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Archive of messages May - August 2014

Patch r2014-178 - Make Variant changes

"Make Variant" has been cleaned up (the internal HTML was pretty bad) and should look more like other data entry forms now. Ahasuerus 04:08, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Patch r2014-179 - Link Award and Link Review

Link Award and Link review have been cleaned up as follows:

  • Clarified linking instructions
  • Added Note to Moderator to Link Review
  • Corrected the tabbing order
  • Fixed various internal HTML problems

Ahasuerus 18:39, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

University of Massachusetts librarian offers to be a source

This was posted on a new user's talk page, and I thought it should get a broader audience among ISFDB editors:

I'm the Head Librarian for the University of Massachusetts Amherst Science Fiction Society, a group running since 1964 and having nearly 10 000 speculative fiction books. I have a small personal specfic library myself of about 300 books. The (meta)data I have is available to the ISFDB at large, merely request I verify or add something and I'll pop into the library and see what I can do. I'm currently working on building a digital catalog of all our works, with each book entry containing ISFDB TR and PR numbers, as well as the OCLC#.

Mhhutchins 19:35, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Sweet! Now if we could just get librarians to stop 'mutilating books' in so many various ways ..... ;-))) --~ Bill, Bluesman 05:11, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
The only thing we do (being a private library, we're not really subject to any rules) to "mutilate" the books is laminate them or add protective plastic covers (depending on the binding). Some really old books have been recovered, but that's about it. No stickers for us! Although indeed the lamination in quite permanent as far as I know, but it really does preserve the binding & cover. Anyways, our catalog is sadly wrapped up in shrinkwrap while there's construction done in our building, so I haven't had access to much this summer, just a recent haul of books from library sales and Readercon dealers. No demands yet anyways though! --fuhsaz 04:01, 12 July 2014 (UTC)

"Note to Moderator" added to Remove Titles

You can now enter a "Note to Moderator" on the "Remove Titles From This Pub" page. Ahasuerus 01:34, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

Ditto Edit Publication Series. Ahasuerus 03:43, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Edit Series done as well. Ahasuerus 14:50, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Unmerge done. In addition, if you try to perform an unmerge operation on a title record without associated publications, the system will now display an error message. Ahasuerus 17:20, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Title Merge changes

Title Merge has been changed to use three columns for display purposes. In addition, "Note to Moderator" has been added. Ahasuerus 19:12, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Awards question "Nominations Below Cutoff"

Starting with the 2012 Hugos, there are several titles listed under each award category for "Nominations Below Cutoff". I know what it means, but wonder why we are recording them here. These stories didn't make the final ballot, so why should we make an exception for them and include them in the list of other nominees? I don't see them listed on Locus or other sites that list awards. Not that we have to follow their lead, but I don't see the purpose of listing stories that didn't get enough nominations to get on the final ballot. Aren't there hundreds of stories that get nominated that don't get on the final ballot? Mhhutchins 16:02, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

I see that they're listed in 2013 but not 2014. Mhhutchins 16:03, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

The 2014 nomination statistics for the Hugos won't be released until after the awards ceremony. I would guess that this is to prevent them from affecting the voting. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 00:21, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

A similar situation is present in the Nebula Awards for 1993-2003 but they're given as "Preliminary Nominees". Isn't this effectively the same? Does this mean that in the years before and after that time period the Nebula committee didn't release a long list of nominees? Or that they've just not been entered into our awards database? Mhhutchins 16:09, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

I am not familiar with the story behind the 2012+ Hugos, but AFAIK some award organizations have changed what kind of information they release over the years. For example, although the Campbell Memorial Award goes back to 1973, they only began releasing their lists of finalists in 2003. Or at least that's my understanding of how it worked.
I don't think there is harm in including this information as long as the lists are manageable. I don't know how most current awards work any more (too many to keep track of), but AFAIK some award organization use a multi-step selection process, so their "finalists" and "nominations below cut-off" are what was left on the plate after (N-1 out of N) elimination rounds. Ahasuerus 22:03, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
But adding such information to title records skews the award rankings. Just look at how Australians dominate lists like this one. Or how someone like Seanan McGuire can rank higher than Connie Willis. (Do these "nominations" also get 33 points?) Mhhutchins 23:21, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
All "nominations below cut-off", "finalists", "declined nominations", etc get 1 point. The idea is that their presence can serve as a tie-breaker, but shouldn't have a noticeable effect otherwise. Ahasuerus 23:51, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
Adding these "nominations" to authors' award bibliographies creates a lot of extraneous information that requires the user to sift through the data. And since such "nominations" are a fairly recent phenomenon, it makes it seem that recent writers get many more nominations for awards than their counterparts in earlier eras, again skewing the rankings in any all-time list that may be posted. You're aware that there are hundreds of "nominations" for Hugo and Nebula awards each year. So the difference between being a "nomination below cutoff" and not being one at all could be a single vote. I personally feel it detracts from those nominees on the short list. I'm not going to argue that they be removed from the database, but that there be a different way of handling them. (Don't ask me how.) Mhhutchins 23:21, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
I wouldn't say that it's a recent phenomenon, although they seem to have become more common in the last 25 years. We have 56 "special" award records from the 1960s (10% of the total number of award record in the 1960s), 36 from the 1970s (1%), 164 from the 1980s (2.5%), 2,106 from the 1990s (19%), e.g. the 1993 Tiptree awards, and 1,670 from the 2000s (17%). Ahasuerus 23:51, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
I've been adding the nominations below cutoff to the 2013 and 2012 Hugos and was intending to work back where I could find the data. Actually, this data is present for several years of the Hugos between 1992 through 2002. Seeing those records in the award pages is what prompted me to add the missing data for other years. I have to assume that our policy was to include nominations below cutoff, or at least it was our policy at one time. Otherwise, why do we even have it as an option for the award level? Personally, I like access to this data. I recently wanted to know if any of the Jordan Wheel of Time books had ever received a best novel nomination below the cutoff (I have an opinion about the series nomination), but I was unable to research this short of going to each years statistics on the Hugo site. I agree that it makes the award displays a little crowded, but I think that is better addressed by optionally filtering out those records in the display like we do with the concise listing for publications. Any reports could similarly ignore the data as to not skew the results. I'm going to at least finish off the 2012 Hugos, but will wait to see where this discussion goes before proceeding further. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 00:21, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
I like those ideas, Ron, especially to ignore them in the stats reports. Mhhutchins 02:02, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
It would be easy to change the "score" assigned to these award records from 1 to 0. However, it would presumably have very little impact since the score of regular nominations is 35. Ahasuerus 03:39, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
There are some "preliminary nominations" that just mean that ONE person recommended that title to the jury. I think that happened with some of the Australian awards, for example. The 1993 Tiptree list doesn't quite synchronize with our terminology: They had a winner, a short list, and a long list. The long list consisted of every title that ONE of the jurors thought should be on the short list (the short list required at least two jurors' votes). So there are certainly some "preliminary nominations/nominations below the cutoff" that are pretty borderline, from the "award" viewpoint. I have somewhat mixed feelings about keeping them, but in general it seems we're in the business of collecting "all" data, when it's available. But I also like the idea of not counting those two categories for the rankings -- although the weighting that Anasueras just mentioned indicates that's essentially already the case. But it might be worth having a threshold, something like: "If more than 20 titles were included in this award category for this year, then that's not much of an award, and we won't count it in the rankings." (E.g., that happened with the Australian awards in which everything suggested to the jury was viewed as a "nomination".) Chavey 03:51, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) In a related development, I have found a recently introduced bug in the scoring algorithm. Regular (i.e. not poll-based) nominations were getting only 24 points instead of 35 points. The bug will be exterminated in the next patch. Ahasuerus 23:53, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

The bug has been fixed. In addition, the latest patch made numerous other changes to the way awards are handled behind the scenes, but there should be no user-experienced changes (unless I messed up, of course.) With that out of the way I can finally implement a Web page for adding new Award types. Ahasuerus 22:49, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

Catalog of Copyright Entries

Editor SFJuggler has been using the dates from the above catalog as publication dates. I really don't think the two are the same, in fact I doubt the two would ever be the same. It seems extremely unlikely a copyright registry and the publication date would ever match. Nothing wrong with including such dates in the notes. Thoughts? --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:18, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

I think it should be handled the same as the copyright statement in a publication itself. If the book has a printing date, use the printing date. If the book lacks a printing date and there is a reliable secondary source for the printing date, use the secondary source. If it lacks a printing date and no reliable secondary source, then the copyright date can be used with a note. I have no issue with including the copyright date as a note. -- JLaTondre (talk) 01:06, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Not the same thing. Using the date a copyright was registered is not the same as a printing date either. Again, the two would likely never be the same. The Catalog of Copyrights is not a secondary source for either printing or publication. it simply has the date the © was registered, which could be long before or after either printing or publication. --~ Bill, Bluesman 01:22, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps you've not actually looked at the records on the Catalog of Copyrights website. You would see that their records provide both the date of publication and the registration date. SFJuggler has made it clear that he's using the publication date, and not the registration date. Look at this record which gives a publication date which is correct. You'll also see that the registration date is several weeks after publication. I see no problem with using this as a reliable secondary source for undated publications, or those that give only the year of publication. It should not replace the date field of a book which has a stated month of publication, but can be added to the Note field as corroborating data. Mhhutchins 01:42, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
I did go there and the record I checked only had one date, not two. The link you put was also one I tried but couldn't get any records to show, at least not by putting in an author's name [Van Vogt in this case]. --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:17, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
All of the records I've checked have two dates. (I can't link to them because it seems that each URL is unique to a user's browser, just like BLIC before I figured out how to link to their records.) I'll look for a Van Vogt title and then do a screen capture of the record. Mhhutchins 16:31, 22 May 2014 (UTC)


You'll see the Registration Number/Date field near the top and further down there's a Date of Publication field. That's close enough to the date given in the ISFDB record. (Many publishers give the next month's date when a book is published in the last half of the month.) You'll see that the registration date is a month after publication. That seems to be the pattern that I've picked up. (Although my searches have been rather random.) I'm not saying this should be the definitive source, but it is a reliable secondary source for non-dated and non-month-dated publications. Just as reliable as Amazon's dates, IMHO, which everyone seems to take as gospel. Are there any particular records which SFJuggler has edited which appear to be suspicious? Mhhutchins 16:44, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

I have only been using the Catalog of Copyright date as publication date if there is no other indication on the book. For instance, if the copyright page says "First printing: August 1984" I'll use that and then put in the notes the more specific date. This is noted by Mhhutchins above. Since the publisher has gone through the trouble to officially register the copyright and supply the date I have pretty high confidence that it's good. Also, since this is where the courts get publication data for copyright disputes I figure it's good enough for me. Thoughts?SFJuggler 16:22, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Limiting the size of uploaded files

As the number of ISFDB-hosted images grows, disk space becomes more of an issue. Our disk space utilization is currently at 62% and it goes up to 72% when the backups run. In a few days I will be purging old versions of Wiki pages, which should help some, but we still need to try and limit the amount of data that we add.

Since uploaded images are by far the most significant contributor, I would like to start enforcing the currently agreed-upon limit on uploaded files (150Kb) programmatically. The current Wiki settings let users upload files up to 2MB in size and I plan to change it 200KB. Are there any reasons not to make this change? Ahasuerus 15:57, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

I don't see any reason. It may be a supplemental idea to upload variant or doublette covers with an even smaller size, I'd say 50Kb are more than enough to identify a publication, if the original cover art is just reproduced. I am practizising this for some months now. Stonecreek 17:36, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
200Kb should be enough, even for wraparound covers. I don't think it's a good idea to make reproduced art smaller, we should be able to see the differences with the original. --Willem H. 17:52, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
I very much agree, a much smaller (or less detailled) image would made difficult some of our work (e.g. comparing precisely this copy with the original).Hauck 06:25, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be easier to download images to Amazon and link to there. I have lately been doing this as I had a lot of images to put on and thought of our disk space. --Chris J 22:54, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately, Amazon-hosted images have been known to disappear :-( Ahasuerus 02:10, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
Most good graphic software can convert a scan into a file of less than 150kb and maintain reasonable resolution. There are plenty of free ones easily available. For example: You don't have to lose much resolution to keep an image within ISFDB standards. I've seen many files that are less than 100kb which fulfill our needs. We're here to show a reasonable facsimile of the cover, not high resolution images. Mhhutchins 20:20, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) OK, I have changed the limit from 2MB to 200KB. I am not 100% sure that it will work since the Wiki software uses PHP settings, which I am not really familiar with, but I guess we'll see soon enough. Ahasuerus 00:53, 31 May 2014 (UTC)

2014-06-04 - performance issues

FYI, I am looking into the performance issues which have cropped up over the last couple of hours. No ETA at this time. Ahasuerus 21:40, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the update. I was getting mad at my ISP. Mhhutchins 22:03, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

Brief server downtime

I will be taking the server down to install a major patch. The downtime will start at 10pm server time (Central Daylight Time US) and will last about 5 minutes. Ahasuerus 02:55, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

We are back up. Patch notes to be posted shortly. Ahasuerus 03:04, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Award categories revamped

Award categories have been converted to award type-specific drop-down lists. When entering a new award, you are first asked to select the award type and then you are taken to the next page where you will see a list of categories appropriate for the selected award type. Moderators have been given access to a new navigation bar option, "Add New Award Category to This Award Type", when viewing an award type overview. The ability to edit and delete award categories will be added shortly.

Since this was a big patch, there is a decent chance that new bugs were introduced. If you run into any, please post your findings here. Ahasuerus 03:24, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

This is a great enhancement and will save much cutting and pasting. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 13:17, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
Glad you liked it ! :-) Saving on copying and pasting was one goal of this change, but there was another, even more significant one: standardize award categories, which should make life easier for relatively inexperienced editors. Once I am done massaging award categories, we should be ready to make award editing functions available to non-moderators. Ahasuerus 02:10, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
Two small issues, though: New categories aren't sorted and appear at the bottom of the list both on the Award summary page and the pull down list in the edit forms. I'm less certain about the sort on the award year page display since the fiction categories appear to sort above other categories. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 13:17, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
It's a bug. Thanks for reporting it! Ahasuerus 02:10, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
Should be fixed now. Ahasuerus 02:30, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
Also, please note that all year-specific award lists use special logic to sort award categories. The following categories appear in the order listed below:
               "Best Novel",
               "Superior Achievement in a Novel",
               "SF Novel",
               "Best SF Novel",
               "Best Fantasy Novel",
               "Fantasy Novel",
               "Best Horror Novel",
               "Horror Novel",
               "Best Horror/Dark Fantasy Novel",
               "Best First Novel",
               "First Novel",
               "Superior Achievement in a First Novel",
               "Best Young Adult Novel",
               "Best Novella",
               "Superior Achievement in Long Fiction",
               "Best Novella/Novelette",
               "Best Novelette",
               "Short Fiction",
               "Best Short Fiction",
               "Superior Achievement in Short Fiction",
               "Short Story",
               "Best Short Story",
               "Best Collection",
               "Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection",
               "Best Anthology",
               "Superior Achievement in an Anthology",
               "Best Non-Fiction",
               "Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction",
               "Best Art Book",
               "Best Editor",
All other categories are listed alphabetically after "Editor", so newly added categories that are not on this list will appear at the bottom of the page. There is FR 461 to "Allow specifying display order for award categories" and it should be possible to implement it in the near future now that award categories have a separate database record. Ahasuerus 02:14, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
The other issue is that there appears to be no way to remove (or edit) an existing category. Previously categories would disappear when there were no longer awards using them. Perhaps a delete function could be added with an error if any existing awards are using the category.
That's right -- as I wrote in the original announcement, "the ability to edit and delete award categories will be added shortly" :) Ahasuerus 02:10, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
Sorry. I should have read that more carefully. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 12:07, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
On the other hand, deletions are probably fairly rare and may be able to be handled by requesting a back end database deletion. We'd just need to document who to request that from. One example of a category that needs to be removed is "Short Fiction" under the Hugo Awards. Sorry to pick nits, but overall this is a great new feature. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 13:17, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

Sporadic performance problems -- 2014-06-09

We have seen sporadic performance problems over the last hour. I am looking into it, but I suspect that there isn't much I can do about it because that the problem is with the underlying virtual server. Ahasuerus 23:18, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

More award enhancements - patch r2014-193

The way Award levels are displayed in Add/Edit Award has been changed. The choices for poll-based awards are now limited to "Poll place" and "Special" while all other awards are limited to "Win", "Nomination" and "Special". In addition, the mouse-over Help has been cleaned up. Ahasuerus 02:42, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

This change presents a problem for awards that have changed over time, e.g. the Hugos. We have them as not poll based. However, they are are currently a poll based award but many of the earlier years they were only split between winners and nominees. Actually there are a few years where (e.g. 1960) where 1st and 2nd place were ranked, but the remaining nominees weren't. Additionally, the awards are not poll based when the nominations are announced (all are nominees) and then become poll based after the final voting. I don't know if it would work to flip the poll flag back and forth to the type of award one is editing at the time and I'm hesitant to experiment with that technique on a real award. Perhaps a radio button with poll/winner and nominees/hybrid with the third option presenting all the options. I'll also bring up that I've noticed that the current poll based data with the Hugos was not brought into the edit form when an award was edited. I suspect this was introduced with the poll flag, but may have always worked that way. II probably should have brought that up earlier, but I didn't realize that you were continuing work on the awards. I have been doing work on the Hugos and was going to wait until I had finished in case I noticed any other issues. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 13:05, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
Well, the software has always assumed that an award is either "poll-based" or not; the original design made no allowances for awards which go back and forth between these two approaches. The fact that in the past an editor could enter poll positions for any award merely masked the fact that the display part of the software was going to treat them based on the "poll status". At first the "poll status" was hard-coded in the software, where certain awards were listed as "poll-based", and then I changed it to a moderator-configurable flag, but the underlying functionality remained the same. I documented this issue in FR 426 when I started working on awards in early 2013.
The real problem is that we store only one "level" value for each award record. "1" and "9" do double duty: they are used as poll places for poll-based awards, but they are also used to indicate "Wins" and "Nominations" for non-poll awards. Because of this approach, the display logic needs something to tell it whether to interpret "1" and "9" as numbers or as "Win"/"Nomination", which is why we needed a "poll" flag of some sort.
The only comprehensive solution to this problem (that I can think of) would be to file "Wins" and "Nominations" as separate values instead of overloading "1" and "9". Now that I realize that it's a bigger issue than I thought, I will bump it up on the list of priorities. Thanks! Ahasuerus 03:06, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

Foundation Series vs. Foundation Magazine

There's a mysterious thing happening with Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. It has a link to "View/edit existing Series comment". When you go there, though, you find yourself in the Wiki page for Foundation Magazine, i.e. "Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction". And sure enough, if you click the "go back" link, you find yourself at the Foundation Magazine page. Software bug, I suspect. Chavey 20:37, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

Yes, it's a bug. As per Bug 232:
  • The SeriesHeader template is intended to allow us to view/add bibliographic comments to a series, and then jump back to that series. It fails if the series contains certain characters (which is probably the bug that was repaired in some other templates).
This is one of the reasons why I have been adding Notes fields to various records, including Series records, so that we could migrate Wiki-based Notes to the ISFDB proper. The other reason is that the Wiki and the database can get out of sync when record names change. Ahasuerus 21:11, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
Actually, it looks like someone created a "redirect" so that the link from the Asimov series' wiki page is redirected to the magazine series' wiki page. I'll fix it. Mhhutchins 21:36, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
There is no longer a wiki page for the Asimov (there never was anything on it, just a wrong redirect). And now there is a link from the magazine series' database page to its wiki page (and back). Mhhutchins 21:46, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! Ahasuerus 23:22, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
And thanks! Chavey 04:27, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

[unindent] The same problem happens with the series Jupiter, from Tor, and Jupiter Magazine. Each of them links to the same Series comments. (Mike, can you do the same fix?) I wonder if there's a general way to find other equivalent situations? Chavey 15:41, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

This most likely happens when someone changes the name of the database series which has a wiki series page that doesn't get updated. That's why it's important not to continue to create and update wiki pages when the data can be added to the database series itself. Mhhutchins 17:56, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

Series numbering: "Star Trek: The Original Series"

Our title series for these books have all of the books unnumbered. The equivalent series on Wikipedia has many of them (97 books) numbered, which they say comes from the original Pocket editions of the books (although I think not on the Titan reprints). Is there any reason not to add that numbering to our data? (The first three movie novelizations are part of that numbering, and would not be moved into this series. A series note would comment on that.) Chavey 14:52, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

There is no title series numbering because different publishers used different numbering. That's why separate publication series were created, e.g. Pocket Star Trek. Mhhutchins 15:05, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
That makes sense. I think I'll add a series comment regarding that. Chavey 15:42, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

New Award Category page

A new page, "Award Category", has been implemented. It displays all wins and nominations (or, optionally, just the wins) for a given award category sorted by year. For example, here is the combined list for Nebula-winning novellas and here is its "wins-only" counterpart.

You can access these pages from Award Overview pages (e.g. the Nebula Overview page) as well as from Award Details, Award Year, Title and Summary Award Bibliography pages. Ahasuerus 21:09, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Very nice! Chavey 01:05, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! The restructuring that I have been working on for the last month is finally paying off :-) Ahasuerus 02:37, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

Wiki outage 2014-06-13

The Wiki was down for a couple of hours earlier tonight. I have fixed the immediate problem and hopefully things are back to normal. Ahasuerus 05:20, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

Empty award categories

A new moderator-only option allowing the deletion of empty award categories has been added. In addition, the Award Category page has been tweaked to allow more inter-linking with other award pages. Ahasuerus 23:34, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

Handy Hint for importing contents into ebook records

If you're importing contents from a printed book into a record for an ebook reprint of the publication, it's a good idea to retain the page numbers of the print book (keep the box checked.) On the submission page, enter the pipe character ("|") before the page numbers. Those numbers won't appear in the display of the record for the ebook, but the contents will be displayed in the order they appear in the ebook. Mhhutchins 19:15, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Nifty! :-) Ahasuerus 22:09, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

One publication, in two title records

I didn't realize this was possible. There are two title records for Silverberg's "Blood on the Mink": One as a Collection and one as Non-Genre. Each title record contains a single publication, and it's the the same pub. Chavey 07:26, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

I am not sure it's useful to think of publications as "belonging" to titles. Pubs and titles are separate entities. You can have a title associated with 0, 1 or 200 pubs. Conversely, you can have a pub associated with 0, 1 or 200 titles. Ahasuerus 14:13, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

So the publication belongs to two different title records simultaneously; and those two title recs both show up (in their appropriate category) on Silverberg's summary bibliography. I didn't know that was possible, and seeing it I wonder if it's (1) A bug; (2) A feature; or (3) A feature that would should avoid using. Chavey 07:26, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Hmm, I think we have two titles, with the COLLECTION incorporating the NONGENRE novel. Maybe it should be made into an OMNIBUS, to have the distinction more clearly? Christian Stonecreek 08:33, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
No problem here. Two different title records for two different works. The first work is a novel of the NONGENRE type and the other work is a COLLECTION which contains the novel. There are multiple cases of collections in the database which contain a novel with the same title, for example Andre Norton's Garan the Eternal. As to Christian's point, I wouldn't consider this an OMNIBUS because it is the first publication of the novel. The current definition of OMNIBUS is "A publication may be classified as an omnibus if it contains multiple works that have previously been published independently." Mhhutchins 17:46, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

The Mind's Eye: The Art of OMNI

For those of you who love great artwork [this] is a real treasure. Best buy is through amazon [$40 including shipping] --~ Bill, Bluesman 01:57, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

William Styron

William Styron's bibliography has 1 genre shortfiction story and 8 non-genre works (6 novels + 2 non-fiction). While he's a distinguished non-genre writer, this seems a pretty clear case of someone below our inclusion threshold for non-genre works. I'll give it a few days for comment in case there is something I'm missing, but I plan to delete the non-genre works. Thanks. -- JLaTondre (talk) 14:18, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

I see no reason to include his nongenre works in the database. Thanks. Mhhutchins 18:18, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
Done. -- JLaTondre (talk) 17:36, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

1964 Hugo Nominations "below the cutoff"

In the ISFDB listing for 1964 Hugo nominations, there were two award records created for novels "Star Kings" and "Pilgrimage" with author given as "unknown". Can the editor who entered these please supply further information, perhaps a source so that we can determine the correct name of the works and then link them to the ISFDB title record? There were two others which were also given as "unknown" but I was able to find the correct title and author (The Shoes of the Fisherman and The Lost Continent). Thanks for any help you can provide. Mhhutchins 18:16, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

The source for those is the Pacificon II: Program Book and specifically this essay. Unfortunately, they only printed titles: "For the sake of economy stories are listed sans authors' names". You did a better job than I did finding the titles. I suspect that the nomination for Pilgrimage is probably for Zenna Henderson's novel. However, it was published in 1961 so that's a little far off for date. It's possible that Star Kings could be the Jack Vance novel, The Star King which fits in the time frame, but varies slightly in title. You did a better job than I on finding the other two. I had discounted the Burroughs as a possibility as it had been published in 1916 under a different title. On the other hand, I suspect that the Hugo committees only bother adjudicating (for eligibility) the nominees above the cutoff. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 21:26, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
Well, if you've read my other comments about "below the cutoff" nominations, you'd know my response would be just to delete the unlinked "award" records. That's the trouble of using a single source. Without any corroboration, you pretty much have to accept it without question, typos, errors, and all. Maybe another source will come along eventually. (Not that I'm in a rush to grant award status to thirty-plus titles for the same category of an annual award. These titles probably make up a relatively large percentage of all of the major works published in that year.) Mhhutchins 22:19, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
I have entered the source in the (newly implemented) Note field of the two "untitled" award records. Ahasuerus 03:45, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

The 20 Perry Rhodan series

When I did a search for "Perry Rhodan" in the name of a title series, it gave me 32 series, which isn't really a surprise. But what did surprise me was that 20 of those were primary roots of a series -- i.e. series with no containing parent series. That means, for example, that 19 of these series are not contained with the "Perry Rhodan Universe". As one example, "Perry Rhodan in French" is part of the "Perry Rhodan Universe", but "Perry Rhodan in English" is not. This just doesn't look right to me. Could someone who is more familiar with this universe look at these series and re-consider how we have them organized? (Or, unorganized) Thanks, Chavey 06:40, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Several of those series appear to be for essays about PR, so I can understand why they wouldn't be part of the PR "universe", if you consider that a fictional universe. As for the others, I can't say. Mhhutchins 02:20, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Sorry for my late answer, but I did catch this item only now. I'd say the series in need are already part of the "Perry Rhodan Universe". The other series are in fact essay series or magazines. For those latter types the main purpose often is to publish fiction set in the universe, but shouldn't be made a part of it, I think. Stonecreek 03:57, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm a little confused on how it could be "fiction set in the universe", but not be part of "Perry Rhodan Universe". Chavey 03:45, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Is it fanfic? If so, would it help to create a parent series for "Perry Rhodan Fan Fiction" or "Perry Rhodan Non-Canonical"? And perhaps a super-series ("Perry Rhodan Metaverse"?) to serve as the top level series for the regular universe and the fanfic series? Ahasuerus 03:53, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
What I wanted to say is that the "fiction set in the universe" is part of "Perry Rhodan Universe", the essay series and the magazines that publish the fiction are not. They do have "Perry Rhodan" as part of their titles, but as I see it only fiction can be part of a fictional universe. "Perry Rhodan in English" seems to be a magazine and shouldn't be part of the Universe, IMHO. Another matter might be "Perry Rhodan NEO", which seems to tell a whole new story, thus establishing a new universe. For this, the "Perry Rhodan Metaverse" seems a very bright idea. So far, the fanfic has been put into "Perry Rhodan Kurzgeschichte", part of "Perry Rhodan Universe"; but be careful: not all of the stories published in the german parent series on the reader's contact pages ('Leserkontaktseite') are part of the Universe! Stonecreek 06:20, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Ed(ward) Valigursky

One of the pseudonyms for the artist Edward Valigursky is Ed Valigursky. There are a bunch of covers that he did for Ace, mostly for the Ace doubles, where we have him credited under the pseudonym. Some of these have been made into variants of the canonical name, but many have not. The notes for many of these books state that Valigursky has been identified as the cover artist by a secondary source. Since we're not reflecting an actual credit in the book, I would argue that the credit should be the canonical name "Edward Valigursky" regardless of how the name appears in the secondary source. The problem is that nearly all of these have been primary verified by several people and our etiquette requires us to at least notify the primary verifiers unless they have specified otherwise. In this case notifying all the verifiers would be a herculean task, so I'd like to suggest that we go ahead and correct this error without individual notifications. To be clear, the edit would be to change the cover artist from "Ed Valigursky" to "Edward Valigursky" when the notes indicate that the credit is from a secondary source. I'll try to direct as many primary verifiers of these publications as I can to this discussion to weigh in. Thanks. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 01:46, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

I agree. If a cover art is not explicitly credited, then the record should credit the canonical form of the artist's name. This goes for art which is identified only by signature, as well. Those works should also be credited to the canonical name. I'm not sure if this is actually documented in the Help pages, but should have been long before most of us ever started here. Mhhutchins 02:16, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Works for me. Ahasuerus 03:46, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I don't think we should be assigning canonical names willy-nilly. There should be an agreed upon list of canonical names first. There are more than a few canonical names that have been assigned that I feel are seriously wrong. I nominate SFE3 as the standard. If it becomes the standard, I'll change all of my verified pubs to conform. Otherwise, I would prefer some discussion and a consensus of what each canonical name should be.--Rkihara 03:52, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
That's tangential to the discussion at hand. But since you bring it up... Start another topic and list what you consider are dubiously assigned canonical names, and let the editors of the ISFDB decide their validity. I think we're as knowledgeable of the field as any other source. Mhhutchins 04:19, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I run across them on occasion, but I've never bothered to note them down. It shouldn't be hard to make a script to find them, typically a name that an author/artist uses once or twice (or sometime never) is made canonical while the so-called variant outnumbers it by a large factor, sometimes ridiculously so. I personally think there are as many "expert" opinions as moderators here, so an outside standard that has "authority" as the SFE3 does will nip arguments in the bud. My previous comment may seem tangential since I was trying to politely say, since I've made a lot of entries under Valigursky, that I "object," unless there is some discussion about the canonical for first.--Rkihara 04:39, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
And by the way, according to the SFE3, it should be "Ed Valigursky."--Rkihara 04:41, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
The ISFDB "canonical name" is defined as "the most recognized name for that author", but, unfortunately, "the most recognized name" can change. Sometimes it changes by virtue of the fact that our coverage becomes more complete and other times it changes because the author starts favoring a different pseudonym or a different version of his name. For example, Simon Hawke went from "Nicholas Yermakov" to "Simon Hawke" (and eventually changed his legal name to Hawke) and Theodore Beale has gone from "Vox Day" to "Theodore Beale" to, once again, "Vox Day". It's not a terribly big deal since it's just a matter of following a link from the pseudonym page to the main page, but it can be admittedly irritating.
Now, if we could easily reverse all VT relationships for an author, it would be much less of an issue, so in a way it's a software problem -- see FR 166. Ahasuerus 05:16, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Works for me. JLochhas 04:58, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I agree that when an artist is credited only by signature or by secondary source (their web page; artist collection), the credit should be given to their canonical name. Deciding the canonical name when there are a couple of reasonable candidates (e.g. "E. E. 'Doc' Smith vs. Edward E. Smith) is a challenge, and I think SFE should get some serious weight in that conversation, but I don't think it needs to be definitive. I like Ron's idea of having a script look for names where a pseudonym is used more often than the "current canonical" name. However, that wouldn't help much with artists, since we will have credited several "signed covers" to whatever has been the canonical name, and hence there will often be a "false" weight attached to the current canonical name. Chavey 05:15, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I also agree that any non-explicit credit (secondary source, signature) should use the canonical name. --MartyD 10:59, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
And I also. Maybe a change of a canonical name should be mentioned here before actually submitting it (for nearly all cases, that is — there might be some exceptions for authors/artists that have only really few titles), so that there is a chance of discussing it. Some background information on the reasons for the change would be welcome. Stonecreek 11:07, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I agree the canonical name should be used, but i.m.h.o. in this case the canonical name should be "Ed Valigursky". --Willem H. 12:27, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Since there are more records for "Ed" than for "Edward", then "Ed" should be the canonical name. Now who is going to go through the mind-numbing work of converting hundreds of records? A show of hands? Anybody? Mhhutchins 19:12, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Always willing to do my share. --Willem H. 20:13, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I know that I'm not qualified to offer an opinion on this but may I make a suggestion? If the artwork's credit comes from a secondary source then the canonical name should be used, but a note in the "Note" field should be included to explain where the credit came from. If only the signature is to be found, then that should be used as a variant, and a note should be included to explain this. As to who should change all of this site's records, well, I think I need to go on vacation to some isolated village in Outer Mongolia soon, so it can't be me. MLB 19:36, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
This is the community portal. Every editor can express his/her opinion here. If credit comes from a signature, there should Always be a note explaining this, and the credit should go to the canonical name. No need to clutter the database with extra variants. --Willem H. 14:18, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) Looks like there was only one volunteer. Any credit from secondary sources or signatures is now credited to Ed Valigursky. All that were credited to Edward (with or without notes) are now varianted to Ed. --Willem H. 14:18, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

That effort is very much appreciated. Thanks. Mhhutchins 14:48, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
And another thanks. Chavey 18:34, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

Award categories - display order enhancements

The "Edit Award Category" page has been enhanced to support explicit display ordering (1 through 999999999) of each category within its respective award type. Each category's current Display Order value, if defined, is displayed on its Web page.

Please note that the 34 categories whose display order was previously hard-coded in the software (1 through 34) had these values moved to the database, where they can be changed by moderators. Categories whose Display Order value is not specified appear at the bottom of each year's page and are alphabetized. Ahasuerus 04:48, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

Crediting Illustrators in Magazines - Re. Canonical Names

While the discussion about canonical names (Ed Valigursky) is still fresh, I'd like to bring up the subject of crediting illustrators in magazines. There has been some dispute about my approach lately, which to use the most complete credit found in the issue throughout. This is because there are usually multiple credits, editorial and by signature and more common than not they're all different in the same issue. As a made up example using Emsh, the index may credit just Emsh, while the title page will credit Ed Emsh. It's not common but sometimes a second title page will use a third variant, say Emshwiller. The illustrations might be signed in even more ways or not. The rule for authors doesn't work well in this case, and there is IMHO less consensus about the canonical names of illustrators than authors, so I'm reluctant to assign one. Comments?--Rkihara 03:19, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

I'd support the approach of using the most complete credit to be found, even to go for the canonical name if the combination of the various versions would allow this (as seems to be the case in your example). Stonecreek 03:42, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
There seems to be two issues here:
  • How to credit illustrations in magazines
  • How to determine the canonical name of an artist
Let's start with the first. I believe the artist credit for a work as provided in the content section of an ISFDB publication record should follow these prioritized choices:
  1. The stated (i.e. printed) credit on the title page of the work illustrated.
  2. If there is no stated credit on the title page, then the record should give the credit provided elsewhere in the publication, such as the contents page.
  3. If there is no stated credit anywhere in the publication, and there is a recognizable signature, then the work should be credited to the identified artist's canonical name. The publication record should note the signature as the source of the credit.
  4. If there is no stated credit, nor recognizable signature, and if an identical copy of that work has been credited in another publication, then the work should be credited to the canonical artist with the source noted.
  5. If there is no stated credit, nor recognizable signature, but a reliable secondary source provides the credit, then the work should be credited to the canonical artist with the source noted.
  6. If there is no stated credit anywhere in the publication, and there is neither a recognizable signature nor a reliable secondary source, the work should be credited as "uncredited".
I personally do not feel that the "most complete credit found in the issue throughout" is keeping with the spirit of the ISFDB's standard of recording credit "as is". If an illustration on page 12 is credited explicitly to "Emsh" and one on page 28 is explicitly credited to "Emshwiller" the ISFDB publication should reflect that. Both would then be varianted to the artist's canonical name.
Which brings us to the second point, how to determine an artist's canonical name. For well-known artists, most editors here can easily determine which name is canonical, just as we have for well-known authors. It's the lesser-known artists where a problem may arise. In order to save time in the creation of variants, it should come down to which name has the most credits. That number may change if the artist is still active. And that's where a change of software would come in handy to ease the reversal of a canonical/pseudonymous relationship. That may not even be possible based on Ahasuerus's statement in the previous topic. So be it. Then it will have to be done manually. It could be a group project, but it seems to be a case where most of these manual changes are typically done by a very small group of editors. (How many of you have even looked at the clean-up scripts, much less actually worked on them?) So the burden should fall to those editors who feel the strongest about the reversal of pseudonyms. That's basically how the ISFDB works anyway. Before a reversal is done, whether it be artist or author, a note should be posted on the Moderator's Noticeboard declaring the intent, and soliciting assistance in doing it. Mhhutchins 03:56, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
(After an edit conflict and agrees with much of Michael's comments above) I go with the credit that is closest to the illustration, i.e. first if the artwork is credited in the caption, then the title page of the story and lastly if it credited on the contents page or in an editorial. If there is only a signature, I go with the canonical name of the artist. I don't really think of signatures in the same way as a printed credit and some can be quite stylized (e.g. Gaughan, Barr or Bok). I wouldn't want to use a different form of a name than an explicit credit even if a more complete form of the name existed elsewhere in the magazine. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 04:02, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
my approach is the same as Michael's 90 percent of the time. I'm reluctant to assign a canonical name since I feel that for illustrators most are pretty fluid. I proposed SFE3 as standard for canonical names in the Valigursky posting since it is authoritative and the canonical names that they use are less likely to change. I've seen quite a few flip back and forth in the ISFDB. Using the artist credit closest to the story doesn't always work. Using Emsh as an example, it feels wrong to assign Emsh as credited on the title page if the illustration just above is signed Ed Emshwiller. Likewise, if the indexed story credits the illustration to Ed Emshwiller, but the title page credits Emsh, that again feels wrong.--Rkihara 21:47, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Julien Blondel

Do you know Julien Blondel? If so, do you think he's an eligible author for the database? Mhhutchins is holding my pub and will probably reject the submission. More information about the author is here. I wanted to add the german edition of this graphic novel. Thanks Peregrin

My interpretation of the ISFDB policy concerning graphic novels is given here. Mhhutchins 23:33, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
If memory serves, the last time the question came up, the consensus was that we only wanted to include graphic novels by speculative (prose) fiction writers above the threshold. It looks like Julien Blondel has been a prolific RPG/comic/graphic novel/etc writer, but hasn't done much on the fiction side of things.
More generally, I try to be conservative when dealing with graphic novels because our software doesn't distinguish them from regular novels, which can cause confusion. There is a Feature Request to add them as a title type, at which point I expect we will revisit the issue. Ahasuerus 02:51, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
In this case, I think that this artist is below the threshold in the SF field. He's barely present in noosfere (for two interviews and one review) and is not in BDFI or IndexSF (the three main french bibliographic sites). Hauck 14:34, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
He's also not listed in FantasticFiction (UK). He has no "regular" entries in ISFDB. He's not listed in SFE. Amazon knows of nothing by him except graphic novels. My conclusion: He does not belong in ISFDB. Chavey 05:42, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
The consensus is clear. I'll reject the submission. Mhhutchins 16:21, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks to all contributors. Peregrin 10:05, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

Clement's Mesklin: one member more

I just have added Lecture Demonstration to the series in question without knowing the story, but based on the wikipedia entry we link to. If there's evidence that was a wrong thing to do, please reverse the step. Stonecreek 14:14, 27 June 2014 (UTC)

Clark Ashton Smith question

In Smith's summary bibliography, "Ubbo-Sathla" is listed under the "Averoigne" short fiction series. However, "Ubbo-Sathla (synopsis)" is listed under the "Hyperborea" short fiction series. This doesn't seem right to me. Could someone more knowledgeable about Smith than I evaluate whether these two items really belong in different series? (Wikipedia puts "Ubbo-Sathla" under "Hyperborea".) Chavey 05:36, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

This article on Eldritch Dark placed it it in the Hyperborea series. They include a link to the full text of the story and there are passages where characters are examining artifacts from Hyperborea. They are also examining things from France, but not specifically Averoigne. Our secondary verification sources that include series information (Locus1, Contento1 and Miller/Contento) don't place it in either series. Actually, it looks like they don't track either series, though they do track Zothique. In any case, I think we should move it to Hyperborea. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 14:20, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
From the description, it seemed to me also that in belonged in Hyperborea. Hearing no objections, I have moved it to that series. Chavey 23:39, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

The Avenger

I have the the complete Paperback Library series of Kenneth Robeson's THE AVENGER. Do these qualify for the database? Some titles the appear in the pulps are here but none of the books.Don Erikson 19:06, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

I am not really familiar with the character, but Wikipedia quotes Don Hutchison's "The Great Pulp Heroes – 3: The Avenger" (published in Peter Harris, The New Captain George's Whizzbang #12 (1971)) to the effect that the original stories were "were well-plotted mysteries with mild science-fictional extrapolations". In addition, the ten novels that came out in the 1970s were written by Ron Goulart, a well-known SF writer. On balance I think this borderline series is "in". Ahasuerus 01:14, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia also describes the primary science-fictional elements as (1) The death-like inexpressibility of his face, and the inability to use any facial muscles allowed The Avenger to mold his face into any person he wished to impersonate; and (2) The use of James Bond/Batman type technology, including "knockout gas bombs, miniature two-way radios, a woven, transparent bullet-proof garment and 'glass pellets containing a gas... [which] instantly [spread] a black impenetrable pall like instant night' ". The former ability, which is the more fantastical, only lasted through the first 13 issues, and was then "repaired". The second, the technology gimmicks, last throughout the series, and at least rival those used by James Bond in the movie adaptations, which we include here. So I would also conclude that, while borderline, these belong "in". I'll mention that the Wikipedia article on Kenneth Robeson says that all of these books were written by Paul Ernst, under the Robeson house name. Chavey 23:59, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

Patch r2014-209 -- Award Categories updated

Award categories have been updated to support Notes and Web pages. This was the last software change that had to be in place before enabling award editing for non-moderators. I will review/update awards-related Help pages later today and expect to enable award editing shortly thereafter. Ahasuerus 12:40, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

Award Editing enabled

Award editing options are now available to all users -- please see Help:Screen:AddAward, Help:Screen:EditAward and Help:Screen:LinkAward for details. There has been no change to Award Categories, which can only be added/edited by moderators, or to Award Types, which can be added by bureaucrats and edited by moderators.

If you would like to work on adding awards that are currently not supported by ISFDB, please post your request here and we can add new award types quickly. Ahasuerus 02:29, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

Hi Ahasuerus, The work you've been doing for Awards is great, however, I've been having some problems lately:
1. I can no longer Edit or Delete an award - I first noticed this just after the Ditmar Awards presentations in early June, when I wanted to change the appropriate records from "Nomination" to "Win". (I'm a moderator & used to be able to do it.) This is on the title's page, and also on the page for the Award year (eg here, where the only award related links I get on the LHS are "Add Untitled Award of This Type" & "Add Untitled Award".) --clarkmci / j_clark 23:31, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
All "Edit Award" and "Delete Award" links have been moved to the "Award Details" page, e.g. see this page or this other page. The new "Link Award" option is also available from the Award Details page. You can access Award Details pages by following "Win" and "Nomination" links from other awards-related pages. Ahasuerus 00:26, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
2. Also, I thought I'd try the new ordering for categories & only get "Add New Award Category to This Award Type" (where I can put an order in a new category), but can't see an "Edit Award Category ..." (I'm trying the Aurealis type here). Have I missed something? --clarkmci / j_clark 23:31, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
You have to be on an Award Category page in order to be able to edit it, e.g. "Best First Novel". I assume that you were on the Award Type page, which only lets you add new categories. Ahasuerus 00:26, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Got it, thanks (both points). I assume it is OK to change the default order for the common categories that used to be "hard coded" to whatever I want, 'cos now is saved "per Type"?

--clarkmci / j_clark 01:00, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Absolutely. Knock yourself out :) Ahasuerus 01:21, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Wonderful! Have "knocked myself out" with the Aurealis Awards - ordering all done & looking good, IMHO. --clarkmci / j_clark 01:53, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

On Awards in general: I can't find the thread where the difficulty for our Awards module with the Wheel of Time series being on the Hugo list was raised. I've been thinking about what might be required - apologies if others have already suggested these cases - or is this what Award Linking is about? (I don't see any links relating to award linking, so haven't tried it). Anyway, from my experience with the Aurealis Awards and the Ditmar Awards, I've noticed 3 situations that involve more than one record:
(i) More than one title is cited for 1 award. (usually in the same series, but not always the full series) (multiple title records)
(ii) Author and illustrator of a work are cited for 1 award (also multiple title records but slightly different relationship)
(iii) The editor of a collection is also cited for the award (title record of the collection, plus an "author" without a specific title). --clarkmci / j_clark 23:31, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

G.I. Joe "Create Your Own Story"

The title series G.I. Joe is, as it now stands, a combination of two completely different series, both published by Ballantine Books in the late 80's (hence, I suspect, the confusion). Those books which begin with the word "Operation" all belong to a "Find Your Fate" G.I. Joe series, 1986-87, which appears to be one of those "Create Your Own Story" type of books. The other series, of six numbered books published in 1988, is a regular series. Both of them include fantastical weaponry etc., and would be in on those grounds. But before I fix this up, I can't remember: Do we include "Create Your Own Story" series? My memory is we do not, but I couldn't find that statement anywhere. Chavey 04:41, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

I don't know of any discussion regarding it, but we have several such series in the database: Choose Your Own Adventure, Endless Quest Universe, & Find Your Fate. -- JLaTondre (talk) 06:37, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. I'll split them into two series. I just didn't want to go to the work to find the missing titles if it wasn't a series we would want. Chavey 09:41, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy

Why was this chosen as the canonical name when there's not one title in the database credited to that name? Mhhutchins 14:10, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

The problem that we had in this case was that we had two Alexey Tolstoys: Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy and Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy. After trying various approaches, we decided to use their full names as canonical names and set up other forms of their names ("Alexei N. Tolstoy", "Alexei Tolstoy", "Alexis Tolstoy", etc) as pseudonyms. Ahasuerus 16:45, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Shouldn't one of the Alexey Tolstoys been changed to "Alexey Tolstoy (I)"? Otherwise you've created a house name which is shared by the two authors. In most cases in the database, when two authors have the same name, at least one must be disambiguated. Then it is often made into a pseudonym of the canonical name. For example, there are two authors named "Don Miller". One kept it as a canonical name. The other's credited were changed to Don Miller (I) and that name was made into a pseudonym of Donald L. Miller (the canonical name). Anyone going to the summary page for "Alexey Tolstoy" and clicks on the "Show Titles" link will see titles from two different authors. They won't know who the canonical author is until they click on the title. That system works for house names (because that's the best we can do with the current software), but it does not work for persons having a common name. Mhhutchins 17:31, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Sounds reasonable. As an aside, the current system as it has evolved to cope with various software limitations over the years is clearly suboptimal and the software needs to be improved to support multiple authors with the same name. I guess one thing we could do quickly to make the current system a bit more user-friendly would be to display the canonical title/authors on the "Show Titles" (and associated Advanced Search) pages. Ahasuerus 22:33, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Very good idea! That would make looking for titles under house names so much better. Mhhutchins 00:47, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
OK, I have created an FR. Not sure when I will get to it since I haven't been feeling well lately, but it's fairly high on the list of things to do. Ahasuerus 01:09, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Patch r2014-212 - Series deletion

The Web page displayed after creating a Delete Series submission should be more user-friendly now. Over the next few days I plan to go over the remaining submission types which currently display meaningless XML code and convert them to nicer looking tables. The data that these tables display will be the same data that moderators see when reviewing submissions.

Once the changes have been finalized, I plan to link these tables from "My Pending Edits" so that editors could review their submissions after the fact. It's not quite as simple as it sounds since in some cases there are moderator-only functions linked to these display tables and they need to be carefully disentangled, but hopefully it shouldn't take too long. Ahasuerus 03:44, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Edit Title updated. Ahasuerus 03:11, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Delete Title updated. Ahasuerus 20:55, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
New/Edit/Delete Award done. 14 submission types to go... Ahasuerus 03:04, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Link Review and Link Award done. Ahasuerus 12:49, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Publisher Merge done. Ahasuerus 22:00, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Make Pseudonym and Remove Pseudonym done. 9 submission types to go. Ahasuerus 01:33, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Delete Pub done. (Still sick, so things are progressing slowly.) Ahasuerus 22:27, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
Remove Title done. Ahasuerus 23:27, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
Add Variant done. Ahasuerus 05:32, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Title Merge/Unmerge done. Ahasuerus 21:42, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Make Variant done. Ahasuerus 03:21, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Patch r2014-213 - Show Titles/Advanced Search changes

As per the discussion above the Show Titles page and the associated Advanced Title Search page have been changed. There are two new columns for "Parent Title" and "Parent Authors". The latter is only populated if the parent's author(s) are different from the variant's. Here is what David V. Reed's "Show Title" page looks like and here is Alexander Blade's page.

P.S. I wasn't sure whether we should display the title of the parent record when it's the same as the variant's title, but I couldn't think of another way to provide a direct link to the parent record. Suggestions more than welcome! Ahasuerus 21:26, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Wonderful new tool, especially for house names like Blade. Thanks. Mhhutchins 21:46, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Patch r2014-214 - "as by" logic fixed

On Summary Bibliography pages the "as by" logic was buggy when a VT had the authors listed in a different order. For example, if the parent title was "Wall Around a Star" by "Jack Williamson and Frederik Pohl" and the VT was "Sternenwelt" by "Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson", the Summary Bibliography page would display the VT with an "as by" qualifier. This bug has been fixed, although we still have some issues with the way collaborative Serials are displayed. I intend to fix them when I clean up the Serial logic, which has been wonky for a long time. Ahasuerus 23:40, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. Were you aware of the bug that displays an interview twice when the interviewer and interviewee are the same person, and was published under a pseudonym? Rare collision of "ifs", but it happens more often than you think with Locus interviews, which credits the interviewee as the author of the title. See the two interviews displayed at the bottom of the summary page for Paul J. McAuley. I know it's not the same as the above mentioned bug, but it seems to be similar. Mhhutchins 01:28, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Nope, I have never seen this problem before. Bug created, thanks! Ahasuerus 01:42, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

Series, series num, Web pages, Synopsis in New Pub?

We have a request (FR 288) [correction: FR 28] to add the following Title-specific fields to the New Publication Web page:

  • Series
  • Series Number
  • Web pages (the FR actually says "Wiki link" because it was created prior to the URL consolidation project)
  • Synopsis

It's not hard to do, but the FR is relatively old and I'd like to make sure that the functionality is still desirable before I move it up the list. Ahasuerus 03:34, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

You say "FR 288", but link to "FR 28". It appears that the link is to the correct FR. Anyway, I think that functionality would still be useful, and I would have used it on several pub. series I was working on lately. As a moderator, it wasn't hard to do it in 2 steps, but it would have been annoying as a non-mod -- plus it seemed illogical that it wasn't there. Chavey 04:36, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, that was supposed to be FR 28. Ahasuerus 20:56, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
If nothing else, having Title Series and Title Series Number available on New Pub (and any other pub-editing where Pub Series appears) would probably help reduce a very frequent source of mistakes made by new and infrequent editors. I also think, from a usability perspective, it's good to allow someone to be able to do one-stop data entry from book in hand, without having to wait for the (unobvious) title creation side effect -- and attendant moderated submission delay -- to complete the data entry. --MartyD 22:49, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
I highly second series and series number. As MartyD says, this should cut down the number times moderators have to fix the title series being submitted in the publication series. As for synopsis, that's been implemented for awhile. -- JLaTondre (talk) 22:52, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately, most new editors (and many current ones) don't know the difference between publication series and title series. Perhaps having them both on a NewPub entry form might make them think twice before entering. It's important to distinguish the two on the entry form. I like the addition of a web page link, too. But there's already a synopsis field in the NewPub form, so I'm not sure what you mean here. Mhhutchins 23:14, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) OK, so the proposed functionality is still desirable; I'll add it to my short list. Except, of course, for the Synopsis field, which was implemented a few years ago. Thanks for the feedback! Ahasuerus 03:09, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

Some new series, from Wikipedia

During the last few weeks, I've been working on improving links between us and Wikipedia with respect to series. Although both title series and publication series have fields for such links, very few were used. So far I've added 1062 links from us to them (17 publication series, and 1045 title series). I suspect I have a few hundred more to go, then I'll add the links from Wikipedia series pages back to us. Along the way, I've filled out a few of the series we were weak on, although there's a lot more of that to do. I also used some of their suggestions for new series, or re-organization of some of ours -- especially in areas where it seems they have more topic-obsessed fans than we do (e.g. "Forgotten Realms", and various TV spin-offs). I've also recommended a batch of the series they had for deletion, 4 of which are now gone.

Most of the changes I made to our series are non-controversial, but there are four that I wanted to mention here, in case someone wishes to argue against them. For our series to be able to link to comparable Wikipedia series is nice, but is a fairly small benefit if the series don't make sense from our point of view. The four such series I added are:

  1. They had a "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch" series. I added this, but I have some doubts. Several of the works they put in that series we already have in other series, so I could do nothing more than list them in the notes to that series. But the fact that I had to do that with 10 books may indicate that this is not a helpful way to organize a group of DS9 books.
  2. I added their "Lovecraft's Dream Cycle", which seems a useful organization of some related short stories. But this turns out to be mostly just the stories in the collection "The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft", so again, I'm not fully convinced that this is a useful organizing theme.
  3. An interesting idea, IMO, was Wikipedia's series on "Leigh Brackett's Solar System". Of course we already had a Leigh Brackett "Mars" series, but their suggestion was to organize several of the short stories around Mercury, Venus, Earth, Jupiter, and the Asteroid Belt. There are some things that are borderline fits (which I generally left out). And there's the oddity that "The Dragon-Queen of Venus" is a variant of "The Dragon-Queen of Jupiter" (where all the original occurrences of "Jupiter" were replaced with "Venus"), but we can't put the main title and its variant into different series. And "Enchantress of Venus" has to go into "Eric John Stark", which is a sub-series of "Mars". Nevertheless, in spite of a few problems, it seemed to me like a useful idea for a series & sub-series, although I can imagine others disagreeing.
  4. Wikipedia has a series for "Laser Books". And while we don't normally put all the books of a publisher into a publication series, the Laser Books were all numbered, and it's fairly common for us to put such numbered books into a publication series (although not everyone agrees with that). As I currently have it set, all Laser Books except one are in that publication series. The one exception is Seeds of Change, which was sent out as premium for new subscribers. If you look at the ISBNs for the series, they fit an obvious pattern, and by that pattern Seeds of Change has the ISBN of "book 0". Wikipedia includes it as #0 in the series; but since it did not call itself "#0", I have not included it at all.

I'll have another posting later about some issues with ~30 international book series that Wikipedia has that we do not, but I'll hold off on that for now. Chavey 04:56, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

I think it's useful to have Laser Books organized as a publication series. It's a relatively small set of numbered items and the ability to sort by pub series number is desirable.
As far as the Star Trek universe goes, they have a number of crossover series and we won't be able to get everything neatly organized until we add support for "multi-series" titles. Until then we'll just have to do the best we can. Ahasuerus 21:00, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
I don't think the author(s) of the Wikipedia articles have a handle on the differences between title series and publication series. (Some editors here have problems as well.) So there's no need for the ISFDB to conform to Wikipedia's idea of what constitutes a series. That's already been defined here on the ISFDB.
1. Star Trek. Because a title can't be in two series at the same time in the ISFDB, I don't know how this will be sorted out. But we have to remember, the placement of a work into a title series should be based solely on its contents and not how or who publishes it.
2. Lovecraft. The question is "Is there enough connection between the stories to consider them a title series?". If the answer is yes, and you can back it up with facts, then do it.
3: Leigh Brackett. Settings do not necessarily make a title series. And you point out one of the reasons why such a series can't be created on the ISFDB.
4. Laser. The publication records look funny but I see no problem with it being handled as a publication series.
I think any attempt to make us "match up" with Wikipedia is futile. We should create title series based on internal data or from the authors' websites, and not feel the need to conform to Wikipedia. Mhhutchins 21:35, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
I have no necessary desire to make us "match up" to Wikipedia, and I have certainly ignored some of their series, rather I view those series as "suggestions to consider". I agree with you that their editors don't understand the differences between the two kinds of series, and Wikipedia as a whole doesn't distinguish them. We sometimes confuse them ourselves, e.g. when Star Trek contains a sub-series Star Trek: Bantam Books and Star Trek: Titan, both of which should be publication series. Similar things happen with other large series, nevertheless as a way to break up these lists of a hundred titles in the main series into smaller chunks, it's still useful. Reading the Wikipedia synopsis of these other 3 series does make them appear fairly well connected from a storyline. In particular:
1. Star Trek: Wikipedia says: "Set after the series finale, these novels differ from previous Deep Space Nine books in that they form a continuing storyline."
2. Lovecraft. Wikipedia says: "These stories concern themselves with The Dreamlands, a vast, alternate dimension that can be entered via dreams."
3. Brackett Universe: This is a slightly weaker case, IMO. Wikipedia says: "Although Brackett's stories do not form a series with a consistent chronology and causally connected incidents, more than half of them are recognizably set in the same universe: a Solar System of the near future, with space travel and distinctive alien and human cultures on Mercury, Venus, Mars, the Asteroids, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The stories of the Brackett Universe are bound together by shared terminology, place-names, "facts" about biology and culture, and occasionally shared characters. For instance, Brackett's Mercury is a nightmare world of extremes, where powerful storms rack a narrow habitable twilight belt; her Venus is a place where the liha-trees grow in the swamps around embattled outworld cities." Chavey 09:12, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Michael, to be frank, I have no use for Wikipedia's advice on SF-related bibliographic (and else) matters as it's frequently far from being their forte. As for Brackett, the risk is to end with a kind of generic "Solar System" title series for every SF author that dabbled in interplanetary fiction (or "Milky Way" for interstellar fiction). Hauck 14:28, 12 July 2014 (UTC)

"Robots Have No Tails", by Lewis Padgett

We had this title listed as by Henry Kuttner. L.W. Currey has it listed as by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. We normally view Currey as authoritative, so I have changed our title record to agree with him. Chavey 09:17, 12 July 2014 (UTC)

There are two issues with that:
  1. You should not have changed the title record directly. That title record (the collection container record) should match the pub records which are credited to Kuttner only. You should have varianted it to a new Kuttner + Moore record.
  2. The notes in this verified publication state "This Lancer edition is published as by Henry Kuttner, and has a new introduction by C. L. Moore, in which she states '...not a word of any of them is mine'." While Currey is viewed as authoritative as a secondary source, we treat the primary source as the most authoritative.
I believe the change should be reverted and a variant not created. A note about discrepancy between Currey and the publication can be added to the title record. -- JLaTondre (talk) 12:40, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Sounds about right. Ahasuerus 03:42, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
It's unusual to find an error from Currey, but it does happen. (I found a different one yesterday.) I reverted the book, and added a note to the title record. The contents of the book, however, still show two novelette's ("The Proud Robot" and "Gallegher Plus") as by Kuttner and Moore. (I did not make those changes.) From the sounds of the note in the Lancer edition, it would seem that both of these novelettes should be changed as well. (Of course that's not a "revert", it's a change that would apply to lots of other verified publications.) Chavey 19:58, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Joe Plantagenet Mysteries

Would anyone happen to be familiar with "Joe Plantagenet Mysteries" by Kate Ellis? An Amazon review of the fourth volume mentions "more than a hint of supernatural happenings", but it's not entirely clear whether the SF element is real or explained away in the end. Ahasuerus 03:34, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Sounds like a "Scooby-Doo" to me. Personally, I would suggest not adding the title based on such slim evidence. It might lead to a user adding other books in the series which have no sf elements at all. Perhaps we should wait for more primarily verified evidence? Mhhutchins 00:01, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
My wife is a mystery fan, read the reviews, and said "Yes, that's a series I should read". She got the audio book, is now 4 chapters through it, and says there are ghosts all over the place. By Tuesday morning I'll be able to tell you if they're supernatural ghosts or Scooby-Doo ghosts. She's betting on supernatural. Then she's going back to book 3, which from the review looks like it might be supernatural as well. Books 1 and 2 appear to be setting it up, with "intimations" of supernatural activity, but not enough to make in in. Chavey 03:04, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
They are real ghosts, and it does qualify as "supernatural", at least in book #4. I'll work on writing up a synopsis that specifies more of what the supernatural aspects are, and I think my wife is going on to book #3. Chavey 01:54, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks to the two of you for checking! :) Ahasuerus 03:19, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Browsing ISFDB while logged out

A user has reported encountering multiple "server errors" while browsing ISFDB without logging in. Has anyone seen anything similar in the last few days? I have been unable to recreate the problem, but perhaps a recent patch may have broken something. Ahasuerus 20:58, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Never even tried, since I'm logged in permanently. I'll log out and see if I have any problems. Mhhutchins 21:44, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Couldn't reproduce the problem while logged out. Mhhutchins 22:22, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for checking! Ahasuerus 22:29, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
I did some browsing over last weekend on a tablet that was logged out, without any issues. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 23:58, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
There are the known issues with long delays at about 1:00 am CST (6:00 am GMT), when I think there are backups going and/or the scripts that generate various daily pages are running. I have had several occasions when during that half-hour of 6:00-6:30 GMT I've had the server unable to respond, and I get a server error report. I suspect that's what this user was running into. Chavey 00:40, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
As of a few months ago, the daily backups are run at 9:30am server (Central US) time. However, there are still occasional slowdowns in the wee hours of the morning, which, I am guessing, may have caused the problems that this user experienced. Ahasuerus 03:32, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
The scripts that generate the "Top Lists", and possibly other statistics pages, are run at 1:00 am (CST), which may be part of that daily slowdown. Chavey 13:22, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
That's true, but the user is reporting persistent errors over the course of a number of days, which is odd. Not sure what else we can do to help him, though... Ahasuerus`
Blame it on the loss of Net Neutrality :-) Chavey 15:50, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) Took me long enough, but I think I finally figured it out. To simplify a bit, browsers keep your log-in information on your hard drive and use it when you access ISFDB. If the sign-in information kept by the browser becomes invalid, the ISFDB server considers it a security issue, logs you out and displays the following error message: "*** Login information no longer valid, please log in again". This shouldn't happen very often unless your browser is experiencing problems.

Well, it turns out that there was a bug in the part of the software that handles the Title page and it would error out when trying to display this message. I will send an e-mail to the user who originally reported this problem to let him know that the bug has been fixed. Ahasuerus 20:58, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

Patch r2014-228 - Edit Publication changes

Edit Publication has been changed to display a tabular view of the submitted data once you click "Submit Changed Data". Please note that unlike other similar changes, this one was fairly involved. If you encounter bugs or unexpected behavior, please post your findings here. Ahasuerus 23:43, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

It looks like the patch broke AddPubs. Looking into it... Ahasuerus 01:30, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
The immediate problem has been fixed. A permanent solution will be implemented in the next day or two when I am done upgrading NewPubs, which are interlinked with AddPubs. Ahasuerus 02:01, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Clone Publication and Import/Export Content have been upgraded as well. I tested them to the best of my ability, but the code is somewhat tricky, so it's possible that I missed something. Ahasuerus 03:30, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
New Publication and Add Publication have been upgraded as well.
At this point all submission types have undergone as facelift and the old XML stuff should be gone for good. Now we can take advantage of this fact and make submissions viewable via My Pending Edits and My Rejected Edits. Give me a day or two... Ahasuerus 20:23, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

Lists of pending/recent/rejected edits enhanced

Various lists of pending/recent/rejected edits have been enhanced to provide links to the bodies of submissions. If you follow the link in the "Type" column, you will land on the new "View Submission" page where you can see submission details, e.g. see this rejected submission. Hopefully this will make it easier for editors and moderators to communicate since they will now have access to the same information.

Please note that, as the new page says:

  • For "Edit" submissions, the "Current" column shows the data as it currently exists in the database, not as it existed when the submission was created.
  • As a corollary, if one (or more) of the records affected by your submission has been deleted since the submission was created, you may see an error of some sort. To the best of my knowledge all errors of this type are handled gracefully and an appropriate message is displayed, but it's possible that an uncommon sequence of edits may result in an unhandled errors.

Admittedly, this is not ideal, but it's the best we can do given the way the system works right now.

Also, you may need to synchronize your browser with the server -- the details are browser-specific, but Control-F5 usually works -- in order to see the correct background colors on the new page. Ahasuerus 06:06, 21 July 2014 (UTC)

Further tweaks have been made to display submission status (pending/approves/canceled-rejected) and allow submitters to cancel their submissions from the View Submission page.
Also, the title of the page is too generic and should display the submission type, e.g. "Proposed Author Update Submission". It's not a straightforward change, but I hope to get it done in the next day or two. Ahasuerus 20:54, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
Done. Ahasuerus 23:37, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Nice. Thanks. Mhhutchins 01:46, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Primary verifiers of issues of Analog: Tom Easton

When you get a chance please create variants for all review records credited to "Tom Easton" to a parent record crediting the canonical author's name "Thomas A. Easton". There are currently more than 2200 reviews that need to be varianted, but if each of the primary verifiers of the Analog issues participated, the items should be cleaned up relatively quickly. Thanks. Mhhutchins 18:20, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Newbery Awards?

I wonder if we may want to add Newbery Awards to our list of award types? Quite a few winners and nominees have been SF over the last 50+ years and there is a comprehensive list online, which should make entering the data a fairly straightforward proposition. Ahasuerus 21:39, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

As long as it doesn't lead to an editor attempting to enter non-sf titles just to create a complete list of winners, I'm OK with it. Mhhutchins 22:12, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Seconded - i.e., I think it would be good to have Newbery awards added for in-genre works; however, I can understand a temptation to add non-sf titles. Perhaps could put "do not enter non-sf titles" in big bold letters in the Notes field in the Award overview, although this doesn't show in the Award Year pages. Maybe also put something like "(SF titles only)" as part of the full title of the award, unless there's some page where this would look silly? (Not a problem on a work's Title page, 'cos only uses the award short form.) When adding an award, seeing something like "Newbery ... (SF titles only)" on the list in the drop-down box when selecting the award type might be enough to alert an editor to reconsider [and remind a moderator to check].
(Same discussion would apply to the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards [1] ... much further down the track, though. :-) ) --clarkmci / j_clark 23:05, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
My personal preference is to have an award titled something like "Non-genre specific awards". Then within that award we could create categories for the many places where spec fic authors occasionally come up. For example, we could add "MacArthur Genius Award" and note that Octavia Butler won that. We could add "Nobel Prize in Literature", and add an award in that category to Doris Lessing. That sort of thing. We could easily include Newbery Award winners as a "Category" of that award. Such an approach would allow us to include a lot of awards that are relevant to us, but without overwhelming the list of "Speculative Fiction" awards with a ton of awards occasionally won by our books or our authors. Chavey 14:23, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm not certain that approach would display properly, based on the current method of displaying awards. It would confuse users, who would see the name of the award in one field and the category in the other, i.e a work would win "Best Novel" for the Hugo Award but "Newbery Award" for the Newbery Award. And what if a title won more than one "non-genre specific award"? It would be a winner in two different "categories" of the same award and not two different awards. BTW, there is no "MacArthur Genius Award". It's the MacArthur Fellows Program and they're grants, not awards. Would you also create "awards" for other grants and scholarships? Mhhutchins 18:22, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
I think it may be useful to distinguish between "genre" and "non-genre" awards. E.g., we could display the latter at the bottom of the "Award Directory" page and as a separate group at the bottom of the Award drop-down list in Add Award. However, I also agree with Michael that creating a separate award type for non-genre awards may not be the best way to address the issue for the reasons that he outlined. Perhaps we could add a "Non-genre award" flag to the Award Type page and then make the award display logic leverage it? Ahasuerus 18:35, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
P.S. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can't enter a title-based award into the database unless its associated title is already in. Thus if a naive editor tries to enter a Newbery award record for a non-genre title, s/he will first have to go through the New Pub process and the submission will (hopefully) be intercepted by the approving moderator. Ahasuerus 02:10, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Yet, there were many awards for titles which were not in the database. I had to create publication records for several dozen such awards when I was working on one of the clean-up scripts. I could easily create an award for a non-genre publication without basing them on a title record. Mhhutchins 04:48, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Sure, an editor can create an "untitled award" for anything, including non-genre titles, but hopefully the approving moderator will question the submitter about any such oddities. The records that you had to clean up had been (hopefully) entered in the relatively distant past, before the current moderation process was put into place or at least before the award editing process was streamlined earlier this year. Ahasuerus 05:39, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
But those "untitled awards" I was working with were for titled works; they just weren't in the database yet. I get your point, but just wanted to point out that an editor can create an award for a non-genre work without having to work from a title record. As you point out, if we're going to add these non-genre awards, it's going to be up to the moderator to be diligent in not only accepting submissions adding non-genre publications, but also keeping an eye on submissions which add awards to non-genre publications which are correctly not in the database. Mhhutchins 05:50, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
As an aside, I would like to implement at least one other type (in addition to "title based" and "untitled" awards) for "author-based" awards and probably another one for "publisher-based" awards, but that will take a fair amount of work. Ahasuerus 05:39, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
I could even award you the 2015 Hugo for your amazing work on the ISFDB. :) Mhhutchins 04:48, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Stranger things have been known to happen :-) ISFDB won the Wooden Rocket Award in 2005 when the site was in much worse shape! Ahasuerus 05:39, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Darn it. I was expecting an acceptance speech for your Hugo. Oh, well, I'll delete the record. Just know in my heart you deserve it. Mhhutchins 05:50, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
That's very kind of you, Michael, but I was just lucky to be able to retire while my brain still had a few semi-functioning cells left :) I am sure Al or Marty would have done a much better job with the software if they had more time to spend on it. And I certainly wouldn't have been able to do one twentieth of what has been done on the data entry/cleanup side alone. Ahasuerus 16:02, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
If we did include non-genre awards, (or "non-genre specific" awards, or "occasionally genre" awards), with a flag on them to help with display, then that flag could also be used to add additional warnings when someone tries to add such an award, or when a moderator is being asked to approve such an award. For experiment purposes, I'll mention that the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award is an example of such an "occasionally genre" award that we currently have in the system. Chavey 16:58, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
That's a good point. Also, the Quill Award was a multi-genre/multi-category award. We list their Science fiction/fantasy/horror category awards/nominations as well as awards given to SF titles in other categories. I guess once we add the proposed "non-genre award" flag (FR created), we should mark this award as "non-genre". Ahasuerus 22:39, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Performance problems -- 2014-08-01

I am aware of the performance problems that we have been experiencing for the last hour+, but I have been unable to do much about them. I suspect that there is something wrong with the server and it won't get better until the ISP resolves the issue. Ahasuerus 16:52, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Frustratingly slow. I'm gonna give up for awhile and hope it improves later. Thanks for the heads up. Mhhutchins 17:58, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Seems to be back to normal. (Fingers crossed.) Ahasuerus 21:08, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Still spiky much of the time... Ahasuerus 23:57, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Loncon Anyone?

Is anyone attending Loncon3 later this month and interested in meeting up for a drink or a meal? --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 18:42, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Wish I could. A good friend of mine is the Fan GoH, and it would be really nice to see her enjoy the spotlight. (If you see her, tell her Darrah sends a virtual greeting :-) Chavey 10:56, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I'll be there. Hauck 13:17, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
I'll be there too. A drink in the bar is about all I can manage as I'll have family in tow. Still can't believe I'm up for a Hugo on Sunday night! PeteYoung 14:17, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
I've sent an email to the other two who are attending. Good luck Pete! @Darrah - If I see her, I'll make a point of delivering your message. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 15:30, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Ruth Chew

Our coverage of Ruth Chew's books appears to be spotty -- we have less than half the books listed by Wikipedia. Do we have volunteers who would be willing to work on adding the missing titles/pubs? Ahasuerus 03:13, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

My grandmother's name was Ruth Chew, so I've always had a bit of an affection for her. I'll work on it. Chavey 15:00, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! :-) Ahasuerus 19:28, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
My grandfather was a fixer, so it's not hard to figure out what I'm working on. :P Mhhutchins 19:45, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Done. At least I have all the titles and the first editions, but not necessarily the reprints and translations. That at least puts us on a par with Wikipedia (better, 'cuz we have photos for all first editions :-) ). I switched one book to non-genre, based on a fairly complete plot synopsis. Chavey 03:44, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Wonderfulistic! :) Ahasuerus 06:42, 8 August 2014 (UTC) also has images of (almost?) all of the various printings and translations of Ruth's books, and they've just given us permission to link to the images on their site. I'll try to add those other works later, but I'm going to be unavailable for a couple of weeks. Chavey 12:48, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Jane Langton's "Homer Kelly" mysteries

A question for our resident mystery experts: is there anything speculative about Jane Langton's Homer Kelly mysteries? They appear to be regular whodunits, but my knowledge of the mystery genre is meager, so I may well be missing something. Ahasuerus 03:33, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

John Lescroart

A recent spate of Fixer submissions brought this author to my attention. I know nothing about him other than what I read on Wikipedia and a few reviews on Amazon. I could find nothing that mentions any of work being speculative fiction. (Even his ISFDB wiki page wonders why he's in the db.) Has anyone read any of these titles or have any idea why they're in the db?Is it possible one work was borderline and then an editor simply added other books in the series without considering their eligibility? Mhhutchins 13:42, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

Unknown to me, I say "Drop it" (as per what I gathered from the web). Hauck 15:58, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
There's not one primary verified pub, none of the titles have been reviewed in spec-fic mags, and several titles are publess. I'll remove him from the database. Mhhutchins 16:07, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Award records updated

When editing Award records, you can now enter Notes. The new field is similar to all the other Notes fields associated with Titles, Pubs, Award Types, etc. If you see anything unusual, please report your findings here. Ahasuerus 03:47, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Nice! Thanks. Mhhutchins 04:21, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Non-genre awards

As per the discussion above, I have added a "non-genre" field to Award Type records. "Non-genre" seemed a bit unclear, so the displayed name was changed to "Covers more than just SF", although that also looks rather awkward. Suggestions more than welcome!

I have also added a new Award Type and a single category for Newbery Awards. Have fun adding the winners/nominees :-)

Another thing that we briefly discussed a few days ago was splitting the table displayed on the Award Directory page into two: one for genre awards and one for non-genre awards. Earlier today I played with this layout on the development server and didn't like the results all that much. Perhaps we can revisit the issue once we have more non-genre award types on file. Ditto the issue of splitting the drop-down list of award types into two sections.

Oh, and another thought -- would it be better to display short names in the Award Type drop-down list? We currently display full names, which seems to make finding the right award type more difficult, e.g. the Newbery award is listed as "John Newbery Medal". Ahasuerus 03:08, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

re. Newbery: I'm not sure treating Honor books as nominations is the right approach. As I understand it, Honor books are indeed from non-winners from the final ballet (so in that since, they are nominations), but they are a chosen subset of the final ballet. In other words, while every Honor book may be a nomination, not every nomination is an Honor book. To me, it's more a 2nd place that a nomination. Since the Newbery committee treats it as a separate category in terms of presenting the results, I think it would be less confusing for us to do so as well. -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:05, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is another one in which they refer to the second category as the "Honor List", and they would prefer it if we called it that as well. On the other hand, most "nomination" categories are also a specific subset of the actual nominations, which have gone through some type of "first pass elimination". That's not true for all awards though -- for example, the 2010 Hemming Awards list is so bloody long because they really did list every title that was nominated to the board. Chavey 23:13, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
But if I am interpreting it correctly (and I'll admit I could be wrong on it), it isn't a "first pass elimination" case. The books are not whittled down from initial nominations to final nominations to award winner with the final nominations begin called honor books. It's a case of initial nominations being whittled down to final nominations and then out of the final nominations, one book is picked for the Award and a variable sized subset given Honor status. -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:48, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure there's really much of a difference between a 1-pass elimination step (your 2nd sentence) and a 2-pass elimination step (your 3rd sentence), but there is certainly a huge difference between "everything someone nominated" and any list that's been narrowed down. Chavey 10:26, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Originally our software support was limited to "Wins" and "Nominations". At a later point we added "Preliminary Nominees" and "Honorable Mentions" as "special award levels" displayed after nominations. This enables us to support 1-pass and 2-pass elimination schemes, but it would appear that the Newbery folks effectively use a 3-step elimination approach: Preliminary Nominees -> Nominees -> Honors -> Medal.
I don't think redoing our model to support 4 tiers would be viable at this point, but we could add a "Term used to described runner-ups" field to Award Categories. The default value of the field would be "Nomination", but moderators would be able to change it to "Honors", "Runner-ups", etc as needed. Do you think that would work? Ahasuerus 13:21, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I like that idea. Chavey 22:28, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Works for me. Thanks. -- JLaTondre (talk) 14:58, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
OK, FR 656 has been created. Ahasuerus 20:08, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
re. Dropdown: I would find short name easier. Perhaps both as in something like 'Short (Long)'? -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:05, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Thank you everybody!

I have been away for 1.5 years, and now after only 2 days of resuming my work here I already feel quite at home again. Thank you moderators for having me back and your continued patience. Thank you devs for providing nice new tools (auto-verify, diff view after submission, ignoring whitespace on search, etc.). And thank you just about everybody for working together as a community on something that most of the world probably thinks is a waste of time :-). Sorry for being gooey, I just have to let it out of the system... Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 14:21, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Welcome back! :-) And has it really been 18 months? Wow... Ahasuerus 15:19, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

The Fall of the Towers: Eliminate prologue and epilogue title records

This concerns the omnibus The Fall of the Towers (of which I have a copy). Almost all publications of the omnibus contain two title records for a "Prologue" (title record) and an "Epilogue" (title record). These are actually the prologue of the first omnibus novel "Captives of the Flame" and the epilogue of the last omnibus novel "City of a Thousand Suns". I already checked with Bluesman and he verified that the original novels indeed contain the prologue/epilogue and that this is not just a wild guess of mine.

So in my opinion these two title records should be eliminated (= deleted from the database), because we never record prologues and epilogues for novels - they are basically just another chapter - and therefore these prologue/epilogue title records just add noise without information to the database. How do other editors feel about this? I am writing this on the community portal because so many editors (14 in total) have PV'ed one (or more) publications of the omnibus. Also, I am aware of the general reluctance towards deleting anything from the database, so unaffected editors might also want to chime in. Thanks, Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 16:50, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

I agree and will remove them from my verified copy. (The title records can't be deleted until they're removed from all publication records.) I don't have the separate novels and never realized those pieces were written for the original works and not this omnibus edition. Thanks for pointing it out. Mhhutchins 17:06, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
The record I verified has been co-verified, so I'll wait until the others have had a chance to provide their opinion on the matter. Mhhutchins 17:08, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree they should be removed. I'll edit both my verifications if the other verifiers agree. --Willem H. 20:40, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I do not agree. When editions of a given title differ in the presence or absence -or published version- of a prologue and/or epilogue, it is very handy to note whether one or the other is actually present. I'd vote for adding the prolgue and epilogue to stand-alone title(s) too.--Dirk P Broer 21:37, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Prologues and epilogues are inseparable parts of a novel. They are not separate entities. Many novels have titles for each chapters. Would you suggest a separate record for each of those chapters? I think not. So just because they're given a separate title doesn't make them different from any other part of a novel. As for the presence or absence of parts of a singular work in different editions, that can be noted in the Note field. Just as we note if a work has been revised. Mhhutchins 23:11, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
No objection to removing them from the record of the copy Willem H. and I verified. Linguist 19:57, 18 August 2014 (UTC).
I agree. They are integral part of a larger work & should removed.Don Erikson 20:55, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Remove but add a note I believe the reason the publication was recorded this way is the table of contents has:
Epigraph 7
Prologue 11
Out of the Dead City 17
The Towers of Toron 147
City of a Thousand Suns 279
Epilogue 407
Author's Afterword 412

While normally a prologue and/or epilogue are part of the story and not given their own title record I can see why this publication record was structured the way it is. It is not clear to people who verify this omnibus on if the Prologue and Epilogue were from the original stories or new material written for this omnibus edition. I'd want to add a note about this though it's not clear if the best location for the note is at the publication or title level.

Related to the Prologue is the publication also has an epigraph on page [7]. It is an untitled poem from Horae Canonicae by W. H. Auden. I do not know if this poem appeared in the original publication of Out of the Dead City and is thus part of that story or new material for the omnibus edition. We likely should have a note about this in the publication record. --Marc Kupper|talk 21:21, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Comment on error #1 in the publication record - The publication record has:
7 • Author's Note on the Revision of this Edition (The Fall of the Towers) • (1970) • essay by Samuel R. Delany
This essay appears on page [2] of the publication, not 7. Are there any objections to fixing the record to say it's on page 2? --Marc Kupper|talk 21:21, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment on error #2 in the publication record - The publication's Contents table has "Author's Afterword" ... 412. The essay is titled "Author's Afterword" on pages 412 and 413. We are recording this as:
412 • Afterword (The Fall of the Towers) • (1964) • essay by Samuel R. Delany
We should have recorded the title as "Author's Afterword" and a variant title of the existing "Afterword" title record. --Marc Kupper|talk 21:21, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
In any case, neither of these are "essays", and I've removed them from the record which I've verified. I have also corrected the afterword's title, dating it as 1970, which appears to be its first publication, as the afterword of the omnibus edition. Although it is author dated as "March 24th, 1964", it can not have been published in 1964, since the last work of the trilogy wasn't published until 1965. Will anyone who has a standalone copy of City of a Thousand Suns confirm whether it has an author's afterword? (As opposed to a fictional epilogue of the novel.) Thanks. Mhhutchins 21:38, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
They seem like essays to me. Template:PublicationInfo:WhatToInclude says "Forewords, introductions, prefaces, afterwords, endnotes, etc. These should all be included; enter them as ESSAYs. Occasionally something like an endnote will be set in the fictional world of the novel; these do not get indexed separately as they are regarded as part of the novel's text." The "Author's Note ..." is about the writing/revision process and not part of the story. The "Author's Afterword ..." is also about the writing process and not part of the story. Which publication record are are you updating? You said you had change the date of the afterword record to 1970. Afterword (The Fall of the Towers) was dated 1964. I changed that one to 1970 and also added a note. --Marc Kupper|talk 22:50, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
I was referring to the two pieces which was the reason for the original post: the prologue and the epilogue, not the introduction and afterword, which are clearly essays and should be part of the record. Since that was the topic of the post, I didn't think it was necessary to be more specific. Sorry. I updated the record which I verified. Mhhutchins 23:10, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike - I pulled up my copy of Out of the Dead City and it does not have the Prologue which makes a case for keeping it as a separate record for those publications that contain it and adding a note explaining it's missing from those publications where it's missing. I documented the pagination at Publication:TFTHDDCTBC1966. Amazon ASIN B00D8CY7T2 is for a Kindle edition that offers a Look Inside. It has the Prologue. --Marc Kupper|talk 01:44, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Adding a few pages of new text to a novel doesn't make that text a separate work. Otherwise, you'd be adding content records for hundreds of pieces that are added to revised versions of stories and novels. Just mention it in the Note field of the publication record. That's why the Note field exists. Mhhutchins 01:53, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
I've got the Ace printings both both the individual novels and the omnibus and I do agree that the prologue and epilogue should be removed as content records. Additionally the "Author's Afterword" does appear in the the standalone City of a Thousand Suns under the title "Appendix to the Fall of Towers" beginning on page 154. It also gives the Auden epigraph at the end of the appendix (page 156), which appears on page 7 of the omnibus. I'm not going to update the records as I'm far from the first verifier on any of them and I think others have already volunteered to do so at the close of this discussion. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 12:33, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

[unindent]. It has been 11 days since the last comment. Here is a summary of the votes, broken down per pub record (note that Bluesman expressed his opinion on his own talk page):

Pub record Remove Do not remove No response Inactive Proposed action
Pub record 39544 3x (Don Erikson, Rtrace, Bluesman) 1x (Teddybear) Remove
Pub record 308092 2x (Willem H., Linguist) Remove
Pub record 256334 3x (Willem H., Marc Kupper, Bluesman) 1x (Rhschu) 1x (Cayer1886) Remove
Pub record 352209 1x (Bluesman) 1x (Pips55) Remove
Pub record 276455 1x (2theD) Remove
Pub record 351539 1x (Herzbube) 1x (Dirk P Broer) Do not remove
Pub record 39542 2x (Don Erikson, Bluesman) Remove
Pub record 371978 1x (Rudam) Remove

Proposed actions:

  • I will remove the two content records from all pub records where the proposed action is "Remove" (unless a primary verifier wants to do it himself)
  • Since Dirk objected to removing the content records from our mutually verified pub record, both the prologue and epilogue title records will remain in the database
  • I will add notes to the Omnibus and the prologue/epilogue title records so there is a chance that in the future editors will be alerted to the situation (see Marc's proposal)
  • Editors who wish to add clarifying notes to their verified pub records should do so at their convenience

I plan to implement these proposals in another week, unless there are objections or amendments.

Last but not least, I would like to suggest that the additional concerns raised by Marc be discussed separately (someone who is involved please take the lead here):

  • Add a note to pub record about the epigraph
  • Fix page number for "Author's Note" in the pub record
  • Fix title of "Author's Afterword" title record

Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 13:33, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

All done now. Cheers, Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 18:40, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure if I understand the note you added to the title records for the Prologue and the Epilogue which now are only contained in one publication record as ESSAYs. They're either separate from the novel, thus SHORTFICTION, or they're part of the novel and should be removed. Are the Prologue and Epilogue of this publication different from the ones included in the other editions of the trilogy? You and Dirk primary verified that record, and he was the sole voice that called for keeping those titles. Once a consensus is reached, all records should reflect that consensus, and not changed or made an exception based on the opinion of the editor who verified the record. Mhhutchins 20:31, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Ron as the owner of the individual novels confirmed that prologue and epilogue are part of their respective novels. Prior research of mine had already indicated as much. Despite this, we did not reach a consensus to remove the title records - precisely because Dirk opposed the removal. Being unable to remove the title records, I added notes to at least try to prevent editors from using them as content records in the future. With my other changes I merely implemented what seemed to be the wishes expressed by the editors that participated in the discussion. I tried to make my intents clear in my summary table and my proposed actions, but apparently I was less clear than I thought - my apologies. If the current situation is not satisfying, the options that I can see are these:
  • Continue the discussion and convince Dirk to reach actual consensus (difficult, what other arguments are there?)
  • Have some sort of democratic vote (which will probably result in the title records being removed against Dirk's wishes)
  • Failing the above, revert all changes (not something that would make much sense to me)
Any other ideas how to resolve this? Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 00:29, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
In ISFDB parlance, "consensus" means that the majority has come to a common understanding. If we wait until 100% of the editors agree, nothing will EVER be accomplished. (Most editors don't even join in the discussion.) Mhhutchins 15:44, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Agreed, and understood. I will try to be more confident in the future. My first confident act :-) will be to remove the title records. Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 18:48, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Script for automatic download of the Backups on download page

I wrote myself a script which downloads the covers and latest database backup listed on the ISFDB_Downloads as well as the latest source code from CVS. That makes it much easier to always have the latest backups locally. It's a Linux shell script and a tiny bit smart (only starts downloads if newer files exist). Is this of interest here? I could add it to a Wiki page. Hitspacebar 18:55, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

Sure, more tools are always good to have! Besides, reducing the number of downloads helps control costs. Ahasuerus 21:08, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Ok, done. I created a page for the script: ISFDB_Download_Script. Let me know if that's ok that way. I'd add a link from the download page to the script page then. Hitspacebar 16:11, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the script. Although I don't have an immediate use for it, I thought I might test it on Mac OS X. I added the result to the wiki page, but the summary is that 1) the script itself works fine, but 2) CVS is no longer present on Mac OS X 10.9 (aka Mavericks) and needs to be installed from an external source such as the Homebrew package manager. In addition to testing the script, I also took the liberty to add a few lines to the script so that it is now possible to specify a relative path for the download directory. Cheers, Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 18:08, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

rsync on ISFDB backup server

I don't want to hijack the thread about the download script, so I'm starting a new one.

Ahasuerus wrote that "reducing the number of downloads helps control costs". Using wget to reduce the number of downloads is certainly an excellent start, but if you are really keen on reducing network traffic, you should consider setting up rsync on the machine that hosts the download files. rsync allows the client and the server to figure out the delta that needs to be transferred, thus minimizing the amount of network traffic that is necessary to synchronize a client-side with a server-side directory. Setting up rsync to run in daemon mode is really simple, but I can help if the interest is there. The only drawback is that an rsync daemon requires another open TCP port (873). Cheers, Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 18:24, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

The backups are currently hosted by Amazon S3, so I have limited control over what is happening on the server. It's only a few dollars a month and Amazon keeps lowering its prices to stay competitive with other providers. On the other hand our backups are slowly-but-surely getting bigger, especially the image files, and the number of downloads can be unpredictable. Perhaps I should explore alternative options at some point... Ahasuerus 19:51, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
I see. I have no experience with Amazon S3 myself, so I imagined you had full control. BTW: Is there an opportunity where I could help paying for the hosting (e.g. Flattr)? And what about the server? I vaguely remember that it was hosted at a university in the past - presumably at no cost. Is this still the case? I hope I'm not too nosy... Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 21:55, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Not a problem, the source of ISFDB funding is not a secret. There are three things that we have to pay for to keep ISFDB going: the domain name, the main server and the backup area. Al owns "" and pays for it. I pay for the backups, which, as I mentioned earlier, is only a few dollars a month. The main server was free back when we were hosted by Texas A&M University (TAMU), but we moved to a commercial provider in 2008 due to sporadic support and frequent outages. I paid for the server for a few years and then Al took it over, so if you want to donate, I suggest you contact him. I believe he checks his Talk page now and then, although he is largely unavailable. Ahasuerus 03:03, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Award sorting on the Title page

The way awards are sorted on the title page has been changed. In the past, they were sorted by award year, but now they are also sorted by "award level" within each year. This should force wins to appear before nominations within each year. Ahasuerus 04:46, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Forthcoming books: no more than three months out

An editor has added a title scheduled to be published in October 2015, which is too far into the future to be included in the ISFDB. (Ironic, I know.) There are too many variables that affect the publishing field, and it's highly likely that some, if not most, of the data will change in the next 14 months. It is advised not to add records for works which are scheduled for publication more than three months ahead. A high profile title can be added, dated as "9999" which will display as "forthcoming", but no publication record should be created. I have adjusted the data of the title record accordingly. Thanks for cooperating. Mhhutchins 15:32, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Good to know. Thanks!Kraang 02:39, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Requests for British-based editors

Can someone in the UK try to see if they can download this ebook from It's a free download of a novella by Paul Di Filippo, which the author was surprised to learn of its availability. US users aren't able to get it, or at least that was what I was told when I attempted to download it. The ebook is also available as a free download from iTunes, but I don't have the ability to read EPUB formatted ebooks. Its first publication was a couple of months ago in an Italian translation which is the only one of which Paul Di Filippo is aware. Mhhutchins 01:53, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

I was able to get the EPUB version and I've added the ISBN. The is some Italian on the copyright page which lists a 2014 copyright by Di Filippo. Was there a specific question? --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 11:22, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Did you download it from iTunes? Paul wasn't aware that the English language version was available. He's making inquiries to his Italian publisher about the situation. Now I need to know if the Kindle version can be downloaded from Anyone? Mhhutchins 17:02, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
I did get it from iTunes. Let me know if he needs any specific information. I'm willing to retype the contents of the copyright page, but probably better to handle that over email if it is required. Alas, I was in the UK last week. Though, I'm not sure if I could have accessed the kindle version without having a UK based Amazon account. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 18:49, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

I have asked a friend in the UK if he can download and will post the results here. I tried to download it and got the message:

Marc Kupper, this title is not available for you.
Due to copyright restrictions, the Kindle title you're trying to purchase is not available in your country: United States.

I noticed that the message does not say which countries the story is available in. provides a clue that it is available for download from somewhere and it's possible it can be downloaded in Italy. The page shows:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,679 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#4 in Kindle Store > Books > Nonfiction > Travel > Continental Europe > Italy

The second line is a puzzle as this is a fiction story, not nonfiction, and is not a travel book in a traditional sense (unless time travel is your intent). The story is set in Italy and so at least that part is correct.

When I get a file in a format such as epub that I can't read I google up a converter and use that. ePub to PDF seems to be popular. --Marc Kupper|talk 02:47, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

I've downloaded it from Amazon UK even though I'm in Thailand right now. This copyright information is on the last page:
©2014 by Paul Di Filippo
Accordo di programma quadro in materia di beni culturali tra la Regione Basilicata ed
il MIBAC – III Atto integrativo – "Culturata Basilicata"
Delibera CIPE 14/2009
ISBN 9788890786914
Maggio 2014
Hope this helps. PeteYoung 05:14, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Pete, is this the English version or the translated Italian version? Mhhutchins
It's in English. PeteYoung 00:00, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
I got an e-mail back from the guy in the UK - "Yes, I've downloaded it to my ipad kindle app no problem." --Marc Kupper|talk 16:01, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
FWIW, is now showing "Pricing information not available." and "This title is not currently available for purchase". The $free and the download links that were there last night are gone. --Marc Kupper|talk 16:17, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Last I messaged him, Paul Di Filippo was going to contact his Italian publisher to find out how his original English version was available as a free Epub from iTunes, and a free Kindle from (once upon a time). Thanks for all your help. Mhhutchins 21:29, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Just checked the link above, and the title is still available for free download in the UK. Mhhutchins 21:32, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Duplicate Finder changes

The Duplicate Finder has been changed to display each potential duplicate's Note field. In addition, "Similar Mode" has been enhanced to treat "&" as the word "and". Are there any other words or abbreviations that "Similar Mode" should treat as equivalent? Ahasuerus 20:29, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

I didn't realize how useful this would be until I actually used it. This is really helpful for different cover art records with the same name by the same artist. Now I don't have to check the image when it's already been determined that the art is different, and someone has left a note about it. Thanks! Mhhutchins 15:13, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I see that my devious plan is working :-) Ahasuerus 18:48, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
For "Similar Mode", 1 vs One, 2 vs Two, etc. would be nice. -- JLaTondre (talk) 12:55, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Amitav Ghosh

Is there a reason to keep the non-genre and non-fiction work of this author? I don't believe he would qualify as being "above the threshold" since he's not considered a spec-fic author. Mhhutchins 01:46, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

IMHO, none. Hauck 06:27, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Marc, a query: why is The Calcutta Chromosome listed as a non-genre work when above it is stated as being his only specfict work? Am I missing something? PeteYoung 12:49, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Duplicate Finder for publication records

A new option, Duplicate Finder for Publication records, has been added. You can find it under "Editing Tools" when viewing publication records. For example, here is what it finds for The Nonfiction of Robert Heinlein: Volume II. I hope that it will be particularly useful when trying to merge newly added titles with their pre-existing counterparts.

Please note that due to performance issues the new option is not as robust as the option that finds potential duplicates for authors. It doesn't support "Similar Mode" or "Aggressive Mode" and it doesn't identify potential duplicates with different capitalization. Ahasuerus 04:02, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Nice. I'll have to check it out. Thanks. Mhhutchins 04:16, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Tad Williams' Shadowmarch illustrations

Stumbled across this series, and discovered that scans of the illustrations have been uploaded to the ISFDB server. The copying of these works would not be covered by fair usage, or at least in the way we currently interpret it to justify our hosting the image files for book covers. Is there a reason I'm missing why exceptions should be made for these copyrighted illustrations? This could very well be used as a precedent for the uploading of other copyrighted non-cover art to the server. Mhhutchins 03:54, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Robert Louis Stevenson

Is there a reason to keep the non-genre and non-fiction (essays) work of this author? I don't think he's "above the threshold" and such a page is perhaps too huge for our purposes. Hauck 16:24, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

My personal opinion is that with non-genre works we should list the first edition only. In this case, for instance, that tells newer editors that "Yes, this is non-genre. Don't try to add it as a 'Novel'." With Stevenson it's worth keeping the list of books that we DON'T want a full bibliography for. But keeping anything other than one publication record, to hold the non-genre title in place, is just a waste of space. Chavey 13:22, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Robert Louis Stevenson's case is rather ... special, and not in a good way, I am afraid. Many years ago, before we had the submission moderation process in place, Al tried to create a robot that would crawl the Web for missing publications. It was a well-meaning but, unfortunately, rather clueless robot who figured that the fact that we had Stevenson's SF works on file meant that we wanted all of his books. It took us a long time to get rid of the bulk of his non-genre works, but there are still some left.
As far as the larger question of listing non-genre titles goes, I don't think it would be desirable to list every non-genre title by "primarily non-genre" authors like E. Phillips Oppenheim (who wrote 155 books!), Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, etc. Ahasuerus 15:09, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree. Stevenson's nongenre works should not be in the database. Now dealing with the nonfiction works is more problematic. How can we know if some of these don't deal obliquely or specifically with his genre work? Shouldn't those be kept in the db? Mhhutchins 17:09, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I can't think of a way to be sure short of reviewing each non-fiction work or reading up on it. For what it's worth, whenever I enter a non-fiction book which touches upon SF issues in a way that may leave our users unsure whether it's SF-related or not, I try to explain the relevance in the Note field. Ahasuerus 23:42, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I brought up the subject as a warning to anyone who would remove his nonfiction work without considering the possibility of their eligibility in the database. Similar to this case is Anthony Burgess, whose fiction output was less than 50% genre, but who wrote some nonfiction that should be kept in the db, like his autobiographical work, his studies on writing, and especially his Ninety-nine Novels which included a considerable number of genre works. Mhhutchins 00:06, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Scheduled downtime

Due to disk space concerns, I will be purging old versions of Wiki pages starting at 4pm server (US Central) time, i.e. in about 13 minutes. This will require a general ISFDB outage, which (hopefully) shouldn't last more than 10 minutes. Ahasuerus 20:47, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

We are back up. Thank you for your patience. Ahasuerus 21:13, 29 August 2014 (UTC)