ISFDB:FAQ

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Contents

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.

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 The Wikipedia has a sandbox that includes a guided tutorial, although note that Wikipedia is on a newer version of the Wiki software, so there may be some differences. 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 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 sf “doubles” from 1953 to the early 1970s, and more recently Tor emulated them. These books are bound “dos-à-dos” which is French for “back-to-back.” The books have two front covers and you flip the book over to read the other side meaning that one half of the book is “upside down” with respect to the other. The more modern Tor books have the ISBN/barcode on one of the covers and that’s usually considered the “back” cover but it’s still a dos-à-dos book you flip over to read.

You enter these in ISFDB as omnibuses. The title is the titles of the two books divided by a slash, like so: "Ill Met in Lankhmar / The Fair in Emyn Macha". The author is set to uncredited, as there is no overall author of the book as a whole. When entering the book into ISFDB 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 does not allow 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 DVNTRSNTHF1954 and BTWNTWWRLD1997 for examples of the two methods outlined here.

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.

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?

The templates have been created by grendelkhan to allow linking to author bibliographies, titles, and series. Each reference should be added to the article's list of External Links.

To link to an author's ISFDB bibliography, use the name template, setting both the id and the name to the ISFDB canonical author name. The spaces within id should be replaced with underscores:

* {{isfdb name|id=J._K._Rowling|name=J. K. Rowling}}

To link to an ISFDB title, use the title template, setting id to the ISFDB title record number, and title to the title name:

* {{isfdb title|id=19766|title=Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire}}

To link to an ISFDB series, use the series template, setting both the id and the name to the ISFDB series name:

* {{isfdb series|id=6|title=Hyperion Cantos}}

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 ISBN's. 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 relying on Wikipedia as the location for author biographies, and we formally support linking an author's bibliography to their Wikipedia biography.

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