Distinct authors: disambiguation

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Distinct authors: disambiguation

Abr 2, 12:55pm

When I am trying to decide which “John Smith” to attribute a book to I naturally look for a disambiguation notice at the bottom of the page. Often, however, all I see is a repeat of what is available on the rest of the page: John Smith(1) wrote Death Goes Viral; John Smith (2) wrote The Motets of Lassus; John Smith (3) wrote Weekend Getaways in Western Pennsylvania, etc. If there is to be any value added here the disambiguation notice must add something not obvious from the book titles listed under each distinct author on the page, such as the various authors’ dates, professions, publishers’ series contributed to, or other details which would help me determine which John Smith wrote my book. Otherwise just a waste of someone’s typing time.

Abr 2, 1:25pm

Works can be reassigned to the wrong author, so while that type of note is not enough information to help determine where unassigned works should go, it's not a waste.

Abr 2, 1:39pm

>2 aspirit: But note typically mentions only one work of an author who may have written dozens. Chances that only that work will somehow get reassigned seems slim. Assuming, of course that the attribution is correct in the first place.

Editado: Abr 2, 2:20pm

>1 booksaplenty1949:

such as the various authors’ dates, professions, publishers’ series contributed to

I frequently see birth/death dates, professions, middle initials, etc. in the disambiguation notices. See, for instance: Edward Jones

Of course, not everyone has that information.

Editado: Abr 2, 2:24pm

John Smith

This page seems to have very good disambiguation notes. A few have only a title, but most have dates and/or other information. It's not always easy to find this data.

Editado: Abr 2, 3:10pm

I chose “John Smith” as a hypothetical example, so as not to embarrass anyone. As for the info being hard to find, that’s often true. So leave disambiguation notices to someone willing/able to find something useful.

Abr 2, 3:21pm


Like most things on LT, disambiguation notices can be edited. If the guidance was "Either have full, complete information for all split authors (birth dates, death dates when applicable, fields of study / genres, etc. or don't touch it", which "leave it to someone else" seems to imply, there would be far less information there. "Fill in what you can, and if you can add more than is already there, please do so", which is basically the current approach, seems much better.

Perfect being the enemy of the good and all that.

Editado: Abr 2, 3:22pm

>6 booksaplenty1949:
I realize it's frustrating when the disambiguation notice doesn't contain information that you find helpful, and ideally it should contain key distinguishing information like date of birth etc. -- but I honestly don't see any reason to get worked up about others adding disambiguation notices of the sort you describe.

If someone want to take the time to type out the author divisions and a title for each, fine: it doesn't bother me and it doesn't seem like it is doing any harm. It's easy enough for someone else to come along later and add more information if they have it.

Abr 2, 3:46pm

I’m not worked up, I’m not bothered, I’m not accusing anyone of doing harm. I’m just puzzled. While I’m in a confessional mood, I also don’t understand why aliasing someone to a name they never published anything under is regarded as a preferable option to leaving them as “John Smith (3)” *
* not a real example

Abr 2, 5:19pm

>1 booksaplenty1949: "Otherwise just a waste of someone’s typing time."

Whoever typed it did not think it was a waste of their time and believed that it will be helpful to someone. Just because it is not what you would like to see does not mean that it is a waste or that it is useless for everyone else. Someone bothered to write a note at all - implying that this is a waste of time and/or useless can be seen a bit dismissive IMO...

I like having the most common book added to the note - it is often enough to tell me who that author is supposed to be - and allows me to use that to go find the author elsewhere and from there to see if the other books which are unassigned are theirs... :)

Abr 2, 5:20pm

>9 booksaplenty1949: I don't understand your issue with aliasing. John Smith (3) will remain as is with or without aliasing. Aliasing merely brings all John Smith (3) works to e.g. John M. Smith page too. As for name forms, the one published under isn't the be all and end all, especially since they are not always consistent to begin with. Libraries and LT members use full names for various reasons even if that's not the form on the title page of the book.

Abr 2, 5:34pm

>10 AnnieMod: It's a bit like the biological concept of a holotype, the specimen of a species that defines the species. John Smith (2) wrote "The Motets of Lassus"; therefore any books by the same guy are by John Smith (2). To grab an example near at hand, I know that Lee Killough wrote Spider Play, published in 1989. If that's all I know, at least it anchors the #2 position, and gives some objective means of measuring if a book should be in that author.

Editado: Abr 2, 5:53pm

>12 prosfilaes: Pretty much.

Yes - the book is also on the list higher on the page BUT in some cases this author's books get beaten in the short list visible on the non-numbered page by anthologies and other people's books that this author just wrote introductions for (or translated or edited or... any other non-author role)...

Translate 14 King novels in your language (or just write the introductions for) and if you end up disambiguated, the books on the top of your list will be King's, not yours (because the short lists in the disambiguation page does not care if you are in "some editions" or "all editions"). In that case listing the book the author actually wrote is important because it allows you to find the author in libraries and similar sources - without the need to open all authors to try to find where the book may be hiding.

And you cannot look and decide if it is worth adding the title during the disambiguation. You never know when the "other authors" will get filled somewhere sending these more popular books on top of previously clear author splits. So adding the most popular work is never a loss of time.

If someone does not find that useful, they can add what they think is useful... But calling it a waste of typing time is uncalled for.

Abr 2, 5:59pm

>9 booksaplenty1949:

I’m just puzzled.

Why are you puzzled? People put in what information they have, and what they think is useful. Would more be better? Perhaps, but not having more information is no reason to have none.

Abr 2, 8:39pm

Well, prosfilaes and AnnieMod did make a case, rather than simply noting that I am a bad person. And on reflection perhaps my “aliasing” issues are just collateral damage from run-ins with Collectorator. So I’m glad I posted, because now I have two fewer things to worry about.

Abr 2, 9:55pm

>15 booksaplenty1949: My response implied you're a bad person? That wasn't my intention.

I'm glad this thread will help you worry less about author pages.

Abr 4, 2:38am

>13 AnnieMod: Thanks! That's a nice explanation of why I don't register translators as extra authors. (Although some of them bungled the job so bad that I've considered that maybe they should be listed as main author :-)

Editado: Abr 4, 3:42am

>17 bnielsen: It’s not a problem if they are not split authors - as long as they are marked as “some editions” and secondary author, they go in the lower section of the page. But with split authors, it is a problem :)

As someone who grew up on translations, the last sentence made me laugh. :)

Abr 4, 3:15am

>18 AnnieMod: Ah yes, authors who also do translations. I have a few of those. Elsa Gress comes to mind, but maybe that's just because I'm currently reading a biography like book by her daughter. (Short version: Fawlty Towers except that the guests don't pay :-)

Abr 4, 3:24am

>17 bnielsen: Well, if someone is a translator (or a translator as well as a writer), that's probably the sort of information that is also useful to include in a disambiguation notice...

I don't think the issues with split authors that might occur in a small number of cases is a good argument against adding secondary authors. I do add translators fairly systematically -- partly because (as a translator and as a longtime reader of translated literature) I think it is important for this work to be acknowledged and credited, and partly because I find it useful (for finding other translated literature, for example). It would be more useful if LT had a proper edition level, but that's a complaint for a different thread.

Abr 4, 3:49am

I do enter and confirm translators. If only because sometimes it might be interesting to see if I have read other books with the same translator, and it might be clearer if the problems I am having with a book are due to the author or the translator.

Abr 4, 4:40am

>20 spiphany: and >21 MarthaJeanne: I also enter the translator but as a remark in Comments for exactly the same reasons as in >21 MarthaJeanne:. And I have a script that reminds me if I forget to add it.

Abr 4, 5:39am

>22 bnielsen: But then the information is limited to only those books in my library -- it doesn't link up with other books the person might have translated that aren't in my library, and I can't look at the profile page of the translator to see what else they may have written or translated.

Of course no one is obliged to add or confirm secondary authors, if you prefer not to. I just don't see any good reason for avoiding doing so as a general principle.

Abr 4, 5:47pm

>21 MarthaJeanne: Many books have been translated several times. The translator’s name is an important piece of information.

Abr 4, 5:59pm

Just now I finished a third book in a nonfiction garden series that I was not impressed by. Different author(s), yes; different main intention, yes; but the biggest difference was a translator who added information aimed at German readers, so it wasn't quite as anglocentric as the others. I was really glad to be able to confirm that.

Abr 4, 10:28pm

As I get older and potential reading time contracts I have become interested in book cover art. Dislike Iris Murdoch with a fiery passion but want to acquire anything by her with a cover photograph by Harri Peccinotti. Tell us everything you know about your book. Gather up the fragments that remain that nothing may be lost.

Abr 5, 2:35am

>26 booksaplenty1949: Yes, I record cover art too. Sometimes Illustrators too.

>23 spiphany: I agree in principle. I think I've just been put off by some library sources adding it to the title, i.e. "Agatha Christie: Efter begravelsen (overs. Tage la Cour)".

Btw I'm currently looking for the credits for the cover art on my edition of isbn 0708847773 (showing a male person with a hat)

Abr 5, 8:45am

>26 booksaplenty1949:, >27 bnielsen:

I think this group might be more relevant for discussing cover art: https://www.librarything.com/ngroups/18418/Cover-Love

Abr 5, 4:22pm

>28 lilithcat: Yes, thank you.

Abr 6, 7:36am

>17 bnielsen: even composing the cover can be bungled. Here's a gem:


(And I promise to stop hijacking this thread now :-)

Abr 6, 10:14am

>31 booksaplenty1949: Hilarious! Thanks!

Abr 6, 10:18am

boy, while some of those are bad, some are just outrageous. lol.

Editado: Abr 6, 11:07am

>31 booksaplenty1949:. Ouch! It made me find "Not by its cover" by Philip K. Dick and wonder how these covers would transform the text inside.


Abr 6, 2:02pm

>31 booksaplenty1949: Some are absolutely hilarious. Thanks for the laugh