahasuerus 01:41, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Thanks very much indeed, guys, I'm very honoured! Beers all round on me. :) PeteYoung 03:08, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
Welcome aboard, and sleep off the beers before you try out your new powers! ;-) BLongley 13:29, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Genevieve Linebarger and her alter ego Cordwainer Smith

While researching for the German editions of Smith I came across the notion in this publication, p. xv (Mann's introduction) that Down to a Sunless Sea was written by Linebarger alone (we have her as co-author) and that she was co-author of The Lady Who Sailed the Soul (we don't credit her). In addition, Mann notes that she was co-author 'on several other stories', but research lead to only one other story we don't credit to her, Golden the Ship Was--Oh! Oh! Oh!, mentioned here.

Shall we now credit the shortfictions in question along the lines of the new information? I'd say yes to the information provided by Mann and maybe to the iblist info. This should lead IMHO to making Linebarger into a pseudonym of Smith - there's a difficulty in Down to a Sunless Sea, though, as it was published both as by Linebarger and Smith and as by Smith alone. Other opinions would be most welcome! Stonecreek 19:22, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Note to the verifiers of The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith: In my copy (3rd printing as Hauck's) is a letter by Smith on p. 64 that I'd like to add. Any objections?

Note: We seemingly have both publishers, NESFA and NESFA Press. Is there an easy way to merge them? Stonecreek 19:26, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Well, there was another thing: Since The Best of Cordwainer Smith has only stories from the Instrumentality in it (and the alternate title The Rediscovery of Man) shouldn't it be part of the series? Stonecreek 19:33, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Concerning _Down to a Sunless sea_, Hellekson in this pub seems to confirm that it's Genevieve who wrote it => "...she also wrote an original story based vaguely on Cordwainer Smith's universe...". For the joint authorship of certain texts, it's, as usual, a kind of grey area where we're certain of nothing (a bit like who wrote what in Kuttner & Moore output). I'd rather stick to the (variable) authorship as given in the publications. BTW, the variating of some french novels by Smith that I've initialy entered in english was done in a most curious way (a novel was created with the omnibus title and the latter was containing itself, with incomprehensible variating relations). Please refrain from making such alterations to "complex" french publications. Hauck 20:03, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
I would not variant any of the stories without more substantial proof, and since both parties are no longer alive, it's going to be hard to find the definitive credit. I believe the credits should stand as is. It wouldn't hurt though to place notes in the title records and give the source for the speculation concerning the authorship.
Moderators have the ability to merge publishers, but they must be identical. So do an edit for "NESFA" changing it to "NESFA Press". Then merge the two publishers into one. (You should first check with those primary verifiers of the "NESFA" records to see if there are any objections to changing their verified records.)
It seems that there has been a preference not to merge publishers if they really do occur as printed in publications in those two different ways. My memory is that this is true of "NESFA" and "NESFA Press". Chavey 02:39, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
But that is a preference only if the publisher has actually and officially changed their name, e.g. "The Viking Press" became simply "Viking" when it was purchased by Penguin, and when there is a definite line of demarcation between the two names. If a publisher arbitrarily states its name several different ways over the course of its lifetime, there's nothing wrong with regularizing it in order for all of its publications to appear one one list. This seems to be the case with NESFA. I only have a few of their indexes so I can't confirm if the verifiers are keeping with the publisher's stated name or are shortening it, again, arbitrarily. For example, even though this record gives the publisher as NESFA, the OCLC record, which ordinarily gives publisher credit from the title page, has it as NESFA Press. That's why I told Christian that he should contact primary verifiers before making such a merge. Mhhutchins 04:15, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
And I've moved The Best of C.S. to the series.
I'll have to pull out my copy to confirm, but I don't think Genevieve was credited in the original publication of the story "Down to a Sunless Sea" in F&SF. Does anyone else have a convenient copy to see if the credit given in this record is correct? Mhhutchins 20:28, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
I've pulled mine ;-), the story is credited to "Cordwainer Smith" alone but the introduction to the text states "The story (...) was completed by his wife after his death.". Hauck 20:37, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) An unfortunate side effect of crediting only the ghost writer in the canonical title record is that the variant title for the nominal author disappears from that author's Summary page. Which is bad because it makes it hard for our users to find the title. It can also result in data duplication when well-meaning editors re-enter the same books under the nominal author's name because they have no easy way of knowing that they already exist in the database under the ghost writer's name.

For example, compare V. C. Andrews' Summary page with Andrew Neiderman's Summary page. A naive user has no way of telling that s/he needs to check Niederman's page to find other titles that the latter has written using Andrews' name over the last 25 years. And the editors who entered 75%+ of the currently existing "Andrews" records were presumably unaware that they were ghosted.

The Andrews-Neiderman example also raises another issue. Neiderman was supposedly hired by Andrews' publisher/estate to finish the books that she had in the pipeline at the time of her death, so at least the first few books were posthumous collaborations. They were commercially successful and Neiderman was retained to write additional books based on Andrews' outlines, notes, etc. Eventually Neiderman exhausted the material left in Andrews' archives and the last N books are apparently his own creations with extremely tenuous links to the Andrews oeuvre. Unfortunately there is no way of telling just how much Neiderman contributed to each book, which makes it hard to tell when "posthumous collaboration" ceased and "posthumous ghosting" started.

For these reasons I think it's better to use both names (the ghost's and the "ghostee"'s) in the canonical record and explain the situation in Notes. Take a look at William Shatner's page -- note how the "Quest for Tomorrow" and "Tekwar" series are currently set up. Ahasuerus 04:13, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

Ok, I'll let the authorship of Down to a Sunless Sea and Golden the Ship Was--Oh! Oh! Oh! as they are, but would still like to add Linebarger as co-author of The Lady Who Sailed the Soul.
I'd like to gain a picture by counting your votes:


  1. As proposer, Stonecreek 09:37, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. Support, but only for the NESFA editions of "The Rediscovery of Man". I'll have to revisit my Cordwainer Smith collection to see how these stories are credited in the various pubs. --Willem H. 10:54, 22 June 2012 (UTC)



  1. You've not attributed any source for the credit for "The Lady Who Sailed the Soul". Is it the NESFA collection? If so, is it only mentioned in the introductory notes or is it a stated credit on the story's title page? If not the latter, I would oppose such a change. Mhhutchins 13:20, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
Well, the whole book is credited only to Cordwainer Smith. As I've written in the opening of this discussion, these credits were given by James A. Mann, the editor of the NESFA collection. I'd call him a dependable source, if there is any! (He discusses the variants of Scanners Live in Vain also, for example). Stonecreek 18:11, 22 June 2012 (UTC)´
  1. Willem: In my opinion this information is for all publications of The Lady Who Sailed the Soul. This would be edited into a variant: The Lady Who Sailed the Soul by Smith and Linebarger (as by Cordwainer Smith). Stonecreek 18:11, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
I have no problem with that, but then "Himself in Anachron" and "Down to a Sunless Sea" will have to be redone the same way. --Willem H. 18:39, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
I'll be glad to do that - credit to whom credit is due. Maybe I caused some misunderstanding in not stating exactly what I had in mind.
In every case I'll wait 24 more hours, but only a few hours to add the letter by Smith I mentioned above, since I saw no objection (by all logic it should be part of all printings). Stonecreek 13:27, 23 June 2012 (UTC)
OK for me. Hauck 13:50, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

Further research did lead to sustain the authorship of Genevieve Linebarger (even in the case of Golden the Ship Was--Oh! Oh! Oh!): There are short introductions by J. J. Pierce to each of the shortfictions in The Best of Cordwainer Smith (well, at least in my German edition of the book), where Pierce gives credit to her regarding the pieces in question - also including The Lady Who Sailed the Soul. Stonecreek 08:20, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

"also as by Joan D. Vinge"

In the summary Bibliography for Joan D. Vinge, the book Psion is listed "also as by Joan D. Vinge". But that really is the exact form of her canonical name. So that seems redundant, unless I'm missing something. My guess is that this is an unusual side-effect of the Portuguese variant of this book having exactly the same title and author. But before I filed it as a bug report, I thought I'd check to see if I was missing something. Chavey 02:42, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

Yes, it's a known side-effect of having a translated VT which has the same title as the canonical title, but only if there are no other VTs. If you log out and refresh the Summary page, the "also as by" line will disappear because the Portuguese VT will be no longer retrieved. Ahasuerus 03:34, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
...if you've deselected Portuguese in "My preferences". I think this is definitely a bug, but I'm not sure if the solution is to suppress the 'also as by' or make it "Portuguese edition as by". BLongley 11:53, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
Pardon my ignorance, but wouldn't it be simpler to program it so that if the title in one language is identical to the title in another language, then it doesn't display "also as by" at all and displays them as two different titles? Mhhutchins 13:27, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
It all depends on how much clutter you want on a page. I think we still want to improve Language Preferences so that we don't get all the languages we don't have any interest in on some displays. But options are still open, we haven't even got translator support yet. Display issues aren't my forte - data capture is more my thing, or adding all sorts of extra links to make research easier - but development should start moving again soon. BLongley 14:06, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
I suspect that it would make the most sense to display the variant on a separate line and show the language in brackets:
Psion (1982) also appeared as:
~ Variant Title: Psion (1980) [Portuguese]
I don't think we want to do this for all variants, but it will help explain what's going on when the translated title is the same as the original one. BTW, is the 1980 version of "Psiren" the same as the 1981 one? Ahasuerus 04:44, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
I would suspect that they're the same story. Unfortunately, the editor who created the record for the chapterbook (probably a recent integration) did not do a primary verification. I'd always thought, and most sources agree, that the first appearance was in the 1981 original anthology New Voices 4. Guess we were wrong. Mhhutchins 14:23, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
Even the author's webpage says "Psiren (21,000 words) Originally in New Voices IV, George R. R. Martin ed.; Berkley Books: 1981; Included in Phoenix In the Ashes (collection, q.v.)" I don't think you could fit 21,000 words into 20 pages so I suspect they are different. Still, what do authors know about their own works? BLongley 15:11, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
I did a word count of the New Voices 4 version using Swfritter's Google Docs program and it came up to 21,000 words as well. So, I've changed the length to novella. It would have to be in tiny print in order for it to fit onto 20 pages. Mhhutchins 17:51, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
According to Wikipedia, Simulation Publications, "was an influential American publisher of board wargames and related magazines, particularly its flagship Strategy & Tactics, in the 1970s and early 1980s. It produced an enormous number of games and introduced innovative practices, changing the course of the wargaming hobby in its bid to take control of the hobby away from then-dominant Avalon Hill. It went bankrupt in 1982. TSR acquired the company's trademarks and copyrights in 1983." I wonder if "Simulated Publications" was related to "Simulation Publications" and, if so, why they decided to publish this chapbook. A possible game tie, perhaps?.. Ahasuerus 00:27, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
I seriously doubt there's any connection between the two. "Simulated Publications" was probably a fannish one-shot deal. 01:57, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

Help for disambiguating names updated

Help:How_to_separate_two_authors_with_the_same_name has been updated per this discussion and this proposal and feedback. The intent behind the change is to clarify and codify existing practice, not to break any new ground. Any comments or questions, please let me know. Thanks. --MartyD 00:24, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Suzanne Alles Blom & Lois McMaster Bujold

Somewhat off-topic, but I wanted to share a story. Suzanne Allés Blom was primarily an SF fan, although she did publish one novelette and an alternate history novel set in the Incan empire. She passed away yesterday, and during her last few weeks she was too weak to read, so her friends were reading SF to her. She thought she had a few more months to go, and was hoping to live long enough to read "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance", the Miles Vorkosigan book to be published in November. When the doctors re-evaluated Suzanne's condition Thursday and gave her only a few days to live, one of her friends sent out a request to an SF email list asking if anyone had access to an advance copy (ARC's won't be out for a few months yet). Within an hour and a half, the email had been passed on to other SF lists, someone with Lois McMaster Bujold's phone number called her, and Bujold emailed a pdf to Suzanne's friends. Friday they managed to read parts of the novel to Suzanne, who recommends it to all. As a computer science professor, I should be accustomed to these stories about the speed of the Internet, but even I am impressed when the Internet combines with the goodwill of people like Bujold to create a story like this. Chavey 21:32, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Such a heart-warming story. Thanks for sharing. Mhhutchins 22:06, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it's nice to know these things go on. BLongley 15:16, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

Search enhancements

The following changes have been implemented:

  1. All title searches ("fiction titles", "all titles", "year") have been changed to display the title's language.
  2. All searches should display up to 300 results now. In the past some types of searches displayed up to 100 results.
  3. If a search returns only one result, the user is immediately redirected to the appropriate page. In the past only Author searches supported automatic redirection.

Please note that this project started out as a minor enhancement, but mutated into a fairly major rewrite of the search logic along the way. If you encounter any problems, please report them here. TIA. Ahasuerus 04:24, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

Thank you! These improvements will be appreciated. Chavey 21:54, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
Wonderful and very helpful! Thank you Rudam 04:47, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
Hopefully FR 3468428 "Add Search by language" will be along soon too? Or do I need to rework that now? BLongley 13:26, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't think it will require any rework. I am currently trying to track down a couple of subtle bugs in the main Pub and Title classes and should get to your Adv Search enhancement shortly. Ahasuerus 20:50, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Bradbury's "Downwind from Gettysberg" [sic]

Sometime in the recent past, an editor has changed the spelling of "Downwind from Gettysburg" to Downwind from Gettysberg, and made it into the parent title for the true spelling. It looks like it affects all of the records that appear in the collection I Sing the Body Electric!. I don't know if this spelling ("Gettysberg") was ever used, but I know it wasn't used in any US publication of the work. I'm tempted to make a change in the title back to the original spelling, instead of doing it piecemeal, which would take dozens of edits for all of the pub records in which the story appeared. I'll hold off a couple of days to see if anyone can come up with a publication in which it was misspelled. Thanks. Mhhutchins 13:57, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

I hope I've given enough time for anyone to unmerge any version that appeared as "Gettysberg". I'm going to correct the spelling of the title record. Mhhutchins 22:19, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Adding charts to ISFDB

Earlier today I realized that we should be able to use certain free Google-developed tools to generate charts for our data. For example, we could easily graph how many novels and short pieces an author published during his career, e.g.:

Sample chart - author titles by year.jpg

(The novel count is correct, but I fudged the short fiction count. Of course, we can add other title types as well.)

This should be a fairly simple standalone project with no dependencies on other development efforts, so if we farm it out to a volunteer, it won't delay other development/testing tasks.

If it looks useful, we could try to figure out what the best place to put these charts would be. Perhaps add a link to a new page at the top of the Summary page and call it something like, um, "Titles by Year"? Note that this functionality requires JavaScript to be turned on, but I would guess that a vast majority of our users either have it turned on by default or have it enabled for ISFDB. Ahasuerus 04:27, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Well, the obvious first use is to update Stats by Year. BLongley 07:10, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
That's a good point -- the current Wiki-based data is displayed using SVG, which works under Firefox, Safari and IE 9, but earlier versions of IE require a special plug-in. A Google-based version of the same charts would not have this problem and it would also be easier to code and maintain. These stats take a while to compile, so we may want to set up a nightly job that would update them every 24 hours the way the front page logo is rotated every 24 hours. I am thinking that we have to do the same thing with other database statistics, which take a while to compile these days. Ahasuerus 05:31, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
But I've never found those to be particularly interesting. There are some things that might be more useful: e.g. a chart of average price for hc/tp/pb per currency/year would help people get a feel for when an edit has possibly got an incorrect date or price on. BLongley 07:10, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I am not sure how useful it would be, but there is certainly no harm in extracting the data on a nightly or even weekly basis. Ahasuerus 05:35, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
If we had more title ratings, then we could do a chart for the quality of writing over a career. (Maybe awards by year could be a substitute?) BLongley 07:10, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Unfortunately, we seem to have missed the boat on ratings: Goodreads, Amazon and even LibraryThing are far FAR ahead of us. My guess would be that a general purpose "social cataloging" site is a better choice for most people (ratings-wise), but we'll see... Ahasuerus 05:41, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
Another idea might be to graph ISFDB:Data_Entropy - I haven't updated those in ages, but the idea should still be sound. BLongley 12:43, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

It's "LCCN", not "LCCCN"

If you enter a Library of Congress number for a book, please remember that it has two C's (it's an acronym for "Library of Congress Control Number"). About 10% of the LCCN's entered, 662 of them, have this number listed as "LCCCN", presumably thinking it's an acronym involving a "Card Catalog" (which it has never been). It's not terribly likely that we'll get people doing a "Notes" search for either, but it's still better to have consistency on something like this. It may be helpful to remember that almost all of these cataloging numbers seem to have 4-letter abbreviations: ISBN, ISSN, OCLC, LCCN, ASIN (and probably more). Chavey 07:36, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

BLIC too. Although I'm not sure of the value of these, unless that's the only source of data. BLongley 12:13, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
It seems to me that these can be useful references as dcoumentation for the information we have on a book, especially when we don't have a primary verification. At some level, the academic in me wants a system where each field has a link to the documentation justifying that information. But the realist knows that's never going to be implemented (or data-entered), so having links that serve the purpose of "you can probably document most of these details by checking HERE" is a good compromise (IMHO). I don't personally use many of these links other than the OCLC record, but the number of times I've pulled full contents for an anthology (etc.) from them has certainly justified its inclusion for me. Chavey 04:23, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Not sure if it's just Baen, but a number of their books spell it out as "Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: ##-####" on the copyright page. If the publisher is expanding it wrong, then it's not surprising that it gets entered as LCCCN. -- JLaTondre (talk) 12:20, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
That would help explain it! At least when I make mistakes, they don't get printed in thousands of books for all posterity. (Well, except for that one published math paper with an embarrassing error :-) Chavey 15:01, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I seem to recall that once upon a time some books called it "Library of Congress Card Number" which has the LCCN abbrev but the word "card". 15:10, 8 July 2012 (UTC) -DES Talk 15:12, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
"LCCN" originally (as in 1898) stood for "Library of Congress Card Number". In the 1960s the meaning changed to "Library of Congress Control Number" -- see this page for details. As far as I can tell, the abbreviation "LCCCN" was commonly used around the time of the transition. Must have been a belt and suspenders kind of thing :-) Ahasuerus 15:16, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Initials in book titles

The New Pub Help Page is very explicit that for author names we put spaces after the periods in an author's name that uses initials. It is silent on whether that is policy for when an author's name appears in the title of a book. For example, we have 21 titles about "J.R.R. Tolkien" and 108 about "J. R. R. Tolkien"; 25 about "C.S. Lewis and 96 about "C. S. Lewis". This would seem to imply that this is personal choice, and not something for which we have a policy. Is that correct? Chavey 07:57, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

It has been left to personal choice, or more likely Amazon's choice. A timely question as "The H.G. Wells Reader" was just submitted today. I'd prefer that we were consistent for names, but it's not been a big issue for me - our NONFICTION is not as interesting as our fiction. BLongley 12:11, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

DAW Books Collectors Number

Awhile back, I began going through my paperbacks to do some touch-up work on the records for which I'd done a primary verification, and saw that someone had created a publication series for the DAW Collectors Number, which I think is a pretty good idea. It provides a complete listing of the series in the database proper, similar to the one that Marc Kupper created for the wiki section. This is as good a reason to use the publication series function as any. So I started entering these numbers into the records I was updating. Well, after a month or two of not working on my paperback collection, I've returned to discover that someone has gone through the database and removed the series data from all of the records (not just mine). Can the editor who did this explain their rationale for this action, and why it wasn't discussed with the editors who had been entering the Collectors Number into the pub records? The "None" publication series (with a python error) listed under DAW Books may have something to do with the changes the editor made. Thanks. Mhhutchins 18:19, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree that this is an excellent example of a publication series. And that's a pretty major loss of data for someone to delete that whole series. Any chance Ahaseurus can rebuild that series from backups? Or that BLongley can run a script on a backup to resurrect (most of) it? Chavey 04:30, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Actually, relatively few of DAW's titles had been placed into the series, maybe only 100 titles. So it's not going to be hard to go back and rebuild it, even if it has to be done manually. But I don't want to start again just to have someone come along and delete the work. Mhhutchins 04:41, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Whoever did it didn't do it right - see Fate Fantastic which still has the publication series number in. I can't resurrect the series directly, only Ahasuerus can do that, and he has the best chance of tracing the culprit(s). I could get Data Thief to resubmit such edits, or post a project page, but it seems easier just to let somebody do an advanced publication search for Notes = Collector and Publisher = DAW and work on the whole lot. BLongley 13:59, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Except that when I was updating my primary verified records, I removed from the notes the reference to the collectors number because I felt it was unnecessary duplication! Oh, well... Mhhutchins 15:39, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Which could be recovered if Bill's suggested search was run on a backup from a few weeks ago (or so). Chavey 16:15, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Can do. If someone can suggest which backup is preferred it would make things easier. BLongley 19:37, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
I am checking submission history right now... Ahasuerus 20:20, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
IIRC, at the end of May, I've manually "reverted" Ofearna's edit for one of my PV [[User talk:Hauck#Alien Pregnant By Elvis|here], where she wanted to create a "DAW Collector" publications series. I hope that this mess is not my fault. Hauck 16:42, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) OK, I see what's going on. The Edit Pub Series page lets you blank out the pub series name, which makes the pub series effectively invisible (and causes the Python error mentioned above -- good catch, BTW.) The edit was made by Bluesman, who presumably meant to do something else, perhaps remove this pub series from some pub record?

The good news is that the data is still in the database and I can restore it with a single command. The bad news is that we have the same problem (but no bad records) on the Publisher Edit page. I will try to fix the affected record and the software problems later tonight. Ahasuerus 21:14, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

DAW Collectors has been resurrected although it may need to have its name changed to "DAW Book Collectors" or some such. I will work on the software fixes tomorrow since it's getting late on the East Coast (or perhaps early...) Ahasuerus 05:43, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree with this. That was my point where reverting some edits with "DAW Collectors". Hauck 15:56, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Resurrected but still lifeless. All of the titles that I entered into the series, about three or four dozen, are still missing. These were published in the 1970s (I had no interest in most of the work published by DAW after that, except for the annuals and works by C. J. Cherryh and Tanith Lee.) I was up to the Ds in my paperbacks, so I'll have to go back to the ones by Brunner, Coney, Cherryh, Dick, etc. and update them again. Mhhutchins 06:11, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Hm, then the pub series data must have been explicitly removed by someone. Let's see... Aha! I see that Bluesman removed the pub series from Coney's Mirror Image and Friends Come in Boxes on 2012-06-21. I assume it was a project of his, so we need to determine what he had in mind or else the same thing will happen again. His "Availability" comment on the Moderator Noticeboard says "Sporadic for at least three months, golf season!", so he may not have seen this discussion yet. Ahasuerus 06:43, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
I've created ISFDB:DAW_Collector from the 2012-06-16 backup. BLongley 11:17, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Is there any difference between "DAW Books #xxx" and "DAW Collectors #xxx"? Chavey 16:57, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Being used to have SF books in numbered publication series (as per the French usage), that was exactly my first thought. Hauck 17:02, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
There's no difference except in how it was stated. The numbering is continuous. They didn't start calling it the "Collectors" number until further into their history. For the first few years it was just on their covers. I believe it became the "Collectors No." when they started stating it on their copyright page, and that was well past #500 in the series. Mhhutchins 17:29, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
As we move books into the DAW Collectors series, should we remove the comment about that from the Notes field, to remove redundancy, or leave it in, e.g. to maintain the detail about how it was stated in that particular book? Chavey 17:41, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Before I would have removed it (and I did!) But now I say leave it in, just in case something like this should happen again. It would make it easier to reconstruct. Mhhutchins 17:49, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
If there's a comment in the notes about something related to a publication I don't see a need to go through and start removing them. Some editors have personal projects such as the ones that add notes about the OCLC. I personally consider those numbers to be junk but also don't delete them. With verifications I've done in the past four or five years I've usually also noted the location within the publication. For example
  • "DAW No. 1234" on the front cover and inside of the front cover. "DAW Book Collectors No. 1234." on the copyright page.
I would not want that note removed just because someone has a personal project to record the book collector numbers in a publication series. --Marc Kupper|talk 17:51, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) Here is Bluesman's response to the question that I posted on his Talk page:

I don't believe such a Publication Series exists, as it would by default include every book they've ever published or will publish. Where's the 'Series' in that??? --~ Bill, Bluesman 01:44, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I see his point, but on the other hand it is a handy way of showing all DAW books in the order that they appeared, something that we can't do on the Publisher page. Also, other publishers, especially in Europe, have been known to confine their SF output to one pub series, so there is precedence for this approach. Most importantly, I don't think it's a good idea to remove data from verified pubs without checking with the verifiers and, when doing mass changes, discussing them on the Community Portal first. Ahasuerus 04:36, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
DAW Book Club books are not, AFAIK, in this series. As you say, other publishers confine all, or nearly all, of their books to one series. WorldCat calls this a series, as you can tell by going to this WorldCat search, which gives 972 results. Looks like a series to me. You suggest we should discuss such changes on the Community Portal first. Looks like that's what we've been doing. Chavey 05:48, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Ideally, we would have had this discussion before the data was removed :-) Ahasuerus 05:58, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I thought you were complaining about the 592 books (437 numbers) that had been added back into the series. Chavey 11:58, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Back on the original subject. Nearly all of DAW's books stated the "DAW Book No." though the exact wording varies:
  • "No. 1" format used with the "yellow spine" "DAW=SF" logo books from 1972 to 1984.
  • "DAW No. 1" format used with the "new" logo used from 1984 to present
  • "DAW Book Collectors No. 1070" (on the copyright page starting in 1981)
  • "DAW Books Collector's No. 1512." (rare and probably a publisher's typo)
  • "DAW Books Collectors No. 1518." (rare and probably a publisher's typo)
  • "DAW Collectors' Book No. 616" (rare and probably a publisher's typo)
Regardless of the exact wording, nearly all publications had DAW book numbers. The book club editions were not manufactured by DAW and do not include this number. Also from 1972 to mid-1984 DAW did not state the book number on second or later printings though reprints of 1972 to mid-1984 books manufactured after 1984 will have them.
The number is a title number rather than a publication number. The same story published as a hardcover, trade paperback, and paperback will have the same DAW Book collectors number. There are a few rare cases where DAW assigned two different numbers to the same story though with those it seems to be because DAW had new cover art but also continued incrementing the printing numbers. Thus for a while the DAW Book collectors number seemed to be the "cover art number" though DAW has also changed the art without changing the number too... --Marc Kupper|talk 18:53, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
To add to the mess - there were a bunch of Gregory Kern books published without Book numbers. I'm not sure why. DAW published one nonfiction work, Imaginative Sex, and in 1981 two omnibus works[1][2], without a book number. The bottom of Publisher:DAW/Titles has a list of the titles without DAW numbers. --Marc Kupper|talk 19:05, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) The bugs that allowed editors to blank out the names of publishers and pub series have been fixed. Ahasuerus 15:46, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia

I had to clean up a poorly formed Fixer submission earlier today and came across this record for Supernatural Literature Of The World: An Encyclopedia, a three volume set by Stefan Dziemianowicz and S. T. Joshi. I cleaned it up using this LOC record, but it could use additional work. Would anyone happen to have access to the three physical pubs to check the page count for each volume, Ramsey Campbell's foreword, etc? Ahasuerus 00:10, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Help for HTML in note fields

Last December I drafted Help:Using HTML in Note Fields and revised it in accord with some suggestions from various editors, but there wasn't, as I recall, a clear consensus to remove the "not final" header and link this from other help pages.

Does anyone object to this going "live" and becoming as final as any of our help pages ever is? Does anyone have any further suggestions for it? -DES Talk 18:41, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Looking at this page again, I object. I think these instructions are weighted much too heavily to the unnecessarily technical approach to using HTML, and are bad advice to editors whose interest lie more towards the SF and less towards being an HTML geek. For example, it says "it is a very bad idea to use the less than (<) or greater than (>) signs in your note text, because the browser may mix them with tags." This is absurdly rare. The possibility that a normal person would write something with a < or > sign that is confused for a tag by a browser is essentially zero. Chavey 19:47, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
You would think so. There was an editor a couple of years ago who liked to use the character (>) as a pointer, and I had to stop him because his records came up as errors in the Potential HTML Errors in Publication Notes script. (BTW, how many other moderators run these scripts other than Bill Longley and me?) Mhhutchins 19:58, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I think the answer must be "none". :-/ BLongley 16:39, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
The page also argues for using lines using the <li>Copyright 1984 by Jane Jones.</li> format. There is NO reason to use the </li> tag, except to make your Note harder to read by other humans. It is unnecessary, not required by any version of html, never will be required by any version of html, and in the small amount of space we have for editing notes, serves only to make the actual text harder to read. The same statement is true for the recommendation of <br /> instead of <br>. The ONLY reason to do that is to say you're more of an html geek than someone else is. Your statement that "This is often entered as <br />" is completely false on ISFDB -- almost everyone uses the simpler <br> . For unnumbered lists, you only recommend the use of the <ul><li></li><li></li></ul> format, whereas by at least a 3 to 1 margin, existing ISFDB editors use the <br>• <br>• format, which uses 1/3-rd as many html tags as your recommendation, and has essentially the same list appearance.
There are many parts of this page which are very good, and will be quite helpful to editors. However, it is written in such a way as to make it much harder for the html weak (or illiterate) editor to do the simplest of our common tasks. Chavey 19:47, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the instructions concerning <br /> and </li> are unnecessary. But I use the HTML for unnumbered lines in ALL of my notes, and never use <br>• which was popularized by one prolific note editor, and picked up by others. Either way, that's a matter of preference, not style. Where did the 3 to 1 statistic come from? Mhhutchins 19:58, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
(My comments here moved lower) Chavey 04:24, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Please note this recent exchange in which a > character did in fact cause a problem, which is what prompted me to add this section. -DES Talk 20:05, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I linked to that discussion in my response to Darrah above. Thanks for adding the part to the Help page about using that character in the Note field for a non-HTML purpose. Mhhutchins 20:21, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
That link wasn't yet present, or i failed to see it, when i wrote the above. There have been multiple edit conflicts in this exchange. -DES Talk 20:29, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
As to the <br /> and </li> forms, they are out there. (I am NOT the only editor who uses them routinely, I believe. In any case I do use them routinely.) Editors will see them, and should be able to find out what they mean. Moreover, I do not "only" recommend these forms. I specifically say "Therefore closing </li> tags may be used or omitted in ISFDB note fields as each editor prefers, there should be no difference in the resulting display." I make a similar comment about <br /> tags. I can add an example without the </li> tags if you like. -DES Talk 20:27, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I have added such an example, so a user can use it as a model if desired. I have also changed "often" to "sometimes" in mention of >br />.
I admit that I expect a future version of HTML to deprecate these (unclosed) forms, but it will be years if ever before a browser won't accept them. -DES Talk 20:10, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
As to making it "harder for the html weak (or illiterate) editor" to do things, I expect that such an editor will use copy, paste and modify either from this help page or from an example s/he finds and likes. The difference in effort in copying a model with or without </li> tags is essentially zero, that is all subsumed in the initial paste. As to "the small amount of space we have for editing notes" the permitted length of a note field is, i understand, far longer than any sensible note would ever be, even in the most verbose possible HTML. As long as a single line of the note shows in the edit window (which scrolls), there should be no problem -- and many records will have notes which require scrolling, even with nothing but br tags. I don't think your arguments have any weight. -DES Talk 20:27, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Oh, I might add, the "browser may mix them" language is straight from the w3schools page on HTML entities, to which i link. -DES Talk 20:36, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I've just looked over the help page and can't find anything of substance to object to. Any reasonably intelligent editor, without any knowledge of HTML, should be able to start using it after looking over these instructions. If not, that's what moderators are for (ha!). I see no reason why the page can't go "live". But let's wait for a consensus before doing so. (There's a couple of typos that I'll clean up in the meantime.) Mhhutchins 21:00, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Thank you, awaiting further comments. -DES Talk 21:10, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
The copy editor in me came out, so I did a few more changes for clarity, and added an example of an OCLC link. Mhhutchins 21:59, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
One issue with the copyedit: You added the text "MLA (Modern Language Association) Style requires that book and magazine (container) titles be entered using italics, while essay and story (contained) titles be entered using standard parentheses." to the section on boldface. But the ISFDB does not, as far as I know, use MLA style. For mentions of works in notes, I (and I think most other editors) follow the more general convention of placing titles of shortfiction and essays in "quotes". All or almost all, uses of boldface I have seen in ISFDB notes are there to emphasize specific words, not to mark of titles or other parts of citations. One or two editors seem to do this with some frequency (and I think used to do it more often), most others rarely if ever use boldface in notes, except maybe in a note such as "Do not merge collection X (1928) with collection X (1932): they are not the same work." Thus the mention of MLA format has little or nothing to do with the use of boldface. I suggest removing this text. -DES Talk 05:26, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
It was a momentary brain fart. Of course, I should said that contained titles should be in quotes, not parentheses. I'll change that immediately, but I still think it's worthy of mentioning MLA Style in that part of the help section to discourage editors to use of bold markings for titles. And believe me, David, I've seen enough submissions that do exactly that. There are hundreds verified by Dragoondelight and other editors throughout the database. Mhhutchins 06:04, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Some data points on what we actually do: There are 68,234 publication records that use < br > for their Note line breaks (or at least some of their line breaks). There are 21,797 records that use the < li > format. That's more than a 3 to 1 preference for < br > over < li >. The Advanced Search doesn't allow me to search for the bullet character, so I can't tell how many of the former use the bullets as well. Personally, I like both the < br > • form and the < li > form, and think we should document them both. The part that annoys me is the use of the unnecessary < /li > and <br /> tags. Only 3,334 of the records that use < li > also use the unnecssary line ending tag, i.e. about 15% of them. There are 4,075 pub records that use the spurious "/" with <br>. That's less than 6% as many records as use the simplified form. I see no reason to appear to be recommending unnecessary complexity over simplicity. Chavey 04:24, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Very well, you have established that the < br > form is significantly more common than the < br /> form in existing ISFDB notes, that the < br > is more common than than the < li > form, and that the majority of its uses do not use closing < /li > tag. You have also documented that there are thousands of notes that do use the < br />, and < /li > forms, and tens of thousands that use the < li > form. Therefore editors will, sooner or later, encounter these forms, and they should be documented on the page. I believe that the page as it now stands does not "recommend" any of these forms over another -- it documents the < br > and < br />, forms, and explicitly states that their output is identical, allowing editors to chose for themselves. It does not even give any arguments for choosing the < br /> form. Similarly, it documents the < li > and < li >< /li > forms with examples of each, and again explicitly says that their output is identical, with nary an argument for one over the other. I don't see any harmful recommendations here -- what would you suggest I change? Would you have me remove documentation of the < br /> and < /li > forms altogether? That risks confusing people when they find forms not documented. -DES Talk 05:07, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I admit that i do not like the < br > • form, for two reasons: 1) it requires using a character not available on the ordinary keyboard, which must be entered via the alt-number interface, or via character map or a similar tool, or by copying from a template. Any of these adds trouble for no gain, IMO. 2) it doesn't wrap properly if a list item is longer than a single line, which is common in notes, particularly when a cover image has reduced the available width for the display of the publication data, including the notes, as is often the case. A true list (using li) wraps the second line of text flush with the start of the first, whereas the < br > • form wraps the text under the bullet above. Therefore I discourage this form. If you want I will add documentation of this form to the page, but if I do I will mention these issues, since they are practical and not merely stylistic. -DES Talk 05:07, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
For similar reasons, I also dislike the user-created bullet. Regardless of my feelings toward it, there's no reason whatsoever to explain how to do it on a page that instructs editors how to enter HTML in an ISFDB record's note field. I firmly believe its use arose from an editor, seeing an HTML-derived bullet, thought that alt+7 was the way to enter a similar bullet into the note field. Mhhutchins 06:22, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
By the way, i wonder what would be shown if we had a time-stamp of each of those note fields? Would the use of one form be more common in recent notes than in older ones? I suspect that the li forms have increased significantly in recent years relative to the br forms. However I can't document this, and I doubt that queries on the db could easily determine it one way or the other. -DES Talk 05:07, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
So, what changes would you suggest to the page as it now stands? I presume we both want to make this page as useful as possible to ISFDB editors with no or limited experience with HTML. -DES Talk 05:07, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
David, I think you've made a good case about retaining the HTML options on the help page, regardless of the frequency with which either one is used. Darrah, I'm puzzled why you feel that there should be no mention of any option other than the most popular usage. The wording is quite neutral and doesn't push one over the other. Like David, I hope you (and others) might come up with constructive suggestions. Let's hope that our "fluency" in HTML isn't clouding our judgement here. Mhhutchins 06:04, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
The proposed text looks fine to me. As for <br>• , I think we should actively discourage its use and allow/encourage conversion of it to <ul><li></li></ul> (whether the list entries are closed or not is beside my point). There are two minor reasons for this:
  • Browsers will auto-indent wrapped list entries so that subsequent visible lines due to wrapping are left-justified under the start of the previous line's text. The <br>• method will not do this, with wrapped lines left-justified to the outer edge.
  • Browsers will automatically choose an appropriate bullet character. Nested lists will get different bullets to make them more easily distinguishable from one another. In fact, the "Notes" section already appears in a bulleted list. Hard-coding any character can defeat that useful behavior.
Yes, raw HTML editing is probably something only a geek (and I'm one) could love, but I think most people will be able to follow the help without too much difficulty. --MartyD 10:36, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm not a big fan of HTML in notes as it makes things harder to read offline, when I'm looking for notes in the database backups. I do use < br > but follow it with a carriage return as well, which works as a nice compromise. I'm particularly against using it to highlight individual words as searches may miss it - e.g. "Do not merge" and "Do < b >NOT< /b > merge" are different. As for "•", I never use it but don't actually remove them. BLongley 11:01, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
You are correct, Bill, that searches may be affected by HTML tags in notes, but then they can also be affected by varieties of wording, and a good search will take account of this. If you search for 'merge' you will find both "Do not merge" and "Do < b >NOT< /b > merge". If you search for 'not merge' you won't find the second, but you also won't find "don't merge", "do not ever merge" "be sure not to merge", "should not be merged" and the like. Anything that finds all or most of these will also find "Do < b >NOT< /b > merge", I think. -DES Talk 17:06, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
And would also find "PLEASE MERGE!" left by an editor that hasn't coped with the complexities of that yet. (There are enhancements in the pipeline to make merging more intuitive and less likely to cause loss of data.) I'm looking a bit far ahead - I'm not sure how many users have even noticed the comparatively new ability to search notes - but I can already foresee some of the problems. BLongley 19:43, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

(Unindent) there have been no comments for 10 days now. Any further suggestions or requests for changes or other comments before I take this live? -DES Talk 15:21, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

I have removed the {{NotFinal}} header and added links from other help pages to Help:Using HTML in Note Fields. -DES Talk 14:47, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Visualization of the inclusion policy


For consideration. All suggestions appreciated. Mhhutchins 20:05, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

It's ISFDB not ISFBD. I can't argue much about the content, although it doesn't cover when we accept NONFICTION, and I think I'd like to address what type of Horror we include - Koontz and King get everything included, but there's a lot of psychological or just plain slash that creeps in. BLongley 20:13, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Doh! I've fixed. it. And I'll need to figure out where NONFICTION fits into this. Thanks. Mhhutchins 20:35, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I maintain my position, the definition of a "spec-fic author" is vague enough to allow any interpretation, "more known" is devoid of any possibility of precise quantification. We're back at the first stage, a personnal appreciation of the place of an author in the diverse genres' spectrum. I can live with that and decide for Fredric Brown or Doyle but it's still not a precise rule. Hauck 20:22, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
All constructive suggestions appreciated. I'd love to hear your definition of a "spec-fic author". Mhhutchins 20:35, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, it's your own term, if you can't define it, I'm sorry. Hauck 13:57, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
It's not my term, and I did define it. Read the chart. I'm simply asking for suggestions. If you don't have any, stay out of the conversation. Mhhutchins 14:40, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
We have no hope of ever getting "precise quantification". The nearest I can think of is allowing people to vote on whether an author is mostly spec-fic or not, or "above the threshold" - but even then a few more votes may tip the balance. Which may be enough if we make the default out, until voted in. BLongley 20:32, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
In a different world, there would be clearly drawn divisions. In this world, "it ain't never gonna happen." We make personal decisions with every breath we take. I would take on the challenge of placing any author within or without the spec-fic field, regardless of there always being a contrarian to nitpick at the decision. Mhhutchins 20:44, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Let this go down in ISFDB history as "the Nora Roberts" question. ;-) I have a few strong opinions on some authors, but mostly I admit I have no clue. BLongley 20:49, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Gauntlet thrown down? Challenge accepted. Nora Roberts is a nongenre writer who has some works with slight fantastic and science fictional elements (the "In Death" novels are just police procedurals that take place in a near-future). Only those works should be included in the database. Her romance and historical novels should not be in the database. Any other author? Mhhutchins 20:59, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Plenty of others. G. K. Chesterton and Robert Louis Stevenson come to mind. BLongley 21:32, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Neither of them are spec-fic authors. Only their spec-fic work should be in the database. None of their nongenre work should be in the database. See, it's easy when only one person is making the decision. Mhhutchins 22:39, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
There is a difference. Only a small proportion of Stevenson's work is SF AFAIK, and it isn't the main source of his reputation either. Chesterton's reputation is largely derived from the "Father Brown" stories, few if any of which are SF, and from The Man who was Thursday, which I think clearly is SF, although of a very odd type. Neither poses the same problem as Roberts, although they pose problems of their own. -DES Talk 21:43, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Notoriety has lent itself to inclusion, but sometimes we do trim them down. I don't delete much, but I know that Clive Cussler and Ian Fleming have been attacked before. Maybe a little too much - "Moonraker" should be in although only because the movie, later novelised, had SF elements. BLongley 21:53, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
And here I disagree. The first couple of the "In Death" series I read I thought much the same, that a Little blue-penciling could remake them into contemporary police procedurals. Then i tried, mentally, to do that blue-penciling. I found that the significantly different state of her imagined future society is essential to the plots of most of the works in that series, not all, but most. The futuristic technology is often a minor element, but the sociatal changes are not. In addition, a number of the stories depend on real, testable, widely accepted psychic powers. If that isn't SF, I'm not sure what would be. In addition, a significant number of her other books are Supernatural Horror, and/or Paranormal Romance. (Carolina Moon, where the main character's clairvoyant powers are essential to the plot, comes to mind). Even with the In Death series, I think less than half of her large output is speculative fiction, probably around a third. But that is both a large enough proportion, and a large enough total volume, IMO, to make her count as a "Genre writer" and to justify placing all of her works in the DB, if only so that the non-genre works can be marked as such and people will know which side of the line any particular work falls. Currently her page is in poor shape, with pub series recorded as title series, non-genre work not marked as such, and much recent work not recorded at all. I have done some work in the past few days to clean it up, and plan to do more. I would suggest that for her non-genre work, there is no need to record every edition/printing, a single entry for each would do. That is enough to let DB users know which is and which is not genre work, and to prevent a possibly endless cycle of submission/deletion of her non-genre work if we exclude it. -DES Talk 21:20, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
DES, I'm not going to delete any of her works. But I'm not going to work on them either, so if you want her page improved you or another fan will have to do it. The comparatively recent changes for "writing as" probably mean a lot of rework. Good luck! BLongley 21:38, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough, I would never ask you or anyone to work on projects not to your taste, and there is plenty of other stuff to do. The question is, will moderators reject her non-genre work as it is entered, or approve deletions of it by editors who think it should be gone? If there is a wide consensus that her non-genre work should not be in the DB, I won't defy that to put it there, nor would that be the end of my world or of my work here. -DES Talk 21:50, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Please start (or return to) a separate Nora Roberts topic. Several people -- self included -- may have opinions that don't belong in the discussion of this proposal. --MartyD 22:21, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
It happens every time someone tries to make a general statement about an ISFDB policy or standard. Everything gets bogged down in the minutiae. Mhhutchins 22:51, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) On the more general issue, I'm not sure this visualization helps much. The two key questions, it seems to me are: 1) What is Speculative Fiction, and 2) who is a "genre writer". I don't think the chart helps much with either. (If we keep it, please add 'supernatural' to 'horror' in its description of what speculative fiction is.) Both of these are tricky to answer, but I think the second is harder. Faced with a specific example, given our stated inclusionist bias, i think most of us would agree on what is speculative fiction. (Although books like In Vivo and Arrowsmith are hard to define out, though most of us would place them out, I think.) The "more known" formulation of the test isn't bad, but I think it would fail in some cases, and is to restrictive in some others. Consider a hypothetical author who wrote what is clearly Genre SF for most of his carrer, but had a single best-selling and long-lasting non-genre book, the primary basis of his enduring reputation. Is he "more known" for non-genre writing? yes! Is he none-the-less a genre writer? I would think so. Or consider the case of an author who writes a significant but non-majority fraction of her work in the speculative field, but a larger part of her reputation is derived from her non-genre work. Is she a genre writer? Again i would say yes, but it is perhaps a closer call. (This is of course the Nora Roberts case). And there are other cases where size, or even significance, of the body of work, does not match its popular or critical reputation. Was Mary Stewart a Genre writer? The Merlin books are the main reason she is remembered and read today, but only a small part of her body of work. It is a hard line to draw, even case-by-case, and harder to make a bright-line rule for, IMO. -DES Talk 21:39, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

David, did anyone say anything about removing the "In Death" series from the database? What's your point? Make an argument about inclusion or exclusion based on something that isn't already part of the database. At least that we can discuss. Mhhutchins 22:51, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I was attempting to discuss the general issue with both hypothetical and real examples. No one has AFAIK, suggested removing the In Death series, although there was a suggestion that Roberts's non-genre work be excluded. My point is that the notes accompanying the graphic above say that a genre author is one "more known" for his or her genre work than for non-genre, and that at least in some cases such a test would exclude authors who ought to be included, and possibly include ones who should be excluded. That is my sole point in the paragraph above. -DES Talk 23:29, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
"What we demand is rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty". There will never be any here unless Ahasuerus exerts his bureaucrat status and gets rid of all us pesky mods. BLongley 22:08, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I like this idea. I think it helps state the policy in a way that's easy to grasp by newcomers. It's probably impossible to cover the myriad possibilities AND keep the thing simple. Having this sort of presentation as an overview strikes me as a worthwhile addition, much more approachable (or less daunting) than the existing policy list. --MartyD 22:14, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Thank you, Marty. That was exactly my point. It's intended to be a basic overview of the ISFDB policy. We can argue the finer details when it comes to individual works. I'm not going to start listing the "buts" on a chart for which they weren't intended. I wish all the naysayers would at least give alternative suggestions on improving it. Mhhutchins 22:46, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I understand that an outline of basic policy can't include all the caveats and details. It seems to me that the chart is pretty much a visual presentation of the sentence "All work by authors considered genre writers is IN, but only genre work by non-genre writers is IN, their non-genre work is OUT." Is that correct? If so, i think that sentence is as easy to understand as the chart is, but maybe for some the visual version will be clearer or easier. If so, fine -- such a chart surely does no harm at worst. I don't mean to be a naysayer. My main point is that this concept is not, i think what most confuses new editors -- but maybe I'm wrong. A chart that was able to present the concept of "What is speculative fiction?" or one that could help with "who is a genre author?" would be very helpful indeed, but I have not been able to come up with even a concept for a chart or graphic to help with either of those. -DES Talk 23:29, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I think it's a worthwhile attempt to create a graphical representation of the challenges that we face. (BTW, there is an amusing attempt to graph the whole SF universe, although it's 3MB in size -- ) It's one way to get us thinking about the lines of demarcation between genre and non-genre works/authors. I am still trying to wrap my brain around some of the ramifications of the proposed definitions (e.g. as they relate to graphic novels and comic books), but it's good to see that we are thinking about these issues. Ahasuerus 08:02, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Treatment of non-genre Works

Split off from the "Visualization" topic above in an attempt to deal with topic drift. -DES Talk 17:41, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

In my opinion, the "above the threshold" criteria is currently not working. While there are some cases that fall in "the Nora Roberts" question, there are far more that don't. For example, author with a single genre work and a non-genre work and author with five 5 genre works and 11 non-genre works (including the two collections). I even recently deleted several books where the author had a single book in the database and that book was non-genre, non-fiction, and unreviewed in a genre publication (ex.this and this).

There also seems to be a breakdown in how non-genre works are being entered. In addition to the two collection referenced above, we have things like London Noir. Even if we accept that the editor is above the threshold and this should be included, I question how it's been entered. If we are going to have non-genre, it's better that it be entered as NONGENRE (to be fair, I can undertand why this happens as software support for non-genre other than novels is lacking).

I don't know what the right answer is, but while the graphic is a nice picture of the rules, current practice does not seem to match our stated rules. I think that is a larger issue. -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:52, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Re. London Noir, the "(crime genre short story)" inclusion in all the titles looks like it was intended as a flag to a potential verifier that every story may be a candidate for deletion. Any editor wanting to verify it would then have to edit every title to remove the bracketed part if they were to remain in the database, and if they are all crime genre short stories why enter the pub at all? To provide a comparable publication from my own neck of the woods I entered Bangkok Noir last month, and only indexed the titles of spec-fic interest rather than clutter up the database with titles and authors that otherwise have no presence here. I think the Edit Title Help page's Entry Type section could provide more help, as at the moment it only addresses collections. Advice on anthologies needs to be provided too, particularly in the case of non- or mixed-genre ones, otherwise we end up with entries like London Noir which a new editor wouldn't want to go anywhere near, or even know what to do with. PeteYoung 10:02, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
My personal preference would be to have a list of, say, "The Top 200 Speculative Fiction Authors". We would start with outside authorities: Select a couple of the big name "Here's who you should read" books, then have a process whereby folks could continue to nominate authors for the list (hence it wouldn't stay "200"). This would be an interesting list in its own right. And very subjective. C'est la vie. But at least it would be precise. Authors on that list would get their non-genre works included; authors not at that list would not (unless their fans got enough votes to get them included on our "Top Authors" list). I suggest this knowing that there is no way to answer this "threshold" question that isn't subjective, but it would be possible to have the answers be more transparent. Chavey 17:11, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
An interesting thought. I can see pluses and minuses, and possible disputes, such as "how many votes does it take for an author to get on the list". It has possibilities. Failing that, perhaps such a list maintained on a wiki page and settled by discussion and/or vote here? Perhaps even a list of "authors with non-genre work in the database" to see where we are now? -DES Talk 17:41, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, but I disagree that the list that Darrah proposes should be added to the database. We can't even agree about what "speculative fiction" means (see the previous discussion.) How can we determine the "Top"? Such subjectivity has no place in the ISFDB. And why should only 200 authors have their non-genre work in the db? And a list of books "you should read"? Again, maybe on another website, but not in a database. I'd go even further to get rid of the User Rating system, which no one to my knowledge actually uses. (Perhaps Ahaseurus knows if it's still used.) Mhhutchins 18:45, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
See ISFDB:List of Authors with Non-Genre Work in the DB for a list of the authors with NONGENRE titles currently in the db. Some of these i tend to question the reasons for. -DES Talk 19:20, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
On second thought I tend to agree that a list of "top authors" is not useful in this connection. (Although I think Darrah intended that the list could expand beyond 200). A mid-list author with 11 Genre novels and 7 genre short stories and 2 non-genre novels is unlikely to be on anyone's "top authors" list, but quite probably should have his or her non-genre work included.
On the rating system, look at the Top Voters page to see who has used it and how often. I like it, but it will not have much value until/unless a significantly larger number of people make more extensive use of it. -DES Talk 19:20, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the "top 200" approach is too subjective and too limiting to be useful in this case. As an aside, I think it would be useful to create more parameter-driven lists, e.g. a custom "recommended reading" list that will be dynamically generated based on the user's award choice (Hugo vs. Nebula vs. Prometheus vs. Lambda etc), but it doesn't seem to be the best approach to this particular problem. Ahasuerus 20:03, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
It would be nice to have a definite "above the threshold" flag on each author but I'm not sure of the best way to set it. Maybe when Dirk finishes his author updates we could, for instance, set the flag if they have an SFE3 entry. In the meantime, maybe using the Author's Wiki page to record when one or more of us considers the threshold has been reached would allow us to look at each author's proponents or opponents. BLongley 14:21, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

Nongenre work and translations

DES suggested this for Nora Roberts: "I would suggest that for her non-genre work, there is no need to record every edition/printing, a single entry for each would do. That is enough to let DB users know which is and which is not genre work, and to prevent a possibly endless cycle of submission/deletion of her non-genre work if we exclude it."

There is merit in this idea - but with increased language support, should we include first editions in each language just to make sure we don't get too many extra publications? BLongley 21:45, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

That would be a reasonable modification, IMO, and she does have several translations recoded already. -DES Talk 21:53, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Translations entered into the db by a robot. I doubt any human editor or moderator would accept a submission to enter a German language romance novel. And if so, we're in serious trouble.
In the case of nongenre work by a marginally genre author (I know, I know), the first edition, regardless of the language, is sufficient. I see NO reason to add translations of that work either. We shouldn't waste effort on creating a bibliography of nongenre publications. (By "we", I mean "I".) Mhhutchins 22:13, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Actually the translations I have seen in the DB so far are of her genre work, specifically of parts of the In Death series. For non-genre work, assuming it is to be included at all, i could live with a "one publication" or a "at most one pub per language" approach. This would obviously apply to any authors in a similar position: much genre work but even more non-genre. Perhaps it ought to apply even to clearly genre writers: do we need every printing of each of Asimov's essay collections, say? Or perhaps that is too extreme. -DES Talk 23:36, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
One problem with this approach is that it is even harder and less friendly for newer editors (not to mention more of a headache for moderators). I can just see people entering additional printings, etc., based on other patterns they see. And then moderators will have to evaluate every non-genre submission to see whether multiple printings are permitted to be recorded for the author in question or not. IMO, much better to have a clear "out" and then to have a consistent treatment of anything that is "in". --MartyD 22:18, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I think we could improve "Add Publication to This Title" to warn people if they're adding more than the first edition in that language. Increased language support will mean increased headaches anyway. :-( BLongley 22:27, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Our perhaps we should be considering alternative approaches for non-genre works altogether? I recognize it would be more work (and such much more long term), but what about getting rid of publications for non-genre works and have an alternate title record? -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:56, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
I can see why limiting non-genre pubs by prolific authors may be inevitable in practice simply because we don't have an unlimited number of man-hours to spend on them. However, getting rid of all non-genre pubs sounds like overkill. For starters, it will be impossible to do verifications for non-genre titles and our database is very verification-centric.
In addition, there are times when it may be desirable to see a complete publication history for certain non-genre titles by major genre authors. For example, de Camp scholars and collectors may want to know that L. Sprague de Camp's An Elephant for Aristotle was reprinted in paperback in 1971 -- de Camp actually preferred writing historical fiction to SF ca. 1960, but there was no money in it, so he had to go back to SF.
Since the main issue with non-genre pubs is the amount of time that it takes to find and enter them and since we haven't been flooded with non-genre pub submissions (yet), I think leaving the policy "as is" is harmless for now. If and when we are attacked by hordes of rabid handbag-wielding Nora Roberts fans clamoring to enter every single non-genre pub by their beloved author, we may have to revisit the issue.
BTW, one of the problems with non-genre titles is that the "NONGENRE" title type is currently limited to Novels and there is no easy way of entering non-genre collections, anthologies, stories, etc. There are times when we *do* want to enter non-genre stories, e.g. some of you may remember that incident in the 1970s when Ben Bova published a non-genre story in Analog and got a ton of hate mail for his troubles. It's a notable episode in SF history and ideally we would be able to list the story and indicate that it's "non-genre", but the database design doesn't support it at this time. Hopefully we will improve it in the foreseeable future. Ahasuerus 07:22, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

SFWA membership for the ISFDB?

Copied from ISFDB:Help desk#Urban Fantasy Collections -DES Talk 22:33, 13 July 2012 (UTC) By the way, has anyone asked SFWA if we at ISFDB qualify under their Affiliate Member or Institutional Member rules? As someone that has never been to the USA and has no current plans to go I'm not especially interested for myself, but the amount of work we do for the genre surely qualifies some of us at least. BLongley 16:12, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

As I read their rules we would probably qualify as an Institutional Member, but it would cost us $100/yr and we'd need to get three Active Members (professional authors) to sign on to our application. -DES Talk 02:46, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm sure I could find three active members via the ISFDB Livejournal account - 244 of the 953 friends are mutual. The question is whether the benefits are worth it. BLongley 11:03, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
So far as I can see we could get a copy of the member directory (at the cost of printing and mailing) which might help with author info); we (or one of us) could subscribe to the Bulletin (at an additional cost) which might well be interesting but I'm not sure if it would be directly relevant to the ISFDB's activities; and we could get access to various electronic discussion fora. The last might be the most valuable, and facilitate asking authors for clarifications about their works, and perhaps letting some of them know about our existence and activities. Perhaps I should copy or move this discussion to the community portal for wider visibility? -DES Talk 15:56, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
It's probably worth a move, so that people can decide whether it's worth pursuing. I can probably provide the sponsors, if someone (or several) can provide the funds. We have one possible sponsor already. BLongley 21:46, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
Moved, or more exactly, copied. -DES Talk 22:33, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

End text copied from ISFDB:Help desk#Urban Fantasy Collections -DES Talk 22:33, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

Sorry, but I could find a better use for $100. I don't see any real benefits in SFWA membership, affiliate, institutional, or otherwise. Especially if you have to pay extra for the privilege of getting a directory of members and a subscription to the Bulletin. Really? Mhhutchins 23:39, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
According to "As an Institutional Member, you will be supporting some of the finest minds in the current generation of writers and will have the opportunity to mingle with them via private convention suites. For the cost of printing and shipping, you may also opt to receive our Member Directory and keep abreast of events via our bi-monthly Bulletin." -DES Talk 23:47, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
$100 to mingle? Where do I sign up? Mhhutchins 00:12, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
Access to discussion forums may come in handy on occasion, but $100 seems a bit steep if that's all that we get from it. Besides, how would we determine who gets access to the forums? I doubt SFWA would like the idea of giving all ISFDB editors access since we have no restrictions on who can be an editor, and a more restrictive scheme would be difficult to implement and keep going. Ahasuerus 04:56, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, we could restrict it to moderators - this could be the "secret decoder ring" reward for accepting the job. Or a subset, where only those actually interested get access. I've acquired quite a few SFWA bulletins and found them quite interesting, but appreciate that bibliographically there's not a lot of new stuff in them. The main benefit would be contacts with authors, and maybe that would lead to artists as well. And maybe a certain level of kudos - I don't know whether membership has as high a status worldwide as it seems to in the US, but it would be nice to know if they'd let us join the club, even if we don't actually choose to do so. BLongley 14:16, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Duplicate Finder

The Duplicate Finder page has been enhanced to display each title's language. The "note" displayed at the top of the page was also fixed at no extra charge. Ahasuerus 05:42, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Fawcett Gold Medal / Gold Medal Books

It appears that the earlier publications for this imprint of Fawcett Publications were credited to Gold Medal Books. Starting sometime in 1965, the books were credited to Fawcett Gold Medal. Is there any objection to my changing the publisher credits for pre-1965 primary-verified books to "Gold Medal Books"? The request for this change is based on copies of books published under this imprint in my collection (which I have already changed) and the covers of others that are primary-verified by other editors. The distinction can be seen in the cover publisher credit of catalog #1513 and this one for #1549 published later in 1965. Hopefully the interior publisher credit matches that of the cover. Mhhutchins 21:24, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

Edition statement in title

Please have a look at User talk:Aeneasmiddleton‎#Image:Brutuscover.jpg . In particular, the submittor, who is also the author and the publisher, wants to include "The Guildhall Edition" as a subtitle on one publication of one of his books. He claims that this "is pert of the title". Any suggestions on the matter? -DES Talk 16:01, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

There's no problem with adding the edition to the title field of the publication record, but it should not be part of the title field of the title record. The author says they are identical, so it's obvious both editions should be under the same title record. Mhhutchins 16:33, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Look at how I entered a record for a new edition of Peter Straub's Floating Dragon. There's never been a requirement that the title field of the publication record be identical to the title field of the title record. Mhhutchins 16:36, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Pub record is, I think, all he wants. (If this were a more widely published work, and I had a copy in hand with such a sub title, I suppose a VT might be considered.) I generally dislike edition statements in the titles of even pub records, but we must take the author at his word. I'll make the change. -DES Talk 16:40, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
I do understand that pub record titles may vary from canonical titles, the question is how. -DES Talk 16:40, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Because that's the way they're entered. or edited in a subsequent submission. Many editors use the title field of the publication record to add series info, because they take the ISFDB policy to "record the title as it appears on the title page" literally. We can't fault them for that. Mhhutchins 16:52, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
No we don't fault them, but we do normally correct such entries when we spot them. I had rather assumed this would be a similar case. -DES Talk 16:58, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Actually, I don't correct such entries. There's no harm in allowing such information in the title field of a publication record. If the editor is doing a primary verification, how can the moderator without the book in hand know how the title is recorded on the title page? We only limit such titles when it comes to the title field in the title record. Since the title field in a publication record doesn't have to match that of the title record, there's no reason to "correct" it Mhhutchins 17:10, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

David Ireland - Artist, Author or Both?

Does anyone know for certain whether the David Ireland that we have as an author is the same person as the artist who illustrated several Donald M. Grant and Underwood-Miller books? I suspect they are two different persons, but have been unable to find any biographical information about the artist. There is an artist with the same name listed in Wikipedia, but that doesn't sound like our man either. Thanks. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 02:08, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

I have no evidence to support it, but would put money that they're different persons. And the wikipedia artist isn't likely the same guy either. Is anyone in contact with Tim Underwood or Chuck Miller in order to ask them? Mhhutchins 16:21, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
A friend of mine, who knows Chuck Miller well enough to pose the question, has gotten back to me with Miller's response:
Spoke to Chuck Miller. Unfortunately he hasn't had contact with Ireland since the 1970s, and couldn't point you to any specific information. He felt pretty strongly that Australia was unlikely because Ireland had no accent, and Chuck thought that he had come from New England, where he had gone to art school in Rhode Island (I give these details in case they may pop up in a bio you do find and create a link). At the time they worked together, Ireland mailed his work from New England. (Of course, he could have moved to Australia later in life.) Chuck said that Grant was the guy who really knew Ireland, and had put them in touch, but Chuck didn't know Ireland that well and doesn't now at all. He did recommend contacting Robert Weiner, but didn't know how to do that and I don't either.
I don't know who Robert Weiner is, but my friend, or Miller, may have meant Weinberg who has a contact link on his website. I can give him a try if that is who Miller was suggesting. I'll keep us posted. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 21:43, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

Locus data

Just a heads up posting for those that use Locus [me included]. I have recently come into possession of some 25-30,000 scans of covers. Some of these are of 'Pre-Publication' covers. They do not always match the actual cover of the published edition. From one such cover I e-mailed Bill Contento and asked if Locus ever received such covers as opposed to whole books. He responded that: "Locus regularly gets advance galleys and proofs with the covers wrapped around them with rubber bands. I have a couple boxes full in my office. I wouldn't be surprised if the price sometimes changed between the advance copies and the final version and that occasionally the change was missed." In processing the scans that I have received [and so far I've only done ACE ones] there have been a few that differ from the published edition, and of those few some that have notes [in our records] that Locus's record differs. The above response would explain why. A further e-mail about what happens when such discrepancies are found received this answer: "When I get corrections. like the ones you've been sending (thanks!), I make changes to the database and periodically regenerate the index. It's been quite a while since the last update, and will likely be quite a while more. I currently have about a dozen boxes of books to enter for the Locus Index, several trays of magazines to enter for the Locus and SF Magazine Indexes, several hundred submitted TOCs to process for the FictionMags Index, and am merging in the last couple of Addenda to Al Hubin's Crime Fiction IV. I hope to retire from my day job next year so may eventually get caught up." So, please send data to Bill [the e-mail address is on the Locus site] but keep adding the notes. Best we can do for now. Maybe, when Bill retires, we can convince him to join our little enterprise .... [I like to dream a little!!] --~ Bill, Bluesman 22:58, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

I come across errors in the Locus database, probably one or two each week. I suppose it would only be fair to inform Contento of each one I find, because we've "appropriated" (read "stolen") so much of his original research. Thanks for reminding me. Now about the cover scans: are the ones for the advance copies labeled as such, so that you're more alert to compare the prices, catalog numbers, etc., to make sure the published book matches the scan you're uploading? I'd hate to see someone come along and "update" a record based on the linked image. Heaven knows that happens enough for published books, especially for links to Amazon images. Mhhutchins 03:11, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Each image, when linked in the notes, carries the title "Pre-Publication" and the tag has that also. At no time is such an image being used as the primary image unless the same image exists on a for-sale copy [usually verified through AbeBooks, NEVER amazon]. After being severely 'chastised' over a paltry five images it seemed the easier course than initiating a search and DEStroy mission ....... ;-)) --~ Bill, Bluesman 03:50, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

Patch r2012-14

Patch r2012-14 has been installed. When editing publications with title records whose "story length" field is anything other than "ss", "nv" and "nt", the storylen information (e.g. "/1,2,3", "nvz" or "jvn") is now displayed correctly. In addition, moderators will no longer see spurious Contents record changes when approving publication edits involving these types of pubs. Ahasuerus 02:57, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

They've become so ubiquitous that I no longer even notice them. Now, I'll probably notice they're not there! Thanks. Mhhutchins 03:02, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, the long term solution is to create separate fields for "jvn" (which may then be further refined into "YA", "8-12" and "4-7", but that's debatable) and "/1,2,3". "nvz" needs to be changed to a link to the IMDB. We also want another field where we could put link(s) to any movie/TV versions of the title, but that's a different story. Ahasuerus 03:16, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
P.S. I should also mention that although the bug was mostly harmless, it wasn't completely harmless. Prior to this patch, if an editor had edited a pub which contained a title with a non-standard Storylen value and then changed that value via Title Edits, then approving the two submissions out of order would have inadvertently reverted the value of the Storylen field. Ahasuerus 03:54, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

L. L. Bartlett and the threshold

I have on hold a proposed addition of Abused: A Daughter's Story by L. L. Bartlett. The submitter confirms what the info on Amazon suggests: This story is not S-F. So, is Barlett above a certain threshold? --MartyD 00:17, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

If it's a NONGENRE short story, there's no way to enter it so that it's properly displayed. So, I'd say it's out. Michael Bishop has dozens of NONGENRE stories that are not in the database because they appeared in NONGENRE publications. I would think he's above the threshold, but I'm not going to create publication records for nongenre publications in order to add his NONGENRE stories to the database. There is a discussion on the Rules and Standards page about limiting the entry of NONGENRE short fiction until software support is implemented. Mhhutchins 01:10, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Changing a magazine month--how to?

I'm new to this Wiki. I'd like to change the dates of publication for Science Wonder Quarterly. It's listed as being published Oct 1929, Jan 30, April 30. It really came out (according to the indicia in the original magazine): Sept 1929, Dec 29, and March 30. I've got no idea how to do that. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Martinbainbridge (talkcontribs) .

According to current ISFDB standards, records of magazines should be dated the same as the date given on the cover, not their newsstand date. In the case of seasonal dating (like the issues of Science Wonder Quarterly), you can use a reliable secondary source to add the date. If you are doing a primary verification of the record, and there is a stated publication date, feel free to update the record and change the date. Be sure to indicate the source of your date (where it's located in the issue). But keep in mind: if the issue was dated September 1929 on the cover, and the newsstand date was August 1, 1929, you should not change the ISFDB record's date. (BTW, please "sign" any future messages by adding four tildes (~~~~) to the end of your message.) Thanks for contributing. Mhhutchins 02:02, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Created a help page for adding magazine issues to its issue grid

Here is a tentative help page to explain how to add a magazine issue to the magazine's issue grid. I was surprised to find that it didn't already exist, or if it does, I couldn't find it. Please offer suggestions, criticisms, etc. on the help page's talk page, not here on this page. Thanks. Mhhutchins 23:51, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

BTW, this is not the same as this help page which is primarily concerned with the [obsolete, IMHO] magazine wiki pages. There may be some overlap which may have to be reconciled. But otherwise, it doesn't mention the issue grid at all. Mhhutchins 23:54, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

It's been three weeks without comment, so I have to assume there's no objections or suggestions. I'm making the help page live. Mhhutchins 17:30, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

DAW Collectors publication series

As a result of this discussion, I and a few other editors put most of the DAW books (at least the first editions of those books) into a DAW Collectors publication series when they had a note specifying their DAW book number. There remained somewhat more that 100 numbers unassigned, most of which were assigned via the series listing in WorldCat or at Note: If you had verified books in this DAW series, they may have been placed into the series without notification other than this message.
I am making two requests for comments or help:

  1. There appear to be at least 8 books where the numbers on them are errors, i.e. they were supposed to have different numbers assigned than are actually on the books. I have documented the details of these discrepancies on the series site, but am unsatisfied with my wording. It seems to me that the notes I added could be substantially compressed without losing information, and I invite someone else to improve those comments. (Of course if I have made errors there, please correct me.)
  2. There were many reprint editions that listed their DAW number. However, it seems to have been somewhat rare for reprint editions to actually list their DAW number, and it seems that we should not put such books in the publication series if they don't actually have their DAW number listed on the cover or copyright page. I suspect that several of these reprint editions listed a DAW number based on the first edition and did not actually have the number listed in that edition. Consequently, I propose that:
    • Reprint editions that do not actually list a DAW number should not be included in the publication series; and
    • We should tentatively remove all of the existing reprint editions from the publication series unless they explicitly say that the number occurs on / in the book or a verifier tells us that the number actually occurs there.

Thoughts? Chavey 04:03, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

  1. We can record instances where the stated DAW number is wrong, and even record them in the note field...but we should not change the number that is actually stated in the book. I personally went through all 1500+ listings just a couple of days ago and found about a dozen instances where a number was duplicated. You seem to have recorded those that I found, but time permitting, I will go through them again to see if there are any more. In any case, the notes are good and do a fine job explaining the duplication and omissions.
  2. I agree with both parts of your proposal: if a number is not actually stated in the publication it should not be entered into the publication record's publication series field. It's been my experience that paperback reprints of paperback originals dropped the number from the front cover entirely, and only in rare cases did they retain them, and even rarer were new numbers assigned. (I came upon one title which was reprinted with new cover art and got a new collectors number.) Mhhutchins 04:24, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
At Darrah's request, I took a look at my reprints, and I have to say I'm 3-for-3 on disproving by example that it was rare for reprint editions to list the number. I have reprints of No. 755 (11th printing), No. 912 (3rd printing), and No. 1045 (8th printing). As a handy bonus, I happened to stumble on No. 985 1st printing, which is book #3 in the series with No. 912. There is no difference in presentation between that 1st printing of one and the 3rd printing of the other. In all four cases, the cover has the DAW logo over No. nnn. In all four cases, the copyright page says "DAW Book Collectors No. nnn.". No. 1045, which is both newest and also DAW Fiction instead of DAW Fantasy, also has the same logo ove No. nnnn stamped on the inside of the front cover (the others do not). I'll have to see -- I'm sure I have more where perhaps I didn't think to mention the number. Anyway, it's a small sample but strongly suggests it's not worth having everyone go searching, nor is it really worth going back to record details about the location(s) of a number's information on the publication. What do you think? --MartyD 17:50, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
I have based my assumptions about DAW Books' numbering on the first ten or so years of their existence. I have very few of their titles published after the mid-80s. So I was apparently wrong about the numbering in reprints of later titles. I'll leave any discussions about how the series should be handled to those who have a better grasp of their complete output. I've recorded the number locations in the records I've verified, but nothing requires any other editor to do so. It was just Darrah wanting to get a more complete picture of DAW's practices. Nothing wrong with that. I've been asked numerous times about records that I've primary verified, and have never balked at going to the effort of answering them (and believe me, many times that required some digging, especially for paperbacks and periodicals, almost all of which have been packed away!) I believe it's one of the responsibilities that goes with doing a primary verification. Mhhutchins 18:26, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
I wasn't complaining, only thinking about total collective effort. I've updated my pubs with the info and will check for others when I have a chance. I wonder if the behavior is different for ones with and without the "Collectors" (as in maybe they did it one way then switched coincident with the name change). I noticed the few I looked at have a UE2nnn number that's UE2 plus the counter group from the ISBN-10. Those are DAW Fantasy. The DAW Fiction one I looked at had no UE number. Don't know what that means, either. :-) --MartyD 20:39, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
As I've discovered in researching other publishers and publication series, the best way to determine a pattern is to get as much detailed information about each printing in order to form a hypothesis. When Bill (Bluesman) and I started working on the SFBC listings, we had no idea what patterns would emerge with the gathering of ID numbers and Gutter codes until we'd built up a sufficient number of records. Once that was done, it fell into place. So with DAW, you can find out: a) when the yellow spines disappear, b) when the collectors number started, c) how the price was reflected in the catalog number (UQ=95¢, UT=75¢, etc., BTW, UE=$1.75), d) when they started using full ISBNs, e) how the catalog number, ISBN, and collectors number are related, and even more new discoveries. That's one of the joys of bibliography, at least to me. Mhhutchins 21:39, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
I have tried, in all cases where I've asked verifiers to check on those numbers, to preface my request with "If you have time, ...". I was hoping that those who had time would help discover such patterns. One pattern is that editors almost never put the DAW number in their notes if it didn't occur on the book. Of the 60 or so reprints that have been re-verified for the actual appearance of a DAW number, exactly one did not have the number explicit. As with Marty, I would agree that this implies that the conventional wisdom that DAW numbers don't occur on (most) reprint editions is incorrect. On the other hand, if notes didn't include a statement of a DAW number, I haven't asked editors to see whether that number exists there, so it may still be true that an awful lot of these books don't have the DAW numbers. But I am now inclined to believe that this phenomena is limited to some particular year range of books. I think there would be some modest value in identifying what that range of years is, since (if true) that could help identify approximate ages of some reprint editions. And that would be one the "discoveries" that Mike mentions. Chavey 20:47, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Patch r2012-15

Patch r2012-15 has been installed. It corrects a number of problems with the way Edit Pub and Make Variant handle dates. All invalid dates ("1998-02-42", "jndfW!" etc) are now automatically converted to "0000-00-00". This has been the intended behavior all along, but in some cases it didn't work, so bad dates could slip past the safeguards and cause Python errors at approval time. In addition, the handling of partial dates like "1986" and "1986-07" has been made more consistent in that more fields will let you enter them and then pad them value with missing 0's. It's not 100% consistent yet, but we are making progress. Edit Author hasn't been upgraded yet, but I plan to implement similar changes once I test and install some of the previously submitted changes.

P.S. Ideally, all pages should reject invalid dates up front the way Edit Title does it. We are moving in that direction and further changes will be implemented as we consolidate the software. Ahasuerus 05:41, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Linking images for nongenre magazines

The rules currently prohibit the uploading and/or linking of cover images to publication records for nongenre magazines unless the cover art illustrates the SF content, or is by a well known SF artist. I've noticed that there are many issues of Argosy linked to covers on Galactic Central which should not be. There's no telling how many other nongenre magazines that are also linked. If anyone sees them in the course of updating a record, please remove the links. There's no need to start searching for them. Moderators, please keep an eye on editors' updates and new records for nongenre magazines. Thanks. Mhhutchins 20:40, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

I'm likely the one responsible for some of those. I did take a broad interpretation of illustrating the SF content and have included covers when the SF content, or the SF author is mentioned on the cover, whether through the artwork or in cover text. However, I wouldn't have listed the artist's name unless the illustration related to the SF story. If the policy is stricter than I've interpreted it, I'm not sure I see the downside to linking such cover scans. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 21:50, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
"Prohibit" is a stronger word than I would have used, but it's certainly not desired for us to host irrelevant covers. (I don't know what our storage limits are, but they're finite.) Linking to other sites that have given us permission to is less of a worry - I guess this is why Michael doesn't want us to search for them? - but I certainly wouldn't encourage such links. However interesting those "Playboy" covers may be. ;-) BLongley 22:25, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, it does state Do not enter a cover artist, nor a cover image URL. Leave both fields blank. I'd call that a prohibition by any definition of the word. Having an sf story mentioned on the cover doesn't lessen the rule. And there's nothing there about hosting the image, just don't link to it. I stopped removing the links after a few dozen or so. Too many paintings of cowboys, robbers, sweethearts, pirates and big game hunters! And the reason I said not to search for them is because I think there are probably more important things on the average editor's "to do" list. Mhhutchins 22:47, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I continued this over at Rules and Standards. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 00:05, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Advanced search: searching by language

Advanced Search has been enhanced to allow searching by language. You can even enter a partial language name, e.g. "ese" will find Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese titles. Ahasuerus 04:35, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Editing briefly unavailable at 1am server time

ISFDB editing will be briefly unavailable between 1am and 1:05am server (Central US) time. Ahasuerus 05:52, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Editing is once again available. Ahasuerus 06:01, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Patch r2012-17 or the Revenge of the French-Irish

Patch r2012-17 has been installed. The Author Directory has a new column for D's, O's, etc. Ahasuerus 06:08, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

It's not a perfect solution - e.g. "Peadar Ò Guilin" is still left out - but it's good for a few hundred other authors. I hope. BLongley 15:35, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

We list Cynthia Harrod-Eagles because of Dynasty 24: The Homecoming(Morland Dynasty Series). I can find no evidence that this novel is SF - am I missing anything? Ahasuerus 21:02, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

I can't see any reason why it's in the db. Mhhutchins 22:21, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Powell's seems to have the most thorough description of the book. It's pretty clearly a historical novel. The closest it gets to "science" is that "cousin Lady Venetia" is a doctor. I encourage its deletion. Chavey 03:07, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Dead and buried. Thanks for the pointers! Ahasuerus 04:55, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

The Challenge from Beyond

This record is a mess and we have to come to some decision on how it should be handled. A few questions have to be answered first:

  1. Should there be a title record for the entire piece? And if so, should it be credited to all five authors?
  2. Is it a five-part SERIAL, or five SHORTFICTION pieces? And should each part be varianted to a single record?
  3. When the story is published as a standalone, should the publication record be typed as an ANTHOLOGY or a CHAPTERBOOK?

Here are the verified publications in which the piece has appeared and the editors who have done primary verifications of each:

  1. Fantastic, May 1960: Swfritter, Rkihara, Hauck
  2. Horrors Unknown (hardcover): Mhhutchins
  3. Horrors Unknown (paperback): Willem H.
  4. Univers1 (translation): Hauck
  5. Tales of Dungeons and Dragons: Unapersson (inactive)
  6. Miscellaneous Writings: Rtrace
  7. The Challenge from Beyond (standalone): Swfritter
  8. The Illustrated Challenge from Beyond (standalone): SF Juggler, Biomassbob
  9. Beyond the Black River: Biomassbob
  10. Adventures in Science Fantasy: Biomassbob

Because this only concerns one work, I didn't feel it necessary for it to be discussed on the Rules and Standards page (although it might establish a precedence for other round-robin stories.) I've invited each of the primary verifiers to participate in this discussion, but all editors are free to join in. Each of the three posed questions should be addressed in your response, but please bring up any others that I might have overlooked. Thanks. Mhhutchins 05:40, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

  1. I would say yes, according to the introduction in Horrors Unknown it was conceived as one story by five authors.
  2. I.m.o. it should be a serial, each part as by one of the authors.
  3. After 1., Chapterbook would be the logical publication type.
One other thing, the introduction to the story in Horrors Unknown states that the publication in Fantastic, May 1960 has only the Lovecraft part of the story. Perhaps Hervé or Stephen can verify this? --Willem H. 11:48, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Miscellaneous Writings contains only the Lovecraft segment, with a 2 sentence synopsis, by Joshi, of what went before. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 13:14, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
In that case, you should remove the current content record and replace it with a record credited only to Lovecraft and not varianted against the whole. Is it titled "The Challenge from Beyond" or "The Challenge from Beyond (Part 3 of 5)" (or something similar)? If its part isn't given in the title, it would be a good idea to add a note to the title record to prevent future editors from merging it with the title record of the whole story. Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:00, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
Fantastic, 05/60, contains only Lovecraft's contribution to the story.--Rkihara 15:48, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
Then you get the same advice that I gave to the other Ron. Mhhutchins 18:08, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Willem on all three points. There must be provision for a single piece published separately. I like the serial designation, and used it for another round-robin story, "Ghor, Kin-Slayer" However, the stand-alone pub I entered as an anthology with the editor credited, not the authors. After consideration, I would prefer to change that pub to novel (in this case, based on the length) with the multiple authors and the editor credited in the notes. Bob 12:17, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Ghor, Kin-Slayer is not the subject of discussion, but I will add one thing about it (and hope that the remainder of the discussion stays on "The Challenge from Beyond"): If you change its publication record to the NOVEL type, you would have to remove all of the individual content parts and credit all 17 authors as the author of record. Current rules do not allow the entry of individual chapters of a novel.
Now back to "The Challenge from Beyond": if you type it as a SERIAL, any non-magazine publication of it will have to be entered in one content record with all five authors credited for the single record. The current software design and rules don't allow SERIAL records in any publication not typed as MAGAZINE. If we type standalone publications of the story as CHAPTERBOOK, again there can only be one content record credited to all five authors. That being said, I'm willing to go along with Willem's proposal to this extent:
  1. Publications in magazines will be given as five individually credited SERIAL-typed records. All five parts will be varianted to a single title record of the SHORTFICTION type which is credited to all five authors. (Just as we variant each part of a serial to a single novel record.)
  2. Publications in anthologies and collections (of all five parts) will be given as a single title record of the SHORTFICTION type and credited to all five authors.
  3. Publications of all five parts in a standalone publication will be typed as CHAPTERBOOKs (credited to all five authors) with a single content record which is typed as SHORTFICTION and credited to all five authors.
  4. Publication of a single part of the story in a magazine, collection or anthology will be credited only to the author who wrote it and will not be varianted to the whole. (Just as we would handle an excerpt). Mhhutchins 02:00, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
I presume from the above that a publication containing the two "Challenge from Beyond" round-robins back to back (like an Ace double) would be classified as an OMNIBUS comprised of two SHORTFICTION types, each by five authors. I have two such pubs to enter. But these pubs have no credited editor. How should the OMNIBUS be credited? All ten authors? Bob 13:17, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
As ungainly as that will look, yes, all ten authors would be credited. Mhhutchins 14:20, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Uploading cover to ISFDB when you don't have the publication

Yesterday I ran across an unverified publication record that linked to a cover image that had been uploaded to ISFDB. I made the assumption that the editor who made the upload had forgotten to verify the publication record or had not gotten around to it yet. The problem was the cover uploaded did not match the publication. The uploaded cover was close but the advertising blurbs and layout of the text was different. I queried the editor about this and learned he did not have the publication.

I'm wondering, is it a common practice among ISFDB editors to upload cover scans to ISFDB these days for publications they do not have? In other words, should I treat publication records that say "Cover art hosted by ISFDB" the same as records that are using cover images from other web sites? --Marc Kupper|talk 18:55, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Yes, when the publication is not verified. Sometimes I copy images from sites we don't have permission to link to, I try to upload a cover for all Dutch pubs I enter, even when I don't have them and sometimes it's necessary to upload a scan from Amazon (I received a second printing of Jeffrey Jones: A Life in Art yesterday, with a completely different cover, so I uploaded the amazon cover before they change it). I keep forgetting to change the source of the image from "scanned by ..." to the real source. --Willem H. 19:44, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
I do basically the same thing as Willem, and I used to change the "scanned by" credit, but I've abandoned the practice. So, Marc, you can't assume that the cover image uploader has the actual publication. I've verified pub records that have images uploaded by ISFDB editors who haven't verified the record (many of which were uploaded by Bluesman). And I've rarely come across any that have uploaded the wrong cover. So to answer your question: I think those uploaded directly to the ISFDB server are exceedingly more reliable than those hosted by Amazon and other outside servers. Mhhutchins 20:05, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
Micheal's comment about ISFDB being exceedingly more reliable by Amazon or other sources hints at what created the problem for me. If someone is using a secondary source such as Amazon as the source to decide what cover image to upload to ISFDB then ISFDB becomes as unreliable as the secondary sources.Marc Kupper|talk 22:58, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
No editor with the least sense of logic would upload an Amazon image when they can just link to it. Think a moment: why would they go to the effort? First they'd have to snag the image from Amazon, then resize it to ISFDB standards, then upload the image to the ISFDB server, then link it to the ISFDB record. All they would have had to do was the last step of linking it. Mhhutchins 23:24, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
No hitting please. I can think of several reasons to do this, not least is that often the amazon photo is skewed, or needs appropriate cropping before display in the database. Kevin 14:45, 20 August 2012 (UTC)
Much like how we already tend to credit Amazon, and other secondary sources, as the source when creating or updating a publication record I'd like to see the same done for the cover image field. That would allow ISFDB to keep the "exceedingly more reliable" imprimatur. That proposal is already supported by the rules. Buried far down Help:Screen:EditPub is the PubNote section which includes "Other sources used to update the record should be mentioned." Marc Kupper|talk 22:58, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm always having to remind editors of this. I really think I'm in the minority of moderators who insist on this. So I'm pretty sure you're not directing the comment to me. Mhhutchins 23:24, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
Wording it as "• Cover image archived from Amazon 2012-08-18." should be sufficient though I'll need to think a bit on if that wording will be understand by a casual visitor years from now. --Marc Kupper|talk 22:58, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
You'll have to re-define "archived", because Amazon will change their image without notice if a new printing has a different cover. The ISFDB record's link to Amazon's image can't archive the one that was originally linked to the record. I stand by my original statement: any image file that is directly uploaded to the ISFDB server and linked to an ISFDB database record will be more reliable than an Amazon-linked image, even if was uploaded by an editor who doesn't have the book in hand. And that was the original concern wasn't it? Mhhutchins 23:24, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
Don't forget the effects of cloning a 1st printing (to create a second printing) based on the third printing copyright page of a pb in hand. The 1st printing cover is in the ISFDB. So the 2nd printing cover gets it too. If the artwork is substantially similar (barring shifts in price and imprint marks), between the 1st and 3rd, I would normally let the 2nd linked artwork stand as an unverified record. Only a subtle examination of the linked artwork filename will reveal that it was uploaded to the ISFDB for a different publication record. I imagine there are many many records in the system that were cloned from records with uploaded artwork that only had a cursory examination for 'correctness', and ignore the vagaries of cover price, catalog number matching, etc. Kevin 14:52, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

Free book guide

Space Opera and Planetary Romance Reader Guide (Blue Tyson's SF Guides) [Kindle Edition] is currently free at Amazon

Cartoonist Richard Thompson ("Cul-de-Sac")

Richard Thompson is best known as the creator of the cartoon strip "Cul-de-Sac", but he "came out of fanzine fandom. Many of his cartoons appeared in the 1980s and 1990s in such fanzines as Stephen Brown and Dan Steffan’s Science Fiction Eye, Ted White and Dan Steffan’s Blat! and the Disclave program book." His fight with Parkinson's disease is forcing him to retire, with Cul-de-Sac ending on Sept. 23rd. If you're a fan, see here for more details. Chavey 18:23, 21 August 2012 (UTC)

User email addresses

Why do we not require that registered users provide us with a valid email address? I don't know of any website that accepts user input without having the ability to contact them other than through such an inadequate form of communication as this wiki. And it sometimes takes months for such users to find their talk page. Sometimes I think we make it harder than it really has to be. Mhhutchins 17:30, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

No idea. Since the spambot attacks, I could support a need for checking email addresses. I'm not sure how our outdated Wiki software could be tweaked to demand this though. And I for one don't check email half as often as I check my talk page. BLongley 22:51, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
It's possible to require new users to enter an e-mail address at registration time. The idea was discussed back in 2006 when the Wiki was first set up, but we decided against it since some people would then avoid registration for fear of getting spammed. We can certainly revisit the issue if we suspect that its pluses outweigh its minuses. Ahasuerus 23:09, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
If we (the ISFDB) aren't selling their email addresses why would they fear spam? Are we making that clear when we ask them to volunteer their email address? As one of the few moderators that actually handles new editors' submissions, I can't tell you how many times I've been unable to query submissions because they've not provided an email address. It's ridiculous now, and even in 2006, that anyone who wants to contribute would not be willing to provide an email address if it's a prerequisite for registration. This user didn't provide an email address, and he just today found his wiki talk page, after more than a year. Mhhutchins 00:23, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, we certainly do not sell e-mail addresses, but most new users are, well, new to ISFDB, so they don't know much about us and have no reason to trust us.
Besides, a site doesn't need to be selling e-mail addresses to compromise them, it can happen through negligence or inadequate security safeguards. For example, we post our backups online. What if we did a poor job of removing users' e-mail addresses? Ahasuerus 03:45, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
If by "we" you mean "I", then only you can answer that question. I've got a pretty good spam-blocker so I'm not worried about negligence or inadequate security safeguards. Or should I be? Mhhutchins 05:15, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
We do delete e-mail addresses as part of the "backup scrubbing" which we perform every week before we post the backups publicly, but how would a new user know that? The problem is not that e-mail addresses may be compromised -- although there is no guarantee that no hacker will ever be able to break into our system -- it's that a new user who wants to contribute will be more likely to say "Oh, they want me to provide an e-mail address before they accept my contributions. Not sure if I can trust these guys, whoever they are. Never mind then." We didn't know how many people would refrain from creating an account if we required e-mail addresses at sign-up time, but we thought it would be an extra barrier to participation.
That said, if we find that contributions from people who do not provide e-mail addresses are frequently useless because there is no way to contact them to clarify what they meant, then we may want to revisit the issue. Or at least we my want to check if we can add a line to the sign-up page to promise that we won't share e-mail addresses and encourage users to provide them. Ahasuerus 06:01, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
I'd say that a note displayed at registration that ensures that we do need an e-mail address solely for addressing problems and that explicitly states that we never will sell or give it into other hands should do the job. And I say it's in general better to have submitters who have at least a grain of trust in us - otherwise it's so much more inefficient work to make them trust us. Stonecreek 07:06, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Me too! (Oops, I mean, I agree with everything Stonecreek said.) Chavey 16:53, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
As do I! (Agree with Stonecreek, that is.) Mhhutchins 17:13, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
This looks like we have a consensus - quick, implement it before a nay-sayer comes along! BLongley 23:56, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) Sorry about the delay in responding. I will be retiring on Monday, so there has been a lot of running around and knowledge transfer to ensure that the sun will still rise on Tuesday morning. The upside, of course, is that I will have more time to spend on ISFDB after Monday... at least after I pay off a quarter century worth of sleep debts.

Anyway, I have found the flag that will require users to enter an e-mail address in order to register. I have tested it and seems to do what it's supposed to do. However, before I turn the flag on, we need to discuss another aspect. There are two types of users who may want to register. First, there are aspiring editors who would like to contribute data to ISFDB and, as per the consensus above, we want them to provide an e-mail address. Second, there are users who have no current interest in contributing information, but would like to use User Preferences to make their browsing experience more pleasant. There is no reason to require the second type of users to provide an e-mail address, but I don't think we can separate these two groups: if we require an e-mail address, then all registering users will have to provide one. I am not sure how to resolve this conflict, but we may want to ask MartyD, who, if I recall correctly, is more Wiki-knowledgeable than most of us. Ahasuerus 05:36, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

Sorry, as far as I know, requiring an email to edit forces you into requiring an email to register. I don't know of a way to register as a non-editing user and so avoid the email requirement. So I believe it's one or the other. I come down on the side of requiring it and potentially putting off the preference-wanting, browsing-only user than we are being hampered in database development and maintenance by not being able to contact contributors. --MartyD 17:26, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the confirmation, Marty. Oh well, I guess we will have to decide whether we turn the flag on for all users. Ahasuerus 20:07, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
How about if someone goes into edit mode that we check to see if they have a validated e-mail. If not, then that would be one of the edit fields with the stated purpose being as a way to contact the editor should we have questions about their submission? They should have the option of entering "nomail" or something similar and we'll consider it a "validated" address. --Marc Kupper|talk 04:18, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

Dorothy Daniels' Gothic novels

Dorothy Daniels is a prolific writer of gothic novels, with 114 such books that I could find -- none of which we had listed in the ISFDB. Our inclusion policy says we include "The supernatural (with an inclusionist bias), including but not limited to: ... Gothic fiction with supernatural elements ...]. Based on this conversation, my bibliographic notes for Dorothy Daniels says:

Several of Daniels books have "apparent" supernatural elements in them, e.g. ghosts, elves, etc. Generally, once the mystery is solved, we discover that these supernatural elements were, in fact, natural phenomena. Nevertheless, the ISFDB includes this type of book within our scope. Other books by Daniels are "Gothic Novels" but do not include such apparent supernatural elements, and such books are not included in the ISFDB.

I hope that this is correct. Using the publisher's blurbs for the 114 gothic novels of hers (available at the top web link in Daniels' summary page), I attempted to classify these books as to whether they appeared to fit within my understanding (above) of this inclusion policy, and the results are in those bibliographic notes. This resulted in adding the 58 titles now listed in her bibliography. For each of those titles, I have included the publisher's blurbs as summaries. When in doubt, I have erred towards the "inclusionist bias". If anyone is so motivated, I would appreciate someone else looking at those publisher blurbs and offering opinions as to whether these 58 books seem to actually deserve being in here. Chavey 08:34, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

A publisher's blurb is never going to tell you whether something that may have been supernatural turns out not to be. So, you're not going to get any definitive answer unless the books are read. My personal opinion is that the inclusion of such undetermined titles further dilutes the database, but that's something only a moderator can deal with. I see very little value in any effort to parse these titles for any spec-fic elements, so I'll leave that to any intrepid reader with a lot of time on their hands. BTW, the data of the records you entered wasn't sourced. Here is a list of Daniels' titles which are included in Reginald's reference works:
  • Lady of the Shadows (1968)
  • The Tormented (1969)
  • Strange Paradise (1969)
  • Island of Evil (1970)
  • Raxl, Voodoo Priestess (1970)
  • The House of Many Doors (1971)
  • The Prisoner of Malville Hall (1973)
  • Ghost Song (1974)
  • A Mirror of Shadows (1977)
  • House of Silence (1980)
I sourced all of the other books and did WorldCat verifications on them. Chavey 15:03, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
You should ask him why he excluded the other titles. Mhhutchins 16:44, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I will try to do that. Chavey 15:03, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
One other thing: all those records of early titles that give "Warner Books" as the publisher are wrong. In 1973 Warner purchased Paperback Library which became Warner Paperback Library. And then became Warner Books around 1975. So those earlier titles (at least up through 1974) are probably from the earlier incarnation of the publisher. Mhhutchins 17:20, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
WorldCat was better at the actual publishers, but they still list two 1973 books (here and here) and one 1974 book as by "Warner Books". Since I was relying on WorldCat for this data, I left them as stated there. Chavey 15:03, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
I've added additional data for these ten titles, added another that was listed by Reginald under a pseudonym (Blackwell's Ghost by "Angela Gray"), sourced the data, and did a Reginald verification of all 11 titles. Mhhutchins 17:59, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
When an author has written both SF and books that "look like SF but aren't", I usually enter the second type of books as NONGENRE and add a note explaining that, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, they are not really SF. Ahasuerus 05:38, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Apparently, I had misunderstood these directions from Bill, which I interpreted as telling me to include "fake ghost stories". In a more detailed conversation from you, you corrected that -- but I appear to have forgotten that thread :-(. I Converted all the books that weren't in Reginald to Non-Genre with notes that they might be spec fic, but will be left as non-genre unless we discover otherwise. Chavey 15:03, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
Rather than adding them to the database I've tended to create wiki pages listing the marginal titles. As people read the stories we can add wiki-notes explaining the speculative fiction content (or lack of) for each story. For the stories that lean towards specfict and get added to the database the wiki-notes can then be used as the ISFDB title notes. An example of this is Series:Sam Durell where I'd chanced on a book that looked like specfict from the title and back cover blurb. I bought the book and on reading the story found it was not specfict. I enjoyed the story though and ended up getting many of the books in the series with some of them having enough specfict that they were added to the database. Had the author "been known for writing specfict" I would have done what Ahasuerus suggested and added the non-specfict works as "NONGENRE."
I checked my local public library catalog and Link+ for Dorothy Daniels. She'll be a tough one to research via primary sources as the entire system only has two of her books([3][4]). She is not covered by the library's on-line references.
Also, if I understand what Chavey wrote to start this talk thread then I'd disagree with "Nevertheless, the ISFDB includes this type of book within our scope." When reading a story if I "discover that these supernatural elements were, in fact, natural phenomena" then I don't classify that story as specfict. --Marc Kupper|talk 17:27, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
In a separate note, Marc asked me to label the columns of the table I put in dorothy Daniels' Bibliographic Page, which I have done. That table before had two columns: "Might be spec-fic" and "Gothic, but not spec-fic". Based on Mike's verifications from Reginald, I added a 3rd column, "Are spec-fic". Chavey 15:03, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
I have the same philosophy as Marc. Don't need any "Scooby-Doo" stories in the db! Mhhutchins 17:30, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
I agree that "Scooby-Doo" books are generally out of scope with two caveats. First, as indicated above, if an author has written SF, then I try to enter his/her "fake SF" books as NONGENRE even if s/he is not over the (notorious) "certain threshold". I also add a note explaining that the book may appear to be SF, but is not. Second, we have to be careful not to assume that all titles in popular series are not SF, e.g. almost all Nancy Drew books are not SF, but The Kachina Doll Mystery is. When this happens, I add a note clarifying the situation, e.g. "Unlike other Nancy Drew mysteries, this one features a bona fide ghost", because the record may get deleted otherwise.
As far as the use of Wiki notes goes, they are certainly good to have, but keep in mind that we will be moving most, if not all, "notes" pages to the database proper in the foreseeable future. Most of them will be copied over automatically, but the ones using templates, sub-headers, etc (notably some of the "Series" pages) will probably have to be done manually. Also, given the size of some of these Wiki pages, I suspect that we will want to do what Goodreads does and display only the first paragraph at the top of the page with the rest of the text available as a separate entity. Ahasuerus 14:05, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

Getting organized

As mentioned earlier, I retired yesterday. Embarrassingly, I had too much ice cream at the retirement party, so I am now nursing a sore throat. You'd think it would be a problem for kids rather than retirees, but I guess it proves that I am still young at heart :-)

Anyway, now that I am retired I can spend more time on ISFDB development, although the first week or two will be a little slow as I wrap up various post-retirement activities and such (when the weeds in your back yard are caught exporting weapons to Uruguay, you know you have a problem.) I'll start by trying to organize various outstanding Bug Reports and Feature Requests and I will be posting follow-up questions on this page. Ahasuerus 20:10, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Congratulations, from one retiree to another! Don't waste all your free time on the ISFDB. Take some time to travel just for the enjoyment, not just for work, which I understand you did a lot of as part of your job. We'll give you a couple of weeks before bombarding you with requests, so enjoy it while you can! Mhhutchins 23:29, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Michael! Yes, it was my business travel from the mid-1990s through the late 2000s that was primarily responsible for keeping the airline industry afloat. (I wasn't surprised when the economy tanked right after I stopped traveling on business in mid-2008.)
It doesn't feel like the whole "retirement" thing has sunk in yet, but they say it takes 3-6+ months until you fully internalize the changes. On the other hand, I was, among various other things, a project manager, a software architect and a system administrator (no harm in disclosing it now), so working on the ISFDB isn't all that different :-) Ahasuerus 01:59, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Congratulations from me, too. Please keep looking out that ISFDB doesn't suck you in totally (for me it sometimes has this inherent danger). Do something else, also. Stonecreek 08:17, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
I suppose it's a safe bet that most of us are at least OCD-inclined -- otherwise we wouldn't be into bibliographies :-) I'll try to keep it under control, though. Ahasuerus 13:13, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Numbered entries in series

The way the software works at the moment, all non-numbered titles in a series appear first while numbered titles appear at the end. For example, take a look at the "Riverworld - Series Bibliography" page -- see how the core novels appear at the end of the listing? The same thing happens on authors' Summary Bibliography pages.

I don't think this is ideal and I suggest that we change the software to display numbered titles first. Thoughts? Ahasuerus 21:09, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

I agree. -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:01, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Same here. Mhhutchins 23:30, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes, please. --Willem H. 06:30, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Agreement from me, too. Stonecreek 08:13, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Good idea! Rudam 08:31, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Fine by me. BLongley 11:05, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes! You have seen into my heart. (I just couldn't bear to say "Me too" :-) Chavey 12:37, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, folks, FR 3562578 has been created. Ahasuerus 12:51, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Three (all)thumbs up!Kraang 02:07, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

Questions from the Grand Comic Book Database

One of the board members of the Grand Comic Book Database recently sent us the following questions via e-mail. (They are considering changing the way their project is organized and looking for pointers.) I am posting his questions here along with my answers -- please feel free to add/correct stuff.

How do you communicate among members: e-mail lists, instant messaging, wiki page messages, Facebook pages, other?

Primarily Wiki page messages with some e-mail when feasible. When an editor has a message waiting for him on his Talk page, the ISFDB software automatically displays a "New Messages" notification within the main ISFDB application. E-mail is somewhat problematic since our contributors are not required to provide a valid e-mail address when registering. We are thinking about changing this requirement, but our options are somewhat limited because we use (out of date) MediaWiki software for registration purposes. There is a mailing list for ISFDB moderators, but it is rarely used and is probably not up to date (which reminds me that I need to update it.) We do not use instant messaging or Facebook. Ahasuerus 14:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

How do you reach decisions on data organization: permanent board, special committees, full membership, single person, other?

We discuss database changes on the ISFDB Wiki; all editors can participate in discussions and decisions are made by consensus. Luckily we haven't had too many disagreements about data organization: we generally agree that certain additional functionality is desirable, but only developers can estimate how long it would take to implement. For example, there is little doubt that allowing the same title to appear in 2 or more series would be useful, but it would be time consuming to implement, so it hasn't been done yet. Ahasuerus 14:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
A lot of the recent changes have been 'low-hanging fruit' where a change is simple to implement and it's possible to develop a change, show screen shots of the proposed changes to our editors, and see if the change is popular enough to go in. For instance, ordering of sub-series within a parent series was simple and has been implemented, while the long term goal of multiple series will have to wait. BLongley 12:36, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

How do you reach decisions of general organization: permanent board, special committees, full membership, single person, other?

We have a "Rules and Standards" discussion board where policy issue are discussed by all editors. It can get rather, er, lively and discussions are often stalemated because we can't reach consensus. Ahasuerus 14:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

How do you accomplish your programming goals: all volunteer, paid staff, hybrid, other?

All development is done by volunteers. Ahasuerus 14:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
And we do not have too many of those... in fact, we seem to have fewer active now than when development opened up. This may be because most of the easy changes have been done? BLongley 12:36, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

How do you prioritize your programming goals: permanent board, special committees, full membership, single person, ad-hoc, other?

Well, we have a SourceForge project set up, where bugs and feature requests are documented and prioritized. In reality, however, developers usually work on whatever currently happens to be at the top of everyone's wish list. We need to do a better job of prioritization and we are working on it right now. Ahasuerus 14:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
I think most of us don't even know HOW to request an increase in priority. BLongley 12:36, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

What creates the most friction between members: data decisions, programming decisions, other?

Policy issues -- what to include and what to exclude -- can be contentions. Also, since ISFDB records have only so many fields and there is a near-infinite variety of bibliographical data out there, sometimes we have to use existing fields in "creative" ways, which can also be contentious. Ahasuerus 14:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Can you provide a general outline of the history of your project: date begun, founders, continuity, major changes in scope and/or database system, current programming background, other?

The original (1995) code was in C and used a proprietary database format. We have been using Python, MySQL, Apache and Linux since 2005 when ISFDB was last rewritten (technically the current version is ISFDB 2.0.) The following outline of the ISFDB history found on Wikipedia is, as far as I know, accurate:
  • Several speculative fiction author bibliographies were posted to the USENET newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written from 1984 to 1994 by Jerry Boyajian, Gregory J. E. Rawlins and John Wenn. A more or less standard bibliographic format was developed for these postings.[11] Many of these bibliographies can still be found at The Linköping Science Fiction Archive.[12] In 1993, a searchable database of awards information was developed by Al von Ruff.[11] In 1994, John R. R. Leavitt created the Speculative Fiction Clearing House (SFCH). In late 1994, he asked for help in-displaying awards information, and von Ruff offered his database tools. Leavitt declined, because he wanted code that could interact with other aspects of the site. In 1995, Al von Ruff and Ahasuerus (a prolific rec.arts.sf.written author) started to construct the ISFDB, based on experience with the SFCH and the bibliographic format finalized by John Wenn. The ISFDB went live in September 1995, and a URL was published in January 1996.[11][13]
  • The ISDFB was first located at an ISP in Champaign Illinois, but it suffered from constrained resources in disk space and database support, which limited its growth.[11] In October 1997 the ISFDB moved to SF Site, a major SF portal and review site.[2][11] Due to the rising costs of remaining with SF Site, the ISFDB moved to its own domain in December 2002. The site was quickly shut down by the hosting ISP due to high resource usage.[11][14]
  • In March 2003, after having been offline since January, the ISFDB began to be hosted by The Cushing Library Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection and Institute for Scientific Computation at Texas A&M University.[11][15][16] In 2007, after resource allocation problems with Texas A&M, the ISFDB became independently hosted on a hired server at the URL listed above.
  • The ISFDB was originally edited by a limited number of people, principally Al von Ruff and Ahasuerus.[17] However, in 2006 editing was opened to the general public on an Open Content basis. Changed content must be approved by one of a limited number of moderators, in an attempt to protect the accuracy of the content.[18]
  • Both the source code and content of the ISFDB are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.[3] This was done on 27 February 2005.[11][19]
As far as continuity goes, Al von Ruff was our one and only developer and administrator between 1995 and 2006. I began helping with administrative issues (backups, policy statements, training new editors, etc) in 2006. In 2007-2008 Al's availability took a nosedive and in May 2009 he allowed other developers to contribute. I have been the gatekeeper/tester/lead developer since then. We have a number of developers contributing bug fixes and enhancements as time permits. Ahasuerus 14:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Re: changes to project scope, well, there has been some scope creep, e.g. we now also cover fanzines and e-publications, but considering that it's been 17 years since we started, I'd say it hasn't been too bad. Ahasuerus 14:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
The biggest change has probably been improved language support, which has led to more division of labour as we have no Moderators capable of dealing with all languages and alphabets. Fortunately we tend to trust each other to handle one's own specialities, even when we haven't codified the standards for that area: e.g. Capitalisation rules for French are not documented. BLongley 12:36, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Linking to SFE3

Given the number of recently added links to SFE3 aka "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction" (which the editors also call "the Science Fiction Encyclopedia"), I think we may want to have a separate field for it in the Author record. Thoughts? Ahasuerus 17:51, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

They credit ISFDB as one of their sources here and so we could return the favor particularly as this project overlaps well with ISFDB. --Marc Kupper|talk 19:13, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't see much of a benefit in having separate webpage fields for Wikipedia or IMDB, and SFE3 would be no different. I'm fine with using the general webpage(s) field for such. However, we could improve validation for the fields if we separate them, and make sure we're linking the right field to the right site. But I would want a script to move the existing SFE3 links to the new field - I don't fancy moderating several thousand Author reworkings. BLongley 12:14, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Oh, sure, it will have to be an automated migration. Ahasuerus 14:50, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
In which case, you might want to ask them for a dump of all their author links and use that to populate the new field. I know their "last name, first names" is a bit different but it shouldn't be too difficult to convert most of the data, rather than waiting for Dirk to add them! I don't know if they'd want a similar dump from us - we obviously cover a lot more "authors" than they do. BLongley 16:27, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
No need for a separate dump -- they have a page with links to 5 sub-pages, which list every person (and house name) that they have articles for. The first two Author links ("Aandahl, Vance" and "Anderson, Olof W") are broken, but the rest seem to be OK. Matching their URLs against our canonical names (and pseudonyms) will be non-trivial, but I am reasonably sure that I can do 90%+ automatically and the rest will have to be cleaned up manually. Ahasuerus 21:39, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Search by month

The main search box currently lets you search by year, but not by month. Since you only get to see the first 300 hits when searching by year (and then you have to use Advanced Search if you want to see the rest), I suspect that searching by month would be more useful. How about we add another choice to the drop-down list in the main search box and call it "Month (YYYY-MM)"? We already have the ability to display all pubs published during a given month, e.g. here is the list for 2004-12, so it's just a matter of adding another choice to the search box and adjusting the associated logic. While we are at it, we may also want to change "Year" to "Year (YYYY)" in the drop-down box in order to be consistent. Ahasuerus 18:10, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

In 5+ years, I've never found a need to search by year, either through the regular search or the advanced search. But I suppose someone might find it convenient to search by both month and year. Mhhutchins 06:46, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
I recall someone at using the search by year to find books that didn't get nominated for an award, but she found it a very difficult process. Given that the number of results for a year search will almost always hit the limit, I'd replace the year search with the month search. Or just remove it all together and see if anyone complains. BLongley 12:19, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, as user I liked this searching ability a lot. I looked out for shortfiction published 100, 75 or 50 years ago. And it'd still interest me to know which were published, say, in September 1962 or 1912 (and then read some of them if I have them available). In this regard I'd favour the implementation of a search possibility for month. Stonecreek 14:31, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
If you're searching for SHORTFICTION in a given year, that sounds like you're using ADVANCED search. Would you object if it was missing from SIMPLE search? Ideally, I think we'd want to allow advanced date searching to cover a range of dates, e.g. all Heinlein titles published in the 1950s or such. But greater than and less than searching will be a bit trickier. BLongley 16:17, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
I think there is an advantage to leaving the Year search in the main search box. Not all users may know that it's available via the Advanced Search page, but if they use the main search box, they will hit the limit and then see "Use Advanced Search" at the top of the page. Ahasuerus 21:12, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
FR 3564101 created and implemented - see below for details. Ahasuerus 00:19, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Conan series

It didn't make sense to me that Howard's original stories and novels were under a series named "Conan Universe" along with all of the sharecroppers, so I separated them. I've rearranged the Conan Universe series into the following subseries:

  • Conan: all stories written by Howard and/or collaborators (from Howard's original work). This includes the de Camp/Carter/Nyberg rewrites. Someone may have to rework all of those publisher series (Gnome, Grant, Berkley, Ballantine). I'm not even certain they shouldn't be considered publication series instead of title series. Note the gaps in the Grant and Berkley series because the other titles are already in another title series and can't be in both. I don't understand why the Lancer/Ace series don't have their own subseries like the other publisher's series, but I suppose the fact that they're numbered under this series keeps them separate.
  • Conan Sequels: novels written post Howard without co-crediting him. This may have to be further subdivided based on publishers (Ace, Bantam, Tor) or other criteria, but I'll leave that to anyone more interested in Conan than I am. I think only the Ace books were actually numbered.
  • Conan Essays: collections of nonfiction about Conan, but not individual essays.

Mhhutchins 06:22, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Amazon and Dorchester Publishing

Please note that, as per Locus:

On August 28, 2012 Amazon Publishing acquired the rights to over 1,000 titles from bankrupt publisher Dorchester. ... Dorchester’s SF/F/Horror titles will be reprinted under the[ir pre-existing] 47North imprint [unless the author takes the book back].

It looks like we may have to be extra careful when dealing with DP and 47North printings. Amazon has been known to change their records retroactively to reflect the publisher's current name. Ahasuerus 23:18, 1 September 2012 (UTC)


Anyone at chicon and want to meet for dinner Dana Carson 21:36, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

I've already got plans with friends. I'm wearing a Summerisle May Day Festival 1973 shirt and my name is Ron Maas on the badge. I'll be at the post Hugo parties. If you see me, say Hi. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Rtrace (talkcontribs) .

Regular vs. Deluxe editions

There are several books where the first edition is released in both a "regular trade" edition and a "deluxe" edition, e.g. Pulphouse #1. Should these be entered in one publication record, with notes about the differences (as I did there), or in two separate publication records? Chavey 03:47, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

My rules of thumb:
  • If a separate ISBN is assigned then there is no question that two records are required.
  • If a single ISBN is assigned and there is only evidence that the trade exists and the deluxe was announced but remains unseen, I don't create a record for the deluxe until secondary evidence proves it was actually published.
Case in point: Subterranean Press and Cemetery Dance Publications almost never assign separate ISBNs for a deluxe edition when there is also a trade edition. And more often than you would think, the deluxe edition is delayed and may appear sometimes several months after the trade edition. I will create a record for the trade and add a note that the "publisher has also announced a limited edition" and giving the price. When the limited edition actually appears, I have no problem with another editor creating a separate record for it as long as they do a primary verification of it. Mhhutchins 05:03, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
Okay, creating a separate record. Chavey 13:46, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

A Graphic Novel Judgement Call - Uglies: Shay's Story

I'd appreciate an up or down recommendation for adding a record to the database. Uglies: Shay's Story is a 200+ page graphic novel reviewed in the September 2012 issue of Analog. It is described as a prequal "[It] goes back to the beginning and tells things from Shay's viewpoint". Shay is a major charactor but not the viewpoint character in the Uglies Series, also written by Scott Westerfeld who has some 20 novels and a variety of short fiction already in. I also noted that it was published by Del Rey, and not by a comic book related publisher/imprint. I had initially left this as out since it was a graphic novel, but then I realized it tied directly into a series of works that are in. That coupled with the review in Analog and Del Rey publishing puts it one the tettering edge of in/out. I'll be happy to create the record, links etc, and with a note explaining why it's in..... (Or I can convert the review to a simple essay), but I would like at least one more opinion either way. - Thanks Kevin 15:34, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

I see no problem with a database record for this title for one strong reason: it's written by an over the "threshold" author, and all book-length works for such authors are included in the database regardless of their genre. If it had been "adapted" from his work by another (lesser known or under the "threshold") author without the original author's participation, it would not have been eligible. Mhhutchins 17:35, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
Done (added). Thanks for the second pair of eyeballs. - Kevin 02:40, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

Title verifications

I've added a Feature Request that might be of interest to others. I suggested:

It would be helpful if there were a convenient way to record a WorldCat 
verification for a TITLE and not just a PUB. By this I mean that the verifier 
has done a full WorldCat search for that title, AND looked at the "View all 
editions and formats" link from those publications, and hence can verify that 
we have every edition of that book which is known to WorldCat.

Since one of the things we do that similar references don't do is to catalog all editions we can find, it seems (IMHO) that this would be a worthwhile thing to keep track of. Chavey 15:59, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

And then what happens when a new edition is published next week? Or what if a book published a hundred years ago that was never entered into OCLC finally gets a record? Such a verification, if I'm understanding correctly, would be impossible to maintain. And also antithetical to the db's structure. Verification of titles doesn't mesh well with a database built on publication records. (The only way to add a title record to the db is through a publication record.) Mhhutchins 16:22, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
I believe I invented Worldcat verifications (along with primary transient and primaries 2-5) but I haven't used them much. Unlike Tuck or Bleiler or Reginald verifications, it's an open-ended task with no way of finishing it. We can't even add verification against SFE3 safely as that is a work in progress - we'll have to stick to Second edition, although that now looks slightly less useful. BLongley 16:32, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
I have to agree. It is an interesting idea but I am against it as it lends little actual value. I would be more for adding bibliographic links into the wiki (where you could then place such comments/data if you liked) on a per title basis over this. Uzume 22:50, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
In this matter, I have to disagree. Ideally, all bibliographic data should be entered directly into the database, not the wiki. I'm afraid we've come to rely too heavily on the wiki in this regard. The wiki can return to what it does best: a tool for communication and a means to document our procedures. I believe Ahasuerus has said that he is working on developing a more user friendly tool within the database to record such data. That's the direction we should be heading. In the meantime, the wiki should only be used as the last resort to record bibliographic data. Mhhutchins 00:36, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes :-) Ahasuerus 00:40, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I just meant the wiki is more valuable than Worldcat verification as things like copyright page, back cover, spine, etc. scans can be stored there—something that one likely would not want in the main pub record but could be invaluable for bibliographic verification. I too would rather see the mass of wiki pub pages go away for the most part (an example is how they are currently tied to pub tags instead of pub ids. So though I think the wiki would be more useful for title verifications than Worldcat, I do not think it is really a solution. On the other hand I have to disagree that the wiki does communication best. It does collaborative documents well but things like forums are considerably much better at threaded group communication as seen on this page for example. Uzume 06:36, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

Searches by publication month and title month now available

As per our recent discussion above, FR 3564101 has been implemented. Here are the requirements as listed on SourceForge (tweaked to correct brainos):

1. Add a new "Month of Publication" search to the drop-down list in the main search area. Validate that the entered value is valid, i.e. it follows the YYYY-MM pattern where YYYY is between 0001 and 2020 and MM is between 01 and 12. This should display the same information that the Forthcoming Books page displays for a given month.

2. Rename the main "Year" search to "Year of Title". Add validation, i.e. confirm that the format is YYYY where YYYY is between 0001 and 2020.

3. Add a new "Month of Title" search to the drop-down list in the main search area. Validate that the entered value is valid, i.e. it follows the YYYY-MM pattern where YYYY is between 0001 and 2020 and MM is between 01 and 12. This should display the same table as the regular Year of Title search.

4. Add "Month" to the list of searchable terms in the Advanced Title Search and Advanced Publication Search. Add validation for years (YYYY) and months (YYYY-MM).

5. In regular and Advanced search, change the "Year" field to "Date" and display YYYY-MM-DD rather than YYYY.

6. Alphabetize the list of title types on the main Advanced Search page. Add validation of title types and display an error message if the user enters an invalid title type.

7. Change the Forthcoming Books page to make the "Upcoming Months" header smaller. Make the page more generic looking so that it could be used to display both forthcoming books and books for a randomly selected month.

Ahasuerus 00:25, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

There's a problem. I did a search for January 1960 publications, as a test. I first entered "1960-01-00" considering that is the ISFDB standard of entering dates. And then chose "Month of Publication". It came back as an error: I was told to just enter the month and year. So I did that, and the records that were returned, for the most part, were dated 1960-02. There were a few dated 1960-01-03 through 1960-01-31. Mhhutchins 00:47, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, looking into it. Advanced Search appears to be OK, but there is something funky going on with regular search by Publication Month... Ahasuerus 00:54, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
OK, I see what's going on. If the publication date is exact, i.e. includes the day of publication, then everything works fine. However, if the last two characters are "00", then you get the next month. The list of Forthcoming Books has had this problem all along, but no one noticed because most forthcoming books have an exact publication date. I'll try to fix it shortly -- thanks for finding it! Ahasuerus 00:59, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I next chose "Month of Title" (in the regular search), entered "1960-01", and it correctly returned titles dated January 1960. Then I went to the Advanced Search, and saw the two parameters "Year" and "Month". This led me to believe, incorrectly, that I had to enter the year in one search field and the month in the other. I was wrong. What I should have done was enter "1960-01" in one field and choose "Month". That's not very intuitive or I'm not the brightest bulb in the package. The fact that a user has to disregard most ISFDB rules and enter the year and month, and only the year and month, also seems strange to me. Well, at least the warning will set them straight, but I hope this doesn't make them forget that everywhere else they have to use YYYY-MM-DD. And in those cases, there are no warnings; only a moderator who has to make the corrections. Mhhutchins 01:06, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Well, the YYYY-MM-DD rule applies to dates whereas this field asks for a month, a different animal. However, if this is confusing, then we can change the software to accept either YYYY-MM or YYYY-MM-DD and then drop the "-DD" part quietly. Ahasuerus 01:47, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
OK, the bug has been fixed. I think. I also changed the "Date" field to display full YYYY-MM-DD dates now that the page is no longer used just for Forthcoming pubs. In addition, I noticed that unlike the main page this page was using Greenwich Mean Time, so I changed it to use "local server time" to be consistent. Ahasuerus 02:56, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

S. D. Perry

Our S. D. Perry page states that she was born on 1976-12-30, which means that she published her first story in 1991 when she was 14 and her first novel (co-authored with her father) when she was 16. I suppose it's possible, but it sounds a bit far-fetched, especially considering that the books that she supposedly wrote in her teens (1993-1996) were novelizations, not something that teenagers are usually asked to do. On the other hand, Memory Alpha states that "S.D. Perry was born in the early 1970s", which sounds more plausible, but I wonder if we can find out for sure? Ahasuerus 06:59, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Goodreads, gives her birthdate as 1970-03-14.--Rkihara 07:37, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
In this interview she says, "I'm 30", which would put her birthdate sometime in 1970 if the date of that inteview means 2000-12-29. I've sent them mail asking. --MartyD 13:03, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for looking into this! Ahasuerus 06:04, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Harlan Ellison®

Isn't this taking things a little too far? Mhhutchins 13:44, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Yes it is. Chavey 14:44, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
That was me. The first time I encountered a title page with name recorded in this manner, I left the name unadorned. When I encountered a second one, it seemed like a variant was called for. Both of these instances were in anthologies and it is the only author who's name is presented with the trademark sign. While I agree that it takes things too far, I believe it was the author himself, who went there. I also believe that Locus now uses the name with the symbol. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 15:58, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
He's registered the phrase "Harlan Ellison", but that doesn't change his name and it doesn't make the register mark part of his name. Otherwise he would have to register "Harlan Ellison®" making that "Harlan Ellison®®". If the Coca-Cola Company trademarks the word "Coke" it doesn't change the name of their product to "Coke®". Mhhutchins 16:41, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm actually fairly ambivalent about this. I was only stating my reasoning for creating variants upon finding the trademark symbol on the title pages of the story. I would guess that the situation is unique. If we don't want to record what is published with or without the trademark symbol, I'll cheerfully merge the variants with their canonical titles and remove the pseudonym. I'm not a lawyer. Presumably the reason Locus uses "TM" in their listings is because they are required to by law. Worldcat and LOC don't seem to follow what Locus is doing. Would we fall under any similar requirement? --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 01:24, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm not a lawyer either, but I don't think we can be required to add the registered trademark symbol to his name. I think he registered it so that no one would use it without his permission. The whole thing seems rather silly if you ask me. I think Locus does it just to indulge Ellison. (As if he's important enough these days that anyone has to indulge his petty whims.) Mhhutchins 02:36, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Nobody else seems to be chiming in, so I've merged the two stories. The pseudonym appears to take care of deleting itself when the last merge is accomplished. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 23:34, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, without title records, names don't exist...unless there's a review containing the name as the author being reviewed, even if there are no associated title records. Mhhutchins 01:29, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
I think there's still a bug that means some COVERART artists linger around after their last work is gone, but I haven't managed to recreate that. And there's some pseudonyms like Sosthenes Smith I don't understand. BLongley 17:04, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
I noticed the same thing earlier today while fixing the database after a submission had gone awry. Poking around the code, I see that we don't delete the cover artist record at the end of deleteCoverArt in mod/ . Bug 3567491 has been created. Ahasuerus 00:26, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
A good start! There seem to be some names that have been created as pseudonyms for no publication or review reason though, so maybe there's a problem with our guidelines. Not a big problem (150 in the last backup I tried) but the 'add pub, delete pub, delete title, and watch the name disappear' is a bit of a clumsy workaround. BLongley 18:45, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

Barnes and Noble links are currently broken

FYI, most Barnes and Noble links are currently broken. I plan to fix them tomorrow morning. Ahasuerus 04:18, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

Done. Ahasuerus 02:27, 8 September 2012 (UTC)
As a side note, Amazon ISBN links are not really ISBN links but rather ASIN links for which Amazon usually selects an ASIN which is exactly an ISBN-10 (for books anyway). That said, there are several cases where this is not true. This also totally leaves out ISBN-13s which should already be an issue for some recent French works (in the 9791 area which can have no legal ISBN-10 generated for it). There is a way to do true ISBN searches on Amazon sites, however, this does not directly link to the detail page (which is always via ASIN) but to a search results page (which link to detail pages of course). Uzume 23:08, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Conflicting ISBNs on Dragon Ship

Dragon Ship has different ISBNs on the cover and copyright page. I assume the cover is the correct one since it matches what other books from the publisher have. Made a note of the difference on the copyright page. Dana Carson 03:33, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

Good deal. Ordinarily, the ISBN stated on the copyright page would trump any other number, especially those printed on dustjackets. But in the case of an obvious transposition of numbers, it's OK to make an exception. Mhhutchins 03:40, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

Title Merge improvements

The logic that decides which field values will be chosen as defaults during Title Merge operations has been enhanced in response to Bug 3520889. In case of conflicts, it will now choose the first non-empty value as the default. Of course, you can still override the default before you click the Submit button. Ahasuerus 07:12, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

... and many clicks are saved. Thanks! BLongley 08:34, 10 September 2012 (UTC)
One thing to note though: "title_year Conflict" doesn't default to earliest, or more precise, date so still needs thorough checking. BLongley 10:27, 10 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the improvement! Of course as Bill points out, more intelligence could be added to merge when multiple titles have a non-empty field value, but this improvement is a good step. Chavey 13:45, 10 September 2012 (UTC)
Good point. FR 3566809 has been created for dates and the "storylen" field. Ahasuerus 00:15, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
It might be best to split this into two (or more) FRs. I think the date checking proposal is OK, but other people might want to override Amazon "specific-to-a-day" title dates. Storylen checking obviously needs some thought over the misuses we've put this field to: we seem to have recently agreed that 'sf' is the preferred length for excerpts, for instance. And sometimes a change of SHORTFICTION to ESSAY or POEM leaves behind a meaningless 'sf' length that we'd normally have as blank. But the recent changes have been a great step forward, I hope it's not just me and Darrah that have noticed! BLongley 18:16, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I can see how a blank "storylen" value would be preferred to "sf" when the title type is not SHORTFICTION. Of course, we also have a number of outstanding feature requests for new fields in the Title record that we would offload "nvz", "jvn" and "/1,2,3" to.
As far as dates go, I think the least we can do is to privilege any YYYY-XX-XX date vis a vis 0000-00-00. The rest of the possible permutations can be admittedly more nebulous. Ahasuerus 01:45, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, preferring anything over 0000-00-00 (except maybe 8888-00-00 and/or 9999-00-00?) sounds good. YYYY-XX-00 over YYYY-00-00 too. It's going to be left to humans to decide anyway, so we can give it a try and await feedback. (If any - sometimes I wonder why we do this when an improvement goes almost totally unnoticed.) BLongley 16:56, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
Hey, any improvement that doesn't result in posts complaining that the old way of doing things was better is a successful improvement in my book! :-) Ahasuerus 00:27, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
Fortunately, there haven't been too many of those. Although I still cringe every time someone points out the unmerge of content titles bug - when will you get round to implementing my fix? :-/ BLongley 18:22, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

Deleting notes for publishers and publication series

The latest patch (r2012-21) fixed the process of deleting notes from publisher and publication series records, which had been broken since the beginning. One bug at a time... Ahasuerus 05:47, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

Strange Variant Title

This variant title (The Time Traveler, by Isaac Asimov) is apparently identical to the main title (The Time Traveler, by Isaac Asimov). Is this a mistake, or am I overlooking something? Thanks, Darkday 14:07, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

You are right, the variant was exactly the same. This is easily corrected in two steps, first unlinking the variant from the main title (select "Make This Title a Variant Title or Pseudonymous Work" from the editing tools and enter "0" as Parent #. The second step is merging the two titles (either "Check for Duplicate Titles" on the author's bibliography page or in the advanced search). I did this, and the variant is now gone, see here. You must be careful of course, a difference of one comma, or a translation means it has to be a variant. Thanks for noticing! --Willem H. 15:02, 11 September 2012 (UTC)
You can actually do this in one step - merge the titles and DO NOT keep the parent title ID. BLongley 15:35, 11 September 2012 (UTC)
Whoa. That's a new one on me. I'll do that the next time I come across this situation. Has that always been the case? In the past merging a variant with a title record caused a loop. Or does that only happen if we keep the parent title ID? Mhhutchins 17:08, 11 September 2012 (UTC)
That only happens if you keep the parent id. This is for the simple case of variant=parent title, a loop of "A is variant of B is a variant of C is a variant of A" would take a little more undoing. And I'm thinking we should 1) probably readdress the "Check for Duplicate titles" - more and more often, it seems desirable to include Variants in the search rather than having to go to 'show all titles' or Advanced Search, and 2) fix the software so that it can never create a variant of itself (although chains of mutual variants would be a little trickier to spot still). BLongley 18:24, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

Confused by Stray Publications

The title record for Dear Monkey, by Wu Ch'êng-ên and Alison Waley, includes 4 publication records. The publication records and the title records all appear to have matching authors and matching publication types. Nevertheless, the author record for Alison Waley lists all of those publications as "Stray Publications". I don't understand why. (And I can't find any place on our site that describes what the various causes for "Stray"s would be.) Can someone tell me what's wrong with these records? Thanks, Chavey 16:52, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

I think it's caused by the title record being a variant of a title record in which the author (Waley) is not credited. I've never come across this specific situation before, but it seems the likely cause. Mhhutchins 17:10, 11 September 2012 (UTC)
That's it. I did a test and credited Waley as co-author of the parent record and the stray pubs disappeared, but she was credited with all publications of the work. The only way around this is to consider Dear Monkey to be a separate work, and not a variant of the original title. Technically speaking, it is a new work. The variant function should not be used to record changes in text, only changes in titles and/or author credit. The ISFDB doesn't handle adaptations very well. Actually, not at all. We've always had to skirt around the issue. Mhhutchins 17:19, 11 September 2012 (UTC)
Most of our "abridged for YA audience" publications have been left as separate titles, pending spare time and a lot of headache pills for the developers. ('Adapters' seem to have sneaked in as 'co-authors' in many places.) I'd like to finish off 'translation' support first before we bend variants any more - this example is an abridgement of a translation and about the only thing that could make it any more awkward is a serialisation of the abridgement! :-/ BLongley 18:32, 11 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks! I broke the link connecting this to "Monkey", and (as Mike said), all the problems went away. Since "Dear Monkey" has title notes explaining its connection to "Monkey", that should be good enough. But just for Bill's enjoyment, I'll look for a serialization of Alison's abridgement of her husband's translation :-). Chavey 16:24, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
Good hunting - with my luck you'll find it in an Italian Magazine, like many other headaches we have. BLongley 17:54, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
I also added a note at the beginning of the "Stray Publications" section of the Data Consistency Project about my suspicions as to when these Stray Publications arise (I specifically wrote "can happen" because I'm not confident that this note is quite right, and others who know better might wish to correct it.) I put this here partly because if you do a Google search on "Stray Publications" with, this is what comes up first. Hence I, or others, can find this note if we're searching. Chavey 16:24, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure how many people are working on that. If several people are, then adding a clean-up script could be helpful, rather than refreshing a project page occasionally. BLongley 17:54, 12 September 2012 (UTC)

Orphan Title tags are now auto-deleted

As of 15 minutes ago, if you modify title tags so that a tag is no longer used and becomes an "orphan", it is automatically cleaned up and no longer appears in searches. We had 154 orphan tags which were slaughtered by the latest patch. Ahasuerus 01:37, 13 September 2012 (UTC)

Publication tags will soon become uneditable

Please note that as per FR 3567595 we will be disabling the ability to manually enter/edit publication tags in the New Pub (currently only available for Magazines) and Edit Pub forms. For now, the software will continue to create them automatically when new pubs are entered, but eventually pub tags (not to be confused with user-defined title tags like "time travel vampire romance") will be deprecated. Of course, we will want to migrate Wiki-based pub-specific bibliographic comments, which currently use pub tags, to the database proper first. Unfortunately, I expect that existing pub tags will have to be kept around for a while because some external sites use them to link to our pub records. Ahasuerus 04:16, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

Is there a way to automatically re-link 60 years worth of SFBC selections? If I'd known that there was a plan to phase out tags, I'd have come up with another way of linking a few thousand titles to the database pub records. Mhhutchins 04:36, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, we can fairly easily re-link all affected pubs automatically. Also, keep in mind that we won't be deleting any existing pub tags -- at least not for a good long time -- we will be just slowly deprecating their use and migrating them to pub IDs. There are some bugs associated with tags, especially with manual tag editing, so preventing users from changing tags is a good first step on the road to becoming tag-free. Ahasuerus 04:45, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
That's a relief. Thanks. Mhhutchins 15:43, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
We DO try and avoid making things more difficult for people, you know! :-) I think we've squashed the bugs that led to Duplicate Pub-Tags far too often for similar titles - e.g. "Doctor Who and the FITB" usually led to tags of "DCTRWHNDTHxxxxxx" and overlapped quite often - but there's no real reason to use them when pub IDs are guaranteed unique. If the cleanup script was identifying any problems then I'd suggest holding off on this move but I haven't seen any such problems since the first time I used it to clean duplicates. We will have to do a bit more work to fully deprecate them - e.g. change 'Upload new cover scan" - and for legacy reasons I don't think we'll ever delete them entirely or risk breaking links - but they really have little value nowadays. I know that for some magazines submitters carefully crafted tags to be almost readable, e.g. 'STRNGHRZ' Tags are mostly for "Strange Horizons" - but they're not consistent and can be quite misleading if the Tag was generated from a 'Series+title" name that got adjusted, for instance. BLongley 18:19, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
I manually create a unique tag for each issue of the only magazine that I regularly enter these days: Locus, just to maintain the pattern to make it easier to update its wiki page. But I really don't see the point of even doing that since I no longer keep up with the wiki magazine pages. (Does anybody?) Mhhutchins 03:49, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Since the Series Grid enhancements, I haven't seen many people try and update the Wiki pages. I certainly don't bother anymore. BLongley 10:13, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
But the casual user is still linked to the 'Magazine' wiki pages on the menu. Is that something that we will be updating soon (since updating the wiki pages is falling by the wayside)? Kevin 14:11, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't think so. There's still some value in the Magazine/Fanzine wiki pages even if the grids have made a lot redundant. BLongley 14:28, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Keep in mind that once we add a "Notes" field to Series records, we should be able to migrate many/most of these pages to the database proper. Ahasuerus 02:07, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm moving them to the Series: wiki space from Magazine: and putting them on the pages linked to from the series. While we would still prefer to have this info in the database, it will now form a logical information circle and no-matter where you come into the magazine records, you can get to the notes and all other info now... at least for B, C, and D titles at the moment. Kevin 02:19, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
Great idea, Kevin! I never would have thought of that linkage. Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:44, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
(I might have found myself a short attention span project for a while... adding database grid links to the wiki page).... Kevin 14:13, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Feel free to do so! BLongley 14:28, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

Uhmmm, just a minor problem I hope: If you look at the notes of this pub., for example, there is the possibility to direct your view to the preceding and upcoming issue, respectively. Would this be affected by the above mentioned change? Stonecreek 18:35, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

Those won't be affected as they use Pub IDs rather than Pub Tags. But I guess there could be similar cases which do use Tags.... and I'm not sure how to find them easily. :-/ BLongley 18:42, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, that sounds reassuring, Bill! But I do enter them as tags when I enter a new magazine, don't I? Stonecreek 18:53, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
You currently can do, but one will be generated for you if you don't. BLongley 08:55, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
I have been considering working on a MediaWiki bot to handle mass updates like page moves (e.g., pub tag based wiki comments to pub ids) or edits (e.g., pub tag external links to pub id external links) via the Mediawiki API. I am a little hesitant to do such however because though there are existing code bases for such I could leverage, I am not sure how well they might work for very old versions of the code/API so such is partially dependent on a MediaWiki update. Uzume 22:54, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Proposal to merge the various permutations of Roc

There are currently five different names under which this publisher's books have been entered into the database:

  1. Roc
  2. Roc / NAL / Penguin
  3. Roc / NAL / Penguin Putnam
  4. Roc / New American Library
  5. Roc / Penguin

Roc was created in 1990 as the imprint under which most of the science fiction titles of Penguin Books USA were published. It is under the New American Library division, along with Signet, which used to handle most of the SF titles, before NAL was purchased by Penguin in 1987. In the 20+ years since Roc was created, there has been no fundamental change in Roc and its relationship with NAL and Penguin. It has also kept the same ISBN publisher identifier: 451 with a range of 0-451-45000-0 through 0-451-46500-0. I see no reason why these records should be kept separated into these five groupings, because they're essentially the same: Roc is an imprint of NAL which is a division of Penguin and it's been that way since 1990. I propose that they be merged as simply Roc. I see no reason to place it into an "imprint / publisher" format because it's superfluous, but if enough editors insist we can make it "Roc / New American Library" or even "Roc / Penguin" if you want to climb past the publisher to the corporate level. Any thoughts or objections? Mhhutchins 03:40, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

I would prefer "Roc / New American Library". I don't think it's more superfluous than most of the imprints that we list with their publishers. I don't think we should go to parent companies. Chavey 05:52, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm usually a "KISS" principle person, but in this case a search for "Roc" gives 40 matches so I would prefer something slightly longer. "Roc / NAL" would do, or "Roc / New American Library" ("NAL" to "New American Library" would be a preference too). Triple names are annoying though. BLongley 10:10, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't see how expanding the name will assist in a search. The average user would only enter "Roc" because they would not know there's an extended name. And "NAL" is a hardcover imprint of "New American Library" so if anything, the full name should be used. Given a preference, I'd rather keep it simple as well. Mhhutchins 15:14, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
It wouldn't help the simple search admittedly, but if people are moving towards imprint / publisher format then eventually people will learn to search with fuller names. Although I'm no longer sure what peoples preferences are in this regard: it's been sometime since we last had a argument discussion about it. BLongley 18:50, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
No objection to the merge. I have no preference between "Roc", "Roc / NAL", and "Roc / New American Library", though I did a spot check and on every volume I pulled from the shelves, it was Roc on the spine, and Roc on the title page. I had to go to the copyright page to find any mention of NAL. Kevin 14:08, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
That's why my personal preference is for "Roc". I usually go by just the title page. Mhhutchins 15:14, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
I normally go by spine. Title page often doesn't have the imprint on, and in some extreme cases has nothing but a logo. I wouldn't want to enter "G" or "M" as publishers, as Gollancz and Millennium did for some time. BLongley 18:50, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
I would only go to the spine if the publisher isn't credited on the title page, but I can not ever recall seeing such a case. But if only the logo appeared, I would naturally interpolate the publisher's name from that. Older Bantam Books quite often only had the logo but with "Bantam Books" in small print inside the logo. And the Tor logo includes both the image and the name. But like you, I've seen many cases where the imprint is not indicated on the title page.Mhhutchins 18:58, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
I very much support the idea of consolidation. I prefer "Roc / New American Library", as it's useful when searching. Whether you use "Roc" or an expanded form doesn't matter to someone searching for "Roc", having the expanded form is likely to be useful to someone searching for "New American Library". --MartyD 21:47, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
True. I'd forgotten that perk of keeping the publisher even when there's no need to disambiguate. You've changed my mind. Mhhutchins 00:01, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Series changes

As per our discussion last week, numbered titles within Series will be displayed first now. This will affect both Summary and Series pages. The code change was a little tricky, so if you see anything odd, please report it here. Ahasuerus 06:40, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Archived the Verification Request page

I have removed all messages dated 2007 through 2010 from the Verification Requests page, with the knowledge that many of the requests have not been addressed. They were archived here with a heading statement that many of the posts have not been resolved, and how anyone can still help to resolve them. Mhhutchins 23:46, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

Wiki Search

I know searching on the wiki can be a challenge, but why doesn't it list the "last 500 changes" when I click that on the Recent Changes page? Mhhutchins 15:35, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

It's a cross of number of changes plus timeframe of changes. What behavior are you seeing? I get the standard last 50, 7 days, which at the moment goes back to mid-September 19. If I change it to last 500, it goes back to Kevin's changes around 18:25 on September 17, which seems to be 500. If I then change it to 1 day, it goes back only to mid-September 18 (despite the 500); so it's really giving me two days, not one, but it is truncating the list. --MartyD 16:25, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
My goes back to the same day, but it sure doesn't look like 500 changes. I'd really like to go back more than just 2 days, but I guess it's limited to just 500 changes regardless of how many days you click on. Mhhutchins 16:50, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
It just struck me. I have all changes to a page "compacted" to just one listing per day. That's why I don't actually see 500 changes. Oh, well...still wish I could go back more days. Mhhutchins 16:52, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
You can fiddle the URL. E.g. [5] - just change the "limit=" parameter. BLongley 17:25, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
That works in some searches but not in this one. Why is that? Mhhutchins 18:04, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Because the MediaWiki version the ISFDB uses either doesn't support it or has a bug. The ISFDB is way behind in its MediaWiki version (1.12.0rc1 vs. Wikipedia's 1.20wmf11). I'm sure the latest version has its own bugs, but it does fix quite few old ones and adds new capabilities. From previous discussions, I recall there are issues in upgrading, but maybe now that Ahasuerus is retired, it will be something that he takes on in his extra time. ;-) -- JLaTondre (talk) 19:29, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
I know very little about the MediaWiki software, but I'll try to educate myself once we resolve the most pressing problems with the database proper. Unfortunately, it takes longer to learn new things as we get older, but oh well... Ahasuerus 03:59, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Primary Verification vs. Primary (Transient)

If I am verifying a book from a full scan of the original book, is that a "Primary" verification or a "Primary (Transient)" verification, or something else. I will be keeping the full scan, and hence can answer questions later, so it seems like it should be "Primary", but I don't really have the book, so I'm not completely sure. Chavey 17:39, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

It's a "primary" verification if you will continue to have access to the scan. I did a "transient" verification of the first two hundred issues of Locus based on the Gregg Press facsimile borrowed from the library. If I had a copy of that book in my collection, I would have marked them as primary verified instead of transient verified, even though I don't have the actual copies of all two hundred issues of Locus. Occasionally, I'll see editors who have marked a record as "primary" verified with a note that it's from a library copy which is no longer in their possession, but for which they can answer questions by checking it out from the library again. I guess they don't understand the purpose of the "transient" verification that Bill Longley created! Mhhutchins 18:52, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
That's what I thought. Thanks for the verification. (Pun intended :-) Chavey 23:32, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
I just created it - like many other features added, the uses it's been put to have surprised me. I think there's still some more work to do around verifications - for instance, if somebody moves a Primary Verification 1 to Primary (Transient) then Primary's 2-5 (if any) should move up to ensure it still shows as verified. And I'm sure some people are now wishing there were more than 5 slots for Primary Verification. (Any mod could add more, but ideally we'd allow unlimited numbers of verifiers in the code.) BLongley 13:56, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I have often thought of changing things so there can be an arbitrary number of primary verifications (with say a checkbox for "transient" or some such similar; some people have decidedly "retired" and though the submission was based on a primary they to not want to "own" it or respond to comments about such, etc.). Sadly, this was not well designed originally so takes significant work to mend (the database layout has to change with the code which means the development of some sort of script to covert the current data). The current system for example has some implied ordering which really is not useful or needed/necessary. I am not sure if there is a bug or FR on this but if not there should be. Uzume 22:32, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Further language improvements

Edit Pub, Clone Pub, and Export/Import Contents have been changed. Additional titles will now inherit the language of the main title in the pub (if there is a language associated with it, of course.) Please note that if you use Export Contents and add a new title record, the latter will inherit the language from the target pub rather than from the original pub.

The code change was somewhat non-trivial, so if you encounter unexpected behavior, please post your findings here. TIA! Ahasuerus 03:56, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Thank you! Worked fine for me on some French essays inside French publications. Chavey 14:44, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks! I will keep my eyes open. --Pips55 21:20, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Here is one scenario which results in a failure to specify the language of newly added titles. Suppose you are changing the type of a pub-title pair, e.g. from Novel to Omnibus or from Novel to Chapterbook. If you are also adding one or more new titles (e.g. 2 Novel titles to an Omnibus pub or a Shortfiction title to a Chapterbook pub) during the same edit, then the new titles won't have language codes associated with them. The reason for this behavior is that the approval process applies all pub level changes (which include changing the pub type) first. It then tries to find the main (or "referral") title for the pub, but there will be no matching title because the pub type has already been changed while the related title type hasn't been touched. Sine the software can't find the referral title, it can't tell what language code it needs to assign to the newly added titles.
I suppose we should change the approval process so that the software wouldn't try to retrieve the referral title until after all pre-existing titles have been updated. I will create a Bug report on SourceForge and see what I can do. Ahasuerus 03:56, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

Book Club edition?

I picked up some books, and I'm trying to decide if they're SFBC editions or not. These are books 4-7 of the Vampire Queen series. We do not have them listed as having book club editions, hence my concern. They look like it: boxed code number on the back cover; and no price on the dust jacket. But no other indicators -- although this seems common nowadays (these books are from 2009-2011). The SFBC website does not list these books, but does list book 8 in the series as being one of their offerings, hence it seems likely that these earlier books were also. Should I assume that they are BCE's and add them as such? Or might there be some reason to believe they are the trade editions we already have listed? Thanks, Chavey 15:28, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

They were probably offerings by the Rhapsody Book Club, which is the paranormal romance arm of the same company that runs the SFBC. They may be exclusive book club editions and would have ISBNs in these ranges. If so, then enter them using the same standards as the SFBC, and replace "<Publisher> / SFBC" with "<Publisher> / BCE". Mhhutchins 17:32, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
Yup, all in those ranges. Will add them as BCE's. Chavey 04:49, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

"The Works of H. G. Wells"

During the years 1924-1927, Fisher Unwin produced The Works of H. G. Wells in 28 volumes (American distribution apparently through Scribner's Sons). We do not have that set included, and I was going to add them. I'd rather not add them as 28 individual titles, partly because of the work, partly because of what it would do to Wells' bibliography page, and especially because if I did so, then some of the volumes would be listed as Novels, some as Omnibuses, some as Collections, and some as Non-Genre. So my questions are: (1) Is it acceptable to just enter this as one big omnibus? (2) If so, should I list the full contents, or just the Spec Fic contents? (3) How would I indicate (e.g. page numbers, notes, other) which contents are in which volumes? Chavey 22:50, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

We would normally create separate records for each volume of this kind of publication. Except for the effort involved, the reasons you give really aren't valid reasons to create only one record. What would it "do to Wells' bibliography page", that adding 28 editions wouldn't do to any author's summary page, many of which probably already have title records? And I don't see any problem with the volumes may having different types. After entering them, you could easily group them as a publication series, and that wouldn't even show up on his summary page. If you create one record, what if a user only has one, two, three, or four but not all volumes in the set? They would not be able to do a primary verification if all of them are entered as one record. And pagination would be a nightmare with no guarantee that it would display correctly. I would suggest creating 28 records, or just leaving it alone until another editor is able to do it. Mhhutchins 00:21, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
I agree, 28 records. I had to do the same with the big Wells collection I inherited from my grandfather. (Which I must revisit someday, that work predates publication series.) BLongley 15:21, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, 28 records. (Sorry about disappearing earlier this week, had to take care of a few things.) Ahasuerus 21:52, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
Ok, 28 books it is, combined in a publication series. I decided that Wells is above the "threshold", so I included everything, adding a bunch of non-genre essays to his bibliography. I also added 10 short stories to his bibliography (all listed between 1924 and 1926), but some of these (especially from Vol. 20) may be essays and not short fiction. I'm not sure how to determine the difference. I invite others to take a look in case I've erred on the essay/shortfiction difference. Chavey 19:54, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
Good work. I had to change Volume 11 from a NONFICTION record to an OMNIBUS. Turns out the two essays are book length works of NONFICTION (for which I added records for the two first editions) along with the novel, making this an omnibus. You'll have to adjust the notes accordingly. Thanks for creating records for all 28 volumes. Mhhutchins 22:48, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for those fixes. Chavey 02:15, 3 October 2012 (UTC)
At least one of the contents in Volume 7 is a book-length work and not an essay (the "Short" history is actually a 432 page book published by Cassell in 1922. Say the word and I'll add the record of the first edition and update the record for Volume 7. Also with a little googling I was able to find the original publication dates of a couple more of the essays. I'll gladly add that missing data if you wish. Mhhutchins 22:56, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
Please go ahead and add those updated works. I knew that the "Short History" was book-length, and even had a note on that in the title record for that item, but I failed to enter it correctly in Volume 7. I've changed that "History" to Nonfiction, changed that volume to an Omnibus, and am updating the title rec for "A Short History". If you could add in those original publication dates for any other contents of that volume that you've found, I would appreciate it. Thanks Chavey 02:15, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Japanese reprint

I have several Japanese reprints of English language books I'd like to enter (eventually), the problem is do I do an alternate title in Japanese characters? And would a translation from, say Babelfish, be adequate? The automatic translations do not match what's on the cover very well.Don Erikson 23:15, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Japan edition in ISFDB:Help desk Denis 19:30, 28 September 2012 (UTC)