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Parent COVERART variant titles for pseudonyms?

I know standard practice for non-art titles is to make parent variant titles under the canonical author for those titles attributed to a pseudonym. A non-exhaustive, probably-not-statistically-significant survey of artists suggests common practice is to do the same thing for INTERIORART but not to do it for COVERART. Is that the way it is supposed to be, or should those variants be created for COVERART as well? I am not trying to advocate any approach, just trying to figure out what's supposed to be done currently, as I made a pseudonym relationship and would make the variants (or not, depending on the answer). --MartyD 22:31, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

The intent has always been to (eventually) set up VTs and pseudonyms for all Cover Art entries. However, it's not always clear which form of the artist's name should be his canonical name, e.g., should it be Emsh or Ed Emshwiller? In addition, once a pseudonym has been set up, our software doesn't make it easy to delete/reverse it. Consequently, it has been customary to wait until we have a representative sample of an artist's work before we set up VTs and pseudonyms, which often translates to a general reluctance to set them up.
There are a few things we could do at the software level to address this (and numerous related) issues. First, we need to have a way to delete Pseudonym associations as documented on Sourceforge. Second, it would be useful to create an option to reverse all VTs for an author (including Series information, reviews, etc) so that we could go back and forth between Emsh and Ed Emshwiller easily. Third, it would be even more useful to create an option that would turn all non-VT Titles by an Author into VTs (somewhat dangerous in inexperienced hands). The second and the third changes won't be trivial, but should be doable down the road. Ahasuerus 23:59, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with both of the above statements. I do think that where an artist's usual working name name is clear, there is no need to wait for software enhancements to create variants and even set up a pseudonym relationship. Where it is clear that two artists are the same, and fairly clear what the working name is, I think variants might be set up without a pseudonym relationship. Variants can always be reversed or broken. OTOH, variants will further crowd basic searches -- perhaps they should wait until basic searches no longer return cover art records. -DES Talk 14:31, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
For someone like Emsh, it would mean creating a lot of VTs, though. I am thinking that a relatively straightforward way to address this issue would be to add a new navbar option to enable "mass VT creation/editing". I expect that it will have two fields, one for the Author ID of the parent Author (blank by default) and the other for the Author ID of the new parent author (0 if you want to break all VTs for a given parent Author of the currently selected Author.) That way you will be able to quickly break and re-point VTs, which should make flipping them back and forth a much less daunting proposition. It won't be too difficult to implement -- although it will require a new submission type and collaborations will require some thought -- but we will probably want to limit this option to moderators since it could be potentially destructive. Of course, we will need to implement Pseudonym deletion first. Ahasuerus 00:16, 18 July 2009 (UTC)


With vs. with

Template:TitleFields:Title gives a list of words that should not be capitalized in titles. I'm verifying a book and see Not With a Bang in ISFDB. Some style guidelines use wording such as "Generally, capitalize nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Do not capitalize prepositions, conjunctions or articles, except as first words of titles." The word with is a preposition meaning it would not be capitalized per those style guidelines. I'd like to include with as one of the words to not capitalize in titles. --Marc Kupper|talk 23:51, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

We had this discussion a while back and IIRC there was no consensus. I don't think it's a big deal, but the good news is that if we decide to change the standard, we can do a mass change quite easily. Ahasuerus 00:37, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
It wasn't discussed properly last time, it was a sidetrack. I'd support "with", but agree we should probably look at a style guide and fix the whole list rather than do it one word at a time. BLongley 11:48, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Excepting the first word, and the first word of a subtitle, I'm fairly apathetic about which way this goes. The problem is, that I'm not apathetic about which way without in a title should go. While without is also a preposition, and the antonym of with, it carries a much greater 'weight' in my mind when used in a title. ( e.g. Rebel Without a Cause (as listed at the IMDB and Wikipedia) or Rebel without a Cause, Christmas Without Rodney (Verified 4 times) or Christmas without Rodney). The good news is that while we have been fairly inconsistent with with, we have been fairly consistent with without and 95+% of the withouts in my brief survey of the database appear to be already capitalized. I bring this up to ensure we don't go all rules happy and generalize that all prepositions should be uncapitalized. - Thanks Kevin 14:28, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Either way is fine with me, and I'd go with any style guide (anybody still got their MLA?) Personally, I've capitalized "with" in the past. Another word to consider is "from", which I've seen both ways (and I don't capitalize.) MHHutchins 14:45, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
A website that says it's source is MLA Style states Capitalize the first and last words as well as all intervening words except articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, and the "to" in infinitives. This would not capitalize "without", "besides", "except" or any other lengthy preposition.
APA Research Style states Capitalize major words and all other words of four letters or more, in headings, titles, and subtitles outside reference lists, for example, "A Study of No-Win Strategies." This would capitalize "with", "from", and other long prepositions. MHHutchins 15:04, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm for the whole hog approach if we are certain that a batch update is safe. There has always been a cringe factor for me when entering data in a manner that I know is not correct. We should choose a style sheet and use it not only for this issue but any other grammatical issue. Perhaps update one preposition at a time and see how it goes? Of course, the easiest thing to do would be to adopt the French capitalization standards.--swfritter 15:47, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
The French have standards? (couldn't resist) Kevin 20:35, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes. The first letter of noun or adjective after determinative articles (Le, La, Les, L') is capitalized.--ErnestoVeg 15:50, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Ebook inclusion standards.

I have noticed some recent discussions (User talk:Mhhutchins#JohnMarks submissions and User talk:JohnMarks#Your recent set of submissions ) that point out that our current Rules of Acquisition are not as clear as they should be on ebook issues. The RoA currently include "e-books with ISBNs" and "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." and exclude "Web only publications such as webzines". The stories that User:JohnMarks wants to include are, it seems simple etexts made available on a fairly stable web site by their author for free. The don't have ISBNs, so they fail the first provision as written. They aren't part of any e-zine, with or without an ISSN, so they don't pass the second as written. They seem to be "downloadable" and at least arguably (accepting JohnMarks's statements) "stable", but as written neither "downloadable" nor "stable" applies to ebooks, only to e-zines . Indeed, as JohnMarks pointed out, by the letter of these rules all the PG ebooks should be OUT, as none have ISBNs, and none are part of any e-zine. Obviously any rule that mandates that PG editions of well-known SF stories by well-known authors should be excluded is incorrect, and should be changed. But if an ISBN is not to be the test, what is? Is it being "downloadable"? And if so, are simple html files that can be downloaded by no more than file/save on a browser "downloadable"? Is the fact that PG is a noted, multi-author site the criterion? Do we want to exclude amateur fiction published in electronic form? We already permit such if the person goes to LuLu or PublishAmerica and pays for a single print copy (both of those outlets generate both ebooks and PoD books for the same author-provided source text). Just where should we draw the line? I think we need to discuss the matter, and redraft the RoA in line with our decisions. -DES Talk 19:52, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Actually, I'd dispute "Obviously any rule that mandates that PG editions of well-known SF stories by well-known authors should be excluded is incorrect, and should be changed." I'm pretty sure they'll remain available, I'm not so sure they'll be stable (as in, "Do they ever get adjusted"?). ISBNs are irrelevant - obviously, anything that originally had an ISBN is not yet in scope of PG. BLongley 21:27, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm not proposing deleting them, I think links to such are valuable, but if they are reproductions of a particular edition or publication then I think that a link to PG at that level is appropriate instead. If it's gone through several revisions and there are multiple PG versions, linking to them all at Title level would be appropriate. If PG work at content-level at times, then a link from the shortfiction or essay title would be appropriate. I would argue that they don't deserve a separate publication if they are just faithful reproductions of something we should already have. BLongley 21:27, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
In many cases they are reproductions of specific editions -- not always. But often a PG edition is a reproduction of something we don't have or have only as a stub, and are not likely to get. (I'm thinking of older works in the horror sub-genre particularly.) Also, the reformatting that is done is at least as much as many physical reprint editions get. I might add that we index facsimile editions that make every possible effort to be "faithful reproductions" of earlier editions. By your logic those don't deserve separate publications, only mentions in notes. As ti stability, while no one can predict the future, PG has followed a consistent policy since its inception that when it issues a corrected, revised, or improved version of a work, the earlier version is kept available. When the revisions are large or a new source is used, a new etext number is often assigned. -DES Talk 23:55, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
(Yes, this is a suggestion that will require further development. Put in a Feature request if you think that PG don't produce "new editions", they just reproduce one. It's at best another "printing" of something we already have, IMO - and we need to start looking at hiding some of those anyway.) BLongley
It's a printing in another form... hc, tp, ebook. Not merely another printing/impression. Kevin 21:46, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
I think a PG text is, in general, a new edition, not merely another printing, and if we ever record editions as such, should probably be an edition of its own. -DES Talk 23:55, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
I started to work up some draft rules to propose a long time back... the key thing was to put the barrier for entry at the publisher level. Kevin 21:46, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Ebook publishers have to cross a fuzzy line in order to warrant inclusion.
    • Must meet all conditions for inclusion
      • Downloadable work.
        • Stable Source. (2 Years in operation?) - No fly by night or brand new startups
          • Stability for startup web-publishing can be inherited from a parent name (e.g. A print Publisher beginning e-publishing)
          • Stability is also often indicated by a catalog number assignment (See gutenberg, feedbooks, fictionwise, webscription) which can accept permalinks
      • Actual Publishing, Not merely repackaging another source. (I wrote this half a year ago, but I don't completely agree with it anymore)
        • Excludes Manybooks.net which literally repackages gutenberg editions (Manybooks.net provides a valuable resource of almost 'any' format for PG and other Titles.)
        • Does not exclude feedbooks which adds coverart, author bios, other works available, and removes the gutenberg headers
    • Must meet one or more conditions for inclusion
      • Known Work (Work has been previously published and is already considered 'in' in one of its publications)
      • Known Author (previously published in the field - Work has 'merit')
      • Known Publisher (Publisher has 'standing' in the field as an acceptable bar to entry to prevent generic fan fic and similar cruft from getting indexed)
      • ISBN Assigned (Someone spent money on an ISBN to publish the work)
Comment away (And PLEASE offer up other 'One of' and 'All of' required suggestions.) Kevin 21:46, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
My view is that if you are going to impose this level of exclusion on ebooks, in particular if you are going to require a known work, author, or publisher, then similar rulse should be imposed on PoD and othe forms of self-publishing. i don't see any valid reason to allow in "cruft" that is printed on paper (we have a fair amount of it indexed already) while attempting to exclude "cruft" that is published as an ebook. Anyone can go to LuLu or PublishAmerica and get a paper copy of a text printed up as a "book" for about the cost of a large Pizza, with no editorial gatekeeper whatsoever. For about $100, you can get an ISBN and have your "book" listed on Amazon, even if it never sells a single copy, and no one else has ever assesed it for "merit". If printed "books" like that are acceptable to us (and by our current rules they are) then i see no reason whatsoever to impose such "gatekeeper rules" on ebooks. -DES Talk 23:55, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
A VERY Valid argument. But the devil's advocate response is "If you have no restriction on printed works, then are any restrictions on electronic works valid". Kevin 01:49, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Also, I object to your "repackaging" restriction. Many publishers of physical reprints have done a good deal of "repackaging", in the early days of paperpacks most such books were repackaged, and some publishers never printed originals. Again, i see no valid reason to impose on ebook publishers rules we don't impose on print publications. We index books from one-book-wonder publishers, and magazines that fold after 2 issues. If we exclude ebooks that are "unstable", then perhaps we should include startup physical publishers.
I objected to this one myself, but I felt it appropriate to let it fail on its merits, not through lack of mentioning it. Kevin 01:49, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
About the PG books, by the way: some of them are exact transcriptions of specific, known editions. This is true for much of the PG transcriptions of magazine SF, for instance. Many of the earlier books in PG, including many of their pre-20th C. works of horror and fantasy, are not derived from a single, known edition. For a number of years PG made a point of stating that its texts were nor representative of any specific earlier edition, and should be considered a new edition, and of not preserving records of what edition or editions were used to create PG texts, and in at least some cases, PG texts were created from multiple editions. They don't generally do that any more, but that is a matter of current policy, not immutable law. -DES Talk 23:55, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
I also note that in the case that set this off, the web site involved appears to have "Stability" and "Downloadability", although not perhaps "standing" whatever that means -- who are the audience in whose eyes "standing" should be measured. -DES Talk 23:45, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
The restriction I made for ezines, "Copying live webzine pages from the internet to a local computer does not qualify an ezine as downloadable", would seem to me to apply to using File-Save to save an individual webpage and should be expanded to apply to all epubs. ISBN and ISSN numbers for epubs are so chaotically applied that they should only be considered as a moderately important factor concerning inclusion of a given epub.--swfritter 00:46, 22 July 2009 (UTC)


I'm not quite clear, do you mean that if you can simply use file-save an ebook/etext is downloadable, or that it is not. If that does not make an etext downloadable, what does? Do you consider Project Gutenberg etexts "Downloadable"? Baen Books webscription ebooks? If not, can you give an example of an ebook that IS downloadable? -DES Talk 00:53, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
The operative word is obviously "not".--swfritter 13:32, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
To me, the main objections to allowing "source copies" of webzines were that they tended to be full of links from one file to another which would be broken in the downloaded form, and that copying multiple files in this way tended to be complex and tedious, so that in practice almost no one did it. But particularly the link issue, it meant that what you downloaded was not really a copy of the web-based version. But a simple HTML or TXT file with no links doesn't have that problem -- the local copy is effectively and functionally identical to the online copy. -DES Talk 00:57, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
The primary problem with the site that brought this issue up, is that the files are not provided in a downloadable 'click here' or 'right click here' to save this file, in any format. The files are presented only within the browser. If they were provided in a 'file format' not through a instant generated format I would consider them in. I did a rough word count and the SF section appears to have enough content to fill an average to small collection, so if the editor wants to call them a single static collection, I could even go with that, (If they could be downloaded as a group). (shrug). I personally don't have problem 1 with putting this material in. Kevin 01:49, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Kevin. To me, "downloadable" doesn't mean "copy and paste" or "print source page" or right mouse click "save page as...". It means "click on this link and a file will be downloaded to your pc". And there must be standards other than for "format". Shouldn't there also be standards for "content"? And I know how subjective that can be. So we should consider using the SFWA's standards for what they consider a "professional sale" either in print, or electronic publication. There have been professional writers who posted unsold stories to their websites. Not that I believe those should be considered IN under the ROA, but they're a helluva lot more closer to being eligible than an amateur's scribblings on his personal website. Dropping the standards for content will open the flood gates. I like those standards which Kevin has set out above, and if DES doesn't want to be a "gatekeeper' I think they are more than a few of us who are willing to take up the banner. MHHutchins 02:28, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I haven't digested the arguments yet (hm, that last one at the bottom of the bowl was quite tasty!), but keep in mind that the ISBN requirement for e-books was a hurdle that we consciously erected to limit the influx of Web published fiction. There is a tremendous amount of Web based fan fiction, erotica, pornography and all kinds of other speculative material that we were trying to exclude. As a general rule, I support lowering "barriers to entry" when it becomes clear that some e-venues (like online semiprozines) have become integral parts of the genre, but -- with the exception of PG, Webscription and perhaps a few other places -- I haven't seen much evidence to suggest that eliminating the ISBN requirement for e-books is needed. Perhaps we could craft a set of exceptions that would let the likes of PG/Webscription in without opening the floodgates? Ahasuerus 04:22, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
If I understand Kevin and Mike's views above, they would support including this set of stories if the webmaster (who in this case seems also to be the author) changed his site to provide a click-here-to-download link. I think this distinction is pointless, although i will admit it is at least clear. The content on the site would be exactly the same. The downloaded content would be exactly the same. A little bit of the presentational HTML would be different. Such a link might indicate that the author expects readers to download and keep his works, or it might indicate that he expects his readers to be non-technical. Given that the author states that all the stories were originally posted to Usenet, he quite probably expects most of his readers to be technical enough to do right-ckick|save-as or file|save-as and so doesn't bother doing this for them in the link. Why do you feel that this tiny difference in the html on the index page makes such a difference in result? I can't see the point. -DES Talk 12:40, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I can't speak for Kevin, but you did misunderstand my view, which is less about "format" than it is about "content". Read my comment again. I was just stating my definition of "downloadable", not whether this should be a determining factor for inclusion in the db. MHHutchins 16:28, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Kevin said above "If they were provided in a 'file format' not through a instant generated format I would consider them in." I take it you disagree? -DES Talk 21:13, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
My edit window was open too long and I missed the above query. Instantly generated is not a valid criteria either. Many system instantly generate the 'ebook' to the required format. The problem with that site from my perspective is that it's provided straight to the browser to 'render' and not to 'save'. Kevin 22:04, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
And since I can't speak for Mike (chuckle), you did not misunderstand me. I will not judge another man's entertainment, after confirming it is SpecFic. We cannot use the SFWA standards for all works because the SFWA ia a higher standard than the true barrier to entry into SpecFic-dom. Even excluding semi-prozines there have been and will continue to be publishers who pay 'something' for a work, but that something does not meet the SFWA Standards. We also cannot police this as a standard, since the payment criteria is not public information in many cases (for closed and retired markets). Kevin 22:00, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
As to "this tiny difference", I admit it is small, but it was the rule when I got here, and it seems to serves as a reasonable line to define... is this person or publisher providing 'entertainment' as in broadcast TV or is this person or publisher providing an item (a file) that they expect me to take with me and call my own. To (in the bugs bunny vernacular) Hug him and squeeze him and call him George!. If the publisher is explicitly providing a file, then they are agreeing with the understanding, "Here is something you can take with you..." to your grandmothers, on vacation, to the Moon, to Mars, or that you can burn on a CD, and 20 years from now, find the file and want more information about the file/item/ebook. Kevin 22:00, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I don;t thaing "that was the rule" until this discussion. Until now "downloadable" was only in the rules for ezines, not ebooks, and was not clearly defined. I really think that when someone posts a simple html or text file to a web site he expects readers to make local copies, the difference in the framing html is really not significant, IMO. -DES Talk 22:29, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Ahasuerus's view I think I understand. Many people will publish to the web who won't bother to pay for an ISBN (although any of them could obtain one, for about $100, last time i looked), and such a requirement will exclude the ravening and unindexable hordes. You have a point. Of course, taken literally, it excludes a number of the Baen webscription books (only some of those have ISBNs, and those are usually (always as far as i have checked) ISBNs belonging to a physically printed edition.It also excludes PG, but they at least have catalog numbers. Perhaps we could craft some rule allowing large stable organizations not to use ISBNs, but requiring them of author-published ebooks.
However, if we do that, it seems to me that we should equally exclude self-published physical printed (modern) books whose authors don't acquire ISBNs, for much the same reasons. We have some books on file now that IMO fit the kinds of things that Ahasuerus seemed to want to keep out.
I think that Mike has misunderstood how I used "Gatekeeper" above -- I was applying it not to us, but to a publisher. I was syaing that it was not fair to require that e-book authors must be published through a professional publisher like Fictionwise or Baen (who would serve as a "gatekeeper") when we allow anyone to have a self-published printed book indexed. -DES Talk 12:40, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps I misunderstood, and if so, I apologize. But I'll quote your statement: "[if printed publishers don't have them] i see no reason whatsoever to impose such "gatekeeper rules" on ebooks." I took that to mean that we shouldn't impose stricter rules on ebooks than we do for printed books. I see no reason whatsoever why we have to apply the same rules to different formats. MHHutchins 16:28, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
That you have not misunderstood. In my view any restrictions on ebooks, such as requiring them to be issued through a professional or "established" publisher, disallowing self-publications, requiring ISBNs, or the like, should be absolutely identical for ebooks and for printed works. If we are going to require an established publisher for ebooks (and I can see some reasons for doing so), then IMO we should require the same of printed books (at least modern ones, I don't want to delete Alice in Wonderland because the first ed was self-published), should change the RoA to say so, and should delete records for self-published printed books now on file, perhaps with an exception for established authors. -DES Talk 21:13, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Applying the SFWA rules for what constitutes a "professional sale" would avoid the above problem, but it might set the bar too high. It would, of course, exclude all fanzines. It would exclude Helix and most other webzines. It would exclude books published by Wildside press -- there is a specific exclusion for Wildside on the SFWA site, I suppose because their advances are too small. It would exclude most semi-pro-zines -- for example, it would exclude Whispers Magazine, and any modern counterpart. The main thing that makes something a "professional market" to the SFWA is rate of payment. I'm not sure we want to use that as our primary criterion.
I'll bet someone will suggest applying the SFWA professional sale rules to ebooks and ezines but not to printed works. That will still exclude Helix and any similar webzine, which i know some want included strongly. I also think that the rules for e-publications and print publications ought to be reasonably similar. My earlier objections to webzines were because i felt that they were essential single-copy editions, with a single point-of-failure -- unlike most ebooks that anyone could preserve locally. -DES Talk 12:40, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, this is already too long, let someone else speak. -DES Talk 12:40, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Most ebooks, even those from major publishers, do not have a valid ebook ISBN number. Quite often the print ISBN number is used or there is none at all. Most multi-format ebooks do not have a separate ISBN for each format. My standard is whether or not the ebook is available from a retail site like Fictionwise or from an established publisher or it is also available in physical format. As for stories found on a website: A story found on a website is not an ebook. A printout of that story is not a book. Using file-save, edit-copy, or converting the web content to another format does not make it an ebook.--swfritter 13:42, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
So in your view, the test for inclusion should be that an ebook is offered via an "established publisher" or a retail site. The same identical file, displayed in the identical fashion, would be includable if the page on which it is displayed belongs to an established publisaher or is part of a "retail site". This would exclude Lawerence Watt-Evans's online publications of his recent Ethshar books? (On his own personal site.) This would exclude Stephen King's The Plant? (Which i see we don't have indexed). Very well, i could live with that ,if and ONLY if we also exclude printed books that are self-published, published via vanity presses, or otherwise not through an "established publisher" and that we define "established publisher" for print works in the exact same way that we define it for ebooks -- if we say "Pieces of paper with words printed on them are not a book -- a book is something published by an established publisher or available from a retail store". I might add that you say above that a printout of a story "found on a web site" is not a book. How does that comport with our current RoA, which say that works published via "print on demand (POD) publications" and "vanity publishers" are IN? -DES Talk 14:36, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
A printout on a local printer, which is the meaning I intended, is not quite the same as a book from a printing press.--swfritter 15:58, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Given the existence of services like LuLu, the difference is not nearly as big as it once was. -DES Talk 21:13, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

[unindent]Hello. I am the editor whose submissions seem to have caused this discussion. I do believe that the Science Fiction and Fantasy stories of John Benson are of a quality comparable to many that are published in SF magazines. However, because they are also erotica, and indeed fetish erotica, no mainstream magazine is at all likely to publish them. My submissions for several of his stories as published on his web site have been rejected, although a collection of his stories published on paper by CF Publications (An exclusively spanking-oriented publisher of original fiction, both on paper and in ebook form) has been accepted. I don't quite see why the same stories should be included here if printed on paper, but not electronically, but if those are your rules, I must accept them. I do think your current rules aren't as clear as they might be, and that your current practice doesn't really match your rules. It was after noting the various Project Gutenberg ebooks you list that I thought listing John Benson's electronically published free stories would be acceptable and desirable. I am myself a long-time fan of SF, and an author of spanking erotica, for which i have been paid by CF Publications. None of mine, however, have been SF. (They were all distributed in print, before CF went into ebooks). If you are seriously discussing what your rules should be, I am a bit unhappy that my submissions were rejected before the discussion came to a conclusion. Do I correctly understand from the comments of Mhhutchins above that if John Benson changed his site to make a "download here" link for each story, you would consider them "downloadable" and thus includable here? If so, i will write to him and suggest such a change, but i don't want to do so, only to learn that they would still be rejected on other grounds. I have made use of the ISFDB on many occasions, and i am glad that you created and maintain it, even if you don't include these John Benson stories. JohnMarks 15:25, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Again, I was misunderstood so it must be my inability to articulate my opinion. Let me try again. Even if the John Benson stories were "downloadable" (as Kevin and I defined it), I would not have accepted the submissions. Even if the stories were of higher quality than "All You Zombies" or "Vintage Season" or "Love is the Plan the Plan is Death", I would not have accepted them. These stories have not been published. There must be thousands of stories by highly reputable authors that were never published because they couldn't find the right market. Posting a story on a website is not publishing, it's making it available for another person to read, just as an author might submit a story to an editor. The bar has been lowered enough about the acceptance of web-based publication when it comes to webzines. If the John Benson stories had been accepted there would be no reason to deny any other story posted on the internet from entering the database. No reason whatsoever. It would be hard for me to believe that any moderator would have accepted these submissions. I'm just the one who accepted the responsibility of doing so, and would do it again without reservations. MHHutchins 16:27, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Here I disagee. The US copyright law says: "“Publication” is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication." Something posted on the web has pretty clearly been "distributed to the public". Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines publish as "1. To make public; to make known to mankind, or to people in general;..." and more specifically "3. 3. To send forth, as a book, newspaper, musical piece, or other printed work, either for sale or for general distribution;to print, and issue from the press." Other dictionaries have similar definitions. And several current publishers in their instructions to authors indicate that they want "previously unpublished" work, which they define as including not having been posted to the web. So I think you are simply incorrect to say these stories have not been published. That said, I see some value in closing the floodgates by making our rules say that only works published by an established publisher, independent of the author will be included (with an exception for established authors so we don't exclude web-publication by Stephen King, Lawerence Watt-Evans, or others of their ilk). But if we do this, i think we should impose an identical rule on printed books, and i think we'd be all the better for it. -DES Talk 21:13, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Another point that has been overlooked in this discussion: by no stretching of the definition can the John Benson stories be considered ebooks. So their inclusion in the database shouldn't be discussed in this context. MHHutchins 16:34, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't know how you are defining ebook, but I see no significant difference between the etexts by Benson that User:JohnMarks submitted and, for example The PG Ebook of "Anchorite". Both are distributed free, each consists of a single digital file that the user must use file|Save to copy to a local computer, neither includes links to other files, both include the text of a work of fiction, and pretty much nothing else. If the Benson stories are not ebooks, then neither is the PG work, and i don't see much difference between either and the ebooks sold by Fictionwise, except that the price is non-zero. Granted, the Benson works are self-published. But we don't say that self-published books are not books. If we want to exclude self-published works, we can, but I think the rule on self publication should not be different for paper and electronic self-publication.
I think we are headed towards the exclusion of self-published e-books which I think would apply in this case. As for Project Gutenberg. The special case status was recognized and there is actually a page devoted to the standards for data entry. An odd coincidence. The first thing I read yesterday after this discussion started was a story from a 1953 issue of Science Fiction Plus which had a classic spanking fetish paragraph. Apparently a much larger sub-theme than I realized.--swfritter 15:58, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Are you? I think that is possibly a mistake, but you may set what rules you choose. As to spanking fetish fiction, it is indeed more common than you might think. There is a significant mention in Fritz Leiber's autobiographical essay in his collection The Ghost Light. Look for the sub section on "Spicy Stories". JohnMarks 16:32, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
If you are going to exclude "self-published" ebooks, are you also going to exclude "amateur publications" where an editor collects and publishes on the web stories from a variety of authors? I am thinking particularly of this page of this site. The editor assembled a huge collection of spanking fetish e-stories, selecting only those she felt were of above-average quality, and carefully securing reprint permission from the original authors. A significant number are SF, and the ones on the lurkingdragon page constitute a series of stories -- basically a novel in serial form -- set in an SF future universe which some significant thought and care has obviously gone into, and which a number of other authors have set stories in. The original stories were posted over a period of 18 months, with the author posting each story almost exactly 750 years before the date where it was set (the stories take place from 25 December 2747 to 6 June 2749, and were posted from January 1998 to June 1999). Does the assembly and selection of such stories by an "editor", even though they were distributed without charge, make a difference to you? I note that a few of John Benson's stories are also included on the site, see this page. (The editor's policy is expressed on the "feedback" page as "I often get letters from people who have written a spanking story and would like me to include it on this web site. My answer is always a polite no. I don't accept stories for the web site via email unless they're from an an author who is already included on the site. If you are not represented on the site now, please do not send your stories to me. Instead, post them on soc.sexuality.spanking where a large audience will see them. If I like your story I'll archive it, and I'll eventually ask you for permission to put it on the Web.") JohnMarks 16:32, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
That's nice. A fetishist with literary standards. (Sounds snarky, but that's not my intention.) Still doesn't make it a published work. MHHutchins 17:42, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
It does sound snarky to me. It also seems to fail to address the point. Does a person performing an editorial function, and gathering selected works while excluding others perform a function essentially similar to a traditional publisher? If not, where does the difference lie? If this site charged a fee for access, but was otherwise identical, would that make it a publisher? If not, what else must a site do to be a "publisher of ebooks" if we grant that, say fiction wise is a publisher? You aren't thinking this through, or if you are, it doesn't come through to me. I would like to see clear criteria, with principled justifications, please. -DES Talk 21:13, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
DES, you've made it clear that you want there to be no differences between the standards for electronic and printed materials, but you go on to point out exceptions ("...except for Alice in Wonderland" "...except for established authors", "...rules for e-publications and print publications ought to be reasonably similar"). All I'm simply saying is that there will be exceptions, and the codification should take into account the difference in formats. It's like the feminist who want laws to be identical for the sexes, but will agree that certain laws apply more to one gender than to the other. And, again, Kevin, I brought up the SFWA requirements for electronic publication. I just can't seem to make that point clear. MHHutchins 22:51, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I think there would need to be exceptions from a "must have an established publisher" rule, but I think those exceptions should apply equally to print and electronic publication. If an "established author" could self-publish an ebook, he would also self-publish a printed book. If a novice authors amateur ebook wouldn't be indexed, neither would his self-published paper book. You get the idea. If there is a good reason for different treatment, please explain it, because i don't see it. -DES Talk 23:04, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
As for "clear criteria with principled justifications", perhaps neither of us have been able to convince the other, but asking for justification for an opinion??? This is the ISFDB, not a court of reason. :) Let me ask you one last question: "Would you have accepted the submissions for the John Benson stories?" That's what brought up the topic to begin with. If we can't agree upon that point, there's no need for further discussion. MHHutchins 23:02, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I am asking for justification not for an opinion, but for a criterion. That is "Ther ruel should be X, bacaue that will have effect Y and avoid problem Z" and am willing to offer the same, or try to. -DES Talk 23:11, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Consider the ease in which any piece of fiction can be posted on a website and gain entry into the ISFDB based upon your identical rules for print and electronic publication. Consider the effort that goes into working with an agent, editor and/or publisher for a work to be published in print. Then tell me one should be treated the same as the other. Allowing in the John Benson stories would have been the start of the flood. Justification enough? MHHutchins 23:32, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
But there is no need to work with an agent, editor, and/or publisher to get a book "Into Print". I'm pretty sure that 172989 never had to deal with such, as iUniverse didn't require them. 877346 is pretty clearly self-published. LuLu.com offers a printing/publishing service which imposes no upfront costs at all, and creates printed books. Currently they'll even provide an ISBN free of change ("for a limited time" it says here). See this page. This is almost as easy as creating a web site, and cheaper than paid hosting for even a small web site. Publish America offers a similar service. If we are excluding "ebooks" simpl;y posted, not published via an established publisher, why not also exclude such self-published physical books, where the cost of entry is also pretty nearly zero. -DES Talk 00:16, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I would have held and brought them up for discussion, because they were outside our previous practice, but not rejected until the discussion was over. 23:11, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Our "previous practice" has always been to reject web-based publications, other than certain webzines and e-books. If you're of that strong opinion that more time should have been taken to consider the submissions, then please contact the original submitter and ask to have them re-submitted. And shortly after they're accepted into the database, I'll gladly walk away from the ISFDB and never look back. MHHutchins 23:32, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm not trying to drive anyone away. The original submitting editor has commented here -- he can see what is beign said. And I would never accept a submisison that I knew to be against the consensus of the working editors here. Nor would I encourage submissions likely to be rejected in the end. I must say i do think of these stores as "ebooks" so i wouldn't have assumed an automatic rejection as you say you did. I do see your point about the floodgates, but i think we are already getting at least a trickle with print-based self-pubs, and will get more. And i think some "amateur" ebooks may be worth including, but it is hard to know how and where to draw the line. if we draw the line at "must be from an established publisher, or else an established author" that would exclude cruft, but I see no reason not to draw the same line for printed books. -DES Talk 00:16, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Re: "Does a person performing an editorial function, and gathering selected works while excluding others perform a function essentially similar to a traditional publisher?" - we are already biased against editors of single-author collections, who get relegated to notes. That's a sidetrack though. BLongley 23:10, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I think the point was that such a person might serve a filtering function, just as a traditional publisher does. -DES Talk 00:16, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
My big problem with ebooks is their immutability, or lack of it - has anyone noticed that "kindle" publications may suddenly disappear? See here for instance. For once, DRM rules might be important - it sometimes makes it clear that this IS a publication that will stay stable, for as long as you're allowed to "own" it. I personally think an e-book is as valuable as the paper it isn't written on. BLongley 23:10, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
If the submitting editor has made a local copy of a non-DRM file, that is actually IMO more stable than a DRM-equipped copy. Many DRM suites give the publisher the power to simply erase the file at a time of their choosing. An unprotected file sitting on my personal hard drive is as safe as a book sitting on my shelf. Either could be damaged or destroyed, but most likely will not be. Either could be given away or discarded, but won't if I care about it. The e-texts in question here are simple html files, that anyone with a single click (well two clicks) can save a local copy of. That makes them, IMO at least as immutable as a pb that may be printed on acid-based paper and slowly falling apart. Most ebook publishers do NOT use DRM -- Baen doesn't, fictionwise doesn't on most of their products, PG of course doesn't. Amazon does, and they are big. -DES Talk 00:16, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

(unindent) Folks, keep in mind that our inclusion criteria in this area are liable to be fluid since the technology is changing so fast. Just 20 years ago there was no Web, no Amazon, PG, lulu.com or Webscription -- or ISFDB, for that matter -- and look where we are now! When the landscape is changing as rapidly as this one is, differences of opinion and conflicting (proposed) standards are inevitable, so there is no need to take it personally.

We have been struggling with these issues for a long time and I expect we will continue struggling with them for a while -- at the rate the technology is changing, someone will propose blog inclusion 5-10 years from now -- but it's important to go slow to make sure that we don't commit ourselves to something that turns out to be unsustainable in the long run. For example, the decision to allow self-published and vanity press-published paper books in was made a few years ago when they became much more widely available due to Amazon.com and the Web in general and because of the proliferation of small publishers which made it hard to tell who was or was not self-publishing. But that decision was made only once it became abundantly clear where the field was going. Similarly, (some) e-books and (some) webzines were allowed when they became so dominant that we could no longer ignore them.

At this time I am not convinced that we need to relax our inclusion criteria for Web published fiction any further, but we may want to take a step back, examine our current practices and codify them in a way that clearly explains why PG is "in" and a geocities page with self-published erotica is "out". This is unlikely to be a trivial proposition -- just like coming up with a universally acceptable definition of "a speculative fiction writer over a certain threshold" has proved to be harder than expected -- but please be patient while we are working through the process. Borderline issues are always hard to formalize, especially when the border is constantly moving. Ahasuerus 00:14, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Fair enough. I do suggest that as we codify and perhaps change to some extent our practices, we should reconsider the decision to include "self-published and vanity press-published paper books" most of the reasons which seem to weigh against "a geocities page with self-published erotica" seem to weigh equally against paper self-publications, IMO. -DES Talk 00:22, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I had a quick look at the words "Publish" "Publisher" and "Publication" in the dictionary and calling an "ebook" a publication is a bit of a stretch. Something (includes short stories) sitting on a hard drive be it SF by a noted author or the deranged fantasies of millions people who think their authors is not a book. Don't open the flood gates to everyone with a computer, Lulu and the other vanity press's are out there for budding authors. I'm with Michael on this "keep them out" & I also would have rejected the submissions.Kraang 01:08, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
If we start adding links to these authors in notes we knows what's there now if we look but what if its changed later to something much nastier? Is there a risk to us in linking to non traditional sites?Kraang 02:34, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
If you mean a legal risk, no there isn't. Case law has established this pretty clearly and I can cite cases -- inded I have cited them in previous discussions here. I cited both the legal (copyright law) and a calssic dictionary def of "publish" above. It seems clear to me that any web posting fulfills both, and the law treats text posted to the web as being "published" for purposes of copyright and other situations (such as libel vs slader) where "publication" is legally significant. Most publishers will not consider text that has been posted to the web as being "unpublished". Frankly comments like the above tempt me to find and delete all our vanity publications. However, i won't do that. But perhaps if I am so out of step here I should go back to spending this time at PG/DP instead. -DES Talk 03:27, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
My definition of ebook assumes that a file is provided that is specifically designed to be read on a portable device such as a Palm Pilot or Kindle using a program designed specifically for that device. That would mean ereader, mobipocket, etc. About half of my own reading is done via a PDA using ereader or mobipocket. Such devices can also be used to access websites but that is a universal access method. As far as inclusion in the ISFDB: I would suggest that any title that has appeared in print format and follows the above definition of an ebook is in. --swfritter 14:31, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
That definition would exclude most Project Gutenberg items, many of which are available in ASCII format only, and most of the rest in ASCII and HTML. I'm not sure if it would also exclude the Baen webscription books, as i always read these in HTML format. It would also exclude those books from fictionwise that are provided in PDF format only.
It is my view that a file in an open format, such as ASCII, RTF, or HTML, or a format with readily available reading programs such as PDF or MS-WORD, even if not specifically designed for an ebook reader, should be included as an "ebook". Personally I always read ebooks on a PC, never on a "specialized device", and generally avoid most of the formats for specialized devices, yet I pay for and read ebooks in some numbers. I think your definition is too narrow. -DES Talk 15:10, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
PG provides files in the Plucker format. Almost all of the files available as PDF ebooks from Fictionwise are also available in PDA formats. Webscription books are available in Kindle format.--swfritter 15:41, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I think you will find that PG only provides Plucker where it also provides HTML and that the works in ASCII only (which includes many of the older classic ghost and horror works, although it does not include most of the works transcribed from 20th C SF magazines) do not have plucker versions. Since Webscriptions started well before the Kindle was issued, i rather doubt that their earlier books are available in kindle format, but they might be, I'll have to check, and i think at least some of them are available in mobi-pocket format. That weakens my argument somewhat, but I note that most of the specialized ebook readers also support reading general file formats such as PDF, HTML, and RTF. For example, Amazon's Kindle page says "Kindle supports wireless delivery of unprotected Microsoft Word, PDF, HTML, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files." It seems to me that ebooks should include file formats generally supported by ebook readers, as well as formats explicitly designed for such use. It also seems to me that you are assuming that "ebooks == "texts read on specialized reader devices". That is true for some users but not for others. -DES Talk 16:15, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
As much as I would like to avoid it, I think we are going to need a list of specific formats including PDF, etc.. As far as portable devices: any serious publisher of ebooks is going to take them into account even if that is not their only target or even a primary target. PG may require a special dispensation. If we include HTML that cannot inlcude website only titles. Are there significant titles that are currently only being published as HTML? If not, I would exclude HTML from the list to avoid anyone trying to shoehorn web only titles.--swfritter 17:26, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't really know, aside from PG, where I am sure that at least some are in only HTML and ASCII. I do know that when HTML is present I generally regard it as the primary format, and that is what I verify. A list of formats is going to require constant update, and in any case IMO must include ASCII, the most durable format because it needs the least support. I think we will need to decide first on what restrictions in the way of a publisher or "established publisher" or whatever we want to impose. That will probably take care of your "website only" restriction -- in a few cases it may include "website only" stories if the website is a publisher's site. Once we get that agreed, we may or may not still need a list of formats -- i hope not. I suspect there will have to be an alternative qualification criterion: "established author". If Stephen King, or Lawrence Watt-Evans (to name just two who have engaged in web-publishing in the past) puts a story up on his personal website, i think we should index it. -DES Talk 18:17, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree that a commercial ebook publisher will not ignore the specialized devices (although note that Baen Books / webscriptions on principle refused to carry any encrypted formats, and also refused to carry PDF because Jim Baen disliked it. A serious ebook small-press might choose to carry only a small range of formats. In any case i think i would prefer to avoid our saying "if it is in this format it is an ebook, but not if it is in this other format, even though PCs and ebook readers can display the other format, and even though automated conversions are avaliable." This also begs the question of whether we wish to index only ebooks from "serious publisher[s] of ebooks" and if so, exactly what criteria mark out such publishers. -DES Talk 18:26, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

UNINDENT-I even care about ebooks and I'm not really of a mind to wade through everything above. I vaguely think I saw an actual discussion about the definition of 'publish', sheesh. Don't get lost in the weeds.... try to define the forests. Here is a reasonable two line benchmark that's high enough level to debate without pulling out a dictionary. Kevin 02:29, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

"Ebooks that have been sold for money, or that are digital reprints of something that was sold for money (to any party: a publisher, a retailer, a customer: such that an average user of the database who paid for a copy or wishes to pay for a new copy and might wish to learn more about the publication,) are In." "Ebooks are defined as any 'downloadable' file, that an average computer user could end up with saved to their computer or other reading device, without resorting to any 'Menu' command in a major web browser" Life goes on, and I've been a bit busy of late to keep up with this conversation. My apologies if I have restated something that has already been considered and discarded. Cheers Kevin 02:29, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes, two different issues. What is an ebook? What ebooks are acceptable for inclusion? I would even shorten the ebook definition: "A distributed document file that is designed to be read on a local computing device" but your definition is ok. I would even shorten the in definition for what's in to: "Ebooks that have been sold for money or have contents that appeared in print format".--swfritter 13:47, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
I pretty strongly dislike the "without resorting to any 'Menu' command" bit. I would be willing to accept "Includable ebooks are distributed document files that a) can be stored and read with full functionality on a local computing device, without needing to be altered to function; b) whose distributor has not attempted to prevent or forbid download or local storage of the files; c) when read, display text, and possibly images; and d) have either been offered for sale (at a non-zero price) or consist primarily of text which has appeared in print, and was sold or offered for sale when in print." I think that lets in PG, lets in Baen and Fictionwise, does not depend on technical details too likely to change, excludes the flood of amateur fiction, while letting in amateurs or novice writers who are making serious efforts. It also avoids the can-of-worms that defining an "established publisher" would be. The "can be stored" bit avoids pure-web-based sites that depend on a complex of links which would need to be altered to work locally: a wiki, for example, is therefore not an includable ebook. What do people think of this? -DES Talk 14:53, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
I note that the above excludes the stories that User:JohnMarks wanted to submit, which started this discussion, and which most here though should be excluded, but that it would include them if the author started to sell them for money. -DES Talk 14:55, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
We can't enter this discussion as a work of fiction? I think it is approaching novelette length. Perhaps "a)" could explicitly state that the document can be read without concurrent internet access. Purpose of "b)"? It would seem odd that someone would sell a story and not allow you to read it. Do we need "c)"? Possibly redundant in that documents are meant to be read; would we be stating the obvious? "d)" I like. It incorporates Kevin's and my concepts and does not require a special dispensation for PG. Although their text files wouldn't be acceptable when read directly, those same files are available in zip files which can be downloaded.--swfritter 18:47, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
About a) you have a point. Thew purpose of b is to exclude works where the distribute has tried to keep them web-only, and an elaborate technical hack is required to download them. This is the "you may take it home and call it George" provision. The purpose of c) was to exclude files that did not include text, such as movie files, or some sort of program code. Note that under d) files would not require being contained in a zip, nor would a "download-load here link be required -- any file which a user could reasonably easily copy to a computer, ebook reader, or other local device, including by being loaded into a browser and then saved, would qualify. -DES Talk 21:12, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Slightly revised proposal, in light of Keven's comments: "Includable ebooks are distributed document files that a) can be stored and read with full functionality on a local computing device, without needing to be altered to function, and without requiring a connection to the internet or other network when being read; b) whose distributor has not attempted to require online reading only, or prevent or forbid download or local storage of the files; c) which when read, display text, and possibly images accompanying the text, as opposed to only including images, sounds, or computer code; and d) have either been offered for sale (at a non-zero price) or consist primarily of text which has appeared in print, and was sold or offered for sale when in print." How does that sound? -DES Talk 21:12, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

UNINDENT, one of the big reasons IMHO to limit what we index is to keep to a doable level. If you look at fictionpress.com which is a spinoff of fanfiction.net for original stories. Fantasy (64,267), Horror (17,528), Sci-Fi (14,321), Supernatural (15,090). If I filter so I get only completed stories the SF shrinks to about a tenth of that but thats still more than we can deal with I think. And if you look under the other genras there the Action one has 30 pages of stuff that is subcatagorized as SF. We can't keep up with that much to record so we should come up with definition of what we will other than totally subjective. Exactly what that is I'm not sure. Reprints of published stuff and unpublished stuff by established authors are a IN for me. Stuff from an established commercial site, IN. Stuff from fictionpress or some random personal site/blog, OUT. Where the line between goes I'm not sure. Excluding print stuff from Lulu that meets those same criteria wouldn't bother me but the upfront effort there is enough to apparently keep the volume low enough that we can record all of it for now. Dana Carson 23:04, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

That makes some sense, although I'm inclined to think that if we exclude self-published e-fiction, there is no particular reason ti include self-published fiction in printed form. I note that fictionpress, and pretty much all personal sites or blogs, do not attempt to charge for access or stories. My above proposed four-part rule, which requires that texts be offered for sale or copies of print text once offered for sale, would exclude all such. Do you think it would do the job? -DES Talk 23:45, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Two points. The fiction submitted that began this discussion, is now 'in' in a collection that was sold in print form, so those works are in, it's just the free web site that's out. Second point, my previous suggestion should also have included a 'not sold for money works' that are given away by 'Known Author, Known Publisher, etc'. This solves the 'What about a free Stephen King Novella ebook situation and similar. I still feel that all of this is solvable by just using the 'known/recognized' publisher technique for everything except freebies from 'known/recognized authors'. Kevin 01:06, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
As I understood it, the printed collection was only a small sample of what ins on the web site. I think that trying to set standards for who is a "known publisher" will be a bigger can of works than "sold for money" will. You accepted the printed collection, as you mention above. Would you accept as includable eboosk e-texts sold for money by the same publisher? JohnMarks said that they also sell ebooks. I agree with your known-author exception.How about:
"Includable ebooks are distributed document files that a) can be stored and read with full functionality on a local computing device, without needing to be altered to function, and without requiring a connection to the internet or other network when being read; b) whose distributor has not attempted to require online reading only, or prevent or forbid download or local storage of the files; c) which when read, display text, and possibly images accompanying the text, as opposed to only including images, sounds, or computer code; and d) have either been offered for sale (at a non-zero price), or consist primarily of text which has appeared in print, and was sold or offered for sale when in print, or are offered free of charge by an author who has written and sold or by a publisher that has sold several other works of SF considered includable in the ISFDB."
Will that cover it? -DES Talk 01:34, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

OCLC as a verification source

OCLC has recently been added as a Primary Verification source. It is certainly an invaluable one, but as I use it more and more, a 'problem' with their data becomes more noticeable. A publication/edition with only a single binding can have up to six records, seemingly all for the same printing, but often only one or two actually match the book. I find, especially for books after 2000, just as many, if not more, 'stub' entries (basically the same data that Amazon spits out for pre-release) that are quite useless. We use them on our DB until a source can 'correct' them, but they don't seem to disappear from OCLC. While the need to search multiple records to find a correct one is just part of the work, to me that kind of lessens the reliability as a Primary Verification source. So far I've just been mentioning these 'other' records in the notes. Not really saying it's a problem, just noting what exists. ~Bill, --Bluesman 15:04, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps you should only cite the more reliable or complete OCLC record. I don't think it does much good to cite them all. Some of them will be initial entry records, probably based on publisher catalogs, that somehow got overlooked when the actual books arrived and a new record was created. The only time I'd mention a stub record is if that's the one that the OCLC link goes to when it's clicked from the ISFDB record. This is the most frustrating part: when OCLC has two records for the same ISBN, what determines which record is linked to the ISFDB record? I was recently made aware of the British Library Integrated Catalog, which I find to be a better source for UK pubs than OCLC. The best part is that most of the records show the publisher's list price, which is extremely rare for an OCLC record. I suggest taking a look there for UK publications before going to OCLC. (This is from a diehard fan of OCLC.) MHHutchins 15:46, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
That's what I've been doing, putting the number of the most complete record (though at times I put two numbers if each has data the other doesn't) and then just note that there are other records. I'll check out the UK site! Thanks! ~Bill, --Bluesman 17:32, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
One give-away is a record with no page count or physical size. Such records seem pretty much always based on advance publisher info, AFAICT, and of lesser value. Note that if you go in via the "First Search" interface, the "Vendor Info" often displays a price, and in every case I have been able to check, this is the publisher's list price. One minor issue, there is no currency symbol and in a few cases it is not clear which currency this is in for a UK published book, but usually it seems to be in US dollars. Note also that the "responsibility" field is good at weeding out "co-authors" who are actually illustrators or authors of forewords or the like. -DES Talk 21:41, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I Usually cite multiple OCLC numbers only if I got some data from each. 21:42, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
It might be worth an additional software check that an OCLC/Worldcat reference is recorded in notes before an OCLC/Worldcat verification is allowed, but basically it's uncontrollable and should be addressed in Help - "don't verify against OCLC/Worldcat without crediting the records involved". I don't believe that's a Primary verification though, where did that idea come from? BLongley 21:58, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
So why should the standards for OCLC/Worldcat verifications be different than those for any other verification? Should we cite Reginald's reference number before we're allowed to do a Reginald1 verification? Should we have to cite the page and column for a Tuck or Currey verification? Hell, we can't even codify Primary verifications, much less Secondary verifications. I'll accept that standards for each of the verifications should be different. I don't have a problem with the fact that standards for one area don't necessarily have to apply to all areas. Just give me "clear criteria with principled justifications". :-) Oh, BTW, in every submission that Bluesman has verified for OCLC/Worldcat, he's provided the OCLC number. MHHutchins 00:35, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I do make a practice of always including an OCLC number, and in some cases a link, when doing an OCLC verification. (If I have failed to do so, it has been an oversight.) The reason that justifies this? it ensures that any future researcher can fairly easily find and view the exact record I was using. If I don't provide a record number, a search would have to be done on name, title, or perhaps ISBN, and multiple records might well be returned, and it might never be certain which one or ones I had used. For a Tuck or Curry reference, is the author and title sufficient to unambiguously identify the entry used? Is it fairly easy to find the reference without a page/column cite? If so, no great need for them, IMO, although they might save a future researcher time and effort. I don't know that I would make it a "RULE" that every OCLC verification must have an OCLC record number in the notes, but I do think it is a "best practice". -DES Talk 00:53, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, DES, for the rationalization, but it wasn't entirely necessary. I wasn't serious about needing a justification for having different standards for each verification source. In fact, it was my position that each require a different set of standards. One thing I should have learned from my time here is that it's very difficult to convey a playful sense of "tongue-in-cheek" with mere words. It's in the tone of voice, the glint in the eye, the mouth on the verge of a smile. None of which can be easily replicated in print. I'll try in the future to avoid attempting such as this. Sometimes a smiley face just doesn't do the job. MHHutchins 01:15, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
No sometimes it doesn't. I did understand your reference to my comment from the ebook thread to be in jest, but it wasn't quite clear if your were seriously, even if lightly, asking why an OCLC link should be provided for every pub being OCLC-verified. and even if you weren't, Bill had suggested making it a software-enforced rule, even if he dismissed the suggestion a sentence later, so it seemed worth giving my thoughts on why it was a good idea. I apologize if I said something too obvious for words. Sometimes the obvious needs spelling out. -DES Talk 03:39, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with DES, etc. that it would be a "good practice" to always include the OCLC accession number so that we'll know which of several possible records was verified or used as a source. Having the number also makes it easy to search for the record as you can just copy/paste it into the search field. When using a book as the source for something I try to always include the page number, and sometimes even the paragraph or line number. --Marc Kupper|talk 05:43, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Who said/ where does it say that an OCLC verification is primary? That is wrong IMO. -DES Talk 23:23, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
See first line of this section. So "Blame Bluesman", if it wasn't mentioned elsewhere earlier. BLongley 23:28, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Just chiming in to confirm that OCLC is a Secondary verification source. Ahasuerus 23:40, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
It was a simple momentary lapse in thought. I knew what he meant, and anyone who has been here more than a few weeks should have known what he meant. God, people, lighten up. MHHutchins 00:35, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
I had missed the comment at the start of this section, and thought this was a reference to something somewhere in the help tat was making an error on this point. -DES Talk 00:53, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Request to delete Graham Greene

I personally have never considered Graham Greene an author of speculative fiction. I checked each entry for the verifier tag and found no one has done so. Pardon if I missed one. I admit I am not a Graham Greene expert, but his entry(ies) have given me a pseudonym problem. "Philip Stratford" wrote three pieces on Graham Greene of which I still could not find a 'speculative fiction' portion. Unfortunately this real name person had his name used as one of the infamous 'Kenneth Bulmer' pseudonym clutch. I have a definite connection in "Don't Cross A Telekine", [1], which was published in Winds of Liberty under Kenneth Bulmer. [2]. The pseudonym is listed in "The Writings of Kenneth Bulmer" 10th item on page 32 with the cross connection. Full pseudonym list on page 7. Your opinions desired. Thanks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 11:45, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

I think all of the short fiction on his page qualifies. This for example. But probably not much of anything else.--swfritter 12:20, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I will then try just moving the two short stories under Philip Stratford then. Thanks for the tip. Thanks Harry. --Dragoondelight 14:10, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I think you might be justified in removing Philip Stratford from the Graham Greene collections since he is the editor and not the author. He appears also to have co-authored an autobiography. That title could justifiably be deleted. I think all, or nearly all, of the novels could be removed as long as a little research is done. I don't remember any of the ones I've read as being fantastic in nature. His fantastic literature is definitely a minimal amount of his output.--swfritter 15:53, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree. Surely none of his well-known novels are SF, although the world of espionage that he writes of in some of them is "fantastic" it is not speculative as we use the term. I have read three or 4 of his novels, and just reviewed his Wikipedia page and the plots of his novels listed there. None are SF as we define that term. But short fiction published in genre magazines is obviously IN. -DES Talk 16:37, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Agree. I am not even sure that we need to move his novels to the "Lost Bibliographies" site since he is well known and there is no lack of bibliographic information about his work. Ahasuerus 16:49, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
One of my favorite authors. I will start whittling away tomorrow. I can get the Stratford items today.--swfritter 17:23, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Same here, I think Greene was an extraordinary author (and should have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and would have if it weren't for how politicized the Prize became, rant over), but I can not recall reading or knowing about any book-length work that might be considered spec-fic. (Unless you consider the divine interventions, especially in The End of the Affair.) If his bibliography here was in better shape than it might be a candidate for removal to the "Lost Bibliographies" site. Sad thing is, it's a mess, and, IMHO, not worth the trouble of trying to salvage what's there. If I were to work on it, I'd start from scratch, and at least enter the first editions. But that would take time away from other projects. Good luck, Swfritter. MHHutchins 22:00, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I think all the long works can go, except maybe A Sense of Reality and Nineteen Stories which have been reviewed in publications that we still want here. But those reviews can be converted to essays to avoid broken links, if the verifiers don't mind, and we can start with a clean slate. BLongley 22:09, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Or we could convert the reviewed Titles to Non-genre :) Ahasuerus 22:43, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Non-Genre Collections with Genre contents don't strike me as correct. Although we don't actually have contents for the latter anyway, and I couldn't verify any contents for the former. Nuke them from orbit as far as I care. Can someone do Robert Louis Stevenson too? BLongley 23:11, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I probably have the reviews and some of the stories in the collections are probably at least borderline s-f. Only the s-f stories should be included in the collections. A Sense of Reality is actually cited as an honorable mention in the 9th edition of Merril's Best of. Maybe I'll even have to read some of the stuff.--swfritter 23:22, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Could we change our name to the ISF & Pirates DB? I would like to keep Treasure Island (Chuckle) Kevin 23:34, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I think Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is SF, and IIRC some of Stevenson's short fiction falls into the "Ghost-story" bin. But I don't think we need keep his non-genre or non-fiction unless it has been reviewed in listed pubs. -DES Talk 23:40, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
If we were to keep Stevenson, his biblio would need a lot of cleanup. We have things like volumes of poems, volumes of essays, and letters listed as "Novels" -DES Talk 23:43, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Stevenson is our poster boy for "what happens when you enter a few SF works by a prolific non-genre author and ask a helpful but not very bright bot to go grab more of his stuff" :-( Eventually, we'll blow away 90%+ of the currently entered Titles and Pubs, but it will be a time consuming project. Ahasuerus 23:47, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
We can always use G. K. Chesterton for a bit when we clean up Stevenson. Which will take ages, there's many Jekyll and Hyde titles that would probably be the perfect example to use for "expanded", "revised", "excerpt" and "Chapterbook" tests. BLongley 21:59, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
As for Greene. I will first convert the appropriate titles to non-genre and eventually delete them after giving others a chance to review them. An interesting very borderline case, and probably out, is "Our Man in Havana" which could be termed a scientific hoax story. Anything that stays will have a note explaining why it is in the database - perhaps a good general policy for stories by predominately non-genre authors. Progress will be slow as I intend to spend only a few minutes a day on the project.--swfritter 16:44, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
I have read "Our Man in Havana"; it is a hoax story, but even had the hoax been true, the tech involved would probably be no more advanced than that in many technothrillers we consider OUT. Since the hoax had no basis in reality (within the story), i don't consider this very fine novel to be IN any more than a story in which a character pretends to be a ghost, but is exposed.
I agree with your idea about a note, or at least a tag, for any titlewhose reason for inclusion is non-obvious. -DES Talk 17:09, 27 July 2009 (UTC)

Italics in a title?

Please see User talk:Bluesman#Strange New Worlds 9 where an editor has attmepted to represent italics in a story titel with HTML. I think this is a bad idea, but the help doesn't actually speak to this that I can find. Should it? -DES Talk 00:05, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

HTML in titles will mess up searches, which appears to be a bad trade-off. Ahasuerus 14:38, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
That's what I thought. Bluesman agreed to delete the HTML from these particular titles. I'm going to add a mention of this to the help. If anyone objects, the changes can be reverted. -DES Talk 14:41, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
See this edit to Template:PublicationFields:Title and this edit to Template:TitleFields:Title. I trust that makes the policy clear for the future. -DES Talk 14:52, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
The changes are good. I corrected a typo in the latter template and noticed the mention of using Unicode for special characters. I feel it would be a good idea to link to the Wikipedia list, so that those of us who are less literate in such areas (including me) would have a place to find the Unicode characters. MHHutchins 15:06, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
We've got a few other examples to look at: 66834 and 117871 at least, and a true example (as in not a real title) 931034. The last has a particularly unhelpful standardisation "10 to 16 to 1" for the real title - I think "10 to the 16th to 1" might express it better. BLongley 18:22, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Or "10^16 TO 1". The "real" title is for 84510. -DES Talk 20:45, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm not keen on Unicode for funny characters, even relatively common ones like Registered Trademark symbols - I wildcard such on searches, and would be happy to just use plain ASCII "(TM)" or "(R)" on entries that really do need it. (I find most don't - it's normally an indication that someone is incorporating a series name into a title. E.g. Aliens™ Book 1: Earth Hive.) BLongley 18:22, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
There is The Technicolor® Time Machine, Bean Bag Cats®, and Universe®. And what about Völsungakviđa en Nýja eđa Sigurđarkviđa en Mesta (The New Lay of the Völsungs or The Longest Lay of Sigurd) (which was a pain to type in) -DES Talk 20:45, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I think we quite possibly need a "simplified title" field for searching on. This would be a form of the title with only ASCII characters, and any basic title search would check this field in addition to the regular title. To same space, it might be blank when there are no non-ascii characters in the regular title. Then we could use funny characters or HTML in a title without messing up searches -DES Talk 20:45, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Initals normalization

Just how strong is the rule on normalizing initials in author names? See User talk:Bluesman#Strange New Worlds IV. Bluesman says that "TG Theodore" was so captioned in each of three anthologies in the same series, while other authors had initials treated normally. The author has no other indexed work here. Should this be an exception to normalization rules? -DES Talk 00:11, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

TG Theodore is really Steven H Silver in disguise. Don't get him angry! Seriously, looking at the records for the three stories in the db, all are in verified publications, so I say record them as they're published, even if they have no period or space. MHHutchins 02:46, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Apparently the author's choice.--swfritter 12:57, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
OK. We might want to record the "author's choice" rule in the help somewhere. -DES Talk 14:32, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. I'd be inclined to call for a note in the pub as well, when a format like this is nonstandard. -- Dave (davecat) 15:30, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Help corrected here and here. i trust this is acceptable to all? -DES Talk 16:13, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
It is quite often a publisher/editor, rather than author, peculiarity to not use periods, especially in certain magazines. Particularly confusing is this issue where EM Sky has a web presence as EM Sky but KV Johansen has a web presence as K. V. Johansen. Best sources are author website and perhaps wikipedia. And it is Harry S. Truman. The S. stands for his middle name S; he actually used the period when he signed his name. And why doesn't Superman have a period after the S on his uniform?--swfritter 17:09, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
If "Harry S" is a bad example, lets find a better one. Any suggestions? -DES Talk 20:12, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps a well known s-f name who has actually been credited with and without periods.--swfritter 20:48, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

ISSNs suggested on verified magazine records?

I've just noticed on the verification help page that it suggests that the ISSN can be placed in the ISBN/catalog number field of magazine records. Has there ever been a conclusion to discussions about whether the ISSN should be recorded in the database records at all? The last I recall was that the ISSN could be recorded on the magazine's Wiki page, but not necessarily to each of the issue records. If this is true, perhaps the verification help page should be changed. Thanks. MHHutchins 15:43, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

And to bring up another issue, can't the software be changed so that this empty field on magazine records would not generate a Bibliographic Warning? Just like the warning has been suppressed on pre-1950 pubs (which I think should be extended to at least 1965.) MHHutchins 15:48, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
That should be changed -- the last time this was discussed the consensus was, IIRC, that ISSNs should b recorded in magazine wiki pages, but not in the Cat No/ISBN field, because they change rarely if ever, and so don't distinguish individual magazine issues. -DES Talk 15:52, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Help fixed. -DES Talk 15:57, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
The last discussion started out as a discussion of how they should be entered at which time it was suggested that they should not be entered at all.--swfritter 15:58, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Serials in Chapterbooks

I want to draw your attention to R. A. Lafferty's My Heart Leaps Up, which was serialized in 5 pamphlets/chapbooks over a couple of years. Whoever first entered these did them as type SERIAL, with CHAPTERBOOK publications, and I have kept them that way while fixing the chapterbooks and adding data from OCLC and Locus online. The titles are: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Each has two publications, one a signed and limited ed.

These seem to work reasonably well. Do people think this is a reasonable use of the CHAPTERBOOK type? -DES Talk 21:59, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

I think this is a perfect use of the chapterbook type. It's what the type was created for, IMHO. Small pamphlets with softcovers with less than 100 pages. It's a better example of a chapbook than a hardcover limited edition novella published by PS Publishing. But I suppose the type can handle as wide a range of bindings as the NOVEL type does. When we made CHAPTERBOOK a container type, it was because we came to a realization that it's a different way of defining the work and not the presentation. My only concern now is how it appears on Lafferty's summary page, as both a serial and a chapterbook. But I can't think of anyway of getting around it. Each pamphlet was titled as a part of the complete work, and the work was published serially. Just as a novel would appear as a serial in different issues of a magazine, this was published in different "issues" of chapbooks. MHHutchins 22:20, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
Your examples seem to be broken - what has "Hidden Empire" by "Kevin J. Anderson" (your part 5 example) got to do with anything? BLongley 22:50, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
Fixed. That's what happens when you use {{P}} with a title record number. Arrgh. -DES Talk 23:07, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
I think the overall approach is appropriate, but there are a couple of things to consider:
  1. The Chapterbook Publication titles are My Heart Leaps Up, Chapters 1 & 2,, Chapters 3 &4, etc, so we may want to change the Chapterbook Title titles to match
  2. We have a fake Non-genre Title record for My Heart Leaps Up, which probably exists to force the lexical match logic to kick in. Once that logic is gone, the Non-genre Title will become an orphan and we will presumably want to delete it, which will leave us with no immediate indication that this Serial is not SF. This is related to the way we handle Non-genre information: we assume that "Non-genre" always means "Non-genre Novel", which is not always the case. I hope that we will address this problem as part of a larger revamp of the Title record, which will involve moving "jvn" and "nvz" to their own fields, making Storylen into a dropdown list, doing something about the Omnibus information etc. Ahasuerus 00:11, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
On the current display, I'm not sure why the chapterbooks don't appear in the right order whereas the rest do. And I really don't like each one appearing 3 times - that's improvable by not entering Serial contents, the chapterbooks alone convey most of the information perfectly well, except that if they were properly named they wouldn't indicate that we have the complete set entered. The nongenre kludge does need a look too. BLongley 17:32, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Editors and "scientific editors"

A new editor, Andrew Fraknoi (User:Fraknoi), has added himself as a co-editor of the Bantam Spectra edition of Byron Preiss' The Universe. I checked OCLC 15654497 (ISBN 0553052276) and it lists "Byron Preiss, editor ; Andrew Fraknoi, scientific editor". I suppose it arguably makes Andrew Fraknoi a co-editor, at least until we have "roles" implemented, so I approved the edit.

I then checked his other submission, which aims to apply the same change to The Planets, another Preiss anthology, but OCLC 12421530 lists Byron Preiss, editor ; Andrew Franknoi, scientific consultant", which, in my mind, makes it ineligible. The edit is now on hold pending the outcome of this discussion (and Michael's physical verification of one of the editions.) Ahasuerus 02:26, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

I would disagree that this role should be elevated to the same as Preiss's role. There's no way of distinguishing it in the database, so, in essence, the acceptance of the submission made them equal. In the response to the original inquiry on my user talk page, I explain that there are other roles credited on the copyright page for Associate Editors (for both science and science fiction), and Photo Editor. Until we can create roles other than author (which is actually what we do currently for anthology and magazine editors) we need to make clear distinctions. There are many cases where the Managing Editor of a magazine actually chose the stories that went into the issues, but are not credited in our database as the "editor". Are we going to retrofit those records so that the Editor and Managing Editors are co-editors? (Sorry, mag guys, didn't want to give you a headache about having to go back and change all of those hundreds of issues!) I'm open to hearing arguments for making certain roles into co-editors. MHHutchins 02:59, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
That's a good argument for exclusion, especially considering that, as you wrote,
  • There are other roles credited on the copyright page: "Book design by Leslie Miller", "Associate Editor for Science: Ruth Ashby", "Associate Editor for Science Fiction: David M. Harris", "Photo Editor: E. Bruce Stevenson"
On the other hand, as you note, "Title page credits [read]: "Byron Preiss, Editor" (over) "Andrew Fraknoi, Scientific Editor" (in a smaller font)", so Fraknoi's contribution stands out from the crowd.
Given the evidence, I now think that it would be easier and more consistent to relegate "scientific editors" and similar roles to Notes, at least until we have better support for roles, but I don't have a strong preference. I just want to make sure that we have some kind of standard that we can apply going forward. Ahasuerus 03:25, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I usually document these in the notes and also document where I found the credit. Title page credits are significant and will be the first bullet in my notes. If the credit is not on the title page then I'll note it after the bullets about the meta data. I used to abuse and overload INTERIORART to add contributor roles but have dropped that practice.
As Fraknoi is credited on the title page in this instance I would elevate him to co-editor but add notes at both the title and publication level. That way, the only "deception" is on Preiss' and Fraknoi's author bios. Eight of the 83 book listings mention Fraknoi with six of them as a co-editor, and one as "Fraknoi, Andrew (Editor)" but after all of the author names (following the format used on the front cover). The last listing is interesting as it lists Preiss as the sole editor followed by Fraknoi as scientific consultant rather than "Science Editor" as what's on the front cover and title page. --Marc Kupper|talk 03:16, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
So far we have inconclusive results (shocking, I know) with a bare majority in favor of relegating "scientific editors/consultants" to Notes. Expedited to clear the queue. Ahasuerus 23:40, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Date formats including Day of the Month

I raise the matter after recent discussion here and here. Help:Entering non-genre magazines#Steps to take says: "The ISFDB standard format for this field is "Magazine Name, Month Day, Year" for dailies or weeklies, "Magazine Name, Month Year" for monthlies, or "Magazine Name, Month1-Month2 Year" for bimonthlies. See Help:Screen:EditPub for more details. Follow the ISFDB standard insofar as possible." Help:Screen:EditPub does not seem to mention dates with day numbers. The last substantive discussion on the point, which probably led to that wording, but which didn't really come to a clear consensus, was Help talk:Entering non-genre magazines#Date format in title is important. -DES Talk 21:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

I would be fine with copying the rule above into the templates that build Help:Screen:EditPub and Help:Screen:NewPub, thus making this the standard rule for Genre as well as non-genre pubs on the ISFDB. Or, if someone thinks the rule should be different, let's come to a consensus and change both help pages so they are consistent. It has been suggested that date formats should follow the format used on the particular periodical, but secondary sources may not report this accurately. It has also been suggested that the standard format for the country of origin be used; this is not unreasonable, but i would prefer a single format personally. -DES Talk 21:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

What are people's views on the issue? -DES Talk 21:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

I would go along with the standard as stated for non-genre magazines being the same standard for all magazines. (And that all magazines have the same standard regardless of how they're stated in the magazine itself.) Strange how this never came up before. MHHutchins 21:14, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Having just recently read the help text quoted above while trying to understand how to enter non-genre magazines, I can say I found it quite clear, unambiguous, and easy to follow. Makes sense to me to do it the same way on all magazines. --MartyD 23:44, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Agree with MartyD and MHHuthchins.--swfritter 17:51, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I withdraw my opinion on "Date format in title is important" in the prior discussions as I can no longer see it as important in any way whatsoever unless it allows for things that the publication date alone doesn't make feasible. Which seems to be banned under the current proposal. I invite all of you to submit a justification for ANY regularisation of dates in titles. What's next - demanding Month names be entered in English, even for French language fanzines/magazines? You might lose some Canadian support for the "middle-endian" option... BLongley 21:41, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
There really is no current proposal. The current help is IMO unclear and the real proposal (IMO) is to clarify it, whether by stating a stating single format, a principle for choosing format on a per periodical basis, a statement that editors may chose any of a list of specified formats, or even a statement that editors may choose any format at all. As a starting point the single format specified in the non-genre help was put forward, but only as a suggestion and starting place, IMO. I really don't see how the proposal to have a standard can be "offensive". if any of my comments have offended you i am sorry -- there was no intent to offend. -DES Talk 22:04, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Why did someone remove "This page is a work in progress, and has not yet obtained a solid consensus." See [3]. I'm not Wiki-knowledgeable enough to know why this happened, but editing evidence to match a current proposal looks wrong to me. I'm annoyed. Severely annoyed. And I'd better go catch up on sleep before I start slinging accusations around. But something look severely fishy to me. BLongley 22:50, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
That edit was made on 10:57, 26 August 2008, almost a year ago. (double-check the time stamp of the link you provided, please.) I don't think that qualifies as "editing evidence to match a current proposal". The removal of the "Not Final" header came three days after this edit in which I asked "Are we ready to declare this help page as definitive as any of our help pages are?" and this edit by MHHutchins, in which he says "it appears to be in good enough shape to remove the warning." (and this further edit in which mike specifically compliments you, Kevin, and myself on having reached agreement so rapidly.) After getting that positive response, i waited three days with no further response on what had until then been a quite active talk page (including quite a few comments by you), before removing the "not Final" tag, and in the 11+ months since then, no one has significantly objected to the content of the page. (Oh and when i removed the "NotFinal" tag, I notifed people in this edit, dated 15:58, 26 August 2008 which is the most recent edit on that talk page to date.) i don't think that can really be called "changing help without consent?" If you do, then just how much "consent" should I have gotten? -DES Talk 23:26, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I admit to being a bit annoyed myself. Not that you apparently misread the date on a wiki edit -- I've missed more significant things often enough -- I missed a significant note in a pub I was moderating a change to just today, see User talk:Bluesman#Trek to Madworld. But that you jumped to the conclusion that I, or someone, was "editing evidence to match a current proposal". I would hope you would know me well enough by now to know that while i have strong views on many subjects, and will argue from them as strongly as I know how, I won't do so by stealth or deception. If I edited a help page to make it consistent with a pending proposal, I would state that I had done so in the relevant discussion. More probably i would indicate what changes I would propose to make, as I have done often, posting drafts in discussion threads. -DES Talk 23:26, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
In this particular case I don't feel that I understand either why you are so annoyed with the discussion, or with me. Whatever you think should be the standard, fixed or flexable, for entering dates as part of magazine titles, do you disagree that the current help is less clear than it might be, and could be improved? Do you disagree that the non-genre standards and genre standards should be consistent? Those two things are the only things i really feel strongly about here. I did indicate my preference for a "fixed" format, which i gather you disagree with. I tried to give my reasons for that view. But I didn't intend it to be anything other than an opinion, and i said, and meant, that I was quite ready to defer to the views of those with more magazine experience here than I have. What is so annoying in any of that? -DES Talk 23:27, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I find that most of the world's annoyances can be attributed to lack of sleep :) Ahasuerus 02:43, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

(Unindent due to length) Running through all the "dates in title" options as if we were starting from scratch:

  1. "Exactly as stated" - Pros: accuracy. Cons: massive amount of rework. Confusion of years entered in 2-digit form.
  2. "Use ISO standard" - Pros: No possible confusion. Cons: massive amount of rework. Also duplicates the date as recorded in the publication date field already.

I think we can discard 1 and 2 immediately. Nobody is going to do the rework. So assuming we continue to live with "Month, Year" in that order, it's just where and what we want to record for the day.

  1. Little endian Form (Day, Month, Year): Pros: most widely used world-wide. Cons: more rework than changing to Middle Endian.
  2. Middle endian Form (Month, Day, Year): Pros: most widely used by current ISFDB editors. We appear to have a volunteer to do the rework. Cons: annoys other ISFDB editors. May well annoy future non-North-American editors.
  3. Big endian Form (Year, Month, Day): Pros: I can't think of any. Cons: Inconsistent with dates without day. Most rework.
  4. Free choice of Little endian or Middle endian as appropriate to the magazine. Pros: nobody has their preferences stomped on. Cons: People will have to actually learn other national practices.

I think we can discard 3 but quite like 4. But there's another issue that hasn't been discussed. What if Day-of-Week is part of the title? E.g. "Saturday, 26th June, 1965". As I don't think any of us do "Day-of-Week" calculations in our heads, it would be nice to have it immediately obvious for us when a weekly changes day-of-week publication, or more likely when a regular fiction column in a non-genre weekly moves to a different day-of-week. That introduces

  1. (Day-of-Week, Day, Month, Year)
  2. (Day, Day-of-Week, Month, Year)
  3. (Month, Day-of-Week, Day, Year)
  4. (Month, Day, Day-of-Week, Year)
  5. (Day, Month, Year) (Ignore Day-of-Week although stated)
  6. (Month, Day, Year) (Ignore Day-of-Week although stated)
  7. Free choice of the above.
  8. Free choice of Middle endian and Little Endian but fix the order of "Day, Day-of-Week" that way or fix it as "Day-of-Week, Day".

OK, the last is two choices, but the choices are multiplying so I haven't added pros and cons to each, and lean towards 7 myself. I guess it comes down to "Make it a Fixed format rule", or "allow user preferences", or at least allow "preferred format" to be stated per magazine. (Presumably most Magazine editors stick with the ones they know.) BLongley 19:57, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

A nice analysis. You don't mention a further con for "exactly as stated": when working from secondary sources, those sources may have normalized dates to their own standards, so we can't reliably determine "as stated" without the original pub. You also don't mention one large advantage of a single fixed format that applies thought the database -- it makes constructing a search target for a specific issue more reliable, and thus a search that returns "no result" more probably means that the pub is actually not on file here. That would argue for moving optional elements such as day of the week to the end, but I'm not inclined to follow this logic that far. In fact, I am inclined to prefer "title, day-of-the-week, month, day, year" (for example "Geordy's Magazine, Saturday, May 18, 1887" [invented example and i didn't check a calendar]). But I would prefer a single fixed format, whatever it is to be. No free choice, please. -DES Talk 20:14, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
If people are going to search titles for dates, rather than search by the publication date we also record, I think that points at a lack of capabilities in our date search. One obvious omission is the capability to search by Day-of-the-Week - so adding that to the title might be useful. BLongley 21:09, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't, personally, as we don't have a lot of weeklies or dailies recorded, yet. But we've only recently agreed that non-genre magazines can be included at all, we have little real data to go on. And we still have no idea what people will search on: I know that when I first tried to figure out if a magazine already existed here I did a search like "Analog%Mar%1991", as I couldn't be at all sure how it was entered here. It gets you there, but only because of the Coverart record: the Editor records have been merged so you need to search "Analog%1991" and then ignore the ESSAY records and the COVERART to find the EDITOR record you want, which will then give you the list of Month options. Magazine searches are a mess, and I see no reason to stomp on national or user preferences in the meantime. Do you actually work on Magazines outside your area of expertise (apart from approving such edits)? For Mods, we hopefully do all check Month and Year are in that order? (For whatever reason we have agreed on that.) Why should we add more rigid rules and Mods have to check Day / Month / Year order, or Month / Day / Year order, or add even more complexity in checking anything including Day-of-Week? I don't find myself in favour of more work for Mods for something that adds no benefit to bibliographers and may actually destroy some (mildly) useful data. BLongley 21:09, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I have entered a few magazines, but not many. I have approved some magazine edits, but when such edits get complex I tend to skip them and leave them to those who are more expert on magazines. I have given my opinions above, but I will cheerfully defer to those who work on magazines more. i have entered a fair number of non-genre pubs from secondary source notes, mostly in reprint anthologies. It was partly because of my work on that, and my fondness for wiki editing, that I did a fair amount of drafting for Help:Entering non-genre magazines. I admint that I tend to like fairly regid rules of entry/formatting where these don't get in the way -- I look on these not as making work for mods, but as reliving editors (such as myself) of the need to figure out "the right way" every time.
I agree that our magazine searches need work - finding something like the June 1963 issue of Analog is a non-trivial exercise. I'm not sure if people do now search on titles with date included, or would if we were more regular in format -- the most I can say is that they might.
I started this discussion because of a few comments that the help on this issue for genre magazines was less clear than the help for non-genre magazines, and that the two ought to be consistent. I am in favor of clear and consistent help as much as possible. I care more that there is a single consistent and clear rule than i care what that rule is. As to "stomp[ing] on national or user preferences" we already do that with the "Day, month" standard. As to "destroy[ing] some (mildly) useful data" the only way I can see that date format data were commonly in the form actually used by the pub. But for pubs we are likely to date to a day, the secondary source problem makes that too unlikely to have much weight, i should think.
All that said, if you and the other editors can come to an agreement about what the standards are to be, even including "enter it any way you please", I will help document them and won't argue over-much. I note that three other editors above seem to like the standard described on the Help:Entering non-genre magazines page. -DES Talk 21:31, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
This troll asks, what are your thoughts on date linking? :-) I've stayed far-far away from that Wikipedia battlefield but it's similar to this thread. (For those wondering, it's the practice of wiki-linking dates and also there are people working on ways for people to enter dates in articles and for them to be formatted for display depending on the viewer's locale. It's resulted in long running contentious conversations and robot wars with the robots either adding or removing date linking.)
One of the things that bothered me about the existing ISFDB date format stuff in the help is that it does not explain *why* ISFDB is asking for specific formats. Title searches don't find magazines and so it does not seem like regularization buys all that much. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:06, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
Um. Title searches may not find magazines directly, but they often turn up contents (cover art, editorials, other columns) that can lead one directly to the pub. (Admittedly, this is not the case for non-genre magazines, which is apparently where this discussion started; I'm sorry, I just saw it at this point.) -- Dave (davecat) 21:52, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
I knew about the covers and such but don't consider them to be reliable as a magazine may get entered without a cover artist credit, etc. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:11, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps for the same reasons that ISO has date format standards?--swfritter 14:26, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
The magazine date is already formatted in ISO format in the year field and presumably any code that needs a machine readable date would use that field. That's why I'm wondering why ISFDB is asking for specific date formats in the title field. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:11, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
I've asked the same question myself, Marc. It seems that the original designers thought that the entry format for magazines should be EXACTLY the same as for books, and frankly, IMHO, had to compromise. If magazines had their own entry format, especially in the header fields, we wouldn't have to place the date of the issue into the title field. There would be a field for the title of the periodical, and one for it's date, fields for issue number and volume/number, fields for other masthead roles, none for a ISBN/catalog #, the binding field would have a drop-down menu showing the common formats (pulp, digest, etc.) with the ability to add the odd-shaped/sized one. Searches could be done by periodical title with an "and" field for year or year and month. As it is now, those searches only bring up contents, not issues. Books and periodicals may not be apples and oranges, but they're at the most tangerines and oranges. I think it's too late to change now, but it's what we have to work with. MHHutchins 04:08, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
The human mind, like a computer, processes data in a more efficient manner when it is in an expected format. The ISO standards also apply to human communications. Read Scope and application of the standard section on Wikipedia.--swfritter 12:54, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
The ISO date syntax does handle common periodical dates well and is also unlikely to be something a human would "expect." Many people will be finding the magazine pages via Google and would be puzzled by a title that says "Analog 2009-08-10".
I'm of a "free choice" formatting mindset. With that in mind I'd propose loosening up the formatting standard to allow anything that's unambiguous while also following how the periodical formats the date. Help:Entering non-genre magazines#Required data seems reasonable enough and seems to allow for common periodical dating practices which can be no date (issue # alone is used), a season, range of months, range of days, week, etc. Item one on that help page asks for "A day, month, and year" immediately followed by an example with "month day, year" implying that both 17 January 1925 and January 17, 1925 are valid. That help page does not encourage nor prohibit abbreviated dates, 17-Jan-1925, other than the examples spell out the date in full. 17-10-1925 is also a valid interpretation and fully meets what some will "expect" while also satisfying the requirement for "A day, month, and year." With that in mind I'd ask for
  • That the editor follow the date formatting used by the periodical with the following rules applied so that the dates are unambiguous.
  • That the month be spelled out though three-character abbreviations (Jan, Feb, Mar, etc.) can be used if that's how the date is formatted in the periodical. In other words, enter "10" as "October" or "Oct".
  • That the year will always be expanded to four digits.
  • If a magazine uses unusual symbols, such as "Jan • Mar 2005" that the editor can use the "best fit" based on their own judgment.
  • Editor's are allowed to develop a consensus on a consistent format from issue to issue for a periodical. This allows someone to reformat the dates so that a listing of issues looks tidy. Such a consensus should try to follow the magazine's formatting as closely as reasonable. The formatting may change from era to era if the magazine changes. On other words, don't try to force the same format for the entire lifetime of a magazine if the magazine's dating practices changed at times.
  • A periodical may be dated starting with its founding or some other epoch. For example, "January 17, 10" may well mean that it's in the tenth year. If so, consensus should be developed on if those should be entered literally or translated in some way though it is suggested that both the literal and translated date be included in the agreed on format. A goal to keep in mind is that a page may be found via Google or some other method meaning whatever format is used should be intuitively readable. While it may seem redundant to state "Star date 2134" it also means someone unfamiliar with the consensus developed format is likely to recognize the date for what it is.
While "free choice" makes it harder to develop code that allows for searching for an issue (or range of issues) I see that the coding work is also not too much of a challenge. --Marc Kupper|talk 20:14, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
I did not say we should use the ISO standard. I was making the point that there are reasons for standard formats.--swfritter 14:19, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Spaces in Author names

Please see User talk:Dragoondelight#DeWitt vs. De Witt for context.

We have long had a practice that, at least for certain well known authors, the presence or absence of a space in a name is not tracked as a variant. Examples include Ursula K. Le Guin, L. Sprague de Camp, and Lester del Rey. This is, however, nowhere stated in the help (that I can find). Some editors apply this rule to all authors -- that no variant or pesud should ever be created based on the presence or absence of a space (as DeWitt vs. De Witt). I don't know tht we have ever discussed and accepted that as a general principle.

Harry (Dragoondelight) makes an argument that in many particular cases we don't actually know what the author's preferred form was, that many people see such differences in names as quite important, and, if I understand him correctly, that it is safest to report exactly what is on a publication, just as we do with titles and other name variants. There is IMO significant merit in his argument.

I think that maybe the "space doesn't matter" rule should be applied only in those cases where the author's preference is clearly known and documented, or where one form is so overwhelmingly predominant that the canonical form cannot be argued, and variations may safely be considered as merely printers or publisher's errors. That would include the well known authors listed above, and others like them. But it would not include authors with only a few publications, where the "correct" form cannot be easily determined.

But whatever standard we decide to follow, i think it should be documented in the help going forward. -DES Talk 20:51, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

You make a valid argument about treating certain authors differently than others. If we choose to go this route (record it as we see it for less known authors), then we need to establish a list starting with those authors you listed, and adding others as their preference becomes clear. This would alleviate my concerns that such authors' summary pages might be overburdened by the existence of variants based on the whim of a printer or a less knowledgeable editor or proofreader. My initial argument flew in the face of the established ISFDB standard of recording it as it's published, but in this case, my near-pathological need for tidiness overwhelmed everything else (apologies to Harry). BUT, if we decide to make exceptions, there should not be discussion later that the treatment for the excepted authors is unfair, requiring the changing of hundreds of records to comply with any newly established blanket standard. And it must be made clear that differences in the capitalization of letters in names still don't warrant the creation of variants. MHHutchins 21:16, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
(after edit conflict) The help is already explicit that changes in case don't warrant creating variants (see [Help:Screen:EditPub#Author]], the section on case), so that needn't change (although it might be spelled out along with the "exception list"). In a sense this would be merely an example of the general principle that we don't establish canonical names until we have good evidence of which name should be the canonical one. I agree that if we treat "well-known" authors with spaces in their names differently, we need a list, and the list needs to be updated as new examples come to light. I don't know how many cases of "less well known" authors have had their names recorded under the "canonical" form with the actual credit listed only in notes -- I would hope this would be less than "hundreds of records" but I don't know. In any case, I don't see any easy way to compile a list of such records, so any such changes would have to be piecemeal anyway. But any agreed standard would surely apply going foreward, and as relevant records come to an editor's attention. -DES Talk 21:26, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Maintaining a list of authors is easy in that the ones with complicated stories or mysteries involving the formatting of their name would likely have Author: wiki pages. Just create something like Category:Author name exceptions and as long as we can remember the category name and to use it then we'll have our list.
The present software does not allow changes in case. In attempt to enter a title or publication with a different case is silently reverted to the form already in ISFDB. This is a real gotcha at the publication level in that ideally we capture how often it's "de Witt" vs. "De Witt" etc. It means we are not set up to figure out which version is more common and thus to be the canonical name.
As for "De Witt" vs. "DeWitt" - I would prefer that these get entered as-is at the publication level so that we are capturing what the real-world common usage may be. We can pick an arbitrary canonical name, documenting the decision process in the wiki. If someone comes up with solid evidence that the canonical name should be something else then it can be painful but we can fix it. We can fix pseudonym links too.
A "wish list" is a what to flag that the default bibliographic display not show certain VTs. For example, the shotgun pattern of Brian Aldiss on the Brian W. Aldiss bibliography adds very little value.
R&S changes to the help is a sticky one. I'd like to say "always enter publications as-is." but believe there is a "database convention" to enter names such as Le Guin in their canonical form. --Marc Kupper|talk 23:51, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
This is an issue I have a tendency to vacillate on depending on the phase of the moon. I would prefer "as is" rather than a list. Book reviews are different - they need to be canonical name of book author with documentation in notes. Since our search algorithms are antiquarian in nature we need to allow for searches on both variants. We might want to specifically mention this case in Help. Anytime a credit is substituted by a canonical name that fact should be documented in pub notes. That would include differences in capitalization, etc.--swfritter 13:14, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Inclusion of Non-genre works reviewed by Genre Magazines

There seems to be a conflict between the documented ROA and our current practice. To be specific, in what cases, if any, should publications otherwise OUT by recorded because they were reviewed in Genre magazines. There are several cases which we seem to treat differently:

  1. Movies and TV shows
    These are apparently never indexed, and reviews of them are most often entered as essays if entered at all.
  2. Graphic novels / Comics
    These seem often to be entered as reviews, but the publications are not recorded, leaving "dead-end" reviews.
    Example The Bank Street Books of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Creepy Tales, and Mystery
  3. More or less popular Science-fact books
    These seem often, but not always, to be recorded as publications. Sometimes they are left as "dead-end" reviews.
    Example: Review of: The Planet Jupiter and The Planet Jupiter
  4. Fiction that is not SF, by authors not "over the threshold"
    These are often entered as reviews, and at least sometimes the work reviewed has publications recorded
    Example Review of: People of Darkness and People of Darkness
    Counter-example: Review of: In High Places (by Arthur Hailey)

First of all, have I correctly described our current practice, or are my example exceptional cases? Secondly, is that how we want to act? Cases 3 & 4 above seem to be excluded by ROA #10 -- do we want to add an exception for works reviewed in Genre publications?

I encountered these cases in looking at ISFDB:Authors that only exist due to reviews, and it would be nice to have clearer guidance for when one should find and enter the reviewed book, when one should just leave a dead end review, and when one should convert a review to an essay. -DES Talk 15:20, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

With #3 I suspect the book got linked up as the author has a crater on the moon named after him. Surely we need to add "If the author has an exo-Earth geographic or astronomical feature named after him or her then his or her works merit automatic inclusion" to ROI :-) Seriously, I have no idea why that book got linked up though it being an astronomy book helped. --Marc Kupper|talk 18:36, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
But I have seen a fair number of these. I know that some people really dislike having a review of a non-listed work. And I know that for a while, Analog in particular tended to review a lot of pop science books. Has that been seen as justification for including such books? should it be? -DES Talk 20:02, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
With #4 some of the variation is likely because the editor may not be certain if the reviewed work is specfict. This is likely why People of Darkness got added. It was entered as a novel. It turns out to have a WP page, looks non-genre, and so I changed that title but I'm not certain enough of non-genre to delete the pubs much less the title record.--Marc Kupper|talk 18:36, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
I own a copy and have read it more than once. It is a mystery, with absolutely no supernatural elements. It was on that basis that I deleted almost all of Hillerman's wok here (we had a fairly complete bibliography). I left this one alone because of the review, and i think someone else suggested that I do so when i proposed deleting his other work, although i can't find that interaction. See ISFDB:Help desk#Tony Hillerman. -DES Talk 20:02, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
I have deleted People of Darkness leaving just one Tony Hillerman work which may be a children's talking animal story and thus out.
Title: People of Darkness
Author: Tony Hillerman
Year: 1980
Type: NONGENRE
Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_of_Darkness
  • People of Darkness, (1990, Tony Hillerman, Recorded Books, Inc., B000CBEJCM, audio cassette)
  • People of Darkness, (Jan 1991, Tony Hillerman, HarperPaperbacks, 0-06-109915-5, $5.95, 293pp, pb) Cover: Peter Thorpe
  • People of Darkness, (Oct 2004, Tony Hillerman, HarperTorch, 0-06-109915-5, $7.99, 304pp, tp) --Marc Kupper|talk 23:52, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
The easy way out is to add an ROA that allows for including works where the editor is not certain if it's specfic. Ideally these get tagged with something like "genre-uncertain" and that as people review/research the record that they can add notes. (Wiki notes for titles would be great here but the coding to add this is a big undertaking). --Marc Kupper|talk 18:36, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
I am not worried about including things where the author is unsure. I think "Inclusionist bias" covers that. My question is "Is a review in an SF mag a good reason to include things clearly known not to be SF. and which have no reason for inclusion except the review?" The ROA currently says no, but we seem at least sometimes to act as if it were "yes". -DES Talk 20:02, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
Many of those science books, at least from the 50, had a great deal of influence on the fiction and were quite often reviewed in multiple pubs. Of more recent vintage, someone like Stephen Hawking seems to me be a person of interest to the s-f community. Hard to figure where to draw the line but the mere fact that they reviewed in s-f mags should lean many of them towards being in. I would think that most Hard S-F fans opt to include all such reviews.--swfritter 20:25, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
To be clear, I am not objecting to these science books being in. I am asking if in dealing with "authors included only due to reviews" it is acceptable to find the book (say in OCLC) and create the pub record, or if this would be a mistake. I am also suggesting that if it is OK to do that, an explicit statement to that effect in the ROA would be a good idea. After all the help and policy pages exist to document what we do or want to do, not to be a set of unchangeable laws to restrict us. -DES Talk 20:42, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
One trouble is that it's a little tricky to create a title record without a publication. It can be done using the make-variant-title system but for most people it's simpler to enter the publication being reviewed or something similar. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:31, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
I was assuming that recording the title involved recording at least one pub -- title records with no pubs didn't occur to me. -DES Talk 13:58, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
For Mods, entering a pub to create the title and then removing the pub works, but I dislike dead ends so would appreciate at least a note on the title as to why there are no pubs and none should be added. The Author pages with no links anywhere were the reason I worked on "Authors that only exist due to reviews" and adding the "Reviewed Author" Search: but those are just examples of the problem and a tool to help fix them, not a prescriptive solution. BLongley 19:46, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Me thinks this is an incorrect tangent. I think above when someone said 'enter the title' they meant as a normal publication/title pair, and just made an unfortunate word choice. Kevin 21:34, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
There are possibly other problems with Review Columns (of various types: Film, TV, Magazine, Fanzine, even Music) being entered as essays with differing detail - I have seen some "Mutant Popcorn" entries for instance that add the reviewed titles to the Essay title, and others that don't even distinguish which magazine the column is in (and if you're not going to add any more detail, why should you? Merge the lot if you like). BLongley 19:46, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
In the example categories, TV/Film reviews are not wanted as reviews, IMO - essay will do. I'd prefer comic reviews not to be entered as reviews, but as essays, if at all. Reviews of graphic novels only if we have the graphic novel (separate can of worms there), otherwise essay or omission please. I don't mind reviewed Science Books or reviewed Non-genre books (these are supposed to be Book reviews after all) but as I don't enter magazines from primary sources much I'm happy to let those that do decide what they want in the magazines, just don't leave dead links please. BLongley 19:46, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
To clearly answer DES's Question. - Yes. Please enter the book. For Non-Fiction I also often enter the original Hardcover edition, and then the first 'cheap' edition. I find that if a non-fic book was released in 1962, with a paperback version in 1968... all/most of the reviews are usually dated in 68 and 69. I think it appropriate to both record the edition reviewed, and the original edition. Most things in between and after these two editions I ignore. Kevin 21:38, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
For example, Today i entered Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, Issue #1, It contains two book reviews, entered as such, one of "The Nitpicker's Guide for X-Philes by Phil Farrand" (a book about the TV show "X-Files") and "The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston" (a non-fiction book, apparently about the possibilities of Bio-war). I found both in OCLC and noted their ISBNs in the review record. I take it from the above that creating a publication record (and thus a title record also) for at least one edition of each of these would be approved? If so, would people approve an addition to the ROA explicitly saying this? -DES Talk 22:17, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
It sounds like we have consensus re: not creating pub-less Titles if we are going to create these Titles at all.
As far as the value of entering this information goes, it's been my experience that it varies from magazine to magazine and from era to era. Sometimes an early and highly obscure book on rocketry gets reviewed (complete with otherwise unavailable publication details), which seems quite valuable, while other times something completely unrelated and seemingly worthless gets reviewed. Overall, considering the value of some of these Titles, the fact that we have already entered a fair number of them and the fact that they represent a fraction of the total number of Reviews, I think we might as well bite the bullet and add them to the ROA. It will also eliminate many dead end review records and make the perfectionist in us happy :) Ahasuerus 02:13, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
While it may need adding to the ROA for clarity, it is already documented in Help New Pub which states "Non-sf works should be entered but if an onerous number of non-sf-related works are reviewed in a column you are entering, discuss the situation on the Bibliographic Rules page to decide what can be eliminated." I also recommend that the onerous discussion be removed or shortened in the rule. Kevin 03:26, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
I read that as saying that the reviews should be entered even if of non-SF books. I don't take that to discuss entering records for the books themselves. The context seems to me pretty clear that it is discussing which reviews should be entered and which not. -DES Talk 14:55, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
I propose the following addition to the ROA, baased on the above discussion:
"IN: Nonfiction or non-genre fiction books that have been reviewed in a professional or semi-pro genre fiction magazine (not a fanzine)."
Does anyone object or want to suggest other wording? -DES Talk 14:55, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Graphic novels in book form? They were briefly mentioned in the discussion above. Having such titles in our system could act as an inducement for editors to add more if they are not aware that some are there only because they have been reviewed. That is also true of the other categories too but it is my impression that there has been substantially more abuse in the graphic novels category. I don't mind reviewed graphic novels being in the system but it might make life a little harder for moderators.--swfritter 16:18, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
I might suggest webzines (at least the ones we call 'in') fall into semi-prozine and should be called out as acceptable sources of reviews for inclusion, since we are calling out fanzines as not acceptable (Due to the higher percentage of 'stuff'?) source. Kevin 17:31, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
How about:
"IN: Nonfiction or non-genre fiction books (not including graphic novels) that have been reviewed in a professional or semi-pro genre fiction magazine, including an electronic magazine being indexed by the ISFDB, but not a fanzine."
or if GNs are to be included:
"IN: Nonfiction or non-genre fiction books (including graphic novels) that have been reviewed in a professional or semi-pro genre fiction magazine, including an electronic magazine being indexed by the ISFDB, but not a fanzine."
Does that cover it? And how do people feel about graphic novels in this connsction? I have no strong personal views. -DES Talk 17:53, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
I am actually fine with reviewed graphic novels being included but thought I should bring up the point. I think the robots are mostly responsible for them being in the system as is the case with a lot of out-of-scope items. As long as we are not motivating the robots I think we can deal with the human submissions.--swfritter 19:31, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Please drop the "but not a fanzine". If it's a Fanzine we have here, for instance this, then the reviews in it are presumably of value. Fanzine reviews of Fanzines we don't include could be left as essays in case we need to find them if a fanzine becomes included. BLongley 20:40, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. It is the very fact that a professional magazine chooses to review something that gives some excuse for recording it, IMO. Even so, the example you cite appears to review no non-genre fiction, and the non-fiction it reviews is: The Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Solved (also reviewed by Analog, so IN regardless); The Galactic Club: Intelligent Life in Outer Space (whose value I can't asses); Fiction Writer's Handbook (probably IN anyway as "about SF"); The Dracula Book (unlinked, so i can't asses); and A Pictorial History of Science Fiction Films (from the title, marginal). Notes on the Hauter Experiment was listed as NONFICTION, but turns out to be an SF Juvenile.
Still, if others want, the language could be changed to "Nonfiction or non-genre fiction books (including graphic novels) that have been reviewed in a genre fiction magazine, including an electronic magazine, that is already indexed by the ISFDB." I won't enter books from fanzine reviews, but then i don't enter fanzines anyway, so that is no loss. -DES Talk 21:25, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
It might also be redundant to exclude webzines which are not in the system. You might want to say that the books "have been reviewed in a publication that is in (or in the process of being entered into) the ISFDB system" or something similar. That will avoid books being added from reviews in non-included webzines AND other questionable sources. The fact that a review is in the system or about to be added is the justification for the book being reviewed to also be in the system. Fanzines I am not so sure about. S-F fans are voracious readers of all types of books and the spectrum of books that can be reviewed in fanzines can reflect that fact.--swfritter 21:56, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
While I just deleted that Hillerman book I don't have strong feelings about the issue. One idea I like is what Kevin suggested which is "For Non-Fiction I also often enter the original Hardcover edition, and then the first 'cheap' edition." but to modify this to allow entry of reviewed fiction works, to only enter the first edition (regardless of binding), and to add a title-record note explaining the rationale for the publication that has been recorded.
While I proposed entering the first edition for a non-genre work (fiction or non-fiction) I could see another edition, or other editions, being recorded if they are noteworthy. The title record notes should explain why each publication merits inclusion to discourage people from adding publications indiscriminately.
This would allow non-genre author bios to get populated with the titles that have some connection to specfict, in this case because they were reviewed in a specfict magazine. I'd support these single-pub titles for fiction, comics, etc.
One other thought related to this is if the cover artist is not already in ISFDB for specfict work then to credit the artist in the notes.
Also, while we may be adding an In I'd like things worded so that people may enter these out of scope works but you don't have to. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:24, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

(Unindent) I don't quite understand why you deleted the Hillerman book rather than adding a title note such as you suggest, since this discussion seems to be tending to make it IN. Why not at least wait until the discussion is over? (If the discussion ends with such books IN, I expect to re-add it.) Part of the point, as I understand it, to making such books in is to avoid dead-end reviews, but you just created one. While i would agree that no one is ever required to enter a non-genre or non-fiction book due to a review -- indeed no one is ever required to enter any particular title or pub anyway -- I don't see that as equating to "anyone is free to delete any such title". -DES Talk 02:28, 16 August 2009 (UTC) As to which edition or printing to enter. I agree that the fist edition of any such book has a claim. So, IMO, does any edition dating from shortly before the review, which is quite likely the edition reviewed, or the actual edition reviewed if that information is available. But perhaps the best claim, at least when working from secondary sources, is whatever edition there is complete, or most nearly complete, data on. I agree that such titles should not follow the "capture every printing" principle we otherwise use, and that any additional pubs should be justified in a note. -DES Talk 02:28, 16 August 2009 (UTC) Oh, I left the other Hillerman book undelelted, although i haven't read it, because it appeared to be a retelling of an authentic folktale. -DES Talk 02:28, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Gurps Infinite Worlds

[moved here from the Community Portal]

Gurps Infinite Worlds looks to me like an RPG sourcebook that should be deleted. So do pretty much all of the other books published by Steve Jackson Games -- all seem to be part of GRUPS, a very generalized role-playing system. However, IIRC, the GRUPS books often distill and bring together a lot of info on an SFnal universe or series. Are they begin kept on that basis? Or is it just that nobody happened to notice them? I didn't want to delete something that had perhaps been carefully preserved without asking. -DES Talk 20:48, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

I kept the Discworld one partly on "good NONFICTION background material for a SFnal universe" basis, and partly on "above a certain threshold" for Terry Pratchett, and partly as I can see that a lot of the artwork has been reproduced from "IN" titles. But as I've never got round to reading it I'm not overly protective of it. I have no idea what "Infinite Worlds" relates to though. BLongley 18:36, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Based on This site it seems to lay out the basis for a role-palying game set in a culture with access to many alternate worlds, something like Piper's "Paratime" setting. It appears to be an invented setting by SJG, not based on any one work or written SF, but using concepts from several such works.
We also have from SJG:
Plus, SJG's site lists a fair number of more "generic" GURPS volumes we don't have on file. I have omitted a couple of revised editions of the above.
Several editors seem to have thought these should be included. I don't have strong views, one way or the other. I can see excluding them as RPG materials, or including them as reference works on various well-known SF settings. But I would like there to be agreement on which, preferably documented somewhere for future reference.
Previous discussions of the matter:
Seems like a recurring topic. -DES Talk 20:00, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
It is difficult to justify the exclusion of any work that includes in the title the 'name' of a series or in work, or that includes in the title the 'name' of a SpecFic Author. These are often considered Universe Canon (Either collected from other sources, or expanded upon with new material). Just because it also has ties to a role playing system doesn't remove the fact that it is a 'book' and it is SpecFic in a recognized series/universe. This confluence of facts (Spec Fic, Book, Part of in series) means that even if they get deleted today, they will continue to sneak back in over the years. Probably best to include them, with defined rules why these are in, and D&D and other similar source books are out. Kevin 21:32, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Infinite Worlds should go I think. It has a nice fictional crosstime setup but is not related to any actual SF published as fiction. The rest of the list I think are excellent sourcebooks on series we already have in the database. We should include them for the same reasons we have A Guide to Barsoom. Dana Carson 23:02, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
I think we can safely include all Nonfiction books, including source books, directly related to speculative fiction (Discworld, Lensman, Riverworld, etc). Conversely, we can safely exclude non-fiction that describes an imaginary/speculative setting that is not related to speculative fiction. The problem arises when a source book is related to a fictional world that originally wasn't fictionalfiction-derived, but has spawned speculative fiction, e.g. Warhammer 40K -- see ISFDB:Community_Portal/Archive/Archive05#GURPS linked above. Ahasuerus 01:56, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Worse than the Warhammer 40K stuff might be Dungeons and Dragons - there are many sourcebooks for subsets of the D&D Universe. But if we go for "the fiction must have come before the sourcebook", we're on less slippery ground. BLongley 12:55, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
That's a very clear, and objective place to draw a line. 'The Fiction/universe must have been published first'. While we could get bogged down by judging each one independently, etc, this removes all that pesky 'interpretation' from the process. Kevin 17:26, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, that would help eliminate most RPG sourcebooks, but what about Star Trek/Star Wars "technical manuals" and other non-fiction based on fictional universes that have spawned a considerable amount of SF? We have quite a few of them and although I personally wouldn't miss their disappearance all that much, a fair amount of work has gone into entering and organizing the data. Ahasuerus 02:19, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm not too bothered about the extra Star Trek NONFICTION, except maybe the Calendars. We don't have the Star Trek RPG here, AFAICS. The trouble with RPGs is that you let in the sourcebook, then you get the campaign settings, then the individual modules, then the Moderator Screens, then the figurines and the special polyhedral dice... (Yes, we have had to delete dice!) BLongley 18:53, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Use canonical artist name for uploaded images?

Should the artist name for upload images be normalized? For example, I have a publication that credits A. Magee which is short for Alan Magee. Which version of the name should I enter in the artist= line for the {{Cover Image Data}} templates? For now I entered it as A. Magee on the theory it's easier to sweep through and substitute the canonical name than to restore the stated name. It terms of filing images in categories it makes sense to me that I would have normalized this to Alan Magee. --Marc Kupper|talk 03:27, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

I just ran across Category:Artist:Ken W. Kelly Images which includes a note "See also Category:Artist:Ken Kelly Images" implying people enter names as stated. --Marc Kupper|talk 03:49, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
When doing image uploads it is often easier to simply copy & paste the artist name from the pub, and an editor may not know the canonical artist name -- as we don't usually create variants of coverart records, there is no pressing need to know. When I have found two or more artist categories that are pretty clearly for the same artist, i have put in "see also" links, figuring that if i normalized one category out of existence it would soon be recreated. We currently have 5000 images on file not linked to wiki artist categories. Some of those are because the artist isn't known, but many because the images were entered with {{C}} rather than {{C3}} or {{CID1}}.

Coverart for Non-Genre magazines

(Discussion moved here from ISFDB:Moderator noticeboard)

According to Help for Non-Genre magazines "Do not enter a cover artist, nor a cover image URL. Leave both fields blank. Exception: if the cover art illustrates the SF content, or is by a well known SF artist, enter the credit, and if an image is available". An obvious non-sf example and I have noticed that images have been placed into pubs that I added. The Non-Genre magazine inclusion is of immense value, especially with the data I am entering, now but I don't think the intent was to document anything that was not of interest to the s-f community. Please do not put into question the wisdom of allowing such pubs by entering or approving data which is not appropriate.--swfritter 15:49, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Umm... Your example URL seems incorrect -- it goes to an edit window on this page. I fully agree with your point. -DES Talk 15:57, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
Oops! Meant this one which is one that I entered but was later modified. Perhaps we need to put something at the top of the non-genre wiki page to make the point. I was not involved in the process of creating the very well thought out non-genre standards but my perception is that the minimalist approach is what was intended.--swfritter 20:06, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
The help is already clear. The intent was minimalist in the senses a) that we wanted to make it as easy as possible, with no unneeded work, and b) we wanted to record only the SF contents or aspects of any such magazine, in addition to very basic metadata for the publication as a whole. Help talk:Entering non-genre magazines documents the various discussions that went into creating the help pretty thoroughly, IMO. -DES Talk 20:21, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
I would remove the image URL from DVNTRGSTJF1914, except it should probably be left as a horrid example as long as this discussion is live. -DES Talk 20:21, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
I looked in "recent integrations" going back for 16000 edits, to 9 July 2009, and didn't find the edit that put that cover art URL in the db. -DES Talk 20:44, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
Just keep in mind that if you have a rare scan of a non-genre magazine, Phil Stephensen-Payne would [http://www.philsp.com/lists/p_magazines.html love to get a copy. Ahasuerus 21:07, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
IN this particular case it isn't an uploaded image, it is one linked from Galactic Central. -DES Talk 21:13, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
So at least the images are not being entered on a continuing basis. As long as that is the case I don't really care who was responsible. In any case, the Help screen should have been available from the wiki, as is now done.--swfritter 16:01, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I only looked for an edit to that specific title. I didn't try to see if edits to other non-genre titles might have included additions of cover art -- I'm not sure how I could have determined that from the info available, without a direct db query.
The help was linked before, but only at the end. The link at the top of the page is much better. And any mods who read this page have now been thoroughly alerted to the situation i should think. -DES Talk 16:09, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I probably neglected to duplicate the link when I moved the data from the main magazine page. But, as you say, it does seem to be better at the top.--swfritter 16:36, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
It was at the bottom only while the list was still at the main magazine page. Probably i added the link at the bottom when the help page was created. Ah well, it is better now. -DES Talk 16:43, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

UNINDENT (And briefly since I am at work) - I put that URL in on that and some similar magazines. If we do not have the cover art to look at we cannot make a determination of 'in or out' for cover artist information. Once we have cover art available for viewing, it should become obvious one way or the other (by subject matter, or story headline). (But once we have it, we should keep it recorded for viewing so a later viewer can also understand that the artwork record is 'out'). Just my 2 cents. Kevin 13:40, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

The editor recording the mag can fairly easily see that it is not an illustration of the SF story in the magazine. Then the editor can, and IMO should, leave it out. Just as we leave a note that the contents are intentional incomplete, recording only the SF content, we can add a note that the cover image has not been included, because it does not illustrate the SF content. The help could be changed to recommend such a note, if that is thought wise. -DES Talk 14:18, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree with DES. It is up to the editor to prove that the cover belongs but not that it doesn't belong. I would not clutter up Help with the suggestion that the editor should indicate whether the cover is of s-f significance but there is certainly no reason why an editor cannot make such a notation on their own. I have not even been checking the covers. The only value I find in Coverart is that it helps identify a pub. Most of our coverart is low resolution and of little interest to me personally. I have a large collection of higher resolution covers which I run in a slide-show on an electronic picture-frame that I keep by my desk; gives me something to look at when the system is running little slow.--swfritter 16:11, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
The above makes a false assumption that the editor entering the magazine has the magazine. The assumption that someone later (me as an example) will not wonder if there was a Spec Fic Cover will never come alone is also false. Lastly, the assumption that one judge is enough and that no second review of the decision (that it is not SpecFic Art) is ever called for is in doubt. Kevin 22:49, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
I understand the desire to keep non spec-fic authors and artists out of the database, but what's the problem with the artwork being displayed? Kevin 22:49, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
If the person who enters the magazine does not have the magazine, and does not have a cover scan, then that editor won't know if the cover is SFnal or not. The editor who proposes to add the cover image can tell, by looking, if the image has any significant chance of illustrating the SF content. If it doesn't, there is no reason to display it. If it is displayed, then for proper attribution, an artist should be entered if known, but that creates a db record.
If someone is in doubt, that person can post to the Community Portal "Should this cover be included in this non-genre magazine's record?" and get other opinions. -DES Talk 03:14, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Not sufficient. If the publication is 'in enough' to have a record, then it should be 'in enough' to display the cover art so that collectors (me) and dealers (also me at times) can use the ISFDB to identify the issue being discussed, referenced, purchased, or sought after. (The purpose of cover art display is to accurately identify the work described). Kevin 05:36, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
You can't be a little bit pregnant, and you can't be a little bit in the database. The argument that any cover art displayed must be attributed through a database record is incorrect and false. Even if it 'must' have attribution, the requirement for an artist record is imaginary and can be easily omitted on these non-genre magazines. Also, don't forget... most of the non-genre magazines are out of copyright and even fair use statements are a waste of time and effort and most attributions will be to estates that stopped generating income for their heirs prior to WWII. Kevin 05:36, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Then perhaps we should reconsider including such publications, and return exclusively to the title note method. Attribution is, of course, a moral requirement even when it is no longer legally mandated by copyright, in my view at least. (Such an attribution would be to the artist, not the estate. I don't quote Shakespeare without attribution if there could be any doubt, although he is long out of copyright.) I admit it could be done via notes rather than the cover artist field. You say "You can't be a little bit pregnant, and you can't be a little bit in the database." Does that mean that all contents of such publications should be indexed, SF or not? A publication with a note that its record is "intentionally incomplete" sounds to me as if it is "a little bit in the database". And doesn't the title and date or issue number identify the publication? With books there are often not clear publication dates, so covers are a vital method of identification. Is that ever true with periodicals? -DES Talk 06:12, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Lacking in attribution is only im/ammoral when the speaker/writer could be confused as the originator of the work. Not an issue here. Kevin 22:37, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
I admit a partial entry is non-optimum for a complete record, but the spec fic is 'in' and the container pub is 'in', it's only the other works in the container that are ignored. Kevin 22:37, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes the date 'identifies' the issue, but I'm speaking more on a 'human' basic interaction level. We are visual creatures, and if I see a stack of these non-genre magazines at a flea market or similar location, I will not have the dates memorized that I might want... but I can be 'familiar' with the covers of interest. Kevin 22:37, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Well I've made my view clear. if others agree with Kevin, so be it. So far only one other editor has stated a view in this discussion. I think it's time for me to be quiet on this and let others speak, if they choose to, on this issue. -DES Talk 06:12, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
I'd agree with Kevin on this one. There no reason to prohibit adding cover art images for non-genre magazines. We can always credit the cover artist in the notes and also make clear with "Cover art by Name. X is not being entered into the Artist field as this is a non-genre cover."
One question is what do we do if we run across a non-genre cover by a well known specfict artist? We don't have a "NONGENRE-COVERART" title type. As it is, there are many examples of artwork on genre publications, where the drawing is not particularly speculative. Should we disallow those? That Adventure cover could easily be used on a specfict work. For example, I just finished a vampire anthology and that painting would be a perfect fit as one of the stories is In Which a Masquerade Ball Unmasks an Undead, a couple have a swords-n-stuff medieval setting, and still others are set in contemporary times. --Marc Kupper|talk 06:07, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
If we had a method for marking them as non-genre covers (defined as They illustrate a non-genre story/article - Not defined as the subject matter is non-genre) I would happily argue for them to be in. I suspect there is also some GREAT SpecFic art hiding on the generic science magazines of the early 1900's. See Popular Mechanics March 1930 and Science and Invention March 1924 for two examples. Kevin 22:37, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

[unindent]FICTIONMAGS. They get there images from Galactic Central and MagazineArt.Org. We can't do everything.--swfritter 15:58, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Verification cycle

In a discussion on Harry's talk page, Ahasuerus wrote:

My concern is that the verification cycle usually runs something like this:
  1. Skeleton data was originally entered from unattributed sources, sometimes years ago and often by robots, and may include incorrect or misleading information
  2. Secondary sources are subsequently used to verify the record, e.g. "Page count from Amazon.com and may be unreliable", "Binding unknown, but either hc or tp based on OCLC", "Cover art attributed by the Locus Index" or "First edition according to Tuck"
  3. Finally, primary verification occurs, at which point we delete references to secondary sources re: "objectively verifiable" fields like binding and the page count -- there is no reason to state what OCLC or the Locus Index says about the page count once the book has been physically verified.
On the other hand, some information originally entered from secondary sources is retained even after physical verification, typically if the publication is missing some information or if there is reason to believe that some of the stated information is invalid. For example, the Notes field may say "Stated second printing, but actually sixth printing according to the author's Web site" or "Publication date not stated, but 1971 according to Reginald-1".
Based on this cycle, a reference to a secondary source in a verified publication generally means that there is missing or incorrect information in the book, so if we are going to leave references to secondary sources, it's important to clarify the nature of the secondary information. ... Ahasuerus 15:26, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

I copy this here because I do not strictly follow the above described pattern, and wonder if I should.

Specifically, if I primary verify a publication, I do not usually remove secondary sources mentioned in notes. If the data from those sources contradicts what I find in the pub, I modify the note to make this clear. If it confirms the physical pub, I usually make no change to the existing note. If it confirms data not in the pub (such as a date or artist credit) I usually add a note that no such date or credit is in the pub itself. But I pretty much never simply remove such a note.

Moreover, I do secondary verifications, particularly OCLC and Locus verifications, on pubs already primary verified, and tend to add notes like "Price confirmed by Locus1" or "Page count differs from that given by OCLC".

When creating a pub record from secondary sources, I now tend to add notes indicating the source of each data element, particularly if I assemble the data from multiple sources (OCLC+ABE+Amazon+Locus, say). Do people generally think that secondary source notes ought usually to be erased when a pub is primary verified, and that the retention or later addition of them should signal a problem, rather than a confirmation? (I know Bill Longley prefers not to note sources at all in many cases, but I think that is a minority opinion.) -DES Talk 16:16, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

I certainly don't add notes confirming that a secondary source is right, I would if it was wrong. As for my not adding notes as to my sources - well, if I'm concocting a frankenpub that we didn't have before from secondary sources I'd rather have it treated as a step 1 skeleton pub than imply that any of the sources were actually more reliable than others. Or to have to do that much typing - I might have used 7 or 8 sources at times and still not finished finding the contents of an anthology, for instance. But at least then I'll indicate it has "partial contents from reviews", but I'm not going to list every author site that said "My story X is included in Anthology Y". BLongley 19:42, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I'll try to list the classes of cases that we have run into with secondary sources:
  1. The secondary source is incorrect. I believe the fact is worth recording in the Notes fields for major bibliographies, e.g. Tuck, the Locus Index or Reginald. On the other hand, I wouldn't record the fact that Amazon is wrong about the page count since it's pretty much their default mode of operations. However, more unusual situations may be worth noting, e.g. if they have the wrong cover scan displayed or if they list vaporware items.
  2. The secondary source is less precise than what we see during the primary verification. For example, OCLC may list the book's dimensions, e.g. "22", which we may translate as "hc or tp, but definitely not a pb", but then when we verify the pub we know for sure whether it's a hc or a tp, so I see no value in retaining the OCLC data, which will only obfuscate the picture.
  3. The secondary source matches the verification copy. For "objective" "what you see is what you get" fields like binding, price, ISBN and the page count, I see no value in stating that OCLC, Locus and Reginald all agree that the book is, indeed, a 250pp hardcover and that the stated price is $18.95. For data elements that publishers often get wrong and that we usually capture in Notes, e.g. the edition statement, it may be worth noting that, say, Reginald or Locus agrees that the book is indeed a first edition.
  4. The secondary source provides information otherwise not available in the verification copy, e.g. it identifies the cover artist or the printing number. Naturally, we will want to keep this information and make a note of where it came from.
Having said that, these are just the guidelines that I use and I am sure other editors use somewhat different guidelines. There is no harm in retaining somewhat more (or less) secondary information in Notes -- as long as it's clear where the data came from -- and I doubt it would be practicable to come up with a universally acceptable standard. Ahasuerus 02:36, 17 August 2009 (UTC)


Magazine Editors

The following thread is from my (Bluesman) talk page:

Before you mentioned getting the "editors" right. Omni has two pages where they list them all. The TOC has only Guccione and Kendig. Then on the Letters page they list about nine of them. Where is the line drawn? I think someone else had the right idea in using only Kendig and Bova as Executive and Fiction (our main interest) Editors. In the July '79 issue Bova finally makes it to the TOC page, so the inclusion of him definitely becomes a more obvious choice. I have a feeling I should go back now and just list the last two and forget Guccione. Bova is listed as fiction editor right from the first issue. Thoughts? Kind of like to get it consistent early. Thanks. ~Bill --Bluesman 02:26, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

We definitely don't want to credit every "art editor" and "science editor" at the Author/Editor level, but the executive editor position at Omni was rather unique in a few ways. Well, sort of.
Bova originally started out as their fiction editor, but then he moved up the food chain and became the executive editor, although, naturally, he was still involved with the SF part of the business. Then, some years later, there was Keith Ferrell, another executive editor who happened to be an SF fan, so he was intimately involved in the process, got SF writers to write non-fiction for Omni, etc. So I think it's justified to list the executive editor (who was usually prominently credited anyway) as well as the fiction editor at the Editor level (which is what we currently do -- well, mostly) and perhaps add Notes explaining who was the executive editor and who the fiction editor at the time. We may also want to mention it on the Rules page just to make sure that there are no collisions with other editors' understanding.
Have I mentioned that magazines are a whole different can of worms yet? :) Ahasuerus 02:49, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, you did and I shall forge ahead anyway! That delineation at the "Rules" level would be good. Omni was very formulaic in content so a good one to kind of cut my teeth on. I have other old pulps that may prove more involved, and want to get a better feel before starting any of them. Think I'll go back and re-do the first four or five editor credits with notes as you suggest. Before I discovered the second "staff" credits page I had changed a couple to add Guccione and delete Bova. We learn from our mistakes. Much thanks! ~Bill, --Bluesman 02:57, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
No need to be shy, feel free to start a new topic on Rules - the water is fine! :) Ahasuerus 03:01, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm not much on wording for "Rules" or "Help", but for the rookie magazine editors (and I am definitely one of those) guidelines for which editors should be included and the one that shouldn't (and I know there must be gray areas) would be a good idea. Maybe even in the "Help" only for a start. I read all the "Help" on what contents and how (I'm just as shocked by that as all of you!! ;-) ) and that part was pretty easy to understand, but I don't recall anything very specific on "editors". ~Bill, --Bluesman 03:11, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Structuring Rules discussions

We have half a dozen active Rules/Standards discussions at the moment and it's getting hard to follow all of them at the same time, much less meaningfully contribute while working on other areas. In a recent Talk page exchange I wrote:

I wonder if it may be more productive to limit our discussions to a few topics at a time and add other policy issues to some kind of "list of outstanding topics" to be dealt with once the current list has shrunk. As I recall, at one point we tried to compile a list of "known hot topics" when the Rules discussions began to get out of hand, but I don't recall where we put it. Ahasuerus 04:32, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

And Swfritter responded:

Maybe one issue at a time. That way Issue B cannot be discussed until Issue A is resolved. Which might lead to either speedier resolutions or total stasis.--swfritter 15:45, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps we could have a queue of "outstanding Rules issues" just like we have a queue of Bugs and a queue of Feature Requests, which we slowly whittle down as resources permit? That way they will be documented and not lost in the shuffle, but we won't be suffering from what Bill calls "Wiki overload". Having only one issue under consideration at a time may also help focus our attention and make it easier for editors to think the issue through. Ahasuerus 16:47, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

P.S. We will presumably need to have some kind of time limit on the length of the discussion or else a thorny issue may be discussed indefinitely while other, possibly more important issues are waiting in the wings. If, at the end of that period, there is no consensus, then we will mark the issue "outstanding", set it aside and move on to the next one. Ahasuerus 16:50, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Agree fully and that closed discussion get archived so there's only one on the plate at a time. If something comes up that appears pressing and queued we can always agree to move it up. One option is to use this page's talk page as the queue. I'm not sure how we'd handle split discussions. Many of the thornier issues are because they are broad. A one week time limit seems sufficient. --Marc Kupper|talk 19:16, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
One other thought is shortly after any initial discussion to better inderstand what the issue is about to put it up for vote or poll. "Shortly" could be as fast as a day if most of the active editors have seen and commented. If something is large or complicated enough that this format won't work then break it off to a sub-page. --Marc Kupper|talk 19:45, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I really think that limiting active discussions to one at a time is overkill. Items come up in the course of editing, and can't always wait for items in progress to be finished. -DES Talk 20:21, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps I am misremembering, but I don't recall many Rules discussions that were truly urgent and couldn't wait. Ahasuerus 21:44, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Discussions often usefully proceed in parallel, with one sometimes illuminating another. Some discussions progress quickly to agreement, some don't. A quick one can pass a slow one here. -DES Talk 20:21, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I believe that the problem with having multiple active Rules topics is the "Wiki overload" issue that Bill mentioned earlier. We have a limited amount of time/attention to spend on Rules discussions and when there are 4-6 going on at the same time, it's hard to keep up and do justice to all of them. It's been my experience that any benefit that may be derived from topic cross-pollination is dwarfed by the problems that topic proliferation causes. I guess humans are just not designed to handle numerous issues at the same time, especially when they are doing a dozen other, higher priority, things at the same time. Not only does it lower the quality of the discussion and reduce the number of contributors, but it also make many of us feel like we "can't keep up", which is always frustrating. And who needs frustrations when doing volunteer/hobby work? Ahasuerus 21:44, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I can understand that "Wiki overload" causes problems for some, but I think this proposal is over-correction. I urge you to try a limit of three and see if that is sufficient to deal with the matter. Do you think the "every discussion its own sub-page" idea would help avoid confusion and overload? -DES Talk 21:51, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I could cope with 4-6 if there was a summary page I could watch without having to go into huge discussions I don't really care about. But I don't want to lose visibility of activity on the ones I do care about. So, for instance, I don't really care about date formats in US Magazine titles and I'd like to drop viewing that discussion unless it goes back to stamping US format over all titles. I don't care about "Coverart for Non-Genre magazines". I'm not too worried about "Gurps Infinite Worlds". I know I can't keep up, "Recent changes" is far too busy nowadays, but I hate to find that something has been passed by "lack of objections". BLongley 22:35, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
A reasonable timescale (I'm thinking that most editors whose opinion I value are here at least once a week, apart from holiday seasons or stated other issues), and people speaking up on behalf of known absentees for other reasons (e.g. "Marc Kupper might object to you changing all the DAW publications", or "Bill Longley might object to having all his verified pubs repriced in Euros") would help, and a vote (with the "Don't care" option) should allow a reasonable amount of discussion and consensus. But how to keep on top of the active issues is another matter - who do we trust to keep pushing the important ones and not letting the important-to-only-a-few die? BLongley 22:35, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
(This topic has already come close to being a "Wiki Overload" situation for me, but if if it leads nowhere or to something being done without my seeing it, it shows the problem.) BLongley 22:35, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, this meta-discussion is already showing early signs of drift similar to the trajectory of many other Rules discussions. To go back to the underlying problem, discussions of rules and policies are a "necessary evil", but they can easily take on a life of their own unless pruned back mercilessly. It's a common problem that many collaborative projects run into, so we are not unique in that respect. I have been as guilty of letting it become an unmanageable monster as the next contributor: many a time I would take a look at an ongoing discussion and decide not to contribute for fear of being sucked into a maelstrom of words, usually leading nowhere and leaving you exhausted, with no time for other ISFDB activities. Now that I have seen the effects of "wiki overload" on a few of our editors and how much it's hurting the project, I plan to make sure that the process is reformed and is no longer a chore. Stick with it, Bill -- one meta-discussion is a small price to pay for making the Wiki a better place :) Ahasuerus 16:58, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
A summary page does seem like a good idea to me. If individual discussions were on their own sub-pages, an editor could use the watch list to see the most recent change on each without needing to look at "recent changes". Watching the summery page would let an editor know when new topics were added without needing to use "recent changes". Asking people to be sure to use a descriptive edit summary might help, but it is hard to be sure that an issue a particular editor cares about doesn't come up wihtout actually following the discussion. People could try to act as proxies ("I think Joe might object to that, let me ask him to stop by") But no one can be sure what another editor will feel concerned about in every case.
As I see it, the summary page would have on it three, or maybe four lists.
  1. The list of active discussions. Each list item would be a 1-3 sentence summary of the topic of each discussion, plus a link to that discussion's sub-page
  2. The list of inactive discussions: either ones started when the "active" list is full, or ones put on hold because they seem deadlocked. Each would also have a 1-3 sentence summary and a link to a sub page.
  3. The list of discussions recently completed, but where agreed changes in help pages have yet to be made. Each would also have a 1-3 sentence summary and a link to a sub page.
  4. (optional) recently completed and archived discussions. Each would also have a 1-3 sentence summary and a link to a sub page.
The summery page would also have brief instructions on how to add a new discussion to the list and create its sub-page, with prototype text ready to copy and paste. Does this structure commend itself to anyone? If people want, i could mock up an example of how such a page would look. -DES Talk 22:56, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Also, over-quick archiving reduces the value of discussions, because people don't see what the discussion has led to and why. -DES Talk 20:21, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
People would know to look in the archives to see recent issues. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:45, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
It still means more places to look in, and I think makes it a bit less likely that people will see a recent discussion, and either think that it should be reopened, or that a related matter needs to be dealt with, or to become aware of a decision and its reasons. I don't say the works would fall apart if we archived every closed discussion right away. -DES Talk 01:05, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I have an alternate suggestion. Have the queue be a list of links in the first section of the page. The first three links, say, would be for the currently active discussions. Any beyond that would be on hold, awaiting their chance. Each link would be accompanied by a 1-2 sentence explanation of what the discussion is about. The list of links could be on a different page, but I don't see much gain there. And if a discussion does get large and sprawling, like the "New Types" one did on the portal a while ago, split it off to a sub page, with a link in the queue section. -DES Talk 20:21, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Are you volunteering to be the page and link maintainer? --Marc Kupper|talk 00:45, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, if people would like me to. -DES Talk 01:05, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Or to possibly make it easier to follow discussions, have this page hold just the queue list, and split every discussion to a sub page. That would mean that a person could use the watch list to follow when posts are made to any particular discussion. This would be a little like Wikipedia does with their deletion discussions, splitting each to a separate sub page. I can set up the prototype links easily enough if people would prefer that style. It would also reduce the problem of edit conflicts, and of page size. -DES Talk 20:21, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
A separate page for every discussion would cause some pain for me. I often remember *something* being discussed before but not well enough that I can use Google to hunt for where it was on ISFDB. The present large-page format allows me to visually scan to see if I can find the earlier thread I had in mind. It's not a large objection. The current format is pretty low overhead. Every so often one of us will get fed up and archive a bunch of stuff. I like low maintenance tools. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:45, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Having an index list of current and recent discussions means just one place to look, no need for google or wiki-search. -DES Talk 01:05, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Some big benefits of separate pages are that we can unwatch a page, it's easy to later re-open a discussion, and that it's easy to link to the discussion as a footnote or reference right in the rules to give people context on the why a rule is worded the way it is. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:45, 19 August 2009
Exactly. -DES Talk 01:05, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I still would prefer one R&S discussion at a time as it allows people with a limited amount of time to stay in the loop. I believe it'll also help facilitate closure. There are many threads on this page where it's not clear if they are resolved. We can always agree "this item can't be closed" and agree to how it should be handled such as parking in a sub-page or given to a person to research. I'd rather have closure than 800 K bytes of abandoned discussions. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:45, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree that we need to formalize closure a bit more, whether it is with one discussion or six. I think there has been a fear of acting too quickly, before everyone interested has a chance to see a discussion and give an opinion; and a reluctance to close a discussion if anyone objects. We may need to tone those down a bit to achieve quicker and easier closure, but I would hope they would not go away entirely. I agree that large numbers of abandoned discussion help no one. We need to have a procedure where someone asks for closure and within a fixed time -- perhaps a week, perhaps more or less -- either there is renewed substantive discussion, agreement, or a poll. A call for closure could be noted in the index list, so people would be less likely to miss it. -DES Talk 01:05, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

(unindent)It looks like we have two separate (but possibly complementary) ways to handle the "Wiki overload" issue. The first one is to limit the number of concurrent discussions. The second one is to put separate discussions on separate Wiki pages so that editors could more readily see which topics are being discussed and decide whether they care enough about them to contribute.

Re: the second, "better page organization", approach, I expect that it will indeed help in a number of cases, e.g. when an editor can take one look at a page and decide that he is not interested in the discussion, so he can ignore it. However, discussions are currently segregated into sections, which already let editors do effectively the same thing (although not quite as easily), so the benefit would be somewhat limited. The larger issue, however, is that, as Marc pointed out, editors with a limited amount of ISFDB time (or a lot of other responsibilities) want to stay in the loop, but can't realistically do it given the number of concurrent discussions, which is why I believe that limiting their number is essential. Ahasuerus 17:59, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

As far as the specifics of the proposed page layout go, a simple two page design may be easier to implement, maintain and follow. This (i.e. "Rules and Standards discussion") page will be limited to the current discussion and there will be a big link to the "Queue" at the top of the page. The Queue page will have separate sections for "topics waiting to be discussed", "discussed topics with no consensus", "recently completed discussions". Each discussion item will contain a summary and, for completed or "no consensus" discussions, a link to a separate page with the text of the discussion. Every completed discussion will have its own page (effectively a frozen archive) that we can then link Help pages to. That way, when in another year someone asks why, e.g., Help tells you to enter novels appearing in a single magazine issue as Serials, we won't have to hunt the Wiki for relevant discussions. Ahasuerus 17:59, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps three issues in the final decision queue. The most current in the queue would have any proposed changes to Help and a time-frame for a final decision to be made. Even when there is a general consensus about an issue, the actual proposed change to Help often triggers a continuing discussion. --swfritter 18:49, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I recall some discussions suddenly heating up when the actual wording was discussed even though there seemed to be general consensus on the core issue(s). I am not sure it will always be easy to draw a line between "Do we agree on what we want to do?" and "How do we phrase it?", but we can give it a try. Ahasuerus 01:37, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
The next one in the queue would have the arguments for and against. The third one would have only arguments for the change. Other issues after that should have only a clear statement of the changes requested but with no ongoing discussions. --swfritter 18:49, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
This distinction between #2 and #3 would work when there is a proposal on the table, but half the time these topics start with a general "Hm, we may have a discrepancy between ROA, Help and/or what we actually do" and there is no clear proposal at that stage. Perhaps the big dividing line should be between a place for freewheeling discussions where notes are compared and proposals are formulated and a place where prepared proposals are debated and agreed on? Ahasuerus 01:37, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
This will give editors a chance to consider the issues without feeling that they have to rush into a discussion. Some issues (The non-genre COVERART discussion above for instance) start out as seemingly simple issues but suddenly expand. Such issues may have to be prioritized.--swfritter 18:49, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

(Unindent) I have created a prototype/mockup of an index page/sub-pages version of Rules and standards, using current and recent actual discussions, copied from this page. The prototype is at R&S Example page. Please take a look, and see what you think. In a real implementation i could (and I think would) create a template to make entering a new pending discussion easier. With such a structure, an editor could watch the main page and see when new discussions were created, made current, or looking for closure. S/he could also watch individual sub-pages of interest, and ignore those not of interest. Also, edits to a sub page would not produce another version of the current huge page, thus reducing storage a bit. The instructions on my example page limit active discussions to three at a time, but that could be changed if we wished. The idea is that new subjects would be added in the "Pending" section, and would wait there until a slot was open in "Active". Note that I have made items awaiting a change in in help a separate section. These might, or might not, include items where the exact wording of the change is still under discussion. I hope others will react to this proposed structure. -DES Talk 15:16, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Looks like a good start! I have simplified the language somewhat in an effort to make the page more compact. Ideally, an editor shouldn't be able to see everything important at a glance and I think we are getting close. (Of course, there is also "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.") I also moved the "On Hold" section further down the page since the logical progression of an active discussion is "Current" -> "Completed but not Implemented" -> "Archived" and I thought that having them in that order would be more logical.
One thing that comes to mind is that the lists of "Current", "Completed" and "Archived" discussions will be kept short because of the way we are about to structure the discussion, but the list of "On Hold" discussions can get quite long over time -- if we were to examine our discussion archives, we could easily dig up a couple dozen inconclusive discussions. I wonder if we should move the "On hold" section to a separate page and then create sub-pages for all "known but never resolved" issues and link them from that page? That way we will have a single list of outstanding Rules issues in one place. Ahasuerus 01:15, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Seems complicated but workable... as long as someone is consistently herding the conversations to this page. Otherwise it will wither and dry up. Kevin 02:21, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
My thought is that this "new" page would replace the existing Rules and standards discussions page, or more exactly, the existing page (this page) would be reformulated into the structure of the example page (which would be deleted, as it was only an example). Discussions would need to be herded into the new R&S "tree" when they show up on the community portal, or the mod notice board, or a user's talk page, but not much if any more than they do now I would think -- several current discussions were so moved.-DES Talk 13:05, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Additional complexity (complicated rules, elaborate page structure, etc) can certainly make life harder, but in this case I don't think that the proposed approach will be significantly more complex than the current one. Here are the big changes:
  1. Move our Rules discussions from page sections to separate pages, which will make it easier to back-link to them from Help pages and other places
  2. Convert this page into a couple of lists of links to the currently active and recently completed discussions
  3. Create an archive page with a list of completed and unresolved discussions
  4. Limit the number of concurrent discussions
Hopefully, this will make the discussion process faster, more efficient and less stressful. Ahasuerus 23:46, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
As to splitting off the on hold discussions, and listing old but unresolved discussions, we could do that easily enough. The index page would then have only a single link, to the on-hold index page, in the on hold section, right? But the list might get too long to be useful -- perhaps that list, unlike the other lists, should have the most recent items at the top? -DES Talk 13:05, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
After thinking it over, I think that it may be better to have a single "Archive" page with two sections, one for "unresolved issues" and one for "archived issues". We can certainly sort them in reverse chronological order since that makes it easier to find discussions. If we do it that way, we could even move the "Closed" list to the Archive page, which will further reduce the clutter on the main page. Ahasuerus 23:46, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
One thing that is still uncertain is how we could implement the idea that Swfritter mentioned above.
<think think think>
Perhaps we could have three Active slots and each one could be in one of three states: "Gestation", "Discussion", "Decision".
The first one, "Gestation", will be used to identify the problem with the current situation, e.g. "There is a gap between ROA and Help", gather confirmation/clarification, e.g. pointers to previous discussions, and formulate one or more ways to address the issue.
The second one, "Discussion", will be used to write one or more versions of the new Help/policy text (depending on how many competing proposals there are). I hope that multiple competing proposals will be rare since it generally means that there is no consensus and the topic needs to be moved to the "unresolved" page.
The third one, "Decision", will be used to vote on the proposal(s) after a notice is posted on the Community Portal to the effect that a 3 (?) day voting window has been opened. That way those of us who do not have enough time to get intimately involved with the proposal crafting process (or do not have a strong opinions about the issue) will still have an opportunity to review the final proposal(s) and the arguments pro et contra. We will presumably need to allow clarification questions during the "Decision" phase. In the event that new, previously unforeseen issues come up, a topic may need to be downgraded back to "Discussion". We should also encourage the voters to clarify their votes, e.g. "Oppose as written. The intent is laudable, but the proposed Help text is vague/ambiguous and needs to be rewritten" is much more useful than a simple "No" vote. Ahasuerus 23:46, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
We will also need a way to determine when a topic is ready to move from one phase to the next. If there is consensus, then it should be easy and we will just create the next section on the proposal page and update the status of the discussion on the main page. If there is no consensus, a straw poll or something similar could be used to determine the sense of the group. There is probably more we could do, but I have used up my reserves of pickled ideas for the night :) Ahasuerus 23:46, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Notice that the proposed structure both limits the number of active discussions at any one time, and makes it easier to watch, and to find, all R&S discussions. Or at least I think and hope it will.
Well, what do others think of this proposed restructuring of this page and of our rules discussion process? This is major enough I would like a pretty clear consensus before going ahead with it. -DES Talk 13:05, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
It's hard to visualize proposed structures. I'm game for trying out systems. Given we have wiki-histories and all that it's not likely we'd lose anything. I do like the three phase Gestation, Discussion, Decision but we need to come up with some in-genre terms. :-) --Marc Kupper|talk 10:03, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
I think there is no useful distinction between Gestation and Discussion, or to put it more clearly, once an issue has moved from the Pending to the Active list, it has already reached the Discussion stage, or will so quickly that a separate Gestation stage is not useful. One often can't separate discussion of what the problem really is from discussion of proposed solutions: sometimes draft help page text enters a discussion quite early, other times not until there is a near consensus on the basic principles of the solutions, and the final discussion is only over wording.-DES Talk 17:35, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
The breakdown into three phases was an attempt to massage Swfritter's comment to the effect that "Even when there is a general consensus about an issue, the actual proposed change to Help often triggers a continuing discussion." I can see it both ways, so I will defer to Stephen -- assuming he has ISFDB access now that he is on jury duty. Ahasuerus 01:52, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
As for "decision" I would hope that formal votes could be avoided in most cases, although we can have them if it seems needed. If the aim is to be inclusive, however, a voting window will probably need to be at least a week, because some active editors can only participate on particular days of the week. But I would hope that in most cases discussion would continue until all or most have been persuaded to a single point of view. When it becomes clear that that is not going to happen, then a vote may be of use. But voting issues must be carefully structured to be both decisive and helpful. -DES Talk 17:35, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
I believe that some way of letting less active editors review the frozen results of each discussions in a low pressure atmosphere will be essential and a "voting window" is just about perfect for that. A week may be a bit too long and 3 days may be too short -- how about 5 days to match the format of the moderatorization process? Ahasuerus 01:52, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
Rather than Gestation and Discussion how about Discussion and Proposals? One of the Wikipedia RFCs is using Views, Proposals, and Discussion. The Views are people writing summaries of what they believe the issue is. Others are offering specific Proposals. I haven't paid attention to the Discussion. I'm fine with five days. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:17, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Sure, we can give a "two phase solution" a try and add another phase later if we decide that we need it. Ahasuerus 10:45, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
I wonder if something like Survey Monkey would be useful for collecting feedback/"votes" from editors who care but for whatever reason do not participate in Wiki discussions. <posted on Marty's behalf due to technical issues>
Survey Monkey seems like overkill for R&S and also means that some of the discussion would get shifted off site meaning it won't be in the wiki archives. One option for "whatever reason do not participate in Wiki discussions" is that the person can e-mail one of the moderators, or the moderator-list asking that their input be added. --Marc Kupper|talk 08:36, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
I think I agree with Marc here. If we did use Survey Monkey I would want the results copied back to to the relevant wiki page. -DES Talk 14:58, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Just to clarify: I didn't mean use a survey for discussion. I meant for choosing "next" active discussions and to vote, if there's to be voting. --MartyD 16:27, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Move to Close - Structuring Rules discussions

A couple of days ago I realized there's no problem with people adding additional items to this page. The hassle is that none of them ever seem to get closed out. This thread is now at 30.1kb (5,142 words). Can we at least agree that someone can move to close off a discussion with a summary about if it should be archived, a project created, etc? Normally the closing would be done top down (oldest items first) and some people may opt to entirely ignore anything that's in second place or lower meaning they get the "one at a time." If closed with an affirmative we just start trying to close discussions. Note that in this case I titled the sub-section "Move to Close - Structuring Rules discussions" to give it a unique name for the #linker. --Marc Kupper|talk 22:21, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

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