Rules and standards discussions/Archive/Archive03

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This is an archive page for the Rules and standards discussions page. Please do not edit the contents. To start a new discussion, please click here.
This archive includes discussions from August 2007 - January 2008.

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Expanded archive listing


Cloning Magazines

It seems that Magazines as a PUB TYPE are currently not cloneable. The way we put magazines however, under one EDITOR TYPE for a single year, ie. "The Dragon Magazine - 1980 - Issues # 35-??" will contain all of the Dragons for 1980, it would make entry quicker and easier if we could just enter say Issue #35, and then just clone the rest of the issues for the year under the "The Dragon Magazine - 1980 - Issues # 35-??" EDITOR TYPE, and then go back and edit the few changes and then add in the differences aka the spec-fic, the book reviews, any appropriate Interior Art and Cover Art, etc. Is there a reason that this is not doable at the current time? It doesn't seem to me like it would be any different then putting in different publications of the same COLLECTION for instance. If nothing else, it would save a bunch of typing or cut-and-pasting. Of course if it would take too much work to do the programming, don't even worry about it. CoachPaul 13:26, 28 May 2007 (CDT)

Would being able to clone magazines just like a normal publication be enough or are you looking for something extra? Adding the ability to clone magazines seems doable but I believe you are looking for "something extra" and can't quite understand what it is. Let's sat I'm at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 2007 and now want to add the June, 2007 issue. I hit "clone" and for a magazine it looks like you only want the metadata (the upper part of the page) but nothing from the Contents section. Is that correct or are you also thinking about things like regular columns? For example clone-magazine could go down the contents list and if it sees a title that looks like
Xyzzy (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 2007)
then it would create a new title record in the clone's contents called something like
Xyzzy (%title%)
and when the editor fills in the new issue's title, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 2007 fpr example, the “%title%” would get replaced so that the column is called
Xyzzy (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 2007)
In fact - now that I think about it, something like %title% may be handy for regular publications because I frequently do things like "Introduction (Story Title)" where the title is copy pasted. If I could enter this as "Introduction (%title%)" then ISFDB could fill in the title when the publication is submitted. Likewise, %author% would also fill in and maybe we could shorten these to %a and %t. Marc Kupper (talk) %%~
I was just thinking of the Meta Data. Say for Magazine SF you have entered the January, 1999 issue, and change it's editor record to SF - 1999. Then when you hit clone pub it creates a second issue of Jan1999 without the Contents from the bottom of the page. Then you just change the title from SF, Jan 1999 to SF, Feb 1999, change the month to 1999-02-00, change the page numbers and price if need be, and put in the new Cover Artist if known. This would make it less then a minutes worth of work, instead of several minutes of cut and paste. The potential savings over decades of magazine entry would be in the hours, but then again, I don't know how many magazines still need to be entered in this way. I know that I have over 20 years of Dragons to do , but if that is going to be the only savings, three or four hours of programming and bug fixing isn't worth the three or four hours it would save me in not having to cut and paste. CoachPaul 06:59, 6 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I want cloning of the ENTIRE data, to allow easy entry of British versions that will be months later but mostly similar. Of course, these might need to be made an entirely separate series so maybe we need to separate the title's parents as well. And some US magazines like "Destinies" DID go through multiple printings that we only cope with by calling them Anthologies. I don't know if the lack of British versions of magazines is because it's so hard to clone, or that we have few British reprint SF magazine collectors here. I DO know that it puts ME off entering the few I have, there seems to be a "Help!" post somewhere for every one I do in detail (fixing the series in general is OK, fixing CONTENTS is so much of a pain they go right to the bottom of the list of things to do.) BLongley 13:52, 27 Aug 2007 (CDT)

CoverArt Dates

The way Coverart seems to work, if I have a book published in 1985, and then a second publication of the same book in 1986 with the same cover, it creates two COVERART records one for each year, yet both books have the same covers. Is it OK to merge these two entries into the same COVERART record with the earlier date? CoachPaul 00:50, 2 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Coverart records don't have any relationship to the Coverart Image URLs on a pub, so yes, it seems safe to do so at the moment. If the database links ever change, then it might become more important: e.g. Josh Kirby's Colour of Magic for the Compact Discworld edition is different from Josh Kirby's Colour of Magic paperback edition. I don't merge Coverart records for now - nobody seems to really care that much about them. But in my A.E. Van Vogt explorations, I've seen and confirmed the same coverart used on different publications, e.g. The Changeling and The Weapon Makers, which may be of interest to someone, sometime. BLongley 16:15, 3 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I tend to be leery of merging Cover Art records until I have seen them both. Publishers have been known to resize or even replace covers in between printings. I am sure the only reason they do that is to make our lives more difficult. Ahasuerus 23:35, 19 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Of course! We are the enemy of the publishers, we tell people that they might be able to buy a cheap second-hand copy instead of their latest deals... they're bound to hate us with a passion! ;-) Still, as we don't link the Coverart URLs or any other interesting stuff to the coverart record itself, it seems to do no harm for now. One thing I did notice, after tackling Dissembler's submissions in particular, is that cleaning up a pub and title doesn't clean up the Coverart record, which is a bit of a nuisance: so merging several of those at once might be a useful trick if several of these are done at once. BLongley 13:56, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Variant title dates

At present Template:TitleFields:Date says "For works that have had variant titles, the date to enter is the first under any title and any pseudonym; variant titles do not have their own dates." I've always thought it was an odd rule and sometimes have set the variant's date to be the first time the variant title was used. Apparently others are doing this too and I started thinking about updating the help to say "For works that have had variant titles, the date to enter is the first time the variant title was published." The downside to this approach is that if someone's looking at a title in the Contents section (magazine, collection, anthology) they may be mislead on how old a particular story is. For example, if an anthology reprints with a new title then someone looking at the Contents may think this was a new story written just for the collection. One fix would be for the existing display code to look at the dates and when doing the "as by" stuff to display the original date of it's different. For example, right now publication ALINMND1991 Alien Minds shows

  • 131 • The Exterminator • (1971) • shortstory by Keith Laumer (aka A Bad Day for Vermin) [as by Keith Laumer ]

but as A Bad Day for Vermin was in 1964 it should show

  • 131 • The Exterminator • (1971) • shortstory by Keith Laumer (aka A Bad Day for Vermin (1964)) [as by Keith Laumer ]

What are your thoughts on this? Marc Kupper (talk) 23:56, 4 Jun 2007 (CDT)

The as by with both dates seems like the best solution. Programmer time is of course the problem. Dana Carson 00:26, 5 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I agree that a programmatic solution would be preferred. Using the same dates for variant titles seems like a way to lose valuable data for no good reason, but if you use different dates, the way it gets displayed right now in anthologies and collections is misleading. Ahasuerus 23:44, 19 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I'm leaning towards preserving dates of variations, although the display problems are a bit of a nuisance. I was thinking that we could separate them programmatically if ever needed, but as we often don't have the very first edition of a title recorded here except in notes I think we're possibly destroying data. Looking at publications from Non-Genre magazines has convinced me that unless we start creating a lot more stubs for first printings (which is difficult considering some of the mandatory information required for magazines especially) we could NOT recover the information. There's a lot of (presumably secondary-sourced) data which leads to titles like this that I don't like - I'd prefer the REAL title, REAL date, and the REAL publications under it. But there's a lot of work to do on those still: maybe I should concentrate on those while the postal strikes are delaying more physical books arriving here. BLongley 13:58, 11 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Fixups vs Collections

I entered a book the other day The Adventures of Terra Tarkington as a novel and it has been changed to a collection. This was done I assume because I listed several shortfiction entries with it. The entries are based off of the copyright page having

Portions appeared in a somewhat different form in IASFM

   * "Hitch on the Bull Run", IASM 1979
   * "Itch on the Bull Run", IASM 1979
   * "Switch on the Bull Run", IASM 1980
   * "Twitch on the Bull Run", IASM 1981
   * "Bitch on the Bull Run", IASM 1981 

however the book itself is a novel. No TOC, no page heading for stories etc. If we use collection for fixups many of the classic novels become collections. I think the main entry for a book should reflect what is visible when you look at the book. So should I change it back? Dana Carson 01:33, 13 Jun 2007 (CDT)

That's right, when I saw the added stories, I changed the "title type" from Novel to Collection. Typically, if a fixup is classified as a Novel, we enter the stories that the novel was based on in the Notes field, but we don't list the stories in the Contents area. I think that's a reasonable approach since listing the original stories in the Contents are may confuse our users. However, I see that we don't have this spelled out in the Help pages:
Fixups. Sometimes an author will assemble material published separately into a novel. This will generally be classified as a novel. Some fixups are less coherent, consisting of largely independent stories, formed into a whole by the addition of linking material between the stories. In this case it is acceptable to call the book a collection or a novel; the decision should be discussed on the author's project page if there is any doubt.
We way want to expand this paragraph to reflect our current practices. Also, one thing that I have found useful is to create a Series record that includes the fixup and the stories that it is based on. That way the relationship is immediately clear when a user is browsing the author's Summary page. Ahasuerus 11:07, 13 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Kraang was recently asking me about a Van Vogt title which seems to have had the contents gathered into a series, and now has some verified pubs, some with notes and some with contents. In that case, I agree it's a Novel whereas this publication seems more like a collection - I could put page numbers to each short story, whereas most of the van Vogt fix-ups couldn't be separated that way. Now some fix-ups can be separated out IF you know the stories, despite no contents list: but I doubt whether it's worth the effort if 'Notes' is the preferred way forward. But I would like to see the notes on both the short-fiction and the fix-up, people do rearrange series quite a bit and I think merely grouping as a series leaves this information a bit vulnerable. BLongley 13:44, 13 Jun 2007 (CDT)
We also seem to have quite a few 'Classic novels' that on further examination are probably collections in ISFDB terms: e.g. Foundation and again various editors are being inconsistent about whether contents are needed in such a well-known title.
As we do seem to have editors proposing opposite changes, is it time we figured out how to conduct a poll? BLongley 13:44, 13 Jun 2007 (CDT)
And I see the first title discussed is back to "Novel" now, edit approved by the Moderator that changed it in the first place... is that a shift in policy or a "this isn't THAT important an issue, must clear the submission queue" thing? As Kraang's hasn't changed yet... BLongley 15:02, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I approved the last submission since I thought that Dana was going to remove individual Contents Titles next, but that hasn't happened yet. I am keeping an eye on this Publication, but I don't think it's a huge problem: once we agree on a standard, we can run a search for all Novel Publications that include Shortfiction Titles and fix them as according to that standard. Ahasuerus 15:19, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Hang on - that only works if we agree on your standard - "Novels shouldn't contain Shortfiction contents". If the agreement is "FIXUP Novels can OCCASIONALLY contain contents", there's no way we can search for the titles that need changing. BLongley 16:18, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
My reasoning for putting content entries was that if you're looking for where a story was published it only shows as a publication if it is entered there. For many fixups they don't give a nice list the way the copyright page for that one did so it may be confusing to do it for the ones that do. If the decision is to not include them I'll go back and remove them. Dana Carson 15:34, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I lean toward the "CAN have contents", IF, and ONLY if, the short fiction is still separable in the fix-up, e.g. by being an identifiable series of consecutive chapters. If I want to find a short story in particular, I'd settle for finding it in chapters 2-5 of a fix-up: but I wouldn't accept a "most of it was rewritten into novel X, along with stories Y and Z" - that sort of mess needs lots of notes both ways. Of course, "Can Have" means no data-quality clean-up searches like Ahasuerus suggests above. Wow, I think I've managed to sit on both fences at once tonight... :-/ Time for me to go unpack the latest arrivals and do some normal editing/verifying again, I'm not used to so much discussion mid-week! BLongley 16:18, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
A.E. van Vogt's Rogue Ship was in the unfinished and things to do pile. I've changed it to a novel and put it under the series title Centaurus with the short stories. Have a look at the Summary Bibliograph [1]. Let me know what you think.Kraang 20:16, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
That one looks fine - you can't separate the short stories in "Rogue Ship" the novel. (Well, I can't from my edition alone, anyway.) I've just come across a title I gave up on in my early editing days though, and finished it. Now there's seven different short stories in that published elsewhere, a couple under variant titles, and three new stories that could be lifted out and published as stand-alones at some point. The interstitial material probably couldn't be, but I entered it anyway as it all has definite titles. (Quite amusing ones too, IMO.) We have that pub's title verified as a novel, AND as a collection. The Plus point of going for the "Use notes about prior publication" is that we can lose the Shortfiction entries for the interstitial material. The Minus point is that if the short stories not already published elsewhere DO get published elsewhere, there's no obvious link to the first publication and people will probably have difficulty hunting it down. In other situations like this, we may lose the variant titles entirely if the "Chapter Heading" is different from the short-story title. I'll leave this as an example - I'm not so bothered that I'm going to hunt and kill novels with Shortfiction contents, nor am I going to fix this title with the Novel/Collection mismatches. But I DO wish we could agree on a way forward: and I'm actually now STRONGLY in favour of "identifiable short fiction titles in other publications" being recognised, and my dithering is now over what to do with interstitial stuff that has proper titles. I think I'd be happy if THAT moved to "Notes". BLongley 15:27, 22 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Cartoon entries

I have just made changes to the documentation for entering cartoons which should clarify matters somewhat. The changes appear in the newpub and editpub help under the discussion on interiorart. I have made it clearer that the cartoon entries must follow the same rules as other interior art which is not connected to a story - the cartoon should either be signed or significant (i.e. full page)--swfritter 11:59, 16 Jun 2007 (CDT).

Although the amended rule makes sense for digests, keep in mind that there were not that many full page cartoons in the pulp era. Would you say that we want to catalog half-page cartoons published in bedsheets and pulps? Ahasuerus 23:32, 19 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Didn't notice this comment on my watchlist at first. Have changed help to include 1/3 page cartoons on pulps and bedsheets.--swfritter 10:31, 11 Aug 2007 (CDT)
I'd make it "e.g." rather than "i.e." and leave it to editor's discretion. Although nowadays I'm not sure that anyone under 40 understands the difference between the two. :-/ BLongley 15:06, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Summary Mini-reviews

Magazines sometimes do summary mini-reviews. They may publish a full review when a book is first released and later summarize this for a paperback reprint. It's almost like a book announcement. Should these be entered and/or noted in ISFDB? One option would be to add an "announcement" title type that would be handled much like reviews though one sticky point would be that it would be nice to then be able to enter what was being announced. For example, the ISBN, etc. that was stated in the announcement. The title records for book reviews are normally managed in the background meaning people don't see their notes. Anyway, I'm throwing this up to see what people's thoughts are about the summary mini-reviews and how to handle them. Marc Kupper (talk) 18:44, 17 Jun 2007 (CDT)

I'm happy with the standards as they are now. Reviews should have at least one element of criticism, even if it's only a thumbs up or a thumbs down. I don't want to rummage through my collection looking for a book review only to find that it is merely an announcement. The only exception might be the case where such an announcement documents an edition of a title that is not in the database. I definitely don't think this issue is important enough to make any programming changes.--swfritter 11:16, 18 Jun 2007 (CDT)
No change needed, I'd say. Otherwise we might end up with "Also Received" notes or suchlike, where there is no criticism at all. If it shows there was a publication we don't know about, create the stub pub with notes on the source, but forget about adding anything to the pub you found it in. For instance, when I eventually run out of books I may go look at, say, the "Selection of other Humorous titles from Corgi Books" entries in some of my pubs to pick out missing editions of stuff, but I wouldn't want to update the pub I got them from. BLongley 14:31, 18 Jun 2007 (CDT)
However, you do bring up one good point: we're sometimes not recording information that was contained in the review. In the few I've added, often the Publisher, Price, ISBN, format and cover-artist were included in the review. In some cases the lack of this was so bad that the review doesn't even make it clear if it's reviewing the US or UK edition, when the pubs actually had almost completely different contents! (Do a title search for "The Best of A. E. van Vogt" - the dates are what made me split the two up that way, but I hate changing titles and we'd have had to change BOTH, for the pubs and the reviews, if we ever get a review of the other.) BLongley 14:31, 18 Jun 2007 (CDT)
One thing that we had to decide upon back in the Dark Ages (1995-1996) was just how granular we wanted our classification scheme to be. We had Contento's example with dozens of subtypes drilling all the way down to "facetious article" (!). If memory serves, we consciously decided to take a different approach and have relatively few types to avoid confusion and debates about sub-sub-types. The idea was that anything unusual or questionable would be documented in the Notes field. This approach seems to have worked reasonably well and I think as long as we stick to it we should try not to create additional types, although sometimes it's very tempting to create a new feature request :) Ahasuerus 23:56, 19 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I personally like Contento's "Straight To Remainder" type. Marc Kupper (talk) 02:24, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Verification Definition

I have a huge problem with Verifications. Basically, what the heck is it? I think that we need some basic general guidelines that we can all agree on. In one talk page discussion with a mod, I get asked if I verified the fact that there was no CoverArt credit given in a book that I Verified, there was, and I changed it, and in another Talk Page discussion, a different Mod says that it's ok to Verify a Pub without filling in all the metadata information that is in the pub being verified by Primary, and also that it's ok to Verify an Anthology that has only one Publication for the Title Record, and none of the contents has been entered. When Mods differ so greatly in their interpretation of a basic principle here at ISFDB, I think that it's time for some sort of consensus. Just what does Verification mean? I don't want to be just part of the problem and not the solution, so I will offer some suggestions. This refers to Verification by Primary only.

To mark a pub as Verified by Primary means:

1. All Metadata has been checked, double checked, and matches, any Metadata that is present in the Primary, but is not in the db has been added. The Title has been checked against the Title Page, and any differences in the Title between the Title Page, Front Cover, and Spine have been noted in the Notes. Any information that you can't verify, such as your copy has the price inked out, or part of the cover is missing and you can't read the ISBN should be noted in the notes section also.

2. For Anthologies, Collections, and Magazines, all contents should be listed, including page numbers, story names, and pertainant artwork/cartoons. The discussion two above this one deals with the matter of artwork/cartoons. Titles and Authors here should be checked as correct as on the first page of the story, and not from the ToC. Any differences between the Title Page of the Story, and the ToC should also be noted in the Notes Section of the Pub. All Book Reviews and Essays should be added also.

My suggestions, (please feel free to change them, add to them, subtract from them, or totally ignore them, in any way that you see fit), set up some guidelines for Verification that may make it a little less confusing for us all. If nothing else, hopefully at least it will get the much needed discussion on this topic started. CoachPaul 23:20, 19 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Sounds like a good start! I will comment further when I fully recover from this bug and regain a semblance of coherence. Ahasuerus 23:59, 19 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I personally am relaxed in what I accept and so if someone just wants to verify that they have a publication that's fine with me though I do ask they people check that the information that is stated in ISFDB matches their publication. The verification help seems to support this. The other thing is if someone marks a publication as verified it implies they have a copy or can get it pretty quickly meaning you also know who to ask. I do wish there was a way for multiple people to mark a pub as verified as increases the confidence in the data and increases the pool of people you can ask when there is a question.
For item 1 in your list I do agree with many of the things you listed and they should get added to the help. Probably the only thing I'd not include is "any Metadata that is present in the Primary, but is not in the db has been added." I'd make that a suggestion but not a requirement.
I personally would like to see a tighter standard for the cover artist. At moment Template:PublicationFields:Artist says "Enter the artist for the cover art if known. If not known, leave blank." I'd like to be able to flag for verified publications
  • Cover artist not verified
  • Publication inspected and cover artist is not credited
  • Cover artist credited from secondary source (cite exact source)
  • Cover artist credited from signature
  • Cover artist credited in the publication
The first two are confusing. "Cover artist not verified" is it unknown or not checked? Does the first mean not checked and the second mean unknown? Also remember don't use unknown. Same questions can be applied to classifying unknown versus anonymous authors. The solution also introduces complexity that might no be understood by the casual editor. Ray 12:13, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
The reason I brought up this field and not others is "blank" is one of the allowed values but it's also ambiguous. Marc Kupper (talk) 02:48, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I am glad this question came up. My definition of of what verification should be is that all the data for the publication has been entered according to the standards. That requires that the verifier duplicate every act that they should be expected to perform when the data is first entered. That means doing dup checks, checking for pseudonyms, checking artist names, checking spelling, etc. The publication should not be verified unless it is 100% correct according to the editor's best understanding of the standards. If the editor has to make changes to a pub they should not verify the pub. You verify it - you own it. Queries about any pub you have verified should receive a prompt reply. A high standard and well beyond the requirements in Help I will admit.--swfritter 11:24, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Unfortunately it's "I own it - I verify it" for me, not vice versa. I don't guarantee to keep the book afterwards, though keeping it for a week or two should be no bother if people are checking recent verifications. (I see some editors seem to, either that or there's a lot of coincidental submission overlaps.) I know I left a lot of my early edits unverified - sometimes due to delays in approvals, sometimes because I hadn't learnt all the policies so didn't really know if I was done yet. (I was a very iterative editor, still am in some ways - so long as an edit improves the data I'm happy to leave some of the less interesting stuff for later, or for someone else to do - I wouldn't verify in those cases though.) BLongley 13:04, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I can see a case for verifying a contentless collection if it's one of those fix-ups that can be considered a novel by some people - we don't seem to have sorted that argument out and we shouldn't need to for verification purposes, if the verifier firmly believes it's a novel. And I'm not that interested in interiorart so I'd prefer an option to verify the text and just note that some interiorart exists - I'm fine if people add it later. I'm not that interested in reviews either, but people seem to have made a special effort to support them so I'm OK with demanding that they're all entered before verification is allowed. I rarely do magazines so it's no biggie for me anyway. BLongley 13:04, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I'm also OK with verifying partial contents so long as all the SF is entered. For instance I'm not ashamed of leaving the Detection out of Detection, Mystery and Horror. And I don't demand that people add Coverart URLs even when the Amazon link takes them to the exactly right cover anyway - if I add it I just ask the verifier if it's right, and I don't do it from anything less than a primary source or a scan with specific publication notes anyway. So far I don't think I've got one wrong. (Touch wood.) 13:04, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)

(Unindent) One thing to bear in mind if we DON'T all agree, but fall into only two or three separate camps, is that it WOULDN'T require any programming effort to create a new type of verification. If it turns out that, say, most of us have been verifying the text data only we could change the meaning of Primary Verification to reflect that, and add another entry in "Bibliographic References" for "Primary, INCLUDING all Artwork checks". However there shouldn't be too many of these categories and it really shouldn't be used to DECREASE the amount of effort people should make before verification. So no "I think I saw that in a shop once" level please! BLongley 13:18, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)

I may repeat myself here, and I apologize if I do, but I need to let everyone know where I'm coming from. To me, SpecFic is Short Stories first, everything else is secondary, and my edits show that. Well over 95% of my edits have had to do with Short Stories, including Anthologies, Collections, and Magazines. If I have recently verified a Pub, it means that I have done my best to make sure that everything is correct and everything is entered to the best of my knowledge and ability. In other words, it can be considered fairly complete, and I have left nothing out. If there is data that needs to be entered, I will generally not verify the pub. If I have just added a month to the date, I may go ahead and verify too. This is different then when I first started doing edits and verifications, and I have been removing my verifications from pubs I verified early in my stay here if I am not happy with what I had done. My plan is to go back and verify any pubs I own that aren't verified later after I've finished adding content. While I feel that verification is important, I would now, never verify a pub that had missing content. People who use the db don't come here to see if a pub is verified, they come here because they want to find out what is in pubs. I belong to a Short Story reading group, and the members are constantly coming here to find out what books the stories are in, it's how I got involved here in the first place. If we list Anthologies, Collections, or Magazines as verified, but don't list the contents, what good does it do for anybody? While it is important to know that Roger Zelazny's "Unicorn Variations" Collection was published in 1983 as a HB and reprinted in 1987 as a pb with a cover by James Warhola, isn't it more important and useful to know what the stories in it were? Verification should be used to give people confidence that the information is correct and as complete as it can be to the verifiers ability. An incomplete pub that has been verified doesn't inspire any confidence in me. If we're just using verification to say, "I have this pub and will answer questions about it", then maybe we need another marker for that information. CoachPaul 13:54, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I'm all for the "Do all SF text content" minimum level, and like short stories most myself. Unfortunately we lack some tools that would make it easy to, say, copy contents from the very good content-listed, artwork-credited ideal verified pub to others, and I think some people think "if one edition is right, I can just verify this other one with less detail - they'll search for the good one, right?". Which is wrong - I don't care too much about variant titles in punctuation alone, but copyright issues often mean US and UK collections DON'T have the same content, and I want people to work to correct that. But again, forbidding verification of contentless Collections and Anthologies is a programming change and we're not going to get any complicated changes like that for a while I believe, given Al's recent news. So all we can do for now is agree on what level of verification there should be: or, as I suspect, we won't agree, but can create another level (maybe more, but let's try and keep them to a minimum) so we can have Text-verifiers and Text-and-Art-Verifiers. OK, having mentioned this possibility of different levels of verification with little effort, some people might want to LOWER the bar, I don't want to. But if we do go that way, we have to recognise that we're questioning ALL past verifications. I know I'm questioning some of my past ones. If the active verifiers are still around then it will be a bit more work for them to upgrade their verifications - but given a little programmer time we could downgrade the bad verifications, if we agree that certain verifications are not worthwhile (e.g. no ISBN on a 1990s pub, no contents in an anthology) and it only takes a little effort to pull off lists of "what you've verified that you might want to upgrade" lists for anyone that wants to IMPROVE. For some of us those might be long lists, but if it's in the interest of improved data, I'd go for it. BLongley 14:30, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Oh, and "I have this pub and will answer questions about it" verification as opposed to "I owned this pub, verified it, and don't want to ever speak of it again" is easy, if that's the way people want to go. I think that would affect me most - say 200 pubs - but I already know I should move 50 or so from my OTHER userid anyway, I'm resigned to changes already. And if anyone else that hasn't downloaded the ISFDB database locally needs a reminder of what they verified, just ask me for the list. It'll only be up-to-date as of the last backup, but for those regretting their early verifications it's a good starting point. BLongley 14:36, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)

(Unindent) What is the protocol for modifying a verified pub? My own inclination is to implement the required modifications and reset the verified flag.--swfritter 08:14, 21 Jun 2007 (CDT)

If you are adding new information then add the data and send a heads up to the verifier. If you need to modify verified information they send a message to the verifier and explain what's up. If it's apparent a verifier made a mistake. Let's say they misspell an author's name a little then I usually make the correction but also send a heads up to the verifier just in case the author name was spelled that way in the publication. In that case the verifier can undo my edit and add a publication note indicating the name is misspelled in the publication.
I guess the #1 rule is you always notify the verifier if you make any changes. Marc Kupper (talk) 03:35, 22 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Thanks. Good. Pre-notification is too cumbersome.--swfritter 07:20, 22 Jun 2007 (CDT)
After a few "I added the cover-art URL to your pub, as I have the same edition, is that OK?" messages, or some such-like question, they may give you carte blanche permission for that type of edit anyway, in which case you can probably stop asking THAT person about THAT type of edit. Remember it's just that one permission from that one editor though. Any Mod that wants to add to/improve my interiorart entries on stuff I've verified is free to do so without asking me, for instance: if they're competent to Mod then they can deal with the bits I'm not really interested in. However, stomp on my cover-art URL entries (or lack of them) at your peril - I do upload a lot of covers from my own edition when I can't find one online already (usually from Jim Gardner), and leave it blank when there isn't one available. So in those cases I do like to be asked if it's OK (after the event is fine, I'm an active editor and WILL revert it if you cocked-up).
A lot of it is just plain "Respect", or lack of it. I'd ask Al or Ahasuerus to check a detail in their verified pubs rather than change it myself and ask afterwards. But I'd probably go fix J. T. Newby's first verification of his first entered publication and leave him a polite note about what we really try to do here, and hope he reads it. It's not a "Level" thing - e.g. I'll challenge Bureaucrats over some things, and make way for far-more-knowledgeable non-mod Editors that know their specialities. I guess MY guideline is "Ask if the verifier is more experienced than you: Change it and notify if you think you know better: and if you don't know better, ask why it's like that and prepare to learn something. " BLongley 16:14, 22 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Heros in Training by Jim C. Hines and Martin H. Greenberg

Jim Hines is an internet aquaintance of mine and I have been in contact with him about his bibliography page, and I will be adding some to it in the next few weeks when I have the time, and he has given me the list of Short Stories for this book. (They were also published on Amazon.com back in February here.) I'd like to add them to the pub, but wanted to get an ok from a mod or two first. He has also given us permission to link to any images on his website, but I can't figure out how to do it. CoachPaul 18:06, 20 Jun 2007 (CDT)

I don't want to encourage TOO much respect for Mods - we're still mere mortals! But if it helps I think it's fine to add the contents, just don't verify it till the book is out. And permission to link is good, but we're still lacking a central area to record all the permissions granted (I've acquired three myself, but all for one author): so just record it somewhere close to the publication for now and we'll blame you if we ever get sued, OK? ;-) Or get Jim to come here and do it himself - it's not THAT difficult to edit here is it? BLongley 16:57, 22 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Personally, I'd rather that he wrote and edited new books as opposed to spending time here at ISFDB. As for the Mods, I don't hold you guys on a pedistal, but generally you guys are the ones that have been around longest, and tend to know more then us plain old editors. Not that there aren't times in which I've explained to a Mod how to do something or other that I had done many times and they hadn't done at all. The one constant to db work on computers is that something new that somebody hadn't seen or done before inevitably shows up sooner or later. And while editing here isn't all that difficult, editing completly and correctly sometimes is. CoachPaul 17:29, 22 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Change to Help - Title Fields - Entry Type - Interiorart - Page Numbers

I have modified the help to indicate that editors have the option to assign page numbers to interior art to either the first page of the story illustrated or the first page where art appears. In addition I have indicated that multiple pieces of artwork for a story can be entered although it is not required to do so. Help previously indicated that the page number for artwork should be the first page of the story but the second option was an older informal standard that many editors adhered to.--swfritter 08:43, 21 Jun 2007 (CDT)

OK. Fine by me. Someone used big words like "lapidary" and "laconic". Might be worth rereading those comments. Might not be worthwhile. That BLongley bloke talks too much at times. Happy medium possible? BLongley 17:20, 22 Jun 2007 (CDT)
The edits look ok - the very last sentence which was part of the original text caught my attention:
Illustrations not attached to a story are given a title of "Untitled".
I've been making these the title of the magazine/publication so that someone looking at the artist bibliography will know what the interior-art appeared in. Search finds just 14 "untitled" interior art titles plus five untitled cartoons. Anyone have opinions about updating the help and fixing up the 14 titles that used that title? Marc Kupper (talk) 01:06, 24 Jun 2007 (CDT)
This is actually part of a bigger issue. There are other titles like "editorial", book review columns, etc. which have multiple non-unique instances. Some editors have started entering pub information (like magazine title and date) in parenthesis as part of the title to make the titles unique. I am hesitant do to so myself because such data is not part of the actual title. It's probably OK, because most such titles will not be reprinted so there is little chance of needing to merge them. I think brackets might actually be better for editor additions because parenthesis are occasionally a part of titles while brackets rarely are.--swfritter 08:07, 24 Jun 2007 (CDT)
The "some editors" may well be me at times because I when I use dupe-candidates on someone and see a bunch of titles all the same, a few minutes ago it was, "Acknowledgments" for Dozois in iirc, then I sweep down the list and add the publication title to each one. You are correct in that if the essay is ever reprinted in a package that has a different title then the (pub-title) method would be sticky. Perhaps (pub-title & pub-title)? Marc Kupper (talk) 02:39, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I think a reprint would most likely have a different title. For instance, several of the essays in Gold appear to be introductions to various books, unfortunately I can attribute very few as they only give copyright date not original publication name. Still, in the identifiable cases, making the Introduction a variant title of the titled essay might help separate things. BLongley 13:45, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I find the most annoying additions of dates to titles are the ones like "Faust Aleph-Null (US 1990)" - there's no need to mess up the title like that, it's a COMPLETELY different name to the original: and you can keep the date of the change in the variant title record, and the countries that it varied in should be clear when some publications are added. (E.g. did it vary for Canada too?) BLongley 13:45, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I actually want to fix this in code so that editors can enter the title exactly as stated and the display software will see that a bunch of essays or whatever have the same titles and it will then look up the publications and display the title as "Introduction (pub's title)" (or we can use [] as you suggested). Marc Kupper (talk) 02:39, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I think Marc has gotten to the crux of the matter. No publication data appears on the Author pages, just titles. If the first publication data appeared next to or under the title the problem would be solved in most of the cases were discussing. The Locus databases actually indent under the title and show all publication dates but that could get yucky with the ISFDB because there is so much more data. [] might be out because they are also used for such things as series. Perhaps the earliest publication for every title, not just the ones we are discussing, could be listed. I am sure that idea is full of pitfalls too. There would have to be some way of informing the user that there are multiple entries for the title. And I am sure there are a thousand other issues that implementation would give rise to.--swfritter 15:01, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
A closer look at the data for for non-unique essay entries ("Introduction", "Editorial", etc.) convinces me that so many them have already been modified with the name of the publication in which they appear that it may be too late to do anything.--swfritter 17:22, 26 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Perry Rhodan - Book or Magazine?

Ready to start on this project as I have time and copies. rbh 21:14, 23 Jun 2007 (CDT)

If I recall correctly, some issues simply reprinted a single novel, but many others had a smallish section in the back that contained serialized reprints of 1920s-1930s SF plus letters to the editor and Forry's musings, so I would think that the whole Ace series was definitely a magazine.
Also, keep in mind that Ace reprinted PR novels out of order and then went back and filled in some gaps. For magazine numbering purposes, the Ace order (1-118 or so) is fine, but for Series order purposes we presumably want to use the German order since it is roughly chronological.
Also, there are numerous subseries in the PR universe, e.g. the Lemur series is about to be published in the US -- see this recent discussion on Usenet. Ahasuerus 21:30, 23 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Spoilers in Tags

Dave Tate has posted the following comment on Usenet (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written/msg/ecb63be507fd0dd0):

Apologies for posting this here, but I am apparently too old and stupid to figure out the ISFDB Wiki instructions.
Question: does ISFDB have a policy on spoilers?
Specifically, I note that authors and individual books may now have associated *tags*. For example, if you go to Mercedes Lackey's author page, you see the associated tags 'fantasy', 'occult thriller', and 'dragons'. If you click on 'dragons', you see a (currently very short) list of individual titles by various authors.
That's great, and I can see how it would eventually be very useful. However, some of the specific tags represent Big Honking Spoilers (tm) for the books they tag. The tag "lost colony" seems like a particularly likely suspect in this regard. I can think of several books -- including some of the ones already tagged -- for which it would be a major spoiler to know in advance that this is a "lost colony" story.
I imagine there are other likely tags with similar spoiler potential. Is this a concern for the ISFDB team?

I responded as follows:

That's a very good question, thanks for bringing it up. I wrote the current Tag help page (Help:Screen:AddTags) in response to a few editors' questions some time after Tags went live, but it didn't occur to me to mention our spoiler policy. The Edit Title help page (Help:Screen:EditTitle) has a comment about "non-spoiler" synopsis data, so it's safe to assume that we want Tags to follow the same policy. I will update the Tags help page and post a note on the Rules and Standards board (Rules and standards discussions). Feel free to stop by and comment -- all you have to do is create an account by clicking on the "Create an account" link at the top of the page :)

I have added a line to the Tag help page: "Please do NOT add tags that spoil the plot." Would you say this is sufficient or should we dig deeper, e.g. cover situations when a variant title already spoils the plot, e.g. Flight into Yesterday? Ahasuerus 19:24, 24 Jun 2007 (CDT)

That's a tough one because almost by definition tags spoil some element of the plot. Sometimes even organizing the book into a series could be considered "spoiling the plot." Maybe a feature request to disable display of the tags would work as I'd want the freedom to be able to tag titles with plot elements (which is what I thought the point of tagging was). I personally am not fond of tags as most tagging systems do not have a mechanism to add definitions to the tags (quite a few of ISFDB's tags are mysterious to me – Jack Vance pastiche anyone?) while sometimes there are multiple tags to describe the same or similar things (asteroid, asteroid belt, asteroids, faery, fairytale, humor, humorous, sub-light speed, sub-light travel, etc.)
While looking at the tags list for overlaps I saw "space pirates" and realized that in the book I just finished (and tagged) much of the condition the characters were in was caused by space pirates, they thought and talked about space pirates a lot, but it's not until the very end of the book that anyone shows up that may be a real space pirate though even there they could have been classified as religious, political, and/or business zealots. Thus, even though the entire book was about space pirates there were none physically in the story except for one scene. Does the tag apply and would it spoil things for someone? Marc Kupper (talk) 04:10, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)
The spoiler issue is an important one for me. I see the ISFDB as a research tool and the synopsis data as critical information for academic research. The site is, after all, hosted by a university. Restricting synopsis information reduces the academic value. My primary interest is the SF magazines of the 50's and 60's which are generally unavailable to most people. I prefer the Wikipedia method of putting a spoiler alert before the acutal critical discussion. I can understand a policy of not allowing spoilers for recent works but I think they should be allowed for works older than 10 years as long as there is an alert. As for tags, they should not be spoilerish because the viewer will not have the opportunity to avoid them the way then can if there is a spoiler alert at the beginning of a synopsis.--swfritter 12:08, 25 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Pseudonyms With Unknown Real Names

Is there a way to indicate that a name is a pseudonym, even if the author's true name is unknown? "Arthur Pendennis" is clearly a pseudonym: he is the title character of a novel by Thackeray, and the listed author of another novel of Thackeray's. Somebody wrote a story under his name (The Prince of Snobs) in the Sept 1983 Amazing; the editorial blurb describes it as a lost work of Pendennis', and further describes Thackeray's novel as a biography, so readers were clearly expected to get the joke. I can't find any references online to who the author might be, however. Is there a way to show that this is a pseudonym? ("B. T. H. Xerxes" is a similar case.) Jefe 14:19, 2 Jul 2007 (CDT)

The real author is Arthur Jean Cox according to the Locus Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazine Index on CD. Someone still may want to address your original question. One place to make such a notation is in the bibliographic data for the author.--swfritter 15:10, 2 Jul 2007 (CDT)
Hmmm.... I had this problem recently. Ah, found it: Amazon say:
About the Author
Everett Owens is a pseudonym for a well-known children’s book author.
Anyone got any idea who it is? BLongley 16:50, 2 Jul 2007 (CDT)
Xerxes could be either Tom Boardman or Brian W. Aldiss according to Robinson in "Who's Hugh". His sources are Contento for Boardman and informal information from John Clute and others for Aldiss. I would probably but a note on the story and in the bibliographic information for the author.--swfritter 18:29, 2 Jul 2007 (CDT)
ISFDB doesn't do a very good job of supporting undisclosed pseudonyms and house names at this time. If you want to know what stories were published as by "Alexander Blade" or Victor Appleton, you will get what amounts to a disambiguation page instead. This page will point you to Summary pages for all known individual authors (as well as "unknown") who wrote as "Blade" and "Appleton". This works reasonably well when we know who wrote what (although we lack an integrated view of all stories published under that pseudonym), but it doesn't work too well when a significant percentage of the works is attributed to "unknown". At one point Al wanted to create a list of requirements for "pseudonym bibliography" logic, but I don't think he has made much progress in this area so far. Ahasuerus 18:51, 2 Jul 2007 (CDT)

Help Update - Book Review Dates

Unless there is any feedback I will be changing Help to indicate that the Book Review date should be the date the book review was first published (usually the date of the pub being edited) rather than the release date of the edition of the book reviewed. I will also make a notation that current data need not be modifed because future enhancements could make the current standards obsolete.--swfritter 12:42, 7 Jul 2007 (CDT) Changed to - The date the review first appeared. Normally the date of the publication in which the review appears unless it is a reprint. (Note: if you leave this field blank it will default to the date of the publication being added or modified).

I just made a followup change to the pub-editor help about this, & another (hopefully minor) change in the same section. This is for Reviews. I changed "date of the work being reviewed" to say "date of the review".
I also changed "There is room for three reviews in the initial screen display" to say "There is room for one review in the initial screen display" since this is, AFAICS, the way the pub editor works. I hope that's OK. Thanks. -- Dave davecat 13:24, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
Ack! I then almost immediately observed that I needed to change "The screen will redisplay with a fourth review record visible" to say "The screen will redisplay with a second review record visible". So I did that, too. -- Dave davecat 13:29, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
Looks good, thanks for the fix! Also for mentioning that you made the fix: some edits do seem minor but eventually people realise they could cause problems not thought about. See this discussion for instance. (And if there's no further input on that, I think I'm going to propose a clarifying edit back: "Artwork should not be merged" is too absolute a rule for my liking. I waffled us off-topic there though, I think. :-/ ) Still, so long as we're open about proposed, or even past, updates to Help pages it can be sorted fast enough. BLongley 16:17, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
Oh, and I recently discovered that it's not just help we have to update at times, for instance my last proposed update affects the FAQ too. Not one you have to worry about in this case, but it was one I had to worry about. And that last entry is a nightmare... :-/ BLongley 16:26, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)

Consensus on "Dateless" Printings

Can we come to sort of consensus or compromise on dateless printings? I'm with the crowd that would see some sort of date be shown. IMHO having a "Thirty-second Printing of the 1964 Berkeley Medallion Edition" printed sometime in the late 70's or early 80's appear before the original "Galaxy Magazine Printing" from 1958 just seems wrong to me. One of the other Mods had mentioned using the print date of the first printing of the edition and adding the "Print Number" to the Day Field of the Date Field, and I can live with this if there is nothing in the programming to foul this up. Another option I can live with would be to use the last known good date of the Edition, and adding the Print Number to that Date Field to come up with a new date field. CoachPaul 20:36, 14 Jul 2007 (CDT)

I think it a good idea for the moment and Marc has used this idea on some DAW books. If we go forward with this approach there would have to be a VERY CLEAR statement in the notes about whats been done. As a minimum the printing history in full would have to be in the notes.Kraang 21:43, 14 Jul 2007 (CDT)
I've been gently pushing Al to do a couple of things so that I can get a working copy of ISFDB as this is one of the first things I want to fix. I really don't like what I'm doing with the dates though agree it works. Marc Kupper (talk) 19:45, 15 Jul 2007 (CDT)
Whatever we decide to do, we probably want to ensure that it won't be a problem for the eventual software fix that may be put in place. Ideally, it would facilitate the latter. For example, if we decide to add a "Printing number" field to Publication records, we may be able to write a database conversion that will populate this field based on the data in the Date field. Ahasuerus 00:31, 16 Jul 2007 (CDT)
The risk with such a script is that REAL days (or Amazon Days) in the date field could get converted into printing numbers. If we want to automate such, then we need something to indicate where the day in the date was real or used for printing number. And there's not many fields to use for that, it does seem to come down to notes. However, We COULD come up with a convention on what to put in notes to indicate the Day has been used - something that wouldn't naturally be entered as a note for any other reason though, so it would have to be something obscure like "QZXJZ" if we want it short or "DAY=PRINTNUM" if we want it vaguely readable. BLongley 14:03, 16 Jul 2007 (CDT)
The other worry is what the final "Printing Number" solution could be. In the recent example we can already date 1st, 3rd and 5th printings to some extent. Two solutions might be:
1 Leave them as all dated with the one date in the actual pub, (i.e. First Printing Date) and use Printing Numbers 1-5. 
2 Add calculated dates and use Printing Numbers 1-5. 
  Printing 2 would be left with same date as 1, 4 with same date as 3, but 1, 3 and 5 would have a reasonably sure Year and Month.
I'm not sure where we might EVER get dates for the reprints with no reference number/price/ISBN change so I quite like the second option, but WHEN you try and work on dates for the whole set is up for debate. The other worry is printing numbers across imprints: how many editors would spot that a 6th printing in Grafton might have a 5th printing in Granada and a 4th printing in Panther?
Overall, this is why I've left my controversial ones with the verifiable date of a prior printing and the actual printing number in notes: when it comes to manually fixing them there should be small "clumps" of pubs that appear identical until you read the note, then one is clearly a different printing number from the other. (Most of my notes seem to be about printing history.) I don't mind Marc's method either for now, he leaves copious enough notes. I think the compromise for now is to accept either. I'd love a consensus on a way to make it fixable with a bit of SQL when the way forward IS decided, so DO consider a keyword in the notes and I'll move to Marc's method. It might be an idea to mention such a consensus or convention in the Help, and drop a note to all active editors about the change as well. I'm not rejecting "0000-00-00" new entries but I am querying changes from something identifiable TO "0000-00-00" as that seems to be destruction of data to me, and the current guidelines seem to be encouraging it. :-/ BLongley 14:03, 16 Jul 2007 (CDT)
I've hosed myself too often with scripts to globally search/change things and don't do them any more. They seem like a good idea at the time but you generally loose the audit trail. I'm all for scripts to identify data for the humans but even there I get concerned if the human's task turns into an unthinking "approve the change." I'm not too concerned about the existing publications that are already using the dates set. We can find them with scripts if needed and over time as people edit the publications the new data will get filled in. We could agree on some code word or phrase to put in the notes to make the scripted scan easy.
The first task for me is to get a working ISFDB system. Right now I have a working database, working MediaWiki 1.10, but am waiting to hear back from Al on if he's made progress in converting the Python code to know about the new MediaWiki table structure. I could set up MediaWiki 1.4.5 but the code for this is not archived and so would need to get that from Al. Marc Kupper (talk) 20:04, 16 Jul 2007 (CDT)

Foreign Language Magazines

There are a few English language magazines published outside of the Anglophone market, e.g. Orphia, and most genre bibliographers (including us) lump them together with regular magazines. Not a problem so far, but the next step (regardless of whether you are working on magazines, novels or anthologies) is to identify the original foreign language Titles and make them our primary Titles -- see Jules_Verne's bibliography for an example.

Unfortunately, this is not always a trivial proposition even if you find the author's bibliography in his native language. After all, editors love to make seemingly inexplicable changes like Non-Stop -> Starship, and it only gets worse whenever there is another language involved. For example, the Strugatsky brothers' Waves Extinguish the Wind was published in English as Time Wanderers even though the book had nothing to do with time travel. (As an extra bonus, the publisher failed to advertise that it was book 3 in a trilogy).

However, let's suppose for the moment that we have found the original foreign language Title and created a VT for the translated/derived Title(s). If the Title first appeared in a book, then it should be easy to create a Publication record for it and populate the record with whatever data you can find in OCLC and other online sources. But what should we do if the Title first appeared in a foreign language magazine? I suppose we can create a Publication stub for the latter, but should we list it in our Magazine directory? Do we want to have a "foreign language" section for them, with (perhaps) individual subsection for French, German, etc magazines? And how can we tell that the magazine in question is/was a genre magazine and worth listing in the directory as opposed to a New Yorker clone that publishes spec fiction once a year or three? Decisions, decisions... Ahasuerus 16:02, 16 Jul 2007 (CDT)

I speak only as a monoglot myself, but frankly I think trying to cover "foreign" languages here is going to put editors off, maybe some mods too. There's enough problems with English, American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, South African, etc, differences already that I'm quite happy to let the polyglots[*] encourage sites like this in their own languages. I've already stumbled across sites like the DSFDB that might be on the same lines as us, but I can't tell as I don't speak the language. (And the site seems short of bandwidth too.) I've found French sites that are useful, talked to Danish and Icelandic and Japanese webmasters to get permissions for coverart etc, but frankly I'm unqualified to moderate any foreign-language submissions here.
I've also found myself looking at Wikipedia sites that AREN'T "en.wikipedia.org", there's OTHERS out there too it seems! And sometime they're quite good, too! So I'm actually in favour of us dropping the "THE Internet Speculative Fiction Database" title and becoming "The English-Speaking Internet Speculative Fiction Database" - but I'm definitely for encouraging links to the other SFDBs out there. Maybe we can donate our Manga entries that are due for zapping under current rules back to the Japanese SFDB or somesuch? BLongley 17:17, 16 Jul 2007 (CDT)
[*] or even the "biglots", but that sounds more "Nac Mac Feegle" than English of any kind. :-/ BLongley 17:17, 16 Jul 2007 (CDT)
There are quite a few categories here as we currently state in our Rules of Acquisition:
  1. Foreign language translations of speculative fiction works originally published in English or written in English and published in another language (e.g. Bulmer or Dibell)
  2. English language translations of works of speculative fiction originally published in foreign languages. In these cases, we will also provide information about the original foreign language work.
  3. Works of speculative fiction published in a foreign language that haven't been translated into English, but whose author's other works have been translated into English. This is done to make it easier for people who are interested in, e.g., Lem or Barbet to see as full a picture of the author's work as possible.
  4. Works of speculative fiction published in a foreign language that haven't been translated into English and whose author's other works have not been translated into English. Arguments for exclusion: avoid duplicating the efforts of foreign language bibliographers in a field where we can't realistically compete with them. (True? False? Revisit if/when we have foreign language editors with extensive expertise in the field who would be willing to merge their biblios into the ISFDB?)
The main reason to include (1) is to provide comprehensive coverage of foreign language translations of English language titles. This is typically done by single author biblio sites (e.g. Wilson Tucker, Philip Jose Farmer, Jack Vance) as well as by comprehensive encyclopedias, e.g. Tuck. It is also valued by working SF authors who like to see their complete bibliographies presented in one place and not split across multiple sites, especially if they are in multiple languages. Given our goal of being a comprehensive speculative fiction bibliographic site and our history of support for foreign language translations, I doubt this will change. At some point we will need to beef up our support for foreign language translations of short stories, which is pretty much non-existent at this point.
The first sentence in (2) presumably needs no justification :-) The second sentence ("provide information about the original foreign language work") is trickier and was the reason that I started this discussion. Do we want to list original foreign language Titles only? If we don't list the associated Publication records, then how can we Verify our data? And if we do add Publication level data, do we want to drill to the same level of detail that we support on the English language side (see the Magazine discussion above)?
(3) is a potentially largish can of worms. When the bulk of a writer's work has been published in translation -- e.g. Verne, Lem or the Strugatskys -- it's pretty much a no-brainer. But what should we do with someone like Sergei_Lukyanenko? The first three books in his recent series have been translated, so clearly we want to list the fourth one as well. On the other hand, he has written dozens of other genre works, none of them available in English. Should we list all of them as well?
I suspect that (4) is where our inclusionism will be really tested. Unless we find more editors willing and able to maintain complete bibliographies of additional hundreds (if not thousands) of writers and/or unless we form alliances with other sites, we will probably be in no position to do this area justice. Ahasuerus 18:59, 16 Jul 2007 (CDT)
Well, it's been a week or so now and I don't see any volunteers to help with (4). Nor (3). Or even (2), second sentence. Or (1). We might need to add (5) for English-writing authors that have had some works ONLY published in foreign languages so far, e.g. A. E. van Vogt. ( I think John Brunner may have had similar troubles with some Esperanto editions.) Basically, I have no problems with people adding non-English data here, I just feel I (for one example) am not qualified to deal with such entries. I'd prefer to leave it to the experts - and if we don't get such experts here, then let's just link to the expert's sites. BLongley 18:55, 26 Jul 2007 (CDT)
Interesting points, Bill, but at the moment I am trying to use my precious "collection time" to Verify as many publications as I can while juggling 8 other things. I'll be back on the road by late Tuesday/early Wednesday, at which point I will be able to comment further. Ahasuerus 15:49, 28 Jul 2007 (CDT)

Minor variations in a publication

I have a copy of Cordelia's Honor that has a special dustjacket. I just made a note of this in the notes instead of a new pub. Does that seem reasonable to people? It's already confusing enough with the limited ed hc having the same ISBN as the trade paperback. Dana Carson 12:24, 1 Aug 2007 (CDT)

That's a tough call. Most of the time I add a note much like yours and other times I clone the publication. For example, I had a publication where on the copyright page they detailed how many of various types of limited edition (hardcover, slip cased, gold leaf binding, etc.) works they had made and for that I just had a single publication record with the note that included what was stated on the copyright page.
Part of the problem is ISFDB does not have many fields to help show that a publication is distinct when you are viewing them. I've sometime done it by adding a (parenthetical note) to the publisher name field.
Dana - your note was mildly confusing in that it's not quite clear if all of the hardcover copies were this "limited edition of 500". Something I believe would help if if you would indicate exactly what is stated in the publication or the source of this information. Marc Kupper (talk) 00:00, 2 Aug 2007 (CDT)
From the front flap of the dustjacket. The Stars our Destination, Chicago's premier science fiction bookstore since 1988, is proud to present this special dustjacket for Baen Books' limited hardcover edition of Cordelia's Honor. The fron of the dustjacket has "A special hardcover edition containing the complete texts of Shards of Honor and Barrayar."
It doesn't say how many copies of either the hardcover or the special dustjacket there are.
The copyright page has the ISBN of the trade paperback and cover artist for that. And the LOC data block has P.p. verso and ISBN 0-671-87749-6 (pbk.)
I don't remember where I bought it. Not at a regular store but if it was just one of the dealers at a con that carries speial editions or at a con where Bujold was GOH no idea. Can't find anything about 500, maybe I thinkoed from Dreamweaver's Dilemma which is also a limited hardback. But my note seems too solid for that and the other was hb and slipcover. Why didn't is source where I got that from. OK, google to rescue, http://www.locusmag.com/index/b75.html matches the 500, says no dustjacket so the special dustjacket was probably just for a con where she was GOH or just for ones sold through that store? Dana Carson 16:26, 2 Aug 2007 (CDT)

Annotating Excerpts

As a relative newbie, I've noticed that some ISFDB entries contain excerpts from pending novels as a content entry. I'd really like to know why. This is advertising material and is no different from the list of forthcoming books or one-page catalogs that used to appear to fill out the blank pages of a print run. It seems like a waste of time. Inquiring minds want to know . . .

--Dsorgen 22:14, 31 Jul 2007 (CDT)

If you're referring to the few pages in the back of an otherwise unassociated work, I agree. But when novels are excerpted in periodicals, it's a different matter entirely. (Someone could argue that they're only promoting forthcoming works, as well.) You do have to admit that there's no comparison between a list of books from a publisher and excerpts from the book itself. The thing is, it's hard to make a value judgement when determining what fiction or non-fiction (and in whatever form) to include in the database. It is a good question though and one worthy of discussion... Mhhutchins 23:26, 31 Jul 2007 (CDT)
The stuff that bothers me appears ONLY at the end of books, is almost always unpaginated and normally promotes another work by the same author. One of the troubles is that there is NO guarantee that the work will ever appear. They seem to serve roughly the same purpose as movie trailers and may (or may not) have as much to do with the final work. I heartily agree that discussion is warranted; since, the instructions in the help system say to include such material.--Dsorgen 21:43, 1 Aug 2007 (CDT)
I'd vote for making these optional until ISFDB is updated to have some sort of generation flag for records. In other words, we'd record the current records as "1st generation" and if there's a rules change to include these advertising excerpts then any records verified after that point would be "2nd generation." I see including the advertising excerpts as useful if someone wants to do research on book advertising. For a while I was entering the advertising lists from the back of DAW books into my database. I was trying to capture price points for the books and their catalog #s. What I started to find is these lists had many errors plus the data entry was tedious and so I stopped. Marc Kupper (talk) 00:13, 2 Aug 2007 (CDT)
I recall one publication where the "excerpt" turned out to be a complete short story from a collection. That's rare though. It might inform us about a title-change between planned publication title and actual, but that's rare too. Definitely worth a debate. BLongley 14:37, 2 Aug 2007 (CDT)
OK, new example: this pub contains one chapter of a "Serial Novel", "Starfleet: Year One" apparently published amongst the monthly Pocket Books Star Trek releases from August 1999 on. There's supposed to be twelve parts but unless we check the "excerpts" for each month's releases we'll never know how to construct the complete novel, which I think appeared in Complete form elsewhere but we haven't got that. OK, I suppose most of you don't actually care, but it's one reason FOR recording excerpts, so we can put them back to proper serialisations where relevant. I'll save that till we have some verification of which EDITIONS have this "extra", and who wrote them, as the current cover-art at Amazon suggests the idea may have been dropped, or that some editions no longer have the excerpts. (In which case the entire novels with excerpts become variants of themselves or something...) BLongley 13:17, 27 Aug 2007 (CDT)
Oh, and rereading this thread, the "NO guarantee that the work will ever appear" makes me thing it might be MORE important to record the excerpts, in some cases. If the final work never appears, then this is the ONLY record of the existence of parts of it. Not every author has a Christopher Tolkien or Brian Herbert to finish it... BLongley 13:17, 27 Aug 2007 (CDT)

(unindent) I'd like to reopen this discussion. It seems to me that, at least, unpaginated excerpts of novels that have, in fact, already been published and are already in the database add nothing, and merely clutter the author's bibliography, and perhaps series listings. Excerpts that amount to a serialization, such as are mentioned above, seem worth recording. Excerpts from forthcoming books, that probably will be published, but might not, may be worth recording if there is a chance that the book never comes out, is long delayed, or comes out is very different form. But if the book does come out and there is no significant textual difference (not counting minor copy-editing as significant) then we can probably safely delete the excerpt, IMO. I'm not sure on other cases. But what ever the decision, i think we should come to a consensus, at least on the clearcut cases, and update the help pages accordingly. -DES Talk 13:46, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)

I'm leaning towards only including excerpts of books not already present: I'm currently NOT including excerpts if we have the forthcoming book already, unless on numbered pages. That keeps my workload down as I don't tend to buy new books with this problem. I'm never particularly keen to delete contents already here though - it might be a useful pointer to somebody wondering whether to buy a book to be reminded they own an excerpt already. BLongley 14:11, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)
Another discussion I'd like to reopen is whether it's acceptable to move a section like this to the bottom of the page if it becomes active again after some time - given that we tend to archive in order of creation rather than latest activity, it would save losing sight of active discussions. BLongley 14:11, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)

Amazon Images

OK, it seems clear that Amazon aren't going to keep their '01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg' URLs stable. Consequently, I'm not going to use them any more, and would encourage everyone else NOT to Verify such pub entries: but I HOPE that the g-ec1/2/3 URLs are stable enough to continue with. Anyone else have evidence about THOSE URLs stability? I don't mind so much if they very occasionally disappear, but I don't want them changing to something wrong. BLongley 15:02, 5 Aug 2007 (CDT)
I'm now also very much in favour of moving hosts, or at least getting permission from our current hosts to upload our own cover-scans. I've got over 400 uploaded to the UK Amazon site and 170 to the US one, but if they're not going to be reliably useful then I'd rather the ISFDB has them stored instead. It's only about 170MB of images so far, and even if I did my full collection of books that's under a Gigabyte. Make it two or three gigabytes if I do the magazines and fanzines currently in my possession (if the scanner doesn't wear out!). BLongley 15:02, 5 Aug 2007 (CDT)
I guess what we do in the long-term is up for debate depending on the answer to the first question, but for now I suggest all Editors and Moderators try and switch '.LZZZZZZZ.jpg' URLs for g-ec1/2/3 URLs instead, ESPECIALLY the ones that are currently linking to nothing. (Who knows what could appear there in the end?) BLongley 15:02, 5 Aug 2007 (CDT)

I certainly agree that we are currently at the mercy of Amazon.com as well as other third party hosting sites and few things are more irritating than seeing one's work destroyed or at least compromised. Hosting our own images would solve this problem, but it would also raise a few other issues. First, we would be exposed to a variety of legal issues that we are currently (mostly) insulated from. Second, it would raise disk space and especially bandwidth requirements tremendously, which would not only make our backup files much larger, but would also make it more difficult to choose another reasonably priced hosting solution if we were to decide to move. I suppose the backup question could be solved by creating two backup files, one for pictures and one for text data, but the disk size/bandwidth question may prove to be problematic and we will probably want to run some calculations first. Also, IIRC, Al did a fair amount of research in the ever murky copyright area at some point and hopefully he will be able to weigh in shortly.
P.S. I am sorry I have been mostly inactive over the last week, too many other things going on :( Ahasuerus 21:43, 6 Aug 2007 (CDT)
Well, I'm not talking about pinching Amazon's images and storing them locally, just keeping control of our own images. I could host all mine on one of my own sites and link to that but that's not necessarily stable (I have switched ISPs before when they've changed terms and conditions unfavourably) and I'm not acquiring a server of my own just for that purpose if we can all club together. There's no bulk updates available here if I had to move them, either: of course Al could just update the prefix in SQL if necessary but he could also do that if we had to do an emergency take-down if legal problems ever did arise. How many of us are we talking about anyway? I've only noticed my and Marc Kupper's image libraries so far, are any others of us uploading? It might be quite a small problem in the end. BLongley 12:10, 7 Aug 2007 (CDT)

(Unindent) It seems we might have to decide sooner rather than later. More and more Amazon pictures are becoming "Search Inside" only, and when that happens we only seem to know how to create the '.LZZZZZZZ.jpg' URL. Which is not stable for anything currently in print. I've worked around a few - if it's a US pub that went "search-inside" only, the UK site might have a g-ec1/2/3 image, and vice versa. But this might be time to admit that all Amazon '.LZZZZZZZ.jpg' images are only ever going to be reliable for CURRENT editions, in which case it might be time to move them to "Title" level. Except we'd have to show the latest hc/tp/pb editions for each country to be sure of even that. :-( BLongley 19:18, 1 Sep 2007 (CDT)

I'm still uploading new images to Amazon, especially with my out-of-print editions, but really want a better solution as to where we can store OUR scans, if we're not going to be able to rely on Amazon. Is it time to talk to WikiMedia or suchlike if we're still too scared to store them ourselves? BLongley 19:18, 1 Sep 2007 (CDT)

One for the "EXACT title, including all punctuation and special characters" crowd

I've verified this pub as it DOES have the "®" (registered trademark character, (R) if it doesn't come through on your browser.) If it didn't have the "The author gratefully acknowledges the kind permission granted by Technicolor Corporation of America for the use of its trade name and registered trademark in the title of this book" I'd probably complain about the lack of a "U" for the British publication instead, but for once I'm going to be particularly anal about this and see if people REALLY want to be absolutely correct about things. ;-) BLongley 16:57, 5 Aug 2007 (CDT)
We've already decided (informally) that apostrophes don't matter, how about a character that could get us sued if we don't use it in the right places? Maybe a "©" (copyright character like (C) or somesuch) or "™" (trademark character (TM) or suchlike) is important at times? Do those even appear correctly to you? If we need to use them, do we need a standard way of representing them? If we don't, can we agree when we don't need to be so anal about when it's an Em-dash or an En-dash, double-quote or single-quote, whether we use a colon or a dash between title and sub-title, etc? I'm leaning towards simplicity, or at least to making sure searches find ALL the English variations in one go, but I'm open to suggestions. BLongley 16:57, 5 Aug 2007 (CDT)

I don't see an ® on the front cover. Is it on the title page? There is a comment that the cover and spine don't include the leading "The" in the title but the comments are silent regarding ®. You included this quote "The author gratefully acknowledges the kind permission granted by Technicolor Corporation of America for the use of its trade name and registered trademark in the title of this book". I assume this is something stated in the publication? If so, it seems like a useful thing to add to the publication notes.Marc Kupper (talk) 02:50, 14 Aug 2007 (CDT)
Yes, and it will be: however, I'd like to gather some views on whether I should remove the "®" or change it to (R) or leave it as is before I try and explain WHAT the differences are. BLongley 14:08, 14 Aug 2007 (CDT)
As for your general questions. I suspect publications should stick with plain-text ASCII text as much as possible with an exception made for foreign language characters. We already diverge from EXACT duplication of the title in that we often enter "title: sub-title" where the publication often indicates the sub-title by changing the font or with a line break. Sometimes it's tough to tell what the exact title is and in that case I add publication notes.
I believe the goal to keep in mind is that we are trying to document publications well enough that someone else can determine if they have the same publication or should create a new record.
A secondary goal is I try to document things that can cause confusion. Your pub is a perfect example of this where people may state the title as
  • The Technicolor® Time Machine
  • Technicolor® Time Machine
  • The Technicolor Time Machine
  • Technicolor Time Machine
  • The Technicolor (r) Time Machine
  • Technicolor (r) Time Machine
  • I won't get into the variants of the form "Technicolor® Time Machine, The"
Thus it's great that you already noted that the title on the title page is different than the cover/spine as it will explain to someone researching this over the Internet on why there's so little consistency with the title in book lists and seller listings. Marc Kupper (talk) 02:50, 14 Aug 2007 (CDT)
I think the worst for this pub is that some Queen's-English-speaking people will look for "Technicolour" :-(
But yes, it's a good example pub which is why I used it here. I also find searching for titles with "(r)" or "(tm)" in leads to titles that need to be reworked to strip out series names, which some people seem to like to leave in at the publication level. I don't, but sometimes am forced to as the series title IS the title of the first book, here for instance.
Among the other things I hoped people would be inspired to discuss are " versus ' in author names for instance. " breaks a lot of searchy thingies and I suspect a lot of authors have been altered to something that WORKS rather than what is actually THERE - e.g. a lot of E. E. "Doc" Smith titles may actually be here as E. E. 'Doc' Smith. Titles too: I try searching for Childhood's End and don't actually find the novel - just covers, essays and reviews - so there's something wrong with apostrophes still.
Enforcing ASCII submissions only would remove all foreign language support so we can't do that, but suggestions for the regularisation and/or removal of some awkward character combinations on submission should make this site more useful. And suggest quick, while Al is still around! ;-) BLongley 14:08, 14 Aug 2007 (CDT)

Cover art that gets reworked

Visco suggests that the British covers of Astounding (for instance) are repainted and so not entirely down to the original artist... so should the cover on the left be van Dongen and the one on the right NOT?
ASF_0342.jpg ASF1_0176.jpg
I've credited him on the British entry (and it does in the publication itself, although there are other problems with that pub, see "Verification Requests") but obviously Visco has a slight disagreement, should we? BLongley 14:58, 19 Aug 2007 (CDT)

My opinion - go with the credit. Unless there is some reputable source. If it was retouched it may have been by van Dongen. If I had a restored van Gogt it would still be a van Gogt.--swfritter 12:48, 11 Sep 2007 (CDT)

Volume Number, Issue Number, Whole Number

It is a common practice to place Volume and Issue numbers or Whole issue numbers in the Notes field. There appears to have been no standard when this practice began so they have not been entered in a regular manner. Using SQL I determined from the last backed up dataset that of the more than 1500 note fields for magazine entries almost two thirds of them use the format 'Vol n, No n.' (example - Vol 12, No 10.). The second most common method is 'Vol. n, No. n'. Since the first has become a sort of de facto standard I suggest that it be implemented as the documented standard. The other issue is Whole issue numbers (which are sometimes also listed with Volume and Issue number) which do not have such a clearly defined de facto standard. The most common way Whole issue numbers seem to be listed is as 'Issue #n' (example, Issue #122.). I suggest that all such information be listed in a standard format no matter how it is listed in the magazine. F&SF, for example, uses roman numerals for Volume number. They would be converted to decimal numbers as described above. SQL used - SELECT p.`pub_title`, n.`note_note`, p.`pub_ctype` FROM isfdb.pubs p, isfdb.notes n WHERE p.`note_id` = n.`note_id` AND p.`pub_ctype` = 'MAGAZINE' AND n.`note_note` LIKE '%Vol%' ORDER BY p.`pub_title`;--swfritter 11:07, 1 Sep 2007 (CDT)

OK, I'll try and translate this back to what I think you're asking:
"Volume Number" should be abbreviated as "Vol" with no period after it. "Issue Number" (within "Volume Number") should be entered as "No" with no period after it. The actual numbers that follow each should be in Arabic numerals rather than Roman Numerals or being spelled out in full text. The Volume and Issue are separated by one comma, with a single space after it to separate the two parts.
So examples of Bad Format are "Volume one, number one" or "Volume 1 - Number 1" or "Volume #1, Number #1" or "Vol II, Number IX" or "March issue of Volume 23". Even "Vol 12 ,No 10" are out as the space is in the wrong place, before the comma rather than after it. Is that the sort of thing you're asking for? (As for whole number, I think you're just asking for A standard, leaning towards a "#" prefix?) BLongley 18:44, 1 Sep 2007 (CDT)
Yes, you read it correctly. I would not classify other formats as bad but rather inconsistent. If at some time new fields are added to store this information it will be much easier to convert the data.--swfritter 19:19, 1 Sep 2007 (CDT)
Good, my ability to convert vague English back to vague Tech-speak hasn't failed me just yet then. ;-)
I've no objection to this being added as the "desired" or even "ideal" format for adding notes about Volume and Issue numbers to the notes field. So long as you're not hoping for an automated script to populate such new fields (too dangerous)- I agree a standardised format will help people find the data in notes, and then make the necessary edits though. I could do with a similar standardisation with the "printing number" issues with books. :-/
Still, very few people seem to be discussing standards now (See entry above for example) so thanks for bringing this up for discussion at least. (And good job with the SQL - I keep finding where my assumptions break down, but access to raw data and an inquisitive mind are useful.) BLongley 19:40, 1 Sep 2007 (CDT)
If Al becomes once again available in the next week or two, he should be able to tell us whether adding "new fields ... to store this information" ("volume", "number", "whole number"?) is something that could be implemented quickly. Perhaps we could wait until then to avoid formulating provisional guidelines that become obsolete in less than a month? Ahasuerus 22:03, 1 Sep 2007 (CDT)
I need to check and see if I won the lottery last night. If we could pay Al to do this full time... It would be a time-consuming but trivial task to manually edit magazines with existing data and type the data into new fields. I will continue to enter the data in the Note field so I don't have to dig out my magazines. And, of course, there is Other Worlds which was suspended in 1953. Upon being resurrected it was given a dual numbering system based upon the original run of Other Worlds and the numbering system of Universe which was published during the interim. Luckily that was not a common practice.--swfritter 08:19, 2 Sep 2007 (CDT)
The latest issue of F$SF is a double issue designated as Vol 5 & 6. Whole number 666. The fields will have to be freeform text fields to account for such variations.--swfritter 15:08, 11 Sep 2007 (CDT)
I had been using the format as noted in the publication. I've thought about adding a mechanism to ISFDB to supports arbitrary additional fields for a publication. There would be a fields table that has a list of the supported field names and for each perhaps a data type (string, numeric, etc.). The pubfields table would have pub_id, field_id, value. Most publications would not have additional data but for those that do they would be displayed just before the notes. This would allow for constructing SQL queries for the additional fields. Marc Kupper (talk) 02:33, 12 Sep 2007 (CDT)
I too have been using the format as noted in the publication (including capitalization). It makes it a lot easier not to have to remember some standard unless there is a real need to query on the field. I think that Marc's suggestion on optional fields has a lot of merit and would make it easier to convert the 1500 records that already contain this data. rbh 23:12, 12 Sep 2007 (CDT)

"Real" Publisher problems

All are verified UK Corgi editions.

bf13f96642a01d80f3505110.L.jpg 51BDGVWC8XL.jpg 0ec236c622a0f52821a74110.L.jpg

I can spot the odd one out, as it's the US Bantam book

9af5228348a03f8b8bbee010._AA_.L.jpg

with pricing adjusted. Do we want separate entries for such? "Every edition of every book" is beginning to look like an undesirable pain again. Do we need to add actual Printer details or just narrow the intentions of the Rules of acquisition a little? BLongley 19:39, 8 Sep 2007 (CDT)

Why is "Every edition of every book" beginning to look like an undesirable pain again? If two publications can be distinguished then each would get their own record. A while ago back I bought Amazon.com 0345427653 and then accidentally bought a second copy as I did not realize the thing had multiple covers and thus thought I did not have the book. The two books/covers I have are character for character identical other than the front/back cover images, the color of the text on the flaps, and the barcode on the back was shifted so it would not distract from the back cover image. I just verified one of them [2], cloned the record, and verified that one too[3]. If someone comes along with one of the two other covers and it's also a first printing then they can clone/verify too. Marc Kupper (talk) 02:21, 14 Sep 2007 (CDT)
Every edition of every book makes sense. Every printing of every edition of every book makes absolutely no sense.--swfritter 07:28, 14 Sep 2007 (CDT)
In this case, I can't say if the Bantam Book overprinted "Corgi" IS a different edition until someone clarifies the rules on overprinting at least. Corgi don't admit it exists as a Corgi book on later printings. It appears to be the original Bantam edition, stated as printed in the USA. You could argue it's the Zeroth printing of the Corgi book, or a different printing of the Bantam edition, or just the Bantam edition with a foreign price on. As we don't demand recording of ALL the prices on a book that could leave the extra price as irrelevant, the Bantam edition is enough. Or we can clarify which publisher should be recorded - if Spine or Copyright page overrides Front Cover it's Bantam still. As it stands, this pub casts doubt on publishing date, publisher, pricing, and printing numbers, which is why I bring it up as an example. At least the other problem I brought up with US/UK editions sharing ISBNs could be solved with the printer details, this one can't, which is why I'm tempted to ignore the pub entirely. BLongley 13:16, 14 Sep 2007 (CDT)
I see other minds have found this problem too tricky, and Tony has FIVE editions already... 15:22, 21 Sep 2007 (CDT)

Ellipsis

Help currently says: An ellipsis should be entered as the sequence "space", "period", "space", "period", "space", "period". It seems, from a quick search of titles for ". . ." and "..." that we haven't been following this guideline and have instead been preserving exactly what we see on the publication, to the extent that there are variant titles differing only in whether we have spaced the periods or not. I suggest we DO keep a rule for regularisation, but have one that matches what we actually DO enter. I've changed help before (we obviously didn't prefer "Ph. D." over "Ph.D." so I changed the help in 3 places and fixed two authors, rather than dozens of Authors to match help), it isn't that controversial. BLongley 16:45, 2 Oct 2007 (CDT)

My vote is for "..." with no space before, one space after if it's in the middle of a title. All other views welcome, but let's try and make a decision before someone (probably swfritter, who brought this to my attention, my thanks to him) goes off doing 200+ cosmetic edits! The good news is that we can probably fix ALL titles programmatically if and when we can come to a consensus. Can we try for a five-day decision time on this like we do with more important things like moderator status? BLongley 16:45, 2 Oct 2007 (CDT)

I was tempted to make the same suggestion until I started searching the internet for justification. All the major style sheets say use the spaces. I did find one reference which suggested that the standard might be changing. Do you change a standard just because everyone is doing it wrong? swfritter 18:08, 2 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Actually, yes. That's one way that English evolves: e.g "An ewt" becomes "A newt". I know I'm very possessive of English English over Other Englishes, but so long as we can recognise where we diverge (I'm still keeping the "u" in "colour" for instance, and "grey" over "gray", and will variant as necessary) I'm perfectly happy to keep the differences in spelling, but let's please harmonise the punctuation if we can, or just say "it doesn't matter". But if it doesn't matter then we need to change the software for the "copy and paste" searchers. BLongley 18:46, 2 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Some publishers actually use vary narrow spaces in order to adhere to the standard. But we do use the emerging standard of sorting by 'The', 'A', and 'An' at the beginning of a title. The barbarians are at the gate. Changing them - low priority. When was the last time you put ellipsis in a title search?--swfritter 18:08, 2 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Searching with ellipsis? Only when checking things here... :-/
Amazon and other sites removing a leading "The" is something I seem to have to live with. :-/ Making them a trailing ", The" probably doesn't hurt any more. Those DO hurt searches, judging by the number of people I've introduced to the internet in general. Although the biggest barrier to getting people to use this site seems to be that a basic search will turn up reviews and covers as well, to the extent that they sometimes can't spot what they really wanted to search for. But that's probably a separate discussion. Worth having though, although it will need Al to change it if we think it needs it. BLongley 18:46, 2 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Alphabetizing correctly would be a huge task. The best way to do it is to leave the titles as they are and add a new hidden field with the title converted behind the scenes to a correctly sortable string. With the capacity to search by strings it is not as important as when everything was done on paper and you had to manually look through many index cards or catalog pages. Some advanced user-friendly search mechanisms at some time hopefully. I'm getting used to it but there was a major cringe factor for me when first using musicmatchjukebox and itunes. Old school. I will not rise to the bait and chide you for using the ellipsis incorrectly above. I assume you used the 'skinny space' key.--swfritter 19:23, 2 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I am inclined to support "..." as opposed to ". . ." to make life easier for people who search the database and add data, but it's not a big deal either way as long as we stay consistent. I can write a script that identifies duplicates ("..." vs. ". . .") and alternatively spelled titles, but it would take Al to do the cleanup since I don't have "write access" to the TAMU database. Ahasuerus 20:57, 2 Oct 2007 (CDT)
"..." is fine with me. I didn't bring up the issue earlier because I could find no justification in the standard sheets and I figured someone would be a stickler for adhering to the published standards. New standards emerge all the time based upon common usage. I ain't adverse to changing standards of English usage. It might be just as easy to manually change the 255 entries that are done "correctly". I can do the 'According to You...' titles again, more than 1/3 of the total, if others want to volunteer for the rest. A script would be the proper method if we opt for ". . .".--swfritter 10:02, 3 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I'd suggest a script either way. Coincidentally, I fixed a two-dot ellipsis today from a primary source: but there are 14 four-dot ones to look at. Most seem to be cartoons. BLongley 12:03, 3 Oct 2007 (CDT)
During my research I think I remember I encountered mention of a valid four dot ellipse and there are also rules about putting a period at the end of sentence which ends with an ellipse. I guess it's a matter of the way the caption is printed in the original publication. I am more than OK with a script but am still willing to volunteer.--swfritter 14:26, 3 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I think you're far more usefully employed as a Mentor to new editors here, and as a Magazine specialist, but it's not for me to tell you what you should work on. I know I've gone off and created things like this series (Is that still a record-holder?) to AVOID other work I didn't want to do at the time: it was very therapeutic. The reason for most of my Rules and Standards questions is so that we stop working against each other as soon as possible, leaving less work to be UNdone. Scripts will improve a lot of things eventually (I've written hundreds over the last few years for various companies and systems) but they're rarely perfect (e.g changing ". . ." to "..." universally won't fix the variants we have set up for such). So feel free to do the changes manually, but I suspect we can fix 200+ with a script (if and when Al is available) and then just tidy up the remainder manually (we humans are NOT obsolete yet!). BLongley 15:08, 3 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I vote for adhering to standard English practice, which is periods with spaces. My writer's handbook says three periods for a break in the middle of a sentence. If the break is at the end of the sentence, retain the end punctuation followed by the ellipsis, so there will be four periods, the first with no space, if the sentence ends in a period.--Rkihara 16:45, 8 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I am on the fence with this one mostly because there is a standard practice (albeit an incorrect standard practice) and because we can always use a script if we decide to change policy again. Although I am willing to accept '...' I would prefer to do it correctly. Using '...' makes The ISFDB look more like a hobby database than a reliable research database. It currently is somewhere in between. My opinion changed somewhat when copying and pasting from Baen's Universe and noticing that one of their stories had ellipsis in the title and the ellipsis had spaces. As I mentioned above you don't notice them in print because they use narrow spaces.--swfritter 17:55, 8 Oct 2007 (CDT)
We need a final decision on this one. Arguments for using spaces: It is currently a documented standard in the ISFDB; it is the standard English practice. Arguments against: "..." is the most commonly used format used in the ISFDB by a huge ratio and it will necessitate more data cleanup even after running a script. The average person is not aware of the difference and is likely to type in '...' in the rare event that they search using the ellipsis as part of the title.--swfritter 18:12, 11 Oct 2007 (CDT)
My vote: Use the current standard with spaces.--swfritter 18:12, 11 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Since there is no consensus and there are good arguments on both sides, I agree with sticking with the Help pages and changing all "..."s to ". . ."s. Perhaps Al could add additional logic to the Search program to pad ellipses with space automagically at some point. Ahasuerus 23:10, 11 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Assigning Dates to Serials in Magazines

This initial conversation for this subject is here The documentation Date - Serializations on the date to assign dates to serial installments is ambiguous. The issue involves the following cases:

1) The serialization is published before the novel is published in book form: Standard practice is that the installments of the serial are assigned the date of the magazine in which they appear. The date of the book publication of the novel is the publication date of the book.

2) A serialized novel has previously been published in book form: Standard practice to be determined. Blongley is currently researching common practices. Options are - assign the date of the magazine in which it appears to each installment or assign the date of the book publication to each installment.

3) A serialized novel is published again in serial form: Standard practice to be determined. Subsequent serializations of the novel often do not have the same number of installments and if they do the the installments may not contain the same portions of the novel.

4) A serialized novel has been published before in both serial and book form. Standard practice to be determined.--swfritter 15:34, 6 Oct 2007 (CDT)

I don't think there is any controversy about case 1. I think that the same logic that is applied in Case 1 should apply in the other cases. Installments of serials should have the date of the publication in which they occur. That will result in a common simply implemented and easily documented solution. Serials are commonly modified for their publication in magazines. Giving the installments the date of the magazines in which they appear would make an implicit statement that the serializations have a variant quality. Because of the way serializations are displayed with novels in author bibliography pages the association between them is quite clear . Implementation of cases 3 and 4 in any other manner is problematic and can result in disputes about the original source of the text. In addition there are display issues if installments of serials published at a different time are given the same common date. See this confusing entry done by yours truly.--swfritter 15:34, 6 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I agree that the best way to handle these cases would be to use the actual magazine date for all Serial Titles. The weightiest argument I can think of is the fact that a number of reprint magazines (e.g. Famous Fantastic Mysteries) significantly (and notoriously) abridged texts when they reprinted them. Thus in many cases the first serialization was not the same as the first book publication, which, in turn, was not the same as subsequent serialization(s). Ahasuerus 16:07, 6 Oct 2007 (CDT)
From looking at almost 3,000 Serial entries here today, I agree the best option for the Serial entries is to record the magazine month of publication against the Serial episode. This was the best example of a series reprinted in different lengths: it doesn't display perfectly at times, depending on how you come across it: separating the 1932 and 1967/68 versions may help. This other example needs some fixing still, as it involves variant authors as well. I believe the first book publication can remain with the book being dated with the first book publication, with the usual caveats about a major revision being noted somehow. The most common "reprint of a serial" does seem to be as "(Complete Novel)" which is its own can of worms - see all the Spinoff discussions from the Data Consistency projects BLongley 16:19, 6 Oct 2007 (CDT)


I think we are in agreement here. The date of a serial installment receives the date of the publication in which it appears irrespective of whether the serial has appeared in any other form be it book or prior serialization. Book publication dates are still independent of serial appearances. If there is no objection in the next few days I will modify the Help.--swfritter 17:59, 11 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Go for it! I will write a script to search for Serial records whose associated Publications have a different publication date. Ahasuerus 22:28, 11 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Merging Artwork

I have just updated Help to indicate that artwork should not be merged. Can anyone think of any execptions. I did merge some of the reprint cartoons in Fantastic but cartoons are a special case. The possible cases where merging might make sense are multiple pieces of artwork for a single story and reprinted artwork but I think any such standard for implementation is far in the future.--swfritter 17:57, 22 Oct 2007 (CDT)

I've been tempted, as over 11% of our title records are COVERART, and there's nothing special enough on those records to keep them separate. (The actual Cover-art URLs are at publication level anyway.) But merging those would only bring that down to 8-9% or so. I wouldn't ban it, as someone might want to reduce the size of an artist's page for clarity, but there's little reason to try and hunt down 7000 dup titles, unless Al is really having problems with the size of backups. BLongley 15:51, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
The problem with merging artwork records is that it's hard to be sure that they are indeed identical. Publishers have been known to change the artwork from printing to printing in various subtle ways. Ahasuerus 16:19, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
There's nothing on the COVERART record that would help with that though. If there's something planned to improve that, sure, keep them separate for now: but as it stands, all that they do is possibly confuse people about how old the picture may be. BLongley 05:59, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I think I tend to think of the act of merging two Coverart Titles as a positive statement: "Yes, we are sure that these two editions/printings of this book have the same cover art". As long as we have one cover art record per edition/printing, we implicitly admit that we are not sure that they are the same. Does this make sense or am I over analyzing the issue? :) Ahasuerus 14:44, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
If we want to read it that way, then we should have guidelines as to when it IS appropriate to merge them. Otherwise it's a pub-level field and has no justification for a separate existence.
We do seem to have some examples: e.g. this The Colour of Magic COVERART record is used in 3 places, and I can personally confirm that the first and third uses are correct, the artwork is identical. The covers in their entirety are slightly different, but that's usually down to a rearrangement of the title or author names, or review/award blurb. US books with prices and serial numbers on the front rather than the back probably need even more front-cover images to distinguish publications, but the artwork itself still varies far less often than printing-by-printing.
Obviously, merging WITHOUT a knowledge of the artwork used might cause people to think for instance, that this edition had exactly the same art as the ones above. It clearly doesn't, but you'll only ever see that by looking at the publication. To make the individual COVERART records useful, they should have a picture of JUST the artwork, no extra text on them. We're unlikely to find such unadulterated images for most artwork: although as I own this title I could buy an A3 scanner and do it, although I don't know where I would post such. And I own this book and could do a smaller version on my A4 scanner. I suppose I could overwork the notes to link to such, but whenever I find myself posting hyperlinks in a notes field I wonder why I'm having to do so.
In summary: I think the COVERART records can be safely merged without losing any information, UNLESS there is a plan to make them useful in future. I also think there is probably no real need TO merge them though, except when people do want to try and find all the art by a particular artist, in which case identical images should be merged so that people don't buy 46 editions of the same book hoping to find one with the best picture... if people care, then perhaps we should discuss the possibility of "Canonical Artwork", where we identify the best picture? (Which of course, may well not be the FIRST.) BLongley 16:14, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I think Al may have had plans to do something about the Coverart records, but we should probably ask his opinion about the whole thing anyway since he has a particular interest in SF art. Ahasuerus 16:54, 28 Oct 2007 (CDT)
P.S. Forgot to mention that the backups are not something that we need to worry about when deciding whether to merge Title records. The text in the Wiki accounts for 75+% of the size of the backup file. We are a talkative bunch... Ahasuerus 18:52, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
It affects the size of the backup available to us more than the main backup, true. BLongley 05:59, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I really think we all have enough to do without worrying about this one. Future consideration please?--swfritter 17:03, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Well, some of us have nothing left to do here except sort/fix existing stuff according to current debatable rules. This topic can probably be archived with no harm done (we can drag it back later if needed), but I'd leave it up for a few days in case anyone has a strong opinion. BLongley 18:53, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Hm, nothing left to do? It so happens that I have a few hundred MBs worth of bibliographic data from library catalogs saved off for subsequent processing. It may take a few weeks to get it parsed and organized unless you want me to e-mail the raw files to you? :-) I am also working on Publication data cleanup similar to the Title-Pub mismatch tables that were generated a couple of weeks ago; with luck, that data should be ready in a day or two. Ahasuerus 16:54, 28 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Did I make "except sort/fix existing stuff" sound like a trivial task, to be completed soon? I've got years of it still, before descending into mostly unimportant stuff like above. (And remember Artist's pseudonymous publications have to be sorted at some point too!) No, I think I'll carry on dabbling in various areas rather than tackle a big clean-up: a forgotten author or an unassembled series or a set of common typos or zapping some non-SF manga or finding some art for a favourite title or such can be much easier yet more satisfying. BLongley 14:17, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
However, I do think it's worth discussing some of these issues even if they aren't important to US at this time, when it's not necessarily a trivial problem for our USERS. I suspect most of us are using the ISFDB facilities in an advanced way for our own data-entry purposes, and forgetting what someone just interested in getting data OUT is like. Put yourself in the position of someone doing a simple title look-up on a well-known publication like 'Foundation'. Yes, we all know there were several books with that word in the title, so WE would expect multiple results, but look at what actually happens. You get a page that's over 80% COVERART records and can't get to the other 118 that contain the book they're looking for! Yes, the display of results over multiple pages needs to be looked at, and what you actually should get back from a SIMPLE title search is questionable (People seem to expect it to return books or magazines or stories, but not art, and they're often surprised by essays too) - but those are programming changes. In the short term we could alleviate that by merging COVERART records for the worst offenders at least, making at least the common reasonable searches stick to less than 100 records: which is why proposing that we make it official that we leave art alone is definitely arguable. We're doing a lot of things that are making things WORSE for some people in the short term, and unless we're going to put up a big "Closed for renovations" sign we should think about these things as and when they're brought up. And not just for a day or two - it's taken me a few to come across this side-effect, as I only put myself in a normal user's shoes about once a week. I think we should all do that more often. BLongley 14:17, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
At this time I think we should consider The ISFDB to be primarily a data entry tool. At some point in time perhaps there will be the capability for online reports, etc.--swfritter 14:33, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I'm not so sure: I like to show off what I'm working on, and at times I've been a bit embarrassed by the half-finished areas. We still work pretty well for our speciality areas, so hopefully we don't disappoint out visitors from Wikipedia etc coming on a direct link: but some of our use as a research tool is currently a bit broken for the casual user, although an advanced user should still be able to get stuff working. Maybe Al can let us know what the logs say about use of this site? (If Squid hasn't hidden all the useful info.) Is it just us, or are people coming here still in the meantime? BLongley 14:53, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
When I said primarily I did not mean to impy that it has no use as a user database. Primarily was probably too strong a word. I think the first order of business would be some filtering mechanisms - radio boxes, etc. that would allow the user to search for fiction only, novels only, essays only, etc.--swfritter 18:27, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Series in Fantasy and Science Fiction

I'm thinking of generating several series in F&SF to gather up the book reviews, and other long running departments. I have several questions about this. In the series i.d. I would like to use F&SF, instead of the full title, so I would like to use for example "Recommended Reading (F&SF, Month Year), [Recommended Reading]" rather than using the full canonical title, e.g., "Recommended Reading (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Month Year), [Recommended Reading]. Also, the book column changed names over the history of the magazine, so would it be better to give the series a generic titles such as "Book Reviews, F&SF" or should I start a new series for every title change?--Rkihara 13:12, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)

One way to handle related series is to record them separately and then create a superseries that encompasses them. Ahasuerus 15:06, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
We could do with breaking some series up into smaller chunks anyway for display purposes. (Is this still our longest?) And yes, "F&SF" as an abbreviation is fine by me. BLongley 15:56, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Funny that a 1958 article should display at the bottom of an otherwise chronologically ordered list... Ahasuerus 16:19, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Perhaps we should refer to the the title used in magazine series as the "series canonical title". See this as a rudimentary attempt to break a series down but notice the sorting problem. Off the top of my head I am wondering if we could put the second level series into a dummy publication so that series numbers could be accessed. This is certainly the time to institute standards before it would require massive amounts of work to implement such a methodology. It was a mad scramble to try to institute policies on the fly as Davecat started entering series data. I'm glad his entries brought this issue forward and I am grateful that he has been so patient.--swfritter 18:14, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Oh, I forgot to mention that we don't have a "Series Number within its Parent Series" field yet, so subseries are displayed randomly at this point, e.g. see Harry Turtledove's bibliography. This limitation has caused some editors to eschew subseries as much as possible and use single series instead. Series are generally one of the weaker links in the current application -- see Open Series Bugs for details. Ahasuerus 18:23, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Back burner time for that one. But I can see how the concept will work well for series data that is not quite as dependent on sequentiality.--swfritter 18:56, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I've modified the F&SF magazine page to list the Essay Series in the style of swfritter's mod of the Analog page. I'm wondering if I should add the short lived series, obits, and maybe the Gahan Wilson cartoons. The "Editorial" and "Letters" departments were so infrequent that I'm considering leaving them out. Any opinions?--Rkihara 19:49, 26 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I wouldn't bother making series for anything that people wouldn't be likely to search out. E.g. The Asimov essays were notable enough to be reprinted several times, and it's conceivable that people will hunt for the remainder that never made it into a book, so that's worthwhile. I don't think we record anything useful enough about letters columns to make them worth searching for though, so that's probably not worth doing. BLongley 06:50, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Obituaries are an interesting point: obviously they're not a regular series (I can't think of any magazine that killed an author each month)
And they say we have run out of new ideas for SF magazines! Ahasuerus 13:11, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Now I know why "The Analytical Laboratory" is getting such attention! We obviously have a team of ISFDB Ninja Assassins ready to "cull the imperfect". Maybe "Publish and be damned" is getting too literal. Maybe I'm up too late and should go sleep... BLongley 19:04, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
but I can see myself wanting to find those easily, they often contain a lot of useful background material. Ideally they'd be setup like Interviews are: I'd like them easily findable, but from the deceased's Author page rather than from a Magazine I think. So a Series isn't really what we want, but I think we could do with some ideas on how to make these more visible. BLongley 06:50, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Good points about the obits, how about the Gahan Wilson cartoons? Gahan Wilson published a cartoon a month for fifteen years or so in F&SF.--Rkihara 11:46, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I'm not sure about that - how different would a Series of those cartoons be from his total "Interior Art" section when it's finished? If they're pretty similar, with only a few non-cartoons or cartoons in other magazines mixed in, it doesn't seem worthwhile. If it would be significantly different and people are interested in finding those cartoons in particular then maybe: but I've never searched for a cartoon. I personally wouldn't bother: just because you CAN put something in a series doesn't mean you SHOULD. BLongley 12:46, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)

(Unindent) I may be being particularly slow here, but can someone explain the reason for the "The Analytical Laboratory" series? I seem to be able to find all the relevant entries with a simple title search for "The Analytical Laboratory" - what added value does the Series give? BLongley 14:15, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Blongley is right about getting over-seriesifed. The letter column series would probably only make sense if we were entering letter writer data and clicking on the series entry took the user directly to the list of letters - maybe something we can do next decade. Editorials - probably only makes sense if the editorials are titled as they are in Analog. The same with science columns. Book review columns - putting them in a series does give a way to separate them out from the other essays - and makes it easier to find reviews written by a given reviewer. Cartoons - only if the individual cartoons are in someway connected other than just by author - the same logic as we use for stories should be used. The uniqueness principle should apply.--swfritter 14:19, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Now the the "The Analytical Laboratory" titles are being modified to include the months of the stories being rated I think the series does make sense. "In Times to Come" probably does not.--swfritter 14:31, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Are you hoping that Series Order gets fixed, or do you have a plan to number them in a meaningful way with the current display logic? The justification for the first series I did was mainly to avoid the need to create variants for every reprinted essay, if we could standardise the magazine entries. I don't think anything currently happening on the Magazines will have such a big effect on the Book side of things, but it does seem like there's a lot of unnecessary work being done. BLongley 14:49, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
More like a lot of unnecessary work was being done and we were just continuing to add data based upon what had been done before. "Analytic Laboratory" does sort correctly and they are much easier to access as a series rather than a search. I might note that the Analog series were probably created by the person who Verified them. Most were done in June and nobody questioned the submissions then.--swfritter 17:21, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I still can't see WHY anyone would want to access such anyway, we're not recording anything I'd find useful. But I can almost say that about REVIEW records too - the only time I look at those is to see if we're missing a publication record here. Adding a "Positive/Negative" flag on reviews would help (but that would make people stop and READ them), but I'm not going to buy a magazine to read a review to see if the book is any good when I can just buy the book for less. I'm also NOT going to buy a magazine to see if the review of entries in a past magazine makes THAT magazine worth buying. It's no problem for me if these get added and categorised, but just like the way you questioned "every printing of every book" as worthwhile, I can't see the point in some of these details. Please DO explain if there's something I'm missing here: otherwise just carry on and don't mind me. BLongley 18:31, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
What's in and what's out might be clearer if the ISFDB were to publish a "mission statement." Right now we're basically indexing and sorting SF related literature, but I've never seen a statement of what this database is ultimately trying achieve (maybe I don't know where to look?). Is this to be a quick reference for collectors, or will it some day be a research tool for scholars? I'm entering data from the viewpoint of a collector, but in the back of my mind is the thought that someday, someone may want to use this database for serious research into how science fiction has evolved. I don't think anyone will track down an old book review before buying a book, especially one that's fifty years old, but a scholar might be interested in seeing how critics initially received a book when it was first published. I still find Blish's collected essays, and Panshin's "Heinlein in Dimension valid today. Likewise, the AnLab scores have little relevance to a contemporary reader, as it reflects the tastes and attitudes of readers at that point in time.--Rkihara 20:53, 27 Oct 2007 (CDT)
This is where we fall between two stools - I'd sometimes read a review entered here, or at least like to know whether it's positive or negative. I'd look at AnLab scores in the same way people look at what position a pop record reached in the charts decades ago. It's all just a reflection of the times. But we're not quite recording ENOUGH for me to get that out of here (and we'd probably run into copyright problems if we did). We're just pointing out where I could find such, but in such expensive publications I would never use that info - telling me where to find a review or AnLab in a publication I don't own and wouldn't buy for that info is too much information. I have no problems if people record that though, so long as I can find all my short story and novel info, and notes about when editions differ or text was revised, etc, amongst the extra. BLongley 14:45, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)

(unindent)I think there are a number of reasons to organize related essays into series even when the information is accessible in other ways:

  1. It helps organize the Summary Bibliography pages of prolific editors like Campbell in a more structured way
  2. The search results page sorts Title alphabetically rather than chronologically
  3. Long series or series with common names may generate more than 100 hits when searching by title and the search results page shows only the first 100 hits
  4. If a user encounters an essay by itself or on a Summary page, he will immediately realize that it is a part of a series

Having said that, I don't think that creating Essay series is a high priority for us, but I wouldn't support deleting existing series, in part because few things are more discouraging to volunteer contributors than seeing their contributions disappear. Ahasuerus 00:33, 28 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Thank you. The first reason popped into my head at about 3:00 in the morning and it is reason enough to keep and expand the series data. Editors sometimes seem to leave as soon as they have entered all the data from their personal collections. They might stick around a little longer and continue to contribute if they realize there are other valuable things they can do.--swfritter 08:43, 28 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Well, obviously the value is debatable, but I have no intention in stopping you. I'm a bit concerned that seeing a magazine so comprehensively entered, cross-referenced, serialised, merged, noted, etc, may prevent new editors STARTING. This isn't a problem if the current editors finish the job, or find enough like-minded people to finish it, but I've looked at the current standards for magazine entry and decided it's too much like hard work for me to do entire issues totally correctly, as 50% is of no value to me - I'll probably dip in in specialist areas still, so long as there's no pressure to COMPLETE the entry, just IMPROVE the entry. (This probably harks back to previous discussions on when or what should be or is verified - but I am pretty sure I'm never going to verify a magazine now.) BLongley
Nobody should ever be expected to enter any more data than they wish to enter. If all anyone wants to enter is the title of a magazine, the editor and one story that is fine by me. I don't care if they assign a pseudonym. I don't care if they look for variant titles. I don't care if they put a page number. All I care about is that whatever data is entered is entered according to standards. And yes I am going to stick with it and I think there are others who will stick with it. And eventually millions of people are going to use it and appreciate it when they find that one tiny piece of data they were looking for. And I will be proud to have been associated with it.--swfritter 14:55, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)

(Unindent) Actually, you've touched on one other problem: the editor being mandatory for Magazines. I like to see the first publication of an SF story entered here in its first publication, even if it's a non-genre magazine, e.g Symbiosis, but the editor is a pain to find for non-genre magazines - any suggestions? Also, it seems that the link to the source reference is broken now, the FictionMags Index does not have stable URLs. Anyone got a better/more stable source? BLongley 18:04, 31 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Website links for deceased authors

Help for Author Data has been updated to clarify the guidelines for linking to deceased author websites.--swfritter 15:39, 28 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Modifying references to The Editor attributions with the mag name

Discussion continued from The Editor Problem. Magazine essays are often attributed to "The Editor". Our policy is to enter the author as listed. In this case it would simply be "The Editor". Since there is ambiguity in determining who is responsible for writing such essays we do not assign a pseudonym to such entries. Dana Carson suggested that such attributions might be more meaningful if we modified the name with the title of the publication. If such an essay appears in Analog the author would be "The Editor (Analog)". This has the positive aspect of placing all Analog essays credited to "The Editor" on one author biblio page. Any downside?--swfritter 17:19, 28 Oct 2007 (CDT)

I'm not fond of this suggestion. We have already determined that John W. Campbell, Jr. signed many of his columns as "The Editor", and Davecat has started creating variants so that they will appear on the JCWjr summary page. What good would it do to create a summary page for "The Editor (Analog)" since they would eventually be moved to the JCWjr page where the piece would be listed, for example, as "In Times To Come (Analog, February 1970) (1970) [as by The Editor (Analog)]"? And in the pub's content it would be listed as "In Times To Come (Analog, February 1970) • essay by John W. Campbell, Jr. [as by The Editor (Analog)]". God, I thought I was anal, but the time and effort to series-ize, variation-ize and summary-page-ize these magazine's continuing columns that are neither fiction nor true essays are too much even for me! I'll leave it up to you magazine guys to fight it out. Mhhutchins 22:13, 28 Oct 2007 (CDT)
See my note on your page. The pseudonym should not be assigned unless there is clear evidence that Campbell was the author.--swfritter 14:10, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
That's why I'm wondering if we have a "Mission Statement," or should make one. If the ISFDB is to be nothing more than the equivalent of an electronic "Day" index, then listing Book Reviews, Editorials, and other "departments," is a waste of time. On the other hand, if the "mission" of the ISFDB is to become the "Encyclopedia Galactica" of SF literat re, then we need to pay more attention to detail. As a "magazine" guy I'm for more detail. There's a lot of history and SF culture packed into those editorials, book reviews, interior art, and letters, not to mention the story intros. Books have a lot lot less SF cultural content, which is maybe the reason we're having this dispute over how complex magazine entry should be. I'm guessing that magazine people are on one side of the divide and book people are on the other side.--Rkihara 00:55, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Well, the front page currently states that "The ISFDB is a community effort to catalog works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It links together various types of bibliographic data: author bibliographies, publication bibliographies, award listings, magazine content listings, anthology and collection content listings, and forthcoming books."
We have also been branching out into other areas, e.g. we just recently added support for fanzines. We also list non-genre and non-fiction books by genre authors, which is more than most genre bibliographers do, and we catalog books and articles about speculative fiction. Just recently we added tentative support for author bios, although I don't think they have been used (much) yet. Of course, we also expanded our scope a while back by including e-books, self-published books and now e-zines with ISSNs.
Some of these new areas are still imperfectly defined. For example, our support for translations is quite poor and we have been discussing whether we want to handle them ourselves or whether we want to establish partnerships with foreign language sites.
I guess what it all adds up to is that we have been slowly expanding our scope/mission, a process that has been facilitated by the growth in the number of volunteer editors over the last ~18 months. To some extent it has been resource-driven, i.e. if there are active editors in a particular area, that area gets a lot of TLC and may be brought to a level above and beyond the rest of the database. I don't think it's a bad thing as long as we don't neglect other parts of the database too badly. Ahasuerus 07:49, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I'm happy to see more editors, and more data - if the "magazine editors" want to make sure every page of every magazine is accounted for, down to what advertisements appear on which pages, and whether the ads are numbered or not, that's fine by me. I just won't get anything out of it as I don't own the magazines: as stated somewhere above, you're just tantalising me with references to something I might LIKE to read! BLongley 15:34, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Given the scope of the project, it's pretty much inevitable that some of the data will be worthless to some users. Moreover, it's probably also inevitable that some editors will never touch some parts of the database. And That's OK Too (tm) ;-) Ahasuerus 21:58, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
The bibliographic work can be useful to me too, or pointless: several of us have books of scientific essays and I might like to track down the NON-reprinted ones. A review of a book that we don't have here is a useful pointer to go find out something about that book, and why we don't have it. BLongley 15:34, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
It so happens that this was the original reason to catalog reviews. We figured that anything that has been reviewed in a magazine is important enough to track down and catalog. Ahasuerus 21:58, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
But I'd like to know if the review slated the book or praised it, and we don't record that. I'd like to see the results of the AnLab entries - we don't have that. BLongley 15:34, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
It would be fairly hard to support the kind of data that AnLab columns contain programmatically given the variety of formats used by different columns. Do you think the Synopsis field would be a good place to enter this kind of data?Ahasuerus 21:58, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
When I have entered magazines with all their reviews, I find I have nowhere to record the edition of the book being reviewed, the ISBN, publisher, price, etc... all useful stuff, and yet I have to make separate data-entry passes for those and STILL see the reviews I entered being linked to different, incorrect, editions!
Yes, this is a known problem since Reviews and Serials are still linked with their associated records lexically. It's at the top of Al's list of priorities. Ahasuerus 21:58, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
We're constantly raising the standards here - people used to verify a book without adding contents, or page numbers, or checking contents matched the actual page numbers, or adding the printing number: they didn't check cover-artist credits, or to see if there was a cover-art image available on an approved site already. We've gently been nudging each other to gradually raise the bar, bit by bit: and we've left gaping holes in other areas (Who here has zapped some Manga this week? Moved a title to NONGENRE? Fixed a broken cover-image? Merged an orphan typoed author? Tried demonstrating how useful this site is to a newcomer?) BLongley 15:34, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I certainly agree that there are still huge gaping holes in our data. For example, we were missing more than half of John Keir Cross's works a few days ago, before I started hammering away at his biblio. That's why I have been working on ways to rectify the situation by writing data validation scripts as well as by tinkering with specialized software that will compare ISFDB records with the holdings of publicly accessible library catalogs like LOCIS, MELVYL, BL (too bad about SUTRS), etc. On the other hand, some of our editors are specialists who do excellent work in a few select areas and that's valuable too. Asking them to spend more time on the areas of the database that they are not familiar with (and possibly have little interest in) because those areas are in worse shape than their chosen areas would probably be counterproductive even in the short run. Ahasuerus 21:58, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I don't think we NEED a Mission statement, just keep considering what YOU want to get OUT of it, and put that IN. But DO consider what effect that has on other users in the meantime: Magazine and Book editors don't actually clash that often really, although we do have to be careful about Title-Merges and such, and there's always the "fix-up" problem that causes Book editors screaming headaches that a Magazine editor will rarely get. (How can we Shortfiction editors (I don't really consider myself "Book" editor) link to such unstable entries?) But I don't see us actually working against each other, just commenting on how much pressure we're possibly putting on new editors. BLongley 15:34, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Magazine Bibliographies and Replicating Other Sites' Data

A good example of what a magazine bibliography can be is Ray Lovell's F&SF Biblilography on the magazine's site. A bibliography this detailed is a lot of work, but it doesn't have to be done all at once. One way of handling this huge amount of data would be to break up data entry in tiers, each tier a higher level of detail. The tiers could be checked off as they're completed, in the same manner that the magazines are verified. A new editor could go through and complete just the lower level tiers without feeling overwhelmed, and with a feeling that he/she is accomplishing something, then come back later and do the next tier. Speaking of new editors, if we could get the SF magazines to link to this site, or a plug in one of the columns, then new editors will begin to show up with greater frequency.--Rkihara 16:39, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)

My instant first thought was "that site hurts my eyes, it's too small!" Still, that's a presentation problem, let's look at the data... seems reasonable enough, but not organised the way I would do it: and doesn't actually show the stuff I want to see prominently (the Speculative Fiction itself!). If that's a good site for magazine people why not leave it there if it's good enough to link to, and if not, maybe help improve that one rather than replicate the data here? I want improved data, that people will actually use. If it's already somewhere else we have no real reason to duplicate the effort - see my comments on foreign works that are already categorised nicely on other sites. Let's ADD value rather than copy stuff already out there. Yes, I know a lot of my recent activity is just making sure "Ace Doubles" link to a decent picture: that can be a stepping stone to making sure books exist (catching up on the "Visco Art" links that make us a bit more certain of some magazines) - but I don't bother copying data already out there if we can just point people the right way (and hopefully get people pointing back.) I personally don't want another dozen editors that will just add more detail to US magazines, I want editors that will add Canadian, South African, New Zealand, British, Irish, etc publications: I want to find all the short stories that never made it to a US magazine or book due to copyright reasons or suchlike: I even want to know when one of my favourite authors had a work ONLY published in a foreign language. (I'm probably not going to learn that language, but I might press someone for a translation!) I'm mainly against a "Mission Statement" as I don't want people to stop entering data here if they think it won't be appreciated - but I'd prefer people to enter new data, or cite better sources of data without reentering it, rather than encourage people to analyze existing stuff to death. I admit I don't actually want all of the current stated intention to "catalog works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror" - you can mostly skip the fantasy, and all of the horror as far as I'm concerned - but I'd prefer a dozen new editors filling in gaps in the actual SPECULATIVE FICTION than people adding details about a cigarette ad inserted between pages of a magazine. BLongley 18:16, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
What he said. Mhhutchins 18:41, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
So how else am I to account for the fact that the magazine has 134 numbered pages instead of the usual 132? Without that notation many people would assume that the page count was in error. --swfritter 19:00, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
As I said above, "just keep considering what YOU want to get OUT of it, and put that IN." You can enter whatever you like, in however much detail you want, in whatever order you want. I'm just pointing out that a lot of current activity isn't helping ME much, and may not be helping others much. If you have magazines not yet entered here at all, I'd like to see those. If there are magazines missing SF contents that you can provide, I'd like to see that information. If you can verify the SF content of a magazine that helps me a lot when I come across a reprint. If you enter a review of a book we don't know about here, someone else can go find the book. It's your right to go do what you want to do, and I'm not telling you what to do, but I'm suggesting things that you MIGHT be able to do that help more of us a lot sooner. If you like, suggest that I go try a few more British magazine submissions so that we can understand potential future problems a bit more: I'm comparatively flighty and have no problem with giving up a nice run on "Ace Doubles" for instance if another project helps. BLongley 16:43, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I've already exhausted my budget on the American magazines and really cannot afford to buy all the Canadian, South African, New Zealand, British, Irish, etc publications.--swfritter 19:00, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Oh, please do NOT spend money on ISFDB research! I fell into that trap and have six bags of spare books sitting beside me now... they were just so CHEAP at the time! I'm now semi-addicted to http://www.readitswapit.co.uk , where I can at least swap large books for smaller ones and HOPE to recover some space. My suggestion to you for "Canadian, South African, New Zealand, British, Irish, etc publications" is to find someone that has such and show them how to enter them here - I know you can mentor editors well, the next challenge is to mentor people entering unfamiliar publications. BLongley 16:43, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Re: "if it's already somewhere else we have no real reason to duplicate the effort - see my comments on foreign works that are already categorised nicely on other sites", there are a few issues here.
First and foremost, the Web is a very unstable medium. Earlier this year, while checking my 1994 "SF" bookmarks, I realized that none of them were still accessible, not even the .gov ones! More recently, we have repeatedly run into this problem with Amazon.com images. Heck, Wikipedia (which we link to) used to have a nice article about the ISFDB written by Al, which is now gone! Think how much work will be wasted if we spend hundreds of man hours linking to an online source that will then go belly up. On the other, once we have entered data in the ISFDB, it will likely remain there, although perhaps in a transmogrified form. Our backup files are publicly available and even if TAMU pulls the plug on us without a warning, we (or anybody else, really) should be able to re-launch the site within days or weeks. Ahasuerus 22:28, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I'm not surprised 1994 links are gone - I check ALL mine at least once a year, anything USEFUL at least once a month. It doesn't take hundred of hours to do so either. I'm talking top-level links like "For German SF works, try http://www.dsfdb.org/" - NOT replacing a pathetic entry like this with a link to a proper German entry. BLongley
Well, if we are talking about top level links to other sites, then we already have a section listing foreign language bibliographies which includes a link to www.dsfdb.org. If that's the scope of the proposed changes, then I am sure we can all agree that beefing that section up would be a good thing. Ahasuerus 18:56, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
However, if the proposal is to stop entering foreign language translations of English language titles altogether -- which we currently do as per the second paragraph of the Rules of Acquisition -- then I see a number of problems. Not only are many Web sites transient, but they also have all kinds of different user interfaces and they capture different data elements vis a vis the ISFDB. For example, it took me over a minute to find the linked edition of "Herovits Welt" on that German site and their record doesn't have as much information as ours, e.g. they are missing the ISBN. Moreover, the user interface is in German, so an English speaking user who is only interested in the bibliographic aspect of the edition (e.g. a Malzberg completist), would have a hard time navigating it. Also, not all foreign languages have a comprehensive site (the Russian site that I linked to is very good, but its coverage starts in 1999 and ends in 2006) and pointing a user to 2-3 language-specific sites is unlikely to be productive. Finally, as Al wrote in that (now drastically abridged and merged) Wikipedia article, "the major strength of the ISFDB is its integrated approach" and telling users to go find translations elsewhere would be a step in a different direction. And, of course, if there is a foreign language sequel to Harry Harrison's Deathworld trilogy, then we definitely want to display it in the ISFDB. Ahasuerus 18:56, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Having said that, I agree that the way we currently display foreign language publications is not very user friendly as Bill observed. Ideally, we would have separate Titles for foreign language translations that would be made into Variant Titles of English language Titles. We could then make language selection an option in each user's preferences and only display the selected languages when generating pages for that user (once we add language tags to all non-English Titles, that is). If a user doesn't sign in, then he gets to see all the Titles, which would be an incentive for new users to register. It doesn't sound like that much work for the programmer, but we'll have to wait for Al to see what he thinks about it. Ahasuerus 18:56, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Cooperative links too - they link to us, they link back: yes, it requires ambassadors, and regular vigilance as to when an equal site turns out to be not-so-equal. But that's still less work than re-entering all their data here, and keeping up-to-date with their changes. BLongley
Keep in mind that we can use a variety of sources to find foreign language translations, including (in the foreseeable future) automated uploads from library catalogs, so there may not be as much replication involved as one might expect. Ahasuerus 18:56, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
They are going to be just as suspicious of US - we haven't exactly had an up-time I'd boast about recently, and things like the tamu.edu/isfdb.org problems aren't helping. (A new ambassador to Wikipedia might well be useful at the moment though, they can't even get our name right in a lot of places.) You know OUR public backup files aren't as up to-date as we'd like, and if anything happens to Al we might be screwed over immensely. Why duplicate data available on another site when our site is so questionable? BLongley
We are certainly not perfect, but the same argument could be used re: Contento, the Locus Index and any other site whose data we have partially duplicated. I am not sure why translations would be any different. Actually, I would think that, if anything, adding translations to the ISFDB is somewhat more useful since we are creating title associations that may not be readily available elsewhere (see that Clarke/Baxter example that I posted yesterday). Ahasuerus 18:56, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I'm keeping all my Amazon-uploaded data ready to reinsert if (when?) they screw us over, and have to as we cannot rely on them - but I can't rely on here either. I seriously consider taking a break until the next backup is posted, I'm putting a lot of my effort into jeopardy. BLongley
I am worried about the backup situation as well. I left a note on Al's Talk page a while back, but haven't heard from him yet. Let me send him an e-mail... Ahasuerus 18:56, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Update: TAMU is still backing up the database nightly, but Al has run into technical difficulties with the download part of the process as described on his Talk page; we are working on it. Ahasuerus 23:48, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Second, even if an external site doesn't disappear, it can easily change its interface or its data layout, possibly breaking any links to it that we have established. Our own practices of constant Title merges and duplicate Publication deletions are a good example of why you want to be careful when linking to another site. Ahasuerus 22:28, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
As I say, Top-Level links. Yes, we could try and maintain title-level links so that we know when the latest Harry Potter is available in French or German (I think that's sorted now) or Latin or Greek (still to come) - but we don't need to do more than add a foreign title in notes to make the other site useful, IF anybody actually wants such. I know I'd be happier to see those hidden away as "not of interest" and reduce the lists for monoglots like me. BLongley 16:43, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Finally, linking to a foreign language site can be tricky because of the language barrier. For example, this bibliography contains information about the 2006 Russian translation of a Clarke/Baxter collaboration. Good luck finding it on the page! :-) Ahasuerus 22:28, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I'd still never find it if it was entered HERE that way, though! It might appear under a title I can understand, and mess up my display a bit, but there would be no point in showing it. Not even transliterated. BLongley 16:43, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Well, if we added the Russian pub to Time's Eye, you would be able to see it. Whether it would be useful would presumably depends on the user. Some are completists, some (like Rkihara) are interested in foreign languages and most will probably ignore it. That never stopped Tuck or other hard core genre bibliographers, though :-) Ahasuerus 18:56, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
An English note on the title that said "this version adds a lot of extra really good material, use 'А. Пеховым' in a search for the title and then ask a Russian friend to help" might help me a little. (Not that I'm interested in Clarke/Baxter collaborations, seeing a "collaboration" is a major warning sign to me.) BLongley 16:43, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Even the Firefox translator module won't do it. It does Japanese but not Russian.--swfritter 14:48, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Maybe it's the platform difference, I'm running Firefox on a Mac and Russian displays just fine. I probably wouldn't be interested in entering foreign editions, since I don't read Japanese or Russian, the two languages that I've studied, well enough to be certain of the accuracy of what I enter.--Rkihara 00:39, 31 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Complicated data entry rules scaring away new editors?

This has always been a thorny area, but the "scare away" threshold appears to be quite low. Here is a recent question posted on rec.arts.sf.written:

Is there any easy way for a casual user, who thinks he has spotted an error, to call it to the attention to the people who might be interested in correcting it? By "casual user" I mean one who lacks the time, patience, or inclination to do any actual work, such as registering, reading instructions, submitting edits, or doing any research to find out if the seeming error is really an error or the purported correction is correct, but, subject to those limitations, would still like to be helpful.

Similarly, when another poster asked "And how could I ask the ISFDB team to fix errors? I couldn't find a button or link for that" and I responded with an explanation of the current submission system, the response was "Well, I don't have the time to do that."

My first reaction was to tell rec.arts.sf.written regulars to post their corrections on Usenet and that I would then enter the data into the database for them, which led to about one correction per month over the last few months. Then, in response to the first quoted above, I wrote:

I guess we could try the latter approach and see whether it's workable. The ISFDB Community Portal (ISFDB:Community Portal) would be the logical place to post corrections, although if we get too many of them, we may have to create a separate Wiki page.

And even with the entrance barrier thus lowered pretty much to the floor, there have been no takers so far. Now, keep in mind that rec.arts.sf.written regulars are serious SF readers. A number of them have SF blogs, contribute to fanzines, etc. And they do use the ISFDB frequently as you can see by searching the newsgroup's archive, they just don't seem to be particularly interested in contributing to it. Even if Al were to create a user interface to rival Banks's AIs, they would still be unlikely to contribute.

Having said that, we have seen at least one editor, the SF writer Hayford Peirce, who was willing to work on selected authors' bibliographies even after entering his own works, but seemed to find the user interface intimidating -- he ended up e-mailing Word documents with corrections to me -- and eventually dropped out. That happened almost a year ago, when the rules were still relatively simple. I don't know what, if anything, we could have done differently short of rewriting the UI logic from the ground up with different user expectations in mind. Ahasuerus 21:29, 29 Oct 2007 (CDT)

I don't think we can lower the barrier any further - about the only thing left is to make accounts here optional and allow anyone to submit edits without having to go through all the "work" of "registering" and "reading instructions". It might work better to RAISE the barrier and make these active ISFDB readers register to get access to certain data they want - probably programming changes again though (maybe not if it's only some of the Wiki side we close off), and would scare off a lot of existing readers as well as new editors. But new readers would no longer have the excuse of not being registered and it being too hard.
Still, that's pretty vicious and all I can suggest is that until we get a lot of UI programming changes done that we work on the help. And not just fiddling with the detailed help to match current standards, take a big axe to the massive help pages that only a dedicated new editor ever reads in full, and none of us ever recall totally well. Unfortunately, that seems to be a task nobody wants either - Marc Kupper did mention tackling it but wanted to learn a bit more about how it was structured: I agree, I don't understand the Wiki help set-up much either. I CAN write help documentation (I don't like doing it much though), but learning a fundamentally-flawed system to record a poorer version doesn't really appeal. Relaxing the image upload ban might help - diagrams would be VERY useful, full screenshots even better - can we consider fixing the barriers against writing good HELP a bit though? BLongley 15:06, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
Our Help pages could definitely benefit from a thorough review -- see this discussion for a recent example. They were written by Mike Christie to reflect the state of the software about a year ago and have been sporadically updated as circumstances changed. Ideally, we would have multiple experienced editors going over all of the Help pages, compiling a list of anything that looks off and then posting their lists on this forum, but it's slow and hard work :( Ahasuerus 22:46, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Binding Types

Here is a list of non-standard binding in the database as of August 11, 2007, where "non-standard" is defined as not one of the "big three" (hc, pb, tp). Some are clearly in error, but others raise interesting standards questions, so I figured I should post the whole thing here for public dissection. Ahasuerus 22:23, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Binding Occurrences Disposition
335 1
15953225 1
26cm - fanzine 1
1
5½" x 8½" 16
7¼" x 9¾" 3
8 1/2 x 11 Standard 32
8 1/2 x 11 Standard 15
8x11 3
5
8½" x 10¾" 1
A4 76
A5 10
Adobe Reader 1
Audio CD 10
Audio Cassette 4
Audio cd 2
Audiobook 1
Bedsheet 60
Board 1
CD 3
CD-ROM 1
Chapbook 4
D 1
DIGEST 4
DIgest 1
Digest 765
E-book 1
Electronic book 1
Electronic: Adobe Reader 2
Electronic: Mobipocket Reader 6
Exine/website 1
Ezine 5
Ezine/website 7
HC 1
Hardcover 4
Illustrated story 1
Internet 1
Limited Hardcover 1
MC 1
MP3 CD 1
Mobipocket Reader 1
OverDrive Audio Book 1
PB 5
PDF download 1
Paperback 5
Print, 5.5" x 8.5" 1
Pulp 40
QUARTO 1
Quarto 11
Trade Paper 2
Trade Paperback 2
Trade Softcover 1
Trade paperback 1
Web Zine 1
Webzine 3
`pb 2
audio 184
audio CD 11
audio bo 1
audio ca 1
audio cassette 2
audio cd 3
audio mp3 7
audioboo 4
audiotape 1
bedsheet 28
bedsheet, perfect bound 1
bedsheet, stapled 6
board 1
board book 1
box 1
cased 2
cassette 2
cd 5
chap 1
chapbook 4
coiled binding 1
compact disc 1
deluxe 2
dg 2
digest 545
digest, perfect bound 4
digest, stapled 4
digitial 1
dos 38
dos-à-dos 2
dos/hc 1
double-quarto 1
e-book 4
eBook 1
ebook 12
electron 1
hardcover 1
hb 94
hc (2 volumes) 1
hc (cased) 1
large 25
large format tp 12
large pr 1
lb 14
leather 4
library 4
loose 1
mp3 1
mp3 CD 2
mp3cd 2
octavo 5
octavo s/b 40
octo, saddle-stapled 1
online 1
p 2
pa 1
pamphlet 13
paperback 4
ph 124
pulp 138
pulp (saddle-stapled) 15
quarto 211
quatro 1
red staff leather 1
saddle-stapled pamphlet 1
saddle-stapled tp 1
slick 2
slipcase hc 2
softbound, quarto size 1
softcover quarto 1
tabloid, newsprint 2
tape 5
tb 3
tpb 1
tr 2
trimmed pulp 77
unbound 2
unk 3507
www 1
I might note that Help lists the magazine types with the first letter in uppercase which is the way I have been entering them . 'trimmed pulp', though I would prefer 'pulp (trimmed)', should probably be added to the list of valid types. The valid electronic formats should also be defined.--swfritter 14:14, 31 Oct 2007 (CDT)

The Definition of Verification

With apologies to all for bringing up this tired old horse again, here's examples of what two different people consider verification of the same pub, the Easton Press edition of Frank Herbert's Dune: #1 and #2. I've been verifying my Easton Press editions for the past day or so, and this situation has come up a couple of times. In some cases I went ahead and updated the previously "verified" editions. In this case, I made a conscious decision to enter a duplicate pub. Any arguments that I should not have? Mhhutchins 22:37, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Your version is obviously vastly superior, but if we are sure that the two records refer to the same edition/printing, wouldn't we want to delete the original one? If we don't, then the existence of two Publication records will imply that there is a difference between them, which may confuse some users.
As far as the purpose and nature of the "Verification" flag goes, the original reason for its implementation last year (and many of you know this, but I will repeat for our new editors) was the abundance of bogus data in the ISFDB. If you had checked Heinlein's bibliography in April 2006, you would have found a book about prostitutes (!) prominently displayed there thanks to an import from Amazon.com gone astray. At that point, anything was better than nothing, so even something as rudimentary as "yes, this book exists" (which is essentially what Animebill's verification amounts to) was an improvement. Over time, as our data became cleaner, the plank was moved up, and we began debating just where we wanted to draw the line. Ahasuerus 23:27, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)
The verification for #2 occurred after the current help page was written. I don't see any indication that verification implies simply that the book exists.
That was Mike Christie's original idea in mid-2006. It was fleshed out later in the year, with the results visible in the November 2006 version. I am not suggesting that it's OK to mark a publication verified just because you know that it exists, I am just adding a little bit of background information :-)
P.S. I will be traveling today and then concentrating on Verifications on Thursday-Sunday. I will catch up on Wiki discussions on Monday. Ahasuerus 11:04, 31 Oct 2007 (CDT)
I know we can't stop editors from bouncing around the database verifying books that they know exists without making an effort to update the records. I just feel uncomfortable deleting verified pubs, or even worse, having to update woefully incomplete verified pubs, and leaving the original verifier to answer inquiries from other editors about info which he did not have the inclination to provide to begin with. (Or should I just sign off in the notes that I added this, and this, and this, etc.?) As for whether a user might be confused that there may be two editions, here's examples where I made clear that the edition I added was not a previously entered edition. Mhhutchins 09:06, 31 Oct 2007 (CDT)
It's entirely possible that we may need a new flag. Complete?, Validated? Certified?--swfritter 16:59, 31 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Assigning Pseudonyms

As per this discussion, I propose that we change Help:How to record a pseudonym and delete the following two sentences from "Scenario #1" since we now support multiple "pseudonym-author" relationships:

Note that this should only be done when you are sure that the pseudonym is not used by multiple people, e.g. it's not a "house name" like "Victor Appleton". This is less common than it once was, but it still occurs.

We also need to rewrite the paragraph that talks about Anson MacDonald vs. Robert Heinlein since the software no longer works that way. Ahasuerus 22:49, 30 Oct 2007 (CDT)

Agree. I also think we should mention that the pseudonym does not to be entered if is already in the list. Almost every new editor is not sure if this is the place where they enter the pseudonym for a story or not. Luckily they figure it out very quickly and only make the same mistake once (John Jakes in my case). We might also mention that there is currently no remedy for such a mistake.--swfritter 18:18, 1 Nov 2007 (CDT)
Done. Ahasuerus 02:48, 11 Nov 2007 (CST)

Plagiarized Story

I found something interesting while entering data for If. The story "To Kill a Venusian" was plagiarized by one Irwin Ross from "Nine-Finger Jack" by Anthony Boucher. I left Ross' authorship, but left a note that he had plagiarized it. Now I'm thinking that I should have credited Anthony Boucher, and left a note that the story had been published under the plagiarizer's name. Any thoughts on this?--Rkihara 23:33, 3 Nov 2007 (CDT)

It gets even worse, Irwin Ross has two other stories credited to him.--Rkihara 23:51, 3 Nov 2007 (CDT)

If the stories are identical, then I would agree that they both be credited to Boucher. But plagiarization comes in many forms, and leaving a note on the Ross version would be the best best, since he was credited in the original publication. Mhhutchins 10:06, 4 Nov 2007 (CST)
I agree that when the "derived" text is not quite the same as the original text, explaining the relationship in the Notes field (of both records, just to be on the safe side) is probably the best way to go. Ahasuerus 23:47, 4 Nov 2007 (CST)

Ace Doubles

The FAQ for dos-a-dos books such as Ace Doubles is inconsistent with some other help, notably that for Omnibus records in Editpub help.

You enter these in ISFDB as omnibuses. 

Correct, we do.

The title is the titles of the two books divided by a slash, like so: "Ill Met in Lankhmar / The Fair in Emyn Macha". 

Correct. Note that the EditPub help guidelines for an Omnibus do not place spaces either side of the slash.

The author is set to uncredited, as there is no overall author of the book as a whole. 

This is NOT what we do. Instead, all authors are credited, and so we need to create variants for pseudonymous authors. EditPub help suggests that we should leave it blank for Omnibuses, then contradicts itself for Ace Doubles by saying we should use "N/A" instead.

When entering the book into ISFDB [pay] attention to both sides as the cover artist may not be the same. 
If two different cover artists are used, the art should be entered with both names, and a note left on the cover art title 
record explaining which artist did which cover. 

I think it should be on the Title Record, not the "Cover Art" record (which seems to be mostly unused). E.g. this follows the current help but it doesn't show up when needed, e.g. here. Some people seem to have assumed that the order of the artists (which is not guaranteed) will indicate which book has which artist. Pagination of "xx+yy" format is also not guaranteed to reflect which book is which length: ensuring that the Omnibus has a Title record of its own could help, but there are Ace Doubles which have the order reversed on reprinting, e.g. this one, and I believe it would be better to place the pagination explanation in notes in case of future regularization of title orders.

The contents of the book are then recorded as two novels or novellas, and the individual authors are credited for each story. 

This contradicts EditPub help which suggests:

OMNIBUS. A publication may be classified is [sic] an omnibus if it contains multiple works that have previously 
been published independently, and at least one of them is a novel.

At present, some Doubles like this don't show up anywhere except in Shortfiction, which seems inappropriate for a book: I think OMNIBUS is appropriate for a Double containing two novellas.

Interior art, if it exists, can be recorded separately for each half of the book.

Yes, it can, e.g. here.

That's one of mine, this one to[4]. There a bit of work to do, but the results look reasonably good.Kraang 08:59, 4 Nov 2007 (CST)

I propose that we update the FAQ for dos-a-dos books to match what we currently have: i.e.

  • that we should credit all Authors at Omnibus title level, and
  • ensure notes reflect the pagination and artist for each side.

This will need some corresponding changes to the help for Omnibuses elsewhere. BLongley 08:35, 4 Nov 2007 (CST)

I raise all 5 extremities in favor of the proposal! Ahasuerus 00:11, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)

Identifying magazine editor essays by initials

Magazine editors often sign essays within their magazines with their initials. On a technical level the initials should be entered as the author and then assigned as a pseudonym of the editor. Unlike essays attributed to enitites such as "The Editor" there is rarely any ambiguity about authorship. Does assigning editor initials as a pseudonym serve to aid the user or create confusion for them? Are we being too technical? Should we enter the initials and make them a pseudonymn or just enter the canonical name of the person we know the initials to represent?--swfritter 19:20, 4 Nov 2007 (CST)

I'd support going with the canonical name, with a note (in the pub, probably, rather than the title) saying the editorial is signed "JR" or whatever. -- davecat 08:52, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
I'm not too keen on Initials + Pseudonym - that won't stay within the publication, and due to their brevity, surely will eventually overlap with artists and authors: e.g. the last backup shows we already have A. E. / A. S. / J. B. / J. K. / K. K. / L. S. / M. C. / N. R. / N. W. / S.H.M. and V. R. (strange, I didn't know Queen Victoria wrote SF!). Canonical Name + Notes is my preference. I have no current preference for pub or title level, but then I haven't seen such reprinted yet. BLongley 13:07, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
There is also this post buried amongst other items on Ahsereus' talk page: I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. If anything, I am inclined to agree that we are better off not creating pseudonymous variant titles for articles signed with initials, so if there are no other objections, we can update Help and post on the Standards board. In addition this from Rkihara. If no one objects I will update Help and Standards.--swfritter 14:57, 28 Dec 2007 (CST)

Non-canonical names in titles of books being reviewed

I was just entering a review of a book by Philip José Farmer, and the middle name was spelled without the accent. I know that the general policy is to document what's actually in the pub, but I thought that this was a rather different kind of animal. I entered it with the canonical name (with accent), which is the only form in the database, I think. If I should have done otherwise, I can fix it. The pub is Analog, May 1971 if anyone wants to consider it in context. (As I write the submission hasn't been approved yet, though.)
(Isn't there a way to add a section to this page without editing the whole page? There doesn't seem to be a plus sign at the top.) -- Dave davecat 13:45, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)

There'd be a plus sign at the top if we used Talk:Rules and standards discussions rather than just Rules and standards discussions. We've actually used both, it seems: this one is more popular. The plus and minus points were mentioned at the end of this discussion. BLongley 14:25, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
As to José/Jose - I'm not too bothered, they sort and search the same way. I stick with José as it's one of the few special characters I know how to enter easily! BLongley 14:25, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)

Pub Editor help regarding book reviews

Here are some statements from under Content Information:

  • The second part of the screen defines the contents. This in turn is divided into three sections. The first part, "Content", includes everything in the publication, including reviews and interviews. The second part, "Reviews", and the third part, "Interviews", provide additional details about the reviews and interviews, but do not substitute for an entry in the contents section for those items.
  • . . . Review columns and interviews are also entered as ESSAYs. If an interview column contains only one interview (as is usually the case), then the interview column does not need to be entered at all; instead, just enter the interview information in the Interview section. The details of what was reviewed, or who was interviewed, are recorded with REVIEW and INTERVIEW types, which are entered via the special Review and Interview sections described below. See also NONFICTION.

(I haven't had to deal with an interview yet, & am thinking only of reviews.) The implication of the first is that each review needs an ESSAY entry in the contents section; the second suggests that it's the review column that gets the ESSAY, while individual reviews are entered below (and get type REVIEW) upon approval. The second is also what I've seen in the data, including pubs offered to me as models to follow.
Am I misunderstanding something? Or should I (or someone else) reword the first of those snippets? Thanks. -- Dave davecat 14:11, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)

I think it needs rewording. I'm also probably not the one TO reword it as I personally wouldn't add an Essay for a Review Column unless there's actually some other useful words as well as the reviews: e.g. "Spider vs. the Hax of Sol III" often had a page or two of non-review talk as well as the actual reviews, which is why it was worth reprinting. (Otherwise I'd just add the reviews, and only then because they act as a sort of verification that the title being reviewed exists.) But I'm a grumpy old git that only cares about the actual words and how to find them, and generic titles for regular content sections don't help in that. Maybe if people actually added notes to the essay for the Review Column to say whether it was just a placeholder for a series entry or actually had an essay in it, I'd find them more useful? (Notes on Reviews so people can at least say whether it was a good or bad review would help, but that's a fair way off still I guess). Still, add them if you like. There ARE regular Interview series, e.g. "A Graveside Chat" - but frankly these aren't adding anything for me either (I can be pretty sure that the INTERVIEWEE exists from other sources!). Adding notes to an Essay to go with the Interview would possibly add data useful to me - but I don't think this is the intention? BLongley 15:31, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
I'll be happy to reword (fairly minimally, I hope) if I'm sure that the consensus is that the reviews themselves, as such, don't need ESSAYs in the contents. (I'll be happy to let someone else do it, too, but I'm offering.) I just want to make sure I correctly understand the standard first. -- Dave davecat 17:26, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
If I am getting this straight, no essay entry like "The Reference Library (Analog, April 1970)" in the contents this would be 180 degrees away from the current practice. If this is done there is no way of putting the title of the review column in a series. It is very common for review columns to have essays preceding the actual reviews.--swfritter 17:51, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
(You were responding to BLongley, not to me, right? I'm proposing to change the wording to say that a review column needs an ESSAY item in the contents, but that the reviews within it do not. (And do interviews work the same?) Thanks.) -- Dave davecat 20:04, 5 Nov 2007 (CST)
Thinks for the clarification. It was at the end of my editing day and I wanted to make sure that something didn't get done before I was sure what was being discussed. I will take a closer look. A note to Bill - The page number gap between the book column listing and the first review is a good indicator that the reviews are preceded by an essay. They are also necessary if a user wants to find all the review columns written by a given author, Damon Knight for instance.--swfritter 09:50, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
It rather depends on the magazine: some review columns just start with a list of books received, and some of those are ALL books received that month or those two months or even a whole quarter, sometimes with pictures, often taking over at least one page. I can't infer anything about the existence of an essay from the page numbers. Some Notes to say what the essay entry actually IS, if not just a placeholder, would help, but that's not being proposed. BLongley 14:20, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
I never actually want to find all review columns by Damon Knight, or anyone else really, so you're right, I would never add a record "The Reference Library (Analog, April 1970)" unless it had something special in, as it doesn't give me anything. It actually MESSES UP searches for Essays that AREN'T Book Review Columns. BLongley 14:20, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
One other PLUS point you might want to mention though, is that its existence shows that the previous short story is only 12 pages rather than 15 - I'm happy to trust that the short-story categorisation is correct though, if somebody's gone to this level of detail I'm not going to question a Shortfiction length category from other internal evidence. But other editors might find this useful. BLongley 14:20, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
I'm NOT proposing anyone DELETE such entries: and, if they prefer to go into MORE detail, they might become useful to me. I'm sure some of the best rants I read about the current standard of books in general are recorded in such essays, and there's even some good obituaries in there at times. So IF we were starting from scratch, I think my proposal would be to only record such columns where they had something notable, or push for more contents categories than just ESSAY, e.g. separate "books received" lists and "Obituaries" and "Introductions" and "Bibliography" out: and encourage Essays to have more notes. And REVIEWS to include the Publisher, ISBN, Price, Cover Artist, etc, if they have them. (That's REALLY useful data being lost, I think.) BLongley 14:20, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
But it's not my personal database and the extra benefits late changes to categorisation options would give ME would just mean re-passing all the existing verified data (if other people want it though, go for it). We DO need to watch out for pollution of search-results till we can get some more User Interface software changes in, and consider whether the constant raising of the bar is putting people off editing. I know I've restrained myself from entering Every printing of a book from later editions to avoid too many useless results appearing. (They're in notes, and can be constructed later if desirable.) I know the Magazine Examples are now off-putting to me. BLongley 14:20, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
I see what you mean. The first should be more consistent with the second. The only time you need an essay for interviews is if there is either a substantial preface or multiple reviews. The first seems to state that the essay is required although it isn't. Some clarification for consistency would definitely be in order.--swfritter 14:10, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
Dave - if it wasn't clear before: MY personal opinion is Book Review Columns are something I have to live with, feel free to clarify help or even encourage people to improve them. I don't think Interview Columns are something we have yet, and I really would rather we DON'T get them unless they're useful, e.g. if some previously unexplained preamble pages suddenly turn out to contain a full bibliography of the interviewee. ESSAYs are overworked already, IMO. BLongley 14:20, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
OK, I've made changes. I think this link should show you what I did. (No idea how long that's good for, I admit. If I understand that URL, later changes are likely to show up in that diff as well.) This is my first go at editing any of the help screens, so please let me know if it's not up to par. Thanks. -- Dave davecat 14:08, 8 Nov 2007 (CST)

Listing Fanzine Reviews?

Swfritter and I are cleaning up Imagination, and I've just started entering the fan column by Mari Wolf, Fandoria. A lot of fanzines are reviewed there, and I'm thinking of entering them as book reviews. If I recall a lot of other magazines like Amazing also reviewed fanzines for a while. Thoughts?--Rkihara 12:58, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)

My own take is that, unlike books, there are not many fanzines in the system and this might not be worth doing until such time (if ever) they are there. Because of the way the software works the book reviews are listed with the book entries but I doubt that fanzines work the the same way. I would not do this until there is software support and there is a body of fanzine entries. You can add a book from bibliographic sources on the internet to match it with a review but the same cannot be done with a fanzine.--swfritter 13:57, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
Now that I think about it, the fanzines are a periodical, so reviews would have to be linked to the top of a "fanzine" page. A Google search turned up a lot of fanzine indexes, such as the Mike Horvat Collection, so we could match some of them to a review. It seems a shame not to list them, since this is of real interest to people doing historical research. Maybe we could list them in Notes field of the title editor and leave a note in publication notes?--Rkihara 14:51, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
Well, we're beginning to get FANZINEs entered in some detail now, e.g. Science Fiction Review. The Review linking software is currently broken, IMO, but as we're already entering things that won't work well till the software is upgraded, you might as well continue. There WILL be links between Magazine reviews of Fanzines, and Fanzine Reviews of Magazines, and Books will get reviewed in both, and I'm sure there are Books that review Fanzines and Magazines... I know I've seen Magazine reviews of Magazines. (Points FANZINE editors at MAGAZINE editors, ducks and runs. I'm posting several large parcels to Denmark ASAP.) BLongley 14:55, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
(By the way, swfritter, you might want to look at The British Fanzine Bibliography and The BSFA Magazines Index, among others, before making a sweeping statement like "the same cannot be done with a fanzine".) Whether you WANT TO is another matter. BLongley 14:55, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
Why in the world are sf fans such bibliomaniacs? By tweaking the system at this time we live little flexibility for future software design. Perhaps the best place to enter the data for future purposes is the bibliographic comments with an explanation in notes that fanzine reviews have been placed there. Used fanzines are available for sale and they are starting to get scanned and placed on the internet but it is still pretty difficult to find a particular issue to buy or view as easily as a magazine can be found. I would place the significance of fanzine reviews as being relatively close to that of letters. I think they both should be done but also think they should be supported by the software.--swfritter 15:27, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
Keep in mind that the original reason behind cataloging book reviews in ISFDB was to capture all (or at least 95%+ of) the important books that have been published, so at least in the case of books the original logic was "reviews first, books second". I suspect that in the case of fanzines the same logic applies to even greater extent since fanzines can be harder to find than books (although the MELVYL folks have been doing an admirable job of cataloging what they have). If we capture fanzine reviews published in professional magazines, then these Review records can serve as a road map for subsequent fanzine cataloging. Ahasuerus 19:27, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)
P.S. I'd love to drag Al into this debate. Since Reviews are currently matched lexically, the connection between the Review record and the "reviewed" record is tenuous and can be easily broken due to minor differences, e.g. "subtitle vs. no subtitle" or "Robert A. Heinlein" vs. "Robert Heinlein". At one point, Al's plan was to make the elimination of these lexical matches a high priority, but I am not sure what his current plans may be. Ahasuerus 19:31, 6 Nov 2007 (CST)

Letters OK in fanzines but not in prozines?

This fanzine and many other recent additions. What's up with that? Where are the fanzine wiki pages?--swfritter 18:50, 15 Nov 2007 (CST)

I don't think we have one at this time. At one point I suggested that we create a page for them, but other things interfered and nothing has come out of it so far (that I know of).
One issue that we will have to decide first is what exactly constitutes a fanzine. For a very long time fanzines had no price per se and were not sold, but rather mailed out directly or, to save on postage, via APAs (starting with FAPA). However, the last few decades have seen a lot of fanzines with a (often nominal) price printed on the cover, so these days the Hugo folks define fanzines as generally loss-making hobbyist pursuits. Do we want to use their current definition and, if we do, how do we determine whether a magazine is a "generally loss-making hobbyist pursuit"? And what about semi-prozines? Ahasuerus 23:30, 15 Nov 2007 (CST)
I thought a reasonable starting point would be to put a Fanzines page together from the Hugo nominations; that at least makes a starting point as to which fanzines to include. I started at 2006 and worked backward to 1983, where a different matter arose: Locus won the Hugo for best fanzine. It has since then been considered a semiprozine, and already has a page under Magazines. It would be annoying to split the Locus page up into a Fanzine (for the fanzine years) and Magazine (or even SemiProzine?) pages. And the rules for what was considered a magazine, semiprozine, and fanzine have changed over time.
At any rate, I'd propose keeping this simple. Making a Fanzine page is no biggie, so I've made one. Placing Hugo-nominated fanzines on that page seems to be a no-brainer to me - some number of people have already agreed that they were fanzines of some relative importance. Fanzines which eventually promoted themselves to semipro or pro can live on the Magazines page if that's convenient for us. We should probably keep an eye out for one-offs, as we're then approaching the area of self-publication. Alvonruff 08:16, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
Well, as long as we are using a Wiki, the ultimate free text tool, to list fanzines and prozines, we can easily add notes and/or any other clarifications that we need. For example, we can keep Locus in the magazine namespace, but list it on the Fanzines page as well and add a note that it became a semiprozine in the mid-1980s. Ahasuerus 11:27, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
OK, I've started a few stub Fanzine pages linking to what we already have - feel free to comment on why Fanzines should be done differently from magazines, etc. As to the contents, it seems Mike Hutchins is one of the more prolific editors, but if this is going to expand then I'll unbox some of the Stableford collection. That will at last save me buying more books for a while: say, 5 years or so.... BLongley 15:25, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
Another started - Australian Science Fiction Review. Looks horrible, as I don't have all dates of all issues (hence the "?" entries), and in 1989 they seemed to have switched from Monthly to Seasonal/Quarterly publications - which would be great if Antipodean seasons matched mine. Feel free to rearrange, clean-up, add to, question: although if you're questioning the two actual publications I entered do it quick, I'm REALLY starting to get rid of the Stableford collection. BLongley 17:16, 20 Jan 2008 (CST)

Advance Reading Copies

Have a few of these, I have not entered them as I believe they should be "out". Please confirm this. rbh 19:34, 25 Nov 2007 (CST)

I am afraid that advance copies are very unreliable. Any number of things can change between the time they appear and the time the book is published, most commonly the page count. We should probably add a sentence to that effect to the Help pages. Ahasuerus 20:40, 25 Nov 2007 (CST)
I don't mind them being in if they're VERY clearly noted as such oddities. But they ARE oddities: e.g. I have an "Uncorrected Proof" of this pub that is correctly paginated, has all the same illustrations and page numbers as the final first edition hardback (IIRC) but is actually Trade Paperback format. The danger in including such is that we might start getting "official" first publication dates wrong as people automatically assume the first date of any edition of a title here is an official first date. At a minimum, we ought to define dates of such as "Unknown" to avoid that sort of data corruption. Or just exclude them: if people really want to show that "this book was touted around for years before it got published" there's always "title notes" for that. There's been several times we can't explain a gap between Copyright date and first publication date of several YEARS, if we don't want to create dummy pubs for that then title notes are the place for it I think. Sometimes there is useful info in such - e.g. one of my "Bill the Galactic Hero" titles contained an extra piece of paper telling the recipient that the book was embargoed until such-and-such a date when it could be reviewed, as it would only officially be released on such-and-such a date 2: I think the book itself didn't give more than the YEAR of release, and certainly didn't go down to the exact day. Some people here like the exact day (if known), some others like what's stated on the publication itself. And others trust secondary sources to SOME extent when the book gives the year, secondary source gives month, and Amazon say it was the First of that Month. (Amazon didn't allow "Unknown" Day (or even month) of publication for a long time, so I mistrust any day they give that is just "the first" of the month, or "January 1st".)) BLongley 17:37, 26 Nov 2007 (CST)

Fanzine Reviews Again

I've been thinking that we might link all fanzine review columns into one series, say "Fanzine Reviews." In this way when we want to expand our coverage of fanzines, we'll have one central listing for finding all of the reviews. Searching for these after the fact would be pretty tedious.--Rkihara 10:42, 1 Dec 2007 (CST)

An overall series would be fine, but keep the column series separate: e.g. we have "The Clubhouse" and "Fandora's box" entries here already, the latter beginning to be classified: I think someone would complain if they were all lumped together. BLongley 14:09, 1 Dec 2007 (CST)
Well, we could create a superseries and connect individual fanzine-specific series to it, but I suspect that eventually we will end up with thousands of entries in the superseries. Will it still be useful when it contains 5,000 reviews? Ahasuerus 15:24, 1 Dec 2007 (CST)
No list 5,000 long will be useful: which is why I suggest a series for the Fanzine Review Column Series rather than all Fanzine Review Columns (i.e. the essay entries we have). Or was that the intention and it just wasn't stated very well? BLongley 15:56, 1 Dec 2007 (CST)
Series are a bit of a pain already though (even separating "Witches" and "The Witches" today was more work than I wanted) and mega-series can maybe wait a bit, they're horrible to sort out later. BLongley 15:56, 1 Dec 2007 (CST)
Yes, that was my intention, and I didn't word my post very well, I meant reviews of fanzines in pro-mags, like Amazing or Imagination, rather than reviews from within fanzines. A superseries or metaseries of pro-mag fanzine reviews would be reasonably manageable. I agree that putting reviews from fanzines into series would not do much good, especially since there are probably more fanzines that have been printed than the total of all of other pubs in this database.--Rkihara 16:12, 1 Dec 2007 (CST)
Oh, I see! Sorry about that, I was more confusicated than usual since I have just a few hours this weekend to juggle a dozen things and hopefully squeeze a few verifications in before I hit the road again. Ahasuerus 18:40, 1 Dec 2007 (CST)

Cain to the power of N

This title looks more realistic now, IMO, but will never show up on a search for "CAINn" or "Cain n", which is what we had before. Should I have found some strange unicode character to represent it rather than HTML, or is this the best way forward? BLongley

Those Pesky Nuns

Is "I.H.M." (Immaculate Heart of Mary) a suffix we should be recording? BLongley 07:29, 22 Dec 2007 (CST)

Magazine data - level of detail

I approved various changes to Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January 1997 earlier today, but then I wondered if adding "Quotations" by "Hollywood adage" and "Anon. Systems Analyst" is something that we really want to do in magazines. Taking it a step further, would somebody looking up Mark Twain in our database benefit from knowing which issues of Analog published his quotes? (Parenthetically, Will Rogers the autistic SF writer whose YA fantasy novel we have on file is presumably not the Will Rogers that Analog quoted.) Ahasuerus 00:21, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)

I pulled the issue to check the context, and I have my doubts as to whether these are genuine quotations, especially since several are by the fictitious Kelvin Throop. They seem to serve as the equivalent of a series of Burma Shave signs—a literary joke. I would be opposed to listing purported quotes, as several authors have been known to fabricate quotes to advance a story line, and others to sound learned. Quotes included in stories are generally considered part of the whole.--Rkihara 00:49, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
I don't own this issue but the entries do not seem significant enough to index. Almost everything we include is in some way a "distinct" work even if it is only a one paragraph book review with merely a positive/negative opinion or a postage stamp sized signed illustration.--swfritter 16:03, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
And "Quotation" is now a useless search with 59 entries, mostly unqualified - Zap now before this gets out of hand, I'd say. BLongley 16:10, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
I have placed the most recent submissions with similar data on temporary hold until we can resolve this issue.--swfritter 17:20, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
The guidelines on what to include in new magazines is "Quotes and other filler material. For example, Analog has periodically placed quotes of interest to its readers in filler positions. These are not included unless they fall within some other category, such as the table of contents rule mentioned above." I missed that, they should not have been included. My fault. Unfortunately, I can't undo the ones on hold. Thx, rbh 18:08, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
I will approve the ones on hold and remove the quotations from the mags and then delete the orphans.--swfritter 19:08, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
Um. Where's the guideline cited above ("Quotes and other filler material"). I searched for it without finding it. I don't see it in the pub editor help, either.
At any rate, I'm pretty sure I'm guilty on this point. The one I remember off hand was a quotation (half-page or so? quarter-page?) from Lincoln, at the end of an editorial (in Analog); it didn't seem clearly germane to anything immediately before it, & I guess it was filler. There may have been others. -- Dave (davecat) 19:49, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
It's on the NewPub page, in the "What to Include" section. Ahasuerus 20:00, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)
Well they should mostly be gone. Except for this one which generates and Index error.--swfritter 20:05, 26 Dec 2007 (CST)

Certainty of data for deletion?

When looking at the authors list for ones to investigate further I found Susan Wiggs with one book Winds of Glory. The Amazon data shows that to be a historical romance and it is even in a list that says it excludes paranormal and time travel romances. That seems like enough data to delete it. Agreed? This is a example so discussion of how much data is needed is welcome. Dana Carson 02:20, 1 Jan 2008 (CST)

I'm not sure how that got in - maybe due to similarity in name with Susan Lilas Wiggs? I certainly don't want all her works here, she seems to be almost purely romance - however, this pub has a story of hers "about a spirit that can assume a mortal man's shape" which sounds SF enough. I'd lose "Winds of Glory" but keep the author. BLongley 06:53, 1 Jan 2008 (CST)