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New CK Fields: First words, Last words

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Edited: Aug 11, 2008, 2:59am Top

See http://www.librarything.com/blog/2008/08/first-and-last-words.php

Some points:

1. I'm not an absolutist about only doing the first sentence. The Dickens example I gave, for example, could really use a bit more. Others may disagree.
2. Notice that the field has a + button, which means you can add other first sentences. This was intended for different translations, or if there was doubt about whether to count the forward, etc.
3. Last words has some spoiler potential. Discuss?

Aug 11, 2008, 3:06am Top

I like it. I've been listing first lines in my private comments box to help out with the First Line Game when I am not with my books to check them, so I like this idea.

I never know whether to count the forward or not so always list both, so I like that part too.

Last words could be spoilers but it's a risk I am happy to take.

Are you up late or early?

Aug 11, 2008, 3:32am Top

The page for Athens, Greece is an interesting one to browse. The related links are really spot on.

Edited: Aug 11, 2008, 3:58am Top

Argh... why must you roll out new features so late at night? I was just getting ready to go to bed, having spent altogether much too much time on LibraryThing, and BOOM! new features to play with. It's too much... :)

Well, the last words are fairly low on the page, so it doesn't spoil you if you're just glancing at pages. However, I could see that being a point of contention for some works, especially newer ones. Would it be possible to make that field invisible/locked until, say, six months to a year after the book is released?

Aug 11, 2008, 4:00am Top

We could give it a bright yellow background so that certain members avoid looking at it...

Aug 11, 2008, 4:01am Top

Rather than that, we could make that field have a toggle to display it or hide it.

Edited: Aug 11, 2008, 4:32am Top

I love this idea but could we please have a toggle to display or hide last words with the default as 'Hide' ... it would seriously stop me looking at CK pages if I ran the risk of seeing the last line of a book I haven't read there, it doesn't matter how long after the release it was. Please not bright yellow, that would just involuntarily draw my attention towards the thing I wouldn't want to see. It would be a real serious stopping point for me (and I would guess I'm not alone) if there was any risk of seeing the last lines.......

Aug 11, 2008, 4:33am Top

Spoiler alert.
The butler did it!

Aug 11, 2008, 7:16am Top

I agree that although I love the First Words and Last Words fields, the latter definitely has the potential to be a spoiler. The first book that springs to mind is 1984. Knowing the ending (even just the last sentence) could ruin the book for some people.

Edited: Aug 11, 2008, 9:36am Top

>5 timspalding: :P

>6 conceptDawg: A toggle would be good, with default hidden.

Aug 11, 2008, 8:43am Top

Is there some way, please, that we can choose which of the CK fields to show?

I find this one completely uninteresting and useless (though I know others like it). But the real issue is that CK, on both the book and author pages, is getting longer and longer and more and more cluttered.

I don't need to see the names of every damn character and every damn place that's mentioned in a 500-page novel.


Aug 11, 2008, 9:19am Top

Ach, a late-Sunday-night update again! How am I supposed to work all day with a room full of books with first and last lines to input?!?

I agree that a toggle on the last line would be good. Even I, lover of spoilers that I am, like to keep the exact last sentence a secret from myself until I get to it.

Aug 11, 2008, 9:27am Top

Agreed that having a toggle so that the "last words" field doesn't show unless requested is valuable. I spend a lot of time on CK pages and don't want to see spoilerly last lines for books I haven't read.

Aug 11, 2008, 9:32am Top

What about a show/hide link for any list that's longer than, oh, 5-10 values?

Aug 11, 2008, 10:03am Top

14 infiniteletters

That's what I was thinking, and I think 5 values would be the way to go with how long some of these lists are getting.

Aug 11, 2008, 12:15pm Top

Is there some way, please, that we can choose which of the CK fields to show?

It's on the bottom of the page.

What about a show/hide link for any list that's longer than, oh, 5-10 values?

Yes, that's possible.

toggle on the last line

We'll put it in soon.

Edited: Aug 11, 2008, 1:27pm Top

> 16

Weren't you supposed to be taking three days off?


Aug 11, 2008, 1:31pm Top


Aug 11, 2008, 1:41pm Top

> 18

Nice to know you are as addicted as (some of) the rest of us are ;-)

Aug 11, 2008, 3:20pm Top

11>Is there some way, please, that we can choose which of the CK fields to show?
16>It's on the bottom of the page.

I'm not seeing this feature/option. Where exactly is it? The bottom of which page?

Aug 11, 2008, 4:04pm Top

I think he meant that it shouldn't be a problem because CK is on the bottom of the page. You're not having to scroll past it go get to something.

Aug 11, 2008, 4:30pm Top

> 21

True, but that's not the point. The point is that some of the CK fields may be interesting and useful and others not. Someone may care, for instance, about awards and honors, and not want to scroll through a very lengthy list of characters and places to get to those. (Have you seen how many characters there are in Fellowship of the Ring or War and Peace?)

Aug 11, 2008, 4:37pm Top

#22, Yes, and some of the names for War and Peace are listed more than once (e.g., Natasha).

Aug 11, 2008, 5:16pm Top

>22 lilithcat:

No, I hear you. I think the answer is showing five or so with a "show more." Not going to happen today, but it's going to happen when I find some time for it.

Aug 11, 2008, 5:19pm Top

I'll add another vote to being able to choose which CK fields are shown on your work page.

(Although I thought at one time the plan was to distribute the CK fields around the pages where they make sense. So maybe the Canonical Title makes sense at the top and the Disambiguation Notice should go on the Editions page.)

Aug 11, 2008, 6:28pm Top

>25 jjwilson61: Yes, what I'd most love to see is CK integrated better in the page. Specific information should be displayed where it's most relevant, and it should display as regular text (i.e., without ugly boxes and pencils everywhere) unless you specifically go to an editing mode.

Aug 11, 2008, 7:43pm Top

> 24

That would work. But don't do it during your three days off.


Aug 11, 2008, 7:48pm Top

Seriously Tim, go take your vacation already! :P

This looks like it'll be interested for some people.... I'm actually not too interested in it, which could be a good thing because I'm being forced to drastically curb my internet time.

Aug 11, 2008, 7:51pm Top

If you don't do it in the next 24 hours, I'm leaving LT!

I mean it this time!

Aug 11, 2008, 7:51pm Top


Edited: Aug 11, 2008, 7:53pm Top

I have to move CK or you'll leave LT in 24 hours, or do I have to vacation?

Aug 11, 2008, 11:59pm Top


Aug 12, 2008, 4:18am Top

I also think better distributing CK fields would be useful and potentially draw more attention to the feature.

I do think you should leave them in a state where they are easily editable, however. Maybe just have a pencil show up on roll over like on the home page?

Aug 12, 2008, 7:52am Top

>31 timspalding: Yes! Now, get to it!

Aug 12, 2008, 8:35am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Aug 13, 2008, 8:28pm Top

Do not stop work on Collections to attend to this but I do think we do need the last words CK to be at least hidden by the person that puts in the text. Initially I didn't think that the last words would be enough of a spoiler to warrant this, (except in the case of some of the very short SF stories (A star-mangled spanner!)). I've been entering some though and there is a case for a spoiler alert/hider. eg this one

PS as an aside, a Charles Schultz' Peanuts strip totally spoiled the movie Citizen Kane for me.

Edited because the bit of my brain that knows the format for the href syntax ran away again

Aug 13, 2008, 5:02am Top

I'm not hot on the Second Foundation first and last words.

I think the use of multiples for Prologue, Head Note, and text is an abuse of the feature.

Secondly they aren't particularly good first/last words - no one is going to be trotting them out like they do the first words of 1984 or Neuromancer or Steel Beach.

Aug 13, 2008, 5:16am Top

>36 justjim:

Yes, Christopher suggested we add the last words "Harry knew he was going to miss Dumbledore."

Did the cartoon involve a sled?

Aug 13, 2008, 5:40am Top

>38 timspalding:
Yes, very explicitly a sled, by name even!

>37 andyl:
"abuse"? Fine, I'll stop. Do it yourself.

Aug 13, 2008, 6:17am Top


My post was my opinion only - it was definitely "I think". It was a provocative way of starting a discussion. I have no special authority. Tim's original post says it was intended for translations.

Personally I would be happy with just the start of the text for Second Foundation.

Aug 13, 2008, 7:11am Top

39>"abuse"? Fine, I'll stop. Do it yourself.
flag abuse

You know, I don't really think it's abuse. In fact it's a great solution to one of the questions I had about this feature--which first words.

37>Secondly they aren't particularly good first/last words

Even so, I think it's great to collect the data. If someone's willing to put in the effort, then it's probably important (or at least time-worthy) for other people, too.

Aug 13, 2008, 11:17am Top

37: Tim specifically said in the first post: "or if there was doubt about whether to count the forward, etc."

Aug 13, 2008, 12:15pm Top

I think he added that later since I don't recall it being there when I first read it. (Although that means I must have read the message in the four minutes between when it was posted and edited. So perhaps I just missed that part.)

Aug 13, 2008, 1:33pm Top

Yay! Another time sink. =)

Once the garden is in, I'll go crazy.

And to toss in my two cents, I believe First Words are the beginning of a story and/or nonfiction work as the author wrote them. In other words, while it's great that they got the Mayor of Cleveland and all to write an introduction in one of the editions, that's just stuff - it's not what the author wrote.

I say first words are limited to the author of the work where the story really gets started.

This covers cookbooks for me (and, frankly, won't it be entertaining to see the intro as written by the author "I remember standing over a hot stove with my grandmother frantically trussing a turkey." and the last words, SPOILER ALTERT: "Let cool overnight to allow gelatin to set.") and nonfiction works where the author writes a meaningful introduction to set the entire text up.

Plus, this should be more interesting - as someone that's entered a lot of CK facts, I have to admit that I've gone to the internets quite a bit to double-check and grab information on books that have long gone fuzzy for me - or to check things where the information was mis-entered and my LT OCD needs to fix things properly. For this, the vast majority of folks will actually have to have the book in hand in order to fill in both. This should be fun!

As far as spoilers go, I say a toggle is fine. I've been in the spoiler discussions too often to start on my, "really, this is all it takes to 'ruin' something for you?" speech. =P (I have a high tolerance for the spoiler, I freely admit it.)

Aug 13, 2008, 1:43pm Top

Daniel J. Boorstin's The Discoverers starts with a quote by Francis Bacon on a page by itself, then the Table of Contents, then a Personal Note to the Reader, then a page introducing Book One, Time with another Francis Bacon quote and a paragraph introducing this section of the book, then a page introducing Part One (of Book One), The Heavenly Empire with a quote by Paracelsus, then Chapter one begins. Which of these are the first words?

Aug 13, 2008, 2:20pm Top

45: Whichever you feel like entering, but I'd recommend putting them in Order.

And, well, not the Table of Contents.

Aug 13, 2008, 2:28pm Top

45, 46> Agreed. If you think it's worth the time to enter, someone else is thanking you for it.

I do like how justjim indicated where the "First words" were coming from (prologue, headnote, etc.), and gave each its own entry in the Second Foundation example noted above.

Aug 13, 2008, 7:58pm Top

#44 "For this, the vast majority of folks will actually have to have the book in hand in order to fill in both. This should be fun! "

Actually Stephmo, I filled in about 340 first lines the other day just by mining the combined knowledge that we already had in Talk - there are about a dozen threads listing first lines of books - same as guess what book it came from and some just listing favorite first lines (the latter were faster to add since the book touchstone and quote would be in the same message instead of separated by other guesses). I'm reliant on the accuracy of others posts for the entries, and I didn't add some that were incomplete, or obviously lacking in punctuation, but it seemed too good a resource to pass up.

There are plenty more lists of first lines around the internet - and on Amazon, that could also be mined.

And of course the same classic first lines come up again and again.

And I'm only up the fourth thread of the First line Game in the What are You Reading Now book, there's another four threads worth not yet added.

I agree on the Second Foundation example being a great way to show different candidates for first line.

Aug 13, 2008, 8:01pm Top

Are there any aspiring programmers out there who want to program a game based on this data?

Aug 13, 2008, 8:30pm Top


Everyone knows the first line of a number of books. Many people know the last lines of at least a few books.

I think it's true, though, that for the vast majority of people and the vast majority of books, they'd need book (or other reference material) in hand or on screen to do both.

(Off the top of my head I can think of two exceptions for myself (1984 and A Tale of Two Cities); I imagine that these are probably among the most common cases. Oh, and the Bible, if you count only the actual text and not any introductory or concluding material, and if "Amen" is enough to count as a final sentence.)

I'm not going to enter the last sentence of 1984, though. Too spoilery.

Aug 15, 2008, 10:31pm Top

Dhalgren .... yahhhhhhhh.

Spoilers are not an issue with this book.

Aug 21, 2008, 2:59pm Top

Any chance we could get these as a catalog field as well as just on the work pages?

Aug 21, 2008, 11:19pm Top

Yes, that is a possibility. Things are pretty crazy right now in Development Land so bumping this request a week or so from now probably wouldn't hurt.

Aug 22, 2008, 12:01pm Top

50> It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.

Aug 22, 2008, 12:35pm Top

54> Blurst?????????

Aug 22, 2008, 3:33pm Top

Perfectly cromulent.

Aug 22, 2008, 3:52pm Top

Hopefully this thread is embiggening people's vocabularies.

Sep 1, 2008, 6:46am Top

Please guys, can you make the last lines field a default hidden field! Twice now, I've gone onto CK to edit something and because it wasn't a long entry with lots of characters, the last line was visible and I'd seen it before I had a chance to click off ... that's 2 new books that have had the endings spoiled! It's getting to the point where I'm considering not using the CK section at all because I don't want to have books ruined by the 'last lines' listing ........ I know you're busy with collections, but this in not an un-small issue! Thanks.

Sep 1, 2008, 6:46am Top

If you can't make it default hidden yet, could you at least consider disabling the 'Last Line' bit until you can?

Sep 1, 2008, 9:02am Top

#59, I'm with you! I've been holding off adding last lines to CK to avoid spoiling books for others, but then those empty spaces bug me.

Sep 1, 2008, 10:26am Top

#61, I know! I love the whole 'First Words, Last Words' thing! But I have also been put off entering until I can do both. Not just the blank spaces, but also the fact that my slightly OCD head wonders how I'd remember which books I needed to go back and enter the last lines for. I don't want someone else's reading experience to be affected by me entering a last line they didn't want to read .......

Sep 1, 2008, 2:10pm Top

I've added hiding of the "last words" field.


Sep 1, 2008, 2:32pm Top

Great! Thanks, Tim.

Sep 1, 2008, 2:34pm Top

I want to add something to hide when there's more than X answers. I'll get on that now.

Sep 1, 2008, 2:40pm Top

Will we see this warning on books we have entered Last Words for? Will there be an option to turn the warning off?

Sep 1, 2008, 2:55pm Top

Okay, I've made it so that, when there's more than 5 items in any field list, it only shows five, with an option to show the rest.

So, the Lord of the Rings is no loner a 285-character nightmare :)

Sep 1, 2008, 2:55pm Top

Okay, I've made it so that, when there's more than 5 items in any field list, it only shows five, with an option to show the rest.

So, the Lord of the Rings is no loner a 285-character nightmare :)

Sep 1, 2008, 2:57pm Top

Thanks again Tim!

Sep 1, 2008, 2:59pm Top

67/68> Oh, very nice!

Sep 1, 2008, 4:43pm Top

oooh - fancy!


Sep 1, 2008, 4:56pm Top

I think this clears the way for quotations, don't you?

Sep 1, 2008, 5:12pm Top

Quotations would be fantastic!

Edited: Sep 1, 2008, 5:28pm Top

> 72 Epigraphs and Chapter Titles - PLEAAAAAAAAAASSSSEEEEEEE

ETA - ^ Picture that way more whiny and plaintive than you'd first imagine (or fourth, even). ;)

Sep 1, 2008, 5:33pm Top

I don't understand why I have to click on a spoiler warning to view the last words that I entered.

Sep 1, 2008, 5:46pm Top

Epigraphs, maybe. Chapter titles, no way. That's a more complex feature than CK can handle well.

Sep 1, 2008, 5:46pm Top

Sep 2, 2008, 10:37am Top

>62 klarusu: and Tim
I'm well over my sulk about #39, but I've been Wikipedia editing about other stuff on my shelves (here amongst others), and I've completely lost track of where I was up to with the FW/LW. Is there a place where I can find my 'personal' history on either all of CK or, preferably, a particular field of CK?

Sep 2, 2008, 10:40am Top

Good ideas. Not sure. Will ask Chris.

Sep 2, 2008, 10:43am Top

And about my own Last Words being obscured by a spoiler warning? I entered them, they're not a spoiler.

Sep 2, 2008, 10:45am Top

>80 DaynaRT:

No, it needs to work consistently. People will get mad if it suddenly vanishes again if someone else had subsequently re-edited it, etc. Consistent operation makes more sense here.

Sep 2, 2008, 10:49am Top

Ok, I'll edit what I've entered and ignore this "feature".

Sep 2, 2008, 10:57am Top

*Bump* on msg 52 - any possibility these could get added as a catalog field? It'd be a lot easier to fill in if I didn't have to go back and forth to the work pages.

Sep 2, 2008, 11:08am Top

>83 fyrefly98:

Yeah, I want to put them all on soon. The catalog is rather "in the middle of things" right now, but it's on my list.

Sep 2, 2008, 12:32pm Top

Apropos of not very much, here is a lovely little essay on first and last words.

Sep 2, 2008, 3:56pm Top

A propos of wonderful. Thanks!

Sep 3, 2008, 12:17am Top

... for games, it would be lovely if on group pages the game could draw from books in group members' libraries. a way to add a little more interactivity in the group. i could certainly see first line / last line / epigraphs / quotes (and eventually dedications) games.

Sep 3, 2008, 1:19am Top

The time has come to say it.

Crap. Crap crap crap!

I've found a new timesink in first words, last words.

And almost every set I've entered has been instructive, and has really spoken to the heart of the book! This has been really educational so far.

Edited: Sep 3, 2008, 8:10am Top

Thankfully, nobody has yet entered the closing words to The Nine Billion Names of God short story, which is the only closing sentence that I remember.

Sep 3, 2008, 9:39am Top

>89 Noisy: A definite spoiler!

Sep 25, 2008, 1:04am Top

Tim, I'm not sure if it's just FW/LW or the rest of CK, but when I enter a second or subsequent FW or LW (and second or subsequent entries almost always require a "Title" like "Foreword" on a separate line), the Enter key not only gives me a new line but activates the Save button meaning that I have to click on the edit pencil to complete the entry. Could this be avoided? It doesn't happen in the first text box.

Nov 3, 2008, 9:23pm Top

Bump 91 (probably not the correct thread but what the hey!)

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