ISFDB:Moderator noticeboard/Archive 14

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Submission in the queue for Catch a Falling Star

I'm not going to handle this submission due to the problems several moderators had with the author/ISFDB editor. If any moderator chooses to accept it, please be aware that he's using a pseudonym which is the name of another author of the early 20th century spec-fic: Garnett Radcliffe. You'll have to change the credit of the pub record and its contents to Garnett Radcliffe (1965-). What's strange is the username of the submitting editor is "Wgcontento". Whether it's the real W. G. Contento, I have some strong doubts, as it's known that the editor has played games with pseudonyms before. (He sent me a rather nasty pseudonymous letter using the ISFDB email system shortly after he disappeared from the scene, decrying me as an asshole in my dealings with that "other" editor.) So if you choose to accept it, just be prepared. Mhhutchins 01:08, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

And, as the target of diatribes by this submitter, I won't deal with this either. But I will note that in the past this submitter has had a weak grasp of when items fit the within the genre and when they do not. Chavey 06:54, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
I would think ISFDB editors would be expected to act professionally and do their job, despite their personal issues with others. Al 08:37, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Fortunately, it isn't our "job", and it's not a profession. It's a choice, and some of us choose not to deal with submissions. You have the same choice. Mhhutchins 15:33, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
and that attitude is precisely why I haven't contributed but a thing or two in well over a decade to the ISFDB. Sadly that. Al 08:40, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
That's a double standard. You are saying other volunteers should participate regardless of the actions/attitudes of others, but you yourself are using the actions/attitudes of others as a justification for not participating. People participate in the ISFDB because they like to; not because they have to. Expecting people to put up with abuse is unrealistic. -- JLaTondre (talk) 11:20, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, J. That was a great response. I couldn't have said it better. Mhhutchins 19:17, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
sorta but not Really. There's a difference between deciding to not participate, which means not having to deal with what I have issues with, or If I were to participate again actively and being expected because I said I'd participate to do what was needed done despite my concerns. I agree people do not deserve to be abused. But approving or fixing an entry is a different matter, if abuse comes after such, then the abuser should be punished. However senior moderators shoulsnt be able to determine what and by whom gets entered into the database based on feelings because in theory it sets a dangerous precedent of what does and does not get entered. I think that's too much control and power and too dangerous a situation. Not dealing with entries because you do not like someone, is nowhere near the same as approving or disapproving entries based on established qualification rules, just to cut off that line of questioning from the beginning. Besides, I was never good enough nor enough of a perfectionist to continue here, I had relied on printed sources for my information, like the Encyclopedia of SF and unfortunately copied those errors over in my data that got used here in the dark ages, Both A's (Al amd Ahs) were a great help but it was clear I was out of my depth, then the attitudes started to change with the "new" at the time crop of volunteers and their holier than thou condesending attitudes they shoved down people who didn't get the complicated rules fast enough, and that did me in :(. And it all really is very sad as its a great resource I always wanted to be a part of. At least for a time I was and my name was. I also fel bad I screwed up upon my return and used the.name Al, I need to change that out of respect. Al 11:45, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Until you've been at end of such abuse, you can't say exactly what you would have done. I believe our responses were correct, and wouldn't change a thing if given a second chance. If you were a moderator, you'd know that the decision to bypass a queued submission happens quite frequently. Some submissions are just too much work for some moderators who make a conscious decision to leave it sitting in the queue. Some of us moderators have taken on the extra burden of dealing with such submissions. You have no idea the hundreds of hours I've spent in mentoring new editors. You have no idea the thousands of words I've posted on their pages providing them with guidance when all they would have to do is read the help pages. So don't tell me what I have to do, especially if you're unwilling to do it yourself. You had that opportunity and chose to leave. I chose to stay and build the database. Mhhutchins 19:17, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
On a professional level, the difficulty in dealing with this editor is that it is very difficult to decide whether or not a submission of his belongs in the database. His works are self-published, do not get Amazon or WorldCat "summaries", do not get reviewed anywhere, and hence we can't get any outside opinion as to whether the contents are speculative fiction. He doesn't respond to questions about content well -- his attitude is "I wrote it, so it should be in there." There are certainly other authors who are at least as obnoxious as this one, but their personality problems do not interfere with us evaluating whether their book belongs in the system. And, as you probably know, a new editor's initial submissions often have a variety of little errors that need correction to match the standards in place for the system as a whole. It is unfortunate, but true, that several potential editors (and it sounds like you might fit in this category) do not get past this phase without giving up in frustration. (A lot more error detection/correction at the submission phase might help, but introduces other kinds of frustrations.) Occasionally, though, we get an editor at this phase of their participation who decide that our standards our stupid, that editors trying to implement them are assholes, and that they should be able to enter anything they want. That doesn't go over well. If this were a professional system, such editors would simply be banned. We try not to do that here. Instead, editors who have had substantial problems with an editor simply recuse themselves from working with that person -- the way any responsible judge in the real world would. That's what Mike and I have done here. Chavey 15:06, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
in actuality, a real editor would be assigned a task and would be expected to perform that task, despite any personal issues, Al 03:33, 7 December 2013 (UTC)


[unindent] My only request to anyone who would criticize Darrah and my decision not to handle this editor's submission is to read this page. It should answer any concerns about whether that was a right decision. No other editor could have been more patient than those of us who dealt with his submissions. Re-read my original post for this topic, and at no time did I say that the submission should not be accepted. If I felt that way, I could have easily rejected it and went on without any other moderator knowing the reason why. Mhhutchins 19:17, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

I am well aware of the situation. This wiki is open to all, and I've read pretty much every article at least twice however what hasn't still been addressed here is my point, much effort was made to explain how this or that submission doesn't get done by a moderator for this or that reason, despite me from the very beginning stating that I was not referring to rules and submissions. My concern remains what happens when every moderator refuses to deal with submissions because they just don't like e person that made it. And that's why i still claim, personal feelings, even if one doesn't t like the submitter, should not be a factor in refusing to deal with a submission. The ISFDB loses all credibility once submissions are deemed to be dealt with based on emotion, and not acceptable facts as per the rules. You may claim such a scenario will never happen, perhaps not, but I think it will and does now, I think thisor a fine example of the failure of using emotion to decide to deal with submissions or not, not just you, but other moderators have stated they will not deal with it, maybe everyone will. I shouldn't be surprised though, as I have stated its a holier tthsn thou crowd that demands ings be done as they say. And if not people are rushed off in a condescending put down. Al ones need do is read your recent indignation on the subject of dates to see what I mean. You insist over and over it's how it is,it's so simple to understand, and at since people don't get it, you throw your hands in the air and walk away, nothing more condescending and put someone in their place than that. And that's exactly what I mean by the attitude around here SUCKS. so yes, while I'm sad I'm not a part of this project, I'm also proud if that's the acceptable attitude, as well as refusing submission on the basis of emotions, then I am glad I didn't help more, I'll even go so far as saying I apologize for needing to post this here. If this were a real formal organization, there'd be contact information to file my concerns with authority, and not expect people to have to work their ass off to find a way to post feedback. Al 03:24, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Even if I can understand your virtual concerns (that some submissions may stay in the queue "ad vitam eternam"), note that in this precise case, the submission was dealt with. For the wish to "file my concerns with authority", you're probably not in the right place in a volunteer-based outfit. Making disparaging comments about moderators (in particular or in general) is, IMHO, not very constructive, perhaps it'll be wiser to become one and try to change things from the inside. Even if I had some bibliographic disagreaments with Michael, his tremendeous work should not be belittled. Hauck 10:31, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Further above, you stated that if abuse occurs "then the abuser should be punished". What you seem to be missing is that not accepting an editor's submissions is the only punishment we have. We don't have (and I hope we will never use) a formal banning system like other projects. If an editor antagonizes the entire community and no one is willing to deal with them, then so be it. That is a far more forgiving and a less open to abuse system than is used by other projects. It does not damage ISFDB's credibility; quite the opposite for anyone who has witnessed the destructive drama of Wikipedia's block/unblock wars, sockpuppetery, etc. -- JLaTondre (talk) 17:10, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
There is a Blocking Policy, but it's hardly ever used. Not counting spambots, I can only recall two occasions when I had to invoke it. Ahasuerus 19:57, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Given your comment regarding a "real formal organization", it sounds like you have a misunderstanding of how open-source, collaborative projects work. Even Wikipedia, which is backed by a formal non-profit organization, doesn't have what you are suggesting.
As for the rest, it seems like you have an issue with Michael and are trying to tar the remainder of the community with it. Michael can be impatient and abrupt, but he also does great work including with new editors. However, he is not the the entire community. Instead of continuing to ask others to apply a different standard, may I suggest you practice what you preach and join us? We can always use additional participants; especially those willing to work with new and problematic editors. You don't need to be a moderator to correct errors and provide people with helpful instruction. -- JLaTondre (talk) 17:10, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
in the end there is always someone responsible,in charge. Someone signs the cheque. Someone pays the bills. Someone has the domain registered. Even in such circumstances as an open thing as this. That aside, I don't have any particular issues with Michael, that I don't have either editors that act the same. I'm not a fan of allowing people to be abrupt and rude, just because they contribute a lot. What I have done is not tell anyone to change. What I have done is tell everyone here why some people stay away. And I'm hardly the only one, I can easily name a handful of people, other than the person that is the issue of this thread, who have stated through this wiki they left or didn't appreciate the abrupt, rude and condescending attitudes of some. What you do about it all is your (royal) call. I suspect the concerns will just be ignored because a ubsr productive member is more important here clearly than some manners towards those trying to learn the system. And with that, I'm done, because like stoecker, I can tell when I am jut beating my head uselessly against a wall. Go back to your condescension as you wish. All that matters in the ends filling up that database after all, not the people. I'll keep an eye put, should things change in attitude around here, then yes, I'll gladly throw in a few hours a week grunt work. I don't have books(can't read me) so being a primary or entering books is out, but there's tons of stuff need fixin, maybe others will join in too. But you might just find in the meantime we don't want to be an editor associated with a project that allows editors to be abrupt and condescending to others, especially when their main crime is not getting the "rules" fast enough. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Al (talkcontribs) .
No, it doesn't only matter to fill the database, regardless of the quality. It is the quality of data that puts ISFDB in high regard for users, and Michael (among others) has done tremendous work to ensure this quality. Some people won't take only a look at a given publication, and well, this directly leads to users complaining that a database is pretty undependable (= useless). Stonecreek 05:22, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, we had a major problem with data quality back in the 1990s and that's what prompted the switch from the original unmoderated process to a moderated one. Of course, once you have moderation in place, the human factor becomes more important and there will be times when editors, especially new editors, and approving moderators will have disagreements and/or misunderstandings. We try to mitigate these problems by making "good communications skills" a requirement for new moderators, but there is only so much we can do. Things happen and there will be editors who will decide not to contribute because they don't like the rules, the process or the moderators. Thankfully, it hasn't happened very often. Ahasuerus 05:39, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
yet, those "good communications skills" apparently are not required for veteran moderators. And that's the problem. I don't think there's anyone here that doesn't think Michael is abrupt and condescending to new editors that he gets tired of "trying to explain" or throws his hands in the air when those new editors or even veteran editors dont get his "interpretation" of the rules that are so clear to him and only him. He is not the only one Either, There's nothing wrong with what you say Ahasuerus, it's a lofty goal. But it should not just be enforceable on those new editors but on ALL editors equal and it's certainly not. Seriously - why is he allowed to be like that? Al 09:48, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
Hmmm, you might get sounding a bit harsh when you have to deal the umpteenth time with the same upcoming problem (possibly by the very same editor), but as I wrote above, Michael seems to be the driving force behind an improvement of data quality, that is, he keeps insisting on this quality (and it is this insisting that may be regarded as harsh by some). On the other hand, who knows how many potential editors might have been driven away by lack of data quality (for example just showing a wrong cover, mistakenly entered publication dates etc. - there is really such a load of mistakes that need to be fixed). I might have been driven away by a mistake in the beginning, I just decided to fix it and became involved. But this was because the mistake was stated for a german publication that I didn't regard as essential for ISFDB. If I had found any central mistake, I might have never considered to edit or even to make use of the database.
If you don't think about dealing with books, than there is also much to do in other fields, as you might know ;-), and there shouldn't be much conflict with other moderators. Stonecreek 14:13, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

[unintend] So in other words, new editors are not allowed to be rude, but if you produce quality work as a senior editor you can be as rude as you want, as you are getting the job done. Nice. Al 11:51, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

If an editor believes that a moderator is being rude or is not interpreting the data entry rules correctly, he or she should post on the Moderator Noticeboard and link the exchange(s) in question so that they could be looked into. Ahasuerus 16:57, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
Dating Publications in the rules section. Adding Gender in the community portal section. Need me to continue? Both full of vile a contempt and condescending remarks on Michaels part. Not that anything will be done of course, he's too valuable of a "get the data in" over people mentality. Feel free to prove me wrong and correct his rudeness being allowed, of course. As I said earlier, everywhere else on the Internet and real Life has a contact to deal with personal issues, but since you insisting on it being aired out publicly after people pointing it out on and off for years that it shouldnt be and there should be contact information. here we go. But I know right now what the answer will be, either a) that's not rude (despite the fact it is) and you are just saying so to keep him from being disciplined, or b) that's just Michael, that's how he rolls. Again not valid. Yes I'm upset about this. It is wrong and needs to be fixed. Not becaise i was harmed, but because it is wrong. There's a clear case. Of favouritism based on how much work you produce around here (clearly supported by the comments in this thread) and what you are allowed to get away with, that needs to be corrected, as it's the right thing to do. Al 11:12, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps I was unclear. If you believe that one of your submissions wasn't correctly processed by a moderator and/or the approving moderator didn't communicate his concerns properly, please link the discussion so that other moderators could review it. As the page header says, "The purpose of this page is to get the attention of one or more moderators with concerns about submissions." Since your Talk page has no record of submissions-related discussions, I assume that you had problems using a different account. Was it User:Starseeker 2065, which Michael linked earlier? If so, which one of the discussions did you have a problem with? Ahasuerus 19:29, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
and as I said, nothing will be done, the issue won't be addressed and every excuse will be made to deflect the topic because it concerns the Actions of a heavy production editor. Work hard editors, and then you too can do whatever crap you want to others here! But if you are new, toe the line, or your submissions will just be ignored! Al 14:06, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Well, count me out of this discussion, it's getting nowhere. If the fact that there's no contact here for personal issues troubles you so much, it's perhaps wiser and less stressful to you to avoid discussions in such an "unfriendly" place. Hauck 18:09, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
that's NOT what I said. I said it would be nice to have a place private to deal with personal issues as it businesses and groups have, however that was never the issue. The issue remains, senior moderators refusing to deal with submissions due to rudeness on the part of the new editor, but themselves (senior moderators) allowed to continually be rude to others, either in regards to submissions or issues posted to the wiki. And the topic is only going nowhere because nobody is talking about the issue and doing their best to deflect and derail the actual issue, had the issue been actually discussed and resolved when raised instead of trying to get it derailed, this would have been long over. Al 14:03, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
To talk about the issue, please refer exactly to a text where hostility (or rudeness) was (mis)used against you. Stonecreek 15:53, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Please do. Ahasuerus 16:53, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

(unindent) I find the tone and path of this discussion both depressing and disheartening. It's not even aimed at me, and I can't imagine what some other people are feeling at this point. What started out as a notification to other moderators not to expect that our most prolific moderator would magically take care of some tricky submissions if the rest of us avoid handling them long enough has devolved into attacks ad hominem and bashing of some of the people putting in the greatest number of thankless hours walking the fine line between (among?) maintaining ISFDB quality, helping other contributors get up to speed/improve, and trying to keep up with the submission volume so that contributors can keep doing their thing. Wasn't the point of the initial post to ensure that the submissions DID NOT get ignored -- to ensure that they WOULDN'T sit in the queue for a long time -- and to help whoever might handle the submissions do so properly and avoid some potential pitfalls with regard to working with the submitter?

and there we go again.... He's a major contributor, so it's all okay he CN say what and how he wants becuase he produces wads of stuff for us! How much is produced is irrelevant or st least should be when how one is allowed to communicate rudely with their fellow volunteers, Al 14:06, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

The other thing to keep in mind is that this Wiki is a written medium, and it's very difficult to convey and discern intended tone in writing. The words I write are "said" in the tone I hear in my head, but that may not be what someone else reading them hears. In addition, a lot of what the job of moderating requires essentially is delivering criticism, and people respond to criticism in different ways: Some take it as a challenge, some as an affront, some don't even recognize it as someone's attempt to alter their behavior. Moderators, who are not necessarily professional psychologists, diplomats/politicians, or managers, can find themselves in situations where their communication style and abilities, not to mention the amount of time they have available to craft communication, are at odds with the contributor's feedback needs and reactions. Sometimes the best way to deal with that is to let someone else with a different mix of style and abilities (and time) take a shot at the situation. Often the head-butting proves to be temporary, as people get used to each other. And sometimes it doesn't. A not-currently-active editor used to have extremely negative reactions to one specific not-currently-active moderator, and I couldn't even begin to understand why. When that's the case, it's up to the moderator to avoid triggering further confrontations: A moderator can choose to avoid an editor, but an editor has no way to avoid a moderator, short of not contributing. --MartyD 18:26, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

All true and very well put. I would add that the "not-currently-active editor" referred to above had, as he once explained, significant medical issues which affected his ability to function. Also, not only is it hard to discern intended tone in writing, but it can also be hard to understand why a new editor is having problems. Some people are not very computer-savvy and what is obvious to an experienced moderator may completely elude a new editor.
In this particular case, the "ad hominem and bashing" come from one person who is yet to provide any specifics of alleged rudeness. Unless the specifics are forthcoming, I will be archiving this discussion and applying ISFDB:Policy as appropriate. Ahasuerus 21:52, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
my issue has always been stated as an ongoing one in general and not as a personal attack issie. have provided recent examples of s senior editor who was rude and condescending to others. There are many more. Even posters to this thread have madeit clear they feel Michael can be abrupt and rude at times. You. N continue to ignore this, but that doesn't mean the problem will go away. I have attempted to deal with this issue in the proper manner. I would have done private if possible, it isn't here. I then brought it to the organization, the organization seems to just want to ignore it and not deal with the issue, so that only leaves one avenue, going public. And I am more than prepared to do so, should the general topic of senior moderators being rude, condescending and abrupt not be addressed. You may delete, archive, punish me all you want for wanting to improve the "tone" of this project, but that will not stop me from using whatever means I can to see it done. Why? Because volunteers don't deserve to be treated with such abruptness and condescension as exhibited regularly by some senior moderators, and all in the open and visible to everyone that comes around. So fix it, or be prepared to deal eith it in the real world. Abusing volunteers usually doesn't sit well there. Al 14:06, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
As per the note above I am archiving this discussion and will be addressing the rest of it on the editor's Talk page. Ahasuerus 14:49, 21 December 2013 (UTC)