ISFDB:Moderator noticeboard/Archive 01

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This is an archive page for the Moderator noticeboard. Please do not edit the contents. To start a new discussion, please click here.
This archive includes discussions from March - July 2007.

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Expanded archive listing

New Submissions Queue

Just a heads up that the New Submissions queue is getting long (>200 items and ~21 hours) and I won't have much time to spend on it over the next couple of days. It's one of those 10 kiloklick weeks :( Ahasuerus 00:13, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT)

I'm also going to have fairly limited time, though I'll try to do some at some point this weekend. Do we need another moderator? Mhhutchins, JVjr, or ChrisJ are the most experienced editors, though I don't have enough experience seeing their edits to know which has come up against the various nooks and crannies of ISFDB data.
I have a fair amount of experience with Michael's (Mhhutchins) work. He's very careful and has lots of energy, and has by now learned most of the pitfalls that new editors run into. He'd be a great moderator, because he explains himself well and is patient. (Scott Latham 12:32, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT))
I haven't seen his work, but I've seen some of the conversations. If you think he'd be a good moderator, how about nominating him? It does look like we could use a couple more. Mike Christie (talk) 12:45, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT)
We seem to have caught up OK - Unapersson turned up just in time, I was going to look at some complicated ones.... ;-) But all three mentioned seem fine to me based on my (so far very limited) experience as mod. BLongley 14:57, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT)
I think a ratio of two active moderators to one active editor is probably the longterm target. Or perhaps the way to look at it is that all experienced and trusted editors should end up as moderators. Mike Christie (talk) 07:42, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT)
I've been sick for the past few days as well. I'll see if I can pick some up today though. --Unapersson 09:15, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT)
The queues do seem to be long and taking a long time to clear. I suggest action be taken before the queue gets too long. rbh 20:07, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT)
I agree, the wait time is becoming very long. More moderators would be very handy. Finishing anth. and coll. is taking up to a couple of days. Also is there anyway to leave a message for moderators, have made some error submissions but there is no way to retract them. This makes for extra work later.Kraang 21:29, 31 Mar 2007 (CDT)
The queue has been whittled down to about a dozen "held" submissions now. We have a couple of new editors who are still green and whose submissions require a lot of TLC, so it slows things down. We also have a number of "stuck" submissions that need Al's intervention.
As far as adding new moderators goes, I agree that the goal is to give moderator privileges to all consistently active editors once they have learned the ropes. The only caveat is that it can take a while for someone without a bibliographic/computer background to polish his/her Visualization of (our corner of) the Cosmic All. We will also want to beef up our moderator-specific Help pages, e.g. the part that covers the pitfalls of converting Novels to Collections. Ahasuerus 00:31, 1 Apr 2007 (CDT)
OK, you'd better sort that one out or I'm leaving all these for someone else!
496751 N TitleUpdate 2007-04-01 10:41:30 JVjr King And Other Stories
496761 N TitleUpdate 2007-04-01 10:42:14 JVjr Mad Dog Summer and Other Stories
496811 N TitleUpdate 2007-04-01 10:45:33 JVjr Bumper Crop
496821 N TitleUpdate 2007-04-01 10:46:37 JVjr The Shadows Kith and Kin
I think "King and Other Stories" is missing a "The" in front but otherwise I'd pass them all, until I saw this warning.
Or is that the April Fool's joke? I've been watching for ones all day, and although [[Talk:Bio:Peter Payack|this chap]] picked a strange day to turn up, most edits have been quite reasonable and not as entertaining as I'd hoped. :-/ BLongley 15:37, 1 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Michael does sound like a good candidate since he is both prolific and detail-oriented. I suspect that the learning process will go faster once an active editor becomes a moderator since it's much easier to experiment and correct your own mistakes when you can approve your own submissions. A bit of a Catch-22, I suppose... Ahasuerus 00:31, 1 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Re: "Also is there anyway to leave a message for moderators, have made some error submissions but there is no way to retract them." One complication is I normally check the new-submissions queue, clear it, and then check the wiki side of things. You could try submitting a nonsense request for a new publication titled ******************. One of the things I was planning on looking into was to see if the review/approve code could be changed to allow people to look at the detail pages. I just realized it's then a very small step to then make a [Reject] button available for your own submissions and some day to also be able to edit your own submissions.
As far as new moderators go - I'm all for it. Marc Kupper (talk) 22:07, 2 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Delete Change Requests

Second time I did it. I realize I submitted a wrong reuquest and realized it after I submitted it. Since the recent errant change in question is a death date I couldn't update the date to a correct one. A possible new function? Anyway "Algis Budrys" is still with the living. I found his father's date and not his. (The correction I submitted to a change of mine was related to "Make pseudonym hierarchy" issue above). Ray 16:32, 1 Apr 2007 (CDT)

I had it held, as I knew he was alive at least into the 90s. I've now rejected it, so no harm done. Mike Christie (talk) 17:11, 1 Apr 2007 (CDT)
You could have just submitted a second update with the correction (removing the death date). We try to approve the entries first-in-first-out meaning if someone approved both of them the death date would get added/removed. I suppose you could also leave a message on your talk page just in case someone notices and puts one of the submissions on hold. Marc Kupper (talk) 22:11, 2 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Thought of that but since I was removeing the date. I thought I would need to wait for the first request to be approved. Since the orginal didn't have a date submitting a second request on the orginal entry showed no changes to submitt. I have in the past submitted a second request to fix a typo or like the "Make pseudonym hierarchy" attempted correction. Ray 13:49, 11 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Double entries?

I was wondering if any moderator can remember this occuring before. I submitted an entry for the September 1978 issue of Galileo magazine and somehow there are now two entries: here as title 533129 and here as title 533133. Each also has indiviudal publications: here as GLLSPTMBRL1978 and here as GLLSPTMBRH1978. A glitch in the system perhaps? The recent edits list contained just one entry. The proximity of the numbers show they were practically simultaneously accepted. I'll delete one of them later, after others of you have seen them and can comment on the occurence. Thanks. Mhhutchins 16:15, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Hm, I think Marc found something very similar in the database a few weeks ago. Do you happen to remember where it might be documented, Marc? Ahasuerus 20:54, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Here, maybe? BLongley 18:06, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)
That's the one! Ahasuerus 18:10, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I'm going to go ahead and just delete one of the versions. Mhhutchins 21:35, 21 Apr 2007 (CDT)


Apologies to all other Mods for leaving so many entries in the queue, but after a pleasant afternoon of adding pretty pictures (Ooh! Shiny!) to existing pubs, I got into doing some Vonnegut research. And one bloody publication led me into so much research I can't finish it tonight. I've got the list saved if people just want to approve things to clear the queue, but there's some interesting stuff if other people like researching. BLongley 20:49, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)

No prob, I'll help clear the queue of your submissions. I just didn't know if it was kosher to approve other mods submissions. :) Mhhutchins 21:53, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)
About the chapterbook You’ve Never Been to Barnstable? by Vonnegut: is it possible that in 1966 a pamphlet of an obscure essay by the relatively unknown Vonnegut have a list price of $2500? The price shown on the ABAA website may be the value today. Even so, that shouldn't be the price here on ISFDB. Mhhutchins 22:04, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)
We have a number of Publications with unrealistic prices because earlier versions of our webbot used to grab prices from dealers' sites. I don't think it's a problem with the current implementation any more, but we still have bad data in the database. Ahasuerus 22:07, 14 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Ah, you spotted it! Good work! :-) The question is whether it was just sent free by the printers to their clients, or whether it was a print-run to be sold like Christmas cards are nowadays, in which case there might actually be a price for it. If I couldn't establish that (and I'm not buying it to find out!), the idea was that I'd approve the submission to see if we have any checks on silly values (I suspect not, given the number of dual-priced entries we have) and would edit the notes in afterwards. (For extra confusion, try and identify the cover-artist, and there's a suggestion that there's ANOTHER version with a leading "So".) BLongley 07:48, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)
OK, I added a few Collier's magazine entries to tidy up a few loose ends (I need practice on magazines) but I'm done with the Vonnegut for now. (Feel free to add the OTHER magazines if you like, but I doubt anyone comes here for 'Ladies Home Journal'.) I also downloaded the latest backup of the database and looked into a few authors with lots of pub contents that didn't have Wikipedia links, so there's a few more obscure authors you can find out a bit more about just by checking the author data. (Apparently there's a big section on Wikipedia for someone called "William Shakespeare" that we obviously never knew anything about before!) I've left a couple of submissions as we disagree with Wikipedia or I've made a typo, so a fresh pair of eyes would be good tonight too. Alas, my holiday time is over and I have to go back to sitting in front of a computer screen all day, wondering where the bad data came from, how to fix it, and how to improve the user interface. (Wait, that sounds awfully familiar....) BLongley 18:26, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Ah, Collier's! Come to think of it, they published a "speculative" issue some time in 1951 or thereabouts which described the (seemingly inevitable) WWIII via a series of made up journalistic accounts written between 1952 and 1955 (give ot take). Ah, here it is, October 27, 1951, "Preview of the War We Do Not Want". We probably want some of the articles there since they were written by SF-related people like J. B. Priestley and Arthur Koestler, but do we want the rest of the issue? I think it's close enough to SF to be of interest to us. Many of the articles, as I recall, had rather striking imagery of the war itself and the subsequent occupation, so it was arguably closer to fiction than non-fiction speculation. Ahasuerus 18:50, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Well, my thoughts were that we often have short-fiction entries going right back to the first magazine publication, which we then also list, but only if it's a famous SF magazine. Collier's was obviously missing, but sometimes had multiple entries of interest (e.g. when I found one particular Vonnegut it had a Bradbury too), so I thought that's where I'd test the limits of the "Rules of Acquisition". It seems not too difficult to find sources, and it's about 50% likely that you can find the cover too (although we have no permission to link to my main source, so that's in notes only). I've added some SF-content-only entries for Playboy too, but I find that distracts me too much. ;-) But if Vonnegut and Niven and others felt up to the job of dealing with Playboy, I wouldn't ignore them. Sometimes I like to pick up an armful of a known author and verify (easy), sometimes I like to pick up a handful of unknowns and see what I can find out (results variable), sometimes one collection or anthology can keep me busy for a day. And if I'm tired of actually handling paper, looking at the database backups usually gives me something interesting to do. BLongley 19:13, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Currey added

As per the results of our recent discussion, Currey has been added to the list of Verification sources. Ahasuerus 02:03, 15 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Another strange case of duplicated submissions

I created a variant for this title by Wilhelm and Thomas (my copy credits "Ted Thomas", not "Theodore L.") and the database created two submissions. One as by Wilhelm and Thomas, the other as by Thomas and Wilhelm. Both titles are listed as variants on both author's pages. I'll try and delete one after a few mods have had a chance to look at them and comment. Mhhutchins 17:01, 16 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Hm, this is rather irregular. I'll drop Al a note, thanks! Ahasuerus 21:39, 16 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Guidelines: What do you check?

I was surprised when an moderator mentioned checking the page count for a new submission against OCLC and realized I don't know if there are any guidelines on what moderators should check (I did a quick check and could not find any). In my case, the only time I check external sources is if something about a submission happens to catch my eye. 95% of the time I just approve-away as they are submissions that will not result in data loss/corruption.

Of the 5% of the submissions I do put on hold and research the references I tend to use most often are.

Marc Kupper (talk) 13:59, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)

For new book publications I check the Fiction Finder at OCLC, by first entering the ISBN that the editor provided. I confirm the author, title, publisher, year and page numbers (the only stats that OCLC provide.) If there's no discrepancy, I approve the submission. If there is, I'll question the editor. If there's no listing on OCLC or the submission did not include the ISBN (or books older than ca. 1975), I do a search at Mhhutchins 14:42, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
To be fair, we don't give good guidelines about what editors should check either, hence my question about "what are we actually verifying" a while back. :-/ I don't tend to check new pubs much unless I see an obvious typo - it's easier to see a bad ISBN after integration, for instance. I don't see many missing ones. Editing existing data, I definitely check what we have: but if I see an editor, say, enter a new anthology with a year-month date and then do a lot of title merges that change dates of publication from that year to that year-month I'd probably not check any other date changes the editor made immediately afterwards. Changing page numbers is fine, I'll allow any of those unless they go beyond the page count of the book: I have to scan all the contents anyway to make sure they're not changing Titles or Authors. If they do THAT then it's "Hold on... this needs checking". IF it's the only ISFDB entry to be affected, it's usually fine, but often I'll check elsewhere anyway to improve my own education. I usually start with a Google of the bit that looks suspicious: an ISBN, an author name, a title: and look for the Locus / Contento / Amazon / Wikipedia / Abebooks / Alibris /Fantastic Fiction entries near the top of the results. Or even Author homepages - some of the names I don't recognise are actually minor authors with plenty of details available if you look for their homepage. The downside with the checking is that I tend to wander off and add Author details, Artist bios, Wikipedia links, Coverart links, sometimes redo a publication with page numbers from Locus, etc - which makes me rather less active at tackling the submission queue, as I'm adding to it! :-/ BLongley 15:52, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I don't tend to trust Amazon much, as they're often the CAUSE of me needing to check, but that's more for data already IN the database. I've been working on Duplicate ISBNs today, and that's led me all over the web. For instance, this pub was constructed from Locus as the other one looked seriously incomplete, but it took me to Wikipedias in multiple languages, IMDB, several Amazons, caused at least four Author detail updates, a lot of playing with Amazon image links, merging of OTHER shortfiction by the authors represented there, etc. Give me one obscure Anthology and it can keep me busy for hours! BLongley 15:52, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)
That's a very good question. I have developed some heuristics that seem to help evaluate submissions and I have been thinking about posting them over on Help:Screen:Moderator. However, I will have access to my collection and some free time over the next 2.5 days, so I will be trying to get as many physical verifications done as possible between now and Tuesday. I will post more on the subject once I am on the road again. Ahasuerus 23:01, 28 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Wikimedia links

I zapped three pub images this weekend after reading this:

  • Directly embedding files from Wikimedia Commons on the fly into an external wiki (“Deep linking”) is considered bandwidth theft and external servers doing so will be permanently blocked after Wikimedia server admins recognize it (usually very quick). There is a proposal to allow non-Wikimedia wikis to easily access Commons material - meta:InstantCommons. This feature does not yet exist, so at the moment files must be separately uploaded to other wikis.

Now I see we have 53 Author images linking there. Do we actually have permission for this now, and I'm being over-zealous? BLongley 18:16, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Eek! I think I have deep-linked at least a dozen Wikipedia Commons images over the last few months without realizing what their policy was :( Exterminate, exterminate! Ahasuerus 01:48, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Secondly, we don't have any links to Flickr although they DO allow deep-linking, and have "Creative Commons" licensing, so long as we link back to them. What's the problem? Unapersson has images looking for a site, this seems to be a solution, what am I missing? Does every image have to link back and therefore we need new guidance on how to construct the URL, or code-changes to ALLOW a link back like Visco? Or would a single credit cover us? BLongley 18:16, 22 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Flickr is not a bad idea. I've imported all my cover images into F-Spot and am tagging them in preparation for uploading. Once that's done we can decide if we can use them or not. uploading... --Unapersson 02:15, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Well interesting experiment, but I'm not sure flickr is the answer. It's limited to 200 images and I've got over 800. I think there does need to be some kind of solution for the book covers issue. Any chance of putting them in a database? The CMS we use at work stores about 4GB of data in an oracle database.
I'm not even sure if the usage of Amazon images is within the accepted terms of use, I thought I read somewhere there was a requirement to link to the book, whereas we're just linking to the full size cover image.
I would have thought it would be better to provide either an upload form or a URL entry field like currently (but grab the image from the URL rather than embedding it in an image tag). Then store the images either in a separate database or on the file system. ImageMagick could be used to make sure the images are no bigger than a fixed size. Are there any constraints/concerns stopping us from doing that? --Unapersson 06:16, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)
I am not sure what the IP or storage ramifications for our gracious hosts might be. I think Al looked into this issue a while back, so he would probably be the first person to ask. From the end user perspective, it would increase the size of our database backup file tremendously, but I suppose we could exclude all images from the nightly backup. Ahasuerus 11:45, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Database size could definitely be an issue. My 800+ images take about 93MB on the file system. So if you had one of equivalent size for every publication in the ISFDB that would be about 11GB. Not that much data in the overall scheme of things, and we're unlikely to get images for every publication, but that's still a fair amount. At least a separate database / filesystem could have different rules for backups (i.e. more incremental). It's not something you could package up for download either. We may just have to hope that at some point there is a book cover archive that we can plug into. Copyright issues may also be a concern, book cover scans seem a bit of a grey area. --Unapersson 13:31, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Someone found the Amazon user-guide I think, which is why we have them listed as an acceptable source - although I've not read it myself. And I'm not a lawyer anyway, just someone afraid of being sued! I'm not sure about the other sources in the help either, but I'll take Al's word about Visco. I suppose we could restrict ourselves to uploading Customer Images to Amazon and linking to them after approval - make it their problem - but they often don't have the exact edition we want - and I'm not putting my books up for sale just so they create it! ;-) BLongley 14:53, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Well, I've done the "Upload to Amazon", "Wait", "Post links to my customer images" a few times now with no complaints yet. It's slow to get the images approved at times, but so far they haven't complained about me posting copyrighted images rather than fair use, but then again they can always say I was the one breaching their guidelines, even though they ask and even encourage us to share our images. I'll let you know if things get awkward. BLongley 19:52, 6 May 2007 (CDT)
And yes, we can exclude images from backups easily - I suspect we'd get that by default anyway for the downloadable ones and we'd have more trouble INCLUDING them (we take out the personally identifiable data already, leaving out an IMAGES table shouldn't be hard). Unapersson, your images might be more detailed than we need and we could reduce the file-sizes a bit: I also work on an Oracle database at work that stores BLOBs and we can make sure that people don't upload a 5GB TIFF when a 100k JPG will do, I'd be surprised if we can't do it here. But we're not paying for the storage, so that might be an issue, but I suspect IP issues are the more important. Who knows a free lawyer? BLongley 14:53, 26 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Asimov Essays

Apologies for the long queue, but Mike made me do it!! :-) Feel free to clear a few, most are uncontroversial I think. But I've got seven titles listed to check out later. And four other Asimov Essay series to look at later... :-( BLongley 19:41, 23 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Yeah, go ahead and put the blame on me. That's why I thought I'd help out by approving the edits. Now that my eyes are no longer attached to my head and I've developed carpal tunnel, you'll have to take the blame for that! :) Mhhutchins 20:03, 23 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Moaner! ;) You think I didn't suffer enough doing those edits? I thought I could finish one series tonight, but Asimov won. :-(
OK, I probably picked the worst series to start with: but doing a few decades in one night still feels vaguely satisfying. (Don't rush the approvals, please, I'm sure some are worth rejecting or holding. I'm just not sure WHICH yet.) BLongley 20:25, 23 Apr 2007 (CDT)
By the way, there were several that you had questions about (e.g. "Dead Centre" or "Dead Center"). I was able to verify those against the actual issues of F&SF, so I went ahead and edited them. Mhhutchins 20:52, 23 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Cheers for that! Looking back at all THREE-HUNDRED AND NINETY-FIVE(!) makes me wonder (1) why I did it, (2) who will be daft enough to tackle the next one, and (3) have we set a record for longest series? Even Perry Rhodan will have trouble catching up with that... BLongley 14:23, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)
You underestimate Perry Rhodan by an order of magnitude :) Ahasuerus 14:32, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Depends on whether you count them as novels or magazines, I guess... but we still don't have anything Rhodan-related do we? Despite finding the volunteer editor... did we scare him off? :-/ BLongley 16:50, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)
Thinking some more about it, it would be a useful side project to create a list of the "10 longest series". A simple SQL query should do the trick as long as we remember to limit the query to novels -- otherwise Jules De Grandin will be at the top of the list :) Ahasuerus 15:05, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)
The simple one is easy, but I know it's distorted by variant titles. :-/ BLongley 16:50, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)
select s.series_title, count(*)
from series s, titles t
where s.series_id = t.series_id
and t.title_ttype = 'NOVEL'
group by s.series_title
order by 2 desc
| series_title                    | count(*) |
| Doctor Who Target Novelizations |      156 |
| The Destroyer                   |      111 |
| Star Trek The Original Series   |      104 |
| Doctor Who New Adventures       |       84 |
| Doctor Who BBC Past Doctors     |       76 |
| Doctor Who BBC 8th Doctor       |       73 |
| Goosebumps                      |       64 |
| Transmetropolitan               |       63 |
| Buffy the Vampire Slayer        |       58 |
| Conan                           |       58 |
And for type 'ESSAY' I'm pretty sure we have just set the record :-) (But then again, simple SQL makes no allowance made for sub-series. Not that I intend to do another set of Asimov Essays for a while.) BLongley 16:50, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)
| series_title                                    | count(*) |
| The Alternate View                              |      309 |
| Reflections                                     |      124 |
| Vignettes of Famous Scientists                  |       69 |
| On the Net                                      |       46 |
| Curiosities                                     |       39 |
| A Scientist's Notebook                          |       24 |
| Stories of the Stars                            |       15 |
| Pitching Pennies Against the Starboard Bulkhead |       13 |
| They Changed the World                          |       12 |
| On Writing                                      |       12 |

(unindent) Interesting, thanks! I guess we could do the same thing for "novels set in the same superseries/universe" (Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, etc), "novels in the same series written by the same author" (Tarzan, Prescot, Dumarest, Grimes, etc) and so on, although co-written and ghostwritten series like The Witch World and The Destroyer will make it problematic. Then there are the page count champions like Martin and Jordan, but that would require going to the Publication level, which is even trickier. The fun never stops :) Ahasuerus 17:36, 24 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Help in removing a submission

I was separating the two versions of Cordwainer Smith's story "War No. 81-Q" when a strange thing occurred (or I simply screwed something up.) After unmerging the publications from the title of the original 1928 version, I deleted the title. So when I went to the moderator page to accept the two edits I approved the deletion first (I think, I'm not really sure of the order of what I did.) Now there's a submission which can't be removed from the queue. Anyone know how to get around this? Mhhutchins 20:58, 29 Apr 2007 (CDT)

It sounds like a variation on a known bug. When you approve the deletion of some record and then go to review a submission that involves that (now deleted) record, it causes the screen to error out. Once it happens, I am afraid the only known remedy is to ask Al to force the submission into the "rejected" state :( Ahasuerus 21:30, 29 Apr 2007 (CDT)

Time for some new Moderators?

I won't propose any specifically yet (although I have asked an editor or two whether they'd be interested), but this has been a rather busy day for me and we DO seem to have some people that can be trusted to sort out their own edits. I wish I could point people at the "New Moderator's Guide", but maybe we can construct one from the "Help! What do I do now!?!?" posts? BLongley 19:26, 12 May 2007 (CDT)

I keep meaning to update our Moderator Help screen, but other things keep interfering, especially my LIAM project. Which reminds me that I need to post about it soonish. Ahasuerus 02:20, 13 May 2007 (CDT)
I'm thinking more of a gentle introduction to the changes that the newly-modded (Ooh! That sounds VERY cyber-punk, doesn't it?) see, rather than just a huge help page covering everything. (Although having that is good, until we can do Field-level help entries that aren't so big.) For instance, they can change from leaving notes to the mods about their eventual intentions on a series of edits to (gasp!) just doing them and approving them without the wait. At some point, they'll get annoyed with other editors messing up the submission queue with lots of stuff, and they'll want to clear a few out, but nothing complicated yet as they're nervous about their mod abilities - and then they'll find that other editors are doing simple things that don't need much thought to do, nor much thought to approve either. At that point we ought to warn them that we haven't documented everything in the Big help: for instance, Mods have to remember what the green and pink colours mean. And it's not a good idea to do only the "simple" approvals if there's a whole series of edits to the same pub, as doing them out of order causes problems. BLongley 17:47, 13 May 2007 (CDT)
Then we get on to etiquette - generally Mods don't approve other Mod's stuff, so you have to get to know your fellow Mods. (Which is good! Phone in advance if you're coming round though, so I can make sure I have tea and cakes ready.) And although we all know where to find someone's talk-page, will the reply be there or on your own? (I'd prefer it to be in the same place, but then we need to mention "watch-lists" and such... which is not necessarily something learnt while editing.) BLongley 17:47, 13 May 2007 (CDT)
Moderating isn't difficult unless you want it to be. There are no safety-nets though, so a gentle guide into it would be nice. For instance, an early tip to "Go and fix the mistakes you made in the early days of your editing" is a nice way of advising people to practice on their own area first, rather than tackle someone else's edits with their new super-powers. I'm still fixing some of mine! But I'm happy to ASK other mods if they possibly made a teensy-weensy error in a particular area now - learning to communicate well and be diplomatic is an important step - and I'm now confident enough to moan about some rules too. But there are NO levels of Moderatorship, so "fix your own stuff", "help out with the simple approvals", "give advice in a friendly manner", "learn variants enough to fix stray pubs", "post a bug or feature request that HASN'T already been submitted", "ask for a change to a certain convention", and "Tell Al where he has gone wrong ;-)" are all self-imposed levels. I could probably go back to my "BillLongley" id for a bit and find some frustrations again, but I haven't really recorded my moderatorship problems except in "Help!" posts. :-( BLongley 17:47, 13 May 2007 (CDT)
As far as adding more moderators goes, I have added my $0.02 to your proposal on the editor's Talk page, Bill. <grabs a blackjack and goes looking for other editors to club into moderatorship>. Ahasuerus 02:20, 13 May 2007 (CDT)
Sshhh! Be vewy, vewy quiet, we'we hunting Modewators! BLongley 17:47, 13 May 2007 (CDT)
Recently weekends have not been good for me in terms of moderator time. I have not looked at the queue an all in a couple of days but just checked and there was just a 3 hour backlog (midnight to 3am using ISFDB's clock). Marc Kupper (talk) 03:43, 14 May 2007 (CDT)
Queue size can be spikey depending on the number of editors vs. the number of moderators currently online, which tends to correlate with US/EU peak activity hours. Fridays can be pretty bad, with submissions piling up faster than they can be processed, but other times it can be quiet for hours. Ahasuerus 09:11, 14 May 2007 (CDT)
I could plan I making more time available for ISFDB on Fridays Marc Kupper (talk) 15:11, 14 May 2007 (CDT)
It seems it can be very spikey - in hindsight "weekend moderators" are in shorter supply than weekday ones, I can go back to plain editing most of the time during the week, and find time to post rants. But as mentioned elsewhere, I think we do need to look at new editors a bit before this becomes too much of a clique where moderators aren't supporting the editors 'below', and aren't challenging the current guidelines from 'above'. BLongley 17:05, 15 May 2007 (CDT)

Using talk pages

Given the recent threads (I don't recall which page(s) it is on about the plus link at the top of the page I believe it would be handy to switch the moderator, community portal, and other talk-thread oriented pages to the talk pages and to leave the main page open for permanent notices. Now that I know about the + thing I have been using it a lot and which it were available on pages such as this one. Marc Kupper (talk) 15:11, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

ISFDB Beta recruitment

What are ordinary moderators, as opposed to the bureaucrats, supposed to do when people post to ISFDB:Beta_recruitment? I see some names there I recognize from other SF forums but don't think those people ever got welcomed and/or are participating. Marc Kupper (talk) 00:37, 15 May 2007 (CDT) (signed late)...

Well, whenever I see a new name in the Recent Changes list, I add a quick {{subst:welcome}} note on their Talk page, although it looks like I missed [User talk:Theoldanarchist the last one].
However, as Marc points out, it doesn't seem to be very effective since the retention rate of new editors has been rather low lately. Perhaps we should beef up our Welcome template and add a bit more info about the current state of the project, what pages to visit, etc? Add a note to the effect that we don't eat newbies (well, not very often anyway) and that they should feel free to ask any questions they may have? Perhaps we could ask our active new editors what problems they experienced when they were starting out here so that we could help flatten the learning curve? Ahasuerus 01:01, 15 May 2007 (CDT)
Well, we could improve ISFDB:Beta_recruitment text as we're not really in Beta any more... Gamma? Delta? I like the sound of "Delta" - it implies "change" and we want lots of changes, don't we? And Gamma makes me think of all those comic-book heroes that got created from an over-dose of that form of radiation, e.g. The Incredible Hulk, and I don't want to find myself zapping Issues 1-300 of a comic from a new editor that has the wrong idea... BLongley 16:41, 15 May 2007 (CDT)
Anyway, back on topic: I've welcomed a few people I've noticed posting there or on the recent changes list, but I'm a grumpy old man at times and don't do it for everyone I see, if I think they're just coming here to promote themselves and/or their product. I try to be diplomatic in all communications, but sometimes I just remember "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything". Hopefully we have a few people that CAN do a useful "Meet and Greet" role, but I think it's better still if they act as "Mentor" if the times match. I think some are needed: we seem to have pushes for new mods (and yes, I know I'm guilty of starting the latest one) but we seem to have less activity in turning new editors into highly-active editors. ACTIVE editors into Good Editors, yes: I'd use Brin1 as an example there.
Throwing out some ideas, which I may regret tomorrow: have a regular/ongoing AIM or IRC chatroom (or whatever kids use nowadays) for ISFDB that we can go into when we have time to talk to people, and leave when we don't. Encourage new people to post a lot of contact methods: even if someone like me will never go visit a Myspace page to respond to a request here, someone else might. And I'd probably go look at a LiveJournal account, or an author's webpage comments section, or something. Just because we deal mostly in text (we don't even have graphical smilies made obvious here - I just understand the old ones from USENET days) doesn't mean we don't have people that could respond to a "LOL! U lu3er! WotW was 1898, not 1927!" comment from an l337-speaker. (Or something like that - I decipher rather than comprehend. But I learnt to communicate with some hyperactive kids while running 400+ multiplayer internet games, and if we could harness that activity here we'd be 30% verified in a month - although I wouldn't be TOO sure about how the physical verifications were acquired!) BLongley 16:41, 15 May 2007 (CDT)
Where was I? Oh yes, waffling again. Which I don't think is bad - it may need direction though. The increase in the number of mods seems to have decreased the SOCIAL activity here though. Which is why I suggested Community portal for social stuff, and here for Mod stuff, etc. I think the Mods need a kick into actually DECIDING on some issues that have been raised, and that area is TOO quiet. And we need to avoid this place becoming a dead-zone where we gripe about nobody doing anything. Go hug an editor today! ;-) BLongley 16:41, 15 May 2007 (CDT)
Maybe what's needed then is a more general Beta feedback page? There are many people [1] who sent in a small handful of updates and I assume went away. Part of the problem is we don't know their e-mails or other ways to contact them unless it's a name we recognize. Marc Kupper (talk) 17:53, 15 May 2007 (CDT)

Unindent - I got curious as to what ISFDB is like for a new person and surfed to using Internet Explorer. The message directing people to ISFDB:Beta_recruitment seems clear enough but I'm wondering if people should be first directed to create an account using "Create an account or log in" in the upper/right corner or if this is a Turing test because of those that did sign up, nearly all signed with a user account implying they figured that out on their own.

The next line on ISFDB:Beta_recruitment is "If you post here, a note will be left on your talk page contacting you to notify you when the beta is live and to offer assistance." The beta is not live? Maybe it's time to just dump the ISFDB:Beta_recruitment page and to have it redirect to ISFDB:Beta? Marc Kupper (talk) 02:48, 17 May 2007 (CDT)

I joined when the Beta looked over, and got the impression that the "Beta" references left around were out-of-date and would be cleaned up soon. I'd prefer that we lost all references to us being in a Beta phase: we're respected enough that Wikipedia and many other sites DO link to us (and maybe we ought to make sure that certain links are STABLE to keep that respect, unless some people are volunteering to fix Wikipedia/etc links back when a change occurs here). I've played around with Beta and even Alpha releases of software before, but those labels always made me aware that whatever was done with it was liable to being thrown away when it went to a production release. Ignore my joking comments about Gamma and Delta editions: let's go to "ISFDB 2.0" - most software geeks will understand that an "X.0" is a bit risky, and will wait for a "X.0.1" at least - but a "2.X" at least shows we intend to stick around and FIX things, or we'd have quit at 0.1! BLongley 17:14, 17 May 2007 (CDT)
We discussed our "Beta exit criteria" before we started it and decided that there was no fixed set of benchmarks that we could use to decide that the Beta phase was over. It's been 6 months since we enabled non-moderator submissions and I agree that at this point the term "Beta" is probably more misleading than helpful. If we have a consensus and Al agrees when he (hopefully) re-emerges after May 26, we can archive all Beta pages and officially "go live".
As to the rest of Bill's often stated concerns about things getting somewhat stale around here, I think the underlying issue is that the learning curve for ISFDB editing is still very steep. There are lots of rules and exceptions to the rules (and then exceptions to exceptions) that a casual editor may be unable or unwilling to spend enough time on to become proficient. With the cost of entry being so high, only the most dedicated editors will stick around and take the time to get the knack of things, which leads to a high number of editors who submit a few edits and then drop out. I am not sure what, if anything, we can do about it as long as our programming resources are as limited as they currently are :(
Finally, re: the "social activity", any social interaction like cooperative database editing is likely to engender some of it, but we are all busy folks with a limited amount of time to spend on the many things that we need to do in any given 24 hour cycle. Just monitoring "Recent changes", responding to outstanding questions and keeping the submission queue under control (while trying to continue adding to the database) can take many hours of your time. Ahasuerus 05:14, 23 May 2007 (CDT)

Another duplicate magazine

The May 1957 issue of Science Fiction Magazine. I will be deleting data for one of the dupes. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Swfritter (talkcontribs) .

Links to cover graphics

I've got a couple of submissions on hold that give links to covers from a university website. Are there any rules about pulling graphics from outside websites (permissions, etc.)? Mhhutchins 19:23, 16 May 2007 (CDT)

That site is Dr. Smith's Ace Image Library. Officially we should ask him for permission though I know there are a number of links to his site. It looks like per his home page [2] that he's gone on a field expedition until late June though I don't know if he's also nomail. I'd approve the submissions for now but we need a better system for dealing with this. Marc Kupper (talk) 02:47, 17 May 2007 (CDT)
I keep raising the issue e.g. here of external links to images, but we have no definitive answer it seems, on ANY of the possible sites, except possibly Visco.
I can say that Amazon UK have been fine about publishing my uploaded cover scans, and haven't complained about me linking to them either. But there's only 50 or so so far, and whether they stay at the given URL or not I don't know yet: this was the first so if that one disappears then the images aren't reliable. But none have been adopted as the "official" image yet - maybe if some of you vote on them they will move URL. Anyone like to test that?
I see it as me helping them sell more books they don't actually have, but will take a cut from the sale anyway, so it's good for Amazon: the price is them not complaining about not always having a direct link back. Actually, that's a big question: WHEN do we show a link back to an Amazon site? I've seen links to Amazon US and Amazon UK, and even to sites we're no longer an affiliate of... but I don't know why sometimes the links appear and sometimes they don't, nor how the ISFDB determines whether it's Amazon US or UK to link to. (Has anyone seen a link to any other Amazon sites?) BLongley 16:45, 17 May 2007 (CDT)
I've also tried Flickr with this pub - I left the URL they want you to use to link back to them in the notes, and again have had no complaints. But as that's not REALLY a proper link, it's just the text for the link, I'm not sure we're satisfying their user terms and conditions. But as they have the Creative Commons licensing options, that actually looks the best bet for me: although it might need a code change to link back to them the way they want, like the Visco links. In which case it's a fairly urgent Feature Request as I can't upload images to Amazon for editions they don't HAVE yet. But we have established that Flickr limits are a bit low for us (200 images or so?) so we might need a few more people to spread them around a bit. Who wants to be emailed a few megabytes of images? ;-) BLongley 16:45, 17 May 2007 (CDT)
I believe the image issue has not been address directly we really should not be linking to external sites other than Visco and maybe with *some* Amazon images. One solution I saw another web site using is they uploaded the images to their site but then blurred them a lot. When you click you see the image on the original site. This allows people to sort of see what the image looks like and they click to see the image while also seeming to be copyright-safe.
Re: Amazon - I've been helping Dave Wands over at Fantastic Fiction for several years and we've always had a battle with Amazon images. Customer images have always been in a strange limbo and Amazon never hands them out via AWS, never puts them in the thumbnails, etc. Given these images are not available from AWS I'm not sure if we are supposed to link to them at all. Dealer and publisher images are visible in AWS, get thumbnailed in search results, and are visible via standard URLs like I believe those are safe to display but when someone click we should be taking them to the book page (using the same USA/UK logic as below) and not directly to the image.
re: the link to Amazon in the left navbar. I was wondering that myself and so looked at the code.
  1. Show the amazon links only if the first character of the ISBN is not #
  2. If the first character of the price is $ then show the plus,, and links.
  3. If the first character of the price is L then show the links.
The code does not know about £ (UK), C (Canada), much less A, ¥/Y, €/₠/EUR, ₣/F, ℳ/M, etc. Something I have some at times is to enter $ for the price and an Amazon ASIN (the thing starting with the letter B). I always add a publication not explaining it's an Amazon ASIN and not something stated in the publication. The idea is that it sets up the link to amazon. The same would work for ASINs on the UK site using Lprice. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:57, 17 May 2007 (CDT)
Oh dear - given the propensity of British Editors to correct the "L" back to "£" (sometimes on sight, sometimes only when they have another edit to make) this is something I'd like to see improved ASAP. If ever DO complain it would be nice to show that although clicking the image won't link there (until we have some more severe code changes anyway), we do have a link on the same page via the ISBN, if known. I do make every attempt to use the 'standard' URL when it works but if they won't promote customer images to that URL (which at least saves us changing our links when they do) I don't feel too guilty about using a non-standard link to an image I gave them. BLongley 12:36, 18 May 2007 (CDT)
One bit of good news: it seems that although my uploaded images haven't made it to "thumbnail" usage, some HAVE made it to "Product Image", e.g. here. The cynic in me suspects that this will only happen when they have someone trying to sell an edition, but as there's no nasty emails from their lawyers yet I feel I have some tacit approval now. BLongley 12:36, 18 May 2007 (CDT)
My experience with uploading images lately to Amazon is that they get approved in about one minute and show up just below the existing image (or empty box) as part of "# customer images" and about three to five minutes later they show up in the product images. I don't recall if the same happens for publications where there are zero copies for sale. I've thought about signing up as a dealer just so that I can add new records. I'll just list the book for $2000 and if someone wants it I shrug. :-) Yep, getting the £ fixed is in the queue - I reported it back in January as DisplayBug:20084 :-( Marc Kupper (talk) 04:42, 19 May 2007 (CDT)
Almost by definition, my uploads are outside normal working hours. I'm checking both and now, as there are people like this chap that I would LOVE to have as an Editor here! 5,714 images?!?!?! BLongley 16:05, 19 May 2007 (CDT)
I don't think it matters when you upload to amazon. I've done uploads at 3am and still get one minute response times and have never had it get much beyond five minutes. Marc Kupper (talk) 14:26, 20 May 2007 (CDT)
I'll have to try the US site then. Currently, the first task of the week-day is to update images here from last working day's uploads there. BLongley 15:34, 20 May 2007 (CDT)
You're right - it seems the US site promotes things far faster (hopefully not automatically), as my upload was there in under 5 minutes. Hmmm... now how to test the automation without getting barred? BLongley 18:19, 20 May 2007 (CDT)
I tried to chase down a home page and/or e-mail for that guy at one time. He's clearly interested in cover art and recently has been including publication details which I've found very helpful. He also has covers at and must have a whole tree of images at [3] but I can't figure out where the index page is. Marc Kupper (talk) 14:26, 20 May 2007 (CDT)
I'm not sure we'd have access... but I will scan some auctions and see if we can find out where he sells. BLongley 15:34, 20 May 2007 (CDT)
I ran across an e-mail for him and learned from him that the "official" site is though with the photos getting consolidated on photobucket and tupics. We'll see if he shows up here. Marc Kupper (talk) 19:37, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

unindent - something that just occurred to me is that we could simply not display the image links if they don't point to a a site that's formally given ISFDB approval to display images. We would still allow entering the image URL and people could click to view the image but we would not show the image itself. That would solve the copyright, bandwidth stealing, and sites that don't allow 3rd party images, and leaves us with just deep linking. It also allows the links to be to pages that contain the image so that if, for example, Fantastic Fiction has the image then you'd just link to their page. Marc Kupper (talk) 03:14, 2 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Yep, we could do that, but it's a programmer-change, I think. And we'd still need to enable URLs to other pages, or we Mods just get to figure out where the current URLs point, and where they SHOULD point. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but I'm always reluctant to suggest changes that need Al to do work. BLongley 19:57, 2 Jun 2007 (CDT)

The Illustrationists can be rejected

I will need to a psuedonym change on the corrected title. Thanks!--Swfritter 16:56, 19 May 2007 (CDT)

Book Review Dates, contradictory info

The Help page states the following:

Date - The date of the publication being reviewed; not the original date for its first publication. This should match the date on the publication record for the item being reviewed.

Shouldn't this read: The date of the publication of the review, not the date of the publication under review. Or have I actually been screwing this up for months and never knew? Mhhutchins 21:06, 20 May 2007 (CDT)

I HOPE that's what it is - mostly. I've been using the date of the review, and that's worked for me, but I seem to recall reading a thread or two where someone questioned what happens when the review gets reprinted. Or maybe I'm mixing that with my complaints about too many "Spider vs. the Hax of Sol III" entries. Or someone threatening us with huge books of reviews. :-/ As usual, I'll go and sleep when policy things get awkward. Good night all! BLongley 18:49, 21 May 2007 (CDT)
Not to toot my own horn, but the book I edited of Michael Bishop's nonfiction A Reverie for Mister Ray is a good example of what you're speaking. You can see how more accomodating it is to look at the contents listing and see the year in which each piece was originally published. What good would there be in a listing where the dates shown are the dates in which the books under review were published? His review of Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness was published almost a decade after the book was first published. You'd lose the perspective of the review's relationship to the novel if the original date is used.
Well, I've seen people comment, for instance, that the later version of a Keith Laumer story was crap compared to the brilliant original, and so reviews of that title should be clear about whether they refer to the original or the rewrite. Or we should distinguish rewrites better. Or review dates better. Or, when we have more non-English-language publications here, make it clearer whether the critique is of the story or the translator. And if a reviewer changes his mind and posts a better or worse review later, make that clear. All of these are a bit subjective, need a database design review, and make me go hide under the bed-clothes for a while. BLongley 17:57, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
Re: Keith Laumer, it was a reference to Once There Was a Giant, which was later rewritten as Once There Was a Giant (1984). As previously discussed, we don't have any other way to explain the nature of a Variant Title relationship ("expanded", "abridged", "revised", "butchered", etc), so we tend to stuff this information in parentheses, thus breaking our lexical match logic that is still used by reviews and serials. Hopefully, Al will be able to get to items 3 and 4 on this list sooner rather than later, at which point we will no longer have to worry about lexical match issues and be able to point reviews (and serials) directly to their associated Titles. I would also love to have a new "relationship" field for variant titles to avoid the ugly parenthetical stuff. As I always says in these kinds of cases, whenever you feel the need to add something to a data element in parentheses, what you really need is a new data element. Ahasuerus 19:45, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
Funny how you mention the "Spider vs. the Hax of Sol III" pieces, the other day I went through and added the publication to each title. That is, all except the one that was published in Time Travellers Strictly Cash. I don't have the collection and don't know which column(s) were reprinted. Mhhutchins 17:01, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
I have the collection, (and will probably go back and fix some Spider Robinson stuff later, it just makes me weep that so much stuff I DID do there while an editor has been wiped out - possibly by me not knowing HOW to correct stuff, but I'd have needed a Mod to help me destroy it then, so I can share the blame). But the TTSC one is supposed to be a reprint of the first magazine entry. Although I don't have that so can't compare. It ends "Wake me up when Heinlein's next book comes out, will you? Thanks." Does that help? BLongley 17:57, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
Michael and I had a conversation about this issue over on the Talk pages the other day and I agree that the review date makes the most sense. As an aside, in some cases it may be beneficial to capture the specific edition of the reviewed book in the Notes field. Ahasuerus 17:47, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
Agreed. It may not always be possible (but we'd have a very good guess from a primary source, I suspect). But whenever we start talking about "adding to the notes" I start thinking "database redesign coming up". BLongley 17:57, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
Well, ideally everything would be table driven, but given our manpower limitations it's likely that rare cases will always be handled in the Notes field. In this case, I was thinking of two different reviews covering the same Title but different Publications. For example, a review of a James Branch Cabell's book published in the 1920s would be likely to concentrate on the novel itself. On the other hand, a review of its Ballantine reprint 50 years later may spend a fair amount of time on the reasons why Lin Carter chose this particular novel. These two reviews would be reviewing the same Title but two markedly different Publication records. Since we presumably don't want to link reviews to Publications (as opposed to Titles), I can't think of any way to handle the issue that wouldn't involve the Notes field. Ahasuerus 19:45, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
FYI - you can't edit the notes fields of reviews and instead would need to do it in the notes fields of the containing publication(s). Marc Kupper (talk) 01:09, 23 May 2007 (CDT)
Oh yes, there is that :( Ahasuerus 04:55, 23 May 2007 (CDT)
I know it says "You can't edit interviews or reviews from here. Go to the publication the interview or review appears in and edit from there." but in some cases the title might be a better bet - e.g. L Sprague de Camp's Lovecraft biography got panned by Spider Robinson in some review (not yet present) but he later apologised for it and this is on record in notes added in Time Travellers Strictly Cash. Not that I care much about what the reviews actually SAY, I mostly only use them for the bibliographical data. BLongley 13:55, 23 May 2007 (CDT)

On Hold

We have some submissions "On hold" for over a month now. Can people resolve those please, particularly those that complained about me leaving my own edits in the queue for a day? BLongley 18:16, 28 May 2007 (CDT)

Well, some of the "On Hold" submissions are stuck in limbo until Al can zap them programmatically. The two "Jim Baen’s Universe" submissions are on hold pending the resolution of the e-zine eligibility discussion. I have approved the 4 Hayford Peirce submissions that I had on hold, but we still need to clean up the non-SF anthologies that they were in. I have also approved the "Green Girl" submission after physically verifying the 1950 paperback edition. And so it goes :) Ahasuerus 19:00, 28 May 2007 (CDT)
Michael, I've left this on your talk page, but O'll also leave it here. I've created the clone, you can now submit the edit for Mission to Moulokin.Thanks.Kraang 19:15, 28 May 2007 (CDT)
Thanks, that clears up one of my holds. The others are all concerning Alibrarian changing Thomas Easton's Reference Library credits in a couple of Analog issues. If any other moderator can handle them, please do so. Otherwise, I'll just reject them. I don't want to have to change 30 years of monthly columns to make them consistent. :) And if the server doesn't speed up soon, I'm not going to be doing much of anything. This is absolutely driving me nuts! Mhhutchins 22:26, 28 May 2007 (CDT)
Yup, response time has been a major problem since Friday. Hopefully, the folks who maintain the servers will be back on Tuesday morning and either fix the problem or reboot the servers. I have left Al a message about it. As far as Alibrarian's submissions go, they are all well-meaning, but s/he hasn't responded to moderator messages since May 20, which makes communications difficult. Ahasuerus 22:44, 28 May 2007 (CDT)
You wouldn't be talking about me, would you? I know I've got a Kraang edit I should look at, but I never get two consecutive minutes to be here. Hey, he's about to be a moderator; he can approve or deny it himself now . . . . 23:12, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Pulling graphics from another website

Do we have permission to pull cover graphics from the Fantastic Fiction website? I'm holding two submissions with links to their site. Mhhutchins 18:49, 5 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Usually if an image is on Fantastic Fiction then it's also on Amazon. I just sent an e-mail to the Dave Wands at Fantastic Fiction asking if it is ok to use images off his site. Marc Kupper (talk) 04:20, 6 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Dave says using his images his fine though he'd also prefer the credit like what we did for Visco such as was done at 108911. I believe the code change is simple and would be an edit to I have not tried Python yet and so don't know if the syntax below for the new code is correct/desirable.
< doVisco = 0
> doImageCredit = 0
< if url[0:23] == "":
<     doVisco = 1
> if url[0:23] == "":
>     doImageCredit = 'Cover art supplied by <a href="">Visco</a>'
> if url[0:33] == "":
>     doImageCredit = 'Cover art supplied by <a href="">Fantastic Fiction</a>'
< if doVisco:
<     print 'Cover art supplied by <a href="">Visco</a>'
> if doImageCredit:
>     print doImageCredit
Marc Kupper (talk) 13:27, 6 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Remember, it's already possible to put a link into the notes field until we have such code changes made. I've acquired 3 sets of permissions for van Vogt cover-art now (see here for details of which) and although none of them demand a link from every image it's so easy to do I think I'll do it anyway. The first example is here - see how "Icshi" in the notes is actually a hyperlink to take you to the site. That was done with a notes field of:
Data and Image courtesy of <a href="">Icshi</a>
Depending on what sort of link-back they request, you could go to their main site, their blog, to the publication's own page, to a back-cover-scan to go with the front, whatever. Some just like to be told WHERE their images are being used, so maybe even a "mailto:" link would be appropriate: I haven't tried that yet and wouldn't use it unless the email address was already available in plain form on the web anyway - I've lost email accounts due to address-harvesting spambots, I wouldn't wish it on anybody.
But it seems people are far more generous with their bandwidth than I expected, so if people just continue to ask politely we may end up with a massive list of eager donors - let's keep them happy!
Last thought - where should the central repository of permissions be kept? I don't really want to be posting all the private emails here, but we probably should have a copy of the full permission-granting somewhere. BLongley 14:18, 6 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Heads-up to moderators

Even with approved sites, it's not always safe to approve an edit that just adds the coverart. We're making major improvements, I believe, but this discussion shows me being tetchy about one edit I saw that might be approved as a "no-brainer" if we're not careful, and would seriously annoy me as the believed verifier of something that is actually WRONG. I suggest we update the guide for moderators, the guide on usage of cover-art (especially now we have more sites we ARE permitted to use), and re-open the "what are we verifying?" discussion and the idea of "locking down" a verified pub. (Bill wanders off worrying how many of those guidelines he's already broken... :-/ ) BLongley 16:21, 6 Jun 2007 (CDT)

My main focus will be installing a copy of ISFDB so that I can add code to deal with things like this. One thought I had a while back is any time a verified publication is modified by anyone other than the original verifier that a note will get dropped on the verifier's talk page explaining what was changed and who did it. This code would also be looking for changes to the author (canonical name) or contents (title records) meaning once you verify something that the record will not change without notification.
I guess we can add more rules though I thought it was already pretty clear. If you verify something I'd ask first before making changes to the record. Marc Kupper (talk) 02:35, 7 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Check the moderator help. Does it say anything about modifications to verified pubs? Check EditPub guidelines - again, what does it say about changing something already verified? I suspect we're assuming common sense is actually more common than it really is. BLongley 16:59, 7 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Extremely long user talk pages

Is there any particularly good reason a person should not clean up their user talk page? Mine has become super long, and most of the items have been cleared up. And if I need to go back I can always check out the history. How have other editors/moderators handled this? Thanks. Mhhutchins 13:03, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Well, JVjr archived his and started again (and I prefer the "keep discussions in one place" idea he's expressed). For mine, I just delete blocks of the older stuff when I feel it's too long for me. I keep some very old stuff from my earliest days to remind me of mistakes I made then (and I still find it's easier than finding things in the help, although if the help changes I may miss it). What do you count as "extremely" long? BLongley 13:25, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Wiki Talk pages are usually periodically archived by their owners -- see my Talk page for an example. Now that I am thinking about it, given the number of edits in the last few months, perhaps I should start archiving quarterly rather than yearly... Ahasuerus 14:24, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
And I haven't even finished my SECOND quarter yet - talk about a meteoric rise! (Actually, DON'T, it's a silly phrase. I may be a "boulder-sized particle of debris in the Solar system" but meteors are defined by their FALL, surely?) Anyway, I digress: I haven't learnt Wiki-conventions so far: they're rather far down on my to-do list. Behind the Wiki-templates or shortcuts stuff - and I seem to get by with plain HTML skills on those. And MySQL and Python and so on seem more useful... OK, they're on my probably-never-do list. BLongley 15:57, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Actually, I'd prefer we just do ISFDB conventions, borrowing ones from elsewhere could cause problems. For instance, my last major involvement online seemed to demand twice-weekly denigration of Lithuanians and daily exhortations to launch Tactical Fighters on suspected cheats: I can't see that one catching on here. Although if it does, I could do a nice line in "Trim your talk-page or feel the fearsome forces of Fenris!" threats. BLongley 15:57, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Well, there are generic Wiki conventions, which include archiving, the use of namespacing, linking, italics, etc, and then there are conventions that are specific to individual Wikis. We should probably use generic Wiki conventions to avoid confusing our users, many of whom have presumably used (or are using) other Wikis in addition to Wiki.
As far as specific conventions used by other Wikis go, the most prominent Wiki on the net is Wikipedia. Their traffic volume and the number of participants are very different, of course, so some of their conventions are probably useless to us while others may be profitably reused. It's probably a good bet that many ISFDB editors have been exposed to (and may have internalized) Wikipedia conventions, so I try to examine them carefully before doing things differently. Besides, they have a lot of experience with Wiki issues, possibly more than the rest of the public Wikis combined, so most of their rules are usually born of experience. Of course, their experience is not always applicable over here... Ahasuerus 16:34, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I'm not sure that's a good bet. I know of Wikipedia of course, and I'm sure many, if not MOST, editors here do. (And ALL should, eventually, or how will they know how to fill in the Wikipedia links?) And I agree the original Bureaucrats and Moderators still active here probably do have that Wikipedia EDITING background. I don't, and haven't found it a hindrance here - we're editing a DATABASE, with a Wiki in support. I see there have already been discussions about whether a Google-Group (we used to call them "Newsgroups" in the old days, even before Google bought Deja-News) could replace the Wiki . We could equally replace it with a LiveJournal Community or other Blogger-type activity, or an old-fashioned Bulletin-Board (dressed up under another dozen types of new BB code). I'm probably still an Admin on 5 or 6 boards, but as I've given up IRC and AIM too I don't get nagged to go back and recall what code I'm supposed to be remembering - it was getting VERY confusing near the end. BLongley 18:43, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Still, challenging your assumptions about current editors aside, I still would prefer that we create our own ISFDB conventions. Yes, I'm willing to take recommendations, especially based on prior experience. As we're currently on the "Wiki" mode I can't post a simple Poll as to what people really want, as I could do on LJ, or on PHP-BB or SMF or on whatever other boards I'm supposed to be an expert on. But we're still a small number, working VERY well so far, but already I see problems ahead and people not happy, active, or clued-up enough to talk about them in the right places. If we don't sort that out soon, we WILL lose people. There's some simple questions not answered yet - e.g. '"Ping-Pong" talks or keep them in one place', 'what can you do to a verified pub'. The Wiki style suggests I can just go edit all the help to what I think it should be, then tell every offender where they went wrong, according to those help pages. And someone else can go change all the help back to what THEY want it to be, and criticise me. I prefer to be a bit aggressive in demanding people TALK about things before changing rules, but as that seems to lead nowhere due to low participation, what is the Wiki way forward? While we're still small, should I just tell people what I intend to do if they don't talk? (As I've tried THAT too and got no response). Message everyone individually? (Still possible given our current size.) I WANT some changes, and I WANT people to come here with their opinions, but I don't want to be the Bull-Elephant running amuck changing things that are there for good reason, terrifying people into NOT giving their own opinions. BLongley 18:43, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Bill, you've hit on perhaps the most frustrating part of being a moderator here on the ISFDB: some editors inability (or indifference) in responding to questions asked about their submissions. As for "ping-ponging", I'd much prefer that conversations stay where they started. If I ask an editor a question, I want him to respond there on his talk page. Mhhutchins 20:25, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
That's a reasonable convention that many Wikipedia editors have adopted as well, although it makes it a little harder to notice that somebody has responded to you. On balance, I think that it's better than the "ping-pong" approach. P.S. I am still not feeling well, will respond when I am more stable than our Web server :) Ahasuerus 19:45, 10 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I use my talk page as a pending items list. When something is completed I delete it. Likewise, if someone leaves a message on my talk page then I will often move the entire talk thread back to the other person's talk page as part of my reply and delete it from my page (unless there's something pending for me to do). I used to archive everything to an archive page but have decided that if something on my talk page is worth saving that it should be copy/paste/edited to one of the standard ISFDB pages, such as a help page.
As for ping-pong conventions. I prefer to keep threads in one place and normally do not have the available time to chase down if parts of a thread may or may not have shifted to other pages.
re: "Bill, you've hit on perhaps the most frustrating part of being a moderator here on the ISFDB: some editors inability (or indifference) in responding to questions asked about their submissions." I'm starting to look more at the ISFDB code and one of the things I want to do is better integration of the database and wiki. This would include that the "you have new messages" thing would be visible on the database side. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:49, 10 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I looked at some of the code this weekend during the downtime. I got nowhere near suggesting improvements, but now have a GUI front end working on the database at last (TOAD for MySQL) and Python stuff now opens in a Python editor. (For anyone trying this still, the sticking points were having to configure the MyODBC datasource after downloading, and copying the "my" config to the Windows home directory.) BLongley 17:47, 11 Jun 2007 (CDT)

(unindent)While struggling with installing the ISFDB locally, it would be very beneficial if we could update ISFDB Downloads with any additional hints and directions that we can come up with. That way the next suffe^H^H^H^H^H editor will hopefully have an easier time of it :) Ahasuerus 10:25, 12 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Will do, as and when I find out what went wrong. :-/ I think 'accepting all defaults' was a mistake on my Windows system, but I don't yet know what language support options would have worked better yet. It's compounded by the rotten MySQL Command-line client which has even LESS support for funny characters, which is why I went looking for a GUI front-end. I can write that up if people like, but there's not a section for it yet and do we really want a dozen different favourite front-ends documented (e.g. I got HeidiSQL working too, but wouldn't recommend it) if the aim is to get a working local ISFDB instead? It looks as if I should either explore Cygwin tools if I stick with Windows, or turn a spare old PC into a proper Linux Apache server, I can always get those working far more easily than Windows stuff. BLongley 13:23, 12 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I'd like to keep download/install related threads on Talk:ISFDB_Downloads and so have shifted parts of this thread over there. Marc Kupper (talk) 20:50, 16 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Creating a discussion page for a new editor

A new editor came on board this afternoon, but I've been unable to contact him through his user talk page, as it hasn't been created yet. I've had to reject quite a number of his submissions, and if I could get to him sooner, I could help him avoid the same problems. Mhhutchins 18:20, 24 Jun 2007 (CDT)

His user name is Animebill. Mhhutchins 18:21, 24 Jun 2007 (CDT)
When you have an editor's User page displayed, the "discussion" tab should always be displayed at the top of the page. If the Talk page already exists, the tab will be colored blue and you can add to it. if the Talk page doesn't exist, the tab will be colored red. When you click on a red (i.e. non-existent) link in a Wiki, it automatically puts you in "Edit" mode and you can go from there. In this case, I created his Talk page 5 minutes ago, so we should be all set :) Ahasuerus 18:41, 24 Jun 2007 (CDT)
One other thing is when you do run across a new editor then please welcome them using {{subst:welcome}} ~~~~. This will add the standard welcome at the top of their talk page. I periodically check the Top Contributors and Top Verifiers pages for new people (the links will be in blue if I have not visited their user page in a while) and look for any with the talk pages in red as it means they added something to ISFDB but have not been welcomed yet. Marc Kupper (talk) 04:19, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Strange title reference relationship

Why is the title reference for this pub by Bester different from the actual title? And how can the pub show up under two titles Starlight and The Light Fantastic? Could it have something to do with the fact that Starlight is actually an omnibus of two collections? Mhhutchins 19:02, 24 Jun 2007 (CDT)

The publication is a collection and it's referencing two title records for collections. These are
When displaying a publication ISFDB scans the list of contents, grabs the first one it finds where the title-type matches the pub-type, and calls that the "title reference." The display code also does not show any items in the Contents where the title-type matches the pub-type. A way I often debug this is I change the pub-type to FANZINE and now as the types don't match I can see all of the previous hidden title records such as the two I listed above.
It looks like in this case the publication contains the individual stories that are in The Light Fantastic meaning that title can be removed from the publication (I did not check all of the stories and so you should verify this). It would be nice to be able to show this is an omnibus where ISFDB would display The Light Fantastic and nested under that the individual story titles. For now, ISFDB does not support this and so the best you can do is to use publication and title notes to explain this is an omnibus that includes collections. Marc Kupper (talk) 04:30, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I think we've discussed this work before? BLongley 15:31, 27 Jun 2007 (CDT)

New Editors/Talk Page

In the last couple of weeks some of the new editors have not found there way to the Wiki pages. Being new a lot of their edits need fixing, additional data or are simply wrong. Not being able to communicate with them makes the mentoring process difficult. For two new editors i left a message in their reject notice and shortly after they turned up on their talk page. Did they find their way there because of the message, i don't know? New editors could become fustrated if they only see rejects, things on hold or edits that have been modified. One of the things that might help would be to have a more detailed explanation of the ISFDB Wiki on the Log In page. If they find their way to their talk page sooner then the learning process would be easier and quicker for editors and moderators.Kraang 17:25, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Great idea, Kraang. See my frustration above about trying to contact a new editor. Now that I know how to create a new user's talk page it should be easier. I just hope the person actually knows he can use the Wiki to communicate with us! Mhhutchins 17:57, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Kraang seems to have had more success than me - we discussed this in this very unintuitively titled thread and it hasn't worked on Cdaar yet. :-/ Still, if it works for some, it's worth continuing with. BLongley 18:24, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Oh, and Kraang - are those cover-art additions OK? Or would you rather I just stopped asking? Oh, and the Aldiss cover-art turned up on Amazon UK in the end, I don't know why it got delayed. No doubt we'll clash again at some point. BLongley 18:24, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)

WebBot Attack

OK. This means war. We'll be up to the latest rev of MediaWiki by the end of this weekend, if not sooner. Alvonruff 19:54, 28 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Oh, I forgot - A note to moderators: The ISFDB is served off of multiple servers, and requests come through a load balancer. For whatever reason, that causes the IP address of EVERYBODY to be the same as the load balancer. So when a user is blocked by IP address, ALL users are blocked. Of course, when under a pervasive WebBot attack, that may not be the worst tactic I've heard of... Alvonruff 20:00, 28 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Thanks, very timely! I had to reverse 17 spambot edits in the last hour and it's getting old :) Ahasuerus 00:31, 29 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Does the load balancer pass through an X-Forwarded-For header? Can mediawiki be configured to use that instead? --Unapersson 06:12, 30 Jun 2007 (CDT)

I've managed to replicate the existing MediaWiki 1.4.5 release (which is apparently not archived anywhere) and got it up any running with an ISFDB drop at home. I also installed MediaWiki 1.10.0 at home and ran the update scripts, and the good news is that the ISFDB and the old wiki don't seem to mind the database changes, so I can switch between wikis at will. I'll spend today configuring some anti-spam measures, and look at the X-Forward stuff above. I'll try updating the online wiki early tomorrow morning. If the site is down, you'll know it went poorly. Alvonruff 07:47, 30 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Can we have some fresh backups first then? I can always find something to do offline if the data is recent. BLongley 08:49, 30 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I just noticed this and see that MW is still at 1.4.5. I was surprised at your comment "and the good news is that the ISFDB and the old wiki don't seem to mind the database changes" as when I installed ISFDB with MW 1.10.0 I ran into problem because it seems MW has changed some table names. Maybe the upgrade left the old tables in place and that's why it worked for you? Marc Kupper (talk) 01:43, 13 Jul 2007 (CDT)