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Archive of messages from October - November 2012

Image upload standards

I've always understood that there are two size standards for uploading files to the ISFDB server: 1) their longest side should not exceed 600 pixels and 2) the file should not be more than 150K. After embarrassing myself by railing against an editor for exceeding the second standard, I am shocked to learn that there is no such documented standard. Did this change when the semi-automated system was placed into effect, and was the documentation of the previous standards deleted? I tested a file that was larger than 150K and received a warning. But here's the kicker: I uploaded another file that was less than 150K but more than 600 pixels and it was accepted without question. So we have a warning for the non-documented standard (more than 150k), but not the documented one (more than 600px). So what's going on? Mhhutchins 03:57, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

I believe the 600 pixels 'limit' depends on your user preferences - there is a 'Limit images on file description pages to...' setting that defaults to 800 by 600. As we tend to do front covers only, the 600 height is exceeded more often than the 800 wide. I can't find the discussions that went into our current 'standards' but do recall that we decided that the default limits were good enough to avoid being sued. BLongley 04:46, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
I don't believe the 600 pixels limit has anything to do with user preference. It is stated both on the upload page and on the instructions page. The user preference only determines if the image is displayed after it is uploaded. Mhhutchins 13:35, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
My mistake. I know the user preferences can affect things post-upload, but you're right, they probably don't affect pre-upload. As to the pages you quote: I think only the second one is under our control. (Until Ahasuerus becomes proficient in Mediawiki configuration.) BLongley 17:45, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
I've always taken those limits to be copyright related, and guidelines, not hard limits. When needed, I've felt they can/should be bent, for instance in wrap around covers and similar non-standard items. Kevin 05:13, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
Yes, they can be bent under certain circumstances, but how would either this file (650 x 984 pixels) or this one (256 kb) qualify as exceptional. Both were uploaded yesterday. Mhhutchins 13:35, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
(I've resized the latter file, but kept the original file in its History.) Mhhutchins 03:11, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
ISFDB's 600 pixel limit came about because we never installed a converter library that can deal with larger images. It used to be if you uploaded something over 600px we did not get thumbnails of it.
Copyrights, and also speed of upload/download are other considerations. At 600px people can usually also make out the price, catalog number, etc. if they are present on the front cover. --Marc Kupper|talk 07:49, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree they should be guidelines. Wrap around covers are a good reason to exceed the 800 pixels. But if somebody wants to show all 3/4/5/6/7 covers from a boxed set should we allow that, rather than having a picture of the box? BLongley 05:26, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
That's not the point I'm making. Files exceeding the stated standard (length) are being ignored by the warning while those exceeding the unstated standard (size) are given a warning. Both standards should be documented and files exceeding both should receive warnings. Mhhutchins 13:35, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
Yes to the documentation. If DES returns maybe he can find the original reasoning rather than depend on my/our memories of it. To provide warnings is beyond my knowledge, but shouldn't be impossible. BLongley 17:45, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
The MediaWiki software has the ability to restrict uploads based on file size built in. I don't think it has any built-in knowledge of image dimensions, on upload, however. I don't know if its thumbnail generator could do it (in my experience, that simply chokes on something too big but does not do anything to prevent the upload process from working, nor does it really give any sort of friendly message about what's wrong). The dimension-related limits in the preferences only apply to display, as far as I know. --MartyD 23:28, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
It would seem reasonable to expect that at some point, at some level of detail, a picture has moved beyond the fair use guidelines for copying the art. I've always assumed that the given limits were intended to ensure that we did not violate fair use. Of course it's nearly impossible to know what the "fair use" limits would be, since there are almost no court decisions to interpret that phrase, but if the issue ever became important, our attempts to police reasonable limits might be important. I encourage us to stick with the two forms of specified limits, and try to keep within those guidelines. I realize that it would be a challenge (FR coming), but it might be useful that when someone submits something that violates the limits, the software would require them to specify what the exceptional circumstances were (e.g., wrap-around art; multiple volumes, etc.) Chavey 23:38, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
I do not believe I was privy to any earlier discussion regarding this aspect but I recall reading about it someplace and as memory serves the 600 rule came about in part due to resource limitations regarding thumbnail generation. You may have noticed the Image: pages (as well as including an image on another wiki page at a reduced size) will not correctly generate a thumbnail if over the pixel size limitations. Methinks the file size rule was related to server file storage limitations. Many thousands of very large files will be hard to keep live on the server with limited storage. That said, if there is ample reason, some certain images could be over such a size without major issue. The pixel size rule can be changed via the thumbnail generator configuration, however, it does not feedback into the upload entry as it is done after upload so cannot be used to generate a warning. The message in the special upload page can be configured by WikiMedia Sysops (aka moderators) here via the correct Mediawiki: configuration page. One must have Sysop because the entire Mediawiki: namespace is protected at that level. Uzume 21:40, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Sanskrit added

Sanskrit has been added to the list of recognized languages. The language code for Katha Sarit Sagara has been changed from Hindi to Sanskrit and the Note field has been adjusted. Ahasuerus 01:17, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

A Question Regarding A Conan Essay

I have a copy of Conan the Victorious, Third Edition and the first printing of such. At the end of the book there is an article by L. Sprague de Camp titled Conan the Industructable and it is dated 1984. Did this article originally appear in the first printing, first edition of this book, or did it appear in a fanzine first? Anybody know? MLB 10:50, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

An essay, with a similar but correctly spelled title, appeared in the October 1983 edition of Conan the Triumphant. Until it's determined to be the same essay just enter it as original to the work you're updating. It can always be merged (or varianted, if it is incorrectly spelled) if someone can show it's the same work. Mhhutchins 17:52, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
Here is an online publication of the same title which is dated May 1984. Is it the same essay in your book? Mhhutchins 17:53, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
According to this Google Books search the essays are the same. I'm thinking it did not appear in the first (trade paperback) printing of Jordan's novel, but the first (mass-market paperback) printing of April 1985. That would make sense considering the author dates it as written in May 1984. According to this website (note 9), this final version of the essay was first published in November 1984 in the trade paperback edition of Conan the Victorious. I think we should date it 1984-11-00 and remove it from the record of the October 1983 edition of Conan the Triumphant until someone can come along and do a primary verification of the record. Mhhutchins 18:06, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
Except for the odd misspelled word (Ian for the name of the town Ianthe) this is the same essay. I also recognize the artwork as being mostly by Marvel Comic's main Conan artist of the eighties John Buscema, or Buscema's copycat Ernie Chan/Chau, making me suspect that the essay may have originally appeared in one of the Conan black-and-white comic magazines. Unfortunately, I had stopped regularly collecting comics by the eighties (lack of space, and lack of money). The site that you source doesn't mention the comic version of Conan at all. There is no reason to not suspect a simultaneous publication of the article, as de Camp contributed the odd article, I think, to the original Conan comic magazine, and this could have been a revision of one of his early articles. Don't quote me though, as I haven't read one of my Conan comic magazines in about twenty, twenty-five years. Whatever, de Camp is now gone, and this is probably the definite version of his article.

(excerpt) not (Excerpt)

This may be trivial, but I've noticed that a few editors capitalize the word, while the rules specify that it not be capitalized. IMO, capitalizing the word makes it look more like it's part of the title. If it were, it wouldn't have to be disambiguated, e.g. "Excerpt from Childhood's End". Mhhutchins 19:47, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

Further language enhancements

The submission approval process has been further improved. Languages are now handled properly when changing title types and publication types at the same time. You will primarily notice the difference when converting a Novel to a Chapterbook and adding a Shortfiction title during the same edit. Ahasuerus 02:48, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

Publisher looking for author contact info

Dorchester Publishing's web site is a list of titles, some specfict, where they would like the author contact info. With some authors people would need to locate the estate. I e-mailed a couple of them - noted below.

I suspect this table could get moved over to a projects page. --Marc Kupper|talk 07:40, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Author Title Status
John Abbott Real West Buffalo Bill/K Carson
Luke Adams Apache Law 1 Lonely Gun
Kate Angell Sweet Spot
Roxi Ashe Spell Weaver
Neal L. Asher The Engineer Reconditioned specfict
Anne Avery Distant Star specfict
Todhunter Ballard Gold in California specfict
J. M. Barrie Peter Pan specfict
Chris Beckett Holy Machine specfict
Christopher Belton Isolation
Kate Birch Lone Star Plague
Thomas Wakefield Blackburn A Good Day to Die
Algernon Blackwood The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories specfict
Thomas Blood China Card
Hilary Bonner When the Dead Cry Out
Marie-Claude Borque Ancient Whispers
Scott Bradford Two-Gun Devil
Max Brand The Way of the West specfict
Bill Brooks Vengeance Trail
John Campbell Black Star Passes specfict
Tim Champlin Flying Eagle
Murray C. Clay The Sword's Errand
Pat Cody His Wicked Will
Judd Cole Cheyenne #2: Death Chant
Allan Cole When the Gods Slept Author e-mailed
Cassandra Collins Dark Angel
Barbara Collins Regeneration
Holly Cook The Sea Wife
Nina Coombs Mans Best Friend
Alfred Coppel The 8th Day of the Week specfict
Eleanor Craig Christmas Pie
Peter Crowther The Longest Single Note specfict
Gene Curry Saddler Double Ace in the Hole/Yuko
Jack Curtis Pepper Tree Rider specfict
Dan Cushman Silver Mountain specfict
Paul Di Fillipo HARP, PIPE &Amp; SYMPHONY
Debra Dier Maclaren's Bride specfict
Sandra Dubay Quicksilver
Robert Easton SAGA OF CALIFORNIA POWER &Amp; GLORY specfict
Jason Elder The Outcasts #1: The Outcast Brigade
S Epperson The Moons of Summer
Dennis Etchison Death Artist specfict
Alyssa Everett A Tryst in Time
Shannon Farrell Call Home the Heart
John Francome Dead Weight
Steve Frazee Voices in the Hill specfict
Mary Germano Blood Witness
Romer Grey Arizona Ames Gun Trouble in Tonto
Fred Grove Bitter Trumpet specfict
Patricia Hagan Cupids Kiss specfict
Lynda Hagen Winter Roses
Chloe Hall Ariel's Dance
Harry Harrison Planet of the Damned specfict
Dylan Harson Dylan Kansas Blue
Holly Harte Apache Destiny
Doug Hawkins Kit Carson #1: The Colonel's Daughter
Jeremiah Healy Turnabout
C. J. Henderson Things That Are Not There specfict
Lorraine Henderson Heavenly Persuasion
Shirl Henke Terms of Surrender specfict
Will Henry The Scout specfict
Brian Herbert The Race for God specfict
Sandra Hill The Outlaw Viking specfict
Ken Hodgson Fools Gold
Ray Hogan Solitude's Lawman
Kate Holmes Wild Swans specfict
Rich Horton Fantasy: The Best of 2006
Robert J. Horton Science Fiction: The Best of 200?
David Housewright A Hard Ticket Home
Robert E. Howard Weird Works of Robert E. Howard, Vol. 2 specfict
Violet Ivanescu Hidden Jewel
Lee Jackson Redemption specfict
Nell A Jacob Haunter
Charlee Jacob This Symbiotic Fascination specfict
Terry Jacobs Void the
Yvonne Jocks Yvonne The Rancher's Daughters: Proving Herself
Dorothy Johnston The White Tower
Marti Jones A Love Through Time
Taylor Jones Radiant
Marti Jones Dreamweaver
Marilyn Jordan Warrior Moon
Angie Kay A Case of Nerves
Susan Kearney Conquer the Mist specfict
#N/A Kelly Fire Baby
Daniel Keyes The Asylum Prophecies specfict
Annie Kimberlin Lonely Hearts
Hiram King Broken Ranks
Cynthia Kirk LADY &Amp; LION
Tracy Knight Beneathwhiskey Sky specfict
Nicole Knight Stronger Than Yesterday
Pyotyr Kurtinski Thirst
Kristen Kyle Nighthawk
Marc Laidlaw 37th Mandala Author e-mailed
Louis L'Amour Trailing West
Catherine Lanigan Seduced
Karl Largent R Red Ice specfict
David Lawrence Nothing Like the Night specfict
Carol Lee Banner's Bonus
Helene Lehr White Heather
Ana Leigh Mackenzies Cleve
Tamara Leigh Blackheart
Alan Lemay Spa Crossing
Jenni Licata Unveiled
Tori Light Gamblers Gold
Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde specfict
Howard Phillips Lovercraft The Dark Worlds of H.P. Lovercraft, Vol. 1 -6 specfict
Richard Lupoff Sword of the Demon specfict
Sb Lyon Bandit Invincible
Charlotte Maclay Make No Promises
Ellen Marsh Promise Me Paradise
Dee Marvine Last Chance
Liz Maverick Wired specfict
Anne Mccaffrey No One Noticed the Cat specfict
Kathleen Mccarthy Treasure to Hold
Max Mccoy The Moon Pool specfict
Abigail Mcdaniels Abigail House of 4 Seasons specfict
T. J. Mcfadden Landing Party
Nelle Mcfather Tears of Fire
Tim Mcguire Manhunt
Jake Mcmasters White Apache 10 Hanged
Lisa Mcnair Pearl Beyond Price
Aj Menden Phenomenal Girl 5 specfict
Abraham Merritt The Moon Pool specfict
Michael Moorcock The Weird of the White Wolf specfict
Michael Moorcock The Vanishing Tower specfict
Michael Moorcock Sailor of the Seas of Fate specfict
Robert Moore Silent Doomsday specfict
Melody Morgan Abiding Hope
Billie Mosiman Wireman
Thomas Muldoon Execution Honor
Margaret Murphy Weaving Shadows
Em Nathason Knights Cross
Elisabeth Naughton Tempted specfict
Andrew Neiderman The Magic Bullet specfict
William Nolan Dark Universe specfict
Andre Norton Star Born specfict
Janeen Okerry LADY OF ICE &Amp; FIRE PB
Theodore V. Olsen The Stalking Moon
Joan Overfield The Shadowing specfict
Wayne D. Overholser Buckaroos Code/Gunlock specfict
Stephen Overholser Search for the Fox specfict
Lewis Patten Guns Vengeance
Gloria Pedersen Gabriels Fire
Norah Perkin Night Secrets
Patricia Phillips Rose of Ravenscrag the specfict
H. Beam Piper Space Viking specfict
Susan Plunkett Alicia's Song specfict
Donna Poff The Mask
Victoria Presley Traded Secrets
Bill Pronzini The Tormenter specfict
Jenn Reese Jade Tiger specfict
Edgar Rice Borroughs The Land That Time Forgot specfict
Edgar Rice Borroughs The People That Time Forgot specfict
Edgar Rice Borroughs Out of Time's Abyss specfict
Edgar Rice Borroughs Princess of Mars specfict
Theresa Ring Timespun Treasure
Wl Ripley Pressing the Bet
James Ritchie Kerrigan
Tim Rizzi Phalanx Dragon
Pam Rock A World Away
Caitlin Rother Naked Addiction
T. C. Rypel Red Blade from the East specfict
Amy Saunders Enchanted Time
Les Savage Table Rock
Coral Saxe A Stolen Rose
Mark Schorr Borderline
E. G. Schrader For the Defendant
Velda Sherrod A Leaf in the Wind
Gordon Shirreffs Bold Legend
Luke Short Blood on the Moon specfict
Robert Silverberg The 13th Immortal specfict
Randall Silvis Doubly Dead specfict
Michael Siverling The Sorcerer's Circle
Jake Slade Lassiter: Brother Gun
Doc Smith Triplanetary specfict
R. Smitten False Witness
Bud Sparhawk Vixen specfict
Cynthina Strickland Deal
Bram Stroker The Lair of the White Worm
Linda Thomas Sundstrom BARBIE &Amp; THE BEAST
Maria Swan Boomer Babes
Jane Tara Forecast
Jim Thane No Place to Die
David Thompson Prisoner of Passion
Steve Torres Death Precinct Puerto Rico
Dodge Tyler Daniel Boone 3 Death Spa Wells
Judy Veisel Flight Fancy
Patricia Waddell Whispers in the Stars specfict
Hedda Watney Jackie O
Lawrence Watt-Evans The Spriggan Mirror specfict
Pat White Love on the Ropes specfict
Wrath James White Succulent Prey
Phyllis Bourne Williams Holiday Inn
J. Williamson Affinity
G. Clifton Wisler Ross's Gap specfict
G Wisler Esmeralda specfict
Browyn Wolfe Longer Than Forever
Don Worcester Man on Two Ponies
Tm Wright Last Vampire
Patricia Wynn Capturing Annie
Marion Zimmer-Bradley The Door Through Space specfict
Unknown Arthritis
Unknown Asthma
Unknown Back Pain
Unknown Becmg Pb
Unknown Blood Pressure
Unknown Bowels
Unknown Cholesterol
Unknown Coming Home for Christmas
Unknown Depression
Unknown Diabetes
Unknown Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Upc
Unknown July 4th Collection
Unknown Lady of the Night
Unknown Man W/O Medn Pb
Unknown Mother's Day Collection #1
Unknown Mother's Day Collection #2
Unknown Mtn King
Unknown One Winter Night
Unknown Stress
Unknown Tales of Inspiration
Unknown Double Shadow May be Clark Ashton Smith's The Double Shadow
Unknown The Shadowing
Unknown Thyroid
Unknown Thyroid-Upc
Unknown Valentine Delights
Unknown Wedding Collection
Unknown Weird Tales Possible specfict
And the reason why this should be an ISFDB project is...? Mhhutchins 15:38, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I assumed because we like and support specfict and that many of the missing authors are specfict authors who we presumably support. If an author gets the rights back they can then sell the story to another publisher, or distribute it themselves.
We can use the resulting communications with the authors, and this list, to update ISFDB. For example, some of of the titles by specfict authors on the list look specfictish but are not in ISFDB. Those need to be chased down.
When I talk with an author or artist I usually mention ISFDB and encourage them to take a look at their bibliography. They usually spot something wrong and so we work to resolve that. Over the years I've turned a number of them into ISFDB editors though they tend to only work on their own biography and/or bibliography. Many of them prefer to just e-mail me the edits which I then verify and do on their behalf. I've found that authors/artists are typically not strong on bibliographic detail at the publication level and so the process ends up being translating what the author/artist says either into verifiable data or, if the person permission, then a note "Oct 11, 2012 - The author/artist said via e-mail 'whatever it was.'" meaning we end up with a sourced claim and people reading the record can take it for what it's worth.
One of the authors I e-mailed last night replied back to me this morning that his agents had not contacted him about Dorchester Publishing. He's getting the word out to other authors in the list that he knows. --Marc Kupper|talk 17:06, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
Sorry. I guess we have to agree to disagree about the purpose of the ISFDB. Contact with authors to resolve issues about the bibliographic details of their published work, yes. But getting involved in their relationship with their publishers? I just can't see that as part of the ISFDB mission. Mhhutchins 18:09, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I can see how we may want to use the list which they made available to check that there are no gaps in our coverage. However, contacting individual authors may not necessarily be the best thing to do given the following account just posted by Lawrence Watt-Evans on Usenet:
  • I am getting very tired of people telling me that Dorchester is looking for me, when (a) they never dealt with me; they got those novels of mine in a sub-rights deal, so I'm not the one they revert to, (b) the rights were ALREADY REVERTED weeks ago, and (c) any halfwit with access to Google could find my current e-mail address in fifteen seconds or less. I've had... let's see... I won't count you, since you didn't e-mail me or anything, but that still leaves at least seven well-intentioned people who have told me about it.
  • I filled out Dorchester's little form, just so they'd take my name off the list, but they don't seem inclined to do that.
  • I'm glad they're reverting stuff; it's the right thing to do, and something most failing publishers don't bother. I wish, though, that they'd assigned the job to someone halfway competent.
Ahasuerus 21:43, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

"Robin Hood" as spec fic?

I don't understand why so many editions of "Robin Hood" are included here as genre works. An advanced search for novels with "Robin Hood" in the title gave me 9 such books, only 3 of which seem to have a reason to be viewed as spec fic. Is this an error in our listings, or am I missing something about the Robin Hood story that makes it spec fic? Chavey 07:48, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

I guess I should have paid more attention. I didn't see your posting until after I posted mine. I don't understand it either, but if I can post my book I will, if not, I can easily move on. MLB 13:24, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
No, it's not spec-fic, but neither is Sherlock Holmes. A title may be in the db because of its association with a spec-fic author (like Howard Pyle, Michael Cadnum, David B. Coe, or Simon R. Green). I find two that are in the database due to being reviewed in a spec-fic magazine (a qualifying rule of acquisition). If you can find no such association, delete the pub and title records. In fact, I found only one that was not associational in some way. If this version has spec-fic elements, you should note it so that future editors won't delete it. Mhhutchins 15:50, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
If the book was associational only, and not actually speculative fiction, wouldn't we include it but list it as non-genre? Chavey 23:25, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
True, but without reading them who knows which have spec-fic elements? You've said yourself that "3 of which seem to have a reason to be viewed as spec fic". Who can say if any of the others may as well? Mhhutchins 23:31, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
Ok, now you're confusing me. In the discussion of Dorothy Daniels' gothic novels, when some books looked like they might be genre, but might not be, you said:
My personal opinion is that the inclusion of such undetermined titles further dilutes the database.
And basically advanced the "leave them out unless someone reads them and says they should be out". Now you're saying "leave them in unless someone reads them and says they should be in." So what's a fella to do? Default to "genre" or default to "non-genre"? The "standard" Robin Hood story (and I've certainly read several) has NO spec fic elements in it. So it would seem to me they should be out until there's good cause to put them in. Chavey 00:20, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Apples and oranges. And you're taking my quote out of context. I was referring to a list of a hundred titles by an author that heretofore had no records in the database. We were trying to determine which ones were spec-fic, and if the author was "above the threshold" to include records for her non-genre. Until that determination was made, I didn't feel we should be creating records. In this situation, you're talking about a character shared by several authors and whether works about that character should be in the database. And I reiterate: it depends on the works themselves and not the character. Those records are already in the database for various reasons. In the previous discussion from which you pulled my quote you were discussing creating records for titles which none us had a clear understanding of their content.
You're also putting words in my mouth that I didn't say or misinterpreting what I did say. Tell me where in this topic I said "leave them in unless someone reads them". I'm saying most of the records are in the database for various reasons. Did I misinterpret your intention for this topic, that these records should be removed because the works are based on a non-spec-fic character? I'll do the legwork for you, and check out those 9 titles to see why they're in the database. And I will gladly remove any that I determine is non-genre and non-associational. If they're non-genre, yet associational, I'll change them to non-genre. If I can't determine their spec-fic content, I'll leave them alone. The unstated ISFDB policy is to err on the side of inclusion in such cases. Mhhutchins 01:34, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
As the primary verifier of this record, you should determine its suitability for the database. The author is not "above the threshold", so if it's not spec-fic, it should be removed from the db. I'll work on the other titles. Mhhutchins 01:37, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
My books are currently buried, so it will be a little bit until I get to this. My suspicion is that I added it only because I saw so many other "Robin Hood" stories in here, and thought that meant they belonged. But that was a year ago, and I am stronger in the force now, so I realize I should have given the matter some more thought. I suspect I will yank it. I looked at this question again because of "The Song of Robin Hood", a 1947 version which has no spec fic except for one scene when Robin Hood and 2 Merry Men fight two "giants". But the drawing makes it clear that this just means "big guys", not what we mean as giants. So then I wondered what it was that got so many versions of Robin Hood into the system.
The mathematician side of me wishes that there were a single answer to what to do when a book "might be spec fic, might not, we need someone to read it". However, I can see that your argument that we should deal differently with those above the "threshold" than those that are not. In Dorothy Daniels' case, we added several books as clearly in, but she's probably still not above the threshold since, IMHO, "threshold" includes importance and influence, not just number of books. Chavey 03:17, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Of the eight other titles, three were not spec-fic, but all were associational (by authors "above the threshold"). I changed their title records to NONGENRE. Mhhutchins 01:46, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I am sure it was just a misunderstanding, Michael. Substantively, I agree with your approach with minor variations in unusual cases. Ahasuerus 02:24, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown, in Nottinghamshire

What you find at garage sales. I recently got a 1911 copy Some Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown, in Nottinghamshire for a quarter and I would like to enter it here, but I see The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown, in Nottinghamshire is listed here. Is mine the same, and edited copy of the same, or a different version of the same book listed on this site? The book is published by Charles Scribner's Sons, by Howard Pyle, and may be a textbook reader meant for schools. MLB 13:20, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Howard Pyle is above the "threshold". So unless you can find a title in the db that exactly matches the book-in-hand, create a new record as a new title. We can always variant it if it's later determined to be the same as a title already in the db. Mhhutchins 15:58, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I've got this copy. It is divided into 8 parts each of 1 to 3 chapters and has a preface, prologue and epilogue. I'll keep it at hand for a bit in case you want to ask questions about any particular points. In regards to the above discussion, I don't have any reason to believe that this is actually speculative and wouldn't have a problem if folks want this changed to NONGENRE. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 02:04, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I've already changed its title record to NONGENRE. (Only title records can be typed as NONGENRE, not publication records.) Mhhutchins 02:15, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Request for a German-speaking editor's assistance

I sent a form email letter to user Paul-Heinz Linckens asking him to respond to questions/concerns on his talk page. He wrote back to my email address with the following:

Hallo, leider finde ich mit meinem Ipad keine Möglichkeit, über User_talk:Paul-Heinz_Linckens mit Ihnen Kontakt aufzunehmen.... vielleicht können Sie mir ja einen Tipp geben.
Als handgreiflichen Beleg für das Senden meiner Kurzgeschichte kann ich das Formular des NDR mit Storytitel, Sendereihe, Datum und Honorar - und natürlich meinen maschinengeschrieben Wortlaut der Geschichte vorweisen.
Paul-Heinz Linckens

From Google's translate service it appears he's having problems with logging-in to the Wiki user page. Will a German-speaking editor message me through the ISFD wiki email system? I'll send you his email address so that you can assist him. Thanks. Mhhutchins 22:50, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

I've just sent you an email. Rudam 12:44, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm sure someone speaking his language will be able to explain more clearly the situation regarding the ISFDB policy of performance vs. publication. Mhhutchins 21:49, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
I've noticed him nicely active now so this all seems to be working well. But I have another request for a German-speaking editor's assistance: we know there is a site that I think has data we could usefully add here, if it doesn't make them too jealous about us being THE SFDB. Is there anyone that could take on a "Speaker-to-DSFDB" role, with enough of a smattering of technical know-how to enable us to do some mass imports? (If they're willing to share.) I'm rather overloaded at present and have no German skills, so can't add to my "Speaker-to-LJ" role in the same way. But I could help with a mass-sharing of data, if only someone can do the English/German translations rather better than Google does. BLongley 11:07, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Just asked them two minutes ago. I have said that the import of their data would be accompanied with a possible export from us to them, assuming this would be the only way to have a positive resonance. Was this okay? Stonecreek 12:29, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that sounds ideal. Thanks for the speedy activity! BLongley 17:19, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Any news from them? BLongley 12:20, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Not yet. May have triggered an internal discussion, I suppose. Stonecreek 19:29, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Leading and trailing spaces in dates

Leading and trailing spaces in dates are now stripped silently and should no longer result in 0000-00-00 submissions. Sorry about this recently introduced problem -- it was a side effect of another date fix applied in August. Ahasuerus 04:01, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

You know what would be very handy? Silently adding -00-00 to year-only dates. So many people do it, and it's so easy to miss during review. --MartyD 10:05, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Actually, that's been in effect for some time now when entering the date field of "Add New..." submissions. It also works on pub updates, but it's not likely that someone would change a YYYY-MM-DD to YYYY. Mhhutchins 18:50, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I have been trying to centralize date processing. Once we are down to just one section of the code where all dates are handled, it should be much easier to change user-experienced behavior. Ahasuerus 17:46, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Brian [N.] Ball

This author has had 24 books published as "Brian Ball", 7 as "Brian N. Ball", 1 as both (in 2 separate editions), and 1 as "B. N. Ball". It seems to me that the canonical name should be "Brian Ball". It make take a while to reverse them, but I'll do it unless someone objects. Mhhutchins 23:02, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Sounds reasonable... Ahasuerus 02:05, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

r2012-29 and r2012-30 - further language enhancements

The Title page has been enhanced to display the language of the review if it differs from the language of the reviewed title. In addition, some components of the language-related software were reorganized behind the scenes, but it should have no impact on user-experienced behavior. Hopefully... Ahasuerus 02:02, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Separating VTs from translations

Does the language of FR 3576913 look about right? Here is the current wording:

We would like to separate VTs from translations on the Title page. Ideally, the display order will be as follows:

  1. VTs whose language is the same as the language of the canonical title.
  2. Magazine appearances where the language is the same as the language of the canonical title.
  3. VTs whose language is NOT the same as the language of the canonical title.
  4. Magazine appearances where the language is NOT the same as the language of the canonical title.

Each section will have a separate header, of course. Ahasuerus 02:13, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Looks like a pretty good order. Can you mock up a display page before implementation? Visualization would give us a better idea about how the display would look. Thanks. Mhhutchins 03:37, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Sure. I can make the changes on the development server and post a couple of screenshots here. Ahasuerus 03:52, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Different translations = different titles (?)

I wanted to make sure I had this correct. The title rec for Roger Zelazny's Unicorn Variation includes two different Italian title recs, both called La variante dell'unicorno (one of which I just entered). These two versions were translated by different people. So I believe that means I should not merge them into a single title, but I just wanted to make sure. (I did add the translators to the two title recs, since the earlier one did not have that listed.) Chavey 19:14, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Addendum: This also applies to the two Italian versions of Harlan Ellison's Jeffty Is Five, Clifford D. Simak's Grotto of the Dancing Deer, and Joan Vinge's Eyes of Amber, each set of which appear to be by two different translators. Chavey 23:13, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, they are separate "texts", so I think they should be separate records in the database. Unfortunately, adding full-blown translator support is a non-trivial proposition, but it is on the list of things to do and we will get to it at some point. Hopefully next year... Ahasuerus 01:07, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
I did look into this over a year ago and did some work towards translator support - they should definitely remain separate for now even if we don't yet make it very clear WHY they are separate. BLongley 17:21, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

The Story Telling Stone

I have a copy of Susan Feldmann's The Story Telling Stone which is a anthology of traditional Native American myths. Before verifying this work, I have a couple of questions:

  1. Does this publication belong in the ISFDB? Per our inclusion policy, "Fairy tales with no known author" are excluded. The stories are originally oral myths that have been written down. They are not retellings, etc. and so would appear to met that exclusion criteria. However, we seem to be more inclusive in actual practice.
  2. How should these be credited? There is not a specific writer (or transcriber) credit for each story. The story title pages only have the titles. There is a copyright acknowledgements page which has a credit for each story consisting of "STORY from PUBLICATION, by PERSON. CITY: PRESS, YEAR". However, it is not clear if the PERSON is the one who transcribed the story or merely edited the PUBLICATION (which include books and scholarly journals). There is also no indication to how much (or little) Feldmann changed them. I'm assuming they should be credited as "uncredited" instead of to Feldmann.

Thanks. -- JLaTondre (talk) 17:53, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

I think there can be an argument for including certain types of folktales and fairy tales. But I would argue against the inclusion of "the myths of a people or culture". Such tales are viewed as non-fiction by the believers in those cultures, or at least the classic-era tellers of the tales. To include them as "fiction" stories can be insulting to those cultures. For example, what do you think would happen if an editor decided to include the Biblical "Revelations" as a "science fiction" story? The "Left Behind" series is safe to include, but treading on what is viewed by many as holy writ and including it as a "fiction story" is both dangerous and, IMO, insulting. The same criteria should be used for evaluating mythological stories from other cultures. If the people who originally told those tales, or those who heard those tales, thought of them as non-fiction, then we should leave them out. (The Library of Congress, for example, catalogs such collections as non-fiction.) This does not rule out all folk tales, e.g. the people who passed on "Little Red Riding Hood" surely thought of it as a story, not as fact. But what are myths to one group of people can be true expressions of history and faith to others. Chavey 03:31, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
It sounds like we have a couple of separate issues here:
  • Should we enforce the "no fairy tales with no known author" policy? (And delete all titles that are supposed to be excluded?)
  • If we decide to change the policy to include fairy tales with no known author, then should we make a distinction between "fairy tales" and "myths" and treat the latter as non-fiction and therefore excluded?
I think that it would be best to keep/enforce the current policy and continue to exclude all fairy tales (and myths) with no known author. They are a different beast compared to speculative fiction IMO and, in addition, there is a ton of them out there, so if we were to include all of them (or even just the fairy tales), it would make keeping the database up to date significantly more difficult.
Also, we may want to clarify what we want to do about fairy tales which were "collected", "edited" or otherwise prepared for publication by identified persons. At what point does a "transcriber" become an "editor"? Ahasuerus 08:01, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Personally, I think it would be a shame not to include Grimms' Fairy Tales, if only because of their massive influence on spec fic since then. And, of course, we would have to drop them if we strictly enforced the "no known author" policy. On the other hand, I would prefer to draw the "line in the sand" as close to the other side of Grimms' as we can. I'll admit, however, that I don't know how to word such a policy. Chavey 20:04, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
There can always be exceptions for significant works. Similar to how nongenre & graphic novels are handled for significant authors. -- JLaTondre (talk) 13:48, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
While there is some debate on fairy tales, it seems much clearer for myths (especially those in publications marketed as non-fiction). I'll wait a few more days to see if there is more input, but I plan to delete this specific publication unless there are objections. -- JLaTondre (talk) 13:48, 20 October 2012 (UTC)

Fanzine or Chapterbook?

The "Doc Savage Journal" was a fanzine that only lasted one issue (May 1969). However, that issue consists of essentially nothing except for a Doc Savage short story by Lohr McKinstry. So in this sense it looks very much like a chapterbook. Well, it has an invitation to send in letters, and a title page that lists the editorial board, but everything else looks like a chapterbook. Should I create a new fanzine record for this single issue, or enter it as a chapterbook? Chavey 03:21, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

If this is the publication you're referring to, it looks like a fanzine. The only way I'd enter it as a chapterbook is if there's a single title page that credits only the story, the author, and the publisher, without mentioning the name of the fanzine, or the fact that it's a periodical, with a masthead, etc. Mhhutchins 03:48, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Yup, that's the pub I've got. It does clearly describe itself as a "magazine", with a "Welcome" from the editor, so I'll enter it as a fanzine. Chavey 04:53, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Variants of variants are now disallowed

You can no longer create a "Make variant" submission where the proposed parent title is a variant itself. It's still possible to create variants of variants by approving submissions out of order, but they should be considerably less common now. (And, of course, we have a moderator-only script which lets us find variants of variants.) Ahasuerus 04:25, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Italian Science Fiction Book Club

I am planning to add the 48 books published in the series "Science Fiction Book Club" of the italian Editrice La Tribuna; is the series name printed on the books (Science Fiction Book Club - SFBC) sufficient to avoid confusion, or should I add "Italy" (as it was done in the italian Galaxy magazine) ? --Pips55 20:36, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

I would suggest "Science Fiction Book Club (Italy)" as the publication series. Either way it wouldn't conflict with the US club, because their books are not in a publication series. What is the publisher actually stated in the books? Mhhutchins 21:46, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
Publisher is "Casa Editrice La Tribuna", on cover the series is "Science Fiction Book Club" and in copyright page is "SFBC". --Pips55 21:58, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
Good, then there should be no conflict with either the US or UK SFBC in either the publisher field or the publication series field. Mhhutchins 23:10, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

"Add Publication to this Title" fixed

"Add Publication to this Title" no longer mangles titles containing double quotes. Ahasuerus 06:35, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

John Varley's "Air Raid"

There's a lot of records that have this story being published as by "Herb Boehm". As far as I know the only time that happened was in its original publication in Asimov's and the anthology reprints by Asimov's publisher. I'm certain it shouldn't be credited that way in most of the records we have here. Please look at your verified records to see which ones might have been accidentally credited. Thanks for checking. Mhhutchins 06:01, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Corrected my edition (the Dial hardcover). No sign of "Herb Boehm". Thanks! --Willem H. 15:02, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm going to proceed to make corrections to the non-Asimov's, non-verified publications based on secondary sources. Thanks. Mhhutchins 17:32, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

8888-00-00 and 0000-00-00 fixed

Publication Listing and Publication Series pages have been changed to display "unpublished" and "unknown" instead of 8888-00-00 and 0000-00-00 respectively. Ahasuerus 06:25, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

Sub-series unification?

A few weeks ago I created FR 3570628, which reads:

  • If an author has contributed to a fiction series, an anthology series and a non-fiction series and if these three series are sub-series of the same super-series, then the Summary page will display these series in three separate sections -- see Gary Russell's Summary page for an example. Ideally, we would want all series that belong to the same super-series to appear together on the Summary page.

The change would be somewhat tricky to implement because the code that handles series nesting is complex, so I'd like to make sure that we all agree that this would be an improvement before we try it. Ahasuerus 23:24, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

It's logical that they should be displayed together if they'll all in the same super-series. What would be the name of the category? Mhhutchins 23:50, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
A "Fiction Series" is currently defined as a series which contains a novel, collection, serial or omnibus plus any number of other titles. As long as a series contains at least one novel, collection, serial or omnibus, the series will appear at the top of the Summary page under "Fiction Series". When this check is performed, the software doesn't take the contents of the series' parent series or its sub-series into consideration.
Next, the software displays standalone novels, collections, omnibuses and serials. Then it finds and displays all series that contain at least one EDITOR record (plus any number of other titles) and displays them under "Magazine Editor Series" followed by standalone EDITOR records. Then it finds all series containing at least one anthology records (plus any number of other records) and displays them under "Anthology Series". And so on.
In other words, as far as series are concerned, we effectively have a hierarchy of title types, with novels, collections, serials and omnibuses at the top of the totem pole, followed by EDITORs, anthologies, chapterbooks, non-fiction, non-genre, short fiction, poems and finally essays. If you add a single short fiction title to an essay series, the series will change its position on the totem pole and appear under "Short Fiction Series". If you add a short fiction title AND an anthology title, it will jump to "Anthology Series" (since anthologies trump short fiction.)
For example, consider Eric Flint's Summary page. "1632 Fiction", an "Assiti Shards" sub-sub-series, appears at the top of the page under "Fiction Series" because it contains 10 serial records (and some short fiction.) However, "The Anne Jefferson Stories", a sub-series under "1632 Fiction", is displayed half way down the page under "Short Fiction Series" because all it contains is short stories -- even though its parent series appears under "Fiction Series". If you were to add a single novel, collection, serial or omnibus to "The Anne Jefferson Stories", it would automatically jump to the top of the page and appear with its parent series. Similarly, "1632 Anthologies" and its sub-series appear under "Anthology Series", but if you were to add a single Novel record to one of these series, they would be automatically moved to the "Fiction Series" section.
What I am proposing is that the display logic should analyze the contents of each series tree first. It would then determine its "controlling title type" and display the whole tree under that title type's series section rather than break it up into multiple sections as it currently does.
Hopefully this makes at least some sense! Ahasuerus 00:35, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Yes. Thanks for the explanation. Knowing the hierarchy explains how titles are displayed, and how that display changes when a different type is added to the same series. I knew there must have been some logic to it but was never able to figure it out. Mhhutchins 01:28, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
P.S. At one point Marty suggested that we may want to add a new field ("Series Type"?) to each series record which would control its placement on the Summary page. It is certainly doable, but I don't think it would be ideal since editors would have to check this Series Type field after adding/editing series information to records, which would inevitably result in omissions and mismatches. Ahasuerus 00:35, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
In the current scheme of things, I think it's appropriate to consider the whole series, including sub-series, for placement. --MartyD 02:07, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

Conflicting editor credits for Arrow Book of Spooky Stories

We have two different versions of the Arrow Book of Spooky Stories, one as by Edna Mitchell Preston, and one as by Nora Kramer. The two books have the same details, e.g. they are both listed as Scholastic catalog #TX331. I purchased a copy of this book, and the cover clearly states "Edited by Edna Mitchell Preston". The name "Nora Kramer" appears nowhere in the book. Our record of the incorrect book comes from WorldCat, OCLC 3213864. It's pretty clear that someone entered data from the Arrow Book of Ghost Stories (by Nora Kramer) in error. I am concerned that if I simply delete the book, that the WorldCat record will come back to haunt us, and it will re-appear. So should I: (1) Delete the book and add a note to the Nora Kramer bibliography (where, in all honesty, no one will see it); or (2) 8888 the book with a note about it not existing? Or something else? Chavey 06:34, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

I appear to have made an error in my statement above, which makes things even more challenging. Amazon includes a cover photo of what appears to be a first printing, which credits Nora Kramer as the editor. It also has an apparent later printing cover which credits Preston. My two copies of the book are a 2nd printing and a 14th printing. All three books have the same cover art, title, and catalog number. So my guess is that Scholastic made an attribution error with their first printing, which they then corrected for subsequent printings -- again an error based on the book that Kramer really had edited for them. I'll admit that this is conjectural, but having two copies so far apart in the print sequence with the same name seems fairly strong evidence for this conjecture. So how should we list this book? Chavey 06:47, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
My proposal would be to make Nora Kramer into a pseudonym and add notes to the pseudonym and the titles and publication involved. Stonecreek 09:33, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm not so sure that's right. Maybe it was re-edited?. FWIW, snippets from American Book Publishing Record: BPR cumulative, Volume 4 and Chicago Schools Journal, Volumes 44-45 and Teaching Language Arts Creatively... give credit to Kramer as well. One thing I noticed while searching is that two of these citations give 90pp, while the citations for the same title with Edna Mitchell Preston as editor give 96pp. Could be exactly the same length, I realize.... --MartyD 13:39, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
The Edna Mitchell Preston book has 6 unnumbered pages followed by 90 numbered pages, hence the variation in how they can be listed. If I am correct about an initial misattribution to Nora Kramer, corrected in subsequent printings, then that would certainly lead to those other records you mention, where they had only seen the first printing. Chavey 14:09, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
I'd still go for the pseudonym - which could quite easily be reversed in case we were false. I sincerely do think that the other sources you mention, Marty, still got their information from the first printing. The best would be a primry verifier of this to see if it is Kramer only on the cover. Stonecreek 15:02, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Reginald1 has two listings: a 1960 anthology edited by Kramer titled Arrow Book of Ghost Stories (116 pp), and a 1962 anthology edited by Preston titled Arrow Book of Spooky Stories (90 pp). Looks like two different titles by two different editors. Tuck credits both books (with different contents) to Kramer. He doesn't have the 1964 printing of Spooky credited to Preston (Reginald1 only lists first editions.) It appears that Scholastic may have miscredited the first 1962 printing to Kramer (because of her association with the similarly titled 1960 anthology), and corrected it on the second (1964) printing. If this proves to be true, there's no need to create a pseudonym. Just make the title record of the first printing into a variant record. Mhhutchins 16:39, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Checking out more than 40 listings on, only the first printings credit Kramer. It's looking more and more like a publisher's error on the first printing. Mhhutchins 16:44, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
I've ordered a copy of the 1st printing so I can see what evidence we have for the conclusions. At the least, I should be able to decide if it's the same collection of titles, implying the same editor; if I'm lucky it might have Preston's name somewhere inside the book. I'll let you know. Chavey 00:08, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Title tags fixed

Various bugs associated with displaying and editing Title tags have been fixed:

  1. Leading and trailing spaces are now ignored
  2. Tags with embedded double quotes no longer generate Python errors
  3. The Edit Tags page no longer truncates tags which contains double quotes, Unicode and other unusual characters

Ahasuerus 01:19, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Now what exactly is a "title tag"? Mhhutchins 02:38, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
"Title tags" are arbitrary user-defined tags associated with Title records, e.g. John Russell Fearn's Man in Duplicate has the following three tags associated with it: " Andromedans", "test tube race", and "human duplicate".
"Publication tags" are strings of texts (e.g. "MNNDPLCTRK1953") associated with Publication (rather than Title) records. They were originally used to link publication records but now the software uses numeric publication IDs instead, although URLs that use publication tags still work. Publication tags are displayed on Publication Listing pages next to the "Bibliographic Comments" link. You can use them, along with publication IDs, to import/export data, but in general they are obsolete. Ahasuerus 02:52, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm very familiar with publication tags and those user-defined and user-generated subject tags for title records, but have never seen an "Edit Tags" page. Where can it be found? I know you can add tags but never knew you could edit them. That's why I gave the response I did to the author who found several tag errors on her publications. How do we edit tags? Mhhutchins 03:48, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
On the Title Bibliography page, there is a blue box labeled "or manage Tags" next to the "Submit Tag". If you click on it, the "Tag Editor" page comes up and you can add arbitrary tags or edit/delete existing tags. However, the Tag Editor page only lets you edit/delete your own tags -- you can't modify other editors' tags, so there was no way you could have helped the writer whose tags were incorrect. Ahasuerus 04:31, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
There may be a "Tag Editor" page, but it's inappropriately named if the only person who can edit it is the one who added it. Otherwise, it's just a "Tag Adder" page. I've added so few of them that I never knew I could even edit the ones that I did add if I needed to. But since I rarely make mistakes... Mhhutchins 06:15, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, you can also delete and change your tags, so in a way it is a "Tag Editor", although it is limited to the tags that you have added. Perhaps we should change the title to "Edit My Tags"? Ahasuerus 04:36, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps we should empower moderators to delete other editors' tags if they are in error or otherwise inappropriate, e.g. "the best darn scifi book I have ever read!" Ahasuerus 04:31, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
P.S. And perhaps add a way to view "most recently added tags" to help identify inappropriate tags. Ahasuerus 04:50, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
Or perhaps both. There are very many inappropriate tags IMO. such as "2009 books to read", etc. At least now I can leave a note on the page of the editor who created the bad tags that the author was referring to. It's the same editor who added all those "to read" tags. I'm pretty sure he was aware he'd made a mistake but wasn't aware, like me, that the one who adds can also edit a tag. Unfortunately, he only shows up every other blue moon. Thanks. Mhhutchins 06:15, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
Back when Al began implementing tags (following Amazon's and others' lead) we discussed just how much control we wanted to give editors. There was some concern about vandalism, but in the end we decided that we would leave things wide open and see how the functionality would end up being used.
Based on what we have seen so far, vandalism hasn't been a problem. However, it has also become clear that tags are being used for at least three different reasons:
  • To add subject information like "alternate history", which was the original intent
  • To add factual information that the database doesn't currently support, e.g. "guardian best sf&f novels"
  • To add user-specific information like "to read 1977"
I am thinking that the third type of usage does add to the usefulness of the database (as far as the tagger is concerned), but it's not something that other users would be normally interested in. A reasonably happy compromise would be to add a "Private" check-box to the "Tag Editor" page. When checked, it would prevent the tag from appearing on the Title and Summary Bibliography pages when other users view them. What do you think? Ahasuerus 04:50, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
I think it's a very reasonable solution to the problem. Can it be made retroactive? Or at least allow a moderator the power to convert such blatantly personal tags? Mhhutchins 05:24, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
I think I once submitted a change to allow Mods the ability to remove inappropriate or redundant tags - mostly due to "Award" tags that hopefully can be entered as proper awards now. It might be worth revisiting. BLongley 17:33, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
It would take just one database command to make all "to read ..." tags private/personal, which should take care of 50+% (?) of the problem tags. Going forward, we could add a moderator-only "Edit Other Users' Tags" page which would allow moderators to delete inappropriate tags and/or make them private/personal. Thankfully, it's not that hard to implement. Ahasuerus 06:34, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
FR 3582080 created. Ahasuerus 02:38, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. Mhhutchins 04:19, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

Clone Pub and Import/Export display fixed

All Web pages which used to say "New Publication" or "NewPub" instead of "Clone Pub", "Add Pub" and "Import/Export" have been fixed. This includes "My Recent Edits", "My Pending Edits", "My Rejected Edits", edit pages and moderator approval pages. Or at least I hope I have found/fixed all of them. Ahasuerus 04:48, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for this! Chavey 03:02, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
You are welcome! Unfortunately, the way the software is currently written, many minor changes like this one take a relatively long time to implement without messing other things up. My hope is that a partial rewrite (currently tentatively planned for early 2013) will make developers much more productive. But first we need to fix these pesky bugs and wrap up language/award support. Ahasuerus 04:33, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
I was expecting that "minor" change to be a fairly substantial one. It looked like one of those that was like pulling on a vine: it had tendrils all over the place. But I certainly appreciate the pace lately. In the last two months, 2 of my bug reports and 2 of my feature requests have been completed. Impressive! Chavey 13:02, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, that was exactly the idea behind my retirement: stop working 12 hour days at work and start spending 12 hours a day on ISFDB :-) Hopefully the next few months will be at least as productive (barring health problems and/or a zombie apocalypse.) Ahasuerus 17:54, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
This is great news. I am very curious about your mentioning and proposal for a possible rewrite. I would definitely like to be in on the design process. Uzume 16:21, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
What I had in mind didn't really envision a "redesign", just a partial rewrite of the existing software. We need to separate the business logic from the user interface, eliminate code duplication (date handling!) and move most of the logic to the existing (and a few yet to be defined) classes. It will make development and maintenance much MUCH easier, e.g. we will no longer have to deal with issues like Bug 1743290, which we haven't been able to fix in the last 5 years. But this discussion is probably getting too technical for the Community Portal... Ahasuerus 18:15, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
Well I cannot see why the community cannot be more involved in development but you are right this might not be the best place for such a discussion. Uzume 06:28, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Many of our editors are not developers, so terms like "classes" and even "code duplication" mean little to them. Of course, everyone can be involved in making decisions about the way the software behaves. Ahasuerus 17:55, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Even if a total rewrite was to be considered I would recommend an overhaul/cleanup before just to be able to manage such and as a starting point. You mention "separate the business logic from the user interface" and I assume you mean more long the lines of model–view–controller (MVC). Uzume 06:28, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
MVC is one way to do it, but the basic principle is that you don't mix database access and the user interface. The fact that this principle was poorly understood and/or not adhered to in the past cost my clients quite literally billions of dollars over the last few decades. Ahasuerus 17:55, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Of course, that is the basic principles of encapsulation and data hiding also sometimes called modularization or separation of concerns, etc. Uzume 18:04, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
It's a basic principle now, but it wasn't so basic 30-40 years ago when the software that I worked with (and the languages that it was written in) were designed :) Ahasuerus 19:24, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

Random House and Penguin announce intent to merge

For those of you interested, this announcement came out this morning. This would create one company, named "Penguin Random House", that controls 25% of the global market of books. The New York Times article on the proposed merger is available here. Chavey 02:59, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

And Disney is buying LucasFilms, which also apparently means a new Star Wars movie in 2015. Ahasuerus 00:37, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

Import/Export Content fixed

Import/Export Content should not longer generate a Python error when you enter an invalid tag. Which brings us down to 60 open Bugs on SourceForge. Ahasuerus 07:46, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

So I obviously need to get busy with testing again and find all the cases where stuff fails and submit a bunch more. Great work! Uzume 20:53, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Slow Server

The server has been extremely slow, starting last night and into this morning. Is this hurricane-related? Mhhutchins 15:23, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

It looks like everything is back to normal. I didn't see much of a slowdown between midnight and 4am EDT, so perhaps the problem was somewhere between your ISP and the server? When major disruptions occur, it can be hard to tell what exactly is going on since traffic can get rerouted in unusual ways... Ahasuerus 17:49, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Earlier today I was getting so many time-outs that I just gave up. It appears to be back to normal now. Mhhutchins 00:49, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

V. C. Andrews books

We have 45 novels in the db attributed to V. C. (Virginia) Andrews. Of those, 6 were actually written by her, 1 was largely written by her, but completed by Andrew Neiderman. The other 38 were written by Neiderman either "organized and completed" by him from Andrews' notes, or (in most cases) created in whole by him "inspired by her storytelling genius." My impression is that: (1) we should not try to distinguish these two categories of novels; (2) that all of these last 39 novels should be attributed to both authors in the title recs; (3) that the publication records should list only Andrews. Is that correct? Many, but not all, of the books are listed this way. It does, however, give an "incorrect" view of V. C. Andrews on her bibliography page, since all the books are listed there as if they had been written by her alone. Chavey 16:02, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Author credit in title records must match the author credit in the publication records. That's an ISFDB given. When they don't match, there's a cleanup script that finds them. I run it often and have to correct about a dozen publication records every month (other moderators may be doing this too, so more of these may occur than I'm aware of.)
To correct the problem: all of the titles (not pubs) which are credited to "V. C. Andrews" and written by Neiderman must be varianted to a parent title record giving Neiderman sole credit. Despite ISFDB standards do NOT make Neiderman into a pseudonym for Andrews. That shouldn't be done when one living author is credited with the works of another living author. The varianting will move the titles to Neiderman's summary page, removing them from Andrews' page. Mhhutchins 16:09, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
Mike, I see you've just done a massive cleanup of V.C. Andrews bibliography, so it now reflects the books she's actually written. Thanks much for correcting this. Chavey 18:11, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) Let me re-post what I wrote about the V. C. Andrews situation back in June:

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)

I agree that it's going to cause some concern for both users and editors. Users won't know to go the true author's page, and editors will try to enter new records because they're not visible on the credited author's page. That could be easily corrected if we were able to enter notes which are visible on an author's Summary page. In this case, we could explain the relationship and send the user (and editor) to the proper data as published. This approach would be much more simpler than creating a new set of rules that make exceptions to the current standard by adding both names ("ghost" and "ghostee") to the canonical title records (that would be the ones I've just created by making Neiderman the actual author of books that did not appear on his title page.) Mhhutchins 19:18, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
BTW, it's pretty well established that V. C. Andrews wrote 7 novels (the first four Dollanganger novels, the first two Casteel novels and My Sweet Audrina), and had started 2 more before her death (the fifth Dollanganger and the third Casteel). All other works were "inspired" by her work, but didn't have a single word written by her. This is reflected in how the ISFDB currently handles the titles. Mhhutchins 19:30, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
So structuring (say) Web of Dreams as an (Andrews pub/Andrews title/VT of a Neiderman title) fails to show it on Andrews' page at all. That is less than optimal for the reasons Ahasuerus points out. Creating it as an (Andrews pub/Andrews title/VT of an Andrews+Neiderman title) shows it on Andrews' page as by her with no indication that it was ghost-written, and no way to discover that fact. (The bibliography page doesn't show Neiderman's name. Clicking the title takes you to an Andrews title rec that doesn't show it as a VT of a Neiderman title.) This is much less than optimal: no ISFDB user can discover it was ghost-written, and editors like me who find this out from the book's copyright page then waste lots of time tracking things down and trying to enter new recs that are already there, but can't be found (without a full title search). Both of these options seem wrong. I have no good suggestion for the correct approach. The best I can think of is to use the former approach (Mike's solution), then create empty title recs for the other 38 Andrews titles, each containing no pubs but containing notes that say (essentially) "She didn't write this! See Andrew Neidermann." Chavey 22:41, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
But those 38 Andrews titles written by Neiderman already have title records. Just look here. If we could place a link to this page in a prominent position on V. C. Andrews' summary page (not just the "Show All Titles" link in the side menu), with a note of explanation, we wouldn't have to create 38 false (and duplicate) title records. Also, you say "no ISFDB user can discover it was ghost-written". That fact is true for all ghost-written titles in the database. That sort of information can only be given in the title's note fields. The same is true for all pseudonymously published work. Look at the page for Paul French. There's no titles listed, so the average user wouldn't know which titles of Asimov were published under the French byline. (He might even attempt to add new publication records for books published by French.) Even looking at Asimov's summary page, a user has to work to get to the publication records for the French novels. An average db user might consider this a failure of the database. I see no reason why the titles couldn't at least be displayed on the pseudonym's summary page. (BTW, copyright isn't always reliable as an indicator of ghost-written work. For example, Byron Preiss held the copyright to almost all the work he published that was written by and credited to the actual authors.) Mhhutchins 23:52, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, those title recs for the ghost-written books "as by V. C. Andrews" exist; they're just not visible from Andrews' page. I agree with you that this is a problem for all ghost-written books when we cannot use a pseudonym (books ghost-written as "Daisy Meadows" are easily traced back to the author, because we can pseudonym them). It is not a problem with Paul French, because that page links to Asimov's page. I agree with you that a better solution would be to put a note on the "falsely" credited author's page about the issue, and pointing to the ghost-writer, but I don't think we currently have the capability to do that. (Assuming that no one reads the wiki pages attached to the writer. In the case of Andrews, those pages don't tell us anything about the ghost-writer anyway.) I was only contemplating a work-around until/unless such a capability becomes available.
I agree with you that a simple copyright statement does not necessarily tell us that the book was written by the copyright holder. But the later Andrews' books include a statement on the copyright page that the book was actually written by Andrews after her death, but rather that it was written by a "carefully selected author" to carry on her legacy. That's what I was referring to. Chavey 03:52, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
I have just installed a patch that changed the behavior of pseudonym pages. Take a look at the Paul French page -- is this better? (I also fixed the way Advanced Search pages are displayed when JavaScript is disabled in the browser, but most people won't notice the difference.) Ahasuerus 05:39, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Wonderful feature. Thanks. Now if we could only get a similar link at the top of V. C. Andrews' summary page. :) Mhhutchins 18:38, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
As far as ghost-written titles go, that's a much larger can of worms and I'll have to think about it some more after I get over my flu. For now, my thinking is that the way we have William Shatner's ghost-written titles organized is still the safest bet short of changing the software. The Shatner page shows that the "Quest for Tomorrow" titles were written "with W. T. Quick", but appeared "only as by William Shatner". Similarly, the first five Tekwar books were written "with Ron Goulart", but appeared "only as by William Shatner". This way we make it easy for users to find the titles on both Summary pages and we don't claim that Shatner's involvement didn't amount to real collaboration (which may or may not have been the case.) Ahasuerus 05:39, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
In general I am a bit leery about making strong claims re: the "ghostee"'s contributions (or lack thereof), which may be difficult to substantiate. For example, Paul W. Fairman wrote a number of books which appeared under Lester del Rey's name, but SFE3 and other sources state that del Rey had given Fairman plot outlines. Is that still ghostwriting or does it rise to the level of collaboration? And what if Neiderman had found a rudimentary plot outline in Andrews's papers and turned it into a novel (which I seem to recall was the claim on the backs of some "V. C. Andrews" books)? Ahasuerus 05:39, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
The V. C. Andrews book I'm looking at now says "Following the death of Virginia Andrews, the Andrews family worked with a carefully selected author to organize and complete Virginia Andrews' stories and to create new novels, of which this is one, inspired by her storytelling genius. (Emphasis mine) That last phrase is pretty convincing that this book was written by Neiderman out of whole cloth, with no basis in Andrews' notes. In general I agree with you on the Shatner solution, and how we handle the Kuttner/Moore collaborations, I'm just not sure it's the right thing with Andrews. Chavey 13:35, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
As discussed before, it's already been established who is the true author and who is the credited author. The problem is how to display them. I personally feel we should not make an exception to the current ISFDB standard of varianting the title record crediting the stated author to a new one crediting the true author. If we credit both authors in the parent title record we saying that both authors wrote the story but only one was credited. Mhhutchins 18:38, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
<google, google> Hm, the Andrews situation may be even murkier than I thought. Our Garden of Shadows record currently states that "Andrews started this novel before her death and it was completed by Neiderman". However, reading the text of "Estate of Virginia C. Andrews, Deceased, etc., v. United States of America" (1994), I find the following findings by the district judge:
  • Niederman [...] read all of Andrews' previous works, entered the texts of those works into a computer and analyzed Andrews' writing style and her plot, style and character development techniques. Niederman then produced an outline and several pages of ghostwritten text for the prequel to "Flowers In The Attic" which he submitted for review by Pocket Books.
So apparently there was no Andrews manuscript or even an outline for Garden of Shadows. According to the judge, she was too ill even to do final editing on Dark Angel, which had to be done by Ann Patty, an editor at Pocket Books. Moreover, the judge indicated that the following public statement made by the publisher:
  • When Virginia became seriously ill while writing the Casteel series, she began to work even harder, hoping to finish as many stories as possible so that her fans could one day share them. Just before she died we promised ourselves that we would take all of these wonderful stories and make them available to her readers.
was "promotional", i.e. not true, and the judge even commented on "the ethics of publishing this statement".
So it looks like the whole thing was a fabrication and there were no "collaborative" Andrews/Niederman books, only books written by Andrews and then a whole bunch of books written by Niederman from scratch. Which, I suppose, is as good an illustration of the problems inherent in the process of ferreting out ghostwriters as any... Ahasuerus 20:06, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

[Unindent] All this goes to show is that we should only record these titles as published and give up the attempt to determine who wrote what and when. Here's a question for anyone who has copies of the post 1986 novels credited to Andrews: Is Andrew Neiderman mentioned at all in any of the 61 novels by "V. C. Andrews" published after her death? If we can't prove Neiderman wrote them, why even create variants at all? How do we know if the Andrews estate or even Neiderman himself may have farmed out the duties to other writers? (Like R. L. Stine.) At this point, I'm willing to break the Neiderman relationship altogether and go back to entering the records as published, adding notes to the title fields to record the possible true author but without varianting the records. That would solve the problem entirely, IMHO. The books would be displayed on the credited author's page, and we could be done with the whole matter. How can we straighten it out when judges and courts have to be brought into the situation? Mhhutchins 06:45, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

I feel your pain, I honestly do. However, keep in mind that this is not a unique situation. Many ghostwriters and many people behind house names are contractually prohibited from disclosing their identities, so it can take many years, sometimes decades, before we find out who wrote what when. Much of the time, it happens when the publisher's archive becomes available to researches and they go over contracts and payment records. The findings are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate since, as you noted, it's possible that a particular work was sub-contracted to a third party, but they are usually as close to "truth" as we can get short of reviewing private letters (e.g. the Eando Binder situation.) On balance, I think we want to go with the best information available to us -- how we display it is a different question, though.
Normally, we want all "Pseudonym" pages to be empty and to point to the real author(s)' canonical name(s). With ghostwriters it's impossible since the "ghostee" (in this case V. C. Andrews) may have legitimate titles to her name. I am beginning to think that what we need is a new check-box on the Edit Title page. We can call it "Ghostwritten" and, when it's checked, it will tell the software to display the title on the Summary page of the ghostee as well as on the ghost's Summary page. I will have to think about the implementation details, though. Ahasuerus 07:49, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
I strongly agree with the statement "On balance, I think we want to go with the best information available to us", recognizing that new information may become available later. The main V.C. Andrews fansites, at CompleteVCA and VCAndrews both agree that the (apparent) sole ghostwriter is Andrew Neiderman. The later site does not appear to address the issue of which books were written by Neiderman and which deserve to be credited to both. The CompleteVCA web site has an entire page devoted to the issue. The Wikipedia page appears to be the conclusions from that page. I think that something we can provide to the spec fic community is to pull together the best data available from the web sites built by the fans obsessed with specific authors, and incorporate their knowledge into ours -- with appropriate disclaimers in the "Bibliographic Comments" that our sources may be non-authoritative, and (in this case) the information that Ahaseuras lists from the trial that may argue against the conclusions of the Andrews fan pages.
Mike, I have 9 of the post-death books by V.C. Andrews, all but 1 first printings. None of them mention Andrew Neiderman. (But the links from the web page listed in my previous paragraph include authoritative statements that he ghostwrote many of those books.) Of those 9 books, 2 say nothing about her death, except that the copyright is assigned to the "Virginia C. Andrews Trust" (Dawn, 1990) and to the "Vanda General Partnership" (Broken Flower, 2006). All others have the statement I quoted above that "the Andrews family worked with a carefully selected author to organize and complete Virginia Andrews' stories and to create new novels, of which this is one, inspired by her storytelling genius. Chavey 18:06, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the info about how the books are actually credited. I would have thought that Neiderman was at least acknowledged with a "Special Thanks" like some ghostwritten books. I guess they don't want to burst the bubble of unsuspecting (read: ignorant) fans. Mhhutchins 19:45, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, you'd never think that we'd look at Daisy Meadows fondly for how easy it is to figure out ghostwriters, would you? :-) Chavey 08:03, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I just realized that there is a very small reference to Neiderman in the books. After a certain point the books are always copyright by "The Vanda General Partnership". This is clearly "V and A", and I originally thought the "A" was for "Andrews", but that doesn't make grammatical sense. So this is clearly a contraction of "The Verginia and Andrew" partnership. Chavey 14:15, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
FR 3583939 created. It may take me some time to get to it, though. I'd like to clean up the (rather convoluted) software which drives the Summary Page display logic before I make it any more complex. Ahasuerus 07:39, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Ok, I'll verify the 9 books that I have and leave notes about the actual authorship as we know it. (Done) Chavey 08:03, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I've added a kluge that appears after the list of Andrews novels to let users who might come here know what's going on. If you think that kluge is inappropriate, feel free to delete it. But it seemed like a reasonable idea at 2 in the morning :-) Chavey 08:22, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
That's what I proposed above, but that it appear before the list of titles. Now, what is a "kluge" and how did you do it? Mhhutchins 16:04, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Kluge: "a software or hardware configuration that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task." Darrah's "kluge" was to create this title record, which looks like a reasonable compromise. Ahasuerus 18:49, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Yup, that definition of "kluge" describes what I did pretty well :-). The trick was to put html code into the name of the book; one tag was the </a> at the beginning of the title name, to prevent the link that would take you to the (fake) title rec, then using html tags around Neiderman's name to take you to his bibliography. And then using html tags to make the whole "title" bold. Thus the entire "title" is really:
</a><b>For other books credited to V.C. Andrews, see her ghostwriter, <a href="">Andrew Neiderman</b></a>
We could put it above the "Novels" by changing the "date" on the book, but that wouldn't put it above the Fiction Series (without another kluge). Putting it at the end of the novels puts it down in the range where a prospective reader would be looking for one of those books. Chavey 22:18, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm bowled over by this clever "fix". And I now have a new word in my vocabulary. Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:44, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed my kluge, and the new word! (And Ahaseurus, that's a great definition for the word.) Chavey 15:48, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
I've added a "what we know" summary to the Bibliographic Comments page for V. C. Andrews. Chavey 15:28, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
And Mike improved it. Chavey 22:20, 5 November 2012 (UTC)


Well I at first tried to renamed Ballantine to "Ballantine Books" and Bluesman rejected with «"Books" never appears on the title page or spine and rarely in the printing statements, not a good or accurate change». I then tried to renamed Ballantine Books to "Ballantine" and Mhhutchins rejected with «Too many verified books under this publisher name. Start a discussion on the Community Portal.»

So here I am at the portal asking if there is a good reason to have these two publishers separate as I believe they are in fact the same publisher and I was trying to get one renamed to the other before submitting a merge. I am soliciting a consensus. Thank you. Uzume 16:07, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

I agree that Ballantine should be changed to "Ballantine Books" and merged with Ballantine Books, but I'm not going to make a unilateral decision when there are hundreds of verified records. That's why I suggested a discussion, and a consensus be reached before making such a change. Bluesman was not accurate when he said "Books" is not part of their name. It's on every title page of every book they ever published. I usually base publisher credit from the title page and not the spine. I don't know if there is a documented preference in the ISFDB help pages. Mhhutchins 16:14, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
There are several instances where a publisher tends to use one variant of their name for some years, and then switches over to using a different variant of their name. When this is done consistently, it seems like there could be some value in tracking this difference. I don't know if it happens with Ballantine, and I don't know if this argument is sufficient to override the simplicity of combining everything into one name, but it should at least be considered before such a merge. Chavey 18:17, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
I know of no time in its 60 year history that this publisher didn't consistently give its name as "Ballantine Books". In some cases publishers will change their name (look at the work I did in separating the titles published by Scribner's.) but it's not the case here. Mhhutchins 19:22, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Michael, it's always been "Ballantine Books" on the title page and mostly "Ballantine" on cover & spine. I could live with one or the other name and an explanation in the not field. As for Scribner you saw it after I had spent a few nights sorting it out. It was still a mess but not the 20 to 30 different publishers names I found and all mixed up like a dogs breakfast:-)Kraang 01:49, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, it's been a week without further comment, so I suppose the requested change is not controversial. I'll give it another day or so and then merge the publishers. Mhhutchins 19:33, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Pseudonyms now new and improved!

Don't know who added it (Ahaseurus?), but I love the "new and improved" pseudonym listing, which allows you to either go to the canonical name's page, or just get a listing of all works listed under that pseudonym, as with Paul French, or with some particular alternate spelling, as with Judith Merrill, etc. Nice! Chavey 05:35, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

Guilty as charged. I mentioned it in my response in the V. C. Andrews discussion above, which took me a while to write because of the flu. Hopefully I still agree with myself after the fever breaks! Ahasuerus 05:42, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Those features were always there but it seems alternative links now make these "front and center" for pseudonyms which seems very useful. I particularly do not like how all the edit feature links are way down on the left sidebar which require excessive scrolling. Why these things are not in say pull-down menus across the top or some other more useful layout I cannot say. Uzume 06:50, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
It was a design decision made early in the process. In retrospect, pull-down menus at the top of each page would have been better and more consistency would have been better yet. I have played with CSS menus (FR 3582708) a bit and they seem workable, just need to spend the requisite man-hours to get it done. Ahasuerus 17:37, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, I do believe one or more sidebars can be useful but they become less useful when they get very long, especially with respect to the main content. I am sure a similar argument could be made for any menu system that was much larger to the right of the main content as well. Also sidebars cut into the possible width for the main content. I am not sure about so called pure CSS menus. Don't they still have to interact via the pointer/mouse (if you are going to redesign it, at least think about mobile touch screens)? As such, they will likely also have to have at least some Javascript. Uzume 18:02, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
It's possible to create a drop-down menu (even a multi-level drop-down menu) with just plain CSS. For example, if you navigate to this page and hover over the words "css/edge" on the left or the "meyerweb" menu on the right, you will see what it can look like. And if you disable JS for, everything will still work the same way, apparently even in Lynx, although I haven't tested it. Ahasuerus 19:20, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Ahh, you mean using CSS hover but as the article suggests this is not supported unilaterally by standards and browser implementations. You would likely have to support JS for some platforms anyway. So what does MITSFS use? Would this work for them of it is not necessary for such? Uzume 23:08, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
It wasn't supported by IE when the article was written (years ago), but as far as I know it's currently supported by all modern browsers, including IE, Firefox and Chrome -- try it using different browsers and you will see. (And MITSFS uses Lynx. They are, well, hard core.) Ahasuerus 06:41, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Lynx supports cookies but not JS. I cannot imagine it supports CSS correctly or completely. I am not sure what its caching support is either (with regard to say Etag, etc.) I like Lynx and sometimes use it myself. I wish it would get updated to use libcurl though. Uzume 06:13, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
According to the linked page, Lynx would ignore CSS and just use the ul codes, but I haven't checked the current behavior. Which reminds me that I need to install Lynx... Ahasuerus 19:46, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
And as much a I understand wanting to have as much backwards compatibility as possible, the Python code already uses/requires JS for editing (e.g., pubs). I do not think it would be a hardship to say all editing required JS. One could have generic navigational links say in the sidebar still and have editing links in menus across the top or some such. My idea (obviously for a redesign not just FR adjustment/update) is basically to use/require JS for anything that requires a login while still having support for DB viewing/indexing, etc. without JS. That said, at this point this sort of discussion perhaps would be better moved to another venue (e.g., the develop discussion pages). Uzume 18:02, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
If we require JavaScript to log in, then User Preferences will require JavaScript as well. Unfortunately, some of our most active users, e.g. MITSFS, do not use JavaScript, so it would limit their ability to use the database. Ahasuerus 19:20, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I was just reading your email. I see user preferences as a problem but it might be gotten around with query string (or cookies). I assume you mean such preferences like language selection. Uzume 20:32, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, language selection, Web site selection, concise publication display preference and anything else that we may want to add to the User Preferences page. Ahasuerus 01:37, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
For computation and caching reasons I would like to be able to design-in a way for the content to appear the same for all users at any one point in time and only appear different via JS but as I said some allowances could be made for preferences without being logged-in for example. Uzume 20:32, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Before we start exploring this path, could you please clarify what additional functionality you would like to use JS for? Ahasuerus 01:37, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Well for starters I was thinking to add HTTP ETag support. If one used JS one could also reduce the many Python edit and mod pages needed to get things done with static JS code that could use a web API (possibly a more fleshed out and same API as Fixer and other bots, etc.). I thought it made sense to have submissions made and handled through a consolidated web API that the web pages also used via JS. This will ultimately reduce complexity and redundancy of code on the API side and the web application etc. Basically think of the web application as a front end to the web API just like any other program that might use the same API. Uzume 02:26, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Oh, I see. Well, it would be certainly advantageous to consolidate the regular editing/moderating API and the Web API, but that's a lot of work. Perhaps it will be a more manageable task once we finish the "partial rewrite" discussed above. Ahasuerus 04:23, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
I do not think fleshing out the web API would be that much work. Revamping our current web application to make use of such would be considerably more work but it does not have to happen over night. Uzume 11:12, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I was referring to the Web application component as the hard part. We will need to enhance the Web API to make it more functional anyway -- there is at least one FR asking for beefed up functionality. Ahasuerus 18:08, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Speaking of which, I wonder about the current web API authentication mechanism. Why was this done differently from the web application? Is there some reason why using cookies is hard for a web application? Frankly, the extra "License Key" does not really make much sense to me. Why force that to be placed in the submission document (which is not used elsewhere) when it can be in the HTTP header (even the URL as a query string though that normally is slightly less secure due to such commonly being captured in for example logs). Uzume 03:08, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
Hm... I am not sure why Al did it this way, but perhaps he thought that it would make it easier for robots running on standalone servers to submit data? For example, Dissembler, Al's original robot, runs under Unix and has no access to a browser. Of course, you could create an ISFDB account, sign in, grab the contents of your cookie and feed it to Dissembler, but perhaps Al thought a separate key would be easier? Or perhaps more intuitive since it's embedded in the XML payload? I guess we can ask Al. Ahasuerus 07:54, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
I am not sure what the availability of a browser on Unix has to do with a web API client app like Fixer (although there have been web browsers for Unix since long before Windows or Mac; the web was invented on Unix). Well, if the web API was expanded to allow a cookie login in a vane similar to the web application login (which could be made to use the API as I have suggested; the Mediawiki API has such but the Mediawiki app does not use the API--some security code/logic is shared however). This is partly my inspiration for suggesting a new web app interface using JS. It could use JS to login using the Mediawiki API and if they shared security cookies (since they share the same security data and DB), the web API could just check these cookies for login and the web app could dynamically update the client-side content to provide the login context and edit controls, etc. Uzume 23:08, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I just sent Al an e-mail; let's see if he remembers why a separate "License Key" was used. Ahasuerus 05:56, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
In addition, I am no JavaScript expert (a couple of years ago I taught myself just enough JavaScript to add validation to the Edit Title page), but you have to admit that it's a little worrisome when O'Reilly releases a book called "JavaScript: The Good Parts" :-) I don't know whether the author was right when he wrote that "In JavaScript, there is a beautiful, elegant, highly expressive language that is buried under a steaming pile of good intentions and blunders", but it doesn't exactly inspire confidence that we will be able to easily separate the beautiful from the ugly. Ahasuerus 04:23, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, it is hardly a new language and considering it would have to be agreed on to be in every browser it would sort of have to be older. It is a prototype-based programming language (like Lua) that has been standardized as ECMAScript. It has its issues but I do not think it is that hard. Uzume 11:12, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
JavaScript is no longer new -- and I am sure we would stick to an older, better supported subset of the language if we decided to use it -- but the real question is whether it's a well designed/easy to maintain language. Adding a non-trivial amount of JS to the code will also raise the bar for our volunteer developers who will need to know both Python and JS to do meaningful work. In general, a major rewrite is likely to be time consuming and will delay many fixes/enhancements, so we will want to make sure that the upside outweighs the downside (at least in the long run) before we start down the rewrite path. Ahasuerus 18:08, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
I agree there is a learning curve and the application works differently (much more heavily client-side vs. server side but that is good for resources from a server stand point, however, debugging could prove significantly different for example) but this does seem to be the way the world is going for numerous reasons. There are some possibilities for avoiding some of that by using things like Pyjamas for example. I cannot say I have much experience with such things or if that would even be the right way to go but it seems worth at least considering. When considering a true rewrite, it makes sense to embrace other things too like say Python 3 (which should among other things make Unicode/language support much easier once the DB is untangled on that count) and WSGI (for portability), etc. Uzume 03:08, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
Oh sure, once a true rewrite is on the table (whenever that may happen), we'll be considering all options. Some people have even suggested jettisoning Python and going with PHP or Java. Ahasuerus 07:57, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
Well I am not a fan of PHP (it was amazing in its day but methinks there are better things now; Python being one of them). Server-side Java is possible but not my first choice. Uzume 23:08, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

Login changes

I am about to install a small patch which will change the way logging in is processed internally. The patch should only affect the ISFDB side and not the Wiki side. The user-experienced behavior on both sides should remain the same. If something goes wrong and you can't log in on the ISFDB side, please describe the problem here. If you can't post on the Wiki side (which really shouldn't happen, but you never know), please e-mail me directly at ahasuerus (@at@) . Ahasuerus 04:04, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

The patch has been installed and everything looks OK so far. Ahasuerus 04:10, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

Brunner's The Bridge to Azrael (novella) vs. Endless Shadow (novel)

These two titles seem to be the same, that is: they only differ in the variant title. I'd propose to change Endless Shadow into a novella, so that both titles do have the same length. See here for the only publication of the novella and here for the only publication of the 'novel'. Stonecreek 14:05, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

The sources that I've consulted (Corrick & Stepheson-Payne) agree with your analysis, OK for me. Hauck 14:18, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
According to the printing history in Manshape (the revised and expanded version), the text of these two editions is the same. I have no problems with the change. --Willem H. 15:22, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
Tuck also agrees. I'm also fine with the change. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 15:45, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
The Manshape statements pretty much confirm the two are identical. Open this door a crack and the ACE Double may not be the same again, possibly a couple of hundred non-novels lurk there! I don't think the change will break anything, though if there are instances where both halves are novellas the Omnibus descriptive wouldn't apply. --~ Bill, Bluesman 16:58, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
We made an exception to the length rule for the halves of Ace Doubles, so I suppose there's no problem with making an exception to the exception. But as Bluesman says, if you change the NOVEL to a SHORTFICTION of one half, you may have to make the whole into an ANTHOLOGY if the other half is novella-length. An exception has also been made for its appearance in Amazing. Ordinarily, if a work is presented as a novel, it's entered as a SERIAL and titled in the form "Title (Complete Novel)". But I don't want to start a new battle of the Lengthists versus the Bookists. (Love that cover of Amazing. How could any SF fan be surprised at the ending of the film "Planet of the Apes"? What a rip-off! But then Hollywood has been ripping off literary SF works for decades.) Mhhutchins 18:24, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Thank you to you all for your opinions! So, I'll make the two works into items of corresponding length. Thanks to the novel the Ace Double can still be regarded as an OMNIBUS in this case. (But wouldn't be two novellas in summa be to short to make up a whole book?). Stonecreek 19:18, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

At an average of 250 pages per book, you would think at least one would be a novel, but that's not always true. There are some shorter books in which both halves are really novellas, like this one. Both of the works are written by the same author, and five editors have verified it as an OMNIBUS. Standards would make it a COLLECTION. Mhhutchins 19:41, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Regarding "Planet of the Apes": Well, if you'd expect a fantasy movie there could be some surprise involved - but I think the film was marketed as science fiction, wasn't it? So, nobody should have been surprised. Stonecreek 19:18, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

I saw the film on first run, and regardless of how it was marketed, most of the audience was surprised. Audiences these days may be more sophisticated, but back then there was an audible gasp. Mhhutchins 19:41, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Advanced Search improvements - patch r2012-42

Advanced Search has been tweaked a bit. Searches which include certain types of Unicode characters, e.g. "Szürkeszakáll" and "Jürgen", should work now. Please note that searches on short string including these Unicode characters, e.g. "Jü", will return spurious records in addition to what you would expect, but that's a separate problem, which also exists in the regular search logic. Also, searches that include Unicode (and many punctuation) characters fail beyond the first 100 hits -- I will be working on fixing that next. Ahasuerus 05:40, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

Duplicate Finder enhancements

The Duplicate Finder logic has been tweaked. The following changes are now live:

  • Variants are now selected as potential duplicates
  • Only titles with the exact same authors are selected, so if one story is by Kuttner and another one is by Kuttner and Moore, they will no longer be displayed even if the title is the same
  • Otherwise identical titles with different language codes, e.g. German and Italian, are no longer selected as potential duplicates. Otherwise identical titles with no language codes are still selected as potential duplicates
  • ESSAYs are no longer reported as potential duplicates of container titles (collections, non-fiction, chapterbooks and omnibuses)

Ahasuerus 04:31, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

"Charles Ogden"

According to Wikipedia, "Charles Ogden is the pen name used by a collection of authors at Star Farm Productions for the Edgar & Ellen book series for children and young adults". I haven't been able to find anything else about this mysterious "collection of authors". Any suggestions? Ahasuerus 06:08, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Unlike those published by our good friend "Daisy Meadows" or the Rogue Angel books by "Alex Archer", these books don't have a "Special Thanks" or any other acknowledgement of the true author as seen in the Amazon Look-Insides. I couldn't find a devoted fan site unlike the one for "James Axler" and the Deathlands series. We may just have to let this sleeping dog lie. Mhhutchins 17:02, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
I would be careful about trusting that information on Wikipedia. The author entry was changed to contain the pen name information on 2009-09-01 by a user who used the open editing. The new information was by an anonymous user and added no citations and it post dated the the badge requesting citations from 2009-March. I just created an account here and was looking at the portal section to learn how issues were resolved when I saw this. I always check the edit history on wiki pages that have no citations. At one point recently a user reverted some comments that were deemed vandalism. The change I noted above predated that the vandalism change by 2 years and several edits. I have not reverted the changes there because I do not have any referable references for either case but I have alerted the user who resolved reverted the last vandalism issue. The original data for the page seemed to come from the About the Author page of some books. Rowan 05:36, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Good catch, thanks! I guess we'll just have to do what Michael suggested above -- "let this sleeping dog lie" until more information becomes available. Ahasuerus 05:50, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Pseudonym differentiation

A few days ago the issue of "author name variations" came up on the Rules and Standards page. It turns out that some other sites like Discogs distinguish between true pseudonyms (or "aliases") and "name variations" -- see this Help page for an explanation of the differences. If we were to use the same approach in our field, "Robert Heinlein" and "R. A. Heinlein" would become "name variations" while "Anson MacDonald" and "Lyle Monroe" would become aliases.

I have been thinking about this approach and I think it's both useful and not that hard to implement. However, before we can create a Feature Request, there are (at least) a couple of issues that we need to hammer out:

  • How many types of pseudonyms do we want to support? "Name variations" are pretty obvious, but do we want a separate type of pseudonym for "translated names" like "Julio Verne" and "Julius Verne"? What about "collective pseudonym" and "house name"? Any other, more obscure cases?
  • Can we get away with setting this flag at the pseudonym level or do we need to do it at the variant title level? Obviously, doing it at the pseudonym level would be much easier, but what about names which have been used both as house names and as personal names? I think they are fairly rare, so the pseudonym sub-type which fits the situation best seems like a fairly harmless fudge.

Ahasuerus 06:29, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

I should probably clarify that at this time I am only thinking about changing the way pseudonyms are displayed at the top of the Summary page and on the Name Search and Author Search pages. For example, it would say "Translated name. See: Jules Verne (or view all titles by this name here)" on the Julio Verne page. Conversely, the Jules Verne page would make it clear that "Giulio Verne" and "Julio Verne" are translated names rather than pseudonyms. Ditto collective pseudonyms etc. Ahasuerus 07:18, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
A very nice feature to implement! Personally, I'd file the translated names under name variations, see for example the now many 'pseudonyms' of the Strugatskys. This way, you'd have only two categories and, for me, translated names are just variations. Stonecreek 09:28, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
As with Stonecreek, I'd probably go with a "minimal" set of pseudonym types. But I am at least somewhat attracted to more differentiation. If we go that way, I think there might be an advantage in distinguishing "Misspelling" from "Deliberate name variation". Judith Merrill (with two l's) is one that jumps to mind, but I know I've seen many other examples. When Cecelia Tan signed a book for me once, the first thing she did was go to the table of contents and correct the spelling of her name. Authors, I suspect, would like to see the distinction between these two types of "Name variants". But I think that sometimes it would be a hard call to decide if something was, say, a "Translated name" or a "Misspelled name". (E.g. the Italian story credited to James jr. Tiptree.) And the more categories we have, the more boundaries we have where some names will have arguments to be put into either category. Chavey 15:16, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
I agree with the others: this is a very welcome feature. And I further agree that there should only be two categories: 1) true pseudonyms and 2) alternate names. The first category, e.g. "Lewis Padgett", "Paul French", "Anson MacDonald", "William Atheling, Jr.", "Edson McCann"; and in the second category: misspellings ("Judith Merrill"), variations ("H. Kuttner"), and translations ("Julio Verne"). Breaking down the second category further would only create more "noise" on an author's summary page. (Speaking of which, has anyone ever suggested moving interviews out of the header?) Mhhutchins 16:51, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it's FR 3201563: "As per Wiki discussion, move interviews to a separate section and display the interviewer(s)' and co-interviewee(s)' name(s)." Ahasuerus 22:06, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
There might need to be some discussion on borderline cases: is "Iain M. Banks" a pseudonym or a variation (I'd argue it to be a pseudonym). Otherwise, I think most cases should be pretty clear. Mhhutchins 16:51, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
This is very nice Denis 19:03, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, FR 3585472 has been created. We can always add more pseudonym types later if we decide that more granularity is desirable. Now, what do we want to call "name variations"? "Alternate name"? Something else? Ahasuerus 22:06, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

ISFDB hacked?

When I go to the author editor for an editor, the heading for "Email Address" for the author now has become a link to Maxwebsearch to search for information about email addresses. Meanwhile, the "Web Page 1" gives me a popup window that tells me either how to make money from home, or else how to find my credit score. Something's wrong right here in River City. On the main page, "Search the database" also has a mouseover telling me how to make money at home. Chavey 05:29, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Checking. (I installed a patch 10 minutes ago, which presumably didn't have anything to do with it, but you never know.) Ahasuerus 05:34, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
It appears that this may be my machine that's been infiltrated, and not a problem on ISFDB. I'll check more. Chavey 05:45, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Hm, I am not seeing what you are seeing. Is it possible that someone is injecting advertising content between the point where ISFDB generates pages and the point where your browser receives them, e.g. some kind of man in the middle attack? Could the client side (PC, router, WiFi, etc) have been compromised? Edit: Got it! Ahasuerus 05:46, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
It was my machine, and I found the offending application. I had installed a new torrent application, and it had subverted my browser, adding advertising links to it. Sorry about the false alarm. Chavey 05:57, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Not a problem, glad the culprit has been identified! Ahasuerus 06:18, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Further language enhancements - Patch r2012-44

The latest patch has fixed a few language-related issues:

  • Reviews no longer show their language if the reviewed title's language code is not set
  • If a translation has the same title as the parent, e.g. see various translations of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris and Eden, the translated title's language is now displayed on the Summary page.
  • If there is only one translation (or at least only one translation eligible for display based on User Preferences) and its title is the same as the title of the parent record, the Summary page now displays the translation on a separate line instead of displaying a bogus "also as" line.

In addition, the way languages are handled behind the scenes has been changed, which should make the software slightly faster. Even more importantly, it should make it easier to implement future language-related changes.

The changes were fairly extensive, so if you see anything unusual, please report your findings here. Ahasuerus 05:54, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Nice. I see this works only on the author's summary page, and not on the publication page. For example: this publication that contains a German translation of a Michael Bishop story and retains the original title. There's no way of knowing this on the publication page. Is there a way to fix that display as well? Mhhutchins 06:37, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Good point -- Bug 3585632 created. Ahasuerus 06:53, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Non-genre and "associational" items

A few weeks ago we discussed the way we handle non-genre titles. The consensus was that we wanted to be able to enter non-genre stories, anthologies, collections, etc and not just non-genre novels. I was going to create a FR for this change, but then it occurred to me that first we may want to clarify the desired behavior.

It's fairly clear that the way to expand our support for non-genre titles is to add a new field, "non-genre", to Title records. However, it leaves (at least) two other questions unanswered:

  • Do we want to limit the values of the new "non-genre" field to "Yes" and "No"? Or do we want to add a third value, "associational" in the sense used by Clute/Nicholls/Grant/etc? For example, one could argue that a mystery set at a science fiction convention is more profitably listed as an "associational story" rather than simply "non-genre".
  • Currently NONGENRE titles are displayed in a separate section of the Summary page. What is the desired behavior of the Summary page once we add support for non-genre stories, collections, etc? To use collections as an example, do we want to (1) display non-genre collections together with genre collections? If so, should they be (a) displayed all together or (b) broken up into two (three if you count "associational" collections) sub-sections? Or (2) should we display all non-genre titles at the bottom of the Summary page, probably further breaking them down by title type?

Ahasuerus 06:44, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

I'm not so sure why we need an "associational" category. Isn't that already implied in allowing non-genre work into the db? A work that is not spec-fic has to be associated with the genre for two reasons: it is written by a spec-fic writer (above the threshold) or is reviewed in a spec-fic periodical. Is there any other reason for allowing a non-genre work into the db? Your example of a mystery that is set at a sf convention could possibly squeak past the rules because of the association, but could be challenged as not eligible unless it were written by Isaac Asimov. :) So I would suggest sticking with the two genre separations. Mhhutchins 16:22, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
That's certainly true, but I think it may be beneficial to distinguish between purely "non-genre" works like Anthony Boucher's The Case of the Crumpled Knave and "associational" works. By "associational" I mean (and I hope I am not misremembering the way Clute and Co used the term) stories which have no SF elements, but are related to SF in some fashion, e.g. Boucher's Rocket to the Morgue or a story that first appears to be SF, but turns out to have a non-SF explanation. It's not a big deal and we can always add this feature later if and when we find it to be desirable. Ahasuerus 00:58, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
About display: there are so many categories of separation on an author's summary page, that doubling them in one fell swoop would be information overload. Why not have a distinct visual dividing line, and then below it list all non-genre titles alphabetically in one category? Each title would have an abbreviated category (N,C,A,O,SF) added to it parenthetically, the method we use now in series list. (Although I still occasionally confuse for a split second "SF" with "science fiction".) Mhhutchins 16:22, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, listing all non-genre titles alphabetically (or, more likely, chronologically to stay in synch with the way the rest of the Summary page works) would be one way to do it. However, we would then lose support for "non-genre series", which I find to be quite useful, e.g. see the way Lloyd Biggle, Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes novels currently appear.
I guess we could change the logic so that all series titles would appear first using the standard series display approach and non-series titles would appear second as a single non-differentiated chronological list. Ahasuerus 01:07, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, we'll leave it open-ended for now and sort out the details when we are ready to implement the feature. FR 3586257 has been created. Ahasuerus 23:37, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Cordwainer Smith titles in French translations

There are currently three titles on the summary page of Cordwainer Smith which appear to be English re-translations of titles published in French: The Cravat of Brilliant Stars ("La Rivière de brillantes étoiles", 40 pages), The Archer from the Deep ("L'Archer des profondeurs", 8 pages), and The Saga of the Third Sister ("La Saga de la troisième soeur", 22 pages). It's been 20 years since I read Smith, so I can not tie these titles to their original English titles. The first appears in a pub PV'd by Hauck, and the other two appear in an unverified collection. The internet has been no help whatsoever. Even a French sf database (Noosfere) couldn't find the English title. Is it possible that these stories were never published in English? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Mhhutchins 21:48, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

According to the bibliography by Goimard in _Tu seras un autre_, these texts were effectively never published in english (initially were added to this lot the revised version of _War No 81-Q_ and _Himself in Anachron_) and were obtained by Goimard (the editor) via the university of Kansas. As the manuscript were likely in english ;-) they can be said to have english titles. the first and the third seems to have been revised by Genevieve Linebarger (note that all the contents were entered -by me- in english as was the ISFDB usage at the time, their change back to french will be ùmade in the future). Hauck 22:04, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Wonderful news, three Cordwainer Smith stories I've never read. Now if I could only read French! A question: If these manuscripts were known to exist in 1987, why didn't NESFA include them in their "Complete" collection of 1993? Very peculiar, indeed. Thanks for the info. I would suggest that once you've converted the contents in these records to the published titles that you not variant these three titles to an English title since they were never published, as far as I know, in English. Thank again. Mhhutchins 22:21, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Are all of them part of the Instrumentality of Mankind series? And why is the second one ("The Archer from the Deep") dated 1961? Mhhutchins 22:25, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Their relation to the whole cycle is sometimes tenuous (to say the least), but they're considered as part of the series by the editor. Concerning the dates, only _The Archer from the Deep_ is dated by the editor as follows : written in 1941, revised in 1961 by Genevieve Linebarger and submitted to Merril (Lewis adds in _Concordance to Corwainer Smith_ that the first version was rejected in 1942 by Unknown). These texts are listed at the end of this book, as "Unpublished fiction". Hauck 10:34, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
If this is the first publication of the story, it should be dated 1987, and not 1961. Thanks. Mhhutchins 16:32, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Might be some of his unsold early stories. J.J.Pierce mentions these on page viii/ix of "The Rediscovery of Man" (these stories were bound in a red-leather volume now in the hands of a daughter in Oregon). He mentions "The Archer and the Deep" being rejected by Judith Merril in 1961.
I found this text on "The Cravat of Brilliant Stars": "On the planet Olympia, specializing in the possession of stolen property, all inhabitants are blind. The investigator John Osterman discovers a conspiracy directed against the instrumentality". The story is not in "The Rediscovery of Man", but does look like it's part of the Instrumentality of Mankind series. --Willem H. 10:37, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Publication Listing enhancements - Patch r2012-45

Bug 3585632 has been fixed. The following changes were made to the Publication Listing behavior:

  • Translated contents records which have the same title as the original record have the original title displayed in parentheses
  • Removed the extra space between the VT's year and the closing parenthesis
  • Changed "aka" to "variant of" since apparently not everyone knows what "aka" stands for
  • Translations now appear as "trans. of" rather than "aka" or "variant of" -- note that the logic relies on the language codes being set up correctly

Ahasuerus 00:51, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Very nice. Thanks. Mhhutchins 01:16, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Wonderful! Rudam 04:26, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
But for covers and interior arts it looks... interesting Denis 18:25, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Don't tease. Give an example or a link. Mhhutchins 19:41, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Not problem. See there on page [65] "The Stress of Her Regard • interior artwork by Tim White (trans. of Cover: Geisterjäger John Sinclair, #791: Diondra - einfach mörderisch 1993)" Denis 22:04, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Admittedly it looks rather busy even on my extra-wide screen, but what would be a better way to display this information? Ahasuerus 22:49, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Since art doesn't have a language, could that field be removed from COVERART and INTERIORART records? If not, it's easy to band-aid. Make the languages of variant the same as the parent, which is how I fixed the record cited above. Now it's displayed like the other titles as a variant and not a translation. Mhhutchins 23:32, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
We can't remove the language field from COVERART and INTERIORART records, but it's possible (although not trivial) to tell the software not to display language information for these types of records. However, before we start digging any further, are we sure that these types of records -- notably cartoons -- do not have language information associated with them? Even for COVERART titles it would seem that having language data displayed the way this record shows it for three of its VTs seems useful. Ahasuerus 07:11, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Duplicate Finder enhancement

A minor change has been made to the Duplicate Finder logic. POEMs are no longer reported as possible duplicates of container titles (including CHAPTERBOOKs.) Ahasuerus 07:46, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Advanced Search and Publication Listing enhancements

The following three changes have been implemented by popular demand:

  • The Advanced Search page now displays the words "(for magazines)" next to the word EDITOR
  • The Publication Listing page now shows the Title link for MAGAZINEs and FANZINEs
  • All parent titles in the Content section of the Publication Listing page are now hyper-linked

Ahasuerus 07:14, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

In addition, Advanced Publication Search has been enhanced to allow partial matches for bindings, e.g. a search on "audio" should find all pubs whose binding codes are "audio CD", "audio cassette", etc. Ahasuerus 07:46, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
While you're thinking along those lines, I have a FR to allow for partial matches (or entire matches) on Author birthdates. At present, Advanced Search can search for "1918", but not for "1918-01", "1918-01-26", or "01-26". Chavey 03:13, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I saw it a few days ago. At first I though that it might be better to allow separate search options for YYYY and YYYY-MM-DD, but I guess there is no reason not to allow partial matching. I'll just have to check that a search on, say, "1" or "-" won't cause performance problems, but I doubt it will. Ahasuerus 05:41, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Done. Ahasuerus 07:07, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
P.S. Forgot to mention that death dates are now handled the same way. Ahasuerus 07:10, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Worked perfectly. I was easily able to give a list to the author who asked me for the list of people born on the same day as she was. Chavey 20:58, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

"Titles" vs. "Works"

Very early in the process, when Al and I were discussing what ISFDB should look like, we agreed that we wanted to capture information about "texts" (which can be thought of as collections of characters, digits and the like) as well as their physical "instantiations", i.e. books, magazines, etc. We quickly agreed (or so my memory tells me) that "instantiations" should be called "publications", but it took us longer to decide what to call "texts". I think I was in favor of "works" while Al preferred "titles", but I wouldn't swear to it. As we all know, the term "title" emerged victorious and that's what we have been using for the last 17+ years.

Fast forward to 2012 and I am happy report that the rest of the world has caught up with us. (Actually, there were other people who were exploring similar ideas in the 1990s, but we were not aware of them.) Open Library, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Goodreads and so on are all using this "text-instantiation" model. However, they are calling "texts" "works" rather than "titles" (the FRBR model consists of three tiers, but we don't need to go there) and I think our experience also suggests that the term "work" is more intuitive. Trying to explain the difference between "title titles" and "publication titles" to new editors has been often challenging, to say the least.

So, do we want to change the term "title" to "work" throughout ISFDB? The code changes will be somewhat time consuming, although not prohibitively so, but we will also need to change all Help pages and various related "stuff". On balance, I think it's worth doing given the expected long term benefits. Ahasuerus 00:17, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

The concept of "title" has been so deeply ingrained in ISFDB culture that it may take awhile to switch, but I'm willing to try if you believe the change would be worthwhile. You may have to give us old-timers some time to wrap our heads around the idea. If you look back through discussions here, I've had to resort to such statements as "title field of the title record". Making the term "title" refer to just one of the fields of a record will make explanations easier. How about its use in "title series"? Should that now be a "work series"? That just doesn't sound right, but I guess I could get used to it. Mhhutchins 01:55, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
I guess I should have asked this at the start: what are the benefits of the change, other than to conform with other databases' usage? Mhhutchins 01:58, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
The primary reason is precisely what you mentioned immediately above: to avoid confusion between "title records" and "title fields". (It's even worse in the internal database structures where "canonical author", "title" and "pub id" are all misused in various confusing ways, but we can fix that without any changes to the way the application behaves.)
It's certainly not urgent; I am just trying to catalog everything that we think we want to fix/change over the next N months/years. Not only will it help me with prioritization, but it will also help whoever inherits our development tasks if I join Ernesto in the Great Library in the Sky before I can implement all of these changes. Not that I have any immediate plans to check out, but you never know. Ahasuerus 07:38, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
I'd like to see us give it a try. I think it would lend clarity, avoid some confusion, and make some explanations easier. --MartyD 11:22, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback! FR 3586619 has been created. Ahasuerus 07:27, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Review columns

I'm sure we just discussed this, but I can't seem to find the thread, nor can I find my answer in the Help pages. I am currently entering/verifying some early fanzines by Marion Zimmer Bradley (well, Marion E. Zimmer then). In Astra's Tower #1, there is one review "column", named Reviewing the Rarities, containing two reviews. I included it as a content item and as two reviews. Immediately after that is another review (by a different reviewer) named The Fox Woman, being a review of a single book by essentially that name (The Fox Woman and the Blue Pagoda). I did not enter that as a separate content item, but only as a review. Were these the correct actions? Chavey 20:30, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

If the last review has no title, then it's not necessary to create an essay record for it, even if it is not part of the "Reviewing the Rarities" column. The record looks fine to me. A question: is the first piece explicitly titled "Astra's Tower (editorial)"? If it's only "Astra's Tower", there's no need to disambiguate it unless the same title is used in subsequent issues. If so, then the disambiguation would be the title of the issue, as ""Astra's Tower (Astra's Tower #1)" and not "editorial". You can update the note field of its title record to indicate that it's an editorial, but that shouldn't be part of the title. Mhhutchins 20:55, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
The last review does have a title. It's called "The Fox Woman", with an interesting hand-written font that overlaps some of the letters. It's just that the title of the review is, essentially, the same as the title of the book.
With the editorial, it's just called "Astra's Tower". In issue #2, the equivalent editorial is titled "Astra-Logically Speaking". So I can change that piece in issue #1. By the way, there are various pieces by "Astra" and "Astra of the Spheres", which are pretty clearly by MZB, but I don't have any formal proof of that. Should I leave them as "unknown" pseudonyms, and add some sort of note that they are probably MZB, or should I list them as formal pseudoynms? Chavey 22:04, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Until there's more definitive proof or even a reliable secondary source, it's best to leave them as is. Mhhutchins 22:22, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I am not familiar with MZB's early pseudonyms, but Fanlore claims that "Marion Astra Zimmer" and "Astra Zimmer" were among them, which certainly makes sense considering that her fanzine was called "Astra's Tower". Fanlore also has a separate article about "Astra's Tower". Ahasuerus 22:41, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
That Fanlore article assigns "Astra Logically Speaking" to MZB, although it is internally credited to "Astra", also as "Your editor - Astra". In her first editorial, MZB writes "Here enters ASTRA, the alter ego of the editor, powerful sorceress of the Spheres", and signs the editorial Marion ("ASTRA") Zimmer. That seems fairly conclusive evidence that the story "Saga of Carcosa" by "Astra of the Spheres" is, in fact, by MZB. (Sorry. Guess I should have read that editorial before raising the question in the first place.) Chavey 00:09, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Title reference link for magazines

I like. Has this been announced and did I miss it, or am I the first one to see it live? Mhhutchins 18:26, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Yes, it was announced as part of "Advanced Search and Publication Listing enhancements" above. Glad you liked it :) Ahasuerus 21:58, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Alphabetical and chronological biblio changes

The following changes have been made to the alphabetical and chronological biblio pages:

  • "or view all titles by this pseudonym here" has been added to the "Pseudonym" line
  • Alphabetical listings no longer display 0000-00-00 titles after all others

Ahasuerus 07:45, 15 November 2012 (UTC)


There are now more than 500 publication records in the database that use "Tradutor(es)" instead of "Translator" in the Note field. It is ISFDB policy to record notes in English, regardless of the language of the publication. Mhhutchins 20:30, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

I know, and I change these notes (to "Translated by ...") when I find them. --Willem H. 21:53, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
There were 591 such notes. I was trying to avoid grading exams, so I translated all of those into English. I also translated 123 notes that had Tradução, Traducão, Traducción, Traduction, or Traducido for the translator. I'm sure we have many more non-English notes, but that will reduce them some. Chavey 04:04, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Procrastination certainly has its uses ;-) Thanks! Ahasuerus 04:22, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Unmerge Title changes

Bill Longley's changes to "Unmerge Title" have been tested and installed. You should be able to unmerge pretty much all title types now, including Short Fiction, Poems, Interviews, Reviews, Essay, etc. Please let me know if you encounter anything unusual. TIA! Ahasuerus 07:13, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

It's not working. The author of the contained title record is changed to the author (or editor) of the container publication record. This is the original problem that caused us to warn editors not to "unmerge" a container publication record from a contained title record. Mhhutchins 19:09, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
I tried it with an ESSAY type and it not only changed the author credit, but changed the title of the essay to the title of the container publication record. I'll try some of the other types to see if they work, but I'm not holding my breath. Mhhutchins 19:18, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Unmerging a REVIEW had the same results as ESSAY: check out the review on page 85 of this record. It was Michael Bishop's review of Octavia Butler's Wild Seed, before I "unmerged" the pub from the title record. Mhhutchins 19:22, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll take a look... Ahasuerus 23:24, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Found it! The installation process had failed to apply the patch correctly for various obscure technical reasons. The change has been re-applied and should be in effect now. I have just merged, unmerged (and merged again) Damon Knight's famous reviews of van Vogt's The World of Null-A and everything looks OK.
One thing that I realized while playing with unmerges is that newly unmerged reviews are not linked to the reviewed title even if the original review was properly linked. Bug 3588128 has been created. Ahasuerus 08:36, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Bug 3588128 has been fixed. Ahasuerus 06:56, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
I've tested the review unmerge and it works. Thanks for the fix. And I noticed the bug, too. I'll test the other types as well. Mhhutchins 16:20, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Shortfiction unmerges worked fine, too. Mhhutchins 16:22, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Excellent, thanks! Ahasuerus 04:25, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

"Monthly Bibliography" changes

The "Monthly Bibliography" page (formerly used for Forthcoming Books only) has been tweaked as follows:

  • Publisher names are now linked to publisher pages
  • Many more publishers are now recognized as "juvenile/YA publishers" and their books are sorted accordingly
  • Books published by Samhain Publishing are no longer assumed to be paranormal romance (since they have also been doing horror lately)

Ahasuerus 04:24, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Nominate Pips55 for Moderator

I would like to nominate Pips55 for Moderator. He's been asked before and deferred, but now seems [willing]. Very conscientious and communicative.


  1. As nominator. --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:20, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
  2. Seconded. Very good work, 13,224 submissions, good communications skills. Ahasuerus 02:21, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
  3. Would this be 'thirded'? Nah, I guess! Seconded also. Stonecreek 11:08, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
  4. Support. Does nice work. --MartyD 11:24, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
  5. I support the nomination. Mhhutchins 14:45, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
  6. Same here, another language covered. Hauck 16:39, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
  7. Support from me too. --Willem H. 16:47, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
  8. Full support.Kraang 02:49, 22 November 2012 (UTC)
  9. Support. Rudam 14:44, 22 November 2012 (UTC)
  10. I support the nomination. --Chris J 20:00, 22 November 2012 (UTC)




The nomination passes. The moderator flag has been set on the account and all moderator pages should be accessible effective immediately. Please take a look at Help:Screen:Moderator for further details, update your availability and congratulations! Ahasuerus 07:43, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Server performance

As many of you have undoubtedly noticed, ISFDB and the Wiki have been very slow tonight. I have restarted the database and the Web server, but things are still very slow. There isn't much else we can do at the moment, so I guess I'll wait until tomorrow morning and contact Al if the problems persist. He can ask the ISP guys to bounce the virtual machine. Ahasuerus 04:22, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

Linking to Locus1 in notes

Thanks to the ability to search in the note field, I've discovered that there are more than 100 records which are linked to the Locus database. Because of its use of floating anchors, editors should not link to specific records in Locus1. You never know where the link might eventually lead a future user. Just a simple note "Data from Locus1" should be sufficient (with the option of being more specific about which data is taken from Locus1), along with a Locus1 verification. Will moderators please keep an eye for such links in the future? Many of these ISFDB records are primary verified, but I'm not going to notify specific editors about the removal of the links, and hope that this posting will be sufficient notification. Thanks. Mhhutchins 22:51, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

"Top 100"

Does anyone know how this list is generated? Mhhutchins 23:27, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

It's a list of "Top 100 Novels as voted by ISFDB users", so it's based solely on user-submitted votes. Ahasuerus 01:13, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Does a title have to have a certain number of votes before it is ranked? Mhhutchins 23:27, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

I think the current cut-off value is 5, but I'd have to check the code to be sure. Ahasuerus 01:13, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Is the list updated as more votes are received? Mhhutchins 23:27, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Yes, it's rebuilt every time a user accesses the Web page. Ahasuerus 01:13, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

A bigger question: how could one-third of the Top 30 titles be by one author and have such a minor work ranked at #4? I ask because a Facebook friend linked to this list and made some pretty accurate remarks about how strange it is. Mhhutchins 23:27, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Well, back when Al added the ability to record votes, the hope was that more and more users would use the voting mechanism and the rankings would (eventually) become more useful. Unfortunately, relatively few users take advantage of this feature, so the results are not as representative as we originally hoped they would be. I am not sure why Zelazny's work is rated so highly, but with so few contributors it doesn't take much to have an impact. Perhaps at some point someone posted a link to ISFDB on a Zelazny forum and added "Hey, you can even vote for your favorite books there!"?
P.S. Of course, we also have numerous awards-based lists, but we haven't updated them in a long time... Ahasuerus 01:13, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
If all of the users can vote, then I vote that we remove this feature. Those of us who spend substantial amounts of time here have many other things we're doing, not voting on stories. And here I think we are attempting to replicate what is done better by many other sources (e.g. Locus poll, Goodreads, Amazon ratings, etc.) Chavey
I agree that the experiment hasn't been particularly successful and that Goodreads/Amazon are far ahead of us, but keep in mind that Goodreads didn't even exist in 2006 when the system was first implemented. Since the voting system already exists and since some users have spent a fair amount of time looking up titles and voting, I don't think we want to destroy what they have done. There are few things that upset people more than having their work undone without a very good reason. Ahasuerus 08:55, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, it might not be necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater... I think there should be more than 5 votes for a title to qualify for the list. 25 should be the minimum. There should also be a way to balance the votes when there appears to be large bloc voting as in the case of Zelazny. Making it more prominent on the front page might get more users to vote. I might even consider doing some grading myself! Mhhutchins 06:22, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
25 may be a better minimum value, but there are very few title records that have that many votes. If you pull up the voting data for the top 10 novels, only 3 of them have more than 20 votes. Ahasuerus 08:59, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
I'd love to vote more, but I want to be quite sure that the representation of a work I have in my mind really would be an analogue to the voting I would do today: surely there are more or less weak fictions that I adored when reading them the first time but wouldn't stand as good when they would been read now. Stonecreek 13:18, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Variant title for Stephen King short story

It's been so long since I've edited here I don't want to try to fix this myself, but I just noticed that there appear to be two unconnected records for a single Stephen King story, "LT's Theory of Pets". One has "L.T." and the other has "LT". I'd post links, but it appears the site has suddenly gone down.

On a different topic, I just found scores of messages to me on my talk page, including some requests. Are those requests for verifications still needed? I'm happy to dig out my copies and comment if someone would find it useful -- please let me know. Mike Christie (talk) 01:48, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

There's a record for the shortfiction title here. And another record for a chapterbook record here. The latter is for a sound recording of the story and it was published as "LT's Theory of Pets". So the content of that record should match the publication title. I'll fix that and then make it into a variant of the other. Mhhutchins 02:06, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
As for your talk page, most messages appear to be notifications of adding cover images. There is a question that I asked that I would appreciate your taking the time to look at. Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:44, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it looks like I screwed up somehow on that edition. What I have is the June 1984 mass market Tor edition; I've unverified the other edition. Sorry about that. Mike Christie (talk) 10:09, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Mike. I've deleted the original record as it seemed to be a Frankenstein's monster of the trade and mmpb editions. Mhhutchins 15:30, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Displaying languages for variants?

While working on another language-related change, it occurred to me that the Summary page might be more informative if it displayed the languages of all variants as long as they differed from the language of the parent. At this time the language of the variant is only displayed if its title is the same as the title of the parent record, e.g. the Italian translation of Theodore Sturgeon's "Twink" is called "Twink".

Would this change be beneficial across the board? Or would it only benefit some users, in which case we could make it a User Preference? (Of course, if the user is not signed in or doesn't have preferred languages defined, the Summary page doesn't show any translations.) Ahasuerus 02:26, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

I like the idea, but it might make the author's summary page quite "busy". If we could make it a User Preference, I could go for it. BTW, how do we let visitors know that if they become a "signed-in user" (as opposed to an editor), that they have the option see translated titles? Mhhutchins 02:46, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
Oh! At one point last year (?) we discussed adding a note at the top of each page informing casual users that signing in has certain benefits, but then I forgot about it. Let me see what I can do... Ahasuerus 02:54, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
Done -- see below. Hopefully the "gold" color that I used for the account creation link is not too jarring for color-enabled people. Ahasuerus 07:25, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
Looks fine, especially with the dark background. As long as the text and background are highly contrasted, I don't have a problem. Hopefully, it works just as well for our color-disabled users. Mhhutchins 16:16, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

Latest patch -- r2012-54

The following changes have been made:

  • The Summary page no longer displays a single VT on a separate line if its title is the same as the parent's and the language code (of either the parent or the variant) is not defined
  • The main Login page has been tweaked to be more user friendly. Also, it now links to the Wiki "sign-up" page rather than the generic "login" page
  • If you are not logged in, you will see the following message -- "You are not logged in. If you create a free account and sign in, you will be able to customize what is displayed." -- at the top of all pages

Ahasuerus 07:24, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

Great. Thanks for working on that first issue. One less display anomaly to worry about. Mhhutchins 16:19, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

'The Elric Saga Omnibus' Series

I was wondering about the reasons that brought to the creation of The Elric Saga Omnibus sub-series of The Elric Saga; maybe there is an interesting story behind ... I came upon those series while looking for the correct placement of this title I recently added. --Pips55 21:48, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

A rather prosaic reason: creating a sub-series will sort the list for a better display of the titles. This is done rather frequently for shortfiction or omnibus titles so that they're displayed separately from novels. Since the title you entered is an omnibus, and is probably the first to contain the first six novels in one volume, I would suggest entering it into the omnibus sub-series. Mhhutchins 22:34, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Oh, well, there is always a reason ... Thanks for your advice. Should I move into the sub-series also this 'stray' omnibus ? --Pips55 23:09, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes. Please do. Mhhutchins 02:15, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

Links to other sites changed

The behavior of the "Publication Listing" page has been changed. All links to "Other Sites" (Amazon, WorldCat, project Gutenberg, etc) should open in new windows by default now. Ahasuerus 02:32, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

The first time that happened it was a bit of surprise, but I could get used to it. Mhhutchins 02:39, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
Now that I have had a few minutes to think about it, should the links on Author and Title pages behave the same way? Ahasuerus 02:34, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
But authors and titles don't link to "Other Sites", only publications. Or are you talking about other links on those pages? Mhhutchins 02:39, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I meant all other URLs that we allow, e.g. "Web pages", Wikipedia, IMDB, publisher sites, etc. Ahasuerus 02:49, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
That makes sense. As long as only links to other websites open new tabs. Otherwise, I'd have dozens of ISFDB tabs within an hour of logging in. Mhhutchins 03:07, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
Oh, sure! Ahasuerus 03:52, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

(unident) Done. If any links to external sites (i.e. not to the ISFDB proper or to the ISFDB Wiki) do not open in separate windows, please report them here. Ahasuerus 05:01, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

Without making a systematic test, I have found these cases where the open-in-new-tab feature does not work:
  1. This pub: Clicking on the "Locus1" link in the "Verification Status" section
  2. This pub: Clicking on the "Amazon" link in the "Cover art supplied by Amazon" text
I use Firefox 16 on Mac. I even disabled the pop-up blocking feature to make sure it didn't interfere. I believe I have seen the new feature at work (with pop-up blocker in place) on the Wikipedia link of this title. Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 16:35, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
Only those links listed under the "Other Sites" menu will open a new window/tab. This feature does not affect those outside links which are part of the publication record. (I believe this was the intent of the original posting. In this case "Other Sites" specifically refers to the menu, not all links to outside sites. Correct me if I'm wrong, Ahasuerus.) Mhhutchins 23:25, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
That's right, that was the intent. That said, we can change all the Verification Status and Cover Supplied By ... links to open in new windows as well. Would that be beneficial? Ahasuerus 02:59, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Personally, I'd like it restricted to "Other Sites", and not applied to "other sites". The times I've click on the cover source link and the verification link I considered it temporary and wanted to return to the same ISFDB page from which I came. It would be inconvenient to have to close the newly-opened tab and then go back to the ISFDB tab on which I was working. But that's my own quirks. Maybe another editor could point out the benefits of such action. Mhhutchins 04:01, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Personally I don't find the "open in a new window/tab" feature particularly useful because it is my habit to open most links in a new tab anyway (in case you didn't know: this can be easily done by ctrl+clicking a link; on the Mac it is command+click). So to answer the question: No, I cannot point out any benefit. Ahasuerus, do not bother to make any further changes, I simply didn't realize you were talking about the side menu (probably because I never use it, it just annoys me because it pushes the much more essential "Editing tools" section out of comfortable reach). My apologies for the noise, Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 00:06, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
You do know you can remove most of the Other Site links via your own preferences? BLongley 00:32, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Now I do. Thanks for the hint! I also just discovered the What's New page, something I will check in the future after a long absence. Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 11:57, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

More performance problems - 2012-11-29

We have been experiencing sporadic performance problems for the last few hours. Sometimes everything is fine and other times there are significant delays while displaying pages and approving edits. I have checked the server and everything looks OK at the level that I have access to, so it's not something that I can fix. Hopefully the problems will resolve themselves by tomorrow just like they did earlier in the week. Ahasuerus 02:52, 30 November 2012 (UTC)