Rules and standards changelog

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This is a changelog of ISFDB data entry rules and standards. It summarizes the outcomes of discussions on the Rules and standards discussions page as well as functional data entry changes prompted by software patches. It began logging changes on 2016-11-13. There is no changelog for rule changes before that date.

Note that this changelog is limited to changes to data entry standards. For a list of software changes see Recent Patches.

Date of change Short description New rule Old rule Affected Policy and/or Help pages Discussion which led to the rule change

(the link may not work for archived discussions)

After 2000 but not later than 2006 Self-published books and vanity publishers included Self-published books and vanity publishers are included Self-published books and vanity publishers were excluded ISFDB:Policy#Included ISFDB_talk:Policy#Policy_page_updates
Around 2006 Print on demand (POD) publishers included Print on demand (POD) publishers are included Print on demand (POD) publishers were not covered by Policy ISFDB:Policy#Included ISFDB_talk:Policy#Policy_page_updates
Mid-2006 Audio books included Audio books -- readings but not dramatizations -- were included and the software was updated Audio were not included and not supported by the software ISFDB:Policy#Included ISFDB_talk:Policy#Policy_page_updates
Mid-2006 E-books with ISBNs included E-books with ISBNs included [e-books without ISBNs remained excluded until 2011-03 - see below] E-books generally excluded and not supported by the software ISFDB:Policy#Included ISFDB_talk:Policy#Policy_page_updates
Early 2007 Paper-based fanzines included Paper-based fanzines are included [webzine remained excluded until 2018 - see below] All fanzines excluded ISFDB:Policy#Included ISFDB_talk:Policy#Policy_page_updates
2011-03-27 Inclusion of e-books with unique identifiers E-books with a unique identifier such as an ISBN, ASIN, EAN, or catalog number are included E-books without an ISBN excluded ISFDB:Policy#Included Eliminate the requirement that ebooks have an ISBN?
2011-10-15 Exclusion of dissertations Excluded as per Community Portal consensus Inclusion/exclusion status not defined ISFDB:Policy#Excluded Community_Portal: Dissertations
2016-06-01 Data entry rules for "Russian Empire", "Russia" and "USSR" "Russia" before 1721-11-02, between 1917-09-14 and 1922-12-29, and after 1991-12-26; "Russian Empire" between 1721-11-02 and 1917-09-13; "Russia, USSR" between 1922-12-30 and 1991-12-25 Not specified Template:AuthorFields:BirthPlace Community_Portal: Names of the country "Russia"
2016-11-13 Date of variant titles Date must be the first occurrence of the variant title Date to use was the first occurrence of the work Template:TitleFields:Date Improve "How to enter foreign language editions" page regarding the publication date of translations
2016-11-27 Eliminated 'sf' Story Length 'sf' is no longer entered in the Story Length field 'sf' was supposed to be entered in the Story Length field for short fiction titles of unknown length Template:TitleFields:Length Eliminating "sf"/"shortfiction" during editing and 2016-11-27 downtime
2016-11-27 Omnibus story length separators Plus signs are to be used as omnibus story length separators Slashed were to be used as omnibus story length separators Template:TitleFields:Length Composite "story length" values for OMNIBUSes
2017-01-16 Story length field split into 4 Omnibus length values as well as juvenile and novelization indicators have been moved from the "story length" field to separate fields. A leading slash is no longer required for omnibus length values. The story length field was used to store all 4 types of information. Leading slashes were to be used for omnibus length values. Template:TitleFields:Length, Template:TitleFields:Content, Template:TitleFields:Juvenile, Template:PublicationFields:Juvenile, Template:TitleFields:Novelization, Template:PublicationFields:Novelization 2017-01-16 downtime - 6:30pm
2017-03-12 Suffix handling in author LegalName field Suffixes that are part of the author's legal name are recorded; format Lastname, Firstname Middlenames, Suffix No suffixes were to be recorded Template:AuthorFields:LegalName Handling of suffixes on author names
2017-03-15 Redaction of detailed biographical data of living authors Detailed biographical data of living authors can be deleted upon author request Policy was not spelled out ISFDB:Policy#Data_Deletion_Policy Data deletion policy -- proposed language
2017-10-02 Psychic abilities Explicitly state genre includes fictional psychic abilities Not specifically in inclusion criteria ISFDB:Policy Psychic abilities: In or Out?
2017-12-22 Boxed sets Boxed sets with additional data elements are included Boxed sets were excluded Template:PublicationFields:PubType Boxed Sets
2017-12-25 Non-genre speculative fiction Removed reference to "non-genre speculative fiction" as confusing. No real change in policy itself. "non-genre speculative fiction" was listed in inclusion criteria. ISFDB:Policy "Non-genre speculative fiction" in ISFDB:Policy
2018-01-17 Special genre issues of non-genre magazines For special genre issues of non-genre magazines, non-fiction may be entered as well Non-fiction from non-genre magazines never entered Help:Entering non-genre magazines Special Genre Issues of Non-Genre Issues
2018-07-05 Webzines and one-time online anthologies included Webzines published as distinct issues and one-time online anthologies are now included Webzines and one-time online anthologies were not included except when allowed by other inclusion criteria ISFDB:Policy Inclusion of webzines and one-time anthologies
2018-07-26 Location of biographical data Biographies are now entered in author records using Note fields Biographies were entered in the ISFDB Wiki using "Bio" pages ISFDB:Policy#Biography Policy, Help:Contents/Purpose#Biographies, ISFDB:FAQ#Can I enter author biographies in the ISFDB? No recent discussion; Author records were updated to support a Note field a few years ago; the cleanup project to start moving biographies from Bio pages to author records was initiated shortly thereafter
2018-07-31 Inclusion of unpublished material Unpublished books are now included if they have been announced (but never published), have been published in translation or are supposed to be published within the next 90 days Unpublished books were listed as "Debatable" in the Rules of Acquisition ISFDB:Policy#Rules_of_Acquisition Rules of Acquisition -- unpublished books
2018-08-18 Author's canonical name The canonical name is the most recognized name for that author within the genre The canonical name is the most recognized name for that author Help:Glossary Canonical name for an author with lots of non-genre and a few genre works only
2018-10-01 Inclusion of newspapers SF published in newspapers is included SF published in newspapers is included was "debatable" ISFDB:Policy#Rules_of_Acquisition Newspapers
2018-11-11 Use of the SERIAL title type in webzines The use of the SERIAL title type is the same for webzines as for other types of periodicals Webzines did not use the SERIAL title type Help:Use of the SERIAL type SERIALs in webzines
2018-11-29 Use of the SERIAL title type in chapbooks The SERIAL title type is to be used when a work is serialized across multiple chapbooks The SERIAL title type was used for chapbook serializations, but it was not officially documented Template:TitleFields:TitleType SERIAL titles in CHAPBOOK publications
2019-04-26 Use of cropping when entering URLs of Amazon-hosted cover scans The use of "CR" for cropped images is supported The use of "CR" for cropped images was not supported Template:Image Host Sites Cropping Amazon images
2020-01-12 Moderator Note is sometimes required Moderator Note is now required when editing publications which have been primarily-verified by other users; enforced by policy and by the software Moderator Note was never required Template:ModNote Clarify how to deal with unverified data added after primary verification
2020-01-12 Entering unverified data after primary verification When updating a primary verified publication with data from a secondary source, the editor must specify what information is from that secondary source in the "Pub Note" field Entering unverified data after primary verification was not explicitly regulated Help:How to update a publication Clarify how to deal with unverified data added after primary verification
2020-04-18 Length values of VTs For variant titles, including translations, use the length value of the parent title Not explicitly stated Template:TitleFields:Length How to deal with parent/variant titles of different length
2020-05-05 How to separate sets of page numbers in the page count field Use pluses for multiple sets in all pubs with multiple sets of page numbers Use pluses for two sets in a dos-a-dos publication Template:PublicationFields:Pages Multi-Volume Page Counts
2020-05-05 How to enter the page count for multi-volume publications Use commas to separate the page counts for each volume Not specified Template:PublicationFields:Pages Multi-Volume Page Counts
2020-05-06 Inclusion of non-fiction works about speculative fiction Only non-fiction works about speculative fiction which can be plausibly linked to published SF are included Unspecified "Works about speculative fiction" are included ISFDB:Policy#Included Eligibility of NONFICTION about non-written SF
2020-05-09 CHAPBOOK publications with more than 1 fiction title CHAPBOOK publications can include up to 1 bonus fiction title (only if the publication's title page lists only the main title and the main title's author(s)) and supporting/incidental fiction titles CHAPBOOK publications can include only 1 fiction title Template:PublicationFields:PubType More precise definition of CHAPBOOK publications
2020-05-16 Inclusion of individual letters to the editor Entries may be restricted to significant letters by well-known speculative fiction personalities. Editors have the option to include other letters. Template:PubContents:Letters said that only "significant letters by well-known speculative fiction personalities" were included while Template:PublicationInfo:WhatToInclude let editors include other letters. The former wasn't updated when the rules were relaxed in 2014. Template:PublicationInfo:WhatToInclude and Template:PubContents:Letters Letters -- cleaning up the data entry rules
2020-09-17 Synopsis data from secondary sources Synopsis data from secondary sources should be used verbatim with omissions and substitutions cleared shown Rules governing the use of synopsis data derived from secondary sources were left ambiguous Template:TitleFields:Synopsis Clarifying Synopsis Help
2021-04-08 "Editors of PERIODICAL NAME" is now optional for non-genre periodicals Credited editor name(s) are used for non-genre periodicals. "Editors of PERIODICAL NAME" may be used instead of some or all editor names if they are unknown or unclear or not of genre interest "Editors of PERIODICAL NAME" was required; actual editor name(s) could be optionally entered as co-editors Help:Entering non-genre periodicals Non-genre magazines and editor names
2022-06-28 HTML disallowed outside of Notes/Synopsis fields All HTML is now disallowed outside of Notes/Synopsis fields Only fonts-related HTML was explicitly disallowed outside of Notes/Synopsis fields Template:TitleFields:Title and Template:PublicationFields:Title Strikethrough, superscript and other HTML outside of Notes
2022-06-28 How to designate the page number of art on the reverse side of the dust jacket Use rj to designate the page number of art on the reverse side of the dust jacket none Template:PubContentFields:Page Art on interior of dust jackets
2022-09-27 Date of Birth rule changed to use "Municipality" instead of "City" Municipality City Template:AuthorFields:BirthPlace Place of birth: Use of subdivisions for large cities
2022-10-11 Clarified Tokyo subdivisions Explained subdivisions of Tokyo Tokyo Template:AuthorFields:BirthPlace Place of birth: Use of subdivisions for large cities
2022-10-22 Expanded Rules of Acquisition to include all types of webzines Include all webzines Include only "speculative fiction webzines" and "special speculative fiction issues of non-genre webzines" ISFDB:Policy#Included Webzines_inclusion:_Proposed_extension_of_ROA
2022-11-23 Rules for entering artists and cover URLs for non-genre periodicals Allowed entering artists and cover URLs for non-genre periodicals Only cover art that illustrated the SF content or was by a well known SF artist was allowed Help:Entering non-genre periodicals The non-genre covers (Again)
2023-05-04 Defined what "Published" means for Policy purposes Allowed inclusion of Patreon/Kickstarter edition as well as "ARCs" explicitly produced for sale Patreon editions were not considered publications; the status of ARCs produced for sale was undefined ISFDB:Policy#Definitions Started in Proposed Policy language (Defining "Published"), finalized in Defining "Published" - Take Two
2024-03-14 Data entry rules for the Artist field updated to reflect current practices A detailed decision tree covering different ways in which cover artists can be attributed added to Template:PublicationFields:CoverArt Only a subset of possible cover artist attribution scenarios was covered in Template:PublicationFields:CoverArt Template:PublicationFields:CoverArt Secondary source artist credit in face of credit change over time
2024-03-24 Subtitle rules updated and consolidated in Template:TitleFields:Subtitles A consolidated Help template, Template:TitleFields:Subtitles, was created. It documented the existing rules about not entering "A Novel" as a subtitle and language-specific punctuation rules for colons. The rule about not entering series information in the Title field was clarified and expanded. The Subtitles sections of Template:TitleFields:Title and Template:PublicationFields:Title were someone different. The existing rule about not entering "A Novel" as a subtitle was not spelled out. Language-specific punctuation rules for colons were not documented. Template:TitleFields:Subtitles, Template:TitleFields:Title, Template:PublicationFields:Title Subtitle help needs some minor tweaking
2024-04-02 Definition of audio books in ISFDB:Policy#Included ISFDB:Policy#Included now lists all types of included audio books ISFDB:Policy#Included wasn't specific about what kinds of audio books are included ISFDB:Policy#Included Rules_and_standards_discussions#Clarifying_the_Audiobooks_entry
2024-04-06 Definition of "downloadable" in ISFDB:Policy#Contents.2FProject_Scope_Policy ISFDB:Policy#Contents.2FProject_Scope_Policy now has a section defining what the term "downloadable" means for ISFDB purposes There was no explicit definition of "downloadable" ISFDB:Policy#Contents.2FProject_Scope_Policy Rules_and_standards_discussions#Defining_.22Downloadable.22
2024-05-06 Rules for entering different types of invalid ISBNs have been added to Template:PublicationFields:ISBN Values that look like ISBNs but do not follow the standard ISBN format are to be entered in Notes only; ISBN values that fail checksum validation are to be entered in the ISBN field There were no explicit rules for entering different types of invalid ISBNs Template:PublicationFields:ISBN Rules_and_standards_discussions#Invalid_ISBNs
2024-06-10 Leeway given to ISFDB moderators when enforcing ISFDB:Policy#Conduct_Policy Note that these are general guidelines. ISFDB Moderators and Bureaucrats may — in particularly egregious cases — deal with issues by skipping warnings, while repentant offenders may be given another chance. Moderators and Bureaucrats are trusted to use their discretion appropriately. Note that these are general guidelines and ISFDB Administrators are not bound by them. Particularly egregious cases may be dealt with more promptly while repentant sinners may be given another chance. ISFDB:Policy#Conduct_Policy Rules_and_standards_discussions#Clarification_on_Conduct_Policy_wording
2024-06-23 For MAGAZINEs/FANZINEs, clarified that only editors-in-chief and guest editors are credited in the Author field Credit the stated issue editor(s) as the "author(s)" of the publication. "Issue editor" is defined as the guest editor if specified and the editor-in-chief otherwise. If the guest editor(s) and the editor(s)-in-chief are explicitly co-credited, enter both the guest editor(s)' and the editor(s)-in-chief's names. The names of other types of editors (e.g., associate editors, science editors, literary editors) may be optionally documented in the Notes field. For MAGAZINEs and FANZINEs, credit the issue editor as the "author" of the publication. Template:PublicationFields:Author Rules_and_standards_discussions#Proposed_Help_language_for_MAGAZINE.2FFANZINE_editors
2024-07-11 Clarified what types of "sorting" numbers are valid in the Page field The "sorting" number can contain only digits (0-9) and a single dot allowing for decimal numbers. When the first digit is 0, it needs to stand alone or be followed by a dot. Examples of valid values: 1, 0.1, 0.123, 11, 11.24. Examples of invalid values: 00, 00.1, -12, iv. The "sorting" number can be either a whole number like 23 or 355 or a decimal number like 3.2 or 567.001. Template:PubContentFields:Page Negative page numbers after the pipe ("|") character