ISFDB talk:Policy

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Would Calendars be in or out even if the material is speculative fiction related Star Trek Calendar?
How would it relate to art books like Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art ? Ray 09:52, 28 Mar 2007 (CDT)


I just realized we should have an explanation of why eZines are not included in ISFDB. Someone just submitted the table of contents for an issue of which is a paid-subscription eZine. I don't have time at the moment to write a detailed explanation but have started this thread. Marc Kupper (talk) 16:06, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

(unindent)That would have been me. I'm Paula Goodlett, the managing editor of Jim Baen's Universe.

One of our authors asked why JBU wasn't updated in the ISFDB, and suggested I give it a try.

We do recognize that a lot of e-zines aren't very permanent and understand your original policy. However, JBU has had one Hugo nominee, one Locus nominee, four "best of" picks and Baen is publishing a Best Of Jim Baen's Universe 2006 volume in July.

Our second year goes on sale on 1 June 2007. Most of the second year's stories are already scheduled, and we've recently purchased a serial that will run in seven issues, starting with the October 2007 issue and ending in the October 2008 issue.

I do feel that with that kind of record, with an author list that includes many well-known names in speculative fiction, as well as having Eric Flint as Editor in Chief and Mike Resnick as Executive Editor, we could be considered more permanent than the average e-zine.

Paula Goodlett

Indeed, expanding on Paula's note for a moment, with four best-of collection selections this year, and a locus nomination and a hugo nomination, does it not seem reasonable that the lists of hugo nominated stories should list where they were published? Or that Mike Resnick, or David Weber, or Alan Dean Foster's pages ought to have the stories listed that they sold to JBU? Or is the policy just that you don't do ToC's of e-zines, but that listing individual stories in their author's pages is acceptable? Or does Mike's story fall into some limbo because an e-publication is somehow anathema.
Baen has had a continuous presense with since 1997. The URL's don't change, the STUFF only grows, never shrinking, and JBU has been informed by the SFWA membership committee that it counts as a pro market (although they haven't updated THEIR web site to reflect that.)
The policy page says:
Out - Web publications, e-zines, and so forth. The problem for us is that they are not durable; anything we index could change, be reorganized, edited, updated with new versions or revisions, and so on. In addition, the URLs are not likely to be durable. So for now ezines are not accepted into the ISFDB.
A few points to consider. An e-zine which has a Library of Congress issues ISSN, and which files copyright registrations (as JBU does) is _not_ subject to re-organizing it's back list. An issue is an issue is an issue. And those issues will _permanently_ be available on Baen's webscriptions site (in the usual five formats) and will probebly be distributed complete in future "Best of Jim Baen's Universe" anthologies in CD form, which again, fixes the index.
Is it sufficient that a limited-edition ARC edition of the magazine is PoD'ed for small circulation?
Zero tolerance policies are seldom well-thought out. Perhaps it's time to reflect. Rboatright 20:31, 14 May 2007 (CDT) Rick Boatright - Head Geek Baen's Universe.
Very good points, folks. Keep in mind that nothing in the Policy is cast in stone. We have tried to keep up with the changes in the SF/F/H field over the years, so all suggestions are welcome. For example, back when the database started in 1995, we didn't include self-published books. However, with the proliferation of POD over the last 12 year and the parallel growth of enabling structures like, it has become harder and harder to draw the line between professionally published and self-published writers -- see, e.g., Hayford_Peirce's or Michael_McCollum's bibliographies -- so we eventually stopped trying even though it increased our workload tremendously. Another things that we have added in the last year is support for traditional, paper-based fanzines.
Similarly, it is entirely possible that the time has come to reconsider the current "no e-zines" policy. If, as Rick writes above, there is a very high probability that "ISSN'd" issue do not change their contents and do not disappear after a few years, then it addresses our biggest and hairiest concern. There is still a non-zero probability that, unlike paper books, the whole hosting site may go away in case of a major company reorganization, but it is partially offset by the likelihood that electronic intellectual property will be picked up by successor entities. Let me post on the Community Portal to notify other editors about this discussion.
In the meantime, let me address a couple of questions raised above:
"Is it sufficient that a limited-edition ARC edition of the magazine is PoD'ed for small circulation?"
If the contents of an online publication later become available in a more permanent form, e.g. as a paper book or on a CD, then these latter publications will be eligible for listing in the ISFDB as per the current policy. However, at this time it wouldn't retroactively make the original e-publication eligible.
As a general rule, we tried to minimize complexity, ambiguity and subjectivity when writing the current version of the Policy document for ISFDB 2.0. Other organizations' experience suggests that once you start introducing potentially fluid eligibility requirements like "we are a pro market under SFWA rules" or "winner/nominee of a major/minot award" or "well-known names in speculative fiction", you open the door to endless and potentially acrimonious eligibility discussions. That's why I suspect that if we decide to include (some?) e-zines, we will go with more cut-and-dry criteria like the presence or absence of an ISSN and/or some other assurance of permanence. Ahasuerus 00:21, 15 May 2007 (CDT)
I've had a look, and I think I'd make an exception in this case. There is information I'd be interested in there, even if it's not something I'm currently willing to pay a subscription for - but maybe I'll discover a wonderful new (to me) author that has content only available there though and that will change. We do have editors that WANT to submit online-only publications, and agree with other editors about the sites too - not just e-zines but Project Gutenberg entries for instance. And we do use links to other sites even when they're unreliable, in author entries for instance. BLongley 15:26, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
HOWEVER - I don't want new editors entering their first unpublishable novel as a link here and hoping it will make them a fortune. We do get a few "pump-and-dump" editors that remind/tell us about their book being available on Amazon or some other website selling a dead-tree version - fine by me, so long as it's factual information about a site we do trust, and most moderators will recognise those submissions. I don't want the mods swamped by such-like though, so I'd go softly on the exceptions - a case-by-case basis is fine by me, with votes on each new exception, and the guidance in the help adjusted for each new exception if approved. Maybe even in the code - we spot "Visco" cover-art submissions for instance and deal with those specially. But we're short on programmers at present, so don't rush into it. BLongley 15:26, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
One obvious thing people haven't mentioned: this is a techie publication wanting entries on a techie web-site. If approved, cut out the humans as much as possible and let ISFDB pull the relevant data from the JBU site, or let JBU push the data to ISFDB, to be treated like Dissembler's submissions maybe. (Or have JBU got a similar programmer shortage?) BLongley 15:26, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
In the meantime, if the Mods like this zine enough, I'd suggest that as we don't want our humans working to pull data we may lose eventually, we allow nominated editors from JBU to push it, and only THEY get submissions approved. BLongley 15:26, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
I think asking JBU to push would be asking a lot of the programmers on both sides but something I'd love to see would be an XML import for ISFDB. A site like JBU could then make the data available in XML format and then it's just a periodic copy/paste by humans. I believe the XML import could be done as a 3rd party app that then issues a POST to ISFDB. One of my side projects is to do the POST code as I want to coordinate my own DB with ISFDB better and so I'll probably have an XML import soon enough. Marc Kupper (talk) 15:43, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
OK, you work on the input! I suspect JBU are ahead of us on the output - if they can provide RSS XML output already they can learn our XML Data Submission Formats. I don't like XML much at work, it leads to huge files and all the sorts of problems that causes, and we've actually been told to HIDE the XML versions(!), but this sort of thing is exactly why it was created - whoever wants the data from HERE, THERE, most, can do the work! ;-) BLongley 16:02, 22 May 2007 (CDT)
In general, I agree with the proponents of change: at least "major" e-zines publishing "major" writers whose paper output is eligible should not be barred from ISFDB. I mean, when the time has come that a story first published online can be nominated, let alone win a Hugo/Nebula (i. e. already from Linda Nagata's Goddesses in 2000), it is time to deal with such publications in a more consistent way than just a note in the title entry. And even in a case such a story is not reprinted soon, why ignore it when we try to record any other material from even the most obscure paper sources, and why suddenly change it if the story gets collected years later in author's collection? And after all, there are already some issues of SF Site and Science Fiction Weekly in the DB (although only from 1997-9, apparently before the policy was set, quite possibly just by finding it was too demanding to enter them all).
To give yet another example: recently I got into an argument what short fiction John_Scalzi has published. His website is sadly negligent about providing a concise bibliography, and since much of it was online or in chapbooks, ISFDB isn't much better. However wikipedia:John Scalzi#Short fiction was just what I was looking for. What do you find more useful? --JVjr 08:05, 23 May 2007 (CDT)
(unindent)We would certainly be willing to do a version of our xml we're ALREADY doing for (multiple) rss feeds to feed into ISFDB. I agree that having a fully automated solution is rational. If you would be kind enough to provide me with a transactional XML format, we would be happy to provide a URI which would provide issue-by-issue xml in whatever shape you want. On our side, after all, it's all just databases and fields... a report is just a report. We _are_ severely short of programmer time, but again, let's face it, if Cory Doctorow wins the Locus award this year (not an unforseeable outcome), isfdb will be out of synch with every other source about where that was first published. And our authors are asking us why the stories they've been paid _top rates_ for, in a registered, copyrighted publication (note, once again the idea of lack-of-fluidity, in that we REGISTER THE COPYRIGHT OF THE TABLE OF CONTENTS of each issue... again, fixing its form, ignoring for a moment the fact that JBU is also ISSN'ed... So, yes. Just /ask us/ and we'll be happy to do the xml feed. Rboatright 11:38, 3 Jun 2007 (CDT)

(Unindent) OK, we've had a few comments now and nobody seems AGAINST a one-off exception to the rule. Paula and Rick are FOR, for obvious reasons. JVJr and me are also FOR, from the ISFDB side. Marc is the one that has the submissions on hold and put this up for discussion, so although he's coming from the ISFDB side he's showing a perfectly neutral view according to current rules. Ahasuerus also reminds us all why the rules were put there in the first place. We don't distinguish between Editors and Moderators and Bureaucrats on the one thing we ARE agreed about voting on (Editor to Moderator level changes) so I'd say that if people here think there's been enough discussion already, Marc should approve the submissions and we allow this title on a single exception basis. If Marc's uncomfortable with that, I suggest that if there isn't a dissension within our usual 5 days, I'LL approve them, go fix the Help, etc, as best I can. (If the submissions aren't there, I'll take that as a major "No" though.) BLongley 18:16, 4 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Oh, and although I only got reminded of this discussion from my van Vogt research that took me to "Slan Hunter", serialised at JBU it seems, I have NOT been bribed with a free subscription. Yet. ;-) (I'm not sure I could use one anyway, I rarely read e-books in the bath, which seems to be the only time I read even dead-tree versions now... BLongley 18:25, 4 Jun 2007 (CDT)
Ok, guys, I've looked at the xml formats and I gotta tell you. I have, from that page, absolutely NO IDEA how I would format an xml entry to give you the table-of-contents of an issue of JBU. I'm _willing_ you understand, but I'll be gosh darned if I can see how I tell you that A. Bertram Chandler's "The Giant Killer" was reprinted in Vol 2 Number 1 of JBU in June of 2007. What would that XML look like? We would PREFER to have an automated submission, but golly-gee-wilikers-batman, I don't see a way to do that. (I'm probably being stupid.) Rboatright 19:34, 7 Jun 2007 (CDT)
I am afraid that's a question for Al von Ruff, our programmer, who is currently being held captives by Eddorians and forced to perform unspeakable managerial tasks :( Hopefully, he will re-emerge in the next few days and get back to you on re: XML formatting. I wouldn't do anything coding-wise until then since I suspect that our submission format has changed significantly since the time that page was last updated. Ahasuerus 00:26, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)
The XML format can be discerned from things like [1] and [2]. Will you be reprinting stories or is it all new work? I ask because at present humans need to get involved with merging the reprinted story titles with the existing records. In other words, when someone does a new-magazine new title records are added for everything and it's up the the humans to then check for reprints and to merge the new title records with the existing ones. Marc Kupper (talk) 03:17, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Unindent again: Ah, now I look there is a glaring "NewPub" omission in the suggested page. :-( Sorry Rick, I expected it to be a bit more useful than that. And Marc, can non-Mods see the XMLdumps? I've not tried being a non-Mod again since I became one. BLongley 17:17, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Rick, I think the submission for your example would be something like this, based on the existing submissions on hold. Obviously, an entire set of contents would need more than this one <Content> entry. There's no way to tell us it's a REPRINT of "The Giant Killer" - as we have it as "Giant Killer": and we'd let a human decide if it was the same title or not, and create a variant title with the "The", or ask you to correct the title if it's not exactly as you published it. Giving the original first date of printing helps us check if it's the same story or not. BLongley 17:17, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)

Note that the submissions on hold aren't perfect in other ways:

  1. I think the <TAG> entry isn't wanted, we'd distinguish issues via the title and autogenerate the tag.
  2. <Price> would be for that one issue, not for a year: I've assumed six issues a year and divided it down for this example.
  3. <Image> needs to link to the cover-art image itself, not a containing page of any kind.
  4. <Authors> I'm especially unsure about, but I'm not the magazine specialist here by any means. It's for the magazine editor I think? And I'm not sure which type of Editor that JBU lists it should be.

Anyway, let's have a go myself at the XML - I R Techie!:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1" ?>
    <Subject>Jim Baen’s Universe Volume 2, Number 1</Subject>
    <Title>Jim Baen’s Universe Volume 2, Number 1</Title>
    <Publisher>Baen Books</Publisher>
    <Image> (with a ".jpg" suffix</Image>
        <Author>Mike Resnick</Author>
            <cTitle>The Giant Killer</cTitle>
            <cAuthors>A. Bertram Chandler</cAuthors>

OK, comments from ALL sides welcome. I think that's probably syntactically correct XML (when you fix the ".jpg" thing), it should be close to the submission format for a new pub here (although I've only used one piece of content in the example, obviously we'd expect more normally). It's magazine stuff though, and I leave those to other Mods mostly. BLongley 17:17, 8 Jun 2007 (CDT)

I can do that. I will need _someone_ to tell me that this is in fact nominal. Once someone with some vague authority says "Yeah, do that" then I will. :-) Basically then, we'll have a link which generates that XML content. Which is really pretty darned simple, actually. Rboatright 22:48, 23 Jun 2007 (CDT)
The whole argument against ezines seems to be based on a false presumption - that ezines and ebooks are web-based. They are not web-based. They are distributed (not read on the internet) in machine readable format and can be read by various types of computing devices. Ebooks on PDA's have been a primary source of reading for me for the past five years. That includes Analog and Asimov's along with Aeon. They do not change. I can go to Fictionwise today and download exactly the same book that I bought five years ago. Project Gutenberg releases are version controlled and they are starting to release an increasing number of science fiction, some of it from the sixties, and all free. We may need a more stringent vetting process to make sure that web-base products don't sneak by, perhaps even specialist moderators. It would seem odd that science fiction fans would resist new technology.--swfritter 19:59, 2 Jul 2007 (CDT)
ping Rboatright 23:07, 4 Jul 2007 (CDT)
Sorry about the delays :( Our primary programmer, User:Alvonruff, is in the middle of a move to another state and doesn't have much time to help with most ISFDB issues. Let me leave a note on his Talk page and see if he can stop by and review this discussion. Ahasuerus 12:43, 11 Jul 2007 (CDT)
Well, there are a lot of discussion threads going on here, but specifically about the possibility of pushing/pulling XML: there already exists an unpublished ISFDB web service that accepts XML. In fact, I have a number of private tools (dissembler being just one of them) that make remote XML submissions. I have not made these APIs public yet as there are currently no restrictions on use, and we would want to have people register to use the API. I'll look at the above snippet for correctness this weekend if time permits.
Apologies for the delays, but in addition to the move I have a family member in a hospice situation, so time is a bit tight right now. Alvonruff 21:56, 11 Jul 2007 (CDT)
Sokay. When you get to it you get to it. You might consider letting me know by email.... Rboatright 18:57, 27 Jul 2007 (CDT)

Policy page updates

The Policy page has been updated to reflect various software and policy changes in the last 14 months since the page was created. The changes are as follows:

    • paper-based fanzines (note: software support added in early 2007)
    • print on demand
    • vanity publishers (note: policy liberalized with the rise of Amazon etc after 2000)
    • e-books with ISBNs (note: software support added in mid-2006)
    • audio books (note: software support added in mid-2006)
    • Web-based e-zines with ISSNs? (see the Talk page)

We will probably want to keep these "notes" on the Policy change for a few months. Ahasuerus 03:24, 12 Jul 2007 (CDT)

Ezine policy again

The following discussion arose on ISFDB:Community Portal#ezine policy. I am copying the thread and moving the issue here for further discussion, and, I hope, resolution. -DES Talk 13:10, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)

Begin content copied from ISFDB:Community Portal#ezine policy.

The dust may have settled on the ezine issue and the ISFDb Policy Page needs to be updated to reflect current practice: ezines are included if they are downloadable and have been assigned an ISSN. Although my personal preference is for a broader policy, applying the same standards to downloadable magazines as print magazines and even perhaps including website only zines, I intend to update the policy sheet only to reflect the current standards: downloadable with an ISSN.--swfritter 11:15, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)

I thought that the policy was that any ezine that was downloadable, stable in its issue contents, and seemed likely to be reasonably persistent was includable. I took the ISSN as proof of issue stability, and strong evidence of persistence, but not as a sine qua non of ezine inclusion. Please note that I have added multiple issues of baen's Grantville Gazette. None of these have ISSNs. Some -- mostly the ones also issued in print form -- have ISBNs. Some have DOIs -- or more accurately they have strings in the form of DOIs, but which seem not to have been registered a valid DOIs. -DES Talk 11:30, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Any discussion should probably be on the Policy Talk page or Rules and Standards. I find your definition acceptable but based upon the extensive discussions on this subject matter I only felt comfortable adding ezines with ISSN's. I would like to add Aeon magazine which is currently at issue 13, has made the transition from semi-pro (3 cents a word) to pro (6 cents a word), is regularly issued and available at Fictionwise, has well recognized authors but does not have an ISSN. With Grantville Gazette totally blurs the concepts of ebook anthology and ezine.--swfritter 12:41, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)

End content copied from ISFDB:Community Portal#ezine policy.

It seems to me that the real issue is persistence. Stuff that may vanish beyond recall is not well suited to cataloging -- although there is the Internet archive/way back machine. Perhaps worse is stuff that may change without warning. In the case of the Grantville Gazette, it is the affiliation with a significant print publisher that lends the impression of stability. In addition the Gazette is intended to be downloaded like an ebook, so that any reader may have a copy of the text, just as any reader may have a copy of a long out-of-print magazine. An E-zine that has a strong concept of "issue" deals with the "morphing" problem. An ISSN is good evidence of such a concept, but perhaps not the sole acceptable evidence. Downloadability at least helps with persistence. (Of course one can download a copy of any web site, but an ezine designed for dowloadability will be significantly easier to download with assurance of having a correct and complete copy)

There is also the possibility of our being buried in self-published web-only amateur writing of little significance to anyone but the author. An ISSN or ISBN is some evidence of professionalism. It costs money, but note that anyone can have a fully downlaodable ebook on LuLu with an ISBN for (last time I checked) under $200. (Still a lot more than a simple web site, of course.) I think that there might be other evidence that we can accept of sufficient professionalism to warrant inclusion. -DES Talk 13:25, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)

Agreed. I have had my say on this issue and, I think, managed to get the standard from ezine's not allowed to ezine's allowed with ISSN numbers. (In actuality I think it was more a matter of noticing that existing documentation made magazines with ISSN's acceptable). That is the policy that I can justify making clearer in the documentation. The other thing to decide: ezine, E-zine, e-Zine, Ezine, or eZine - I think I have seen every variation. Also definitions. Is ezine a generic term for both downloadable and web versions or just for downloadable. If generic, what term should be used for downloadables. I think webzine makes clear sense for web versions.--swfritter 14:46, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Good points! The original rationale for excluding webzines and ezines was to avoid the issue of content mutability that David mentions above. ISSNs and ISBNs give us a degree of assurance that the cataloged data is likely permanent, but, as the Internet matures, it's possible that we will come across other nomenclatures (like DOIs) that suggest immutability and add them to the white list. Ahasuerus 15:34, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
If a publisher explictly states that an issue, one published, is an issue, and will not change, and if issues are downloadable, so that readers can have personal copies (which could be maintained even if the original goes offline) perhaps that would be sufficient on the mutability issue? (BTW, a DOI, unline an ISSN or ISBN, does not particularly imply immutability, accoding to its offficial description. What it does imply is a persistant entity with a persistant identifier.) -DES Talk 15:53, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Immutability is one thing, availability is another: proof of the first rather depends on the second. So I'm against all "read-online-ONLY" titles as we'd never be able to prove it didn't change. Anything with a hard-copy version is already included - but it's the hard-copy that would have to be the proven stable version. Someone having a downloaded copy of the e-version adds confidence. ISBNs give me a fair set of confidence, although that seems not shared here as several people still enter them with a "#" in front. :-( Or can't convert an SBN to an ISBN. :-(
ISSNs don't give me any confidence - as they're for a series of publications, having an ISSN doesn't mean that issue appeared, only that if it did it would have been attributable to a particular publisher. DOIs frankly look like a scam - I'll sell you a BLOD (Bill Longley's Online Database) Number if you like, it will mean as much to most people. BLongley 19:12, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Still, we have to reflect the fact that other organisations we respect (or at least record) are recognising short-fiction in online form - it would be silly if we start ignoring publication entries for titles that win Awards we note.
And look at what respected people HERE add: I was an early supporter of some of the Baen Online entries - that dragged on for months, but in the end all it took was for someone to ENTER them and deal with the fallout. So really, the Rules of Acquisition come down to people letting stuff in and other people not deleting it or complaining about it. Or people not complaining about their stuff being deleted. I've had several obliteration runs against RPG handbooks, rulebooks, scenarios: I'd keep them if someone felt strongly enough to verify such. I've obliterated some Manga that was clearly not SF, but don't tend to bother if it's SF-related Manga that somebody's felt the need to organise. I don't obliterate Graphic Novels - in fact, I'd welcome some more as people like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman would get severely under-represented otherwise. Generally, I think that if people are submitting stuff, and people are approving it, it's none of my business: if nobody's verifying it, then I might take it upon my self to clear up odd entries, but that's uncommon. E.g. does Gertrude Stein belong here? BLongley 19:12, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
The Baen downloadables with ISSN, not the online entries, are what was entered.--swfritter 17:38, 22 Mar 2008 (CDT)
I agree that read-online-only stuff should not be included at this time, although when stuff originally published in places like Helix starts winning awards, we are going to have to deal with it somehow. My only point was that truly downloadable ezines, where a reader can easily download an entire issue as a package, ought to be includabel even if there is no iSSN or ISBN, provided that the issue of professionalism is addressed, and there is at least soem track record leading to a conclusion of stability. I do point out that if a site is covered by the internet archive (aka the "wayback machine") we can determin if its contents have changed, even if it is a read-online-only site. However, a pay-subscription site would probably not be covered, so that doesn't help for many sites -- it would for Helix, however. -DES Talk 01:47, 22 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Agree totally with DES. A proven track record, irrespective of any numbering system, is the most important consideration although if an industry standard number is assigned that should be taken into strong consideration. That is a judgment call for a moderator when acting as editor. Submissions by others should require some scrutiny. It is now possible to 'publish' one copy of a professionally printed vanity publication for less than $30.00. And, of course, the author can make changes and republish any time they feel like it. According to the current standards that is in. Why should dezines (downloadable ezines) have a separate standard? Reprinted publications with different content - isn't that the definition of an edition.
Proposed text: In: Downloadable ezines which have been assigned an industry standard registration identifier (ISSN, ISBN, or DOI) or have a history of containing reliably stable contents.--swfritter 17:38, 22 Mar 2008 (CDT)
I can support swfritter's proposed text. -DES Talk 18:44, 22 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Mostly support, but I'm against DOI being included as an example of "industry standard registration identifier". I'm not too keen on ISSN either (reasons already stated) but can be persuaded. I'd like to add some recognition of titles due to the fact we respect the organisations Awarding things to such publications, but that can wait till another iteration of this discussion I guess. BLongley 20:52, 22 Mar 2008 (CDT)
I suspect that we will revisit this area in the future (should nanozines be included in 2025?), but for now I support the proposed definition. I would prefer a more clearcut test since it would make it easier to explain to new editors why their Wonderfulest Ezine Ever was rejected, but it sounds like the best we can do at the moment is go with "a history of containing reliably stable contents".
As far as the "DOI controversy" goes, I don't know enough about the beast to judge how solid it is, but the fact that the only (?) ISFDB-cataloged publication which uses this nomenclature uses it incorrectly seems to suggest that it's not terribly reliable for our purposes and probably shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence with ISSNs and ISBNs. BTW, I am a little leery of the term "dezines" since it seems to imply an ezine published by deros! Ahasuerus 01:04, 23 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Consensus seems to be OK with removal of reference to DOI which does not seem to be an industry standard for publications. I might note that this is only a minor expansion of a standard that was pretty much agreed upon; some dumbhead forgot to update the documentation at that time but the effort spent now is valuable because it has resulted in a more logical policy and has helped clarify in my mind some possible standards for approaching the webzine issue; either so we can someday include them or otherwise be able to supply logical reasons for not including them to new editors who wish to do so. That discussion can wait for a while although I might suggest a little research in the meantime. The term ezine is considered to be a generic term that includes both webzine (web only publications) and downloadable ezine types. I leave it up to the deros to decide whether they wish to use the term. Although I prefer dealing with teros my desire for self-preservation prompts me to accept any standard the deros propose.--swfritter 09:41, 23 Mar 2008 (CDT)
BTW, there are already web(-only)zines knocking on our door and sneaking in through the windows, e.g. I have just found the first three issues of Flurb in the ISFDB... Ahasuerus 13:07, 23 Mar 2008 (CDT)
And it's this entry that triggered the current discussion.--swfritter 15:08, 23 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Updated these two paragraphs:
In: downloadable e-zines (periodicals in electronic format) which have been assigned an industry standard registration identifier (ISSN or ISBN) or have a history of containing reliably stable contents. Copying live webzine pages from the internet to a local computer does not qualify an ezine as downloadable. adding only one sentence to further clarify and removing DOI reference.
Out - Web only publications such as webzines. The problem for us is that they are not durable; anything we index could change, be reorganized, edited, updated with new versions or revisions, and so on. In addition, the URLs are not likely to be durable. So for now web only publications are not accepted into the ISFDB.
I might also note that we do not have an explicit Project Gutenberg policy. --swfritter 15:24, 24 Mar 2008 (CDT)
The adjustments look OK by me. People might want to consider that the article is currently signed "Ahasuerus 14:42, 4 May 2006 (CDT)", and either continue to blame it all on him ;-) , remove the signature, or sign the amendments they make. BLongley 18:21, 24 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Good idea. I certainly do not want to assign my name to the whole document.--swfritter 19:13, 24 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Project Gutenberg policy is another can of worms, but as I don't enter them or use them, and I've already stated most of my opinions I'll step out of that one with two last (hopefully!) comments: 1) if Al is taking on more legal responsibility at ISFDB2 he may have a view on Project Gutenberg Australia, which annoys some US copyright holders: and 2) there was something funny about some "Gulliver of Mars" PG entries today - I fixed four of them with no Title records for the Pubs, then had to delete them as duplicates. I'm not sure how such stray pubs got created, but as we've been free of such for a while now I'm a bit wary of how such got created. Sorry, not much evidence left, I didn't record the exact records. BLongley 18:21, 24 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Good point about the Project Gutenberg Australia entries. Of course, it's likely that some of the Project Gutenberg America titles are still under copyright in Australia or other places. We should probably not provide any links that allow for downloading or reading. It's one thing to document and a totally different thing to distribute or foster distribution.--swfritter 19:13, 24 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Does an emailed e-zine count as downloadable? I'm thinking of Bruce Holland Rogers' shortshortshort or Caitlin Kiernan's Sirenia Digest which are both delivered via email (as text or PDFs) but have no web archive. The contents are obviously stable once an issue has been emailed, so it seems like the answer would be yes, but I'm new so I figured I should ask before I start entering them. --AndyHat 18:35, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
I'd say No. With no Web Archive, it's even HARDER to show that every recipient has a copy of the same thing. And in fact, due to people selecting their preferred mail readers / email formats / language settings / virus scanners I would actually expect all of the saved copies to be a bit different. (E.g. Mine would say it was scanned by AVG, and my deliberately old RFC compliant email reader would probably have stripped out any fancy non-ASCII characters and any HTML formatting.) BLongley
The Rogers' mag seems a bit transient as does Sirenia Digest. After looking at the websites it seems that back issues are not available and there is no way for a moderator to do even a superficial check for contents on the web. The ezines we support now all have website support that allows for at least a minimum amount of research. I don't see the email delivery issue as a problem as long as you are working from a document that has not been modified by a virus checker.--swfritter 22:52, 17 April 2008 (UTC)


On terminology, i am inclined to think that a zine available as a web page ought to be called a webzine, as suggested above. I think that "ezine" should be a general term for any magazine-line publication available in a digital/electronic format, including both webzines and downloadable zines. I suggest 'downloadable ezine" for the ones that are not web zines, but perhaps there is a better term. -DES Talk 18:28, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)

"Webzine" I think should be excluded: if that's the only way it's available, it doesn't meet reliability standards. "ezine" and "ebook" could do with some more clarity, same as we recently discussed over audio-book formats - an ebook in Microsoft Reader format is not the same as one available in plain ASCII text. BLongley 19:12, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
I am not sure that we want to get to the level of formats for ebooks -- this may multiply publications to little effect. Project Gutenberg, at lest recently, almost always releases a given etext in both ASCII and HTML, and sometimes a third format. I have not been entering these as separate publications. Baen books issues all its ebooks, occluding the Grantville Gazette issues, in multiple format -- i think at least 4 formats, including HTML and RTF. Again, i have not entered multiple publications by format for these, as they are guaranteed to have the same content, and they are always sold in a bundle. It seems to me that notes would do, or perhaps a format field might be added to the db eventually, with multiple choices possible. One difference with audio is that it is often easy for a user to convert formats, while this is harder with physical audio media. Also it is far more common for ebook publishers to issue an edition in multiple formats at once. -DES Talk 19:43, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
I personally think formats are important: and I personally don't mind if the same text from the same publisher at the same time is entered multiple times here, if the physical book format is different. I find it useful in deciding whether to buy a book that will fit on my shelves or not.
If I bought more audio-books, it would be rather important whether I can put it into my CD-player or need my PC, or need to drag out an old cassette-player.
For ebooks - if there's no separate identifying catalog number for different formats I'm a bit concerned about their inclusion: but as I don't buy ebooks it's not really a problem for me. I'm not going to delete e-pubs that don't state the formats they're available in, but then again I'd never in future turn to ISFDB for advice on books I can download to my PDA if I ever wanted to read them that way, UNLESS it was clear I could read them. So if it's easier for people to submit ebooks without making that (rather important to me) detail available, go ahead: but adding useless or misleading information about a publication is NOT something I support. If you want to make ebook/ezine information useful, then format WILL be needed: if you want multiple formats recorded against one publication entry, that might sort it, but till then you're not exactly helping and might in fact be misleading. OK, it's not really my problem: but IF you want to lump all ebooks/ezines under one "e-format" edition I'd at least ask for a clarification on which are generally readable and which require special readers. I can cope with ASCII, RTF, HTML, PDF (depending on whose versions of each standard you follow) - but wouldn't direct anyone to anything beyond plain text. PDF and HTML and the rest need to be separated out or we're not really telling anybody anything. I've got a Bob Shaw Essay in TIFF format - if I made that available online (after reasonable copyright or Creative Commons License was made available) would people want to know it was 6 megabytes of Graphic file as opposed to about four Kilobytes of text? I think they would. BLongley 20:47, 21 Mar 2008 (CDT)
I see your point. I don't think of the ISFDB as a place to check the details of what I intend to buy on the format level -- I don't think i've ever used it that way. I do use it to check "what are the other books in this series and when were they published", but if I am buying something, i expect the merchant to tell me exactly what I am getting, and if I can't trust the listing, i will return for refund (which has never happened to me yet). But perhaps other people use the ISFDB that way. In any case, I see your point enought that I will stzrt recording available formats in any ebooks I enter. For the moment, i will do this in notes under a single publication entry. As for readability, the ebooks I ahve been entering have so far all been from PG, PG/AUS, or baen. PG has a simple rule -- all etexts must be available in a plain text format, and any other format supplied in addition must be an open, non-propriartary format. Most often this means text and HTML. PG/AUS seems to have either a plain text or an HTML version of any given text, but not both, and I have seen no other formats to date. Baen has a somewhat similar rule, they don't use DRM or support formats that require it, and they don't do PDF. All ebooks from Baen, to the best of my knowledge, are provided in RTF and HTML (both open formats, and any reader should take one or the other if not both). They also support a couple of specialized device-reader formats, as a service to users who want them, but AFAIK they always bundle all the formats that they supply for a given text togehter, and if you buy one, you have bought them all. They also grant any purchaser the legal right to make and distribute non-commercial copies of most if not all of their ebooks. Really, anyone getting an ebook from either PG or Baen really need not worry about foramt. Other sources have different rules. (I might add that a TIFF file is one of the best sources to do OCR on, if you want your essay converted, i have the software to do it. TIFF is what I scan into when submitting to PG.) -DES Talk 01:47, 22 Mar 2008 (CDT)
Ebooks and and ezines from Fictionwise are available in as many as 13 formats and formats are added as technology advances. I use the PDF format because it is easier to copy and paste from and it also has page numbers and pretty art that I can look at in fullscreen. I state the source that I used and use the industry standard term multi-format to indicate that it is available in other formats. Pubs are not available from them in HTML - probably because that would be too easy to post on the web. All of the ezines I have seen so far are non-DRM.--swfritter 10:02, 22 Mar 2008 (CDT)

Proposed de-moderatorizing policy

Copied from the Moderator Noticeboard:

[...] Which reminds me that User:PortForlorn, who was moderatorized to participate in the beta testing phase in September 2006, hasn't been seen since October 2006. Do we want to remove his(/her) moderator flag? So much has changed since late 2006 that I suspect that s/he wouldn't be able to function independently without re-training. Now that the Wiki software has been upgraded, it can be done in 10 seconds.

More generally, do we want to create some kind of "inactive moderator" policy to remove the moderator flag from accounts that haven't been active in over a year? Naturally, we don't want to hurt anybody's feelings unnecessarily, but even if the software/policies do not change much in 12 months (fat chance!), human memory is imperfect and it may take a few weeks for the old instincts to return. Ahasuerus 22:21, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

I don't think "de-moderatizing" of inactive accounts is unreasonable. Things change so much around here that I'd be lost if I came back after a month of inactivity, even more so for an entire year! MHHutchins 23:44, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
This is not unreasonable, but I think that if any such inactive account returns, the flag ought to be set again fairly promptly if the user communicates and indicates an intent to be careful on things that may have changed or been forgotten. Another full-dress vote should not be required, IMO. -DES Talk 16:32, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Probably reasonable in PortForlorn's case, since the record shows only 111 edits total, and s/he was active for only a month. I do think the case of a returning moderator with more experience is different, even if the standards have changed radically, as the bulk of the database will have been entered under the older standards. Any new entries made by a returning moderator will at least conform to that, leaving the database no worse off, IMHO.--Rkihara 21:27, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
We probably need a demoderatorisation or suspension policy in general: inactivity and a sudden resumption of activity based on out-of-date experience is obviously a worry, but not as much as (for instance) a rogue moderator that suddenly decides to merge "Robert Heinlein" with "Robert A. Heinlein" or "Brian W. Aldiss" with "Brian Aldiss" as he or she is fed up with the distinction. (I think this might have already happened with "Dean Koontz" and "Dean R. Koontz" already, the current entries are suspicious.) If we find a Mod that is being destructive, we need him or her disabled fast or we have to go back days and lose thousands of edits. I think the Bureaucrats could stop such fast, if needed - but I think one or two of the Bureaucrats are inactive too? Anyway, I know I've edited drunk before and if I was drunk enough to be severely damaging I should probably be stopped for a while at least. Now we have some major new tools like publisher merges, and no self-balancing (e.g. moderator needing to review another moderator's edit for the most destructive) we should have a fast-track suspension policy in case of the worst situations. BLongley 22:46, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree that PortForlorn's is a special case because s/he was really just a tester as opposed to a full fledged moderator. If we have consensus, I can disable his/her moderator privileges and leave a message on the Talk page. Ahasuerus 00:06, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
To address Bill's "fast-track suspension" proposal, I don't think we need a special policy. If a moderator is apparently behaving in an erratic or destructive manner, just shoot Al and me (the only two active bureaucrats AFAIK) an e-mail and we will temporarily remove the offender's moderator flag until a "what the heck is going on" inquiry can be arranged. Granted, even a couple of hours of destructive merges can be very damaging and necessitate a database restore, but I am not sure what else we could do short of adding more Bureaucrats. Ahasuerus 00:06, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Policy-wise, it sounds like there are two issues here. The original issue had to do with inactive moderators whose good faith was never in question, but who had to temporarily drop out for some reason. If and when they return a year+ later (e.g. User:Mike Christie or User:Grendelkhan), it will be just a question of reviewing 12+ months worth of software changes and policy debates (bring lots of aspirin!) and getting back up to speed. I can see why we may not want to require another vote to restore "returning moderators"' approval privileges, but on the other hand we need some way of ascertaining their competence level. I am not sure what other mechanism we could come up with. Ahasuerus 00:06, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
The second issue is what to do with moderators whose long term good faith/sanity/etc are in question. That's a complicated question (and one that I hope we will never have to deal with) and we may want to discuss it in a separate section. Ahasuerus 00:06, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Re, Dean Koontz, vs Dean R. Koontz. Could you be referring to the reviews that I've entered recently, along with their associated pubs? If so, no names were merged. In fact, I don't think I've ever done an author merge.--Rkihara 02:37, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
No, it's nothing recent with Koontz - the R. version seems to have been made canonical a long time ago. However, he's been using the "No R" version for years (since the mid-1990s I'd say) and we don't reflect that. An author merge would be one explanation, the fact that Amazon still mislists a load of his titles would be another reason, if he has kept the "R" in the US but not here that would be another. He's not an author I collect, but whenever I see one of his titles available cheaply I have a look, and the data here really doesn't match my real-life findings. I should probably go sit in a library for a bit and take some notes, but he's not really an interest of mine - it just looks wrong at the moment. BLongley 10:34, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
It's a really tricky call, but I think that anyone inactive for as short a time as 6 months should at least have a note placed on their Talk Page to ask them to voluntary allow more active Mods (preferably someone who has been a Mod longer then they) to check their work for a few days or so. Heck, has anybody checked any of the work that I've done in the last six months? It wouldn't hurt my feelings at all if every now and then one of the more experienced Mods took a quick peek at some of my edits.CoachPaul 04:10, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
OK, as per the consensus above, PortForlorn has been de-moderatorized and a message has been left on his/her Talk page. Based on what has been said so far, any objections to making 12 months our official policy? Ahasuerus 05:13, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
12 months seems reasonable, concur with making it the official policy. Thx, rbh (Bob) 13:18, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
OK by me.CoachPaul 14:54, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Fine by me. BLongley 15:01, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Fine with me too.--Rkihara 15:09, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
That is fine with me. But as I said above, a person returning after a lapse ought to be made a mod again fairly easily on quickly on request, after demonstrating a limited amount of practice and renewed or updated familiarity with the ISFDB and its policies, particularly including any changed policies or practices during the lapse. -DES Talk 15:45, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Sound policy.Kraang 16:44, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
One thing that I don't think we have defined yet is how we can determine if somebody has "demonstrated a limited amount of practice and renewed or updated familiarity with the ISFDB and its policies". If we don't use the current voting process, then should we create a new one for "returning moderators"? Conduct an informal survey of the moderators who have approved the returnee's submissions? Something else? Ahasuerus 17:05, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
A simple and objective method would be "X" number of edits after a return to active status. "X" could be based on length of time inactive (50-100 for each year?) in order to ensure greater experience for a presumably greater number of changes that take place over a longer period of time. Another alternative might be to assign a mentor who approves his/her edits and when that mentor is comfortable with the breadth and quality of edits, the mentor recommends aproval. Either works for me. Thx, rbh (Bob) 22:15, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I don't think number of edits on return helps much: a former mod can submit lots of simple edits that are probably never going to be controversial, and pass "X" easily. It's the complicated stuff like unmerging titles from an incorrect parent, putting them in the right place and creating the right variants (while remembering the pagination loss bug potential) that needs to be checked. Preferably when the authors are pseudonyms too, e.g. this title currently needs sorting out. OK, I suspect many ACTIVE mods are a bit afraid of that! ;-) BLongley 23:06, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

(unindented)Variants,Pseudonyms,Unmerging,Pagination loss(none in this case) etc. NO FEAR!"The Suns of Scorpio" FIXEDKraang 00:26, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

That's not the fix I was thinking of, I meant sorting out the (No-The) "Suns of Scorpio" from "The Suns of Scorpio" and making one of them a variant of the other, while maintaining the fact that "Alan Burt Akers" is a pseudonym of Kenneth Bulmer. (Later titles in the series get even worse where there are TWO pseudonymous authors: "Dray Prescot and Alan Burt Akers". Where did the information that it was OK to add the "The" to the other four pubs come from? BLongley 18:29, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
All the DAW pubs have "The" in them and so does the British pub. Looked at the cover images. If we find one without "The" its easy to add. If you mean something like this[3] which I did awhile back than its fairly easy. If you run into any snags just give me a shout. :-)Kraang 22:12, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
You KNOW it's not cover titles we go by, it's title-page. Well, you didn't amend any verified pubs I guess, I just wouldn't have done it that way myself in case we encourage blind following like The Green Millennium did. Still, you've destroyed my example now, so go find ANOTHER one that can make Mods quiver in Fear at the daunting task ahead! ;-) BLongley 22:40, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

(unindented)Here's your replacement example[4].Kraang 02:58, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

I think it has to be Peer Review: i.e. the Mods at the time look at the work submitted and decide among themselves (quickly) if it's good. No Ego allowed - a returning Mod may be more skilled in ISFDB edits than some current ones are (I know I'M still experimenting with quicker ways to do things.) It's mainly policy changes or new editing tools that may make them dangerous. I know I'm suggesting disenfranchising editors from the Moderator-Again voting process, and I don't want them left out of the main Moderator voting process (editors that highly recommend a fellow-editor for their guidance, advice and encouragement should not be ignored, even if we know the proposed moderator is going to take a lot more help when officially moderatorized). But to make it a QUICK resumption of Moderator level, I think we have to keep it to a short time-frame and maybe two or three Mods voting for it. It's incredibly frustrating to go back to non-Mod status (I know, I've tried it when TAMU blocked me for no apparent reason and I had to create another account) and I don't want a good Mod to get annoyed with slow responses and feel they're not welcome any more. BLongley 23:06, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Of course, we COULD also just ignore the problem until it occurs. BLongley 23:06, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Bill's "quick peer review" -- an informal poll of say two-four current moderators, and if all think that they have seen enough to say that the returning mod is unlikely to do harm, go for it. -DES Talk 00:08, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
I can't think of anything better than the proposed "quick peer review" mechanism either, so unless somebody else can, it sounds like it will have to do for now. Besides, we have just a few moderators who have been inactive for that long, so creating elaborate standards for a small set of cases may not be the most effective way of spending our time. Unless somebody accidentally merges Dell and DAW, that is :) Ahasuerus 23:32, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
The publisher regularization work is so slow and so frustrating at times that you'd better watch out for such: merging all the "D"s sometimes looks VERY tempting! :-/ BLongley 23:45, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
What would be nice is a scratch database where both moderators and editors could play around - with everyone being given moderator status. Even better would be a suite of tests on that database that would test the knowledge of proposed moderators and even current ones. There are a few times when I've felt like I should be demoderatorized especially when I get into new areas.--swfritter 17:22, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, a practice ISFDB system (not just the database) would be good: I see there's been some more activity on documenting HOW to create such locally, but it still doesn't look simple. It would also be possible (given funds) to have another internet-based ISFDB, refreshed from the real ISFDB occasionally, to practice on: but I'd be worried about people remembering which one they were currently on. (I've seen this happen too often in real life: somebody once carried out "User Acceptance testing" on the LIVE system at work and wiped out two years of financial records in 30 seconds.) The Test Suite could be easier though: given the new Web API functions it might be possible to be have a mostly-automated "create test scenarios based on parameter XXXX" which would create a load of TestXXXX Titles by TestXXXX Author with TestXXXXx variants etc to be sorted out. It might even be possible to have an automated marking system to look at the results after the testee says they're done: but there's probably several sets of different possible results that should be considered as acceptable, good, excellent, creative, etc. (See Kraang's Gordian Knot solution above for instance.) BLongley 19:30, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Might work better if the data were minimal and obviously bogus; At least non-moderators could not screw anything up on the regular IDFDb. Our salespeople where I worked were supposed to maintain their own sample database but they quite often captured the development database when they went on the road. They looked mighty sily when patients with names like Mfiod Assdfkjl and UoOUOodfs SEPEPPE were listed in Room 9879079MnJ of Slice 'em and Dice 'em Memorial Hosptial.--swfritter 00:51, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Bio policy

split off from ISFDB:Moderator noticeboard#Possible copyright violation and later moved to this page -DES Talk 15:50, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

With respect to biographies (which is slightly on topic here), my opinion is:

  • If the author has a biography on Wikipedia, that is the preferred location.
  • If a biography cannot be placed on Wikipedia (due to not meeting notoriety standards, or because of self-promotion policies, or because of any number of other arcane minutia which inhibits Wikipedia in general) then it should be placed here at the ISFDB.
  • The ISFDB is not a review magazine, or vehicle for the marketing of an author's works. The Bio is for biographic information (not reviews), and the Author links are for bibliographic information (also not reviews). As such, copyrights aside, I'd advocate the removal of the review simply as being inappropriate. Alvonruff 23:22, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
I fully agree. -DES Talk 00:04, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Keep in mind that Wikipedia's standards of inclusion change as much as ours and, besides, new generations of WP editors may apply them differently. At least one of the biographies that I wrote for Wikipedia a few years ago has been since deleted, so I am never quite sure what I'll find when I look things up there. Ahasuerus 00:28, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Quite true, brief actual biographies even of people with wikipedia articles ought to be acceptable in the bio: namespace, IMO. This should be particularly true for people whose notability, in wikipedia terms, might be considered marginal, It is very unlikely that wikipedia will delete its article on, say Issac Asimov in the foreseeable future. -DES Talk 00:50, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
I'd personally vote for changing ISFDB standards on bios to so that it becomes
  1. That the person or publisher has been directly involved with writing, editing, or publishing at least one speculative fiction work and that involvement is verifiable in a reliable source. Book and magazine authors, editors, illustrators, cover artist, and publishers qualify for inclusion. Other roles may qualify and would be discussed on a case-by-case basis. Reliable sources are the publications themselves. Anything else would be a "secondary source" which must always be cited and is open to discussion.
  2. That the bio highlight the speculative fiction aspect of the person or publisher's work. For example, someone may have written an obscure specfict work but is much better known for other things. In that case the bio should start out mentioning this work and then can have a more boilerplate standard bio or self-promotion material.
  3. That the bio's content be available under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. This means that it can't be copyright material. If an author wants to self-promote and publish a copy of their biolerplate bio then they must explicitly release that material into CC 2.0. (note - ISFDB is rather confusing in this area as ISFDB:Copyrights redirects to ISFDB:General disclaimer#Copyright which I believe needs attention as at present there's no standards for someone to be able to distinguish exactly what material is available under creative commons and what material is copyright and being included on ISFDB under fair-use. For the most part we have dealt with this but not allowing any copyright/fair material use other than cover images. We may want to consider changing from Creative Commons to GNU Free Documentation License to better mirror Wikipedia's license model.)
  4. If a person or publisher is notable enough that they have a bio on Wikipedia then the ISFDB bio should only comment on the spectfict aspect, particularly if it's something not notable enough to be mentioned in the Wikipedia article, and then would link to Wikipedia for the general purpose bio. In other words, there should be no duplication of material between ISFDB and Wikipedia. The goal here is to have a single source for information. If there are two or more sources the possibility exists of conflicts/confusion as to which source is accurate.
  5. ISFDB follows Wikipedia's policies and standards such as reliability, verifiability, neutrality, bios on living people, original research, etc. The main difference between ISFDB and Wikipedia is the notability standard. While original research and claims are discouraged ISFDB encourages research projects that involve gathering and documenting information with the goal being to reliably document a person or publisher's speculative fiction work. At times this involves speculation and guesswork and in those cases it should be so that the reader understands they are reading speculation or guesswork and not a reliably sourced fact. For example, it may be noted that a publisher's catalog # is prefixed with a letter that corresponds with the publication's price. We can document that correspondence but won't be able to point to a statement by the publisher that they intended that the letter prefix be a price code. Marc Kupper (talk) 17:27, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
In general I find your points reasonable. I have some disagreements of detail, and some comments:
  1. I would suggest that if we have enough of a source for a book entry, then we have enough to warrant a bio: entry on the stated author of that book, although sources for the facts in that bio are another matter.
  2. In theory the "no duplication" would be a good idea, but as wikipedia standards of notability change, and are enforced inconsistently, previously apparently stable wikipedia articles on minor but real authors can disappear without much warning. A short version here of a bio on wikipedia for a minor author might be a reasonable precaution. There is no reason to do this for major authors whose articles are in no plausible danger of being deleted.
  3. Licensing under creative commons is already automatic under ISFDB general policies, a specific provision for bios would be redundant, but possibly helpful. Note that this does not prohibit copyrighted works provided they are uploaded by the author or with the author's permission, which has the effect of releasing the,. I do not think we want to change to the GFDL, in fact I thing that one of the CC licenses would serve Wikipedia better, there are often in technical violation of their own license if you pay attention to the strict terms of the GFDL. They have too much existing content to change easily, but many other wikis use one of the CC licenses. If we were to change at all, i would go to the CC-SA license, which is the nearest equivalent to the GFDL.
  4. I think it would be a mistake to explicitly adopt the wikipedia policies you mention. First of all, that would mena that ISFDB policy would be subject to change based on changes on wikipedia, which could lead to serious problems. Secondly, several wikipedia policies are IMO quite unsuitable for use here. In particular, the "No Original Research" policy would prohibit a good deal of routine work drawing conclusions from incomplete references here. Then there is the BLP policy, whcih i think is, in its current form, a major mistake for wikipedia, and would be bad here also. The specifics of the wikipedia policies on "reliable sources" and the like probably also need modification here. It might not be a bad idea to draft our own (shorter I hope) versions of these policies, but simply adopting wikipedia's wholesale would i think be unwise.
  5. Also, to use Wikipedia style referencing would require the refs extension to wikimedia be installed.
In short, good general ideaas, but details need work. -DES Talk 18:22, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Do we have enough moderators who willing to actively monitor this area on a continuing basis?--swfritter 18:05, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
I for one am willing to monitor the Bio pages, and enforce whatever polices we can reasonably agree on. -DES Talk 20:18, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm happy to let you do so. I'm not willing to take on such myself. BLongley 20:54, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
I used to look at every Wiki-Edit but it's getting too much for me now. We're getting popular! I'm also not really interested in the legal issues, and I'm in the wrong country to be sure of copyright laws that might get Al in trouble - I want a simple policy that covers the facts we post (should be unchallengeable copyright-wise) and any supporting material (always fair-use). Anything that requires EXTRA WORK to justify it is probably something we shouldn't be doing. This is why I rarely post synopses and suchlike. Just keep it clear what we're allowed to do and what not to do and I'm happy. There seems to be a lot more fussing than before, yet I've seen no problems before, and I'm sure Al would tell us damn quick if he was getting problems from our activities. BLongley 19:56, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
On Bios, the legal issues are really very simple -- no one posts anything copyrighted unless it is posted by the author or with the author's explicit permission, and any such post releases the contents under a creative commons license, which basically makes it free for anyone to use if they give proper credit. Brief quotes from published sources with proper attribution should be ok, just as they would be in a book (this is fair use, but no need to be technical). Any fact taken from a specific source ought to be cited, not for legal reasons but for accuracy and traceability/verifiability.
I don't tend to do much with the Wiki Bios or Bibliographies except point people at A new source I looked at. How much came from there and how much from other sources I prefer to leave up to others - I don't want to recommend any particular site as Accurate or Complete. I've got some reference books we trust that I WILL indicate when I use them - e.g. I'll Tuck-Verify. I've got some I haven't used yet, e.g. the history of Gollancz was well recorded up to 1978. I'll credit anything I take from those. But I frankly COULDN'T record all sources for my edits as I usually use at least three for anything we have vaguely got: two for anything we haven't yet that we should have. We'd require notes for every single field otherwise. BLongley 20:54, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
On fair use for images, that is really a separate topic for a separate thread, but it is a little trickier because an image is almost always a complete work, not a brief excerpt as a quote is. Properly attributing such images is an important part of using them reasonably, which would help in any fair use controversy (which i think is unlikely to arise). The current templates may well be overkill for this purpose -- I based them on the ones wikipedia uses -- but even as they stand I for one find using them actually less work than finding an amazon image, getting the url, and truncating it (as almost always must be done) -- and I find LOTS of pub records with an empty box in the image location because the amazon LZZZZZZ URL changed or went away: customer images seem a bit more stable. DES Talk 20:18, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, Dissembler's habit of adding the ZZZZZZ Amazon URL annoys me, as at best it is a Title or ISBN level indication that can and DOES change over time. I've been quite happy with the stability of my own customer images so far, but I understand why people won't upload there, and I hope people understand why I don't re-upload them all here while those work - it'd be a bloody pain-in-the-arse to resize them all and upload a few hundred megabytes that I've already done. I suspect my bandwidth is already being throttled due to my activity here leading to a LOT of feedback on exactly what XML I've submitted. (Which is probably another discussion.) BLongley 20:54, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
A synopsis that is your own words is of course fine, one that is a quoted publisher's blurb should be fine if attributed -- publishers write those to be redistributed, and all the book sellers use them. Quoting someone's customer review from amazon or some private website would probably be a mistake. -DES Talk 20:18, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) I suggest moving this discussion over to ISFDB talk:Policy, as unlike the thread which spawned it, it is not really a moderator-specific issue. -DES Talk 21:22, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, please, let's move this discussion to the Policy page. There is much to think about here, especially in the verifiability and "Wikipedia duplication" areas. Ahasuerus 15:00, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

End of discussion moved from the ISFDB:Moderator noticeboard page, later discussion follows.-DES Talk 15:50, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

I propose the following policy for Bio pages. This combines our existing policy with some of Marc Kupper's suggestions above, plus some modifications that i think would improve things.

  1. The English-language Wikipedia is an excellent place for biographies of SF authors, and the ISFDB has a facility for adding a link to the Wikipedia article for each author from the author's database page. For those authors who do not have and are not eligible for Wikipedia articles, or whose Wikipedia articles might plausibly be deleted in future, a brief, neutrally-written biographical article can be placed on the page Bio:<name of author>.
  2. When an author Bio page is posted on the ISFDB Wiki, it should be professional in tone, not facetious, "cutsey", or blatantly promotional. Some authors engage in jokes in printed "About the author" sections of books, or on their own websites, but the ISFDB is not the place for such writing. The purpose of any Bio page on the Wiki is to inform users and other editors briefly about the facts of the author's life. Bio pages should not include blurbs from or summaries of the author's works. Bio pages ought to be factual in content, and the facts ought to be verifiable. If a matter is questionable, controversial, or not easily verifiable in standard, obvious sources, specific reliable sources should be cited.
  3. Bio pages are only appropriate for individual people who have been directly involved with writing, editing, or publishing at least one speculative fiction work. Such involvement should be verifiable in a reliable source. Book and magazine authors, editors, illustrators, cover artists, and publishers qualify for inclusion. Other roles may qualify and would be discussed on a case-by-case basis. Reliable sources are the publications themselves. (This includes anyone listed in any verified ISFDB entry.) Anything else would be a "secondary source" which must always be cited and is open to discussion. Anyone listed in a non-verified entry could be included subject to basic checking, for example against online library catalogs.
  4. Unless it is limited to the bare-bones biographical facts (birth, education, professions, death) an ISFDB bio page should highlight the speculative fiction aspect of the person's work. For example, someone may have written an obscure specfict work but is much better known for other things. In that case the bio should start out mentioning this work and then can have a more boilerplate standard bio.
  5. Any bio page's content will be released under aCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license or into the public domain. (This is the standard for all non-quoted text on ISFDB wiki pages. A compatible later version of the license is acceptable.) This means that it must either be uploaded by the author or copyright holder of the bio text, or else with an explicit release from the copyright holder. If the content has been published elsewhere (for example on a web page or in a book) then an explicit release is required, and a statement that the person granting the release is entitled to do so.
  6. If a person is notable enough that he or she has a biographical article on the English-language Wikipedia then the ISFDB bio should only comment on the spectfict aspect, particularly if it's something not notable enough to be mentioned in the Wikipedia article, and then would link to Wikipedia for the general purpose bio. In other words, there should be no duplication of material between ISFDB and Wikipedia. The goal here is to have a single source for information. However, if a person is marginally notable under Wikipedia's current standards (which can and do change over time, and which have in the past been applied somewhat inconsistently), and there is plausible concern that the Wikipedia article might be deleted in future, a brief summery of the Wikipedia article would be appropriate on the ISFDB to avoid a possible future gap in coverage. This does not apply to people notable enough that it is wildly unlikely that their Wikipedia articles would be deleted in the foreseeable future. Common sense should be used in applying this policy.
  7. ISFDB bios should be written from a neutral point-of-view, and should be based on verifiable information from reliable sources. Deduction and speculation, when they are appropriate to include at all, ought to be clearly distinguished from verified facts. These standards are similar in purpose and scope to several now in effect on the English-language Wikipedia, and in various academic and journalistic contexts. However, the ISFDB devises its own standards in such matters, and is not automatically governed by the policies of any other organization.
  8. ISFDB bios ought to respect the dignity and privacy of their subjects, particularly in the case of currently living people. Sensational, controversial, and significantly negative information ought not to be included unless reliable sources are cited. Even then, such content should generally not be included unless it is relevant to the person's work in the speculative-fiction field. Information which might facilitate identity theft should be included only with care. However, information which the subject has publicized, attempted to publicize, or discussed on the record in published sources may be included if relevant and if citations to reliable sources are present. If other people than the subject of the bio are mentioned, the same respect for their dignity and privacy should be used.
  9. Author Bios should not consist of, nor contain, reviews of the author's work, from any point of view (favorable, neutral, or unfavorable). Neither should they be exercises in promotion of the author, nor attacks on the author. They should normally not contain any critical judgments of or opinions on the author's work. In the rare case where such opinions are essential to understanding the author's biography, they should be attributed to specific sources (not "Many critics" or "large numbers of fans") and citations provided.
  10. Author Bios should normally link back to the database Author record, This can be most easily done using Template:A.
  11. The "Author:" pages of the ISFDB Wiki are not for recording biographies of authors. They are for bibliographic notes about the work of an author (or artist), and for discussing how that work should be recorded in the ISFDB.

I hope the above draft commends itself to others here, or at least forms a place to start form. Any thoughts? -DES Talk 19:46, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

First thoughts: FAR too long, too formal, pretty exclusionist, and will get stuff deleted rather than allow it to GROW into something useful. The Wiki supports the ISFDB, I don't want it to be a cast-off for the things Wikipedia doesn't want, but still subject to Wikipedia style rules. I preferred Al's version. Still, as a place to start from it's easy to explain why I think that.
1. Yes, recommend Wikipedia for serious stuff.
1/2. They're currently useful for leaving notes and questions about any ISFDB author entry. E.g. "Is this guy really an artist AND a writer, when the art started two decades after he finished writing?" (Might be covered by use of the Biblio page instead, though I think that should be for pubs rather than people.))
3. As above - any "author" in the ISFDB gets a link to a Bio Page, and if they deserve a database entry they deserve a Wiki page. If only temporarily till we figure out our mistakes.
4. Birth and Death are covered in the database already. I personally don't care about their education and rarely their professions. If people do care, get the desired fields added to the database.
5. Should be covered by our general Wiki posting license and not need repeating.
6. We can't be psychic about what Wikipedia may suddenly delete or add. We should allow anything useful to ISFDB users to stay on ISFDB whatever Wikipedia does.
7. No. The eventual aim of any bio should be to have useful information for ISFDB users. If that ends in lots of useful sources and explanations, fine, but trying to keep bio pages tidy and standardised in the meantime just leads to a move of discussions down another level to Bio Talk pages, and we already lose track of anything outside the main wiki pages.
8/9. Similar: leave them as working pages for questions, facts and references as they are found, and then leave them be till there's another question.
10. Yes they should, but the "most easily done" suggestion is not true for most of us. Link to how to USE the template rather than a page that just confuses non-Wiki-experts coming from the database side.
11. People shouldn't need reminding of this, but if they do it should cover everyone worthy of an ISFDB author entry whether that is Author, Editor, Interior or Cover Artist, or any other role that eventually gets catered for.
Sorry to sound so negative, but that does look like WAY too many rules for something that merely supports the database. When the Wiki starts to be recording something useful, we should probably have that IN the database and move it out of the Wiki. Which is sort of what I'm hoping for from the Publisher work, for instance. BLongley 22:37, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
Please note the context here, the policy changes are largely in response to a recent trickle of bio pages apparently self-posted by authors, generally fairly obscure authors. Pages such as Bio:Charlotte Boyett-Compo, Bio:David Hall Bowman, Bio:Doug Tierney, Bio:F. A. McMahan, Bio:Mike E. Swope, Bio:T. K. Welsh, Bio:Robert Luhn and many more (see here.) (I fear that the trickle may becoem something of a minor flood)
I was actually trying to modify Mark's suggestion to be somewhat more inclusivist.
That said, i do not think that Bio pages (as opposed to Author pages) are "an appropriate place for leaving notes and questions about any ISFDB author". I think that BIO pages should be in effect drafts for or summaries of Wikipedia-style biographical articles, in short they should be actual biographical sketches, not collections of notes or queries. The "Author:" pages are fine for those.

To respond to your points in sequence:

1. I think we are in agreement here, this paragraph is straight from the current (recently approved) test in the help/contents page.
1/2. That IMO is what author pages, not Bio pages, are for.
3 is I think aimed at pages created for people who do not have db pages, or perhaps only have pages due to fanzine contents, etc. It is taken almost straight from Mark K's proposal above. I would be willing to say "anyone who has a db author record for content in professional publications" but there might be cases of people listed in, say notes credits for "book editor" who never appear in db author records.
4 these are standard items in biographical sketches, and are in fact being included in the articles we are now getting. I do NOT agree that anything in the wiki is merely temporary and doesn't count unless it is in the db.
5 I tend to agree, but because we are in fact getting a good deal of stuff cloned from people's personal/author websites, it may be helpful to have a conveniently located rule to point to when telling people to send a release or have stuff deleted.
6 No we can't be psychic, but we can use common sense. Mark proposed to exclude any person with an article on Wikipedia. I pointed out that while it is highly unlikely that Wikipedia:Isaac Asimov will ever be deleted, more obscure authors are not as safe. There is no point is simply duplicating a stable Wikipedia auricle, there is a point in having a backup (our own version, not a copy) in case of a foreseeable deletion.
7 Here I strongly disagree with you. If we are going to have biographical sketches (and if we are not, let's lose the "Bio" namespace and bio link, have only "author" pages, and forbid any biograpical sketches at all, merely notes for the db) then they ought to be professional in tone, and factual in content, and subject to reasonable verification. Things like Bio:Ren Holton are IMO far too "cutsey" for this space, and things like Bio:Charlotte Boyett-Compo are far too promotional. (this is also one of the ones where there might be a copyright issue, IMO)
8/9 "working pages for questions, facts and references as they are found" is what the "Author" pages should be for, IMO. If this is the only purpose, why have separate bio pages at all? Let's delete the lot, or move such contents as seem useful to the matching author pages, and change the display logic to remove the "Bio" link from the author db displays, if this is to be the rule.
10 fine, I'll change the page so it displays the documentation directly. (I have now fixed this. -DES Talk 00:48, 2 July 2008 (UTC))
11 I think there is a misunderstanding here that is basic to this discussion. Currently every record in the db "authors" table (which is really a "people" table, as it also lists artists and editors, and will presumably list people in any other role supported by future fields) shows potential links to two wiki pages, one in the "Author:" namespace, which is IMO best used for notes, queries and the like about the person in question, including things like "How do you know that 'Joe Shmoe' is a pesud of Jim Jones" / "It said so in the intro to 'The Complete Jim Jones'"; and a second in the "Bio:" namespace, which is what the proposal and the discussion is largely about. Currently anyone who visits an author's display page sees these two links, and is in effect invited to fill in the "Bio" with biographical data. People are starting to follow through on that invite, largely in a self-promotional way. Some of the results are reasonable, and some are not. The proposed policies are things to point at when explaining to people the difference. For that purpose, a touch of formality in the "rules" and a degree of exclusionist tone is IMO all to the good, as long as it doesn't go too far.
The actual purpose of 11 was to draw a distinction between the "Author:" namespace pages and the "Bio:" pages, obviously that wasn't clear enough. -DES Talk 23:41, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
I'm not going to respond to every point again: the last was rushed and I see I misunderstood some of the points you raised anyway, as we have lots of Wiki areas and I'm still getting confused between the ones you mentioned as they really aren't used much or well. There's plenty of points for other people to chime in on and I'll sit back and wait, but sometimes you just have to respond fast or things get done because there's no objections. There's actually a lot of agreement in there, which I hope is clear, but the disagreements do raise a few more general ISFDB/Wiki points. I don't think any are a "me versus you" disagreement though, but there does seem to be a growing separation between DB editors and Wiki editors. BLongley 20:20, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
From 4: You do "NOT agree that anything in the wiki is merely temporary and doesn't count unless it is in the db." Well, I can download the ISFDB and it will be usable data, the Wiki side will not be. In that way, the Wiki side is totally transient to me. Many sites seem to already have used our data usefully that way and not moaned about the lack of Wiki supporting data. Don't get me wrong - the Wiki side is important for communications like this, for accumulation of supporting data, better displays than Al has given us so far, etc. I even actively create Wiki pages for better displays here (awards listings, magazines, alternate series) and for things I HOPE will make it to the database (publisher pages and such), but that is going to all be left behind on the web. But at the end of the day I want all the useful stuff in the core database. BLongley 20:20, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
From 7, where you strongly disagree with me: I'm OK with somebody organizing all the stuff left on the website that I'm not able to take with me in the database. We've generally misused the Wiki in many ways though, and many notes have been left on pages that the ISFDB links to - "Biography" leads to "Bio" and "Bibliographic Comments" leads to "Author". Not very intuitive to me, hence a lot of my mistakes in my initial response: if the "Author" pages are not about the author but about works instead, a better name should have been chosen, IMO. But that's a bit late, I guess. I would suggest a separation of the pages we've misused already (which often contain useful notes, even if they're in the wrong place) and "Proper" ISFDB-Wiki pages that can have all the rules they want.
I hope this helps explain my position: I'm not against an ISFDB Wiki side that records all the SF-related things that Wikipedia won't, I just don't want such to interfere with what the ISF DataBase maintainers are doing. If that ends up with Al's guidelines plus "4 - salvage what Data you can from what the self-promoters posted, then whack the rest into shape" it's fine by me. I think the automatic DB-Mod = WIKI-Mod roles might need some separating though, and some leeway granted on the pages DB-maintainers misuse. BLongley 20:20, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
I think i do see your points, and I think there is an underlying core of agreement between us. You mention that you can download the db and access it, but can't do the same with the wiki. Actually you could, the backups are posted, as are the setup instructions, and then you would have a working local copy of the wiki. (the first set up would take some time and trouble, of course) As the wiki becomes more used for actual data, if it does, this ability may become important. As for me, i use the ISFDB entirely via the web, and the only reason i would have a local copy would be for testing, particularly if I try to move into the development/programming side.
I also want to be clear -- I do regard the database proper as more important, more central, and I do not in the least intend wiki stuff to hamper or fail to support the db stuff. I don't see where my proposals do that -- they were merely intended as part of the standards for some wiki stuff, which would have no effect at all on people not editing Bio: pages on the wiki. They were not intended as standards for how stuff in the db proper would need to be formated or annotated.
You write ""Biography" leads to "Bio" and "Bibliographic Comments" leads to "Author". Not very intuitive to me, hence a lot of my mistakes in my initial response: if the "Author" pages are not about the author but about works instead, a better name should have been chosen, IMO." I fully agree about the naming. In fact it could be changed on the wiki side, but it might be more work than it is worth. I think that "Author:" might better have been "AuthorNotes:" or "AuthorComments:". As I understand it, the "Author:" pages are for things like "Is novel XYZ an expansion of story ABC, or a Fixup of ABC plus DEF? And how do we show this in a db record?"; "Did this author really write under the name 'Bill Jones'? How do you know?"; "Is novel HIJ part of the QRST series, or should i stick it in the QRS Universe super series"; etc etc. I don't think that db editors who have used the author pages in this sort of way have "misused" them. On the other hand, as I understand it, the "Bio" pages are for Wikipedia-like articles for authors (and artists and other SF-involved people) who do not have articles on Wikipedia, or whose Wikipedia articles focus on other aspects and don't cover the SF side of the person.
Now maybe my understanding is wrong, or if it was correct, we want to change it. But if the Bio pages are intended for actual biographic sketches, then it seams to me that they should be a little more formal than many of the wiki pages. many of the wiki pages are intended primarily for editors, to help organize the editing work. But the Bio pages, if I have understood them correctly, are primarily for the ISFDB's users, in effect they are a part of the core database that just happens to be stored in the wiki, because a wiki is much better suited to creating, editing, and displaying such text articles than a database is. That understanding, plus the way people (mostly not regular ISFDB editors but self-publisher or at least obscure SF authors) are starting to use them was the reason behind my proposals.
If my understanding of the separate purpose of the Bio pages from the Author pages (and such other wiki sets as the Publisher: pages and the Magazine: pages) is agreed to, It would be easy enough to look through the existing Bio pages -- there aren't all that many yet -- and move anything that belongs on an Author: or Publisher: page to a better place. It would also be easy enough for me to create a standard short boilerplate header for bio pages that links back to the db display page, and explains what a bio page is for. It could also link to an appropriate policy page or section, if we agree on one. Placing such a header on all existing bio pages would be the work of a single evening, even done manually.
If, on the other hand, my understanding is wrong, and we don't want finished biographical sketches on the bio pages, then what is the point of having both a Bio page and an author page (or the potential for one, at least) for each person in the db authors table? Perhaps we ought to delete all the bio pages and change the code to remove the links to them from the db author display pages?
Well what do you think? What do other people think on the subject, or group of subjects, discussed in this thread? -DES Talk 21:22, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict with Swfritter)
I believe your understanding is essentially correct, but let me take a step back and cover the history of this question. Way back in the 1990s, we had an Author-specific Notes field in the database (although I don't recall what it was called). In most cases, this field had basic biographical information about the author, usually a paragraph or two. The field is still there in the MySQL database and contains our original data, but it's no longer displayed by the application since at one point during the ISFDB1-to-ISFDB2 migration it was decided that Wikipedia (a new and shiny thing at the time) would be a better repository for this kind of data.
A few things have happened since then. First, Wikipedia had to implement relatively strict notability standards to avoid being spammed by tens of millions of self-promoting contributors. Although understandable, it resulted in a wholesale exclusion of minor SF authors whose biographies are worth preserving from our perspective. Second, it has become clear that Wikipedia's notability standards can change over time (I have already mentioned that one of the biographies that I wrote for Wikipedia a while back was deleted some 2 years later due to lack of notability), so it can be hard to determine whether a particular author's biography belongs on our side or on the Wikipedia side. And if we can't make this determination with any reasonable degree of accuracy, then the only way to avoid potential data loss is data duplication, i.e. having a copy of each potentially "Wikipedia-notable" article both here and on Wikipedia, which will naturally create all kinds of headaches.
Finally, some 18 months ago a few SF writers and editors grew so unhappy with Wikipedia's policies, especially as they related to verifiability, that they proposed creating a parallel system of SF-related bios here -- see their proposal on Talk:ISFDB FAQ. If I understand their proposal(s) correctly, they would like to greatly relax Wikipedia's verifiability standards to make it more along the lines of a "closed" Wiki where the default assumption is that all editors know what they are talking about and there is no need for additional verification. However, the "closed" Wiki model presupposes that all contributors' credentials have been vetted, something that wouldn't work for Wikipedia or the ISFDB unless we changed our registration process considerably.
If anything, verifiability is going to be an even bigger headache for us than it is for Wikipedia since they get all the Big Name authors like Ellison, Heinlein and Bradbury (whose biographies have been covered extensively in print) while we get all the obscure folks whose publicly accessible biographies may consist of a few lines in a semi-prozine -- if we are lucky. The result is that the main source of biographical data in our Wiki is likely to be the authors themselves, especially now that we have been "Google ranked". Unfortunately, as Wikipedia discovered some years ago, this makes you a target for all kinds of pranksters and flamers, which can lead, as Swfritter points out, to legal issues.
I don't know what we can do about this, but I thought I'd provide some background before we go over the same territory again :) Ahasuerus 22:15, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
1) Are there going to be enough people active in this area to provide long term continuity? 2) Is there a greater potential for generating legal issues, the repercussions of which could affect us all?--swfritter 21:54, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Reasonable questions. As to 1) I can only say that I thinks and hope so, and that I don't think it will take a huge amount of time for the near future at least. As to 2) I don't think so -- I believe that sticking to something like the proposal above should mean that there are few if any legal issues. besides, the "Safe Harbor" provision of the DMCA generally says that sites that host content provided by the general public are not liable for what is posted, provided that they respond to complaints reasonably. (That is an over-summery, of course) There is a court case now in progress involving Wikipedia on this issue: A book author's agent who has been called a scammer by the SFWA, in a Wikipedia article, and by various bloggers has basically sued everyone who made a negative comment online. The EFF is working with Wikipedia's lawyers, and is seeking to have the case dismissed based on the above "safe harbor" provision. If they prevail, it will make things pretty safe for us. Note that in it s years of having many many more bio articles, often on far more controversial people, than we have ever had, or are likely to have, articles on, Wikipedia has very rarely been sued over such issues -- if this is not the first case, it is one of only a few.
However, if the answers to either question are "no", then I think we ought to take down the BIO pages promptly, as unsustainable and unsafe. -DES Talk 22:16, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) I have created and documented Template:BioHeader. The intent is that this will be placed at the top of biography pages, and provide a link back to the author's page in the database, and to the relevant policy page. It also displays a brief statement of the intent of a Bio page. (The wording and link destinations can, of course, be changed at any time). Please see Bio:Test Author 2 for an example of tis template in use. If we go forward with the use of Bio pages, my thought is that this would be put at the top of each such page. -DES Talk 16:54, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Signatures in the RoA section

The ROA (and indeed the whole page) Should be consensus policy statements. As such they should not be signed. Changes should be discussed first, either on this talk page on on the Rules and standards discussions page, or perhaps on the Community Portal, as for knowing who drafted the form of each section or change, that is what the history tab is for. If a change has not been discussed enough to be a clear consensus change, and to need a signature, then it should still be a proposal, and should not be on the policy page at all.

Signatures also make it seem that no one but the signing editor can change a section, which should not be true.

I propose to remove all signatures from the RoA and other policy page sections. -DES Talk 15:17, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm fine with that. I was only following the apparent standard for that page in my recent change. Kevin 16:45, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
The reason I put my signature on that one section is that the rules for this particular issue were (are) still in formulation. This is the place they are most likely to look for guidance. My name is not necessary on the out portion of this issue and we probably do not need multiple names on the provisional section but it would seem to me that someone might want to contact the moderator with the most interest in this issue.--swfritter 18:17, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
DES, bear in mind that older Wiki page history is deleted here occasionally. If you think "knowing who drafted the form of each section or change" is important, it can't always be done via the history tab. BLongley 19:32, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
What would be good is to know who agreed each change, not who made the change to the page. I'm sure some policies are so daft because a single person wrote them and nobody disagreed at the time. BLongley 19:32, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
In addition, we are in the process of formulating what I hope is a more permanent policy which will replace this section, hopefully sooner rather than later. Since it won't get in there without unanimous agreement there will be no need to put a name on it. The "provisional" section is there so that people will have an explanation as to why there are webzines in the system when they are technically out. I have stated this once before: if any one person is opposed to webzines being in the system I will remove the ones I have entered and will strongly recommend that we remove any others that are in the system. That includes Helix (again), Sci Fiction, SF Site, and perhaps others which already had a presence in the system.--swfritter 19:49, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
I had forgotten that older versions were deleted here from time to time, so the history does not always last. I do that that a draft version of a more permanent policy could plausibly be placed on this talk page until people agree on the content and wording. Or a separate page could be used (such as ISFDB:Policy/Webzine Proposal), or a section in Rules and standards discussions or in the Community Portal page.
However, currently RoA #14 is signed by swfritter, the bullet under # 14 by both swfritter and Kevin, and it appears that the overall RoA section is signed by Ahasuerus. I for one find this more confusing than helpful. But given the discussion above, I won't delete any sigs from the page.
Who agreed to any given policy change might be worth knowing, and ought to be somewhere in the Rules and standards discussions/Archive pages, although finding it might not be trivial. But perhaps more important is who agrees with it now. Even if everyone once agreed with a policy, things may change, or we may learn better, and a new consensus may form. That happened with self-pubs, for instance.
On the substantive issue, i have said before and say again that if I were the ISFDB dictator, i would exclude all webzines and all fanzines, Hugos or not, pro rates or not. I have made this point the relevant discussion both last year and recently. But I will not delete such works when the general consensus has been to include them. And I don't ask anyone to delete such works just to please me. -DES Talk 20:29, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
And if I were ISFDB dictator, webzines would only be IN in their entirety with a Mod-level sponsor for them, as I don't want to enter or moderate them. Fanzines of notoriety IN, less notorious IN under the same sufferance as webzines. But deletion is just too plain hard, so swfritter, please don't take DES or my views as reason to go delete Helix again! Live and Let Live, I'd say, so long as someone else takes on the duties for life-support of things most mods don't want to look at. I think what we need are categories for IN, OUT and shake it all aboutTOLERATED. And TOLERATED would require Sponsors for each category - e.g. I don't mind Graphic versions of normal Novels, and would sponsor those. But not "Graphic Novels" that are just rebindings of several Comics. Someone wants Flash Gordon Comic Strips IN when collected into books - I don't. But if they're sponsored, I'll leave them alone. I'm sure that over the years we'll see things tolerated that eventually are no longer supported, in which case somebody can go delete the lot (hard work) or maybe just leave them alone and state that such are ABANDONED until someone wants to take them on again. BLongley 21:02, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Strange Horizons and other Webzines

(moved here from the main Policy page)

It seems to me that Strange Horizons should be added as well, based on the same criteria. It's SFWA-qualifying, and both it and stories in it have been nominated for Hugos and Nebulas. As an example of the strange situation being created by excluding SH, the Hugo-nominated Benjamin Rosenbaum story "The House Beyond Your Sky" is listed here on isfdb, but the bibliographic data don't include the story's first publication, which was in SH. SH has been around for 9 years now, and it seems very stable. Although I understand the concern that web pages are potentially ephemeral, the truth is that it may be easier to find old stories on SH (because by default they leave them on the site indefinitely unless the author asks them to take them down) than old stories in, e.g., Interzone (which often sells out its back issues fairly quickly).--Bcrowell 16:59, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

I am probably the biggest proponent of webzines here so I am certainly eager to get as many as possible into the system. The biggest problem with Strange Horizons is that it is not archived on an issue by issue basis with a discernible table of contents for each issue. Only the most recent issues can be accessed in that way. The Archives are accessed by department. It would doable but very labor intensive for an ISFDB editor to resurrect the contents on an issue by issue basis. Fantasy Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Pedestal are the webzines I would propose at this time. Currently being entered as test cases in the system are Clarkesworld which I am maintaining and Subterranean which is now under construction by someone else. My own feeling is that webzines should have contracts which do not allow authors to pull content. Helix, in part, disappeared because the publisher/editor was unwilling to pull content. Thank you for bringing the Rosenbaum story to our attention. I have added a note indicating where it originally appeared in the title record of the story. I might also note that there are many current print magazines for which we lack data. I am hopeful that we will be able to attract editors who are interested in entering data for them. Thanks for your input.--swfritter 18:18, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
"Helix, in part, disappeared because the publisher/editor was unwilling to pull content." I think this is incorrect. Actually, IIRC, the editors publicly stated that they had always intended to cease producing new issues and, later, to pull the archives. However they did go down sooner because an author demanded that they pull content, and filed (or threateded to file, i am not sure) a DMCA takedown notice. The editors of Helix said publicly that they had contracts, but the author in question was claiming that they did not apply to the current situation, and they did not want to fight a lawsuit over the matter. So hte archives went down sooneer thaqn they otherwise would have, by perhaps a year. But the editors never intended a permanent archive, or so they said in published statements. -DES Talk 19:19, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
It would doable but very labor intensive for an ISFDB editor to resurrect the contents on an issue by issue basis. If I was willing to do some of the footwork to whip the Strange Horizons data into shape, would you folks be willing to start listing SH? I could probably write a little webcrawler that would automate all the tedious stuff.--Bcrowell 01:22, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
As an individual I cannot make that decision. It still is not clear how extensive our webzine coverage is going to be and I can make absolutely no guarantees about Strange Horizons. There seem to be nearly 250 bi-weekly issues of Strange Horizons. Are you willing to do all the work required to get them into the system including data entry on our system? Since their bibliographic data seems to be stored in a database it is entirely possible that they may be able to supply the data in a file of some sort. It is far too soon to make that request but it would certainly make life easier if they were able to do so. Again, I can make no guarantees as an individual.--swfritter 16:57, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm willing to put some work in, if the work isn't going to be wasted. I would just need to know in advance that it wasn't going to be wasted.--Bcrowell 00:51, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Considering the spotty history we have with editors not maintaining webzine data along with the lack of enthusiasm for including them I consider this a lost cause, at least for the foreseeable future. I might note that Contento and Miller do include Strange Horizons on their Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index (1890-2007). I think the ISFDB has a great number of advantages over CD-ROM distribution but at least somebody is keeping a historical record of the data. I would certainly encourage you to get your hand into some editing if you have some publications that we do not have or are able to fill in data that we might be lacking. Thanks again for your input.--swfritter 15:01, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Primarily Science Fact Magazines?

Hi, I'm new to this wiki thing, so please bear with me if I'm asking newbie questions...

I couldn't find anywhere a policy on including magazines (and, hence, their contents) which are primarily factual in nature, but which normally publish 1-2 speculative fiction pieces. The example I'm thinking of is the 5-year-old Australian magazine Cosmos. Its fiction editor is Damien Broderick, and it's published some stories by folks with names, including Gregory Benford, Paul Di Filippo, and Joe Haldeman. If such magazines are to be included, would we then index all the science fact articles as well, as we would with the magazines that are primarily fiction magazines but have a science-fact article or two included?

I'd love to see a policy clarification before deciding to dedicate the time to enter 35 issues worth of contents.,, --BigJim 16:17, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

We'd certainly want the Speculative fiction, so at a minimum we'd enter Cosmos as a Non-Genre Magazine - see the help for such. But feel free to go the whole hog if you like - we've got such magazines as Omni for example. BLongley 17:04, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Reading that policy page, it makes sense to treat it the same way we'd treat Scientific American, so I'm entering it thusly. Thanks! --BigJim 01:27, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

eZines Again

It seems to me that technology has moved apace and another clarification may be in order...

A number of webzines have started self-publishing downloadable (.epub, etc.) versions of themselves. They don't necessarily have an ISSN, but the .epub (etc.) is clearly meant for transfer to the user's computer or e-reader and is therefore as permanent as any e-book.

Specifically, I'm looking at the new GigaNotoSaurus ( edited by Ann Leckie), which would be easy to add to the database while new but which obviously hasn't shown long-term stability yet. It places its .epub option extremely prominently on its website (and that's how I've been reading it), so at what point do we decide that it's stable enough to include?

With the push to publish for e-readers, and with more and more eZines/webzines providing this as an option, I'd love to see guidelines in place to let us know when it's time to start adding a publication that hasn't gone the ISSN/DOI route.

Thanks in advance, all! (And, yes, I'm happy to take charge of entering GigaNotoSaurus, since I'm reading it regularly anyway.) --BigJim 04:47, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Yes. In my task list you will see some similar titles. Sometimes you have to break some rules so you can make some new rules. Welcome all to the 21st century.--swfritter 15:51, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Please note that webzine only pubs are still very problematical since there is no persistent version whereas an ebook can live for ever. My own opinion is that ebooks are acceptable if the downloadable file contain editor/author, publisher, and publication date within the file itself. We have done a couple of experimental webzines with the requirement that the ToC be scanned. I was doing "Clarkesworld" that way until they switched over to webzine/epub dual publication. It does not appear that GigaNotoSaurus includes editor or publisher data in the pubs although they do have publication date information. If these issues are entered using external data such data must be fully documented. The authors certainly seem to be significant enough.--swfritter 15:59, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
I have added the first issue and created a wiki page. There is enough data, title and issue information, within the epub download to document the source, the editor and publisher can be determined from the website, the authors published are well-known, and the magazine pays money ($100 per story) for stories.--swfritter 15:00, 15 January 2011 (UTC)