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Archive of the Community Portal - January-April 2011


Pulp Database on CD

There's an announcement in the latest issue of Earl Kemp's online fanzine for a comprehensive SF magazine database running under MS Access (scroll down to see the announcement). The price is reasonable and I'm thinking of buying a copy if I can also buy a copy of Access for a reasonable price.--Rkihara 16:40, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

My check is in the mail! Older versions of Access required the ownership of Microsoft office. I don't know whether that is still the case.--swfritter 17:20, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
I got Access 2007 (stand alone) for $175 last October. I had to because the newer version XP had a block that made it incompatible with the older versions. It works fine, but if you do not have a real interest in using it, it is pricy. Do not buy less than 2007 or you will take a chance in compatibility, 2010 will certainly have the same problem or worse. Much of the problem stems with new add-ons to give greater security for user data. Though everyone says there are good conversion programs around, the one's I tried would not allow data change. I will send for the CD tomorrow as I have been looking for better magazine resource data. Thanks for the tip, Harry. --Dragoondelight 19:41, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
I don't think you'll need Access for this. Kemp states it's an MS Access application, which i.m.o. is self running. Looks nice, I wouldn't hesitate if I was a magazine collector. Willem H. 19:59, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
I think you do need Access. Down where he lists the price it states "CD (650 megabytes) MS Access 2000 (or higher) required".--swfritter 21:39, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
There are free/open source applications that can read MS Access databases, OpenOffice. May be worth a try. Ahasuerus 02:30, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
I got a copy of Access through the employee discount program at work, so I'm set. My order will be going out tomorrow.--Rkihara 02:36, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
I received my copy. Loaded and works, BUT. The but is, Are there more useful ways of using than title search and one by one record review? Is there a magazine break down to quickly go from issue to issue? One thing this card index display does not operate the same as I have used access before, for a while I spooked that I could not get back to desk top display. All my access programs minimize out, but this one 'loves' staying on. Unless someone finds different? Has anyone found page numbers? If not, then Miller/Contento is still in play. Find any letters? essays? Neat if you want a personal home record, but ISFDB, will eventually be easier to use. Still thanks for it is fun to play with, but unlike a book I fear missing some content. Thanks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 23:16, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Other shortcomings: No canonical names so you can't get a report of all of Henry Kuttner's real name and pseudonymous works at one time. Exact name matches rather than partial name matches. It has value as a secondary source; it does have webzines - even Strange Horizons. Printed reports use way too much paper. For those with Windows 7, Access 2000 appears to be compatible with Windows 7 (although not supported by Microsoft). Oh. And when you close the application it appears to hang but it is actually doing some file manipulation; just let it run and it will eventually close.--swfritter 00:22, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm still floundering around, since I have no experience with Access. We should probably send our comments to Earl Terry Kemp, I'll send him a link to this page in case he wishes to comment.--Rkihara 16:03, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
Any luck accessing the data with open source Access-compatible software? Ahasuerus 17:43, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
Where to begin? A long-time Analog reader recorded many stories from various magazines into MS Excel. I have imported that data (15,000+ stories) into MS Access. Please see my blogger post. I have several screen shots of the MS Access version of the SF magazine data base and some of the Open Office version. To follow up on Ahasuerus's comment, I have been able to import some of the data from MS Access into MySQL and into Open Office. My progress has been excruciatingly slow. To many things to do, not enough time, and a steep learning curve.----Steve R. 20:51, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
I was afraid of that :-( Thanks for sharing your experience with the beast! Ahasuerus 22:50, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Two problems with Open Office: The database file is in a file (.mde) other than an .mdb. That cannot be read by Open Office. Even if there is a way of creating a .mdb file there is a second problem: Open Office seems to want to convert .mdb files to its own format; the relational links and programming aspects are lost. It is possible to pick up older (hopefully legal) copies of Microsoft Office Professional on ebay for $50 or so.--swfritter 21:45, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
If anyone works for a large company with site licenses for MS software, you may have access the MS Home Use Program. Under this program you can download a legal copy for home use for a trivial fee (I don't think I'm allowed to tell you how low, but I doubt that you can get one as cheaply on eBay).--Rkihara 23:45, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
Data from MS Access can be imported into Open Office and MySQL, since I have done it. It is not a trivial exercise. The issue that I have is limited time and a steep learning curve. I still hope to eventually port my MS Access version of SF magazines to Open Office and MySQL.--Steve R. 13:37, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Locus #600

The first digital edition of Locus was available today (the first time I got to read it before it was mailed). One of the articles (by James Patrick Kelly on page 41) mentions ISFDB as one of "ten great sites". He only has the name of the database wrong (the "S" stands for Speculative). The text: You Could Look It Up Department: The Internet Science Fiction Database <isfdb.org>. So you’re trying to find out when Fred Pohl’s classic story ‘‘Day Million’’ came out. (Answer: 1966) What was Kim Stanley Robinson’s first published story? (Answer: ‘‘In Pierson’s Orchestra’’) How many stories did Kij Johnson publish in 2009? (Answer: Two, ‘‘The Cat That Walked a Thousand Miles’’ and ‘‘Spar’’) Bless you, everyone who works on the ISFDB, the best and most accessible bibliographic resource we have. Nice, isn't it? --Willem H. 21:27, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

Yes, very kind of him! Of course, we also use Locus in our work, so it's a bit of a mutual admiration society :-) Ahasuerus 05:24, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
We're getting quite a bit of recognition now. Have you noticed how Project Gutenberg now have ISFDB links for many Authors on their Science Fiction bookshelf? Although not on their Fantasy or Horror bookhelves, which suggests to me that they have misinterpreted the "SF" as well. BLongley 15:39, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
I think some of those ISFDB links have been there for a while. It looks as though somebody has resumed maintenance of the Project Gutenberg Science Fiction Bookshelf. It was in pretty bad shape a year ago. As for interpreting "SF" as meaning "Science Fiction". Not too much of a surprise since "SF" is the standard abbreviation for "Science Fiction". Maybe we should be ISpecFicDB. A little late in the game for a name change.--swfritter 16:06, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Publisher Fields Editing?

Unless I missing something, I don't see a link to edit publisher pages. Here are some needed changes to Wikipedia links on publisher pages:

If someone could make these changes or point out what I missing, I would appreciate it. Thanks. --JLaTondre 00:40, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the pointers, I've updated all the publishers. Editing publishers is restricted to mods only, because of the ability to change and merge publishers names on mass. :-)Kraang 03:00, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Challenging inclusion as SF

Is there any process we use to challenge the inclusion of a publication as Spec Fic? Or as Fiction (vs. NonFiction)? Is there any place where we should justify why we've included a publication in the database? (Lengthy justification in the notes seems inappropriate, although my notes to The Little Princess might be acceptable.) Some examples I would challenge: (1) The book They Never Came Back was published as non-fiction, and the Doubleday Crime Book Club lists it as "True Crime", yet we list it as Fiction. (2) My wife is a big mystery fan, and reads all of the Lord Peter Whimsey stories. Many of these are listed by us as spec fic, but at least 4 of them she can see nothing speculative in them. (3) We list Searoad by Ursula K. Le Guin as spec fic, but this is the particular example she uses in her essay Genre: A Word Only the French Could Love as specifically "Mimetic" or "Realistic" fiction, i.e. specifically as non-spec fic (and I don't see anything spec fic in there either). Is there a process for challenging such inclusion, other than just trying to delete it, or changing it to non-genre or non-fiction and seeing if the moderator agrees? [I think that would be a bad approach, because we have no easily available record of who added it, and this approach wouldn't give that person a chance to justify the inclusion.] Chavey 03:16, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

It sounds like we are talking about two separate classes of issues here. First, there are some titles that do not belong in the database at all. They were included back when there was no moderation and we relied too heavily on robots (about 10 years ago), who would sometimes run wild. Much of the detritus that was added then has been since cleaned up (I deleted a few thousand games, comics and RPG modules in 2006 alone), but some remains. If you find a title that doesn't belong under the Rules of Acquisition, delete away.
The second issue has to do with the way titles are stored and displayed in the system. "NONGENRE" is currently reserved for novels and there is no way to specify that a particular collection, anthology or short fiction piece is non-genre, at least not without messing up the author's Summary page. That's why we have to enter books like Searoad as collections if we want to enter them at all. This is a software limitation and needs to be addressed at the software level. Ahasuerus 03:47, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Something else to consider: a non-genre book by Ursula K. Le Guin would most certainly be included in the database, while a non-genre book by Dorothy L. Sayers should not. That's the ever undefinable threshold that we're all challenged to contend with. Some are easier than others. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote some spec-fic, but should we include every edition of Treasure Island that a robot can find? Other authors of contention: Graham Greene, G. K. Chesteron, Nora Roberts, and William W. Johnstone. (Someone's done a lot of work putting the last two author's books into series, or should I say wasted a lot of valuable time?) Mhhutchins 04:11, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
So, if I understand correctly:
  1. With Searoad we cannot list it as a non-genre collection, so either we lie and call it a non-genre novel, or else we lie and call it a genre collection;
  2. I should try to remember Searoad for when the system is able to handle it correctly, and fix it up then;
  3. If I think something doesn't belong in the database, I should just go ahead and delete it, and see if my reasons for the deletion convince the moderator. And if someone else put that book in the system because they think it belongs here, well here's hoping that they're watching that page.
Is that right? Chavey 04:45, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  1. Yes (but I wouldn't call it lying, but rather making the best of a situation until something better comes along.)
  2. Yes (make a note of it on your user page.)
  3. Yes (but don't count on the person or, more likely, robot catching the deletion.) Mhhutchins 04:06, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Actually, Fixer (our faithful robot) keeps track of all ISBNs that he has submitted to IFSDB and will not submit the same ISBN more than once. Unless I ask him nicely, that is. Ahasuerus 04:28, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Some editors have been handling #2 by tagging the title as "non-genre" and/or appending "(non-genre)" to the title. Do a title search for "(%genre" (left parentheses, percent sign, and the word genre) and you will see various non-genre titles. This allows titles to be classified as SHORTFICTION, COLLECTION, etc. while also making it easy to spot that they are non-genre works. Using tags is less intrusive but also to the point that someone is not likely to notice. Either way, when we add better genre support to ISFDB it'll be easy to locate the titles that should be updated. --Marc Kupper|talk 22:32, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Author and Marine legend

I have an ongoing project of trying to identify some of the obscure authors in our db (I've done about 200 so far). I identified another interesting author: C. C. 'Buck' Coffman. He only wrote one SF book, a 4-story collection, Spacedust One, but it turns out he was also a Marine legend, including having a Marine training center named after him. If that kind of story interests you, I invite you to read the Bio page I wrote for him, attached to the link above. Chavey 17:56, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Fascinating story. I can't attest to the quality of his fiction, but that it was published by a vanity press might be an indication. Now his qualities as a human being, those can't be denied. Mhhutchins 19:51, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Super long tags seem to confuse magazine series processing

Click on Issue 50 of the podcast and that leads to Issue 59 of the epub. If I enter a shorter tag for the pubs in question the lookups work correctly.--swfritter 15:26, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

It's not just Magazines. When a Pub Tag is duplicated, links via that tag will go to one of the Pubs but not necessarily to the one you expected. We encountered that with a load of "Doctor Who and the <FITB>" titles a while ago - the automatically generated Tags all started "DCTRWHNDT" and the code to generate a unique suffix didn't work right. I remember improving that, but it's still possible to manually enter duplicates and there's still a small chance that similarly-named pubs will generate the same tag. Here you've got lots of Magazines generating tags starting "BNTHCSLSS". They'll need manually fixing to have unique IDs. BLongley 17:05, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
It looks like there's only 14 pubs affected, with 2 different Tags. Search for tags like 'BNTHCSLSS2222222222333333333'. (That "2222222222333333333" is a dead giveaway that it's the same bug.) BLongley 17:14, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Looks like something more than a small chance for these pubs; ceaseless duplicate tags! I will have to remember to enter the tags manually for these two pubs. Could series lookups be done with record id's instead of tags?--swfritter 20:25, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
It's possible and very much desirable. We really need to switch from tags to IDs throughout -- see this Bug Report. For now, I have fixed the series grid. Ahasuerus 05:10, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks!--swfritter 15:44, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
And I've de-duped the Beneath Ceaseless Skies Tags. This would be an ideal candidate for a new Submission warning though, if a submission would create a duplicate tag. BLongley 18:15, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
There's a Bug-Fix I submitted that should reduce the chance of auto-tagging a duplicate. And I started an FR to find problem pubs. It may be some time before we can totally eliminate pub tags, but it's a start. BLongley 23:50, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

New Amazon categorization

In working on the latest submissions from Fixer, I've noticed that Amazon has placed talking animal stories into a new category: magical realism. I wonder what Gabriel Garcia Marquez would think of this. Mhhutchins 19:20, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Well, let's see. It's got flowers, a tree, some grass, a house, a child and a cat on the cover. They all look reasonably realistic. But then the title says that the character's adventures are "magical". Put two and two together and you have "magical realism" - simple! Ahasuerus 19:45, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
It's nice to know the editors (or their lackeys) at Amazon have such a broad and all-encompassing definition of the term. Wouldn't want to offend those 7-year-old readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Mhhutchins 20:11, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Ages of SF

"The Golden Age of SF" is debatable, but I think I've found the "Dark Age of SF". After helping QShadow out with some SQL, I notice that we have no SF between Plutarch's "Life of Lycurgus" (75AD) and Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte Darthur" (1485AD). Can I nominate that period, or do people have a better definition? :-) BLongley 20:38, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

I would have a lot more time to do other things if the "The Golden Age of SF" were defined as between 75AD and 1485AD. Wouldn't take long to catalog that. That 1485 date is suspiciously close to the date the printing press was invented.--swfritter 20:50, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Canonical Name question

Hazel Adair is a single-book author, at least with respect to the ISFDB. She has published several books in other areas under that name. That name is a pseudonym for Hazel Iris Addis. Under her true name, she has published several Cub Scout related books, but no SF. Since she has only used "Hazel Adair" within the SF community, it seems that this should be her canonical name. But that's not the case; "Hazel Iris Addis" is canonical. I would like to change that (it's only one title, so it's not much work). Is that a problem? Chavey 19:46, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

I agree and will accept the submissions. Please move any author data over to the new canonical author's record. Thanks. Mhhutchins 20:05, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

"Juvenile fantasy"

Just a note that the tag "Juvenile fantasy" has been changed to "juvenile fantasy" to make it consistent with all other all-lowercase tags. Ahasuerus 06:15, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Ten Best

He gets the name wrong ("The Internet Science Fiction Database"), but James Patrick Kelly lists us in his "Ten Best Sites?" article in this month's Locus. It is a nice mention and he specifically states "Bless you, everyone who works on the ISFDB". I wonder if we'll see a spike in visits. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 13:42, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

And we all should be proud. Unfortunately two of the examples he gives, being able to find an author's first story or all the stories they wrote in a given year, are actions that are not all that easy to do if the given works are in series. Robert Silverberg's biblio is getting particularly complicated especially now that fixups are being documented as series.--swfritter 14:33, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
That's surely why we have the "Chronological" option in "Other Bibliographies For This Author"? BLongley 15:50, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Superior!!! Please don't tell me this has been there forever!!! It would be a nice added feature if the chronological page had a series like after the title. With a title listing like "Lord Valentine's Castle (1980) [Majipoor]". And a User Preference option.--swfritter 19:54, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
I think it's been there for ages (well, since I started), but has been neglected while we "improved" the other views. I can see a use for "Totally Chronological" or "Chronological by title-type". But I can also see a use for "If you switched THIS option on, then it might help" - the non-Borgo-Press SF&FBR made me want to use the Amazon.fr link I would normally turn off. (And is there an Amazon.ru?) More feature requests are always welcome (as I will probably be using some of them as references for future job applications, if they're ones I can manage.) BLongley 23:27, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
If you try "Amazon.ru", it will redirect you to "http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/gateway-eu", which lists the following Amazon stores:
  • Amazon.com (US)
  • Amazon.co.uk (UK)
  • Amazon.fr (France)
  • Amazon.de (Germany)
  • Amazon.co.jp (Japan)
  • Amazon.ca (Canada)
  • Amazon.cn (China)
Still, the fact that they have owned "amazon.ru" since 1998 suggests that the thought may have crossed their minds. Ahasuerus 06:49, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
They've been there as long as I've been an ISFDB member, which is "forever" from my very limited perspective :-)
I've always thought that the "Other Bibliographies" set of links should be much higher on the sidebar than it is. The current organization of that sidebar is largely aimed at those of us using it for editing purposes, and is not organized for someone browsing the db. If you're not logged in, those "Other Bibliographies" do appear higher up than when you're logged in, but for a casual "user" of the db, I think there's a strong argument that those links should at the very top of the sidebar. Chavey 20:59, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
I think there has long been a consensus that are user interface could be a little more user friendly/intuitive. A term like "Other Bibliographies For This Author" is kind of nebulous. How many casual users know that "Other Sites" in a pub will actually lead to a sales/information site for the pub - at least when an ISBN match can be made.--swfritter 21:12, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
I have been thinking about it lately. Drop-down menus seem like a good alternative to the current layout. The way Locus does it is a bit irritating, but something like the menu at the top of this page (hover over "Articles" or other options) may be useful. Ahasuerus 09:30, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Fix-ups done as series

Does using series also seem like a good way to do fix-ups? Seems so to me.--swfritter 19:55, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

I have been using this approach for the last 1-2 years and it seems work well. The two exceptions I can think of are:
  • The original stories are completely unrelated and the resulting novel is much more than the sum of its parts. Van Vogt did this a few times.
  • One or more of the stories are mined for two different (and unrelated) novels. Of course, you can't put one Title in two series at this time.
That said, it works well in 97+% of the cases that I have run into. Ahasuerus 00:07, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
I've been doing the same, not necessarily because they were later used in fix-ups. It just turns out that most of the time when an author creates a fix-up, it's previously published stories that were part of a series. Mhhutchins 00:45, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Translation of a french bibliographic term

French publishers sometimes add to books a kind of partial dj which is called in french a "Bandeau" (which can be translated as "Band" as in "Head band"). I wonder if this practice is frequent in the anglo-saxon world (although I've never came across such a thing) and what is the name given to this feature. See here for an example, with here the book without this bandeau. Thanks for your eventual answers. Hervé Hauck 14:43, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Sounds similar to an obi which I have on a couple of Japanese books (and LPs). Mhhutchins 19:26, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
I have occasionally seen obis on recent US-published books, but I can't recall the details. Perhaps we could ask professional editors over on Making Light or a similar blog? Ahasuerus 00:01, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
BTW, the "anglo-saxon world" hasn't been around for about a millennium. :) Mhhutchins 20:42, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
A Google search for American Bandeau does bring some interesting results. The only place I have seen anything similar on American pubs is as a promotional feature on magazines.--swfritter 15:15, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Do you think that "belly band" is an adequate translation ? Hauck 19:59, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
If there's no English equivalent, "bandeau" works exceedingly well. (There's no better word for "croissant" than the word itself. The English phrase "crescent roll" just doesn't do it justice.) Mhhutchins 20:42, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Dating of early Ace singles?

We have lots of Ace Doubles, etc., that have no internal publications dates, but have such dates listed in ISFDB. I assume that means that there are other sources for such data that others are probably more familiar with than I. I'm looking at an Ace Single edition of Andre Norton's The Last Planet, which we do not have included in that title record. It has a catalog number of D-96, with the same number and cover as the first pb publication, but that pub was an Ace Double. The Ace Image Library says of it "I think it was a 1961 printing - need to check on this". Is there any other place to get a more confident date for this book? Chavey 05:58, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

The best source for Ace Doubles (and many other Ace reprints) is James A. Corrick's Double Your Pleasure: The Ace SF Double. He states that the double version of D-96 was the first reprint under this title and that Ace reprinted it in 1955, i.e. the same year that the double version of D-96 appeared. Jon Warren's "Official Price Guide: Paperbacks: First Edition" (p. 25) confirms that both the double and the single versions of D-96 appeared in 1955. BTW, Corrick also mentions that subsequent Ace reprints appeared in 1962, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1971 and 1974. Ahasuerus 06:32, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! Your second sentence refers twice to "the double version of D-96". I suspect one of those phrases was supposed to be "the single version of D-96". Chavey 13:30, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. It will teach me to post at 2am :-) Ahasuerus 14:59, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Sharman/Sharmon DiVono

We have two almost identically named authors: Sharman DiVono, who wrote the novel "Blood Moon" in 1999 and one essay, and Sharmon Divono, who co-wrote several "Tom Swift" books in 1981-1982. Although their publications are separated by 17 years, they seem to be the same people (the links I've added to the first author shows she was busy with comics in the interim). In particular, Google gets 83 hits on "Sharman DiVono" AND "Tom Swift", and 90 hits on "Sharmon DiVono" AND "Tom Swift", essentially the same. Supporting "Sharmon" for Tom Swift is WikiPedia. But supporting "Sharman" are both Locus and BBC. Assuming these people are the same, IMDB also agrees that the spelling is "Sharman". Would the Tom Swift fans out there disagree with changing "Sharmon Divono" to be a misspelling of/pseudonym for "Sharman DiVono"? I have been unable to find a "home page" for this writer. Chavey 21:28, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

The single story previously attributed in the db to "Sharmon Divono" has proven to be actually by "Sharman DiVono". Both OCLC and Locus1 agree. That leaves the six Tom Swift novels co-written by "Sharmon Divono" and William Rotsler. Since we have no work actually credited directly to "Sharmon Divono", it would be easy to simply merge the two authors records as "Sharman DiVono". Mhhutchins 01:23, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Sounds right to me. Author merges require a moderator to do it. Go Michael! Chavey 04:53, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Done. I didn't realize non-mod editors couldn't make a submission to merge authors, but I guess it's a good idea. We had a few mishaps in previous years concerning author merges. Thanks. Mhhutchins 05:46, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Reviewer bug fixed

There was a bug with the way reviewers are entered. If the reviewer's name contained Unicode characters, e.g."Janka Kaščáková", then the name was not filed in the database and we ended up with a reviewer-less review. This bug, which was limited to reviews and didn't affect interviews and regular titles, was fixed a few minutes ago.

There is another known bug in Add/Edit Pub which lets editors create reviews/interviews with no reviewers/interviewers. It's a bit more involved and will be fixed in the next patch. Once it's been fixed, we can search for review/interview records without associated reviewers/interviewers and fix them. (Well, we can start now if we have volunteers with SQL skills :-) Ahasuerus 05:45, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

There goes another feature!--swfritter 15:39, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Another "feature" has been fixed. Editors can no longer create New Pub, Edit Pub, Add Pub, Clone Pub or Import/Export submissions with incomplete Contents. Every regular Title record must have a title and at least one author; every review must have a title, at least one reviewee and at least one reviewer; every interview must have a title, at least one interviewee and at least one interviewer. If you find any problems in this area, please post them here. Ahasuerus 09:34, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Pseudo-variant spellings of names

If we have an author who always spells their name "Jon", but occasionally they get mentioned or reviewed as "John", do we try to set up something so that a search for "John" finds them? And if so, how? Here are two examples: (1) Let's say you're looking up "Elizabeth Lynn", a fairly well-known author. You enter that name as is, and the system doesn't find her. (It actually takes you to an 1880 collection by Elizabeth Lynn Linton). The problem is that she has never actually published a book under that name -- it's always "Elizabeth A. Lynn", so unless you think to include her middle initial, you're not going to find her. (2) The author "Theodora Du Bois" is correctly cited with that spelling of her name on all of her publications that I've been able to locate. However, several SF books refer to her as "Theodora DuBois", without the space. (The ISFDB uses that spelling as of my writing this, although I've made a submission to correct that.) No matter how we list her, though, someone might try to look her up under the other spelling, and think that we've failed to include her. Of course we could "fix" this by creating an artificial variant title under the alternate spelling. But if that alternate spelling was never actually used, this seems like an inappropriate solution. And we could try to "fix" that by making the name search look for "close" names, but that approach is fraught with great difficulties. So in either case, do we try to do anything to help people find someone they're looking for? Chavey 15:12, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Good question. We usually apply a first principle of record what's stated - so we should ensure that "Theodora DuBois" remains if any book has actually credited her that way. Unfortunately that verifier doesn't respond, so it might be good to see if anyone else owns this pub before accepting the title-author change. BLongley 16:15, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
When it comes to secondary references though - interviews and reviews - we would normally try to avoid any new author names. For interviews, give the Canonical Author as the interviewee, with a note as to how they were credited in the interview. If the title of the interview includes the name, no extra note is necessary: E.g. "A Chat with Bob Bloch" could be linked to "Robert Bloch" as Interviewee with no extra explanation. For reviews, it's less important to link to the Canonical Author (as those are covered by title links), but do make sure it links to one of the pseudonyms. Add a note in the review as to how it was actually spelled - e.g. if a review says "Psycho" was by "Bob Block", note that, but enter the author as "Robert Bloch". This hasn't always been the case, and sometimes people have made pseudonyms for the reviewee or interviewee. Which will only lead to trouble in the end as we have more and more clashing names. BLongley 16:15, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
As I was saying. :See my page. We now have "stray publications' because of a disparity between title and pub author. A primary verifier of one was Scott Latham and a secondary verifier of another was Mhhutchins. The verified ones should be candidates for variant titles as DuBois unless we decide to go with Du Bois for all. I realize now that I should have put the submission on hold but the issue can still be easy resolved once we have a consensus. Since only one was physically verified, and by an inactive editor, my own opinion would be to go with Du Bois for all and leave notes.--swfritter 16:22, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
Additional comments/suggestions from me are at that link also. Chavey 18:48, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
Fine by me, if the "stray publications" go away. I'd double-check the Tuck myself but I haven't found mine since the move. (I really should finish the unpacking!) BLongley 16:36, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
The secondary sources are Tuck and Reginald1, the latter of the two gives the name without a space...but we don't create pseudonyms based on a possibly mistaken secondary source, or shouldn't. I've just uploaded an image of the verified Curtis pb of Solution T-25 which credits the author without a space in the last name, but that's the cover. We can't know what the title page credits unless another primary verifier comes along. I say we don't create a pseudonym and variant until that happens. Mhhutchins 16:49, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) One possible solution would be to add standalone pseudonyms that would not be associated with any titles, e.g. in this case we could add "Elizabeth Lynn" as a pseudonym for "Elizabeth A. Lynn". That way anyone searching for "Elizabeth Lynn" will be sent to the "Elizabeth A. Lynn" page. It would be a quick and relatively painless solution (no software changes needed), but where will we draw the line? And who gets the "John Public" pseudonym if we have "John Q. Public" and "John P. Public"? Ahasuerus 03:12, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

My own thought too. Ursula K. Le Guin (or LeGuin) being another case in point.--swfritter 14:50, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Overlapping Title Series

I'm currently working with three YA Horror Title Series: The Twilight Series (of the 1980's, not the Stephanie Meyer series), the Dark Forces series, and Bruce Coville's "Chamber of Horror" series. These series overlap by 4 books: The 4 books in the "Chamber of Horror" series were each published first in one of the other two series (2 in each). In one sense, this seems to imply that all of them are actually Publication Series, since the series they're in is a property of the individual publications of the books and not the title itself. But the way we use Publication Series pretty much says that a series of books by one author should be a Title Series. And that seems to be the only way it will show up as a group in the standard bibliographic listing. So it seems that I have two options for how to handle these series:

  1. Convert both the Twilight Series and the Dark Forces series to Publisher Series, which seems logically correct, but means that the title records won't show that these books are part of a series (only the individual book records will); or
  2. Leave Twilight and Dark Forces as they are now, with gaps in the numeric record for the two Bruce Coville titles, and add a bibliographic note about those two missing books. (The bibliographic note doesn't show up on the Title Series page, users have to click the "View Series Comments" link.)

Suggestions? Chavey 19:09, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

No, I think option one is wrong. A publisher series is a series of publications usually by a single editor and has nothing to do with a series related by content or works of art (for our purposes read "title"). The problem is the software currently does not allow a title to belong to more than one series—this is a known limitation and I believe there is a request to fix this outstanding (it impacts many title series going as far back as Tarzan and Conan). For now you will have to choose just one and add notes until such time as that is fixed—that is go with option two. One other way technical around this, which is also not sanctioned (and I would not recommend), would be to use variant titles that are in different series (this option too does not display correctly and has other implications). Uzume 12:45, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
It's been tried: see 17974 and 729237 for a method of dealing with overlapping series. I don't think it looks too bad. BLongley 18:15, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes and you also see other similar placeholder titles like this: 1022524 (used to fill a hole in a series where the entry has never been published and probably never written either. It likely never will be.). I have to admit using placeholder titles in this way is probably the best solution at the moment but I am not sure how to go about creating an empty placeholder title that has no pubs and have no variants and isn't a variant itself. Uzume 21:10, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
I think your example must have been created with a dummy publication that was then deleted leaving only the title. For variants, "Add Variant Title" is a start and you can leave a note for the Moderator explaining why - we really ought to add "notes to Mod" that won't get accidentally left behind. Although we seem to cope with those from Fixer fairly well. BLongley
I was under the impression that when the last pub of a title is deleted the title is automatically deleted as well. Perhaps I am wrong in my assumption on this. I too think it would be useful to be able to provide a mod comment when submitting an edit (something the mod can see but does not go into the actual edit). It would be very useful for those times when you do something questionable because it is actually part of a larger edit that requires multiple transactions to complete. Uzume 02:58, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
Authors are supposed to be automatically deleted when their last title is deleted. Titles are not deleted when the last associated pub is deleted. Ahasuerus 03:42, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
Another thing to watch out for is that "Remove Titles from this Pub" will not delete the title, even if it no longer appears in any publications. I go find and clean up several such strays each month. BLongley 16:20, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't look for them, but when I found these "orphans" I'll delete them. It should be a common practice that every time the "Remove Title" function is used that the editor check to see if the submission created an orphaned title and determine whether the title should be deleted. Nine times out of ten it should be either deleted or merged, but occasionally I'll find one that appeared in a non-genre publication for which a pub record has not been created (especially 19th century and early 20th century magazines and books.) Mhhutchins 17:21, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
It's tricky to remember that the clean-up is needed, especially if you have to wait for approval first. Fortunately most cases are caused by replacing one title by the same title under a pseudonym, so we'll usually catch them next time that author has a "Check for Duplicate Titles" run on them. I have various SQL scripts to spot problems that we can't search for easily, and would be happy to donate those to anyone running offline queries - or indeed, to a special "problems that need a look" page that will actually query the live database. Things like Authors whose Last Name is so incorrect they won't appear in the author directory, or incorrectly spaced initials, or titles not in any pub, or pub/title mismatches, etc. Some will need tuning if we're going to use fudges like the above - for instance, it's usually an error for a variant title to be in a series (only the canonical title should be, usually). BLongley 17:44, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
That sounds like FR 3136359 "Create a menu of data cleanup scripts for moderators" :-) Ahasuerus 03:27, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

I recently made a series of submissions to add cover URLs for this magazine and Mhhutchins brought it to my attention that he felt the magazine fell under the a general interest/non-genre magazine category (and thus cover URLs should not be entered), however it was listed neither at General Interest Magazines nor Magazines. I am confident in his assessment since I have never read it (I guessed it was horror and well within the speculative fiction definition due to the Hitchcock name even though I noticed the word "mystery" in the title as well). In any event, I am here to solicit feedback and get it added to one of the lists. In the event it is determined to be non-genre (and I feel it will be). I plan to cancel my submissions. Thanks. Uzume 06:57, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

It looks like somebody forgot to put a link to it on the General Interest wiki page. The pubs were entered using the General Interest standards for data entry. The only time a cover image should be documented for such a publication is if it illustrates one of the spec fic stories.--swfritter 14:13, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
I hesitate to call AHMM a non-genre magazine, because it's genre is mystery. But it should be entered onto the General Interests magazine list and should follow the entry rules for such magazines. Content entry should be limited to spec-fic pieces, and cover linking should only be done for spec-fic stories. (Which should be no problem with AHMM, as 90% of all covers have some fat man on the cover...) Mhhutchins 17:53, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
I think that's why the the term General Interest is used. I guess in this case wrong-genre might be more accurate.--swfritter 18:08, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Google Books biblio page

I can now generate a biblio page with links to downloadable pubs for Google Books similar to the one for Librivox and Project Gutenberg. Questions: Does anyone else want such data posted? If so, where should it be posted? There is no need to keep memory-hogging page histories; is there a way to turn off generation of page histories for specific wiki pages?--swfritter 14:52, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Strange Horizons

The main reason we do not ordinarily document web-only mags is because it is difficult to verify the contents when the webzine disappears. One solution has been to make screen shots of the ToC for such publications and archiving them. "Strange Horizons" has long been a significant source that we have not documented. Their archive page now seems to be an adequate bibliographic source; it can be zipped and stored in our archives. My intentions are to at least enter the fiction contents. Any problems?--swfritter 15:25, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Oh, a volunteer! Sounds like a plan! ;-) Ahasuerus 16:10, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
No objections here. Even if it's wiped from the internet without a trace, I feel the contents of Strange Horizons are important enough to document here. There are issues of some pulp magazines that are so rare as to be non-existent and we've documented their contents. I've started back on a project to add the contents of Ellen Datlow's Sci Fiction, but that's relatively easy, having averaged only one story per week for the almost six years of its existence. Most of the stories already have title records, but without a pub record. I hope there's no objection to creating pub records for this webzine either. Good luck with your project. Mhhutchins 17:50, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
Of course Strange Horizon can't possibly be "wiped from the internet without a trace", because previous versions will always be maintained by the Wayback Machine. Chavey 23:42, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
Read again. I wrote "Even if..." to point out that the fact that it may not be accessible (either temporarily or permanently) shouldn't deter us from recording it's contents by title. The issue of stability is the rationale that's usually brought up when it comes to creating records for webzines. My point remains valid. About the Wayback Machine: I've had many problems trying to retrieve info from the archives.org site so I know it can't be depended upon to store EVERYTHING that has ever appeared on billions of webpages. Maybe one day... Mhhutchins 17:12, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
I know I've seen Author Websites that have been archived on the Wayback Machine at one point and are no longer there now, so things can obviously be lost. (Copyright Issues maybe?) But we certainly can't rely on the Wayback Machine. We can't even rely on OUR server at times - so download those backups when you can, just in case Al and Ahasuerus die in a horrific plane crash into our Hosting Provider's data centre. (We'd still lose the Wiki-side though.) BLongley 18:44, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
As luck would have it, the CVS repository that we use to store a copy of our code (SourceForge) came under attack some 24+ hours ago and has been unavailable ever since. The problem doesn't affect the live server, but it's a good example of why multiple backup copies are a must. Ahasuerus 07:39, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
I wasn't really being completely serious about using the WayBack machine for "long term stability" of things we link to, or reference. But it did make me wonder about a possibly interesting way we could use those archives, which I will open up in separate topic below. Chavey 05:11, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
They individual issues must be compressed and archived on a server in Outer Mongolia. It takes forever to retrieve them. They will be helpful in determining editor credits. If you use the instructions at the top of the above page and use this page the results are better. Eventually you can get to this page. Now I have a way of determining editor data. --swfritter 14:46, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Wayback Machine & book prices

In looking at the Wayback Machine archives, I went to a publisher's 2000 web site where they listed the prices for their "recent releases" -- in this case books from 1999 and 2000 that we don't have prices listed for. I realized that at least with this publisher, I could probably look at the original price listings every few months within those archives. Is that sufficient documentation to list the prices for those books? Chavey 05:11, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Sure. I think it would be similar to anyone using a hard copy of Locus as the source for a price. Just state the source in the note field, e.g.: "Price from the publisher's website, dated 1999-07-20 (accessed via the Wayback Machine on 2011-01-28)." No linking though. Can anyone else see any problems with this? Mhhutchins 16:56, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Sounds like a good idea! Ahasuerus 00:45, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
I used this to add 27 prices for most of the books in the Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies, which fills out most of the missing prices in that series. (Well, it will once those prices are moderated :-) Two warnings: (1) There were two cases where the price changed between the "Forthcoming Books" and the actual release, so in using this approach one has to watch out for that; and (2) This publisher, along with many others I suspect, changed their system around 2005 so that instead of having static web pages, they were using dynamic pages that grabbed prices from a database. The Wayback Machine doesn't normally grab archived versions of those databases, so the pages from 2005 on were all giving 2011 prices, which are substantially higher than the original prices (i.e., unusable for us). Chavey 07:46, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Move over R. L. Fanthorpe

An author publishes 9 books in one month. Thank the Lord for the technology that allows anyone anywhere to publish anything and everything they write. Mhhutchins 05:46, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

Move over Brian Stableford as well then - he only managed 8. And he needed one of our Editor's help. BLongley 10:00, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

Clute/Nicholls verification if edition year is given but publisher isn't?

Hey everyone,

I just added a primary verification for Alien Dust, E.C. Tubb, 1957 Avalon. I noticed there was no verification for Clute/Nicholls so I checked their record for Tubb and found this:

"Alien Dust (1952-3 NW; 1954 Nebula; fixup 1955; expurgated 1957 US)"

This specifies a 1957 "expurgated" U.S. edition but doesn't name Avalon as the publisher. However, since Avalon's is the only 1957 U.S. edition (the other in 1957 is Italian), is this record adequate to consider the 1957 Avalon edition "verified" in Clute/Nicholls?

Thanks for your time,

Big Al Mintaka 05:52, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

The short answer is "yes". In general, if there's a discrepancy between a secondary source and the physical publication, but you are confident the source is referring to the same publication, do a verification and record the discrepancy in the notes. We don't, however, generally note omissions in the secondary source unless they are atypical, and lack of publisher for Clute/Nicholls is probably not atypical. Mhhutchins, with occasional help from some friends, has put together Reference:Verification_Sources, which tells you what fields you can normally expect to find in each secondary source. I see it does not include publisher for C/N. --MartyD 11:26, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

Dust Jacket images: entire jacket if available?

Hi, When I scan a dust jacket image for my own database, I usually scan the whole thing if I can - front, spine, and back. So far I've uploaded a few images to ISFDB but I've only submitted the DJ front images per what I've seen other submitters doing.

Q: Is submitting the entire jacket image (front, spine, back) advisable, provided that the "longest dimension" is limited to 600 pixels per the Wiki help pages? In that case of a complete jacket, this would be the horizontal dimension, whereas most of the images I've seen on ISFDB have had the vertical dimension longer.

Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about. For my recent submission to Moon Ahead, by Leslie Greener, I used the DJ front only. These are images I scanned and uploaded to my own website; I'd submit them to be hosted by ISFDB.

Moon Ahead, dust jacket front
Moon Ahead, dust jacket complete

I actually scan the flaps too, but I make a separate composite image for those. In other words, I could include the flaps on the complete cover image if allowed or necessary for some reason. Thanks for your time, Big Al Mintaka 10:12, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

I personally only scan the entire dustjacket if it has wraparound art, without much text on the back, and rarely including the flaps (one exception here). But there is no stated policy (that I'm aware of) which prevents the uploading of an entire dustjacket as long as you stay within certain criteria concerning file size. Even then, exceptions can be made, especially for wraparound art. There is no moderation of the Wiki file upload procedure so you have to let your conscience be your guide. (If it's an excessively large file, someone might point it out to you.) My personal guidelines on wrapround art: No more than 1000 pixels wide, which means the height should be less than 600 (as here), and no more than 200kb in size, but every once in awhile an extraordinary work requires an exception to be made. My software allows me to tweak the quality of the scan, so I can stay within the size limits without much loss in quality. Mhhutchins 19:50, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Mike. We should scan art. We should not scan stuff which isn't art. That would include all of Mike's examples, and Alan's Moon Ahead example as well (full DJ). The one questionable area I see are dust jackets that have "pseudo-wraparound" covers -- more than half of the back is text, but the hill/field/background from the front is continued onto the other half of the back dj in an obvious manner, with no substantial new artistic elements. IMHO, those aren't worthy of being scanned, but it's often a close call. Chavey 21:12, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks to both of you for those great suggestions. I too agree RE scanning art as opposed to anything on a DJ or paperback that's not, such as synopses, trailers, author bios, publications lists, etc. To be honest I hadn't known that Moon Ahead's DJ was wraparound art at first. I thought the Moon on the back was just a mirror image of the one on the front. When you said it was an example of wraparound art I looked again and realized that the cratering on the back part of the image was different. It really is supposed to be a continuous image. Mike, your examples of wraparound art are fantastic. May I ask what graphics software you're using? I use a Photoshop wannabe, Corel Photopaint. It too allows me to tweak scan qualities via resampling, resizing, and JPG compression; but as far as artistic tools go, it's rather weak. For example, your wraparounds show essentially no crease lines at the spines. When I prep an image like that of Moon Ahead's DJ, I have to leave the spine folds in place because trying to remove them with Photopaint produces disastrous results. The folds look better. Hey, thanks once again for those comments RE wraparounds. Good stuff. Big Al Mintaka 04:37, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
I use the software that came with my HP scanner/printer to scan the covers, and a freeware called Paint.Net for image manipulation, including resizing. It allows the user to reduce the size of a file while retaining pretty good quality. For example, a 235kb image file can be reduced to 148kb and only lose 3% of its quality. My eye can detect no difference. I had PaintShop Pro (from Corel) on my old computer, but didn't want to lay out big bucks to upgrade when I purchased a new computer. I discovered Paint.Net which does 95% of what PaintShop did, or at least the features I used. The features I miss the most from PaintShop are its recoloring and noise reduction tools, which were much better than Paint.Net's rather low-rent versions. But, hey, it's free! Mhhutchins 05:43, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Tor Books merged into Tor

I've merged Tor Books with Tor, leaving all verified books intact. Most of those that remain as Tor Books were verified by later editors, who probably kept the publisher name from the record before verifying. Most of these came from automated submissions from Amazon, who always gives "Tor Books" as the publisher. In my many years, I've only seen a couple of pubs that give "Tor Books" on the spine, and even those gave "Tor" as the publisher on the title page (over "A Tom Doherty Associates Book"). The following editors still have verified books giving "Tor Books" as the publisher:

  • Hauck (22 pubs)
  • Willem H (18)
  • JLaTondre (4)
  • Bluesman (4)
  • Chavey (3)
  • Don Erikson, Rtrace, Clarkmci, and Kraang (1 each)

There are some duplicates due to a second Primary Verification. I've left it up to them to decide whether to change the publisher in their records. Mhhutchins 17:31, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Updated mine even when not primary verifier. Hauck 17:57, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
I corrected mine. I didn't have any secondary verifications on the list. Chavey 18:40, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
I corrected mine. That leaves only 9. --Willem H. 20:00, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Submitted changes for my four. --JLaTondre 00:11, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Only two left of the four noted for me, updated those. Approved the four mentioned just above and updated the one for Don Erikson as he may or may not respond. --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:18, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Mine's gone that leaves one. After that's gone the Wiki link will need to be decommissioned.Kraang 01:18, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
And then there were none. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 02:00, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, guys. That went a lot smoother than expected. Mhhutchins 04:08, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
I updated Template:PublicationFields:Publisher to remove "Tor Books" as the example of how to select a publisher name from multiple choices. Replaced with "Tor". Kevin 21:30, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Development status and improving performance

1. Development is still on hold as we wait for Sourceforge to recover from a major hacker attack. Unfortunately, the service that we rely on (CVS) will be the last one to be restored, but it looks like it will happen over the weekend.

2. I have optimized a number of database tables, including authors, titles, pubs and series. I plan to optimize the submissions table and a few Wiki tables in about 20 hours, starting at 5AM GMT Saturday (12AM NorAm Eastern, 9pm NorAm Pacific). Unfortunately, it will require disabling editing and moderating for an hour or two. (I'd prefer to push it back another couple of hours, but it may cause a collision with the backups.) Ahasuerus 08:46, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Just a reminder that database editing will be disabled starting at 5AM GMT (12AM NorAm Eastern, 9pm NorAm Pacific). Hopefully, the optimization process won't take more than an hour or two. Ahasuerus 04:33, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Database optimization has been completed and editing has been re-enabled. Ahasuerus 05:26, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Lately I've noticed that if I'm editing publications (or this Wiki) in the wee hours, there's a drastic slowdown in response time, sometimes a dead halt, around 3:00 AM EST. Are you doing some kind of maintenance/backup at that hour? Thanks for your time, Big Al Mintaka 05:15, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Arcadia House editions, plus LCCN in notes not found in LOC

Hi, I have a copy of this pub, The lost Comet, by Stanton A. Coblentz. The "Notes" section has this entry: "LCCN 64-7371". However I can't find this LCCN at the LOC (or any listing for this title at the LOC) and none of the OCLC entries include it. It's not on the copyright page of the book either. I'm not sure what to do about this; should I go ahead and delete the LCCN entry in "Notes" and/or does anyone happen to know how it got there?

My copy also presents a problem with edition numbering. Clute/Nicholls and Currey both show a 1964 edition for this book. Mine is copyrighted 1964, but a few lines below the copyright notice there's a "5" centered horizontally on the page. Anyone know what this means for an Arcadia House publication? Would this mean 5th edition, 5th printing, etc? The absence of one of those number lines used by publishers to ID printings has me wondering what this lone digit means.

The bottom line is that I'm wondering whether or not to use my copy as Primary verification. Thanks for your time, Big Al Mintaka 05:10, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps Bluesman (who did the OCLC verification) added that LCCN and may remember his source. As a primary verifier, you can add that the number is not printed in the book and that the source for it is unknown. You can note the 1964 copyright date. Also, the number on Arcadia House editions are disputed, with some believing it to be the month of publication and others the sequence of publication for any particular year. No one's recorded a number higher than 12 so there's no firm proof of either. Just record the number in the notes. I doubt it's a printing number, and lean towards the month of printing. Surely Arcadia published more than 12 books in a year, including their westerns, nurse novels, etc. Mhhutchins 17:14, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanx Mike. Looks like someone has beaten me to it and added the note about the missing LCCN - providing a good example of how to format such a note in the process. All things we've been talking about considered, I'm going to go ahead and verify the primary for The Lost Comet and add the note about "5" on the copyright page. Later, Big Al Mintaka 05:47, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Attack of the Robots

It's started again. Six attacks in the last couple of days. They all appear to be from the same source with similar postings. Any suggestions on how to prevent this. Mhhutchins 01:39, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Three more in the last two hours. Mhhutchins 03:44, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Checking the logs, it looks like there have been 6 additional attempts to create ISFDB accounts in the last few hours. All of them have been automatically blocked by the Wiki software because they were coming from banned IPs. This is encouraging since it suggests that the pool of IP addresses used by this crop of spammers is relatively small and they have to reuse them.
Unfortunately, on closer examination it turns out that they are using at least 3 different IP ranges, so it's unlikely to be the handiwork of one bored prankster. (They are probably looking for an abandoned Wiki where they could post their images.) If it was just one small range, we could block all IPs in that range, but with multiple ranges involved, it's not so simple.
I don't know much about spam-busting, so I don't have any other ideas at the moment. Let's see how things go in the next 24 hours and then re-evaluate. Ahasuerus 04:30, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Just cleaned up five more attacks. Mhhutchins 08:26, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Check out this for some ideas/tips. --MartyD 11:27, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
I zapped two more this afternoon (it was afternoon here). --Willem H. 19:48, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Fantlab.ru linked

We have secured permission to link to all images hosted by a major Russian site, Fantlab.ru. The master list -- {{Image Host Sites}} - has been updated and the ISFDB software has been modified to credit the site, e.g. see this pub. Please note that their image files do not have extensions, so they look a little weird, e.g. "fantlab.ru/images/editions/big/753", but it doesn't affect the way they are displayed.

In other news, the list of "top moderators" has been fixed not to error out when the moderator's name is unknown. (Which can happen when the server is very slow and a submission is not fully processed.) Ahasuerus 03:58, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

Katina Alexis -- 2 author pseudonyms

The pseudonyms Katina Alexis and Athena Alexis are both pseudonyms for the husband-wife team of Arnold Bruce Strauch & Katina Parthemos Strauch. Unlike many other 2-person teams, these people do not exist separately in the database, they only exist under those pseudonyms, so we can't really set up a "pseudonym" relationship to those two names. Someone has listed the "Legal Name" of Katina Alexis as "Arnold Bruce Strauch", which is wrong. I wrote a bio for the joint name which starts by listing that joint pseudonym. Questions: (1) Is there anything else that should be done for this team name? Presumably, I should delete the existing "Legal Name", but is there anything else that should be put there instead? (e.g. "Strauch, Arnold Bruce & Katina Parthemos"?) (2) Should I duplicate the bio and use it for Athena Alexis also, or should I set Athena Alexis as a pseudonym that points to Katina Alexis? Chavey 20:34, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

Set them up like Mark Smith and Julia Smith, who have the same problem as they wrote jointly as Jonathan Wylie and Julia Gray. To start, make all 5 titles variants of ones by both co-authors. Then the canonical authors will exist for the pseudonyms to be created. BLongley 20:55, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! I knew this had to be a previously handled problem, but I couldn't find help screens that discussed it. I've submitted the title variants, then I'll do the pseudonyms, and put the author bios where they belong. Chavey 22:57, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
OK, variants approved. Sorry for the delay - I've been down the pub practicing my pool skills, and there's a huge pile of Fixer submissions that came ahead of yours that may have delayed other moderators. Can you tell us where you expected the help to be? We might be able to fix that too. BLongley 23:33, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
I went to the "Help Category" page and did a search for "pseud". That gives me three pages: Help on MakePseudonym, Entering works published under a pseudonym, and Recording a Pseudonym. None of these pages mention the very common situation of having an author such as Lee Barwood where the canonical name is a pseudonym, but the author's true name doesn't appear elsewhere in the system, so we simply record it as the "Legal Name" and leave the author record of the pseudonym as the canonical name. All of those help pages assume that the pseudonym and the true name exist as two separate author records which need to be linked via the Pseudonym relation. So it certainly didn't give me any insight in how to handle a pseudonym for two people, neither of which appear as an author in the database. I wasn't expecting the solution of forcing the creation of "dummy" author records and linking them via the Pseudonym, but there's also nothing on any of those pages that actually tells you how to handle a pseudonym that represents two people. The "MakePseudonym" help page mentions that such a thing can happen, but doesn't tell you how to create it. But of course since I wasn't expecting to Make a Pseudonym to solve this problem, I wouldn't have followed those instructions if they had been there. I suggest that the page on "How to record a pseudonym" should have a section on the option of just entering the legal name for a pseudonym, and then mention that this would not be a good solution for a pseudonym for a joint work. The MakePseudonym help screen should probably also tell you how to do the two things listed as its bullets 2 & 3 (a pseudonym represents a group of authors; a pseudonym was used by more than one person). Chavey 01:17, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Change to help text

User:Chavey recently posted a note on my talk page about my omission of a dedicatory poem from my copy of Le Guin's Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences. I was happy to help, but I did just notice that Help:Screen:EditPub#What_to_Include, which I think I wrote years ago, actually uses that book and that poem as an example of a borderline case that you might choose not to enter. Has ISFDB data entry practice changed since then? Would it be worth updating that help page? Mike Christie (talk) 11:04, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Nonfiction "Collections"

If I have a non-fiction book which is a collection of essays, reviews, etc., all by the same author, should we include all of those as individual "content" elements? Sometimes, books are published by more-or-less collecting previously published essays as individual chapters, and it seems that we don't then list each of the chapters independently. In one particular case, I'd like to do my duty to the ISFDB with regards to the book Look at the Evidence, by John Clute. But the content list, as provided by Locus1 includes 118 items! Am I supposed to enter them all? (That would seem to be implied by the "What to Include" guidelines.) Chavey 17:30, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Yes, they should properly be included. However, there's nothing that says YOU have to do it. I think there's less pressure to add contents to NONFICTION than Fiction titles. Personally I wouldn't add the data from Locus though, as the Reviews don't actually mention what is being reviewed - a rather important detail! BLongley 17:44, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Agree with Bill here. In cases like this, it's best to let someone who can do a primary verification be the one to enter the contents. A list of essay titles don't help much, when they're actually reviews that were previously published under a different name. The primary verifier can more easily create variants, especially if the Clute book acknowledges the sources, which I'm assuming someone of his stature in the field would properly record in the book itself. I also believe that some essay titles are actually a combination of several reviews from various sources. (Just as several essays in the nonfiction collection I edited.) Mhhutchins 23:17, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

Advice on a Canonical Name

In setting up some pseudonyms, in one case I am uncertain which name should be the "Canonical Name". The author Robert "Bob" Mayer has only one book published under his name, although web sources imply that this will be a continuing collaboration. He has also published 6 novels as Greg Donegan and 15 novels as Robert Doherty. The most used name is Robert Doherty, which would imply that this should be the canonical name. But when an author uses multiple pseudonyms, it always looks odd to me to have something like "Greg Donegan" being a pseudonym for "Robert Doherty", who isn't a real person. But what about others? Should the canonical name be the true name "Bob Mayer" or the pseudonym "Robert Doherty"? Chavey 15:57, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all answer. Consider the case of William Fitzgerald Jeninks, who wrote hundreds of stories using various versions of his name. However, most of his considerable SF output was as Murray Leinster and that's our canonical name for him even though it's not legal name. In borderline cases, it's not terribly important since it takes just one extra click to go from, say, Stephen Marlowe (his legal name) to Milton Lesser (his birth name). Ahasuerus 22:55, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
(Pointing a few sections above) Legal Name isn't always a bad choice, and we've been forced into such for dual-author pseudonyms. BLongley 23:03, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
As Ahasuerus explains, these have to be taken on a case-by-case basis. In the example you've given, I would choose "Bob Mayer" as the canonical name, not the pseudonym under which most of his work is published. It looks like the author's website chooses that name, and Wikipedia directs all links to that name as well. This follows Bill's rationale as well. Mhhutchins 23:06, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
And of course, unlike some dead authors, we could just ask him which he prefers. BLongley 23:14, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion! I've emailed him asking whether he has a preference. Chavey 01:10, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
And he prefers if everything is linked to "Bob Mayer", so I've done that. Chavey 18:23, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Cherie Priest's "Dreadful Skin"

A correspondent reports that "To all appearances -- just one copyright entry, no table of contents, and the implication of the back-cover blurb -- it is a single novel, not a collection." According to the Locus Index, it's a "Horror novel in three parts; the first was previously serialized online." The hardcover edition has been verified, but the verifier, unfortunately, doesn't check his Wiki messages. According to an online review:

What do I mean when I say “it”? “It” is a booklength narrative, so “it” is a novel, right? Well, maybe not. The book never claims to be a novel. But then, rather like Sam in Lord of Light, it doesn’t claim not to be. It falls into three unequal parts, and the first could definitely stand on its own, so some might call the book a fix-up. But Part Three really doesn’t make any sense without either Part Two or Part One, so the stories aren’t truly independent.

And the Webscription description calls it "three tales of the hunt". So, what do we make of it? Ahasuerus 23:08, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

According to the publisher's website, it's a novel. They actually published the first part of the novel on their website as a standalone novella titled The Wreck of the Mary Byrd. I think it should be handled as a novel with the constituent parts noted in the pub record and/or the title record, as we do fixups. Mhhutchins 00:55, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
This appears to be almost identical in structure to Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus. The first part of the novel was published separately as a novella, and the later two parts depend much on the first part, with the third relying very heavily on the first two parts. Mhhutchins 01:02, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Works for me! Ahasuerus 03:23, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Disambiguation of David Graham

The author bibliography David Graham appears to belong to (at least) two different writers. The one who wrote the 1979 novel Down to a Sunless Sea was, usually, a crime fiction writer. He has a Wikipedia page, which knows of nothing he wrote after 1991 (he died in 1994). The three short stories in the current Graham bibliography are all from 1991 or later, I can find no evidence to connect them to the first David Graham, and Locus1 specifically lists this as a different author than the first one. So that's easy to disambiguate. But what do I do with that non-fiction book in the bibliography? There's no evidence to connect it to either of the other David Grahams, and it's too early a book to be listed in Locus1. Any suggestions? Chavey 05:13, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

There's no reason for that nonfiction book to be in the database. The book wasn't reviewed in a sf magazine, which is usually why these UFO books are included in the db. And neither of the authors have any other work in the db, if we accept the conclusion, and I do, that this Graham is not the British author of Down to a Sunless Sea. I'm going to delete the title and pub records, which will give us a clear break in the two authors remaining. I'll let you do the disambiguation of those two. Mhhutchins 07:09, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Done Chavey 18:35, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Simon Hawke

The legal name currently listed for Simon Hawke is "Yermakov, Nicholas Valentin". According to his Wikipedia page, that was his birth name, but he has since had his name legally changed to "Simon Hawke". My understanding of our policies is that his legal name should thus be listed as "Simon Hawke". Is that right? Chavey 04:58, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

Works for me. Just create a bibliographic comment page, explaining the birth name, etc. Mhhutchins 06:39, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
Done. Chavey 18:35, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Ross MacDonald: One person or two? (Or three?)

The entry we have for Ross MacDonald seems likely to correspond to (at least) two different people: A writer who wrote during 1954-1977, and an artist who drew during 1994-2009. But I don't have any actual evidence that they are different. (Well, maybe. You can look at the "Bibliographic Comments" I added for that name.) But my question is: Is there policy for how we handle such cases? In particular, if it looks like one name might refer to two different people do we: (i) leave them together until we have evidence that they are different; or (ii) keep them separated until we have evidence that they are the same? Chavey 06:20, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

I separated the credits into two persons. The first is the mystery writer, who ne'er wrote a lick of spec-fic. The other is an artist who did the graphic designs of two books from Tor. I took a chance and moved the Bradbury graphic adaptation to the artist page, but it's possible he's a third RM. Mhhutchins 20:48, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
There's also a pseudonym Ross MacDonald, used by Kenneth Millar for 2 stories listed by Locus (but not by us). Looking at them, they could easily be strict mysteries, so he might be the same RM as the one you pulled off. Chavey 22:07, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
And now I see that you have the Ross MacDonald/Kenneth Millar connection explicit in the Ross MacDonald page. But shouldn't we say something about those being mystery and not spec-fic? I know we don't have a tag to say that a short story is non-genre, so should we put something in the author's notes, or the respective title notes? Chavey 22:11, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
Feel free to add the info to his bibliographic comments page. Neither story would be in the database, if those editors who entered the anthologies in which the stories appear would have entered only the spec-fic contents. This anthology is divided in half between sf and mysteries. It would have been easy to just not enter the mysteries since it's so clearly defined. And who knows how many Alfred Hitchcock anthologies are in the database that shouldn't be to start with. Mhhutchins 22:45, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
It shouldn't be too difficult to implement NONGENRE SHORTFICTION as a title type. (OK, we'd probably want a snappier name for it to avoid having to lengthen the field.) The difficulties would mostly be in 1) how to display such in summary bibliographies, 2) the amount of rework we'd need to do on existing titles, and 3) sometimes we just don't plain KNOW whether they're genre or not. (There's a lot of SHORTFICTION that I suspect is actually POEM already - Worldcat doesn't help in that regard.) But if it's desired, we can attempt to add it. BLongley 23:36, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
With a lot of fiction (esp. mysteries), it's hard to decide from a synopsis whether it really qualifies as spec-fic. I have a short pile of Juanita Coulson novels that we have listed as spec-fic, but which I think are just mysteries. But I would probably have to read them to be sure, and I'd really rather read spec-fic than mysteries :-). And then there's the common mystery trope of the bad guy making people think there's a ghost "seeking revenge from the grave", but it's just a red herring to throw people off the trail. I've been told, though, that we don't attempt to distinguish "true ghost stories" from these "pretend ghosts", and that probably leads to lots of mysteries being in here, even those with no real spec-fic content. Chavey 01:17, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
If I am reading Bill's comment on your Talk page correctly, he was saying that "supposedly true SF stories", e.g. a YA vampire tale presented as a teen's diary, are considered SF and should be entered, not that "pretend ghost stories" should be entered. We generally don't enter Scooby Doo, Nancy Drew and other series which often feature "fake ghosts" (except when the ghost turns out to be real after all, e.g. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?172745), although sometimes they sneak in. Also, at one point I entered a short series of "fake supernatural" YAs as a "non-genre series" so that anyone looking for them would know that yes, we know about their existence, and no, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, they are not SF. Ahasuerus 02:39, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
I'd be happy to add another type if we want it. I think the bibliographic displays won't require too much additional work. "SHORT NONGENRE"?. --MartyD 11:42, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
We might even want to think about using the more accurate "SHORT NONSPECFIC" and "NONSPECFIC" for novels. If it would take any programming time for novels perhaps that could be done later.--swfritter 15:11, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Keep in mind that you can also have Non-Genre Collections, Omnibuses, Anthologies, Chapbooks, Poems and even Non-Genre Shortfiction Series. It may be better to handle them by adding a new check-mark field in the Title record, "Non-genre?", and display them after their "genre" counterpart" on the Summary page. Ahasuerus 02:45, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Tag generation a little bit buggy

After entering 537 issue of "Strange Horizons" I ended up with 101 system-generated duplicate tags = "STRNGHRZN22222222223333333338200" and 13 = "STRNGHRZN22222222223333333338201". Plus there were some that I cleaned up earlier. Slightly sub-optimal. Interesting to note that all of the duplicate tags appeared in issues with a month greater than 8. I will leave the data as is for a short time if anyone wants to analyze it. Then it is on to cleanup time.--swfritter 13:12, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

It's Bug 2795822 again, but in a different module - pa_new.py at least. BLongley 16:25, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
pa_new.py v1.12 created, which hopefully will fix this problem for good. BLongley 16:51, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
The fact that the titles are so similar certainly complicated the situation. I have a little front-end program that I can adapt to aid in fixing the pubs in an efficient manner.--swfritter 21:25, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
Sounds useful. I know Ahasuerus is wary of fix-scripts, but a big set of corrective submissions is OK - although annoying to those of us that have to moderate them. :-/ BLongley 23:54, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Mink Mole as "unknown"

The author Mink Mole is listed as a pseudonym for both Timothy MacNamara, which I understand, and for unknown. The later one I don't understand. I expected to go to that "unknown" page and find something "as by Mink Mole", but no such listing appears. So presumably there's something about "unknown" author records that I don't understand. Can someone clue me in? Thanks, Chavey 07:00, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

It's because there are no "Mink Mole" titles credited as by "unknown" in the database. Both of the Mole titles are attributed to Timothy MacNamara. Perhaps the data of Mole being a pseudonym of an unknown person may have been created before he was identified as MacNamara, and the pseudonym wasn't removed. (It's only been a couple of years that you've been able to remove a pseudonym. Before the only way to do it was to delete all titles and re-enter them again.) I'll make a submission removing the pseudonym. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Mhhutchins 14:43, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
IIRC, there were conflicting theories as to who "Mink Mole" was, with some sources crediting Tim Powers and others William Gibson. In the end, the most likely idea seems to be that "Mink Mole" is a variation of "Ferret", hence MacNamara. I don't know of a definitive source for such though. BLongley 16:22, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, Locus1 claims that "Mink Mole" was MacNamara, but I'm not sure that they're exactly definitive -- I've certainly seen several errors on their part. And elsewhere Locus1 says "Mink Mole is probably a pseudonym for Tim Powers". But thanks to both of you for explaining to me what was going on here. Chavey 22:11, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I added some discussion about this pseudonym to the Bibliographic Notes for Mink Mole. Chavey 22:22, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Moving interviews to a separate section

Interviews are currently displayed at the top of the author's Summary page. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but as we enter more and more interviews, that area can get crowded in some cases, e.g. see the way Robert Silverberg's Summary page currently appears. I wonder if we should move interviews to a separate section and display the interviewer(s)' (and co-interviewee(s)') name(s)? Ahasuerus 16:53, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Yes.--swfritter 17:57, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. BLongley 17:58, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree. Hauck 18:22, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Same here. Mhhutchins 19:14, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Quick, implement it while we have 100% support! (Such a rarity these days...) BLongley 19:43, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes that should tidy things up a bit. --Chris J 20:18, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
OK, Feature Request "Move interviews to a separate section on the Summary page" has been created. Ahasuerus 20:40, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Daily Science Fiction

Hey! Thanks somebody for entering the March issue. I added the image of the ToC with the template. The ToC makes this unusual beast just tolerably acceptable as a pub and there are some well known writers who have been published. I might note that the stories sometimes are emailed a day off from the ToC and that I have been entering the actual day of the month from the ToC for each story and I don't usually enter them until after they have been published. I also usually check the story length from the text - mostly flash fiction but there have been a couple of novelettes.--swfritter 15:06, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

I accepted the submission adding the March "issue" in a submission from Dwarzel on March 3. I didn't realize that the page numbers are actually dates, and that the stories haven't really been "published" yet. You might want to contact him about any standards that have been created for this unusual publication. Mhhutchins 21:25, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Legal Name = name you died with?

If I understand our policies correctly, for a deceased author, the legal name would be the name they had when they died, i.e. their "final legal name", regardless of what name they had when they published. And, for still living authors, it should be their current name. Earlier legal names should be put in the notes, but not elsewhere. But just to verify, could someone who knows these rules better than I look at my wording for the "Bibliographic Comments" for Miranda Seymour and the "Biography" for Theo Gift? I think that I stated things right there, but that I should delete the "(Havers)" from the legal name for Theo Gift. Thanks, Chavey 15:57, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

I believe the last time the question came up in a discussion, most participants were in favor of "the last known legal name". I suppose it's the safest position until/unless we implement support for multiple legal names, i.e. "birth name", "married name 1", "married name 2", etc. If we have a consensus, then we'll want to update Help to clarify what "legal name" means at the moment. Ahasuerus 04:40, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
An idea for an update to the help is what Chavey suggested which is to add notes to the Bibliographic Comments. I doubt it's practical to update the database to handle multiple legal names as most people have a variety of names that they use under various circumstances and at various times in their lives. As a bibliographer, it seems the easiest way out is to just document what specific sources say and to not even attempt to sort out the "legal name."
In an effort to clarify what "legal name" means I checked the legal name article on Wikipedia. My first observation was that the article did not cite sources for the definition it gave in the lead pararaph. There was a citation attributed to English law which has "A man may have divers names at divers times, but not divers christian names." Hunting that down finds this from 1794 where it looks like they are saying a person can have multiple names and all of them are valid on contracts. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:53, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
It's a pretty useless field really. I only use it for expanding/explaining initials. BLongley 01:24, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
It's been a useful field to deal with those authors that never published under their real or full name name. I suspect if the field was renamed to "full name" that it may produce a little less head scratching than "legal name." --Marc Kupper|talk 08:53, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
For at least 260 author records, I just used the legal name field to record the "true name" for a pseudonym someone used. As Marc Kupper says, this is useful for dealing with an author that never published Spec Fic work under their own name. And while we could force the "true name" into the database and link the pseudonym to it, that's not how we do things here. In other cases, we have someone who published a few works under a true name and dozens of works under a pseudonym, so we use the pseudonym as the canonical name, and link works under their true name back to the pseudonym. So if we don't specify the legal name under that pseudonym, it would look, for example, like there was a guy named James Tiptree, Jr. who occasionally published essays under the pseudonym Alice Sheldon. Only the legal name field allows us to understand the pseudonym in the correct direction. That's a long way from "useless". Chavey 22:47, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
I looked up Miranda Seymour using the Contemporary Authors online index and noticed they use the term "Variant Name(s)" rather than legal name, real name, etc. I then looked up Tiptree and it came back with "This is a pseudonym or variant name. To access information under the author's real name, click here." The Contemporary Authors' editors have been dealing with this sort of stuff for decades and so it may be worthwhile borrow some ideas from them. --Marc Kupper|talk 11:08, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Facsimile reprint anthology in magazine series?

Planet Stories 1942. This could get very confusing. Perhaps a separate series like this would make more sense?--swfritter 00:41, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

I think the pub should be placed into its own series. As it currently stands, it really screws up the magazine grid. I've recently removed all of the UK versions of Astounding/Analog for this same reason, and placed them into their own series. I recently saw this (look at March 1956) and am going to ask the verifier why the record for a NZ reprint is necessary. There doesn't appear to be any difference between the UK and NZ printings. Mhhutchins 01:16, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
We probably should move the UK printings of this title into their own series. Which reminds me, whatever happened to all of those UK issues of Galaxy in the early 70s. They seem to have disappeared entirely, and I'm sure I verified more than a few of them from my collection. Mhhutchins 01:23, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
"If" issues are there? There was at least one "Galaxy" US issue that has your verification.--swfritter 13:25, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
When I was collecting back issues of Galaxy and If in the late 70s, I completed the collection with either the US or UK printings (there was no internal difference, so it didn't matter which one I got. I was more a reader than a collector.) So when I started verifying them on the ISFDB, I entered at least 8 issues of the UK Galaxy edition, and none of them are in the database now. Obviously someone felt it was unnecessary to have records for both the UK and US issues, and deleted the UK ones. No one ever asked me about it, or told me that they'd deleted the records. It appears that simply placed a note in the US printings that they were "Also published in the United Kingdom by Universal-Tandem Publishing Company, Ltd." I wished they'd only brought it up for group discussion before making a unilateral decision. But why would they only do this with Galaxy, but leave the UK issues of If? Mhhutchins 21:18, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
Viewing backup data from July of 2008 indicates that the Galaxy pubs verified by you had, at that time, UPD as publisher and no mention of UK in the titles. There are no issues of Galaxy with "UK", verified or otherwise, except for single titles from 1953 and 1958. The references in the notes to the UK editions appear to have been added by myself when I did my verifications in February of 2009; only the two UK Galaxy's were in the database at that time. Most of the initial verifications were done in the middle of 2007. There are no available backups from that time until July of 2008 so I can't check the pubs near the time you verified them which was June of 2007. Any changes to the publisher or pub deletions would have had to have been made before July of 2008.--swfritter 23:25, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
That tells us it when it happened, but doesn't explain why it happened. I rarely go back to check the status of my verified pubs, assuming they won't be deleted, and that moderators make sure that editors are following ISFDB standards about verified records. It's just disturbing to think that verified pubs can be deleted without question. Makes you wonder what's the point of spending hours working on a pub record when the click of a mouse can erase it all. (And believe me, there have been single records which have taken me hours to create.) Mhhutchins 00:43, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Back to the original issue. I will work on getting the reprints into the system.--swfritter 15:37, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Locus Pseudonyms / Pseudonym "Help" page

I've recently completed a project to pull all of the pseudonym information from Locus1 into ISFDB. That was 161 pseudonyms and hundreds of "Legal Name" author updates, although it still leaves 155 pseudonyms in Locus1 for authors we don't have in ISFDB (mostly from smaller magazines and anthologies where we don't yet have the contents included), plus 3 pseudonyms that need more research. Along the way, I discovered several errors in the attributions in Locus1 (and moderators pointed out a few more :-) . Consequently, I have taken care to document (in the author's "Bibliographic Comments") all cases where Locus1 is the source of the claim. If you find information that contradicts such data, please view Locus's attributions as less than definitive.

In working with pseudonyms, I have previously been disappointed that the help page on "How to record a pseudonym" rarely seemed to answer my questions. So as I worked on the Locus1 pseudonyms, I tried to develop my own "Help page", where I tried to field test the instructions against actual examples. I have just updated the Help page, leaving the original version, but followed by a "Beta version" of revised instructions. I would appreciate it if others would look at it. (As a teacher, I know I sometimes tend to be too wordy, or to repeat things.) Then if it is (or develops into), a better help page than the current one, we can move it out of the "beta" stage. Chavey 14:38, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Not sure where the idea "we're supposed to list names in alphabetical order" comes from - the order of author names is irrelevant and can't be guaranteed. It might help to clarify multiple author works where more than one author is using a non-canonical name, as your "make sure you only replace Toby's name" would be wrong if he co-authored with, say, "Martin Harry Greenberg". It could probably also do with some guidance on disambiguating authors rather than making pseudonyms, e.g. with our two "Colin Harvey"s. But you've definitely got an improvement there, thanks for attempting it. BLongley 18:58, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
The alphabetical ordering of authors requirement comes from the Help Template for Authors, used on many Help pages, which includes:
Collaborations: If a story has two authors, make the first author you enter the author who is first, alphabetically. The ISFDB distinguishes between a story by "Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp" and one by "L. Sprague de Camp and Robert E. Howard". Since the order of author entry does not indicate primary author, use alphabetical order.
If this is incorrect, then the TitleFields:Author template needs to be changed. I agree completely with your other two points. Chavey 19:59, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
At one point there was a Feature Request to enforce the order of collaborators' names, but it hasn't been implemented and there are no current plans to implement it. It sounds like whoever wrote that Help paragraph was misinformed. Ahasuerus 00:05, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
It appears to have been there in the help since 2006 when Mike Christie wrote it. It's a feature I'd quite like, but even if we do get it then the help about alphabetical order is still wrong. BLongley 00:16, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
The help might have been written as a response to problems like this: Dual Author Merges.jpg
If we're not going to implement the feature then this should probably be considered a Bug. BLongley 18:07, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show

This magazine was formerly web only. They are now releasing all of their previous issues in ebook format. There is a great deal; if you purchase a year's subscription you will gain access to the older issues as they become available. But this creates a problem as to how to enter them. The only documented date will be the original issue date. Since these issues are not already in the system it is my intent to enter them with the original publication date with notes that the ebook version was released at a later date. Since I will also have access to the web issues I can verify that the contents are the same.--swfritter 17:47, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

February, 2011 issue entered.--swfritter 18:25, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Sounds like a good plan. I would even have given it a dispensation as a web-only zine, (as we have done for other webzines) so the release of the issues as ebooks makes that moot. Mhhutchins 01:37, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Unmerge bug fixed

Page numbers should no longer sporadically disappear when you unmerge titles. In addition, moderators will now see a link back to the original title after they approve an unmerge submission. Ahasuerus 04:38, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

I'd also encourage Moderators to suggest more link-backs after Approval - they're often trivial to implement and do make life easier. I've done a few but keep finding more in the lesser-used areas of the moderation world. BLongley 18:18, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
I've just tried an unmerge after Fixer guessed wrong, and the link to the original title wasn't the one I wanted. I wanted the single new title I unmerged. That should be do-able, but how do other people use it? Would links to ALL the unmerged titles be better? BLongley 19:25, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
The reason that I added a link to the original title was that it was easy to do, but I agree that a link to the new title(s) is typically more useful. However, as you said, we'll have to decide how to handle unmerges of multiple pubs. A vertical list of all newly created titles with enough supporting data to disambiguate them, perhaps? Ahasuerus 03:28, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
I mostly only use it when Fixer has guessed wrong, so one new single title would suit 95% of my needs. I just wonder how many other people would benefit from a vertical list? It seems we've actively scared some people off unmerges, partly due to the bug we've just fixed. BLongley 17:56, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Robert B. Parker

Does anyone have any idea about any work by Robert B. Parker that might be slightly considered speculative fiction? Mhhutchins 22:50, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

I reviewed Parker's Wikipedia article. All of his series were non-genre. There were five standalone novels and for each of those I checked the Publisher summaries and reviews on Amazon. All were non-genre. That leaves us with a single shortfiction work in a genre publication. I deleted everything except the shortfiction work. While doing that I also checked for title/publication notes. The only one was an audio CD where the note said "Read by Joe Mantegna." Everything else was placeholder records (one publication per title) with no notes. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:37, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for doing the hard work, Marc. There must be dozens of more authors with full bibliographies in the database that are only here because of a single work of marginal speculative fiction. That's what we got when we allowed a robot to add records to the database without moderation. At least we don't have that problem with Fixer, as long as the moderators remain vigilant. Thanks again. Mhhutchins 14:46, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

What is an ebook?

I'm holding a submission creating a record for an issue of a general fiction webzine which occasionally publishes spec-fic stories. It's also available as a downloadable PDF. Should this be allowed under the current rules of acquisition? It appears that all of the previous issues are in the db here. My contention is that anyone can create such a magazine and that allowing it into the db would bolster the case of anyone posting a story on a website as a downloadable PDF, and it would qualify for inclusion in the db. There's got to be stronger standards. This began when someone decided that anything that's downloadable should be considered an ebook. There must be a more restrictive definition of the format. Mhhutchins 15:15, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Must there be? I'm not sure why you would be happy with "Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show" and not this. The main criteria now seems to be "someone is willing to enter them". I choose not to do so myself as there's still plenty of printed dreck to deal with anyway. BLongley 17:48, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
The magazine is obviously something more than a PDF file from an individual. Perhaps we should not allow physical books and magazines into the database for fear that somebody will staple manuscript pages together and enter them as a publication.--swfritter 17:55, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps the fact that it's an Editor publishing other people's work, and paying them for it, that might tip the balance? Although frankly if some-one self-publishes Spec-Fic in ebook-only format and takes the trouble to submit an entry for it here, it would be OK by me. I'm just not going to hunt such works down. (And if Fixer learns to deal with Smashwords, I might abandon moderating bot submissions due to pressure of work.) BLongley 18:08, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
I've removed my hold, and will refrain from moderating any further ebooks. It's obvious I'm not in a position to do so. I'll restrict my moderation to those areas I'm familiar with, and shift the burden to those who are willing to determine their admissibility into the db more than I. Mhhutchins 19:53, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
I think Bill has it right about a paying market status being a prime indicator of publication validity.--swfritter 20:46, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Self-publisher makes it big

Since we often have discussions about the quality of various self-published Spec-Fic books, some of you may be interested in the news about Amanda Hocking, quoted here from the New York Times:

Self-Publisher Signs Four-Book Deal With St. Martin’s
Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old author who shot to fame by selling more than a million copies of her self-published books, has signed up with a traditional publisher for her next series. St. Martin’s Press, part of Macmillan, will publish Ms. Hocking’s “Watersong” series, four books in the young-adult paranormal genre. A heated auction for the rights to publish her books began early last week, and several major publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, dropped out as the price climbed into the seven figures. The bidding eventually rose beyond $2 million for world English rights, said one publishing executive familiar with the negotiations. (St. Martin’s declined to comment on how much it agreed to pay.) Ms. Hocking was represented by the literary agent Steven Axelrod. The first book in the series will be released in fall 2012, a spokeswoman for St. Martin’s said.
Ms. Hocking, who lives in Austin, Minn., began self-publishing her books last year, selling them through online retailers like Amazon.com and BN.com. In doing so, she became a reluctant spokeswoman for the practice of self-publishing, which allows authors to sell their books directly to readers without the help of a traditional publisher.

I might add that we have 8 books of hers in the ISFDB, published by CreateSpace and Lulu. (But nothing from PublishAmerica!) Chavey 21:48, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

According to her blog, a vast majority of her sales have come from e-books, $0.99 and $2.99 at a time. Dead tree editions are just for the small minority that want something a little more tangible.
Having made close to two million dollars in under a year, she figured that her next four book series would likely make her another two million within a year or two, but she decided to try a traditional NYC-based publisher instead. Perhaps it may be a better path to the kind of profits [i.e. in the high eight figures] that James Patterson sees while freeing her from the chores associated with running her own publishing house. It's nice to have choices :-) Ahasuerus 04:04, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

"Rex Stone"

We currently list Rex Stone as a single author whose legal name is "Jane Clarke". However, according to her Web page:

Dinosaur Cove Series . . . I am lead writer on the team that produce this series. Ideas for each book come from Working Partners, Ltd. based in London. The series is published under the author name Rex Stone. These are the ones that I’ve written. Please note that these books are published with different titles and covers in the United States.

so it looks like "Rex Stone" is a house name similar to "Alex Archer" and that more research may be warranted. Ahasuerus 05:35, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

This was surprisingly difficult to research. I started with the "different titles in the United States" (and ignored the "different covers" for now) and think I have entered most of the variant titles. Well, the UK to US English ones anyway - "La grotte des dinosaures" and "Das geheime Dinoversum" look as though France and Germany may be slightly ahead of the US. (There's some Italian titles too.) For once, it seems the "dumb it down for the American market" is reversed - every other country seems to prefer proper dinosaur names and the UK goes for "Lizard King" over "Tyrannosaurus Rex" for instance. And although I have no German skills, "Apatosaurus" and "Compsognathus" seem better than the English English titles. BLongley 19:24, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Excellent, thanks! Ahasuerus 04:06, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
This page cleared up most of the rest. BLongley 19:02, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
The bad news is that finding them means more work on Gargoylz and Beast Quest. :-/ BLongley 19:29, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
I've spent some time tonight (too much frankly) on Adam Blade. It seems that the ghost writer is usually hinted at, although not outright credited, on the copyright page. I've managed to follow two more authors down to confessional web-pages, but for now I've stored the remaining results of my "Look-Inside" searches on the "Bibliographic Comments" page. Does anybody want to try and extract confessions from the remaining authors? BLongley 00:05, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Analog circulation figures

In June 2008 I posted a query about circulation figures, I think for Amazing; I remember getting some help at that time but unfortunately it seems the page history of this page is not stored that far back, so I can't see where I was pointed to. Hence another request for help. I'm working on the Wikipedia article for Analog, and would like to include a circulation graph. Ashley includes the data in Gateways to Forever up to the 1980/81 figures. Does the ISFDB record these anywhere? I have a run that goes through about 1990 so I can get the next ten years or so for myself, but if anyone has the circulation figures (or is willing to look any of them up) that would be very helpful. I'd like to get the circulation number, the sellthrough % and the newstand sales % for each year. Thanks for any help, or pointers to places where I might find the information. Mike Christie (talk) 15:07, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

We don't have title entries for circulation figures. The only place they would appear is in pub notes and it does not look like the Analog issues in question have that information. The February 2011, issue #601, has some basic numbers (newsstand stales, returns, % newsstand copies sold, and paid circulation) for 1997 thru 2010 on page 52. There are some significant corrections to the digital sales number for Analog on page 70 of the March issue. I have physical issues from Jan 2002 thru July 2005 at which time I started getting digital issues.--swfritter 15:12, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the info -- I hadn't even thought about digital sales but I should probably chart those too. I might contact the magazine directly -- they may have records of circulation they can share. Mike Christie (talk) 12:13, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

SFWA finds balls!

Fresh report from the most reliable source for SF news in the known universe. Mhhutchins 20:28, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

The bad news is that ISFDB has been served with demands to hand over the names of all US editors that have Primary Verified publications, as potential expert witnesses. Those wishing to avoid being dragged into the court-cases may want to update their primary verifications with notes that say "I haven't actually read this book". As US residents are forbidden from commenting on these legal demands, all I can recommend is that you add support for the rapid implementation of FR 2813437, "Primary verification search", to aid such editors. BLongley 20:42, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
I very much back the implementation of that feature (where do I add my vote?) It sounds very much like something I've wanted for a long time: a "My Collection" feature. As for having to swear that there are Primary Verifications I haven't read, I would bravely raise my hand. There are books I've only opened in order to verify them! This reminds me of the story about the New York Times deciding not to create a separate listing to go along with their Best Sellers chart. (Don't forget today's date when reading that report.) They were thinking about generating a list of Most Read titles, and it's obvious that one list will rarely match up with the other one. Mhhutchins 21:01, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
The Feature Request is real, and I have indeed submitted a crude first attempt at implementing it - see last entry on Development#Outstanding_changes. Anyone can add comments to the Sourceforge Artifact indicating support, but in the end only Al von Ruff or Ahasuerus could put it live. By the way, has anyone seen them around today, or are they really being interrogated for the master passwords for the live server? Do SFWA's lawyers really have that sort of power? BLongley 21:15, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
As luck would have it, earlier today I was unable to connect to isfdb.org from the main development server for over 12 hours. I eventually traced it to a flaky router, but now that I am thinking about it, the router didn't have a problem with any other Web site, just ISFDB. Coincidence or...? Ahasuerus 04:52, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Article moved. Also, beware of asteroid strikes. Perhaps we can prevent them by 8888'ing this book.--swfritter 18:26, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Just because the book has been postponed half a dozen times is no reason to suspect that the author will blow this deadline as well! Granted, there are only three months left until the book is supposed to ship and Martin is still writing, but surely nothing will go wrong this time! Ahasuerus 01:17, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Cloning 'flaw'?

Have been meaning to draw attention to this for awhile: cloning a pub automatically merges contents, etc. but creates a new cover artist record which has to be manually merged [assuming the artist is the same]. I'm not sure if there's a software 'fix' or not, but could there be a message that flashes informing editors of the extra step for the cover art if there is no 'fix'? [also posted on HELP] --~ Bill, Bluesman 21:15, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

It looks like it's yet another cover art-related bug -- see Bug 2942192 and Bug 2943196 for other examples. Given the number of things that can go wrong with Cover Art records, it's probably impractical to display a warning to editors. We do need to fix them, of course. Ahasuerus 01:20, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
An additional note in the Help? The non-automatic merge on a Clone operation doesn't do any damage, but it means re-visiting an artist's page on a consistent basis. --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:42, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
Sure, Help should reflect the current behavior of the software, so if there are any gotchas or counter-intuitive behavior, it should be documented. Ahasuerus 03:10, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
Have added a note to the [Cloning] page of Help, at the end of point #5. --~ Bill, Bluesman 21:59, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Alphabetical and Chronological bibliographies fixed

Thanks to Bill's recently declared (or perhaps undeclared) war on bugs, the Alphabetical and Chronological bibliography pages have been fixed, They should now display the same title types as the Summary page. Ahasuerus 04:42, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Not really a war on bugs, just fixing some omissions in other people's improvements. I will not pretend to be an expert in ISFDB software, but there's still some low-hanging fruit within my capabilities. BLongley 22:57, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, I certainly appreciate your fixing those! Chavey 03:33, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Glad to hear it - I've moved on to some "New features" as a bigger challenge, although I'm still happy to take requests if they're within my capabilities (or not too far beyond). The latest submission is about title webpages: rather than having to put them in notes like this:

TitleLinks1.jpg

You should in future be able to add them like webpages for authors or publication series:

TitleLinks2.jpg

Hopefully people will like this feature too. It's not exactly as requested, but should be a good start. And I'm already thinking that we should add a notes-search for people that want to rework them. BLongley 18:13, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
And I'm already further thinking that we need notes-search for authors, titles, publishers, publications and all sorts of other stuff we can add notes to. Looks like there is much work ahead still. Which do people want first? BLongley 23:41, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
If you are up to it, we have a couple of FRs to add fields for Web pages, Wikipedia entries and notes to Series records. Just keep in mind that the behavior of the Edit Series screen is considerably more complex than what you typically see in our Edit screens. Ahasuerus 02:04, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
I do seem to be on a coding burst at present, but am still a bit wary - if you test and feedback on the Title webpages improvements, I'll have a go at the others. In the meantime, I've had a go at the search improvements for Notes I mentioned: e.g. this option:

Proposed Advanced Search1.jpg

should get these results:

Proposed Advanced Search2.jpg

and this option:

Proposed Advanced Search3.jpg

should get this.

Proposed Advanced Search4.jpg

Are these desirable to others, or am I going off in a different direction? BLongley 00:50, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
No comments? I've just added webpage searches for Author/Title/Cover Images as well, which builds on these changes, so if you don't like this but want that I'll have to do some rework. BLongley 23:07, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
I hardly ever use the Alphabetical and Chronological bibliographies, so I only barely glimpsed at your work. Anything that improves the display is welcomed. That being said, I find your latest work here more interesting, because I think that searching in the notes would be a lot more helpful personally. In fact, any improvement in searches, regardless of the field, would be extremely helpful. Keep up the work and I hope to see it live soon. Mhhutchins 23:43, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

New FR: Catch postings under non-canonical name

I like the proposed new feature. With 268 feature requests in the queue now, I'm not sure that you all really need new FR's :-). But, since you requested them ...

Here's a situation I've found myself in on a reasonable number of occasions. I've set up a pseudonym relationship, and added VT's to get the pseudonym so all of the titles under that name are linked to the canonical name. Now everything by this author appears under that one bibliography, and the pseudonym page has a single large link to the canonical name(s), as with Bill Rupp or Erin Leonard. Then a few months later I go back to that page, and see that it's no longer a "pure pseudonym". Someone has added another work listed under that non-canonical name (e.g. a book review), so now the "obvious" link to the pseudonym has disappeared (there will still be the small link titled "Used as alternate name by"). Worse yet, it now looks like this author has a single work to their credit, and of course the canonical name for that author doesn't get credit for that work, review, interview, etc. I suggest that if someone submits a work that breaks such a "pure pseudonym" that they be warned about it, given the option to create a link to the canonical name, or something of that sort. [E.g. "Other works by 'Bill Rupp' have been linked to the canonical name of 'William Rupp'. Do you want to do that with this submission?") Of course if they choose to continue, then the moderator who has to approve this submission should be given at least the warning. This has been submitted as Feature Request 3278502.

I would not bother with warning the editor but instead the moderator interface would mention that the author is a pseudonym and there would be a checkbox, that's enabled by default, to create the variant title. For Erin Leonard this interface could offer both Charles L. Harness and Shiloh Erin Cullen as possible VT targets. --Marc Kupper|talk 07:39, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, there's some quick wins possible in there - but as a "pure" pseudonym can be disrupted in so many ways (author, editor, cover artist, content author) I wouldn't try and do it all in one go. BLongley 01:06, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Marc's suggestions is reasonably easy to implement. Also, we already have a query that determines whether an author "Has pseud. titles", so we could add it to the list of data integrity scripts available to moderators. Or rather they will be available once I finish testing them... Ahasuerus 03:29, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
And BTW, of the 270 FRs listed on Sourceforge, only 116 are currently open. The rest have been implemented :-) Ahasuerus 04:23, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
117 now, but 6 are now in the "Outstanding changes" as partially or completely done (IMHO). Should those be moved to "pending" status on Sourceforge? BLongley 23:00, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand. Nongenre?

Has anybody else read this book. It is currently classified as nongenre. The fantastic elements are not explicit but there are the same overtones one would find in many Stephen King dark horror/dark knowledge novels. And it was reviewed twice in Locus. And it takes place in Northern Maine which is seemingly an even scarier than the locales where the Stephen King novels take place.--swfritter 21:00, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

The descriptions I've read make it sound like a thriller/terror novel, so it's as much genre as many Stephen King non-supernatural novels (think Misery, Dolores Claiborne, etc.) or Bloch's Psycho. In fact, not knowing how the story is resolved, with only a few changes in the plot description, it could be Jonathan Carroll's The Land of Laughs which is decidedly spec-fic. Mhhutchins 22:39, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
According to Nick Gevers' review in Locus, the novel is "a thriller about a serial murderer, with only tangential supernatural elements". Gary K. Wolfe says that except for a few elements "...there isn't much in the way of material fantasy..." 22:46, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
The supernatural texture, although not detail, definitely goes beyond the above named books and probably is more at the level of "Cujo". Thankfully nobody has used the presence of "Cujo" as a reason for entering "Old Yeller".--swfritter 23:24, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Her webpage seems to have links for 15 different reviews of the book, if anybody cares to read them all. Personally, I have far better things to do. I do hunt down new author and new publisher webpages, but that much work over a single title I'd reserve for an author I actually read. BLongley
One of the reviews compares it to a Lethem book which is also classified here as non-genre. I would certainly like to claim anything that is even marginally speculative fiction and is not in Sturgeon's 90% as being speculative fiction especially a book that is more in the "1% of everything is absolutely fabulous" category.--swfritter 00:02, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
I tend to err on the inclusionist side as well, e.g. I recently entered the second (but not the first) volume in Jack Henderson's techno-thriller series as SF and explained the choice in Notes. Ahasuerus 03:57, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
I specifically stated that I was looking for the opinion of anyone else who might have read the book. I think we should consider ourselves experts when it comes to determining the threshold for a book that has actually been read by more than one ISFDB editor. The book in as at least non-genre because the author's works are primarily speculative fiction.--swfritter 13:07, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Submissions will be unavailable at 12am Eastern US for about a minute

All activities associated with creating and moderating submissions will be unavailable at 12am Eastern (US/Can) for about a minute. If the system hangs on you, don't panic :-) Ahasuerus 03:54, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

The deed is done. If my devious plan works, moderators will notice that the submission queue displays faster late at night (US/Canadian time.) Ahasuerus 04:03, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Sometimes Fixer leads you to gems

While researching today's rubbish, I came across this wonderful phrase: "There’s nothing like the threat of a throat-gurgling death to make a book more exciting and fire the imagination". BLongley 21:21, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Who wants this feature - move multiple titles into a series?

MassSeries.jpg
Notice the extra option at the bottom right. That should take you to a page where you can enter the Series Name you want to mass-move the titles to, and an optional reason for the move that helps a moderator decide if this is right. (OK, that last bit builds on another feature that hasn't been implemented yet, but hopefully will be soon.) I think it would be useful as I've got fed up moving "columns" into series title-by-title, and more and more editors seem to want to create such (e.g. the recent request to create a series of "Letters" or "Coverart" entries). BLongley 22:52, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Pros: far fewer submissions required to create a big new series. BLongley 22:52, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Cons: Another submission type for moderators to oversee. Won't help much if people want to add Series Numbers too. BLongley 22:52, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Questions: what to do if a title is already in a series? For example, it would help move all the Beast Quest entries into their properly named sub-series. (Although we might want to look at sub-series ordering first). BLongley 22:52, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

This is a bit of a brainstorm caused by some sheer frustration, so feel free to kick the idea around and come back with a better Feature Request. (I haven't logged this one yet as it's a bit vague still.) BLongley 22:52, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Obviously, we ought to also add a link to "Help on Mass Title Series Updates" at the top of the page - I've been very remiss in proposing software improvements without help improvements. Are there any volunteers to work on the documentation while I work on software development and Ahasuerus tests and implements it? BLongley 23:17, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
I like the idea of being able to move multiple titles into one series, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to put these two entirely different functions (merge titles and move multiple titles into a single series) onto the same page. If I hit the wrong button, I would probably catch the error on the reconciliation page. But when my brain is on auto-pilot I could merge titles by mistake. Mhhutchins 02:16, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
That was the first thought that occurred to me as well. Otherwise, it's a perfectly reasonable idea, up there with the ability to mass-create VTs. Ahasuerus 04:32, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
I understand the concerns, but this is the natural place for it. We've just become accustomed to having only one mass operation available. I'll try and make sure the following screens are totally different - the current one is mostly pink and green and won't have a required series name on it, so that shouldn't be too hard. And I'll make the moderation screens very different too. BLongley 14:42, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it's looking harder to implement than I thought - the current code is structured for one mass action only. It would be simpler to create this as a Cleanup script that copies the Advanced Title Search functionality and lets you work on the results. I think there's easier things to work on at the moment. BLongley 16:16, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
This reminds me of a feature I've been thinking about lately. Why not allow an editor to place a title into a series upon creation of the title record? For example, when he's adding contents to a magazine issue and knows that certain titles are part of a column, why can't there be an additional series field for each content title record added? Now that would save a lot of follow-up submissions. Mhhutchins 02:16, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
It's possible, although somewhat complicated. Adding a "Series" field to the New Pub submission form would be a good first step, although we'd want to ensure that the difference between "Publication Series" and regular "Series" is made clear. Ahasuerus 04:32, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
This would have been great five years ago. Most of the heavy lifting has been done as far as entering lengthy series data. I am also particularly concerned about editors confusing merge and series.--swfritter 13:43, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately I wasn't working on ISFDB five years ago. (Although after recent testing on "My Primary Verifications" I'm reminded I have spent over 4 years here now.) But in all that time I haven't felt up to tackling authors like Nick Lowe. BLongley 14:42, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, now there is a Mutant Popcorn series. Done in about 40 minutes with a Delphi program which is fed the title id's from mysql and opens 10 ten tabs of titles in edit mode at a time. A quick paste of the series text, an approval, and then another round of 10. Version 1 of the program did not do 10 at a time and it was a bit exciting when the program attempted to open 220 tabs.--swfritter 23:32, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, that's buggered-up "Recent Integrations" for a while, but thanks! Do you take requests like "Blood Spectrum", "White Noise", "Night's Plutonian Shore" and "Case Notes"? BLongley 23:50, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Yup! All I have to do is change the SQL.--swfritter 01:05, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Non-dead tree books

The verification and subsequent discussion about the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia of Science Fiction last week reminded me that I had a copy myself. Well, I pulled the CD-ROM out of storage and quickly discovered that it wasn't compatible with my computer. This got me thinking about whether future hardware changes could make current ebooks unreadable. Mhhutchins 02:57, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

In this particular case you may be able to access the data by downloading specialized software, but yes, it's a known problem. Back in the 1990s, one well known government agency had to hire contractors to convert 20+ year old data to a format that would be readable by modern computers. Ahasuerus 04:56, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

This may be a naive question, but an honest one...it's coming from someone who's never possessed/read an ebook in his life. And believe me, I'm not a Luddite when it comes to changing technology, just happy with the publishing standard circa 1954. I've heard that Amazon can remove titles from Kindles and make them unavailable, even those you've paid for. I don't believe this is comparable to printed books going out-of-print. These days you can find a copy of 99% of all books published in the 20th century, if you're willing to look long enough and pay the asking price, even copies of The Atrocity Exhibition and Nine Princes in Amber. Mhhutchins 02:57, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Yes, it happened in 2009. Amazon remotely deleted specific versions of 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindle devices when it discovered that they were bootleg editions. Although all customers got a refund, it results in bad publicity for Amazon, which later announced that it would no longer remove purchased texts in similar cases. I don't think it's a major problem at the moment, but it does raise questions about the stability of certain types of e-books.
In general, I agree that digitized texts and e-readers present numerous technical challenges which we will be struggling with for some time. However, I don't think we have any choice but to continue to accept e-books (or at least mainstream e-books) if we want to present a reasonably accurate picture of the field as it exists in the 21st century. Ahasuerus 04:56, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
The mainstream DRM books from amazon and b&n actually present a bigger problem because the readers are linked to the internet and ebooks can be removed by the distributors. They are also in proprietary formats. Non DRM ebooks (epub, PDF, etc.) are not vulnerable to distributor deletion and they are convertible to other formats which can be read on multiple devices; they will be around much longer. I have a number of mobipocket DRM books. When my Palm T/X dies I will not have a handheld device I can read them on.--swfritter 13:36, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

"Flipback" books

According to this article, "the newly invented "flipback" book ... smaller and lighter than an e-reader ... reaches UK shores in June, when Hodder & Stoughton will treat us to a selection of 12 books. ... It's so small that I can perch it in one fist ... Unlike an ordinary paperback, the book lies open without intervention on my part, due to its special spine."

The first "flipback" book has been entered into the database and I wonder if we need to add a new "official" binding type for it. Ahasuerus 03:26, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Looks like we need a separate binding designation, "flipback" works fine for me. Mhhutchins 04:15, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Reviews of Essays - are they ever right?

I suspect that the auto-linking of Reviews is/was slightly broken. Can people please review ISFDB:Reviews of Essays and tell me if they are all in error, mostly in error, or if I'm just being paranoid? (Too much data-cleanup work makes me find mistakes everywhere.) BLongley 01:51, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't think it's a bug. The same thing happens when a SHORTFICTION title is auto-linked because it's identical (in author credit and title) with a NOVEL or COLLECTION. In the cases I've looked at, all of the essay titles were also published as book titles. Can the system be programmed to search for book titles first, before it jumps to containee titles (SHORTFICTION, ESSAY, etc)? Mhhutchins 04:13, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, there's at least one that's linked correctly, but I think that was done manually. There's also these ISFDB:Reviews_of_Poems to check. I'll see if I can think up a way to search for likely mis-linked SHORTFICTION, but I'll have to exclude Bleiler. BLongley
OK, ISFDB:Reviews_of_Shortfiction created. The first immediate thought is that there has been disagreement in the past about whether a review of a Chapbook should be linked to the CHAPTERBOOK or the SHORTFICTION. BLongley 16:08, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
I personally feel we should link to the chapbook, because in most cases that is actually what is being reviewed. Many reviews mention various aspects of the publication (art, intros, publisher data), not just the story itself. But you're going to find on this list several times when I've linked a review to a story from an anthology or magazine that is prominently reviewed and is properly linked to the story itself. Those are not errors. Mhhutchins 16:35, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
I agreed the Chapterbook is being reviewed rather than the contents. (I think it was DES who disagreed, and he hasn't been around for a while.) BLongley 17:01, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Can you alphabetically order the list by title? It would make it easier to correct those with multiple reviews. Otherwise, I could take some time to order them myself, but that would interfere with others working on the list at the same time (or, should we not worry about that because no one else seems to be actively involved or even interested in the work you've done here, something I personally appreciate.) Mhhutchins 16:40, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Re-Sorted, no trouble. BLongley 17:01, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

List of primary verifications is now available

If you refresh the front page, you will find a new menu option, "My Primary Verifications". It lists all of your primary verifications chronologically and provides basic biblio info for each publication. Unlike Advance Search pages, this list not broken up into 100 item chunks, but performance seems to be OK for most users. The only editor who may have to wait more than a few seconds for the list to appear is Bill Bluesman, who is approaching the 50,000 pub threshold :-) Ahasuerus 04:59, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Checked it out, it's working fine and looks pretty good. Since it's not sortable by author (as most of us shelve our collection), the editor will have to use the regular "find" method to look for something. BTW, I don't think all of Bluesman's verifications are Primary. He is the primary verifier of many secondary sources (Currey, Locus, OCLC). Mhhutchins 06:00, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Quite right. My Primaries are probably in the 6-7000 range. Still quick to load. I would love to be able to break this down into smaller chunks, 250-500? Or even the option for alphabetical, as I keep my collection that way. --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:24, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
It seems like an alphabetical version is highly desired, even if nobody has quite pinned down exactly how it should work. I guess I should just knock up the version that's best for me (within the limits of the current system - I do file multiple-authored works under first named author, but ISFDB doesn't preserve that order) and see what grumbles ensue. BLongley 14:42, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
I've seen noted the idea of Re-Verifying [new date] and that's easily done by removing the Verification, hit enter, back up one page and re-enter the Verification. Gets a new date. --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:24, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
True - but 5 clicks rather than 1 sometimes seems like too much work, particularly when you've got as many embarrassing early verifications as me! BLongley 14:42, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Then just leave them [after fixing, of course]... makes it look like you got it right the first time! That's what I do. ;-) --~ Bill, Bluesman 20:55, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
We can add as many different sort options as people want, although we don't want too many options in the menu. The problem with author sorting is how to display multiple authors. If people want to match it with the way they order their bookshelves, then we probably need to list the book once for each author just in case people put Pohl & Kornbluth under Kornbluth rather than Pohl, for instance. Is this desirable or confusing? BLongley 17:44, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
The reason the list is not broken up into 100 item chunks is because several people have indicated they want to use it as a quick "Books I Own" check, and they probably want the whole list. So long as it doesn't cause performance problems, they can have it. (Although I can see people asking for Primary Verifications 6-10 because they didn't get into the first five....) BLongley 17:44, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
One problem: I've noticed at least one instance (and there must be more) when I originally verified a pub only to discover on a second run-through that I had a later printing. (These were early verifications when I didn't think that later printings warranted new pub records.) Now both pubs are showing up on my list, even though only one of them currently gives me as a verifier. Why would a list of my current verifications include records for which I've removed myself as the verifier? Mhhutchins 17:54, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
That's ringing faint bells. :-/ Have you noticed how removing a verification gives a message "Need to update record for ref=1"? I think that's an indication that Al didn't quite complete that bit of code. I'll look into it. BLongley 18:02, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, the messages following a submission are a foreign language to me, and I never look at them. Mhhutchins 18:13, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
OK, got it. When you think you're removing a Verification, you aren't, you're just hiding it: there's a status flag which gets reset from 1 to 0. It's only a one-line change for the "My Primary Verifications" so I've submitted a fix for that. Longer-term, we probably want to really remove a verification. BLongley 18:45, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

(Unindent)It's a nice feature. Took about five seconds to load, not bad for a 6000 item list. I won't be using it for checking my collection though, I have an Access database for that, which links to the pubs I own in ISFDB. It will be good to have if I ever get around to doing a second pass of my collection (when I'm 65????). Sorting options would be nice, but would have to be on more than one field (author + title?) to be of any use to me (100+ publications for Farmer, Anthony and Zelazny), and I would like to see publisher and binding in the list to see the difference between titles I have two or more editions of. --Willem H. 19:12, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

I've only got 665 verifications, and it took less than a second to load. Since I wanted to do some other sorting on the records, I copied the page contents and pasted it into Excel -- the format worked quite well for that. (Although Excel sorting won't easily work for author's name unless it was listed in the output as "LastName, FirstName".) After sorting by last name, I compared the first few hundred verifications against my shelf list. I found several pubs that I thought I had verified not included, and checking them showed that they were all ones I had overlooked -- exactly the kind of thing we'd like to use this feature for. I found one verification it claimed I had that I did not; I assume it's the "removing a verification" bug noted earlier. As with Bill Longley, I noticed that I had problems comparing my shelf list against the verification list for titles with multiple authors. (Personally, I'd prefer to have such books appear twice in the verification list.) Of course I also found examples where I shelved books under a non-canonical name, but I doubt there's an easy fix there, except for me to switch to always using the ISFDB name preference. That won't happen in all cases (Isak Dinesen will, for me, always be indexed under Karen Blixen), but that's a minor issue. All in all, I found the feature to do much of what I wanted, and it is certainly a useful feature. Adding sorting by some fields and handling multiple authorship would both help make it even more useful. Chavey 21:09, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback! For those wanting to rework the current list in other software like Excel, it wouldn't be difficult to add the first author's LAST_NAME as an extra column for people to work with. We don't have "LastName, FirstName" except for in the legal name, which may be completely different (or often blank). I'll look into a version that sorts by Author and gives you one line for each author - that will probably perform better, as creating the Multiple Author lists did seem to slow down this version. Keep the comments/requests coming! BLongley 21:28, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Just checked it out in Excel and it works pretty good for sorting, and most of the links remain intact. (For some reason, when there's multiple authors, the links disappear.) The only other problem is that is sorts by first name. So a column for last name would be nice, Bill. And for the magazines, it would be nice to sort by date, if possible. Thanks. Mhhutchins 21:37, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Found another bug. It lists this pub but I only did a Reginald and Tuck verification of it. Or maybe sometime in the past I may have accidentally clicked the button for the primary verification on this pub and changed it immediately afterward. If so, this could be the same bug. Mhhutchins 21:56, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
I think it's the same bug - the backup shows you switched off Primary Verification and added Reginald and Tuck Verifications in one go. There's no indication left about when you made the original mistake. Testing suggests that if somebody else had Primary Verified it since, then your original mistake and the correction would be gone. BLongley 22:50, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
BTW, elsewhere I think I suggested a "Quick Re-Verify" option that would allow people working on their early verifications to rapidly update the date that they last looked at their book (i.e. it WOULDN'T do Secondary verification updates automatically). This would enable people to rework their "embarrassing" period fairly quickly and stop them using the current search. Is this desirable? BLongley 23:05, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
(I appreciate that people do want a more advanced search with authors and types and editions and formats and dates and prices - actually, you probably want to download all data involved with your Verifications in .csv format or suchlike - but you'll have to wait for the really complex stuff. ((Or learn how to be a developer too, and give Ahasuerus yet another headache!)) BLongley 22:50, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) The fix is in. Ahasuerus 02:37, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Thank you very much for adding this very nice feature - it's something that I have been looking forward to, a lot! It works very well for me as it is, and although a sorting feature would be a nice addition, this is not really necessary for me (my bookshelf is organized in a very special way - only I understand how it's done, and it definitely is not alphabetical :-). Bill Longley mentioned that a book might need to be listed multiple times if it has more than one author, and the user requests sorting by author - I'm not very fond of this idea, so it would be nice if there were an option to turn multiple listings off. Exporting the list to .csv or some similar format would be very welcome. Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 22:05, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Library of Congress website problems

Anybody else have any trouble in the past day or so with loc.gov. It's taking forever to load, and all searches time-out. Mhhutchins 17:06, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Seems to work fine at the moment. Ahasuerus 00:21, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

FREE to good home - 10 issues of "Rhodaniens"

While searching the Stableford Collection for some magazines that people are enquiring about, I came across issues 2-11 of this Fanzine. They're of little use to me as my French skills are so poor (I think I managed to translate the dates, but that's about it) so I'm happy to send them on to any other editor that would appreciate them. It appears that issue 10 has a complete Bibliography for K. H. Scheer and issue 11 has similar for Clark Darlton, which could be of interest to those working on Perry Rhodan. They didn't cost me anything apart from a little time and diesel, so I'm not looking for any money for these (although if several people want them, the tie-break might be to see who will repay the postage by buying me something off my Amazon wish-list). Anyone interested? BLongley 18:37, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

I've now found Issues 1 and 12 as well - a complete set? BLongley 19:45, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
If none of our French speaking editors are interested, I would like to have them. Am willing to pay for postage. --Willem H. 20:28, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Great, I'm glad someone wants them! I'd better leave it for a few days as several of our European Editors might be at the Eastercon this weekend and I suspect ISFDB access will be difficult and/or expensive from there. :-/ BTW, is Marc Kupper going? I didn't see his name on the list of attendees but he did ask whether I was close to Birmingham... BLongley 00:08, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Joanna Russ, 1937-2011

For those of you who might be interested, Joanna Russ died this morning in a hospice in Tucson, Arizona. The winner of a Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and 2 Tiptree awards, she was best known for "The Female Man", "When It Changed", and other feminist SF works. According to Samuel (Chip) Delany, she suffered several strokes on Wednesday, and had a "Do Not Resuscitate" order on file with the hospital. She had been essentially housebound for the last 5 years or so, and confined to her bed for most of the last two years. (She did a phone interview with Delany from her bed 5 years ago, and that was probably her last "public" appearance.) Chavey 21:54, 29 April 2011 (UTC)