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Archive of messages from September through December 2014

Prix Jean Ray

Hello. I was wondering about the possibility of creating a “Prix Jean Ray award” option, as some authors already (or soon) in the database qualify. One can find details about it on Quarante-Deux and nooSFere. It was indeed short-lived and restricted to Belgian fantasy writers, but its mention appears on some covers, and a bit of commentary about it wouldn't be out of place (I think). Linguist 09:34, 1 September 2014 (UTC).

NooSFere has a variety of awards that we do not yet have included, but which we should add eventually. If you're willing to enter the Jean Ray awards, then it would be a good idea to push that up the priority list of awards to be added. Chavey 13:53, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
So far, I have added this award to the second table here. Are there any other places it should be done ? Linguist 15:10, 1 September 2014 (UTC).
"Prix Jean Ray" has been added. It looks like there was only one category, but I wasn't sure what its name was, so I just called it Prix Jean Ray for now -- we can always change the name later. I also left the "Awarded For" and "Awarded By" fields blank.
In general, the only limiting factor when adding new award types is the willingness of our editors to work on them. With the new tools implemented earlier this year, I could easily add dozens of award types, but it would do us no good if there was no one to work on adding their associated award records. So if anyone feels like working on an award that is not in the database, please post your request here and it can be added quickly. Ahasuerus 15:58, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Thanks a lot for this quick work. There might be a few more coming soon… Linguist 16:10, 1 September 2014 (UTC).
Just in case : the "Awarded For" field could be defined as “best unpublished fantasy text by a Belgian writer”, or something similar. Linguist 16:30, 1 September 2014 (UTC).
Done. Ahasuerus 17:02, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
I also wanted to add some info about this award, but I wasn't sure how and where… Linguist 16:30, 1 September 2014 (UTC).
At this time the ability to edit award types and award categories is limited to moderators. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that we have seen how award editing works, perhaps we should make this functionality available to all editors. Ahasuerus 17:02, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Thanks again. Linguist 21:11, 1 September 2014 (UTC).
How can we link an award to a work if that work is "unpublished"? I'd assume by the description that the award can only be linked to the author. Mhhutchins 00:24, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
A while back we ran into this problem with Asimov's Undergraduate Award / Dell Magazines Award. It's given to the winners of what the Science Fiction Awards Database describes as "a competition for unpublished writers" and many nominated works haven't been published. Since we don't have title records for them, we can't add award records, so the only choice was to create "untitled" awards.
That said, the Noosfere list of Prix Jean Ray winners suggests that all of them have been published, so it shouldn't be an issue in this case. Ahasuerus 00:38, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
According to the page you link to the award is "Prix belge qui honore la mémoire du célbre écrivain-voyageur." Google translates this as "Belgian Prize which honors the memory of célbre writer-traveler." Is "célbre" a misspelling of "célebre" meaning "celebrated" in English? If so, there's nothing about the works being "unpublished". And each work was published in the year it was given the award. How soon after if the award is given to an "unpublished" work? Can a French-speaking editor please provide a better translation and confirm what the award is given for? Mhhutchins 01:25, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

“Unpublished” means here that the prize was awarded to a manuscript which was then published the same year by Marabout. As far as célbre is concerned, it is of course célèbre, “famous”. Reducing Jean Ray to an “écrivain-voyageur” or “traveller-writer” is a bit surprising, but he did roam around a lot in his youth, sticking his fingers in many more or less illegal pies. Some of his activities — like smuggling alcohol to the USA during the Prohibition period, or practising piracy aboard the Fulmar — are considered as legendary by some, but he did go to jail for some shady business. His fame relies mainly on his literary activity, though, as he is the most famous and celebrated fantasy writer in Belgium, and of course very popular in France as well. Linguist 09:59, 2 September 2014 (UTC).

Thanks for the clarification. Mhhutchins 14:42, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Temporary glitch

At September 03, 2014 11:22:13 AM (Pacific time) I clicked to add a new collection [1] and was surprised the default language was Afrikaans and that English is not available in the drop-down list.

The HTML for the select list looks the same except the expected

<option selected="selected">English</option><option>Esperanto</option>



As there was no ":<option selected="selected">" Firefox defaulted to the first item in the list which was Afrikaans. --Marc Kupper|talk 19:41, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

That's curious. Checking your user preferences, I see that the default language is set to "English". Did you try refreshing the page and, if so, what did you see? Ahasuerus 20:04, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
I can't recall if I did a refresh but don't think so. As I had already started to enter the publication data I did not want to risk loosing it and so clicked new-collection again into a separate browser tab and copy/pasted the data I had entered to the new record. I don't think I tried a refresh as one of the things I did was view/page-info which is why I knew the exact time I had had loaded that page. At the time, I tried new-Anthology, Chapterbook, Collection, etc. In all cases the page loaded correctly in that it default to English and English was in the drop-down list.
At the time I also tried to recreate the finger fumbles I may have done prior to getting to and seeing the language field. The publication I was adding was a non-genre collection where all of the stories collected had first appeared in specfict magazines. Thus I was on the fence about if I should call it a collection or non-genre and was thinking/fumbling (thumbling?) along as I filled in record's fields. --Marc Kupper|talk 05:30, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
That's rather odd. There are supposed to be only two states when accessing a data entry form: "logged out" and "logged in". If you are logged out, the the software prompts you to log in and then redirects you to the form. If you are logged in, then you land on the data entry form and your Language Preferences control which language is displayed as the default.
It sounds like you may have accessed the edit form in some kind of intermediate state (cookies? private browser window?), but unfortunately I can't be sure. Ahasuerus 18:35, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Dan Jerris

It looks like we have only 50% of Dan Jerris's "Dragon Blood Pirates" books. Would anyone like to reconcile our data with what appears to be the complete list? Ahasuerus 16:57, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Duplicate Finder enhancements

"Similar Mode" is now aware that "0" and "zero", "1" and "one", "25" and "twenty five", "300" and "three hundred" are similar. The range of matched numbers is currently limited to 0-100 plus 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800 and 900. In other words it recognizes that "One in Three Hundred" and "1 in 300" are similar, but the logic wouldn't recognize the similarity between "301" and "three hundred and one". Ahasuerus 18:47, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Scots added

A new language, "Scots", has been added to the list of supported languages. Please note that it is not the same as Scottish Gaelic.

Apparently there are four recognized dialects of the Scots language. If a secondary source identifies the dialect, it may be worth recording this information in the Note field the way it has been done for Ailice's Anters in Ferlielann. Ahasuerus 22:09, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

"Magazine Appearances" renamed

The term "Magazine Appearances" has been changed to "Serializations" to reflect the fact that many recent serializations have appeared online/as e-books/etc as opposed to in print magazines. Ahasuerus 06:20, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Nice. Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:50, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

Last Name -> Family Name

As per FR 641, "Last Name" has been changed to "Family Name". Mouse-over help and the relevant Help pages have been updated accordingly. Ahasuerus 02:49, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

VTs and series

As per Feature Request 440, the Edit Title data entry form has been modified. When editing a variant title, the series name and number fields are no longer editable.

The only remaining way to add a variant title to a series is via Make Variant. Here are the 3 scenarios supported by the software at this time:

  • Turning a title into VT of a new title. If the title is in a series, then the series information is deleted from the VT and moved to the parent title.
  • Turning a title into a VT of an existing title. There are two possible scenarios here:
    • If the VT-to-be is in a series and the proposed parent title is NOT in a series, then the series information is deleted from the VT and moved to the parent title.
    • If the VT-to-be is in a series and the proposed parent title is also in a series, then the software leaves everything as is.

As you can see, it's the last scenario that results in a VT appearing in a series. I think it would be better to change the software to remove the series information from the VT at the time of submission approval. Would that work for everybody? Ahasuerus 23:07, 17 September 2014 (UTC)

Works for me. Thanks. Mhhutchins 03:10, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
And for me, too. Great! Christian Stonecreek 07:33, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Also me. -- JLaTondre (talk) 22:38, 20 September 2014 (UTC)
Done. I will create a separate section to explain the details. Ahasuerus 22:56, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

CHAPTERBOOKs and series/synopsis data

As per Feature Request 697, Edit Title has been modified not to allow editors to enter series and synopsis data for CHAPTERBOOKs. Please note that this is only a partial solution. If an editor pulls up a title record of a different type and changes its title type to CHAPTERBOOK, he can still enter series and synopsis data for it. We will need to add additional Javascript and server-side validation to prevent this from happening.

Also, this brings up another issue that I have been thinking about for some time. When you click on "Add New XYZ" in the navigation bar on the left, the resulting New Publication data entry form is customized based on the title type that you selected. For example, if you select "Add New Nonfiction", then the default title type in the "Content" section will be ESSAY rather than SHORTFICTION. If you select "Add New Novel", then the first part of the "Content" section will be labeled "Additional Content" and so on.

However, the way the software works at this time, you can change the publication type in the "publication metadata" section of the form. The main reason for this behavior was the desire on behalf of some editors to avoid creating an "Add New Nongenre" link in the navigation bar yet allow knowledgeable editors to enter NONGENRE works by clicking on "Add New Novel" and then changing the publication type to NONGENRE.

I don't think it's a very good solution, in part because it lists NONGENRE as a Publication Type (which is misleading) and in part because it makes it harder to control the behavior of the page. For example, FR 697 referenced above asked to make the synopsis field ineditable in Add New Chapterbook, but that's hard to do since editors can change Publication Type on the fly.

My preferred solution is to make the Publication Type field ineditable -- once you select "Add New XYZ", you are locked in to that title/publication type. The solution to the NONGENRE issue will be to move "non-genre" information to a separate field in order to allow non-genre collections, anthologies, etc (see FR 355). Once that has been done, "Non-genre?" will be a checkbox available on all New Pub forms.

Anyway, I thought I'd bring it up sooner rather than later since I am getting close to implementing the NONGENRE FR. For now, I will go ahead and make the Synopsis field read-only when "Add New Chapterbook" has been selected. Ahasuerus 01:41, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

There have been occasions where I'd click the wrong "Add New XXX" link, and had to change the type in the entry form. It would have been just as easy to back out and link to the correct type. So there's no compelling reason why that field should be editable. I say go for it. Mhhutchins 03:15, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
I have added additional checks that should further reduce the number of invalid submissions. The rest should be caught by the cleanup reports, but I expect it to be a very uncommon occurrence. Ahasuerus 03:27, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Ellipsis changes - Part 1

Based on the outcome of the last iteration of the "ellipsis discussion", the following changes have been made:

  • If you use a keyboard shortcut for the ellipsis (…), it will be automatically converted to three consecutive dots at submission creation time.
  • If you enter the aforementioned shortcut in the Search box (or in any of the Advanced Search fields), it too will be converted to three consecutive dots before the search runs.
  • All 26 occurrences of the ellipsis shortcut have been replaced with three consecutive dots.

The upshot is that you can use the shortcut to your heart's content because the software will treat it as three consecutive dots.

Next I will create a script that will convert existing ". . ."s to "..."s. Ahasuerus 03:36, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

P.S. As an added benefit, the search algorithm has been changed to treat multiple spaces as a single space, so if you search for "Robert Heinlein", you will find "Robert Heinlein". Ahasuerus 08:32, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
The wiki doesn't display multiple spaces as well, but I know what you meant. Mhhutchins 17:48, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
Oops! I remember thinking that I should check Preview to verify that it would display correctly, but it was 4:30am and I forgot. Insomnia can be a bear... Ahasuerus 18:38, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
Great ! Thanks a lot ! Linguist 16:27, 19 September 2014 (UTC).

Duplicate link in Help:Contents

There's a duplicate link on Help:Contents: "Screen List" and "Editing the ISFDB" both point to Help:ScreenList. I don't know if one of these two can be deleted or if that's an error and "Editing the ISFDB" should actually be pointing to a different location. Hitspacebar 21:08, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

Obviously a duplicate. I'll remove the "Screen List" link because that phrase has no actual meaning to someone looking for help. Thanks for finding this. Mhhutchins 21:30, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Ellipsis changes - Part 2

The second part of the ellipsis-related changes has been implemented. All titles and publications with ". . ."s have been converted to "..."s. Similarly, all ". . . ."s have been changed to "...."s and so on.

Post-change we have 39 title records with ". ."s in them. 19 of them are due to ellipsis/colon hybrids, i.e. ". . :"s. (Do we want to change them to "..:"a?) The remaining 20 are a mixed bag. Some look OK "as is", while others appear to be typos in need of cleanup. Ahasuerus 22:14, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

"The Misty Mountains" -- The Martian Chronicles 1984 Bantam cover

Regarding PR 424933, I have been on a long if sporadic quest for the Misty Mountains, I mean the "Misty Mountains" book cover illustration's artist's real name. My first guess was Tim White, from his sometimes similar use of perspective and mist. Then I came across various other artists who use those techniques as often as White. My latest guess, it's got to be Mick Van Houten, because he uses the compostiion of small foreground figures in front of vast distances of landscapes with certain weather errects. Houten also was credited with several Bantam covers for books by A.A. Attanasio in the 1980s. I figure the Bantam editors made an artist-credit mistake, though I do admire their choice of artists for their book covers. I've been told to go ask the Fenners, but I haven't been able to contact them. RR 19:20, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Backup changes

If you download and install our weekly backups locally, please note that the contents of the "mw_user" table, which contains user-specific information, have changed. The "user_id" and "user_name" fields are now populated while the rest of user data is wiped out. The result is that locally installed instances of ISFDB should show accurate verification information from now on. Ahasuerus 20:17, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Changes to "Make Variant"

The "Make Variant" logic has been tweaked to handle titles with series information somewhat differently. In the past (see this discussion) if a title was associated with a series and you tried to turn it into a variant of another title which also had series information, then the software would not change either title's series data. Post-change, all series data is removed from the variant title when this situation is encountered.

Please note that this change only affects submissions in which both titles have series information. If the variant-to-be has series information and the parent title does not, then the series data is moved to the parent title, just like it's always been handled.

In addition, I found and fixed a couple of obscure bugs while working on this Feature Request. They only affected scenarios where the name of the series being moved to the parent title contained quotes, so you had to be particularly unlucky to run into them. I ended up rewriting and streamlining that whole section of the code, so it's possible that new bugs were introduced. If you see anything unexpected, please post your findings here. Ahasuerus 23:14, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

Edit Title - tabbing change

The way tabbing works in Edit Title has been changed to match the behavior of all other data entry forms. The two affected fields were "Add Author" and "Title Type". Ahasuerus 01:22, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Ellipses - final change

The software has been modified to silently convert ". . ." to "..." at data entry time and during searches. Similarly ". . . ." is now automatically converted to "....". Please note that ". ." is not converted to ".." since apparently there are legitimate records with ". ."s, e.g. W.I.S.E.R. ... Shouldn't We Be? Ahasuerus 02:50, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

It look like there is one small problem left. When I added a title to this series, the ". . ." was converted to "..." thus creating a new series. I tried to change the series title from "H. J. Campbell Writes . . ." to "H. J. Campbell Writes ...", but no change was made. I tried to change an individual title, but also no luck. Can this be resolved easier than by deleting the series data from the individual titles and then adding the series again? --Willem 20:48, 23 November 2014 (UTC)
Fixed -- all I had to do was add a "1" to the end of the series' name and then remove it :) Ahasuerus 01:33, 24 November 2014 (UTC)
I should have thought of this. Bad weekend and tired grumble grumble...:-) Thanks! --Willem 19:19, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

(unindent)What are we doing if anything with Unicode ellipsis characters like …? I personally think we ought to shoot for using that and turn period groupings into that character but that might have some issues in some cases (e.g., groups that are not three in length). Note that is this analogous to Unicode equivalence and normalization issues (e.g., using the ligature ff or ff; it is also a much bigger issue in other languages where many combining marks exist). Uzume 14:48, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Unicode ellipsis are currently automatically converted to three periods at data entry/search time. There is a similar issue with "Combining Diacritical Marks", which is on my list of things to fix. Ahasuerus 16:53, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Shirley Jackson awards added

Shirley Jackson awards have been added. Ahasuerus 16:17, 23 September 2014 (UTC)

The Iliad

I have recently entered Jules Lemaître's collection En marge des vieux livres into the database. As the first six stories are tales set in the Iliad & Odyssey universe, I wanted to create a series linking these different works. But I found out that The Iliad was entered as NONGENRE, which surprised me a bit : the spec-fic aspects of the book are innumerable, starting with Helen's origin (born of an egg, courtesy of Zeus and Leda), and that of the Troyan war (the judgment of Paris choosing Aphrodite as the fairest goddess against Hera and Athena, entailing Paris' abduction of Helen, promised to him as the fairest woman on Earth), not to mention the constant interference of the gods in the war itself and their quarelling with each other. Isn't that enough to qualify the story as spec-fic ? Could some editors please express their opinion about the matter — including of course the editor of The Iliad pub ? TIA. Linguist 20:18, 25 September 2014 (UTC).

Well, in my opinion it is GENRE, judging from the content but also from the fact that it is the prequel to the Odyssey. Stonecreek 20:35, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
I agree that it qualifies as speculative fiction. Ahasuerus 20:41, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
OK, thanks for responding. I'll update the pub record accordingly. Linguist 08:27, 26 September 2014 (UTC).
I *strongly disagree* with this conclusion. All of the things listed as speculative elements of this story were part of the Greeks' RELIGION. I think it is terribly inappropriate to include religious stories as speculative fiction. Would we include the Christian Bible in our database? The ghost of Jesus appears 12 times after his death. An angel comes and wrestles with Jacob. By an atheist standpoint, that's fantastic fiction, and it would offensive, at least to Christians, to include it as such here. But the same standards should be applied to other religions as well. The story of Helen's origin is, from this viewpoint, NO DIFFERENT than the story of Mary's conception of Jesus. With the Greeks and Romans, there are some difficulties as to when they stopped thinking they were writing about their gods, and when they starting thinking they were just writing fantastic stories (it probably happened somewhere before Ovid's Metamorphosis, in 8 C.E.). But certainly at the time of the Iliad, they believed these were true stories about their gods. The Odyssey has the appearance of many non-religious fantastical events, such as the Cyclops (from a "former race of giants") and the transformation of the men into pigs. But the Iliad has no significant non-religious fantastical events. Chavey 18:59, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
It sounds like there may be a few different issues here.
First of all, our standard of what we consider fiction vs. non-fiction has always been whether the text is presented as fiction vs. as a factual account. Whether an account presented as factual is an accurate representation of what may have actually happened is not something that we consider when deciding whether a story is "fiction". Thus traditional religious texts are not considered fiction for ISFDB purposes simply because they are not presented as such. We treat stories of UFO encounters, alien abductions, modern miracles, ghostly visitations, etc similarly: if they are presented as fiction, then we list them as fiction, otherwise we list them as non-fiction (if at all.) To quote Frank Sinatra, "Nice 'N Easy" :-)
Granted, there are some borderline cases that we have to deal with on a case by case basis. For example, consider the Shaver Mystery. The original text was apparently a personal account of Shaver's contacts with "Deros" ("detrimental robots") and the dangers that they present. However, the edited version that appeared in Amazing Stories in March 1945 was heavily fictionalized and presented as fiction, although the editors kept things deliberately vague along the lines of "Truth or Fiction? You Decide!" We list the original story as fiction because it was presented as such, but many subsequent articles (by Shaver, Palmer et al) are not listed as "fiction" because, once again, they were not presented as such.
The next issue is the distinction between "speculative fiction" and "non-genre fiction". This is relatively easy to do when dealing with modern fiction, but it gets increasingly difficult as we go back in time. As our Rules of Acquisition say, "The older the book, the more likely we are to include it even if it is borderline eligible. This is caused by the fact that there were relatively few works published prior to 1800 and by the difficulties with distinguishing between speculative and non-speculative fiction (or even fiction and non-fiction) when you are dealing with pre-1800 works."
Even something as recent as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan (1912) could be questioned. There were certainly speculative elements in later books in the series (lost races, immortality, etc), but what was speculative about the first book? The semi-intelligent giant apes that raised Tarzan are the only thing that stands out and, given the state of evolutionary biology in 1912, it wasn't completely out of the realm of the possible as perceived by contemporary pulp readers.
When we go back almost three thousands years, all of these problems become magnified. Were Hesiod and Homer writing fiction or non-fiction? Would they even understand the question the way we do? Would they distinguish between "religious and non-religious fantastical events" as mentioned by Darrah above? That's hard to tell. For example, here is Homer's description of a chimera, the first known account of this beast:
  • ... first he bade him slay the raging Chimaera. She was of divine stock, not of men, in the fore part a lion, in the hinder a serpent, and in the midst a goat, breathing forth in terrible wise the might of blazing fire. And Bellerophon slew her, trusting in the signs of the gods. Next fought he with the glorious Solymi, and this, said he was the mightest battle of warriors that ever he entered; and thirdly he slew the Amazons, women the peers of men."
That's an impressive collection of mundane (Solymi), legendary (the Amazons) and more-fantastical-than-anything-in-the-Odyssey (the Chimaera) foes, all intermixed! And that's precisely why the Rules of Acquisition read "The older the book, the more likely we are to include it even if it is borderline eligible".
Oh well, this is getting long, so I will copy my response to the Rules and Standards page and see if we can continue the discussion there. Ahasuerus 01:01, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
The discussion was continued at Rules and standards discussions#Rules of Acquisition: Myths and Legends. --Marc Kupper|talk 06:47, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

"Add New Publication" changes

As per Feature Request 28 a new section, "Title Data", has been added to the "New Publication" data entry form. It includes two pre-existing fields, "Language" and "Synopsis", and three new fields: "Series", "Series Number" and "Web Page". If an invalid series number is entered, the software will display a pop-up box and won't allow you to proceed. If a new Series is entered, a warning is displayed on the submission review page.

This was a moderately complex change, which also affected the way Edit Title works internally, so if you see anything unusual, please report it here. Ahasuerus 20:40, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

This is something I've wanted for years, but realized it was probably too complex to be a reality. But today it is! A thousand and one thank-yous! Mhhutchins 23:46, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
You are very welcome! One FR at a time :-) Ahasuerus 00:19, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps it is my personal preference but I would rather have the title data section first over the pub data section. Uzume 15:01, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Changes to the way reviews are auto-linked to titles

As per FR 264, CHAPTERBOOKs are now ignored for auto-linking purposes. Ahasuerus 21:22, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

Carnegie Medal

Carnegie Medal has been added since we have a volunteer who will be entering award records. Ahasuerus 23:54, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Fidler Awards added

I have added the Fidler Award. Of the 10 awards given between 1983 and 2001, 5 went to SF books. Ahasuerus 23:47, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

Add Variant changes

Add Variant has been changed to prevent editors from adding a variant to a variant. Ahasuerus 02:11, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Policy update on entering reviews

A change was made to the Rules of Acquisition based on this R&S discussion. This also required updating the What to Include section of the Policy page. The change concerned the entry of reviews of non-eligible publications. Editors are asked to read the "Reviews" subsection of that page in order to comply with the new standard going forth. There are several hundred reviews which are currently in the database which will need to be converted to essays. I will be working on this project, but will not be notifying the editors of primary verified records, as the conversion makes no substantial change to the records. Thanks. Mhhutchins 19:58, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Search box fix

The search box has been fixed not to overlap the main display area at certain screen resolutions. In addition, the two fields within the box have been aligned. Ahasuerus 01:52, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Make/Remove Pseudonym fix

The bug that let multiple reviewing moderators approve the same Make/Remove Pseudonym submissions has been fixed. Ahasuerus 02:34, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Duplicate Finder tweak - NOVEL/OMNIBUS pairs now ignored

The logic behind the two Duplicate Finder options has been tweaked. When using the (default) Strict Mode, NOVEL/OMNIBUS pairs are now ignored. Ahasuerus 03:15, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

Altneuland - Zionist SF

Based on a post in File770, I decided to add the book "Altneuland", a Zionist utopia written in 1902, and credited as directly inspiring the creation of Israel. Since such a book could be controversial, especially with respect to its summary and notes, I invite others to look at what I have written there, and offer improvements as necessary (or discuss them here). To try to maintain a neutral point of view, much of my text comes directly from Wikipedia, but is compressed a bit from there, and with contributions from other sources.

A few things come to mind:
  • "European Jews have rediscovered and re-inhabited their Altneuland" may not be clear if the reader doesn't know that "Altneuland" means "Old New Land" in German.
  • Similarly, the expression "Eretz Israel" may be obscure if the reader doesn't know that the word "Eretz" means "Land" in Hebrew.
  • Perhaps move the link to the book's text from Note to the Web Page field?
  • "and into six languages" is presumably missing the word "translated"
  • Instead of stating that the novel was "published several years after Herzl's (non-fiction) book "The Jewish State", perhaps we could mention the latter's year of publication (1896)?
  • "Credited with inspiring the Zionist movement" can be read as "prompted the creation of the Zionist movement", which seems unlikely since the First Zionist Congress was held in 1897 and I don't think Herzl had a working time machine :-) Perhaps we could clarify that the novel was an inspiration for early Zionists?
Ahasuerus 23:17, 12 October 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, I believe I have incorporated those suggestions. Chavey 21:15, 14 October 2014 (UTC)

Deep-linking to photos on Goodreads

Since Goodreads is now owned by Amazon, would anyone know if we have implicit permission to deep-link to their author photos? Mhhutchins 02:44, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

COVERART merge enhancements

When merging COVERART records, the submitting editor can now see the affected images. Please note that they are displayed on the second page of the submission form. Ahasuerus 12:06, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

Also enhanced the post-submission page to display "No Image" instead of big empty blocks when there is no URL on file. Ahasuerus 12:13, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
Thank you! -- JLaTondre (talk) 00:34, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

"Similar mode" enhancements (Duplicate Finder)

"Similar mode" has been enhanced to match hyphens, en-dashes and em-dashes. Ahasuerus 02:02, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

New User Preferences for the Title page

Two new User Preferences have been added: "Do not display awards on Title pages" and "Do not display reviews on Title pages". Ahasuerus 04:45, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Family name auto-assignment changes

The way the software determines new authors' "family names" has been changed to ignore parenthetical suffixes. For example, for "John Smith (UK artist)", the value of the family name field should be set to "Smith" rather than "(UK artist)" from now on. Ahasuerus 18:10, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Thank you. No matter how often I've reminded editors to go back and correct the last name, they forget. Thank goodness there's a clean-up report that finds them so that I can fix them. With this auto-correct, that's one less task to check. Mhhutchins 19:13, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Amazon's e-book data

A few days ago we discovered that Amazon's e-book records have two (potentially different) dates: Publication Date, which appears at the top of the page just below the cover scan, and Release Date, which is displayed on the "Publisher" line.

For example, consider this Amazon record for "Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows". The "Publication Date" line says "February 24, 2010" while the "Publisher" line says "Publisher: Zumaya Publications LLC (February 9, 2006)". Checking B&N, we find that their publication date is "2/28/2010", i.e. almost exactly the same as Amazon's Publication Date. Since this book is copyright 2005, it would appear that "2006-02-09" is the date of a previous edition.

Fixer has now checked the 27,418 e-pubs published between 2009-09 and 2014-10 (that ISFDB knows about) against Amazon's data and here is what we see.

In roughly 90% of all cases Amazon's Publication Date and Release Date are the same. Of the 2,192 ISBNs whose dates are different, the discrepancy is:

  • less than a month -- 906 ISBNs
  • 1 month - 965 ISBNs
  • 2 months - 100 ISBNs
  • 3-12 months - 128 ISBNs
  • 1 year - 18 ISBNs
  • 2 years - 21 ISBNs
  • 3 years - 26 ISBNs
  • 4 years - 7 ISBNs
  • 5+ years - 14 ISBNs

The bad news is that there is no one "preferred" date: sometimes the Release Date appears to be the correct date, other times the Publication Date is the correct date. The good news is that the latter date is almost invariably the correct date. As far as I can tell, the earlier date is usually the date of the original publication and the latter date is the publication date of the ISBN. In many cases you can see it using Amazon's Look Inside.

Based on the above, I think we can do two things. First, I can change Fixer's logic to use the later of the two dates that Amazon makes available via its API. Second, I can post a list of the 86 ISBNs whose dates are off by 1 year or more so that we could clean them up manually. I could then do the same thing for the 228 ISBNs where the discrepancy is in the 2-12 months range if we have volunteers to do manual processing. However, it may be easier to ask Fixer to create EditPub submissions for them since the risk of something going awry is fairly small.

What do you think? Ahasuerus 23:41, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Either way is fine with me. I can clean them manually if you believe that might be the better of the two choices, even if it means another minute or so with each submission. Mhhutchins 00:10, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

(unident) Actually, now that I have added additional screens to skips pubs which already use the latest date, the total number of "problem" pubs has been further reduced, so a manual process may be less time-consuming than I feared. Here is the first batch:

Pubs where the date discrepancy is 16 years

Pubs where the date discrepancy is 6 years

Pubs where the date discrepancy is 5 years

Pubs where the date discrepancy is 4 years

Pubs where the date discrepancy is 3 years

Pubs where the date discrepancy is 2 years

Pubs where the date discrepancy is 1 year

Ahasuerus 02:48, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure what we're checking here. Are we trying to determine if the publication date as currently given in the record is correct? Looking at a few, there was only one date given in the Amazon listing. In the first, for example, the Amazon listing gives the publication date (in the Publisher field) as "26 Aug 2014", and the record is dated "2011-03-17". Where does the 16 year discrepancy come in? Thanks. Mhhutchins 01:41, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
The discrepancy values were calculated by looking at the "Publication Date" field of the record and the Release Date value, which is displayed in the "Publisher" field. In the case of Margo Lanagan's The Best Thing, shows "August 1, 1998" as the "Publication Date" and "August 26, 2014" as the "Release Date", hence the 16 year discrepancy.
That said, this is a good example of why a manual review may be indicated. Allen & Unwin is a UK-based publisher with some Australian imprints, so Amazon UK or perhaps Booktopia (which agree that the e-book was published on 2014-08-26) are better sources. Also, it's worth noting that Amazon UK doesn't have a separate line for "Publication Date", so we are in better shape with UK-originated records.
P.S. Based on reviews and SFE3, this is apparently a non-genre novel. Ahasuerus 02:05, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
So if Amazon UK doesn't display a "Publication Date" what's the purpose of this list? How would someone looking at the Amazon UK listing for this title know it's given as 1998? Sorry for being dense about this.
BTW, Allen & Unwin is now a wholly-owned Australian publisher. It bought the name from the UK parent corporation George Allen & Unwin which hasn't published a book since July 1990 purchase. (I only recently discovered this in a discussion with our editor Down Under, Clarkmci.) So I'm assuming that the Allen & Unwin books showing up on are imports from Australia for the UK market. That's why you get such odd prices as the first three records on this list. Mhhutchins
Thanks for the Allen & Unwin info!
As far as the Amazon UK angle goes, spot-checking the posted list I see that some records were originally created based on's data and some came from Amazon UK. Unfortunately, there was no easy way for my ad hoc code to tell which was which. Well, short of parsing what's in the Note field, I guess.
In any event, I figured that since we were dealing with just a few dozen ISBNs, it would be easier to list the suspect records and let humans sort things out. Humans are still better at that kind of stuff than computers, although the gap has been narrowing :-) Ahasuerus 03:15, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

HTML character entity references in Note fields

This may or may not be a bug in the software, and people here may or may not already know about this, but for me the following behaviour was unexpected. Step by step:

  1. Enter one or more character entity references in a pub note. For instance, enter &lt;over&gt;
  2. Submit. The web server properly serves back the pub note, including the character entity references (view the page source in your web browser to verify)
  3. Edit the pub and take a look at the pub note
    • Expected: The pub note contains the character entity references as they were entered in step 1
    • Actual: The character entity references have been replaced by the characters that they reference. In the example from step 1, the pub note field in the form now displays the text <over>
  4. Submit the form without making any changes
    • Expected: No changes are submitted
    • Actual: A submission is made that changes the pub note field, eliminating the character entity references. When the submission is accepted, the content of the pub note field may not render correctly anymore. In the example from step 1, the text <over> is no longer displayed because the web browser now thinks this is an HTML element because it sees angle brackets around the word "over".

I have not tested this with character entity references other than the ones for angle brackets. I also have not tested this in Note fields of title or other record types. If this is not a bug and will not be fixed, then we should update the bottom section titled "HTML Entities" of the help page Help:Using_HTML_in_Note_Fields. The section should say that character entity references cannot be used. Cheers, Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 16:39, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

As luck would have it, a few weeks ago I was looking at the code that processes data entry forms and it occurred to me that it may be performing one of the unescape operations twice. It was late, I was tired and didn't have the time to experiment, but I remember thinking: "What's the worst that could happen? Something like &lt; may get converted to "<", but surely that should be an exceedingly rare case since no one would want to use &lt; on purpose!" :-)
Thanks for the bug report, I will document it on SourceForge and see if I can fix it. It may not be a trivial fix since our escape/unescape code is not as straightforward as it could be. Ahasuerus 17:23, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
Users always seem to take a perverse pleasure in finding the things you overlooked or thought might never happen. And when you finally thought of everything and patched all the holes, they will want your software to draw Chinese calligraphy for them :-) My apologies for creating more work for you, I promise I won't ask for calligraphy... Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 18:45, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
I know. If not for the users, our software would be perfect! :) Ahasuerus 22:15, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Arnason's A Woman of the Iron People

An editor has converted this title into an OMNIBUS, along with the pub records. It is my understanding that the novel is made of up two inseparable parts. Creating title records for these parts (typed as NOVELs) doesn't seem to be the right thing to do. Neither has ever been published separately, and the "omnibus" hasn't appeared in any other form. (The ISFDB standards state that an OMNIBUS must include at least one full-length work which has been previously published independently. That's not true here.) The complete work has won two major awards as a NOVEL. Would the editor who made these changes present a case for keeping it as an OMNIBUS? Mhhutchins 22:42, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

I see that the novel was later reprinted in two volumes for paperback publication, but that doesn't make the work an omnibus. That happens quite often to some large works, and I've not seen it handled this way before. Mhhutchins 22:47, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

See "Split Novels" under this section of the entry standards. It specifically states that when a novel is split in later publications, the original novel is not considered an OMNIBUS. Mhhutchins 22:52, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

I know the author, and she certainly thinks of it as a single novel. Chavey 11:13, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
For the unverified pub records, I've reverted the types back to novel, removing the titles of the split volumes from the contents of the records. Please do the same for your two verified records. Thanks. Mhhutchins 18:13, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
Done. Chavey 00:58, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
The split-version novel titles are still contents in the records. Was that intentional? Mhhutchins 03:07, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Corrected. Chavey 06:12, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

Univ. of Iowa fanzine collection

"Hevelin Fanzines To Be Digitized By University of Iowa Libraries". That's a collection of 10,000 fanzines. Just in case anyone wants to begin to reserve a few years of their lives to entering them here :-) More details at File770. Chavey 00:54, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Order of the fields in edit pub

I verify publications by going into edit-pub and inspecting the fields from top down while checking against the book. I add notes as needed. The net result is my notes are in in the same order as the fields in the upper part of the edit-publication form. It appears that many editors use a similar system as we have had consistency among editors for how the notes get ordered.

Would it astonish editors to put in a feature request that the order of the fields in edit-pub be changed to match how they are displayed in the Publication Listing? The goal would be that any notes would be in the same order as the fields those notes are about. The downside is reconfiguring our brains a little to work with the new order.

Publication Listing Current Editor Proposed Editor
Publication: Title: Title:
Authors: Author1: Author1:
Year: Year: Year:
ISBN: Publisher: ISBN / Catalog #:
Publisher: Pages: Publisher:
Price: Pub Format: Price:
Pages: Pub Type: Pages:
Binding: ISBN / Catalog #: Pub Format:
Type: Price: Pub Type:
Title Reference:
Cover: Artist1: Artist1:
Image URL: Image URL:
Pub Series: Pub Series:
Pub Series #: Pub Series #:
Notes: Pub Note: Pub Note:
Note to Moderator: Note to Moderator:

The changes are:

  • Move the ISBN up to be after the Year.
  • Move the Price up to be after the Publisher.

Even if I'm not planning on making changes I still verify in edit mode as the edit boxes have better contrast (black on white vs. black on blue) and are lined up rather than zig-zagging back and forth the way they do in the Publication Listing. Plus, I sometimes tab through the fields using it much like a checklist. --Marc Kupper|talk 06:35, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

It would take me too long to get used to changes in the order of the fields in edit mode. And I see no advantage to making the fields line up with the display mode, since I don't use the same method you do to edit. I'm not one of the "many editors" who use that method. In fact, reordering the display mode to match the edit mode would both solve your dilemma and not confuse those editors who are used to the order of the fields when editing. Mhhutchins 20:00, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
I almost always verify while in edit mode, but I don't necessarily follow the fields from top to bottom. More often, my method is slaved to the template of pub notes that I prefer (recently I have started to collect publisher-specific templates), and that usually means checking publication date and printing first, because those are often the most difficult thing for the paperbacks that I own. When I'm done with the pub notes I go over the individual fields for a final time, and this usually happens in top-to-bottom order. But the gist is that I don't care about the order of fields, be it in edit or in display mode. In fact, I hadn't even realized until now that the order of fields is different in the two modes (I do know and care about the different ordering of content items, but that is another subject). So while I recognize that it may be useful for other people that the fields appear in the same order in the two modes, I don't really care which one of the two modes is changed, if any. Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 13:01, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

Mismatched title types in VTs - display changes

As per FR 722, the way variant titles are displayed on their parent title's Title Bibliography page has been changed. If one of the variant titles has a different title type (and it is not SERIAL), that type is now displayed in square brackets next to the variant's title. This change will mostly affect INTERIORART/COVERART variants, e.g. see Cover: The Beasts of Tarzan by Frank Frazetta. Ahasuerus 00:52, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for that fast response! Chavey 18:21, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Importing COVERART titles into publication

When importing individual Title records into a publication, you can now import COVERART titles. Please note that COVERART titles are still skipped when importing the contents of a publication record, i.e. using the first section of the import page. Ahasuerus 01:27, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Advanced Search - Synopsis added

"Synopsis" has been added to the list of searchable fields in Advanced Title Search. Unfortunately, as the Advanced Search page says, "Searches can include Notes or Synopsis, but not both at the same time". It should be possible to eliminate this restriction in the future, but it will not be a trivial change. Ahasuerus 02:23, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

COVERART merge changes

The way COVERART-related images are displayed during COVERART merges has been changed. In the past, only images associated with the about-to-be-merged COVERART records were displayed. The new approach is to also display any images associated with each COVEART record's variants.

In addition, you can now click on each displayed image, which will take you to its pub. Finally, images displayed on Title pages should take less time to load. Ahasuerus 19:23, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Nice update. I always stumble for a fraction of a second when I merge COVERART records, knowing that I'd already compared the images, only to see that one is blank. I've trained myself to assume that the image I'd seen was for a variant and will naturally be the same as for the parent. Getting to actually see those variants will be more self-assuring. Thanks. Mhhutchins 19:47, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
I didn't realize that this could be a problem until this morning. Sometimes I underestimate how many permutations our software supports :) Ahasuerus 20:21, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Lisa Gardner no spec fic work

I noticed when adding a new pub to Lisa Gardner[2] that her page has one nongenre novel and two nongenre series the other three works based on amazon would indicate there also nongenre. If there are no objections or I've missed something I think this author should be removed. Thanks!Kraang 02:28, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Of three so-called "genre works", The Other Daughter is described as "a psychological thriller with a couple of murders thrown in it to keep the suspense alive"; Gone appears to be a pure mystery; and Say Goodbye is amurder mystery about "a psychopath who makes women’s nightmares come alive". I agree with Krang that all of Gardner's books should be dropped. Chavey 05:18, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
If there are no objections I'll delete it on Oct 30/14.Kraang 02:22, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

An interesting use of ISFDB

Recently, I have noticed that a few eBay sellers have begun to make good use of our data. When selling a magazine or anthology, these sellers will copy and paste the ISFDB contents directly into their listing (with citation to us). An excellent way to give potential buyers full information, and to attract buyers who are searching for specific authors. The ones I've seen so far also maintain the content and author's links to us, hence spreading our fame :-) An example can be found here. Chavey 17:52, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

You can find references to ISFDB in all kinds of places, e.g. Google Books shows that:
  • Daniel Bartholomew's MariaDB Cookbook used public ISFDB backup files to demonstrate certain aspects of database management ("MariaDB" is an offshoot of MySQL, the database that ISFDB uses.)
  • Mónica Calvo-Pascual's Chaos and Madness: The Politics of Fiction in Stephen Marlowe's Historical Narratives used ISFDB as the primary source when compiling Marlowe's bibliography ("The most informative website [ISFDB URL] has been taken as the point of departure...")
  • Damien Broderick wrote in his Unleashing the Strange: Twenty-First Century Science Fiction Literature (2009) that "It seems entirely redundant, therefore, to provide exact bibliographical details of books that can be found most readily by consulting the Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase (, Google,, ..."
  • Justine Larbalestier's Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century says "The best source for print bibliography information on Zoline's stories is <>"
  • The Gospel According to Science Fiction: From The Twilight Zone to the Final Frontier calls ISFDB one of "indispensable source of information in putting this project together"
And, of course, our data has been used by other online site, e.g. has imported and translated thousands of our records over the last few years.
The most peculiar example so far is George Slusser's Gregory Benford (2014), which claims that "Benford's complete bibliography can be found at his official [sic!!] website:" :-) Ahasuerus 18:34, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Makes one feel a little warm and fuzzy to have so many folks using us. Some of those I knew, but some of those - as well as the eBay sellers - are knew to me. Chavey 03:27, 30 October 2014 (UTC)
I have seen this usage back in October of last year, and sporadically ever since. This listing is a good one since the prospective buyer can click on the links which will direct them back here:) I have also seen seller listings with the linking removed, but the format is definitely the same. I'm not sure what will happen to the link once the bidding time expires in 6 hours of this posting. John Syzygy 19:20, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

Changes to "My Primary Verifications"

As per FR 410, the page "My Primary Verifications" has been changed as follows:

  • The most recent verifications appear first.
  • Verifications are now sorted more granularly, so the sorting should be correct within each verification date.
  • Only 1,000 verifications are displayed per page. If you have verified 4,000 pubs, they will be displayed on 4 pages.
  • A new column, "Transient?", has been added to the table.

Ahasuerus 23:56, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

P.S. Forgot to mention that the way the Top Verifiers report counts the number of verifications was also changed. In the past it counted "verified and subsequently deleted" pubs, so the number was somewhat inflated. Starting next morning the counts will no longer include deleted pubs. Ahasuerus 00:15, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

Help figuring out artist from runic signature

Can anyone help me figure out who the artist is for the covers of Cast in Flame and Cast in Silence? Both covers appear to have the same signature, but it's in a runic alphabet. For Cast in Flame, it's in the upper left corner -- for Cast in Silence, it's in the lower right corner. (I see the same signature on several of the other covers in this series, but these two show it most clearly.) Thanks for your help in advance! BungalowBarbara 05:19, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

I found this table on Wikipedia which lists the runes of the Elder Futhark alphabet. Using this table you get the transliterated signature "?hane" - the "?" is for the first runic character which I can't decipher. Whether this is in any way accurate I leave for you to decide. Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 12:48, 1 November 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the link! I think the signature is "shane" in Anglo-Saxon runes rather than Elder Futhark. Hmmm... still a lot of possibilities... BungalowBarbara 05:57, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
Aha! Shane Rebenschied per information on Michelle Sagara's Web site. So annoying that Harlequin does not give the cover artist credit for any of the verified books in this series. BungalowBarbara 06:21, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
I confirm the reading SHANE : the first faint rune is the Anglo-Saxon sigel or “long-branch-sol”, noting s; you can see it better here (use zoom). You can also have fun transcribing the runes on the girl's back ! Linguist 21:44, 2 November 2014 (UTC).

(unindent) OK, so next question -- is there any sort of image database in ISFDB for author's signatures? (Or should I move this to the "Help" page?) Thanks, all. BungalowBarbara 22:20, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

Ask and you shall receive! :-) Ahasuerus 22:59, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
No one ever told me there was such a thing… :oD I sense there might be a few more coming ! Thanks. Linguist 09:45, 3 November 2014 (UTC).

"Top Verifiers" changes

As per FR 139, the Top Verifiers list has been enhanced to display a breakdown of secondary verifications. You may need to refresh all cached data (typically Control-F5) in order to display the new table layout correctly. Ahasuerus 05:53, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

Cool. Don't know how I could have done a Bleiler1 verification since I don't own the reference. Must have clicked the wrong bullet! I suppose there's no way to check which record that could be? Mhhutchins 17:24, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
The culprit is Stygian Articles, Spring 1997. Ahasuerus 20:03, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
I, too have 1 in that category and don't own the reference. I also have 8 in Bleiler78, same story [those are most likely 'misses' on OCLC ...]. I'd like to check which records they belong to and correct them. --~ Bill, Bluesman 18:50, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
The errant pubs are:
Happy fixing! :) Ahasuerus 20:03, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
P.S. We could create a new page, "My Secondary Verifications", which would be similar to "My Primary Verifications".
Actually, upon reflection, it may be better to have two Web pages. The first one would list the secondary sources used by the user. If the user clicks on the name of one of the sources, he would then be taken to the second page where he would see his verifications for that source. Would that be desirable? Ahasuerus 20:13, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
If you hadn't added the new page I never would have thought to re-check any of them, but then 9 misses out of 100,000+ isn't much of an error factor. Still ... depends how much is on your plate. I'm sure there are more pressing requests? --~ Bill, Bluesman 22:45, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
Well, there is always more stuff to work on, but it doesn't have to happen immediately. If there is interest, I will create a new Feature Request and it will get added to the development queue. Ahasuerus 23:01, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
Definite interest. One small codicil: since all sources [at least the print ones and Locus] are alphabetical, could the verifications be listed the same way? Not by title but by author? Last name first? Thanks! --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:20, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
Let me make sure that I understood correctly. We are talking about the My Primary Verifications page and the proposed "My Secondary Verifications] pages, right? They are currently listed chronologically, recent verifications first, but you would like to be able to view them alphabetically, based on the author's last name, right? If so, then the first question is what would you like to see if a pub has multiple authors? Do you want to see it multiple times, once per author? Ahasuerus 02:56, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
Correct on the 'page' being discussed, not for Primary verifications, just secondary. As for multiple authors, most secondary sources list under both so that shouldn't matter. My reasoning is that I've been very slowly, as a break, going through Tuck, occasionally Reginald and I constantly forget which authors I've looked at. Easy to keep track of alphabetically, almost impossible chronologically when there could be breaks of weeks or months. It's quite tedious but there's always titles/editions we don't have records for [especially from Tuck]. --~ Bill, Bluesman 03:17, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
Ah, I see. Sure, I'll create a Feature Request and see what I can do. Ahasuerus 04:27, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

(unindent)Nice—since we now have the break downs, a feature request would be to be able to dynamically sort the lists by specific columns. It is cool to see Bill (Bluesman) at the top of the list but it is also interesting to note he does not have the most primary verifications. It would also help with finding those erroneous verifications mentioned in earlier threads of this discussion. Uzume 03:47, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

Good point, FR 757 created. There are other tables that would benefit from the ability to re-sort them on the client side, e.g. the table on the Publication Series page and on the Series Grid page. Ahasuerus 18:27, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

Author Bibliography tweaks

A few minor tweaks have been applied to the Summary, Alpha and Chronological Bibliography pages. If 2+ title records have the exact same title date (typically happens when multiple INTERIOART appeared in the same magazine issue), they are now sorted correctly on the Summary and Chronological pages. Similarly, if 2+ title records have the exact same title, they are now sorted correctly, i.e. chronologically and then alphabetically, on the Alpha page. Ahasuerus 21:08, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

Magazine Search changes

Magazine search logic has been adjusted.

In the past, it only checked series titles matching the entered value, e.g. a search on "Amazing" would find "Amazing Detective Tales", "Amazing Stories", etc. However, a search on "Amazing Science Fiction" would not find anything because there is no such series even though several Amazing Stories issues used this title in the 1950s and 1980s.

Post-change, the search logic checks series titles as well as EDITOR records, so a search on "Amazing Science Fiction" now works. The downside is that magazine searches take a fraction of a second longer. Ahasuerus 04:50, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Magazine searches and Magazine Directory pages have been enhanced to explain why certain series names are displayed even though they do not match the entered search string/selected two-letter abbreviation. For example, the "Sc" page of the Magazine Directory lists Authentic Science Fiction because 2 of its EDITOR records start with "Science Fiction". Ahasuerus 03:09, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

Editing temporarily offline

I had to turn off editing due to technical problems. Working on it right now... Ahasuerus

We are back to normal. Sorry about the hassle! Ahasuerus 00:26, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

Links to SFE3

We have been given permission to link to some SFE3-hosted images. Please note that they have specific requirements for linking, which are described at the bottom of Template:Image Host Sites. In order to accommodate these requirements, the software has been modified as follows:

  • If an editor creates a submission linking an ISFDB record to an SFE3 image without providing Gallery information, the approving moderator will see a warning.
  • If an editor creates a submission linking an ISFDB record to an SFE3 image that is not in one of the three approved sub-directories, the approving moderator will see a warning.
  • A new report has been added to our nightly process. It finds all SFE3-hosted records that are missing Gallery information and/or reside in unapproved directories and displays this information as part of our "Cleanup Reports" menu.

As a side benefit, the software has been modified to allow "Image URL" values to contain two URLs. You can optionally append the "pipe" character ("|") and the URL of the page that you want the user to be taken to when s/he clicks on the image. See Template:Image Host Sites for an example. Ahasuerus 17:29, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

A lot of jumping through hoops. Hopefully their images are worth the effort. Mhhutchins 18:06, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
Good to hear, however, I am concerned about the choice of the pipe. It is not a reserved character in URI/URLs so what happens when my image has such a character in its address? Why not just add another field for this instead of the hidden semantics? Uzume 04:02, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
According to RFC 1738, the pipe character, although not "reserved", is considered "unsafe" and "must always be encoded within a URL". As far as adding another field goes, it was another option that I considered, but it would have involved significantly more work. Ahasuerus 18:16, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Linking to the Diamond Bay Research sites

As per Lex Berman, the owner of Diamond Bay Research and Yunchtime, we can now link to his sites, including the "Science Fiction Artists Database". The software has been updated to credit "Diamond Bay Research". Ahasuerus 23:46, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

Request for French-speaking editors/moderators

I've cleaned up several hundred titles on this report which finds contents which are dated later than the container which contains them. I've left about 200 French language titles, since I'm not sure if the error is in the content date or the publication date. In some cases, it's an obvious fix. For example, this record for an earlier printing of an anthology was cloned from a later printing, thus keeping the later date for its contents. Other records might take a little work. Since I'm not familiar with the French language or French-language SF, I would be uncomfortable making these changes. Can another moderator take on the last couple of hundred records left on the report? If so, it would be much appreciated. Thanks. Mhhutchins 23:10, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

Expanding NONGENRE support

As per FR 355, "Allow Non-genre short fiction, collections, etc":

  • At this time only Non-genre novels are supported by the ISFDB software. We want to allow other types of non-genre works, including short fiction, collections, anthologies, etc. The proposed implementation approach consists of adding a new field, "Non-genre", to the Title table. The Summary page logic will need to be enhanced to display non-genre works separately, although the details remain to be worked out.

I need to clean up the Summary Bibliography code first, which may take a few days, but in the meantime we can discuss how we want Summary pages to display non-genre works. Let's use Lloyd Biggle, Jr. as a test case. He wrote a fair amount of non-genre "stuff" and it's well represented on his Summary page. Currently we show 4 regular series, 2 non-genre series and 2 other non-genre novels.

As it happens, one of the "fiction series", "Grandfather Rastin", is 100% non-genre, but it appears as a genre series because it consists of a collection and a dozen short fiction works. Where should we put this series once we enhance our non-genre support and all of these titles have been marked "non-genre"? Also, where do we want to display standalone collections, anthologies, short fiction, essays, etc that will become "non-genre"?

I have toyed with a few approaches and so far it looks like the most logical place for non-genre works would be at the bottom of the page. We could display a thin grey line separating them from the main section and then display all non-genre works in the standard order, i.e. "Fiction Series" first, then Novels, Collection, Omnibuses, Anthologies, etc. I don't expect that we will have too many of them, but the software needs to know how to handle all possible permutations.

What do you think? Ahasuerus 01:16, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I'm in favor of moving all non-genre works to the bottom of the page. A separator line would be a nice touch. I think keeping the same order of work types as for genre works makes sense. It would be consistent so would be less confusing for users and I assume would be easier on the code. Thanks for taking this one on. Being able to mark non-genre non-novel will be a nice improvement. -- JLaTondre (talk) 02:29, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
I also would prefer to have *all* non-genre stuff at the bottom, with the gray/grey line and the same internal structure as for the genre material. From what you wrote, though, I'm not sure how you're planning on handling a Fiction Series that includes both genre and non-genre books. This doesn't come up often, and the places where I recall seeing it were with authors below the threshold, so we can just exclude the non-genre work. But it seems that there must be some threshold authors where this applies as well. Put them all above the grey line? Split them and record two "versions" of that Fiction Series? Chavey 05:36, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it has been known to happen. At one point I entered a horror series which contained two novels. In the first novel the baddies were hillbilly cannibals, which made it non-genre, but in the second book the bad guys were bona fide zombies.
Currently the software considers a series "genre" if at least one of its titles is "genre", in which case it displays all series titles in the "Fiction Series" section. I expect that we will want to preserve this behavior. Ahasuerus 06:07, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
I agree with the previous editors about grouping all non-genre titles at the bottom, being displayed separately on the author's summary page. We also need to emphasize to all editors, new and old, that this isn't carte blanche to start entering non-genre work by all authors in the database. Only the non-genre work of spec-fic authors should be entered into the database, regardless of its type. Thanks. Mhhutchins 06:41, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
Yep, bottom solution is preferable, at least for me. Stonecreek 07:52, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) It sounds like we are all on the same page. Hopefully it is safe to assume that the same logic applies to the "alphabetical" and "Chronological" biblio pages. Ahasuerus 00:31, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

Re "Only the non-genre work of spec-fic authors should be entered into the database, regardless of its type." Should an author carry a designation as "spec-fic" or not? I fear time-wasting brawls. On the other hand, it could help where an editor is not that familiar with an author. Examples: (1) Kingsley Amis. Presently we credit him with 4 genre novels and 4 non-genre, and Wikipedia shows him publishing more than 20. (2) Philip Wylie. Presently we credit him with 13 novels of each. (In the case of Amis, my snide remark would be that he was not a spec-fic author, as his New Maps of Hell proved!) New editor MagicKey 05:27, 20 November 2014 (UTC)
The question about how to concretely determine an author's status as being "above the threshold" has been going on for the entire time I've worked on the database (since 2007), and I can't see it being answered anytime soon. In 99% of the cases, it should be obvious to an editor well-read within the field on how to categorize an author. So there's only going to be discussions about the other 1%. I've only been in one major dispute about an author's status, and pretty much gave up the fight as taking up too much energy. (Look at the mess of that author's page and you'll see that my side lost.) There may have been a dozen more disputes in the entire time I've been here. If an editor has questions about an author's status, just post them here on the Community Portal and a consensus will be arrived at fairly soon. If we start designating a status for each author that would take away all of our fun in arguing. :) That's not to say it would be impossible to create such a designation, but who's going to have all the fun of doing the necessary work to make sure it's complete?
BTW, both Wylie and Amis are "above the threshold" in that they have achieved a reputable status within the spec-fic field. That means all of their non-genre work would be allowed as long as it is clearly marked NONGENRE. At the moment that can only be done with their novels. Mhhutchins 06:07, 20 November 2014 (UTC)

The Secret World of Alex Mack

According to Wikipedia, there were 34 (!) books based on The Secret World of Alex Mack, a YA TV series about a teenager who acquires superpowers. As our SFE3 contacts point out, at this time we list just the first 4. Do we have volunteers willing to identify and submit the other 30? Ahasuerus 06:40, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

Labeling title synopsis

As someone who regularly adds "synopses" to title records, I usually try to label where they came from, i.e. WorldCat, Amazon, or Publisher (where the last includes both dust jacket flaps and back of the book). An example is 172 Hours on the Moon. It seems to me, though, that since Amazon and WorldCat summaries generally all come from the publisher, that this source identification is probably unnecessary. But I wonder if there is value is saying that it's not from Goodreads, Amazon reviews, or other such sources where the wording is, presumably, copyrighted and should not be extracted by us. Suggestions? Chavey 18:12, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

I believe all non-original synopses should be sourced, even if the source is assumed to be from another. If it comes from WorldCat, they should be sourced even if it's apparent (but not noted) that it originated from the publisher. I don't think the librarians at WorldCat do any synopsizing. (I could be wrong.) Mhhutchins 21:07, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Late response, but thanks. I'm in the process of going through novels from the 80's and extracting WorldCat and Amazon synopses, and be careful to source them all. Chavey 13:04, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Old French language option

Hello. I'm afraid that after Old English, I'll require an Old French option in order to complete the record of Le lai du Bisclavret by Marie de France, the original version of Il Lai du Bisclavret. TIA, Linguist 22:00, 28 November 2014 (UTC).

Old French has been added to the list of supported languages. "Le Lai du Bisclavret" has been adjusted accordingly. Ahasuerus 23:56, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Thanks a lot (grant merci in OF) ! Linguist 09:37, 29 November 2014 (UTC).

New Magazine: Unlikely Story

I'd like to add Unlikely Story ( as a new magazine. This is primarily a webzine (issues are also available as PDF) with about 3 issues per year. Pay rate is professional ($0.06/word), but it is not yet listed as a professional market by the SFWA. Still, according to the Rules of Acquisition, I think it qualifies for inclusion?

Single issues are released under various (sub-)titles, such as "The Journal of Unlikely Crytography" or "The Journal of Unlikely Entomology" (this was the magazine's original title for the first 5 issues). Is there a way to use these titles and still end up with a single issue grid, or should generalized titles be used here ("Unlikely Story, Issue xyz")? Fsfo 13:36, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

If it's available as PDF, then yes, it's eligible for inclusion as per Rules of Acquisition. Ahasuerus 23:30, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
About the "subtitles": the title field of each issue's publication record should reflect the actual title as given in the publication. The EDITOR records of the individual issues can then be entered into a SERIES titled "Unlikely Story", regardless of the actual title used in the publication record. All issues will then appear on a single grid. Mhhutchins 21:13, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Thank you, I will submit the issues in that way. Fsfo 19:03, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

Embarrassing typo

As a lowly member of the rank and file, I can't correct the typo on the Title Vote page, where the word written (last line) appears to be in drastic need of a good cup of t. Someone hasn't been minding his p’s and q’s ! :o) Linguist 21:48, 30 November 2014 (UTC).

Oops! "Redeeming" was also spelled "redeming". Fixed now, thanks for reporting the problem. Ahasuerus 23:29, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Also added a link from the Vote page back to the main Title page while I was at it. Ahasuerus 23:40, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

Title page improvements

While working on the NONGENRE project, I discovered a way to improve the performance of the Title page. The improvement should be noticeable when displaying titles with a lot of pubs, e.g. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Ahasuerus 02:24, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Summary page changes - Part 1

As I mentioned earlier, the big challenge with enhancing our NONGENRE support -- or any other non-trivial changes that affect the Summary Bibliography page, really -- is how convoluted that part of the code is. The patch installed a few minutes ago eliminated all vestiges of what we used to call "lexical match", which plagued our existence in 2006-2009. Although the "lexical match" functionality was removed in 2009, the software supporting it was left largely intact and remained a big obstacle on the path to simplification. Now that it's out of the way, I can start working on cleaning up the rest of the mess.

As is usually the case in these kinds of situations, it's possible that removing one piece of a complex software puzzle may have broken something else in the code. If you see anything unusual or unexpected, please report it here. Ahasuerus 01:59, 6 December 2014 (UTC)

"Series Bibliography" - performance improvements

As part of the ongoing effort to streamline the software, the "Series Bibliography" page has been rewritten. Long and complex pages like Star Trek Universe should take significantly (40-50%) less time to load. Ahasuerus 06:12, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

As per FR 358, added a list of series tags to the top of the page. For series with more than 20 tags (e.g. Mars Trilogy), a link to a separate "Tags for a Series" page is displayed. Ahasuerus 18:50, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

Martin Booth mostly non genre

So far I've only be able to identify two novels in the series[3] that are spec fic the rest appears to be non genre. Any objection to zapping the rest?Kraang 04:43, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Looks like someone decided to add his entire bibliography by creating stub publication records for each title. Which means someone made quite some effort and some moderator agreed. Personally, I don't understand how it gets into the db to start with. I suggest deleting all nongenre and any nonassociational nonfiction titles from the db. Mhhutchins 19:31, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Thomas Berger's "Meeting Evil" non-genre?

As best as I can tell from plot outlines and reviews, Meeting Evil is non-genre. SFE's article on Berger does not include this book among those it says are of genre interest. Does anyone know a reason why it should not be deleted? Chavey 13:31, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

With a substantial amount of spec-fic and an article in SFE3, I suspect he's "above the threshold" and that his nongenre work be kept in the db but properly entered under NONGENRE. Mhhutchins 19:34, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Seeing no objection, it's been changed to non-genre. Chavey 14:16, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

"Trainspotting" non-genre?

We have Trainspotting in our database. I cannot see why. Wikipedia has a very extensive description of the book (characters and plot), and I cannot find a single thing in there that looks like speculative fiction. (And the author is certainly not about "the threshold".) Any objections to me deleting it? Chavey 08:14, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

I agree that it should be deleted. When I accepted the submission adding an ebook edition last night, I thought to question its eligibility, but since there were three other pub records for the title, I let it go. Turns out that the record for Welsh's The Acid House is incorrect (it's a COLLECTION), and may also not be eligible. It appears that only Marabou Stork Nightmares is eligible, based on internet descriptions of the work. Mhhutchins 18:50, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Further research shows that several of the stories in The Acid House are definitely fantasy (in a postmodern sense) and are eligible for the db. I'll correct the title and add a pub record, but not its contents until someone knows which of its 22 stories are fantasy. I'll also add a record for the first edition of Marabou Stork Nightmares. Mhhutchins 18:53, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Summary page changes - series

As per FR 331, the way the Summary page displays series has been changed. All super-series are now displayed together. For example, Dan Abnett's Summary page used to display "Doctor Who (Short Fiction)" and "Fell Cargo" in the Short Fiction Series section. Now they are displayed in the main Fiction Series section together with the other sub-series in their respective super-series. In addition, all series have been alphabetized and a few minor HTML issues have been fixed. Ahasuerus 01:26, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Summary page - series and omnibuses

As per FR 652, the way the Summary page handles omnibuses has been changed. A series which contains only anthologies and omnibuses, e.g. the "Good Stuff" series on Gardner Dozois' Summary page, is now displayed in the Anthology Series section. Similarly, a series which contains only non-genre novels and omnibuses, e.g. the "Professor Moriarty" series on Michael Kurland's Summary page, is now displayed in the Nongenre Series section. A series which contains only omnibuses is still displayed in the Fiction Series section. Ahasuerus 04:48, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Thank you, for both of these changes. Chavey 21:30, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

[SF] for "Short Fiction"

To quote FR 65:

When a work of short fiction is part of a series of fiction works, it displays on the author's bibliography page with the notation [SF] after it. I presume this stands for "ShortFiction". But given the name and focus of this site, it might be confused for "Science Fiction" -- a user might mistakenly assume that we visibly distinguish between science fiction and fantasy, say. Perhaps the display could use [short] or something similar, instead.

Would this change be desirable? Ahasuerus 06:55, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Well, I'm used to the current standard and can't tell if it mixes things up for some users. Maybe a brief list of abbreviations at the top of a summary page would be more preferabla, if possible? Stonecreek 08:51, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
I've been here for more than six years and it still causes me to think twice. So yes, I believe it should be changed. I think a list of abbreviations on each author's summary page would be overkill. Mhhutchins 19:59, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
I think a list of abbreviations is not only overkill, but would be ignored, and "short" is not particularly descriptive. Could a mouseover text say "Short Fiction"? Chavey 21:32, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
This has me thinking even further about how we display titles. Currently, they're all italicized. Most standards in citing titles suggest that container titles (like NOVEL, COLLECTION, ANTHOLOGY, MAGAZINE) be italicized, and that contained titles (like SHORTFICTION, ESSAY, POEM) should be in quotation marks. Would this not help settle the issue? The only problem I foresee is titles which include quotations as part of their title. But that has to have been worked out before. (Maybe even bring back the single quotes for titles?) If quotes are too big of an issue to solve, perhaps we cold bold container titles and non-bold/non-italicize contained titles? Mhhutchins 21:47, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Let me take a step back and review how things are currently handled.
For author-specific bibliographies, this is only an issue when displaying Fiction Series, Anthology Series and other "series" sections on the Summary page. Regular "Novels", "Collections", "Essay", etc sections do not have to worry about title types because they are limited to a single title type. Alphabetical and Chronological pages group titles by type and ignore series, so they don't have this problem either.
Within "series" sections, the logic that determines whether to displays each title's type is as follows:
  • Novels never get a designation
  • Collections always get a [C]
  • Omnibuses always get an [O]
  • Other title types are displayed if their type doesn't match the type of the currently displayed series.
For example, consider Roger Zelazny's Summary page. The first displayed title, Roger Zelazny's Visual Guide to Castle Amber has "[NF]" displayed next to it because it doesn't match the type of the Amber series. If it was displayed as part of a non-fiction series, it would not get an "[NF]". Similarly, the stories that are displayed as part of the "Amber Stories" sub-series have "[SF]" displayed next to them because this sub-series appears as part of the "Fiction Series" section. If they were displayed in the "Short Fiction Series" section, "[SF]" would not be displayed.
Series (as opposed author) pages always display the title type with the exception of novels. Hope this helps clarify matters! Ahasuerus 22:40, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
P.S. Another thing to consider is that we are getting close to adding explicit support for graphic titles (novels, collections, short fiction, etc.) It's probably a separate discussion, but we may want to keep the need to support things like "[graphic]" in the back of our minds. Ahasuerus 22:53, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Since the other title types have a single letter identifier, I wonder whether it might not be better to list short fiction as "[S]". At least that wouldn't get confused with "Science Fiction". Then if we do add graphic novels, they would be "[G]". (And I guess "[NF]" would remain the sole two-letter identifier.) Chavey 00:45, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Here is the current list of abbreviations:
  • ES - ESSAY
  • NG - NONGENRE (to be discontinued after the next patch when NONGENRE changes go live)
As far as graphic novels go, there won't be a separate title type for them since collections, chapterbooks and anthologies can also contain "graphic" content. I expect that we will need to add a new field to title records similar to the "Genre/Non-genre" flag that I am currently working on.
Another thought: how about displaying the value of the "story length" field, i.e. "[novella]", "[novelette]", "[short story]", "[short fiction]"? Ahasuerus 01:00, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

(outdent) I'd suggest using "[word]" (lowercase) in all cases & using the story length when known for short fiction. I'd also suggest using slightly smaller text for the type name. So: "Title One [collection]", "Title Two [novella]". Though perhaps play around with the sizing so it's not as small as what the wiki small tag used in those examples provides. -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:41, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

William W. Johnstone non genre author?

This author[4] has one genre novel in tags and the series Ashes might be borderline inclusion but the rest is all non genre. A lot of work has gone into his page. Anyone know more about him? Thanks!Kraang 02:53, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

I don't know much about him, but according to SFE3:
  • Johnstone was initially best known for Westerns, which he continued to produce; he wrote considerable supernatural Horror in his later career, as well as the Ashes sequence of Survivalist-Fiction military Post-Holocaust sf novels. ... A perfunctory associated series, the Last Rebel sequence, begins with The Last Rebel (2003) ... An earlier sequence, the Devil's/Whitfield series beginning with The Devil's Kiss (1980), is supernatural horror. Johnstone's singletons, beginning with Wolfsbane (1982), are also supernatural horror."
Ahasuerus 03:22, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
I'll go through his page and move as much as I can into non genre and see where we stand.Kraang 03:28, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Source for older e-books

(copied from Ahasuerus's Talk page)

Retro-designation of publisher credit

Here is a good example of how the publisher (or Amazon) is back-crediting publications for the current publisher. Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, didn't exist in 2007 (see this announcement dated October 1, 2009). Or the ebook is being dated the same as the first S&S edition, regardless of when it actually appeared. Either way, we'll have to correct the publisher credit or the publication date of this ebook edition. The Amazon "Look Inside" shows the publisher as Simon Spotlight Entertainment, but typically not dated. Another concern: that ISBN and ASIN comes up as unknown on Strange for what is essentially a US-based publisher (Simon & Schuster). I couldn't find any US published ebook edition on Amazon.

Sorry to bring this to your attention after all the efforts you're putting into getting these ebooks into the database. But it seems that the further back we go (seven plus years in this case), there will be less reliability of the data that Fixer is acquiring. The question becomes when do we simply give up trying to create publication records for older ebooks based on current data? Mhhutchins 17:22, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

That's a very good question. Using Amazon as our source for older books has always been problematic even when dealing with traditional publications. To make matters worse, e-books present additional challenges since so much about them is ephemeral and can be easily changed retroactively. I was kind of hoping that we could use Amazon's data going back to at least 2005, so your findings are a bit disappointing if not surprising.
On the other hand, there aren't many other sources of information about older e-books and I think they are fairly important. For a while publishers like Mushroom eBooks were the only source of certain older, our-of-print books. Omitting these ISBNs could significantly distort certain books' publication history.
BTW, here is how many older e-AddPubs Fixer knows about:
  • 2007 - 703 (January - July)
  • 2006 - 586
  • 2005 - 519
  • 2004 - 438
  • 2003 - 389
  • 2002 - 392
  • 2001 - 289
Going forward, I can think of the following options:
  1. Stop e-book submissions once we wrap up 2007
  2. Create skeleton records for pre-2007 e-books, omitting price/publisher data since it can be unreliable
  3. Do additional research for pre-2007 e-books to ensure that the data is correct (time-consuming, but may be viable given the relatively low number of e-books before 2007)
Should we move this discussion to the Moderator Noticeboard to see what other folks think? Ahasuerus 17:58, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, but it should be presented to the group on the Community portal, even if most non-moderating editors won't get involved. The question involves more than just moderators. I personally feel we've gone back about as far as we can go when it comes to ebooks, but I'd hate to drop the effort entirely. I'd go for #2 which seems a viable compromise, i.e. only create stub records for pre-2007 ebooks, and allow primary verifiers (and interested parties) to do further research to fill out the data. Thanks. Mhhutchins 18:46, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree with the second option. -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:42, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Patch r2014-444 -- improved non-genre support

I plan to install patch r2014-444 at 10pm server (US Central Standard) time. The installation will require a brief, about 5-10 minutes, outage. Once everything is back up, I will post the patch notes here. Ahasuerus 03:42, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Patch notes:
  • A new field, “non-genre” has been added to all Title records.
  • All NONGENRE titles have been converted to NOVELs and the values of their “non-genre” fields have been changed to “Yes”.
  • You can change the value of the "non-genre" field via Edit Title. Title Merge has also been modified to support this field.
  • New Publication lets you specify that the main title of the the pub being entered is non-genre.
  • When creating a new title record via Make Variant, the software will automatically make the new record “non-genre” if the original record is non-genre.
  • Similarly, Add Variant automatically creates non-genre VTs for non-genre parent titles.
  • The drop-down lists in the Content section of the Edit Pub, Clone Content, etc data entry pages have been modified to eliminate NONGENRE.
  • The three Bibliography pages -- Summary, Alphabetical and Chronological -- have been modified. A new section, “Non-Genre Titles”, is now displayed at the bottom of each page if there are any non-genre titles for the currently displayed author. It has the same structure, including the standard series tree, as the main section -- see Lloyd Biggle, Jr.'s Summary page for an example.
  • If a non-genre title appears in a series with genre titles, the whole series is displayed in the main section, but they word "[non-genre]" is displayed next to any non-genre titles.
  • The Series page has been modified to display the word "non-genre" for all non-genre titles.
  • The Content section of the Publication page has been changed to display the word "non-genre" for non-genre titles
  • The recently reported Alpha/Chronological display bug has been fixed.
  • Moderator-only:
    • A new cleanup report to find genre/non-genre VT mismatches has been created.
    • The “Publication-Title Type Mismatches” cleanup report has been modified. It used to ignore NONGENRE/COLLECTION and similar mismatches, which have now become NOVEL/COLLECTION mismatches. There are fewer than 80 records to clean up, so it’s not too bad.

Given the scope of this patch, the likelihood of new bugs being introduced is higher than normal. If you see anything unusual, please post your findings here. I will start working on updating Help shortly. In the meantime, feel free to start converting Conan Doyle's Holmes titles to non-genre :-) Ahasuerus 04:11, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

First, I want to say thanks for all the recent changes you have made; especially this one. I appreciate the work you have been putting in to improve the usability of the site. I know it takes your time & I wanted to pass on my thanks for taking it on. Now, that out of the way, here comes the criticism. ;-) JLaTondre (talk) 23:50, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, appreciate the kind words! :) Ahasuerus
I'm not a big fan of the "Non-Genre: Yes" representation. Maybe I'm just not used to it yet, but it seems too easy to overlook. Instead how about combining it with the type line so it would be "Type: NOVEL (NONGENRE)"? And could it also be displayed on the publication listing so that you could see it's nongenre without having to go to the title record? -- JLaTondre (talk) 23:50, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Makes sense, except that I went with square brackets, bolding and "small". How does it look now? (See The Quallsford Inheritance and The Quallsford Inheritance: A Memoir of Sherlock Holmes from the Papers of Edward Porter Jones, His Late Assistant for examples.) Ahasuerus 02:18, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Not sure why, but I don't like the way this is displayed. But I can't think of any better way. :( Mhhutchins 03:16, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, let's give it a day or two and see if anyone comes up with other ideas. Unlike database changes, display-only changes are easy to make and unmake. Ahasuerus 03:19, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
I was envisioning it being added to the 'Type:' fields vs. the 'Title:' & 'Title Reference:' fields. To me, at least, that makes more sense as it would be consistent with where it was in the past and it is more type information than title information. If it is on 'Type:', then I don't think the small is needed. -- JLaTondre (talk) 11:31, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree. I'd like to see "NOVEL, NON-GENRE" and "SHORTFICTION, NON-GENRE" on the 'Type:' line. Where they are now, I had to look for them where I didn't expect to find them, and at the moment they are small enough to look almost apologetic. ;) Just adding my thanks for this patch – I've been looking forward to it for a long time. PeteYoung 13:48, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Oh, right, that makes sense. The "non-genre" designation has been moved to the "title type" line; "small font" and bolding have been removed. How does it look? Ahasuerus 15:51, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Looks much better. Thanks. Mhhutchins 01:49, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, very pleased with that. Thanks again. PeteYoung 09:26, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

(unindent)I am happy to see this. Perhaps it makes sense to segment nonfiction in similar vein (below fiction but above nongenre; I realize there is nonfiction about fiction like bibliographic and biographic content). I am not sure what to do if items in a series cross these boundaries however. Uzume 04:22, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

NONFICTION titles can be marked "non-genre", although certain policy details are still outstanding -- there is a Rules and Standards discussion about this issue. As far as series that contain both genre and non-genre items go, they appear in the "genre" section with non-genre titles labeled accordingly, e.g. see Terry Spear's "The Highlanders" books. Ahasuerus 18:17, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Maybe it is just me but I would rather see the title entry fields over the pub entry fields on pub entry/edit forms. I realize some data is shared in some cases (e.g., the actual title itself and the type, etc. and these can be changed separately in a later title edit submission). If the title fields are first we can once again group type and nongenre together. I personally would like to see it changed to a checkbox and have one of those everywhere the type field is present—including one for every subcontent title entry (of course grayed out when appropriate). Uzume 14:26, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
If I understand what you're suggesting, you'd like to see the Content section above the Metadata section in a publication entry form. It just seems impractical to me. But then, I'm just an old dog who would find that new trick too hard to learn. Mhhutchins 16:06, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
I think Uzume is suggesting the following changes:
  1. Move the "Title Data" section, which currently includes "Language", "Series", "Series Num", "Non-Genre", "Synopsis" and "Web Page 1" through "Web Page N", to the top of the page.
  2. Change the name of the "Pub Type" field to "Title Type" and move it from the "Publication Metadata" section to the "Title Data" section, next to the "Non-Genre" field.
  3. Change the "Non-Genre" field to a check-box.
  4. Add "Non-genre" check-boxes to each titles-specific area of the "Content" section.
Did I interpret your suggestions correctly, Uzume? Ahasuerus 17:42, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
Ah-ha! I can support those changes. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Not only would that work when adding a new publication of a title to the database, but also when adding a pub to an existing title record or cloning an existing publication. In the later cases, the fields in the Title Data section would be noneditable, since they would be pre-filled and appear at the top of the entry form before the editable fields of the Publication Metadata section. I like it. Mhhutchins 17:53, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, Michael. Apparently, I was not clear enough (no, I do not think the contents need to move) but yes, Ahasuerus gets the gold star as that is what I was suggesting. The change should be fairly easy as short of adding Non-Genre to the contents, it is only cosmetic. It is slightly odd in that the main title data is listed first (i.e., the "yellow" moves to the top), then the pub data, and finally content titles data. Uzume 02:07, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying, Uzume! I will create a new Community Portal section to discuss your suggestion once we finish the current CHAPTERBOOKs discussion. Personally, I like changes 1-2 and I am neutral on 3, but I don't think that 4 would be justified in terms of the extra real estate/UI complexity that it would require. Ahasuerus 03:47, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
That is part of the reasoning for moving to a checkbox—less UI "real estate". I would hope such a change would not be that complex. That said, I do believe it may affect the Javascript which it not particularly flexibly written. I still think it is a good idea but how to get there practically is up for debate. Uzume 06:19, 9 January 2015 (UTC)


As we all know, our software misuses the term "CHAPTERBOOK", which actually means "a book for young children that is divided into chapters (=sections) and tells a story in writing rather than in pictures". The correct term is chapbook, i.e. "a small book or pamphlet". I plan to change the software to use "CHAPBOOK" instead of "CHAPTERBOOK", but first I'd like to make sure that "CHAPBOOK" is still the preferred alternative. The last time we discussed this issue, someone suggested "short work", which didn't seem to elicit much response, but you never know. Ahasuerus 06:03, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

CHAPBOOK is shorter and correct. So: Yes, please change to it. Stonecreek 06:20, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, the publishing term chapbook also doesn't match the ISFDB definition. More than half of all publications in our database currently classified as CHAPTERBOOK wouldn't fall under the standard definition of "chapbook". But I can't think of another term to replace it. What does the rest of the world call a publication containing a single work of less-than-novel length fiction or a single poem? I think our use is somewhat unique. We may as well come up with a unique term as well. Mhhutchins 06:23, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
The French technical term for such a publication is plaquette : a thin volume, usually containing no more than 50 pages (but occasionally longer), especially for poem collections and also short stories or essays published separately. Linguist 11:38, 22 December 2014 (UTC).
That would be identical to "chapbook" in English. Unfortunately, as I said above, most CHAPTERBOOKs in the ISFDB aren't thin volumes, many of them being hardcover. And collections (poetry or short stories), regardless of the binding or format, wouldn't qualify as CHAPTERBOOKs under the ISFDB definition. That's why coming up with our own term would be the ideal here. Mhhutchins 02:26, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
FWIW, SFE3 says: "In this encyclopedia we have arbitrarily and for the sake of convenience used the abbreviation "chap" to designate any book of fewer than 100 pages", so I guess we are not the only ones who have been unable to come up with a better term to describe the distinction. Ahasuerus 14:45, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I like CHAP. Though not perfect, it is sufficiently different from both "chapterbook" and "chapbook" to have its own definition, yet could easily be seen as a distinct publication type by new ISFDB users. SFE3 can continue to use "chap" as an abbreviation, but we would have to make it clear that this is what we call it, and not an abbreviation. Any other ideas? Mhhutchins 02:26, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
So far we have two replacement candidates: CHAPBOOK and CHAP. If we go with CHAPBOOK, the alternative spelling used on the Summary page where we use words like "Novels" and "Collections" will be presumably "Chapbooks". What would you like to see for CHAP? "Chaps"? (looks a bit weird -- "Hello there, old chap!" :-) Ahasuerus 03:24, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
I tend to think that, inevitably, connection will be made in a user's mind between chap, chapbook and chapterbook, leading to possible confusion and misuse. I would be in favour of a clearly different term : maybe something like BOOKLET which, given the proper local definition, would be more distinctive and possibly more evident to users and new-comers. Linguist 10:04, 23 December 2014 (UTC).
Hm, BOOKLET... It seems more generic than "chapbook", so perhaps it's a better choice for our purposes. Ahasuerus 15:59, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps too generic and most likely to be mistaken by an ISDFB user. I don't think the average reader would consider a hardcover publication as a booklet. I still think it would be better to come up with something that is unique, without any connotations to existing publishing terms. Maybe a rare word or something in another language, like opuscule? Anyone friends with Gene Wolfe? :) Mhhutchins 18:49, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Or folleto? Mhhutchins 18:54, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Shortbook? --Willem 21:16, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
As far as plaquette is concerned (see above), when I said “thin”, I didn't mean “paper-bound” or “soft-bound” : a plaquette can be hard-bound, and usually contains only one story, poem or essay. It may also contain short collections (especially poems), but that is not at all the rule. Linguist 22:36, 23 December 2014 (UTC).

[unindent] On Xmas morning, while shaving, I thought of SINGLETON. Merry Xmas ! Linguist 09:37, 25 December 2014 (UTC).

Staying with the diminutive form: PUBLET. Combining the diminutive with the original suggestion is probably too confusing: CHAPLET. Going Australian: PUBIE (BOOKIE is already taken). Sorry for being silly Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 17:58, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) Well, it looks like there is no perfect answer. Still, "the perfect is the enemy of the good" and we really need to do something since the current term is seriously misleading. Also, we can add a little question mark (question_mark_icon.gif) with mouse-over text explaining how we use whatever term we end up with.

With that in mind, here is what has been proposed so far (I will use the capitalization that will appear on Summary pages) and I hope I am not missing anything:

  • Booklets
  • Chapbooks
  • Chaps
  • Folletos
  • Opuscules
  • Short books
  • Singletons

I don't think "singleton" would work too well because it basically means "standalone", which covers way more than our "Chapterbooks". Somewhat similarly, "short book" is an interesting idea, but it also covers standalone essays, short collections and possibly other books that are currently not considered "Chapterbooks".

The usefulness of "folleto" and "opuscule" vs. "booklet" and "chapbook" depends on what we are trying to accomplish here. Do we want to make new users says "Huh?" and click on the question mark? Or do we want to use a more common term that would be readily understood, but that may be somewhat misleading until the user reads the mouse-over help? Ahasuerus 20:22, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

Can I add "novella" as a proposed name? Most of the chapbooks on ISFDB are bound as paperback or hardcover editions and so physically appear to be novels and are sold as "novels". For example, in 2014 Subterranean Press's production included:
Another proposal, which Ahasuerus alludes to below, is the word "standalone" with the section heading being "Standalone publication of short fiction, essays, poems, etc." I believe that will also work well for hardcover, paperback, chapbook, ebook, and other publication formats that include a single non-novel work. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:22, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Mark's choice of NOVELLA is fine except that we currently consider a standalone publication of a single poem as CHAPTERBOOK as well. I'd much prefer using NOVELLA for prose and leave CHAPBOOK for poems, but it would confuse users who would see a work listed under both NOVELLA and SHORTFICTION. Or would be confused as well to see some novellas that have never had standalone publication not included under the NOVELLA category. How about NOVELLA BOOK for prose publications? Or we can just change CHAPTERBOOK to CHAPBOOK and make it clear in our documentation that our use is not the same as the common term. Oh well, this is turning out to be more complicated than I thought it would be! Mhhutchins 16:25, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
I don't think NOVELLA would work too well since "novella" is one of the values of the "storylen" field. Using the same term to describe standalone appearances of short fiction on top of its current usage would make it even more difficult to distinguish between "short fiction" and "chapterbook" titles, which has been a painful problem over the years. In addition, it would be inaccurate because we also use "Chapterbooks" to describe standalone appearances of novelettes, short stories and poems. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of short stories being published as e-books these days. Ahasuerus 18:03, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Damn. Forgot that CHAPTERBOOKS are for all fiction less than 40K, not just novellas. That settles it for me. Cast my vote for CHAPBOOK. Mhhutchins 22:09, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
My personal preference would be to use "Chapbooks", closely followed by "Booklets", with the details explained in the mouse-over help as described above. They seem to be the best compromise that is neither too obscure nor too inaccurate. Ahasuerus 18:03, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Since no term seems thoroughly adequate so far, and since whichever we choose (if this discussion ever has an end) will inevitably have to be defined in the instructions, I would opt for the least confusing one. In case the choice is narrowed to CHAPBOOK and BOOKLET, I still tend to think that the former can be more misleading than the latter. Linguist 20:45, 3 January 2015 (UTC).
I'll also offer a vote for "BOOKLET". Although it has some issues, which can be handled via the mouseover text, I think it's more descriptive and less ambiguous than "ChapBook". Although I can't help but offer the suggestion of "BOOKLETTE", to distinguish it from the "other" use of "Booklet". Chavey 21:17, 3 January 2015 (UTC)