Clarify CK relationships
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I sometimes enter CK relationships, and never know which direction to use.
Timna Brauer is Arik Brauer's Daughter. If I enter that should it read Brauer, Arik (daughter) or Brauer, Arik (father)?
The examples don't help me. If an example contained both the author whose page it was on and the related person of the other sex, it would be crystal clear.
In the parentheses you put the relation of the person whose name you just typed to the person whose CK page you're on. The word(s) in parentheses tell you who the person is/was.
Perhaps it could be added to the examples that they all are for Aldous Huxley?
yes it would be an idea to have an example on the page.
Looking I notice someone used the all purpose sibling for Charles on Mary Lamb's on her page.
we could start
maybe if gave Spot(dog) as an example relationship. that would be sufficient.
Showing one person and the unambigiously related the examples would be better, If only Charles and mary had a few more relationships listed they would be ideal. the Durrells to show only filial relationships, Can any one think of some with both filial and professional relationships with other authors?
3> But that still only helps if you know how those people are related.
I still have no idea whether I did it right or not.
Urgh While I was editing Yes Anglemark of course the present example shows a variety.
I think the ideal example would show a relationship that involved different sexes. Brother when referring to two men is still ambigious in its direction, something that brother/sister husband/wife, owner/dog relationships make explicit.
How telling it is that I places those relationships in such a patriarchal order.
If we are are on Aldous Huxley's page and we see
Huxley, Julian (brother), we must interpret that ALDOUS is Julian's brother.
Orwell, George (student), and ALDOUS is Orwell's student.
Huxley, Leonard (father), and ALDOUS is Leonard's father.
So this on Timna Brauer's page
Brauer, Arik (father) would mean TIMNA is Arik's father.
The examples are ambiguous unless you KNOW, (as wikipedia does), that ALDOUS is actually Leonard's son!
So Julian is his brother. (useless as an example because brothers ARE brothers)
Leonard is his father... (you shouldn't have to go look that up)
so George Orwell was Aldous' student?? (who knew? who knows these things?)
and thus Arik is Timna's father.
I agree that the examples could be (should be) improved, but as I wrote, the word(s) in parentheses tell you who the person before the parentheses is/was. It's perfectly parallel to Tolkien, JRR (author). Why would it be different here?
Why is someone's student in the "relationship" field anyway? Might as well have "next door neighbor".
10> Professional relationships are quite proper to include, That you or I may not consider a particular relationship noteworthy does not mean it is of no merit. if it has been entered then it is because someone considers it noteable.
"Professional relationships are quite proper to include".
No, they're not.
See the CK wiki page: We've also added a "Relationships" field, intended to capture when an author's spouse, son or other relative is also an author
Given that one of the examples that staff put in the examples next to the field is "Orwell, George (student)," I think it's safe to say that the relationships in that field need not only be familial.
However, some judgment is needed about notability, both of the relationship and of the people. The relationship between Huxley and Orwell is particularly notable, I assume, because both are well known and it's an interesting fact given their writings (even if, afaik, Huxley only taught Orwell for a very brief time). Similarly, the fact that one philosopher or scientist was the student of another may well be noteworthy.
On the other hand, I've seen a lot of people just list spouses' or children's names in that field, when those people are neither authors nor any kind of public figure. As far as professional relationships go, some are not noteworthy enough to go in there; there was a discussion once about co-authors and, if I'm remember correctly, the conclusion was that that was not significant enough.
ETA, this is from conceptdawg's semi official comments on co-authors, and it bears on this question of professional relationships. He said that co-authors don't belong there, and should be listed using the authors field. By contrast,
He also said "collaborator" needs to mean something long-term, something more than just co-authorship on a book or an article.
Concerning the original post, I too have the same confusion/doubt each time I add a relationship, and think clarification right there in the example text is in order.
I got here tonight because I found an example where somebody entered things the opposite way of what I had been doing and made me doubt all my edits (the person was the son of the person they were listing in that field, so they wrote "(son)"). I don't know the Huxley family tree and don't want to have to look it up each time.
I think simply adding an opposite-sex example would really help, e.g. "Huxley, Laura Archera (wife)".
It doesn't solve the generational problem, but I've taken to entering gender-neutral roles: spouse, sibling, parent, etc.
>15 PhaedraB: It doesn't solve the generational problem ...
"family line"? "lineage"? "asc/descendant"? "progeny/itor"? Wait, some of those could involve grandparents/grandkids. Shoot. Would "from the loins of" work? :-p
>16 omargosh: I think "parent," "child", "grandparent" etc. would work, but it doesn't clarify the opposites problem, i.e., is it John Smith, Jr. (child) on John Smith, Sr.'s profile, or the other way 'round? Personally, I believe John Smith Jr. (child) is correct. If it's not, I have entered a whole heck of a lot of bad CK.
From the help page (https://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Common_Knowledge#Relationships):
The entry should be in Lastname, Firstname format, just like Canonical Name, and the relationship should appear in parentheses. The relationship is who that person is in relation to the current person, e.g. on Isabel Fonseca's page, Martin Amis is listed as Amis, Martin (husband).
But nobody reads that, so I agree that the examples should be clarified.
Perhaps it would help to add something like "The entries should be read as name is the author's relation. For example, Huxley, Leonard (father) means Leonard Huxley is the author's father."
I agree wholeheartedly with this post, only adding that "is also an author" should have been in bold as well.
I confess to (very occasionally) deleting names of 'all rabbit's friends and relations' when they are not writers. Of course that still leaves the forlorn empty 'author' pages stuck in the system.
Sorry if it wasn't clear, I was actually just kidding about all those options in 16. :-) And looks like you're doing it right.
Ah, I see you edited things since I saw your message last night before heading to bed: "But nobody reads that, so I agree that the examples should be clarified." Exactly. While I very much appreciate your always helpful feedback, the point is that we shouldn't have to bother. I shouldn't have to ask for input in Talk, or hunt down the Huxley family tree, or know about the wiki, and you shouldn't have to waste your time responding to my queries (sorry this is coming across as ungrateful ... I'm not! :-)), when there's an easy way to make it clearer right there in the contextual help text. Hence posting here in RSI instead of the CK group.
Yeah, the help text could also clarify this. I recall finding on the Stephen Colbert page that somebody had gone to all the trouble of listing his wife and kids. Felt bad about undoing their efforts, but I knew the kids were just little'uns, and the wife's page was just blank. Thought it's not always easy to tell. In my example from yesterday, there was actually a spelling discrepancy that had it leading to a blank page, but the guy's father was indeed an author with works in LT.
Some terms at least are bi-directional, like "sibling" or "spouse". At least if de-gendered.
For unidirectional terms, why not eliminate ambiguity in the text of the parenthetical, rather than hoping that the reader understands which form LT has standardized on? (assuming LT does standardize on a form)
- Emily Bronte (sibling)
- Anne Bronte (sibling)
- Branwell Bronte (sibling)
- Patrick Bronte (Charlotte's father)
1) Why are you using "siblng" instead of "sister" and "brother"? It seems clearer when it is more specific.
Charlotte Bronte Page:
• Bronte, Emily (sister)
• Bronte, Branwell (brother)
Why say "Charlotte's father" when the name Patrick Bronte can appear on Charlotte's page as
• Bronte, Patrick (father)
2) I use teacher/student when it seems significant, though I realize it could get out of hand. Any relationship list could get out of hand, but for me that is not a problem. I trust my judgment. I can't speak for others.
Although the question was not addressed to me, I began using "sibling" and "spouse" and "parent" when I had an AHA! moment about binary gender assumptions. Probably comes from knowing two friends who have children transitioning gender. And my late husband had an ex-wife who transitioned to male. If he (the ex) were an author, "spouse" would feel more appropriate than "wife."
I can see why you would use those terms in real life, because that is your experience. But it isn't mine and it isn't the majority's, and I feel that on a web site, even a peculiar one like LibraryThing, ought to consider the consensus rather than the minority. That's why I use husband rather than spouse, because it is probably what the majority here know or use or both.
I am aware that these comments may be unpopular with the few, but among the many they are probably the norm.
>25 barney67: The norm, perhaps, but norms are not ideals. The inclusion of other/unknown/disputed under gender is an example of an inclusionary solution.
"Sibling," "spouse" or "parent" convey the relationship perfectly clearly. Aside from personal preference, I don't see where there would be any problem using them. I'm not going to get into an editing war over it, but I am not going to change the way I'm doing it, and I hope by discussing it, other people will consider it themselves. But if they don't, no harm on either side.
"Sibling," "spouse" or "parent" convey the relationship perfectly clearly
-- But they don't. A sibling could be either a brother or sister. The word "sibling" destroys that distinction. It's not personal preference. The meaning is conveyed only through the more specific term, not the vague one.
My understanding (per > 22) is that the original argument for using de-gendered terms like "spouse" and "sibling" was that they're bi-directional . . .
Ex. If author Zelda Pafufnik is married to author Rolf Throttlebottom, it's never been entirely clear whether, when you list Rolf under "relations" on Zelda's CK page, it should be:
Rolf Throttlebottom (husband) . . . as in "Rolf is/was husband to Zelda, whose CK page this is"
Rolf Throttlebottom (wife) . . . as in "Zelda, whose CK page this is, is/was wife to Rolf"
Using "spouse," or "sibling" was a work-around for that . . . though one that, alas, doesn't scale to cross-generation relationships.
23 > The reason that I listed in this thread for non-gender-binary terms is that it can avoid linguistic confusion that otherwise would require additional disambiguation, as was described in the first 21 messages.
So your question, "1) Why are you using "siblng" instead of "sister" and "brother"? It seems clearer when it is more specific."
Yes, it's "more specific", but because it is gender-specific, the specificity can thus require additional disambiguation. Frankly, can and should, because how else can a reader know who's a brother or sister? (see the first 21 messages) But "sibling" or "spouse" work just fine.
** Just as #28 said.
The argument for gender-non-specificity that #24 mentions is also relevant. As for, "But it isn't mine and it isn't the majority's," -- I submit that most people know some same-sex couples, or know of some same-sex couples. So you may wish to reconsider.
As for the inter-generational relations (or other more complex relationships) -- I strongly urge that we simply spell out the relationship in the CK. Even if we settle on a format for LT, it's going to leave a significant percentage of readers confused. There doesn't seem to be any downside to saying "(Charlotte's sibling)" or "(Charlotte's brother)".
The problem with same-sex couples is to know what to call a partner. 'Partner' usually seemed OK although there can be confusion with professional partners, but since civil partnerships and, now, same-sex marriages are common should one be more specific. I have heard a woman describe her (female) partner as her 'wife' - although never as her 'husband'. Does 'spouse' imply a formal relationship? My head hurts! ;-)
* spouse implies a formal wedded relationship and is AFAIK always appropriate for those circumstances, same-sex or opposite-sex (or for that matter polygamist).
* "partner" or "companion" are for informal non-wedded relationships and are similarly appropriate for same- or opposite-sex relationships. They're not precisely analogous because they don't necessarily denote a sexual component to the relationship. Although I guess that's not untrue for spouse, either.
I have just been entering CK data for George Barker and Elizabeth Smart and went along with (lover) that had already been entered as their relationship. The couple, who did not marry, had four children (two on LT as authors) and a long term, though not monogamous, relationship. Barker fathered another 11 children, I think, with other women. Somehow (lover), although presumably accurate, seems a bit inadequate for the Barker/Smart ménage.
I submit that most people know some same-sex couples, or know of some same-sex couples.
Yeah, but that's not quite the issue here. I call my wife my wife, and she does the same for me; all our married lesbian friends I can think of do the same, and likewise with "husband" for our married gay male friends. If I hear someone referring to their "spouse", it's either a case where their spouse doesn't identify on the gender binary or where they prefer not to disclose the sex of their spouse. This may be regional and/or age-based variation; I do know a lot more people used "spouse" when they were closeted, or when they couldn't be legally married.
I do agree with the use of the gender-neutral term, but for gender binary reasons, not sexual orientation reasons.
> 33 My partner & I generally use "partner" unless she's really trying to annoy me. (She will put "Mrs." on my airline tickets.) I use "spouse" in certain professional circles.
My sexual orientation reason is sort of an offshoot of the CK relationship thing that started this here. And, warning, not helpful:
I don't like "wife" or "husband" as a status of an individual; they're relational titles, so there's at least as good a claim to someone being married to a woman being a "husband", and thus same-sex-female relationships are both husbands, and vice versa for male relationships both being wives. Socially speaking, though, most people identify their their (potential) relational role strongly with their gender ... so lesbians are wife-wife, and gay men are husband-husband. That's an embedded gender binary that makes me uncomfortable. The fact that the terms "wife" and "husband" come with a lot of historical and legal baggage make me even more uncomfortable. So, I avoid them.
And, returning to the broader conversation: If we all just use the polite, accurate, unambiguous, and completely uncontroversial terms "sibling" and "spouse", then we can avoid the hermeneutics of parentheticals and gender-relational titles alike.
"I submit that most people know some same-sex couples, or know of some same-sex couples."
-- We'll have agree to disagree on this one. I don't know any. But I'm not sure it's relevant.
"went along with (lover)"
-- I've seen the use of "lover" and I'm not fond of it. I delete it. I have neither the desire, the time, nor the ability to know who is in love with whom, whether in the present or the past. That is far too complex for something like CK. As someone mentioned, "partner," "companion," and other common terms have traditionally been asexual words, or now, at least multiple definitions
When I see the use of terms like "binary gender assumptions, transitioning gender, de-gendered," in someone's post, keep in mind that most people don't talk this way. Most people don't think this way. I'm guessing maybe 90%. Just as they don't know what disambiguation is. I write to you now as an American midwesterner who has been in both intellectual and non-intellectual circles, so to speak, to make a gross simplification. Call it the democrat in me.
Again, I have neither the time, desire, or ability to determine if Willa Cather or Marianne Moore were lesbians and what the nature of their relationships with men and women were. For my part, I don't care. I like their work and that's what matters. Perhaps our world is unpardonably nosy. I don't know how to fit a vague, complex word like "love" into a square printed box. Relationships take many shapes.
Please understand that I am not trying to insult anyone. I like to tell people how I am doing CK. I also like to see it done uniformly because I think it benefits all. Often I have had to remind myself of a lesson I have had to learn the hard way over years. Whether in writing, making speeches, or even in conversation, keep in mind who your audience is.
That's fair, and an entirely understandable stance. The historical baggage associated with the word "wife" doesn't bother me personally, and for me the value in being able to communicate the nature of my relationship by saying "my wife" as a woman outweighs it; society is heteronormative enough that if I refer to 'my spouse' when she isn't present and I don't use her name (which is gendered) people will assume I'm talking about a man, which bothers me. I'm just explaining my own reasoning, though, not trying to convince you to change your own usage!
And, returning to the broader conversation: If we all just use the polite, accurate, unambiguous, and completely uncontroversial terms "sibling" and "spouse", then we can avoid the hermeneutics of parentheticals and gender-relational titles alike.
>35 barney67: When I see the use of terms like "binary gender assumptions, transitioning gender, de-gendered," in someone's post, keep in mind that most people don't talk this way. Most people don't think this way. I'm guessing maybe 90%.
That's unfortunate, and it's something that I think is worth working to change. However, for this particular issue, it's not a case of newly coined words that are going to confuse anyone; it's a case of using commonplace English words that are immediately understood, though, so if those 90% don't know why someone uses "spouse" they'll still understand the word - it's not like the title "Mx" (which I only recently encountered myself) that might appear to be an error.
"For my part, I don't care."
You seem to care enough to delete it when other people have entered it in CK.
"I don't know how to fit a vague, complex word like "love" into a square printed box. Relationships take many shapes."
And how is that different from the "friend" relationships that you do deem ok to enter? Would you mind people deleting those friendships that you've entered because they "have neither the desire, the time, nor the ability to know" who is friends with whom?
ETA: In 35, barney67 originally discussed adding friend relationships, but seems to have removed that, which is fine, whatever, but I'm noting it so that my reply doesn't make me look too much like a crazy person making stuff up. :-)
I "went along with" (lover) because I generally don't alter CK that reflects differences in opinion rather than inaccuracies of fact. The pedant in me goes to the dictionary - Lover: someone who loves, esp someone in a sexual relationship with another person (Chambers 10th ed.). In the example I gave the couple had AFAIK shared in the conception of four children over a number of years (OK, who really knows, but Mr Barker did accept paternity) so the term is accurate enough by that definition. I'm not sure what I would have put instead: it didn't seem quite right but wasn't, for me, wrong enough to change.
>37 omargosh: Yes, friends - that's something else! I have recently noted a couple of criminal trials in which the press reported that the accused had been found guilty of murdering "a friend". Maybe I will delete (friend) when I see it ;-)
I can't help but view the deletion of (lover), in this context, as a deliberate and calculating act of closeting.
I'm going to contribute to this conversation by running an analysis of what people are actually putting in the parentheses here.
Here's everything above 50:
78 (doctoral student)
72 (doctoral advisor)
57 (PhD advisor)
Here are some onesies:
1 (aide to)
1 (husband), Chandler Washburne (Son), Margaret Washburne (Daughter), Julia Davis Chandler (Mother)
1 (PHK is nephew to BK)
1 (Nell's father)
1 (father)(Boston newspaper editor)
1 (wife & co-author)
1 (Irene's sister-in-law)
1 (co-author, romantic partner)
1 (grandfather)(RI newspaper editor)
1 (wife) benedict daniels (son)
1 (great-great-great uncle)
1 (wife, married 1905-11-11)
1 (husband and editor)
1 (Moore) (wife)
1 (Irene's cousin)
1 (husband), Kaity (daughter), Travis (son), Ryan (son)
1 (Rulon's nephew)
1 (teammate at UCLA)
Ha. You might also want to look at what people are putting in the field in general, not just in the parentheses. Things like: "married, two kids" or "seven children" or "twin daughters."
(47: If I remember correctly, he uses that field to force-create author pages.)
That explains garbage like this.
Honestly, some people should be barred from "helping".
What would be interesting would be how many of those are used in the inverted sense. What this thread originally pointed out was that since all people in the example text are male, unless you have prior knowledge of their relationships you don't know whether Y (father) in the CK Relationships field for X means that X is Y's father or that Y is X's father.
LibraryThing in general favors popular over "right." The primary title for a work is the name it's known by. Authors too.
If we follow that rule here, we'd notice that "wife" and "husband" are used ten times more than "spouse." "Brother" and "sister" are far more than that--used 3,404 times, whereas "sibling" isn't on the list at all. (I looked and it's currently used only six times!)
That said, I'm not at all inclined to insist on the more common terms. Unlike for works and authors, the data stakes here are not high, as they sometimes are elsewhere. Having LibraryThing call it "Братья Карамазовы" instead of "The Brothers Karamazov" or the correct, but seldom used, "The Karamazov Brothers" would confuse members. Ditto Samuel Clemens instead of Mark Twain; people would say "Who's he?" That's not true here. People understand all these terms. And if we ever wanted to "use" the relationship data, LibraryThing's crack programmers could figure out a way to understand "brother," "sister" and "sibling" as the same essential relationship.
So, my inclination would be that we should use the terms we want to use, and, to avoid fights, avoid messing with others people's work unless it's actually wrong. All the terms above are acceptable because they are easily understood and, if necessary, can be parsed by a computer into something richer at a later date.
If someone wants to use the data to score points—replacing all "wives" with "domestic slave," or removing all references to same-sex marital relationships or second marriages, on the grounds these "aren't real"—that would be another thing entirely. It would be both offensive and destructive of data.
In my own practice, I favor saying that Kingsley and Martin Amis are father and son, not parent and child. But I'd use sibling if I had the sense the author would prefer that term, or I could reasonably infer a potential issue from the various options in the gender field—or if I'm being lazy and want to paste in five siblings and change as few words as possible.
As for "lover" and so forth, I think descriptive terms are descriptive, and more data is often better. Looking at my list, I see terms like "paramour," "co-conspirator," "shipmate," and "second cousin 1x removed" and think, "Hey, who's that?!" Obviously I'd remove designations designed to cause offense, but I'm not spotting any.
Anyway, that's my feeling. Fire away.
PS: I do see that "sibling" has the distinct advantage of thwarting directional mistakes. But I'd rather improve the prompt, or the user interface, than force people to use a term that's been so rarely used. Also, while sibling solves that problem, we can't solve the directionality problems of parent and child that way.
Looks like that's just the English relationships too. Was kinda surprised there was only 1 "bruder". Looks like a search reveals more like ~250 "Bruder"s. Don't know the German for "lover", but there are 44 listings for amante, half of which seem to be for Alexandre Dumas, haha.
Here's another "test case" - http://www.librarything.com/author/millontheodore - this man went to school with Maurice Sendak. They both used to draw on the blackboard together. What is their relationship?
BTW I did like (bandleader)
Nah, was just making a note of it, but thanks for the offer. What I would like is better contextual help text, though! :-) (Unless you're saying there is no "wrong" way to do the child-parent order thing?)
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