ISFDB:FAQ

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Contents

Logging In

How do I log in to the ISFDB?

On the left side of each ISFDB page is the "navigation bar" or "navbar". Near the top of this is a link that says "Log In" (or "Log Out" if you are already logged in). Click this to log in. On the Log in screen is a link to create an account if you don't already have one. Accounts are free. See Help:Screen:LogIn for more detail.

How do I log in to the ISFDB wiki?

At the upper right of each wiki page is a link that says "login/create account". Follow it to the Log in screen. Note that the ISFDB database and the ISFDB wiki use the same accounts, so your User ID and password will be the same. However, they use separate log in mechanisms, so logging in to (or out of) one has no effect on the other -- you must log in to each separately.

What do I do if I have problems logging in?

Known issues preventing ISFDB users from logging in:

  • The browser has cookies disabled
  • The browser is Safari, which has reportedly caused problems for some users
  • The user is trying to access the ISFDB using a URL other than http://www.isfdb.org
  • The user is unaware that the user name is case sensitive (although the ISFDB Wiki lets you log in even if you use the wrong case)
  • The user is unaware that the user name is automatically changed to have an initial capital letter

If none of the above applies and you still can't log in, post a question on the Community Portal, providing as many details about the problem and about your browser configuration as possible.

How do I add or correct data in the ISFDB?

For help on editing, see the editing help pages, and particularly Help:Getting Started.

How do I edit wiki pages?

See Help:Editing, Help:Editing FAQ and the pages linked from those pages.

Where is a safe place for me to experiment with editing wikitext?

Your personal User Page (click on your name at the very top of the page) is usually a good place to start. The Wikipedia has a sandbox that includes a guided tutorial, although note that Wikipedia is on a newer version of the Wiki software, so there may be some differences. The ISFDB wiki has its own Sandbox, which anyone may use for tests or experiments, although it lacks the tutorial that the Wikipedia sandbox has. Another good way to learn is to pick a page and click the “Edit” link to see what the existing wikitext looks like.

Where is a safe place for me to experiment with creating and modifying ISFDB records?

Just create new records and use them. It’s a good idea to use “Testing Your Name” for the author name and titles such as “Test Novel” to make it easy to find the records and also so that others know that you are experimenting with things. For records with Notes fields it's a good idea to include a note so that the moderators will understand what you are doing and are likely to approve your changes. When you are done you'd then delete the records.

How do I add publications to the ISFDB database?

On the main page, and many other pages, in the navigation bar on the left hand side is a section titled "Add New Data", which includes the following links:

  • Add New Anthology
  • Add New Chapbook
  • Add New Collection
  • Add New Fanzine
  • Add New Magazine
  • Add New Nonfiction
  • Add New Novel
  • Add New Omnibus

Follow the appropriate link. A Web page where the data for a new publication of the selected type can be entered will appear. Enter the available information and click the "Submit Data" button at the bottom. A moderator will review the submission. See Help:Screen:NewPub for more details.

How do I add authors to the ISFDB database?

Author records are not entered into ISFDB directly. They are automatically added when Publications by that author are added or edited. Similarly, Author records are automatically created for any cover artists or interior artists listed in the Publication record. See Help: How to enter an author into the database for more detail.

How does the ISFDB deal with . . .

This section covers unusual bibliographic situations and describes how the ISFDB handles them.

How does the ISFDB deal with "split novels"?

Occasionally a novel will be published as a single volume, and then republished (perhaps in another country) as two or more separate volumes. For example, Peter Hamilton's "Night's Dawn" trilogy was republished as six volumes in the US. The first book, "The Reality Dysfunction", was republished as "The Reality Dysfunction, Part One: Emergence", and "The Reality Dysfunction, Part Two: Expansion". The other two volumes were treated similarly. In these situations, the books should be treated as novels, even though they form only part of a work published as a novel. Also note that the original book is still treated as a novel; it does not become an OMNIBUS because it contains two works published as novels. Situations like this should be documented in the notes, and if necessary discussed on the bibliographic comments page for the publications.

How does the ISFDB deal with dos-à-dos books such as Ace Doubles, and Tor Doubles?

Ace published hundreds of “doubles” from 1953 to the early 1970s, as did Tor between 1988 and 1991. These books are often bound "dos-à-dos" which is French for "back-to-back." (The correct term is "tête-bêche", meaning "head-to-toe".) The books have two front covers, each of which is "upside down" with respect to the other, requiring the reader to flip the book in order to read the second title. The more modern Tor books have the ISBN/barcode on one of the covers and that’s usually considered the "back" cover. The title of this cover should be considered the second title when titling the double for the ISFDB record. Later Tor Doubles were published as a standard book with a single cover and both works published in the same direction.

Ace Doubles should be entered into the ISFDB as omnibuses, because these were published as "novels" regardless of their actual word count. Occasionally one (or both) of the titles would be a collection of stories. The book publication record would still be typed as an omnibus.

Tor Doubles, the majority of which were publications of previously published titles, are entered based on the type of their constituent titles. If at least one of the titles was published as a novel (as in the case of The Color of Neanderthal Eyes / And Strange At Ecbatan the Trees), the Tor Double publication should be typed as an omnibus. If both parts of the double were originally published as SHORTFICTION (as Screwtop / The Girl Who Was Plugged In), the publication should be typed as an anthology (a collection of two or more stories by different authors.)

The title of the book publication is the titles of the two constituent parts separated by a slash (with surrounding spaces), like so: "Ill Met in Lankhmar / The Fair in Emyn Macha". Authors for each part are credited in the author field of the double publication. Occasionally both parts are written by the same author, so the author needs to be credited just once.

When entering the book into ISFDB give attention to both sides as the cover artist may not be the same. If two different cover artists are used, the art should be entered with both names, and a note left on the cover art title record explaining which artist did which cover. The contents of the book are then recorded as two novels or novellas, and the individual authors are credited for each story. Interior art, if it exists, can be recorded separately for each half of the book.

If one half of the book is an anthology or collection, the contents of the anthology/collection are also recorded as contents of the omnibus, since the ISFDB is not currently designed to display nested contents. An alternative method for dealing with this is to define a separate publication and to reference that in the dos-à-dos publication record. See Between Two Worlds / Messages Found in an Oxygen Bottle. Note that this method doesn't list contents, requiring the user to follow the link of the collection in order to view its contents. This approach also creates a "false" publication record for each part of the double, and should be the method of last resort.

How does the ISFDB deal with multiple printings of the same edition?

A single edition of a book may have separate "printings", which are usually documented on the so called "number line" (see the "Year" section of this Help page for more details.) The ISFDB creates one record per printing. The reason for this is that although in many cases separate printings can be almost indistinguishable, there are also many cases when they can be different, sometimes drastically so. Consider these two printings of Alexei Panshin's Star Well. The first one appeared in October 1968, the catalog ID was G-756, the price was $0.50, the page count was 157 and the cover was done by Frank Kelly Freas. The second one was published in August 1978, it used an ISBN (0-441-78405-4) instead of an old style catalog ID, the price was $1.75, the page count was viii+211 and the cover was done by Vincent Di Fate. So here we have two books that are as different as any two paperbacks can be, yet according to the publisher they are two printings of the same edition!

When an editor is entering a later printing of an edition that we don't have on file, the recommendation is to create two separate Publication records. The first record is for the actual (i.e. later) printing that you are verifying and it should be dated 0000-00-00 if you don't know that printing's publication date. The second record is for the first printing of that edition and is created based on the publication information found in the later printing, with the source of information clearly stated in the Notes field and the record left unverified. That way we capture as much information as possible and our users can get a pretty good idea of the history of that edition. Unfortunately, this approach doesn't work too well when the imprint was changed in between printings, so it's not a rule but rather a guideline of limited applicability.

How does the ISFDB deal with "Portions of this story originally appeared in..."?

In some cases, a novel is expanded from a short or created as a fixup of several shorts. When this happens, we take a closer look at the resulting novel. If it is truly a novel and not a collection of linked stories, then we enter it a "Novel" and list the stories that it is based on in the Notes section. If it is a collection of linked stories and the stories are essentially the same as they originally appeared, then we enter the book as a "Collection" and list the stories in the Contents section.

If an individual story is rewritten or revised, then we create a Variant Title for it and add the nature of the changes, e.g. "expanded", "abridged" or "restored", in the Notes section. Please note that these conventions are likely to change in the foreseeable future as we beef up our software in this area.

How does the ISFDB deal with duplicate names

The ISFDB deals with several kinds of names, and each kind can have duplicates. There are the titles of works of fiction (and non-fiction), the names of authors and artists, and the names of series.

Titles are often duplicated. For example "Breathing Space" is a 1955 work of short fiction by Brian W. Aldiss, while "Breathing Space" is a 1956 work of short fiction by E. C. Tubb, and "Breathing Space" is a 2008 work of short fiction by Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis. In cases like this, the different authors are generally sufficient to make the difference clear, and no special measures need be taken.

Often a story is expanded into a novel. For example, "In the Presence of Mine Enemies" is a 1992 novelette, while In the Presence of Mine Enemies is a 2003 novel, both by Turtledove. In these cases the different type of the work makes the difference clear. The same is true when a collection has a title story. The rare cases where quite different stories by the same author have the same title, such as "Interim" (1950) and "Interim" (1947) are generally handled by title notes, parenthetical additions to titles (such as "(revised)" or "(1983 version)") or both.

The canonical names of authors and artists must be unique in the database. When two people would have identical canonical names, they are generally distinguished by a parenthetical qualifier, such as Adrian Smith (author) vs Adrian Smith, or Colin Harvey (1960-) vs Colin Harvey (1971-).

The names of title series must also be unique in the database. If two different series would naturally have the same name, one must be assigned a different name, either a variation on the shared name, or a completely different name, or a parenthetical qualifier. For example the series Ragnarok and Ragnarok Trilogy might each have been called "Ragnarok". See Help:How to work with series#Duplicate names for more details.

What are the different kinds of series available in the ISFDB?

A Title series or Content series is a series with related stories, characters, or settings, such as the Harry Potter series, or the Star Trek books. It may consist of novels, short fiction, or both. There are also essay series, these are also considered content series.

The ISFDB supports a complex hierarchy of subseries for title series. All publications of a work belong to the same title series, and no work can be in two different title series at the same time.

A publication series is a set of similarly packaged books designated by the publisher (or publishers), often related only in theme or marketing. They may share an editor, or a presenter, or merely be grouped by the publisher. For example the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series or the Millennium / Gollancz SF Masterworks series are publication series.

Different publications of the same work may well not be in the same publication series. The ISFDB does not support subseries for publication series.

See Help: How to work with series for more details on both kinds of series.

General

Linking

Is it okay to deep link into ISFDB pages?

Of course it is.

What link types are persistent and safe to link to?

The old ISFDB was compiled, which meant that the indices changed with every build. The new ISFDB uses a MySQL database, so many of the records can be permanently referred to. Safety of likely links are:

  • ea.cgi - This takes a canonical author name as an argument. Since the names are canonical, they're not likely to change in the future. There is a possibility of change for young authors as they establish their careers and writing names.
  • title.cgi - This takes a record number argument, which makes it very persistent. The only activity that could deprecate a title record would be if it is merged with another title. When this happens, the merging tool will retain the lowest-numbered record (that is, if a merge is done between record 503 and 15617, record 503 will survive and 15617 will be deleted). So if you want to link to a title, but there is more than one choice on the author's bibliography (it hasn't been merged yet), then link to the lowest numbered title.
  • pe.cgi - This displays works attached to a particular series. This takes a record number argument, which makes it very persistent. The only activity that could cause loss of a series record is if all of its titles are removed.
  • pl.cgi - To maintain compatibility with existing links, the publication viewer uses publication tags, not publication record numbers. While the tags don't change often, they can change.

How do I link from a Wikipedia article into the ISFDB?

Some templates have been created at Wikipedia which allow linking to author bibliographies, titles, publications and series. Each of this templates only works for the Wikipedia language it was designed for. Extensive usage information is provided on each template's wiki page at the Wikipedia:

The "Languages" block on these template pages provides links to ISFDB templates for Wikipedia in several other languages.

Verification

How do I know that an ISFDB record is accurate?

We have attempted to include only accurate data. However, initial data comes from various sources, including older bibliographic databases, advance publisher information, and vendor information. Some of these contain inaccuracies. In some cases errors have been made in the process of entering data into the ISFDB. Verified records have greater assurance of accuracy.

What is Primary Verification?

Many publication records have been Primary verified. This means that a named individual has compared the record with the actual book, magazine, ebook or other document, and states on record that the information recorded is correct. More recently, verifiers are also expected to make sure that a record is complete as well as accurate. The User ID and timestamp of the verifier are recorded and displayed with the record.

What is Secondary Verification?

Many Publication records have been Secondary Verified. This means that the record has been compared against a specified "secondary source" (one of a limited approved set of such sources). Either all information in the record agrees with the record in the source, or else any differences have been mentioned in the notes. Note that not all secondary sources include all the kinds of data that the ISFDB records. Only those data that the secondary source includes are checked. See Help:How to verify data#Verification sources for a list of sources that the ISFDB uses for secondary verification.

A publication may be secondary verified against multiple verification sources. A record may be both primary and secondary verified.

What if I want to make a change in a verified publication record?

If you are adding data to a primary verified publication record, you should normally notify the verifier on his or her talk page. (Some users have constructed special pages for this purpose, please read and follow any special requests such users place at the tops of their talk or user pages.) If you want to change or remove information, please ask the verifier first. If the verifier doesn't respond in a week or so, post a note on the Moderator noticeboard and someone will help you.

What if I want to ask the verifier a question?

Post a note on his or her talk page. Check that page until the verifier responds.

How do I find the verifier's talk page?

The publication record displays the User ID of the verifier, along with the verification timestamp. The User ID links to the verifier's User Page. Click the "Discussion" tab on that page to find that user's talk page. Check for any special instructions at the top of the page. Click the "+" tab to create a new section (thread) on the page.

I have a copy of a book listed in the ISFDB. How do I verify it?

Follow the steps described at Help:How to verify data. Note that if the current record is incorrect or incomplete, use the "Edit This Pub" function to update it, correcting any errors and adding any missing information. After the submission to update the record has been accepted by a moderator, you may then verify it. You must be logged in to edit or verify.

The old ISFDB had a place for author biographies; where did they go?

The ISFDB database layout is great for well-structured data like titles, series names, and ISBNs. It doesn't work so well for free-form text like an author biography. The ISFDB author biographies were always an area of great churn, and mediating submitter differences could be difficult. We're now mostly relying on Wikipedia as the location for author biographies, and we formally support linking an author's bibliography to their Wikipedia biography. (Wikipedia has a template for linking back.) Authors not eligible for Wikipedia articles can have a short, neutral, factual biography that is professional in tone on a "Bio:" page in this wiki. See ISFDB:Policy#Biography Policy and Help:Contents/Purpose#Biographies for more details.

How do I identify an artist's signature?

See Category:Artist Signature Images.

How do I submit bug reports and feature requests?

Use this Sourceforge page to file bug reports and this link to create feature requests. Use the "Create Ticket" button on the left to start the process.

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