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LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world (Part III)

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Apr 2, 2013, 10:46am Top

With some help from my new friends and a bit of luck I'm trying to continue this topic as I think the conversation is useful and should go on, and I'm trying to observe the etiquette of my new home.

Apr 2, 2013, 10:47am Top


Apr 2, 2013, 10:47am Top


Apr 2, 2013, 10:50am Top


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Apr 2, 2013, 11:17am Top

Now if you can just convince people to stop posting in the old threads. ;)

Apr 2, 2013, 11:19am Top

I just noticed there was a new one. :P

Apr 2, 2013, 11:21am Top

Yeah, LT's topic continuation method is.. quirky. Wish it at least had a "are you sure you want to post to this continued topic in this thread?" confirmation.

Apr 2, 2013, 11:24am Top

Don't worry about etiquette bunwat --just that you are trying to observe whatever cultural practices may exist here means you don't have to be concerned about that

Apr 2, 2013, 11:47am Top

> 6
Think of them as "Legacy Threads"...

Apr 2, 2013, 12:39pm Top

You can always click the ignore 'x' so you don't wander back into the old threads by mistake...

Apr 2, 2013, 12:43pm Top

OOo, I just poked the "more" button to see what it did, and it does nifty things!

Now, what exactly does the "reply" button do? I have used it several times and I can't see a difference between "reply" and just adding another message. What am I missing?

Also -- where was that list of super duper special marks that let you play in messages? Touchstones I think I have, but other stuff, not so much.

Edited: Apr 2, 2013, 12:44pm Top

Some of us are intrigued by the worms of discourse stirring in deceased threads.

Apr 2, 2013, 12:47pm Top

>12 Murphy-Jacobs:

Reply just gives you a box directly under the message you're replying to for easier reference.

The special stuff is mostly html, touchstones as you mentioned and using the @ before a member name to link to their profile.

Apr 2, 2013, 12:54pm Top

(12) Murphy-Jacobs:


There's the 'fancy' thread. 'Star' it!

You can also click on the first post 'More' link, and add to favorites. Then you can find it quickly by the left side menu.

Edited: Apr 2, 2013, 5:53pm Top

Thank you Scorbet.

Now, that conversation you all were having over on the part II thread thingie..

First, this


Second -- I started on the internet sort of pre-internet, where I paid for each online hour or used local services for which I was indebted to some kind soul with a computer in his/her bedroom, and there was no thought yet about who owned the data (or privacy, really -- everyone used a handle or six, it was standard). So I'm wondering now if the Internet is hitting the first wave of "generation gap" and if this is somewhere at the crux of the conflict. The article above pointed out some things that simply never occurred to me, apparently because of my age and because I have no children.

Also, I've come to accept the idea that any "free" service I get online I am actually paying for with my data -- my personal data, my online habits, my associations and connections, the content I create -- so I enter in to such relationships with care. Some of the giant corps offer what I want, others don't, and some make the conditions too onerous for me, or act in ways I can't condone. They are all corporations and all prone to "evil" (undefined here, but I think you can make an approximation), so I pick the evil I can live with and avoid the others as much as I can. So, as many have stated, nothing is really free.

I'm not absolutely certain how much of LibraryThing is paid for with my data and content and how much I can pay for with money (and I am going with the money issue as soon as certain personal priorities are met, like medical bills -- thanks for the trial period, Tim!) but I think that can be addressed by the site owner. The idea of being a stakeholder, of sharing my data with other users under certain conditions wherein I retain control of the majority and the most individual parts, where I can chose sources from which to derive information (with the understanding that it is just not free, one way or another), and where I can chose to withdraw into a little hole in the software and not be bothered if I so chose -- all of that appeals to me, and it is the big reason I made such a serious, time consuming, emotionally charged shift. Trust me, I spent a lot of time coming to the decision, based on a series of long considered decisions previous to the actual event. I feel a good deal like I just got a divorce.

Third -- how does one define a recommendation or a discovery site? To me, they seem to be different things, although similar. "Discovery", to me, means roaming around and having an assortment of ideas/things presented, rather like wandering in a bookstore. In the store, I have to pick up a book, look at the cover, read the back or flaps, maybe read a few pages. If I want more information, I have to go elsewhere. GR was very good at making that "elsewhere" immediately available, and "elsewhere" was the information other readers made available (which sometimes included links to paid reviews, review sites, etc.) However, it isn't custom information -- I pick what I want and hunt as far as I want, but there's no guarantee I'll like the book after I do that.

Recommendations, to me, means that my own tastes, previous history, and certain assumptions about my reading habits are converted into a sort of "score", and items which come close to that "score" are presented to me. Since my reading habits don't convert easily to such a score (I read widely, tend to want something different from what I've read before instead of the same, and am often attracted to read something that is very unlike what I've read before) recommendations made this way aren't very useful. In fact, they are no more useful than just discovering books on my own.

Now, there are other kinds of recommendations, such as those made by people who I know, who have read books I've read and reacted to them in a way I find accessible. It doesn't matter so much if those people liked or disliked the book. What matters is that they can tell me about their experience with the book so I can go through the discovery process on my own and decide if it's worth trying. I think that sort of recommendation is very worthwhile, and works well with the discovery process. It's like going to the bookstore with a group of friends.

Anyway, that's my three cents worth (inflation, you know.)

Apr 2, 2013, 1:13pm Top

My favorite thread on Talk post formatting is:

Apr 2, 2013, 1:21pm Top

My two cents: I have 191 books in my TBR, and the number is so few only because I haven't tried to make it comprehensive, and because I only list books I own. I rue the fact that if I calculate my life expectancy and the number of books per year I can read, the number is depressingly small. Good recommendations are always welcome, but I wish they were more necessary!

Apr 2, 2013, 1:46pm Top

Not in a place right now where I can contribute my 3c but I want to drop a quick comment to say that the stakeholder thing matters to me.

Apr 2, 2013, 2:51pm Top

Picking up on the "should recommendations use ratings" issue from the other thread:

I've gone back and forth on this a few times. I'm probably one of the only participants in the thread who actually builds recommendation engines for a living, so I may be marginally more familiar with the general thinking than most people. Experts generally don't think ratings are necessary or even necessarily useful; this is largely an empirical observation (e.g. by running algorithms on publicly-available ratings sets with ratings and without them, the recommendations aren't noticeably improved by including the ratings) but it has a sensible intuitive explanation (that generally you read a book or watched a movie or whatever because you thought you would like it, or learn from it, or whatever, and that presumably you would still be interested in something that succeeds in doing what the one you rated poorly failed at). If the data set was sufficiently dense - most users rating most items - this would probably not be the case, and ratings would be useful, but most real-world datasets are very sparse (that is, most users have rated only a very small fraction of items).

On the other hand, it's increasingly clear that users THINK including ratings would do something, and the intuitive case is hard to argue against (especially because usually what they want to do isn't what experts think of doing, but instead is just dropping low-rated items from individual user-item associations altogether). So maybe it would be worth implementing just to make people happy even if the end results aren't noticeably changed.

Edited: Apr 2, 2013, 2:56pm Top

Or just TELL people you implemented it.


(ETA: With maybe a post-hoc filter that drops ANY item that has already been rated or possibly any item that's even been added to the catalog.)

Edited: Apr 2, 2013, 3:04pm Top

I'd be pretty happy if I could just tell it 'don't rec things that have been rated x stars or less'.

I feel like part of the issue here isn't just basing recs off things you don't like - I see the argument there. It's also that it sometimes recs things that /no one/ seems to like much.

Apr 2, 2013, 8:59pm Top

(17) Thanks, brightcopy! I'd not seen that thread before, woo!

Apr 2, 2013, 10:03pm Top

I made a collection specifically for books I want recommendations based off of. I only add books I really liked and would like to find similar books in the future. I also went through and unchecked the box in my other collections so they would not be included. Is this not a suitable work around?

Edited: Apr 2, 2013, 10:22pm Top

That's basically my system too Barb. For recommendations and more importantly to me, for my Connections.

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 1:47am Top

saw this on writer Brian Falkner's FB page

How a bookseller looks at goodreads

Apr 3, 2013, 1:59am Top

Mostly from before the jump:

Most -- if not all -- of the recommendations I found on GR came not from an algorithm based on my own ratings or reviews or even my library, but from the people who populated my stream with their reviews and additions.

I think this is critical. LibraryThing needs to push the "News Feed" feature we have to encompass more about what other members are doing.

The extreme emphasis on how good it is to be the customer rather than the product here does strike me as a bit problematic, though. Our $25 lifetime fees are not actually enough to sustain the site; a significant part of its revenue still comes from selling our data, via LibraryThing for Libraries. We may be customers, but we're also products.

Some, definitely, although you have control over your reviews—deciding who we share them with. And you can block us entirely by going private. But LibraryThing for Libraries is as much software as data. Of the various products, about half are mostly software, not data (eg., Library Anywhere, Stackmap, Book Display Widgets, Lexiles, etc.).

Import loophole

It's an intentional loophole. You can import them, because having people show up the next day to discover that everything's been hung up on a payment is a joykill. But you can't add through Add books above 200.

That's a fair point, of course. But even assuming out of LT's 1.6 million "users", only 100,000 paid the $25, that's still $2.5 million dollars.

The stuff we sell to members—memberships, CueCats, etc. are a big help to the LibraryThing side of the business. We've discussed going free, but it would hurt a lot.

I might not be understanding everything that LTfL gets from LT, but isn't it true that users have a choice about whether their reviews get used on LTfL? In other words, we are the product only to the extent that we choose to be the product.

You can opt out. You can't opt out of the aggregate data—tags and recommendations based on the statistics of the site. Work you do for CK can end up in our products, although the data itself is free. Ditto edition information.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:04am Top

I think Brian Falkner rather overdoes it. Booksellers and libraries have long encouraged people to share what they're reading. I have book plates the snooty Boston Atheneum did in the 1920s, asking people who've read a book to leave a very short review of it there.

The problem comes when sharing turns into industrial-strenth reprocessing, and when it's not voluntary. I note with sadness that libraries have utterly caved to the Overdrive ebook model, which uses Amazon and which allows two for-profit companies to store everything a person borrows from a library, and market against that information mercilessly. This is a profession that used to fight like rabid dogs to prevent the mere possibility that the government might peek into a suspect's library record.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:09am Top

I've suggested it before and not much traction, but I'm game to discuss other ways of binding LibraryThing. We'd need to hash it out carefully, but we could discuss a rule that no personal holdings data—who holds what books—can leave LibraryThing.com. We sell and will sell things like algorithmic recommendations, based on holdings. But I see no universe where sending the holdings data directly is in members' interest.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:13am Top

I'm interested. I'm also tired and have to go to sleep but I'm in for a hashing if it materializes

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 6:11am Top

We may be customers, but we're also products.

We put in volunteer work that helps LibraryThing make money. I don't think that's the same thing. At least to me it isn't. The last times my two favourite bookshops moved, I helped them move and put the new store in order as an unpaid volunteer, because it's important to me that they succeed. I see my contributions to LibraryThing the same way (in addition to all volunteer work being immediately useful to me because it makes my catalogue better).

Apr 3, 2013, 4:47am Top

>31 anglemark: Well said.

>29 timspalding: Tim, that sounds like a great idea.

Apr 3, 2013, 7:40am Top

>31 anglemark: I wasn't even talking about the volunteer work (and people volunteered at GR too). When we tag our books for our own benefit, that's providing data that LT will sell to other parties.

I think LT is much, much better than GR in this respect, not least because we do pay a membership fee as well. But that doesn't eliminate the "product" aspect entirely.

Apr 3, 2013, 7:49am Top

No matter what we do or where we are, we are product for someone or something. I see it as inescapable in this present world.

So I try to choose wisely who will have information about me.

Maybe I'm kidding myself.

However, I don't see how we can not share any information with the world, unless we take our books and go live in a cave somewhere...but even there, I think the IRS and others will still track us down!


Apr 3, 2013, 8:35am Top

> 28 the Overdrive ebook model





Apr 3, 2013, 9:31am Top

> 28

which allows two for-profit companies to store everything a person borrows from a library

Everything? Or just the eBooks?

Apr 3, 2013, 10:17am Top

Regarding the "you are product" line, there's something in the "What makes LT LT" blog post that I didn't really fully know (even though Tim referred to it above I didn't understand):

Bibliographic data is always free to libraries, including Common Knowledge and our editions data.

So all work on CK is given away free by LT, not sold. The product that you go into selling is from reviews (easily opt-out-able) and tags (opt-out-able if you set your library to private).

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 10:28am Top

>37 brightcopy:

The data is free. They can grab it and integrate it into their data. But we sell the service to provide it—specifically series and awards—into their catalog, along with all the other enhancement. (LibraryThing for Libraries is essentially a piece of JavaScript hit on every page of the catalog. The influx of page hits is staggering and can't be free.) In fact, the number who integrate the data directly is small, because it requires working out how to integrate a rational standard (XML) into the locked-down, crazy systems libraries use. Also most libraries get series and awards data from Bowker or Ebsco as part of another product, and while ours is simply better, it hasn't had the traction it might.

So usage of the data isn't that high. But it's got a copyleft license. If LibraryThing sold to Sauron, I suspect most of it would find its way elsewhere.

Our basic principle has been that bibliographic data is free, because it's built on top of free—the MARC records libraries provide. Of course, I'd feel a right to that data even so—the vast majority is, utlimately, made by librarians at the Library of Congress whom I pay for. But the principle is a general one.

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 10:35am Top

I think for me its not a bright line issue - "never ever touch my data or share it with a single soul!!" or "all our data is out there anyway there's no control in the modern age so quit yer bitchin." Its more of a balancing act - an assessment.

Do I feel like I'm being treated with some reasonable degree of respect? Do I have some control or is it all on the other side? Is what I'm getting from the site valuable enough when weighed against what I'm giving? Can I get straight answers to my questions when I ask them? Am I more or less comfortable with the other relationships the site is engaged in?

Basically, is this relationship working for me? For me, and I'm speaking for only me here, the relationship with GR had been tilting for about 18months toward not fun any more, and increasingly exploitative. I didn't wake up one morning and hear OH AMAZON oh HELL NO and bail. I was already restless.

But I think the reason I was already restless is that the focus of the site was changing long before the announcement. There was a subtle but steady tilt going on, with each decision, with each new feature, with each interaction with the developers - toward becoming a place that was really good at ginning up buzz for the next big mass market fad.

Which, fine. If that's what they want to be. But its not what I'm looking for. So I can cry and complain about it for a little while. But eventually I get the message. Hey I'm not the target audience no more.

Apr 3, 2013, 10:36am Top

#38 by timspalding> Understood, and thanks for taking the time to elaborate. It's a little thing, and probably mostly symbolic. But symbols matter more than just a little. As you know, far too many companies have their default set to "mine, mine, MINE!"

Off on a tangent again, but where would one get this CK data dump? Say if I had some grand idea for a mobile book app that could somehow exploit it.

Apr 3, 2013, 10:40am Top

It's all available by API, but we don't dumpify it at present.

Apr 3, 2013, 10:55am Top

#41 by timspalding> You mean the existing limited API here?

The one that only supports getauthor and getwork for CK? It can tell you what series a book is in, but there's no way to ask for the other books in the series?

If so, the symbol is getting a bit more... symbolic. I can see why nobody would be using it as it shattered the one major aspect of CK - interconnectedness.

Not to mention that without a dump, it's useless for offline mobile or any number of programs that could slice it and dice it in cool unexpected ways but which would cause tons of hits to LT.

Apr 3, 2013, 10:56am Top

ConceptDawg can you reply to this? I frankly forget what's possible.

Apr 3, 2013, 11:58am Top

Bunwat -- exactly, exactly. Respect, and sharing the goals of the site -- being the target audience. Well said.

Apr 3, 2013, 12:00pm Top

I didn't realize that there's some kind of self-appointed cutoff after 200 messages? so I just wasted some time posting in the old thread. :-/

Apr 3, 2013, 12:02pm Top

>45 the_red_shoes: - No biggie. The old threads just get slow after a while, so folks continue them off in a fresh thread. Folks are still reading them though, I wouldn't worry about it.

Apr 3, 2013, 12:05pm Top

"libraries have utterly caved to the Overdrive ebook model, which uses Amazon and which allows two for-profit companies to store everything a person borrows from a library, and market against that information mercilessly. This is a profession that used to fight like rabid dogs to prevent the mere possibility that the government might peek into a suspect's library record."

Ohhh God. Wow, that's terrible.

(Is anyone other than me old enough to remember the press talking about Monica Lewinsky buying Leaves of Grass? No?)

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 12:12pm Top

> 44: Yes, respect is everything. Sure there have occasionally been things I regret / disagree with / etc. , on LT too (whatever happened to tag watch? - "returning soon", for c. three years now...). But: win a few loose a few - I have never felt disrespected here. And that's a VERY important thing if you also want user participation.

Apr 3, 2013, 12:16pm Top

> 45 / 46: It's also not automated or necessarily at 200. It's just some people have slower computers / connections than others, and we try to cater to all.

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 12:21pm Top

> 47: I'm old enough to remember Monica Lewinsky, and European enough not to have followed the details. She read poetry? Shame on her!

Apr 3, 2013, 12:27pm Top

45> Can we revisit the decision now to not allow the option to disallow further posting on an old thread after its been continued?

Apr 3, 2013, 12:31pm Top

I just tried, but I think the decision was in the bath and couldn't come to the door.

Apr 3, 2013, 12:32pm Top

>51 jjwilson61: I'm still happy with the status quo. The posts in the old threads often just seem to be minor responses to side points that aren't really relevant to the core of the thread.

Apr 3, 2013, 12:38pm Top

Really, it seems a big mess to me. When someone does post beyond the end of a continued thread and you want to respond what are you supposed to do? If you post on the continuation thread you risk the person you're responding to not seeing your reply, but if you post on the original thread you're guilty of continuing an already overly long thread.

Apr 3, 2013, 12:44pm Top

(45) the_red_shoes wrote: I didn't realize that there's some kind of self-appointed cutoff after 200 messages? so I just wasted some time posting in the old thread

We'll overlook your error this time, but next time it will cost you...

Apr 3, 2013, 12:54pm Top

andyl in thread II:

Normalising "Post-apocalyptic" and "post apocalyptic" is very easy (at least for me). Just hover over the tag hit the edit link that appears and change the wording of one of the tags to the wording of the other.

While I don't find it exactly hard, either, it would be even easier if the links that appear on mouseover didn't push down everything below. I find the effect distracting.

Apr 3, 2013, 1:04pm Top

>54 jjwilson61: It would depend on the message. Small comment on an irrelevant tangent, I'd respond on the old thread. More content related to the actual thread topic, I'd respond in the new thread.

There's always a risk that someone won't see a message, for whatever reason. If I thought it was critically important, I could always send them a PM. But mostly, life goes on.

Apr 3, 2013, 1:06pm Top

'While I don't find it exactly hard, either, it would be even easier if the links that appear on mouseover didn't push down everything below. I find the effect distracting.'

Yeah, it's personally driving me nuts.

Apr 3, 2013, 1:09pm Top

My bad, he gave _her_ Leaves of Grass. nytimes.com/books/98/10/18/bookend/bookend.html She gave him Nicholson Baker's Vox, back when we thought that was as spicy as Baker was going to get. Were we all wrong there.

Apr 3, 2013, 1:31pm Top

re 42:Brightcopy,

That is correct. We only offer CK getauthor and getwork at the moment, which do return all of the (current) CK information for each of those entity types. We don't have individual CK data calls at this time but that's really just a matter of limited resources, not a specific decision not to provide them. If it's something that a developer needs then we can make those calls available. I've worked with a number of developers to add various bits of data to the existing API. Again, it's really just limited developer resources.

As for the raw dump and it's usefulness on mobile: I think that you might be living a dream there. The data is so large at this point that I don't think you would want to ship it with a product as a complete datastore. As for non-mobile applications using it interesting ways that might need the complete datastore, we are certainly open to that. Just let us know. Yep, limited developer resources again. ;)

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 2:12pm Top

#60 by conceptDawg> Thanks for the reply. Again, I'm not trying to be bitter about this, but my experience with getting you (well, Tim) to add anything to the API is that you have good intentions but it never really happens. Maybe you've turned a new leaf, though! :D

If you made the data available as a dump, people could write their OWN apis and put them up on a site. People like me. Seems like a lot better use of limited developer resources.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:12pm Top

#56 by AndreasJ>
#58 by the_red_shoes>

I banged out a quick Stylish script to hack around this. Give it a shot and see if it works for you. It does in my computer with FF and Chrome, but sometimes differences in computers can cause things not to line up right and this is a bit of a hack job.

Before: After

The style is here: http://userstyles.org/styles/85499/librarything-easier-tag-editing

Instructions on using Stylish: http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Stylish

Apr 3, 2013, 2:14pm Top

61: Yep, we do have good intentions. Mostly it's that I am the original developer for both CK and the APIs and I was moved to the LTFL "division" (for lack of a better term) for a few months (that became....years). Anyway, I think that stint is over for the most part and I'll be back on LT for a while. I hope to get back and update a few of my projects: specifically CK, the APIs, and the overall site design. Local was going to be in that list but Tim was feeling motivated and did that one already.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:16pm Top

Site design? Ooooooh...

::blinks large hopeful puppy eyes::

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 2:20pm Top

Hi. My name's Peter, and I'm a Goodreads expatriate.

("Hi, Peter!")

Okay. I'm here, and my books seem to have made it with me. Now what? Is there a guide to LibraryThing for Goodreads refugees? A discussion group of some kind? It would be nice to be able to sit around and talk about how things were in the Old Country before the putsch.

But since looking backward is of limited usefulness, I think I might just commit myself to writing at least one new book review a day, for a while. At that rate, my collection will be fully reviewed some time in 2035...assuming that I stop buying books from now on.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:26pm Top

With the Goodreads purchase by Amazon, I am back to LibraryThing to ask fellow users how to import. I see there are many helpful posts here. Can you possibly see about PINNING something instructional to the top of the newsgroup?

Failing that, can you link a How-To PDF explaining how to add Library books here?

I will stay on Goodreads, but not so much anymore. LibraryThing, you are my new darling.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:28pm Top

The more buttons I poke and rocks I turn over, the more I find to like. At times I still feel like I'm making 3 left turns to step right, but I'm sure I'll work it out, or just get used to it.

What I find encouraging is that much of the stuff I liked on GR is actually here, and usually with more detail. It's just on a new page instead of a drop down so it feels like it takes longer and requires more effort. But now I've learned how to add books from reviews libraries, I'm a pretty happy girl.

I no longer remember where I saw the discussion about the comments on reviews, so I'll stick my anecdote here. In my 7 yrs on GR, I had 1 person troll on one of my reviews. Far more often I got into interesting conversations or just got positive feedback right then and there. Often, when I saw someone add a book to their collection, I'd comment that I was interested in the book and was waiting for their review, or that I'd read it, which often served to remind that person to talk to me later. So, yes, I do miss that, as I'm cruising through reviews, that I can't make a comment directly but must go to a profile and send a message.

Which brings me to something else either I don't know how to make work or that is just a bother -- I've gotten into some PM conversations with various folks, but since I can't see what I sent them perhaps hours or days before and I haven't seen a method of quoting (and how would I make someone else quote anyway?) I have to nip over to their profile to catch up and hope my sievelike memory will hold on to the info when I get back to my profile to answer the message. Is there a setting to have both what I've sent and what is sent to me appear on my profile?

Apr 3, 2013, 2:29pm Top

>66 Localhostess: - The welcome blog post from this morning may be useful: http://www.librarything.com/blogs/librarything/2013/04/welcome-goodreads-members... - there are links there about import, as well as to the GR to LT guide folks have been working on: http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Good_Reads_to_Library_Thing

Apr 3, 2013, 2:35pm Top

67 Murphy-Jacobs I no longer remember where I saw the discussion about the comments on reviews, so I'll stick my anecdote here. In my 7 yrs on GR, I had 1 person troll on one of my reviews. Far more often I got into interesting conversations or just got positive feedback right then and there.

A lot of us here post reviews on our reading threads in the groups we belong to and we often get comments and feedback and discussions there. For me, it means more to get comments from people I've come to know, than random ones, but I've also had people read my review on the book page and then click on my profile and comment there. I'm not saying this to say comments on reviews on book pages are bad as I haven't really thought this through, but just to point out where discussions often occur.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:41pm Top

(65) Peter, here's another thread for you to peruse:



Apr 3, 2013, 2:41pm Top

62 > Thanks! Definitively helps on the distraction front.

A weakness (which I don't offhand have a suggestion how to solve) is that it makes getting to the tag immediately below the one you've just hovered over a bit trickier.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:44pm Top

I've gotten into some PM conversations with various folks, but since I can't see what I sent them perhaps hours or days before and I haven't seen a method of quoting (and how would I make someone else quote anyway?) I have to nip over to their profile to catch up and hope my sievelike memory will hold on to the info when I get back to my profile to answer the message. Is there a setting to have both what I've sent and what is sent to me appear on my profile?

I just highlight and copy the PM if I want to quote it.

I then click on the sender's name, a box on their profile pops up, and I paste their PM, editing as necessary.


Apr 3, 2013, 2:47pm Top


I will start doing that, because otherwise I'm just irritated. Other sites (not just GR) that I've used show a full trail of messages both sent and received, so I've come to expect it.

Apr 3, 2013, 2:48pm Top

It gets messy, too, MJ (may I call you "MJ"?) when there is a long trail of messages.

I kind of like the simplicity of the PM option here. :)

Apr 3, 2013, 2:53pm Top

I like to have a bit of a trail too and just delete older portions of it when it gets too long and annoying. It's how I do emails and Facebook chats, and like MJ it's just something that I am accustomed to and it helps me to remember what the conversation was about.

Apr 3, 2013, 3:16pm Top

Would it be a burden on the servers to just migrate any chat you want to have that's more than one message over to Talk? Some of us immigrants are a pretty social bunch - we are going to want to talk about our reviews and that we are reading next, and our cats, and... So I think wejust need to find the best way to talk up our storms in this new environment.

Apr 3, 2013, 3:21pm Top

>76 bunwat: People already talk about all those things in various places in chat, so I don't think that's an issue ;)

Apr 3, 2013, 3:23pm Top


There are plenty of chatty, social Groups. You could even start a few for GR refugees, if you want to specifically hang out with the same folks from back "home".

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 3:30pm Top

I started one already its basically just an orientation and information desk. But I can see more in my future!! And I definitely want to get to know people here too, for sure.

I was just thinking along the lines of... For example if Murphy Jacobs sent me a pm saying hey I noticed you are reading x what do you think? I could respond by starting a talk thread and sending her a link to it.

Apr 3, 2013, 3:27pm Top

>76 bunwat: Maybe the question is whether you want to have those kind of discussions in threads in an existing group, or whether you would be better served by creating a new group for it? Either works depending on your preference. The chatting in PMs is going to be one-to-one rather than conversation with multiple participants.

( Sorry if that was unnecessarily obvious. :0 )

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 3:29pm Top

Oh. I'm always a hair late to the party! ;)

Apr 3, 2013, 3:28pm Top

If there's a group for GoodReads refugees, I want in!


Apr 3, 2013, 3:36pm Top

I know that there is at least one GoodReads refugee group (the only one that comes up on search). It's here, for those interested: http://www.librarything.com/groups/refugees

Apr 3, 2013, 3:37pm Top


I don't know, to be honest. I've taken things from Talk to profile comments, but never vice versa; it feels wrong to me, to open up a personal (even if not private) conversation to the world at large, but that could just be an individual preference. If there was a big chatty Group open to that sort of thing, I wouldn't see the harm, but I wouldn't want it to become commonplace to create nonce Groups just for one-off conversations between two people. Does that make sense?

Apr 3, 2013, 3:45pm Top

That's why I asked the question. I'm trying to find a way within the existing structure to have a one on one conversation with a record of what was said. Doesn't have to be a record that lasts forever, but at least able to glance back and refresh my memory as to whether or not I mentioned yet that I like the illustrations but not the translation or whatever.

Maybe I need to dedicate an email address so I have an inbox for that stuff.

Apr 3, 2013, 4:07pm Top

You can keep all those conversations where they arrive -- in "Your Comments" -- indefinitely. Or you can archive them if you don't want them visible, but want to look back at them another time. Or you can delete them.

Apr 3, 2013, 4:14pm Top

I understand that I can do that but they are interspersed with all the other messages I got around the same time. Unless there's a sort by sender?

Apr 3, 2013, 4:15pm Top

"This style makes tag editing a little easier by making the edit links popup and float over the page rather than shove the following tags down lower. This way, tags don't shift all over the place when you're trying to edit them. "

Oh, nice, I'll try it! Thank you!

Apr 3, 2013, 4:17pm Top

>87 bunwat: I see. No, I'm not aware of such a capability.

Apr 3, 2013, 4:28pm Top

Thanks for the info StellarExplorer!! Just trying to figure out how to navigate within the existing system rather than ask for changes. Seems to me I need to give the way you do stuff here a chance first and try adapt, eh?

Apr 3, 2013, 4:31pm Top

Tim has said in the past that he wants to improve the personal comment system to make it easier to follow individual conversations, but it just never made it to the top of the list.

Apr 3, 2013, 4:32pm Top

>67 Murphy-Jacobs: I no longer remember where I saw the discussion about the comments on reviews...

I don't either, so I'll add my two cents here.

PLEASE, Tim, don't add the capability to comment on reviews here in LT. If I wanted that, I'd post my reviews on Amazon. I've written almost 400 reviews here on LT.

>69 rebeccanyc: A lot of us here post reviews on our reading threads in the groups we belong to and we often get comments and feedback and discussions there. For me, it means more to get comments from people I've come to know, than random ones, but I've also had people read my review on the book page and then click on my profile and comment there.

This is my preference too.

Apr 3, 2013, 4:32pm Top

56> it would be even easier if the links that appear on mouseover didn't push down everything below. I find the effect distracting.

I believe it was a design choice to allow more tags to appear on the page since without the effect than each tag would have to have the links which would make the area for each tag larger, and I think being able to handle as many tags as possible on one page was a major design goal.

I see BC has solved the problem by having the pop-up be on top of the rest of the page instead of moving everything around. The downside to that is what if the top one was a misspelling of the bottom one and you hovered over the first one to change it. With BC's change you can't see the correct spelling and have to rely on your memory. Yeah, it's a small problem but there are trade-offs whichever way you go.

Apr 3, 2013, 4:33pm Top

#88 by the_red_shoes> You're welcome.

I'm also reposting this since you might not see it in the other thread:

For those who want their tags in a SINGLE column (the lowest number option is 3 columns), you can use this Stylish style:


Instructions on using Stylish: http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Stylish

I've also added it as a suggestion here:

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 4:36pm Top

#93 by jjwilson61> With BC's change you can't see the correct spelling and have to rely on your memory. Yeah, it's a small problem but there are trade-offs whichever way you go.

Probably could have just shoved it to the left with a big of work. I find there's always a huge amount of whitespace there so it would probably never cover anything up. If anyone is actually bugged by this, I could make the change. then you'd have further over to move your mouse to get to edit. :D

Of course, if LT actually made the change, they could reorder things so Edit was to the right. I'm just trying to do stuff that will fit in the Stylish model.

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 5:45pm Top

>62 brightcopy:

So basically it coopts the tag below it and sticks the edit box there? If people really find it irritating we could have it take a relative position floating on top of it.


Does Goodreads have pinning of messages to top of groups? I've always liked that, but members tend to access groups through Talk, which aggregates across groups, making the "pinning" not work.

Tim has said in the past that he wants to improve the personal comment system to make it easier to follow individual conversations, but it just never made it to the top of the list.

Yeah, still so. I think we're better off focusing on what we have on our plate now. My thought, however, is that we can introduce the ability to comment on your news feed--that this might allow personal comments on reviews and so forth without getting stuck to the review for site-wide purposes. Unformed ideas.

Apr 3, 2013, 5:49pm Top

#96 by timspalding> It floats the edit bit right below the tag. See the screenshot. It's a bit of a kludge but you could do it nicely if you were changing the code rather than just fiddling with CSS like I was.

Apr 3, 2013, 5:55pm Top

rebeccanyc > 69 and others,

Maybe any link directly to a review from inside LT Talk could show up, at the bottom of the review, as a link back to the linking comment? Then anyone looking at the review (or maybe just the review's owner) could find talk conversations that reference it, tying things together a bit more?

Apr 3, 2013, 6:16pm Top

I've often wished for an LT tag that embeds the review into my talk message, complete with fully operational thumbs and flags and such. I frequently debate pasting my review in a thread because if people read it there they'll have no reason to go to the actual review and I'll never see if anyone would thumb it. But if I just post a link, I wonder how many people will bother jumping out of what they're doing and follow it.

I'm thinking something touchstone-ish.

Apr 3, 2013, 6:44pm Top

>99 brightcopy:

I post links to my reviews with manual html all the time. If I could present it in-thread with a "thumbback," that would be so much sweeter.

Apr 3, 2013, 7:00pm Top

>99 brightcopy: I've had people tell me on my thread that they went and thumbed a specific review, but not often. My only concern would be that if it's that simple to thumb reviews, the thumb might turn into the Facebook "Like", where people click it on every post without even thinking. I don't know about other people, but I tend to thumb reviews if they are particularly well-written, particularly useful to me, or say what I wanted to say but more eloquently. I use it sparingly, like a reward rather than a way of telling my friends I read their thread without having to leave a comment.

Apr 3, 2013, 7:00pm Top

>96 timspalding: Timspalding -- in GR discussion groups the moderator(s) can make any thread "sticky" so that it is always at the top of the discussions. There are other options for handling threads, including making "folders" that expand and contract at a click. Bunwat, what else could you do with threads? It's been a while since i messed with it.

I know that when GR introduced the change to groups, I spent a lot of time organizing threads and setting how many appeared in a folder before you had to click the "more" button. It worked very well to keep threads from drifting to the bottom and getting forgotten or lost, and you could separate chat threads from book discussion threads (or any other kind of separation). Here it's very easy to keep track of threads you've made, posted to, or commented on, but threads you haven't seen can disappear from view (I've had several helpful LTers post links to various threads I needed to see because the thread had drifted away and I didn't know it existed).

Apr 3, 2013, 7:03pm Top

>101 casvelyn: Casvelyn -- liking or up thumbing or any other quick method of signaling approval is always prone to unthinking use -- some will use it casually while others are very serious and specific about it. I think it's a matter of interpretation -- does clicking on that little icon mean "Hey, I saw this!" or "Wow, that was terrific" ? Since that's not assigned (and probably shouldn't be) it's going to be used as individuals want.

Does it create a problem with popularity contests and competitiveness here? I haven't noticed it yet, but I am not very long in the community. I know that, for a while and for certain sets of people on GR, it was VERY important to get those "liked" reviews so you could be listed as a "top reviewer" and people would game that system, etc. For me? It never made a difference, and the people I knew there didn't worry about it.

Apr 3, 2013, 7:09pm Top

As far as I'm concerned, the main benefit of having my reviews get thumbed is that they might get "hot" and thus front-paged, and read by more readers. That's happened most recently (to my surprise and delight) with Sex Secrets of Ancient Atlantis. It's always nice to know reviews are appreicated. But if there's a way to rank reviewers by thumbs accumulated, I don't know about it.

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 7:23pm Top

>103 Murphy-Jacobs: I'm not so worried about popularity contests as I am relative usefulness of thumbs.* Right now, I don't really see people throwing them around, so it's reasonable to assume that if a review has a thumb, somebody found it useful for some reason. But if anybody with a well-read thread in a reasonably populous group can rack up a bunch of thumbs on a specific review quickly**, how are we supposed to identify which reviews of a given book other people found useful? Maybe different colored thumbs with different meanings? For books with a lot of reviews, it's useful to see which reviews others found useful.

I know for my reviews, I don't care if people thumb them or not, since I post them in my Category Challenge thread for commentary and I tend to review only books that have few or no reviews or books where I have an opinion contrary to the bulk of other reviewers. So I'm trying to be useful, not rack up points.

*Actually, thumbs are very useful, particularly for hitchhiking and thumb wars. :)

**There are a couple people I can think of offhand in some very busy groups who get a lot of traffic on their pages and a lot thumbs on their reviews (or, in a few cases, would get thumbs if they would post their reviews to the work pages), but these people write brilliant reviews and earn every thumb by virtue of hard work and thoroughness.

Apr 3, 2013, 7:22pm Top

I think it's a good idea to allow comments on the newsfeed. I'm pretty much in favour of anything that increases opportunities for interaction.

I still don't think it would be a replacement for review comments. The benefit there is not just for the reviewer (or others) to engage in conversations at the time of the review, but for those conversations to be visible to other readers of the book later on. It's about adding permanent value to the site, as opposed to just a transient conversation. If the conversations were attached to the review, they'd be useful to more people than just the participants.

Apr 3, 2013, 7:26pm Top

>105 casvelyn: As long as the conversation remained relevant to the review/book or could be minimized in some way. Pages and pages of "Good review!" or "I read that last year" are not terribly useful. On the other hand, reviews that sparked thoughtful discussions of books would be great.

Apr 3, 2013, 7:32pm Top

>107 casvelyn: Oh, my assumption was that it would always be minimized; like on Amazon, you would see a little line at the bottom saying that there were however many comments, and would have to click on it if you actually wanted to read them.

Apr 3, 2013, 8:30pm Top

I have no desire to have comments/discussions about my reviews on my reviews page. I post all of my reviews on my challenge threads and that's where I want discussions to take place - in relative proximity to when I've read the book and while the experience is still fresh in my mind. I don't want someone else to open up a discussion on my review a couple of years after I've read the book and written the review and my memory has grown fuzzy. It would be useful to have an easier way to copy my reviews into my talk threads, but any subsequent discussion needs to stay in the talk threads.

Apr 3, 2013, 8:45pm Top

All discussion of review comments also assumed that people would have a choice of whether or not they were enabled for their reviews.

Apr 3, 2013, 8:47pm Top

Not sure if anyone else has posted this already but BookRiot just listed 12 alternatives to Goodreads, and they seemed pretty enthusiastic about LT: http://bookriot.com/2013/04/03/alternatives-to-goodreads/

Apr 3, 2013, 8:47pm Top

"If I could scan barcodes with my phone and check whether I already own the book, for example, that would be pretty nifty."


That is the one piece of functionality I have been wanting for a long time.

Apr 3, 2013, 9:00pm Top

>112 penitentialarts: That would be an extremely cool bit of functionality.

Apr 3, 2013, 9:04pm Top

>102 Murphy-Jacobs: Murphy-Jacobs said
in GR discussion groups the moderator(s) can make any thread "sticky" so that it is always at the top of the discussions. There are other options for handling threads, including making "folders" that expand and contract at a click. Bunwat, what else could you do with threads? It's been a while since i messed with it.

I am still poking around looking at how groups work here, but I can already tell that I've lost a lot of the functionality I had as a group administrator (they were called moderators). The folders were particularly helpful.

On the other hand, I'm loving the feature that shows which group members' libraries are most similar to mine. That's awesome. Also the activity bar that shows how active the group is. Very useful.

Apr 3, 2013, 9:16pm Top

I think people generally put links to important threads in the group description, or on a separate group wiki. If you read threads through Talk rather than the individual group pages, stickies would be less helpful anyway--assuming that group stickies wouldn't all show up at the top of Talk all the time, which would be extremely inconvenient.

Apr 3, 2013, 9:19pm Top

First off, groups here just aren't approached like groups in a lot of places. Quite a few people (most?) use views that show posts from ALL groups they belong to, all mingled together in order of last post. To see what I mean, click "Groups and posts" to the left. Or they view them using All topics or Hot topics. All of these things intermingle groups and as such people would never see any kind of sticky note in each group. And it would just get annoying if ALL sticky notes for ALL joined groups appeared at the top of intermingled topic listings.

As far as group moderators go, you have to keep in mind that in the culture of LT, that's just not the same thing. There is no actual "moderator" position because there is no moderation to be done. You don't get to kick users out. There is flagging of posts for violations of the Terms of Use but that's IT. You don't get to moderate people's posts otherwise. That's core to LT's philosophy.

Instead, you're more of a "trustee". You get to change group description and picture and set some other options. You can also take the group private or delete it, but that's going to be a much more controversial thing if the group becomes established and there's been talk of limits being put on administrators. This is a great thing, because it helps avoid an "elite" or "clique" of users who have powers they can get rather attached to. Seen that happen to far too many sites.

Apr 3, 2013, 9:30pm Top

Here's how I used stickies in one of the groups I ran. Remember, in this system its the administrator who controls the stickies not each individual group member.


First folder to appear on the group page: Group Business.
Stickied to the top of the list in that folder, Orientation and Group Rules
Below that: New Member Introductions, General Announcements, Member Questions and Suggestions.

Second folder; Chosing Group Reads
Stickied to the top of the list, in that folder; Group List: ie, a list of the novels the group wants to read together, with discussions and updates by me of the list as suggested titles are added or removed.
Below that: Short stories we want to read, People looking for Buddy Readers, Choosing the book for next month, questions about the group reads, etc.

Third Folder: Current Discussions
Stickied to the top: Novel of the Month discussion thread.
Below that: Short story of the month, any buddy reads, last month's discussion if its still going on, etc

Below that are folders for

Recent Discussions
General Chat
Awards and Reviews
and so forth

Apr 3, 2013, 9:32pm Top

I understand that the culture is different here. I'm not advocating for a change. I'm just explaining.

Apr 3, 2013, 9:33pm Top

You can compare the 75 Group Challenge, which has links to wikis in the group description. The wikis have individual threads, organized into categories.

Apr 3, 2013, 9:34pm Top

Yeah, you'll see a lot of the group admins be in charge of keeping those links updated in the group description, or else maintain a Group page on the wiki (the 75 Book Challenge group does this, including a "phone directory" of sorts so you can see all of the current year's participants with a link to their thread(s)).

Apr 3, 2013, 9:38pm Top

>117 bunwat:

And that works if people actually get to the group. I am a member in more than 50 groups... I rarely open a group page (and if it happens, it is because I am looking for a specific thread). I use the accumulated page... if all the sticky ones are at the top, I will need to stay on page 2 or 3 all the time... Or I will have to x all the stickies (and leave the groups that really annoy me with stickies).

Apr 3, 2013, 9:42pm Top

Its clear that the underlying logic of how groups work here is different. Which is fine. As I say, I'm not advocating for one or the other.

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 10:03pm Top

#122 by bunwat> Understood and I appreciate you layout out the differences for our educational benefit. I want to make clear that I'm not trying to admonish you, either, I'm just explaining the finer points on LT in case you hadn't gotten to that part yet.

The way LT handles reading the groups can be incredibly efficient and at the same time incredibly frustrating in how it jumbles them up. To me, it creates much less of a sense of "discrete" spaces with much separation. The groups sort of blend together. This has its good points and bad points.

Apr 3, 2013, 10:07pm Top

#122 It's interesting to hear how other sites run things, so please continue! I suspect a lot of things we do here may have been tried and discarded at GR (and vice versa) because they didn't fit as well with the group that was there at the time. I've found it quite interesting to follow this discussion and note my own emotional responses to suggestions and queries. Helps me appreciate how remarkably well LibraryThing fits my personality. (Which may not be such a good thng for the rest of you ...)

Apr 3, 2013, 10:14pm Top


Excellent. I'm all for sharing knowledge in a non judgemental fashion, lets keep going!

I agree with your description, that the groups here are much less discrete and more blended together. Which as you say, has its pluses and minuses.

I like very much that as a member I can just kind of build my own collection of threads I am interested in and want to watch. I don't have to subscribe to a whole group if I am not interested in parts of it.

I also like that it shows which member made the last new post. There were times in the other site when I would get all excited that there were new posts only to discover that they were by someone I didn't really talk to much, and on a game I didn't play. So that feels like a plus to me.

Apr 3, 2013, 10:50pm Top

Have you checked out the group zeitgeist pages (the link at the top left of the group pages). There's more that could be done there but it's interesting to see what books the members of a certain group have in common.

Apr 3, 2013, 11:06pm Top

>114 bunwat: regarding the Members With Your Books function (which is a favorite aspect of LT for me), I've noticed that this isn't yet working fully for many new members. I've seen a lot of profiles whose most similar libraries have 4 or 5 books listed in common. I suspect that as the system catches up, that data will be more useful.

Apr 3, 2013, 11:07pm Top

>126 jjwilson61: only recently noticed that. Very cool.

Apr 3, 2013, 11:15pm Top

Yeah I really like the group zeitgeist pages.

The thing I'm struggling to figure out is how/if I can migrate some of the book discussion groups I participated in and/or ran. Because they were pretty structured, and the structure was there for a reason; to create a support system for focused and substantive discussion of specific book topics. Reading the Caldecott medalists in order. Nebula and Hugo short fiction nominees. A six month focus on comparing first contact novels.

I'm not sure if I can reproduce the structures and I'm trying to work out how/if its possible to accomplish the same goals without them. Don't know yet. Still on a learning curve. Everything doesn't have to happen today.

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 11:42pm Top

Have you looked at how some of the challenge groups or group reads operate?

Or possibly even the games groups like Crambo.

Apr 3, 2013, 11:46pm Top


Yeah.... so far I'm not really seeing what I need to make it work ... hmmm. Maybe I'll just change things up and try a different mode of attack. Or maybe the groups wont migrate. I think I've mostly lined up people to take over for me over there. Like I said, doesn't have to happen today.

Apr 4, 2013, 12:55am Top

Bunwat, it does sound quite like the sort of thing that gets run in the TIOLI challenge part of the 75 Group Challenge. Check it out ( the TIOLI part, although I can highly recommend the group as a way of losing huge chunks of your life to LT making lots of friends and enjoying stimulating discussions about books).

Apr 4, 2013, 2:04am Top

>63 conceptDawg: conceptDawg and >112 penitentialarts: about API to check from mobile whether scanned book ISBN is something that you have already listed / read / got on wishlist.

..in other words (still a bit early here :)) in case you have a priority list of API changes, then this could be pretty useful. There is just not a single ISBN code for a single book, even when talking about books in same language, so there is a need to compare ISBN code to book work collection (if that's the right term).

Another request about Common Knowledge: understanding that downloading several GBs or even MBs for offline is a bit too much, but some way to get (more) info related to books in my catalog might be interesting.

Especially would like to have "what other books belong into this series" for offline browsing in local book store. Now the only way is to add those un-read not-owned books into my list and somehow try to identify whether I already read them or not. Now I use stars (stars == read, no stars == not read), but understood from this thread that stars have some deeper meaning in LT recommendations? Might have to start using "wishlist" collection, I guess.

--jouni a freetime mobile iPhone developer who got too tired to wait for official LT client and not too excited with currently available APIs but still a happy LT user

Apr 4, 2013, 7:28am Top

Discussion at > 99-101,103-110,

ISTM that comments on reviews should appear in talk, as part of a general conversation in which that review might be relevant. Thus my suggestion - if you want to see the context in which the review was mentioned, go to the Talk thread. Right now we have both comments and Talk in which conversations might happen - I wouldn't want a third channel. A reference to a review in this system need not be just about the review. That leaves room for more discussion than just to approve/debate the review.

Apr 4, 2013, 7:33am Top

#12y Even more favorite than Members with Your Books, for me, is looking at a member's page to see which books he or she shares with you. If you sort that by Popularity (low to high), you can see the more obscure books you share with someone, and if they seem interesting, you can than look at what groups they belong to, etc., to find interesting groups (and of course make them "interesting libraries."

As for groups, I think we all get used to the system we have. I rarely go to Group pages, since I usually view Talk from my starred list (I used to look at it by Groups and Posts, but the 75 Books group got too overwhelming). I only go to the Group pages to start new threads or to look to see if there are new threads I've missed that would be interesting, and I really only do this for the 5-10 major groups I belong to, although I'm "watching" a lot more. I may miss a few interesting threads this way, but it keeps Talk more maneagable. I would be averse to having a group "moderator" who had more power, nor would I want to be one (I am co-administrator of one group and the current year founder of another); I see how it works in other places, but it seems to work fine here without that. And, again, it's what I'm used to.

There are so many ways to use Talk that I think all of you newcomers will eventually find what works best for you.

Apr 4, 2013, 7:49am Top

I'm already loving the customisability of the Talk page. It's much easier to flick between the things I want to keep a close eye on, and the things I'll read through at my leisure, than it ever was at GR.

Apr 4, 2013, 8:15am Top

134> What several of us were agitating for at one time was for a link on the review page which would take you to a thread in a group dedicated to discussions on reviews. That way you could get to the discussion from the review easily or if you wanted to see all review discussions you could go to the group.

Apr 4, 2013, 8:23am Top

jjwilson61 > 137,

That'd be OK, but it still makes discussions of reviews a thing apart, at least to some extent. There's the reviews-discussion group, and then there are the other groups one is active in. I'd like for someone to be able to say, anywhere in Talk, "here's an idea taking off from (link to review)book title(/link to review)", and for the review's author, or another reader of the review, to then see that link and follow it back to the discussion. You'd want the link to show as a comment, as soon as created (configurable so one can turn such comments off if not interested).

I do think Tim has higher-priority tasks, so this is largely moot, I guess.

Apr 4, 2013, 8:34am Top

You can already do sort of that by using touchstones which create a backlink from the work page to the talk messages that contain the touchstones. You can also turn the touchstone into an about to indicate that the discussion is more than a passing reference.

Apr 4, 2013, 8:37am Top

I think the key point is for the discussion's existence and activity to be shown from the review, which doesn't currently happen if you just start a thread about it.

Apr 4, 2013, 8:56am Top

However, starting a thread to discuss a book (as in, for example, the Author Theme Reads group) is different from reviewing a book and having a discussion follow in a personal reading thread. In the first case, you can make the thread "about" a book or author and this then shows up on the book page or the author page (e.g., if you look at The Kill by Zola, you can see a section called "Current Discussions" right under the quick buying link). True, this isn't in the review section, but it's pretty prominent.

Edited: Apr 4, 2013, 11:06am Top

So far my initial impression is that the social functions here at LT tend to foster throwing the conversation back toward the individual and the general community. Making it accessible for people to find, to dip in and out at will, to curate their own grouping of threads they want to follow.

Whereas at GR there was much more ability to create and maintain sort of an ecosystem of bubbles - affinity groups, whether of friends, groups, fans, people with a shared interest in a particular subject, a working group for a biblio project, or whatever.

Some of that is clearly just a matter of making different choices according to different preferences. LT is clearly both philosophically and practically committed to a relatively flat organizational structure.

But I wonder if some of it isn't also an issue of size? Because at some threshold, I don't know where it is but I do know it exists, everything can't be part of the general conversation and the general community because you can't find anything or anyone, or hear yourself think over the cacophany.

At some point in its growth I think LT probably is going to have to figure out how to manage some of the issues that come with more voices all wanting to be heard. There's certainly more than one way to do that, but at some point it does have to be done.

Just thinking out loud here.

Apr 4, 2013, 11:06am Top

#142 by bunwat> I get what you're saying and it's probably a big part of how people use the talk views today (re: scale). But if it becomes to large, my suspicion is that people will just go directly to their groups more.

They'll probably eventually be another scalability bump after that where even that became unwieldy, but I'm not sure we'll ever get there in terms of users.

Apr 4, 2013, 11:09am Top

Yeah, that makes sense. So part of the adjustment for me is that I'm coming from a community that already went over a couple of those scalability bumps.

Apr 4, 2013, 11:14am Top

I've always thought that we should be able to organize our groups, and then view Talk by specific subsets of groups, instead of just all or one.

Apr 4, 2013, 11:20am Top

So I'm looking around for tools to deal with issues of scale that may not exist here yet.

Apr 4, 2013, 11:27am Top

#143 by brightcopy> Certainly that's what happened for me when I joined the 75 Book Challenge group. The threads from that group drown out my Your Groups feed, so I concentrate on starring threads of interest in the 75ers, and then visiting my other groups individually to see what's new.

Apr 4, 2013, 11:34am Top

Note also that you can put a whole group on "Ignore", and yet star individual threads within it. This is what I do with all the challenge groups.

The point is that we can create our own "bubbles". (Are there any "unignorable" groups, I can't remember? Bug Collectors? Official standing groups?)

My Talk landscape is different from that of the next person and the next next person etc.

Edited: Apr 4, 2013, 11:35am Top

Part of my job as a group moderator on the larger site was just to maintain a system of organization so my membership could find things. I spent a lot of time moving things around and grouping them, pulling things up and archiving others and responding to member requests wanting to know, hey where is the link to that review we were talking about last month? It wasn't really about being a dictator so much as about being a resource librarian.

Apr 4, 2013, 11:40am Top


I agree this would be great for people who follow LOTS of groups, or lots of extremely active groups.

It might become necessary if LT grows significantly. (For my part, I incline to the Diogenes Club ideal of socialising... ;))

Edited: Apr 4, 2013, 11:59am Top

>149 bunwat: Some people do this with the help of a group Wiki page. Here is the wiki for the 75 books challenge group, as an example: http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Groups:75booksin2013

ETA: I see Zoe already mentioned this in post 119. Sorry for reposting!

Apr 4, 2013, 12:12pm Top

Funny - I go to the group pages all the time. I use the Your Posts view on my Home page (and the Starred view, if there's a thread I'm following that I haven't yet posted in), but once I've read those, I start going through my groups. Not all of them - I'm a member of the Green Dragon but almost never go there, and a member of 2013 75 Book Challenge but I only follow a few threads there (by starring). But I have a sequence of 14 groups that I try to read everything in - Bug Collectors and Welcome to LT! and Readathing and CueCat Questions and assorted others - and the way I read them is go to the group page and see how many unread threads there are.

Which made it rather painful to come back from a long weekend away, this weekend...ghahh! Hundreds and hundreds of messages, in multiple threads...and all at least a little interesting. Whee.

BTW, when I'm on my own computer(s), I have brightcopy's script that lets me put a list of the groups I want on the left side in every thread. When I'm not, I go to a group page and pick the groups I want to read out of the list on the right.

Where I (almost) never go is the Talk page. Or the Groups page. I go from my Home page direct to a thread or to the individual group page.

It's fascinating all the different ways people can use LT...

Apr 4, 2013, 12:24pm Top

Yeah, coming back from vacations where you don't check LT frequently (not surprisingly this doesn't include ALL "vacations"...) can hit you in the face with a scale problem. It's also the kind of somewhat overwhelming view you get when you're a new user and you join a bunch of groups and then look at the combined views. I remember it taking quite a while before my first page of topics was cleared up and I could stop obsessively clicking on them.

Edited: Apr 4, 2013, 12:40pm Top

I use the 'talk' tab almost exclusively.

For really important threads I want to follow, I use the 'more' link at the bottom of any post to make the message 'favorite', and therefore the thread (in my thinking). When I access LT, I first go to 'talk', and choose the 'favorite' link on the left side column.

After I go through the newest in my favorites, I go to 'starred', and follow up on those threads I've been following.

Then, as time allows, I go to 'Your World' and choose the 'groups and posts' option, starring any that seem interesting, so I can follow up.

Of course, you have to choose some groups to follow before that will make your life a little easier...

Finally, if I am REALLY bored and have lots of time on my hands, I go to 'all' or 'hot' (options are at the top of that left hand column of links). Again, any that interest me get a star for later follow up.

If I see a thread that I am never going to read, I click on the 'x' to the right of the thread listing, so it becomes ignored, and stops cluttering up my groups and posts option.

Does that make sense? ;)

Apr 4, 2013, 12:38pm Top

brightcopy, I also get that overwhelmed feeling in January, when everyone gets on the challenge bandwagon and my groups are flooded with new threads. This year the flood of threads began to die down after a week or so, and by February it was manageable. :)

Apr 4, 2013, 12:45pm Top


Yeah, that sort of makes me long for the days of the old Usenet newsreaders with the "Mark all as read" option. Just declare an amnesty and move on.

Apr 4, 2013, 12:58pm Top

I started out using Talk, but have quickly changed over to going to my various groups and checking posts there. The Talk page is overwhelming, and when I use stars etc to sort it, I can't help but wonder what I'm missing. (also,because of my astigmatism, which cannot be corrected for reading right now, all those horizontal lines cross over each other and I have great difficulty clicking the correct line, but that's me). So, I go straight to the group and plunge through threads there. Again, I'm reluctant to depend on my stars because it channels my attention too strictly and I miss out on anything new.

Some people think in a flat structure, others need hierarchy. I'm a hierarchy thinker (I love me some formal outlines!) and GR catered to that. I'm adjusting to the flatter, less structured, more "go here for that, go there for the other, and you can find thingie here, or here, or here" structure of LT. It is an adjustment and I expect I will adapt in time.

Bun's description of group moderators is pretty accurate. Most groups had more than one, and especially large groups would divide up the work (especially in the book groups), but it was mostly a matter of administration, setting up polls for the next book choice, making sure the group library (each group had its own library of books the group had read together, or whatever parameters were set) was organized and updated, that discussion folders were created and appropriately linked, and lots of cleaning, dusting, and bottle washing. It was entirely possible, in certain groups, to get into a subsection of the group and spend the majority of your time there.

Apr 4, 2013, 1:00pm Top

Murphy-Jacobs, I did stuff like that on AOL, years ago...


Apr 4, 2013, 1:20pm Top

>153 brightcopy: A lot of the time when I come back from an LT-vacation (which is often the opposite of a regular vacation . . . . ) I declare Talk Tab bankruptcy. Open up every thread and immediately close it. It works especially well with the "continuation" feature, as I don't have to check every thread I open to see if a new thread has been started.

Apr 4, 2013, 1:26pm Top

157> If you go into Talk and leave it at All Topics on the left, of course you're going to be overwhelmed. If instead you first join or watch a few groups and then go to Talk and specify Your Groups on the left, you'll just see the threads from the groups that you're watching.

Apr 4, 2013, 1:42pm Top

Sip from the firehose.

Apr 4, 2013, 2:03pm Top

160> I've done that, but my vision often has me crossing lines so that the first part (especially in a series of identical words) doesn't always match with the second part. Vision problems. So, groups.

Apr 4, 2013, 2:04pm Top

160> Which helps, if you haven't joined any challenge groups or Green Dragon or...

But yeah. Culling helps.

Apr 4, 2013, 2:06pm Top

If I haven't been keeping up for a while, I will go to the Talk page, find an interesting thread and click it. From there I will go to the top of that page and click the Group Name so that I can see if anything else has come up in that group that I want to read. When I am finished, I go back to the Talk page, click a thread from another group that I follow etc.

Edited: Apr 4, 2013, 6:18pm Top

Ok, I've just figured out something that I'd really, really, really, REALLY like for the "my books" page, and that is for those column headers at the top to be frozen in place instead of scrolling off (like they can be frozen in Excel). It's lovely that I can set those up to my liking and all, but when I'm going through and editing a lot of books (especially in the power edit) it's not all that unusual for me to forget what some of the columns are, especially between tags and collections. I admit it, I'm getting old and I have about 3 to 5 seconds of short term memory available, so that is a little thing which would make my life more rainbows and unicorn farts.

Apr 4, 2013, 6:25pm Top

My first port of call is usually the starred threads list on my home page. Once I'm reasonably up to date with those, I may head straight to the group page of any of my groups and catch up with some of the unstarred threads if I have time, or look out for new ones I may wish to star. I almost never use the Talk tab/page. There are many different ways of managing talk & threads.

Apr 5, 2013, 12:06am Top

I appreciate all the members sharing how they navigate the talk feature. I'm still finding it pretty unweildy. Ah well.

Apr 5, 2013, 2:57am Top

It's probably a kluge, but then most things are. Or think of it as a form of Shibboleth -- one day, it will seem perfectly natural to you. And then you will know that you are Truly One Of Us ...

Apr 5, 2013, 3:10am Top

>168 joannasephine:

I thought it was when you start yelling at Tim because he Changed Something :-)

Edited: Apr 5, 2013, 9:21am Top

Hi Bunwat,

Think of it as wandering through a bookstore. Serendipity plays a part in finding treasures. There is depth here. Finding it may be a challenge, but it's so much fun when you do discover something you didn't know about.

Of course I may be an outlier. I don't do Facebook. I have "friending" turned off etc.

Edited: Apr 5, 2013, 2:12pm Top

Interesting symbol usages at the beginning to refer to the message being replied to. No consensus?

Edited: Apr 5, 2013, 2:21pm Top

#171 by TJWilson> Not a consensus, per se. I think the most common is probably:

But I see significant amounts of ">123 brightcopy:" as well. But there are a ton of other ways people pick and it's all good.

You'll see a few others use mine or a similar format, which is likely because they use a script I made to automatically create and insert the reference:
Some people like it, some don't. Some probably hate it.

ETA: I still use the 123> format when I'm on a tablet or my phone and don't have my scripts.

Apr 5, 2013, 2:48pm Top

Why not just the number? Interesting script!

Apr 5, 2013, 2:53pm Top

Some people do use just the number, but it helps readability to have something to set it off, whether it's

>173 TJWilson:

It's just the convention that we have, which is tied to the old usenet and other mailing list conventions. (I'm sure a great number of us have participated in one or the other at one point.)

Apr 5, 2013, 3:41pm Top

#173 by TJWilson> Say someone responds to a message 10 or 20 messages ago. Do you remember right off the top of your head if who wrote it? I like it because it helps make it more obvious who I'm replying to. Of course, it doesn't help ME as much as I'd like, because not everyone uses it when replying to me! :D

Apr 5, 2013, 5:19pm Top

I'm just catching up, but I'd also like to comment that I do not want comments on my Reviews on my Review page. I post reviews to discussion threads. If folks want to comment on those, that's where I'd prefer the discussions occur.

Apr 5, 2013, 5:38pm Top

>176 thornton37814: That's the problem with personal preferences. I prefer not to have reviews posted in the discussion threads and tend to skip over them or block the whole thread if it becomes too prevalent. For me I like the discussion thread to be actual discussion that may be different from or in addition to a review. If I really want to read the review, I'll go to a different page.

Apr 5, 2013, 5:38pm Top

I would like to echo thorton on that. Thanks, k4k.

Apr 5, 2013, 6:59pm Top

176> I'm just catching up, but I'd also like to comment that I do not want comments on my Reviews on my Review page. I post reviews to discussion threads. If folks want to comment on those, that's where I'd prefer the discussions occur.

But how am I supposed to go from reading reviews on the work page to finding the discussion on your thread. There's the Conversations link since I assume you put a touchstone to the work in your thread but I don't typically check the Conversations because 99% of them go to some reading thread where it's just mentioned that they read the book but nothing else.

There is the About, or super-touchstone, feature, but that only works if you've done extra work to mark the thread and I don't think it's obvious what to do. Have you done that to your review threads so they can be more easily found?

Apr 5, 2013, 7:13pm Top

>177 tottman: I believe thornton37814 was referring to the discussion threads in specific challenge groups where the group culture is for members to set up their own threads and post their book reviews and comments (75 Books Challenge, Category Challenge, etc.). I don't see a lot of reviews in talk outside of the challenge groups, although admittedly those groups are where I spend most of my time in talk. If you're not a member of a challenge group it should be possible to avoid those kinds of threads.

Apr 5, 2013, 7:26pm Top

>179 jjwilson61: I think many of us in the challenge groups enjoy talking about the books we've just read with other group members who have read the same book recently, want to read the book, the book is by a favorite author, etc. We also discover books we want to read by reading the reviews on other group members' threads. I for one don't want the conversation on a book I've read to be extended for months or years. That's why we want the discussion on our threads - where we can have a conversation and move on to the next book - and not on our reviews, where the conversations could become endless.

Apr 5, 2013, 8:06pm Top

I agree with cbl_tn and thornton37814, among others. Is there a burning need to clutter up a book's page with discussion? If you like someone's review, let them know in a PM or thumb it or go follow their thread if they have one. I think that LT is more focused on the communities created on the different forums, on personal messages and less on the drive-by kind of comments messages on the book page would lead to.

I'd also argue for keeping the ability to "thumb" a review on the book page only. This means the review must be meaningful enough for someone to go to the extra effort of going to that page to thumb it. Without that, I'm worried that the thumbs will be less an indication on the review being worth reading than it will be a reflection of popularity, which is not what LT is about.

Apr 5, 2013, 8:16pm Top

>182 RidgewayGirl: Without that, I'm worried that the thumbs will be less an indication on the review being worth reading than it will be a reflection of popularity, which is not what LT is about.

But they are even now... not always but often

Apr 5, 2013, 8:21pm Top

The ability to thumb a review is not currently limited to the work page. It is also possible on the reviews pages, whether you're looking at the reviewer's own review page, or "in n.'s library and reviewed by others," or zeitgeist reviews, or even the reviews module on the homepage. And all of that is good.

Edited: Apr 5, 2013, 8:29pm Top

I certainly have no particular desire to upset people or to impugn the system already in use here in LT. I can only say that, in 7 years on GR, with comments available on reviews, none of these problems ever seemed to appear. Yes, sometimes people would comment on a review months or years after it was posted, but it wasn't quite the imposition seemingly imagined here, and usually required little or sometimes no response. Of course, GR also had a notification system to let one see when a comment was posted, and one could look at it in the notification and move on, or go to the review if desired.

As a newcomer here from Goodreads, it is a bit daunting to have such strong reactions made to comments, and it is a bit silencing. I -- and most of the GR people I know here -- have no particular expectation of having anything changed because we mention we would like it. We aren't trying to step on anyone's toes, or step on turf, or get into a "Better than" argument. I'm sure it's tiresome for LT people to hear our "In the old country, we...." comments, but they really shouldn't be taken so personally.

For me, I am withdrawing from the conversation. I don't feel able to tolerate the response.

Apr 5, 2013, 8:44pm Top

If you could embed reviews into Talk topics, the work page could generate links to those topics.

Apr 5, 2013, 9:08pm Top

I've been avoiding the review comments discussion. I was really hoping to not rehash it again - I still have nightmares about the last time we did this (okay, that's an exaggeration, but I really didn't want to do it again).

Please don't attach comments to reviews. I like writing reviews and expressing my opinion about books, but I want to be the one to initiate discussion, and to close it off, and not have the potential just sitting there forevermore.

As it is, someone can create a thread, and I'll never know it exists, and I'll be happy. Someone could post a comment to my profile and I can delete it if I don't want it there. But review comments are comment potential and I would have no control.

I love LT, and I love being able to choose how I participate and respond to things. Review comments remove that control. I no longer cross-post my reviews to Amazon because of the discussion sections, nor do I post them to blogs unless comments are blocked, so this wouldn't be a unique situation.

(And I can't expect there to be some kind of toggle to allow comments or not according to user preference. That seems like an extra hurdle to code, and I've seen how rarely the extra hurdles ever get taken care of, leaving us with half-finished new features.)

Apr 5, 2013, 9:39pm Top

>185 Murphy-Jacobs:
Dear MJ:
Please don't take all these comments personally. I think we all understand that there are differences in the way people feel about reviews. It's hard to be nuanced on a talk thread. No one means any harm and you are no less welcome because you proposed something that creates strong feelings pro and con. This is a topic that comes up regularly. I am sure it will again. No harm intended.

Best wishes,


Apr 5, 2013, 9:43pm Top

>187 keristars: - I second everything here, just for the record (and would add that I have additional serious concerns about review comments, like their potential for abuse by sock-puppets and others).

I think it's much more useful to move on to other topics, truthfully :-)

Apr 5, 2013, 9:52pm Top

Yes, new arrivals from GR, please understand that the topic of comments-pendant-to-reviews has already been through multiple rounds of (sometimes heated) discussion among LT members over the last few years. Reactions to the idea here are likely to be informed by that history of contention, and are less likely to have much to do with how GR works or what GR members are used to.

Apr 5, 2013, 10:46pm Top

M-J, by all means >188 krazy4katz: and >190 paradoxosalpha:!

Apr 6, 2013, 1:32am Top

>1 bunwat: timspalding
This is an open thread, soliciting your opinions of how LibraryThing can succeed in the new reality. I'm going to post my thoughts. I'm eager to hear others'.

>60 conceptDawg: timspalding
We need to hear more from Goodreads people. Clearly our interface is a problem for many of you—it would be a problem even if it were perfect; it's different. But what else pops out at you?

We can answer the question asked, or we can shut up and accept that we don't know the history here and just get on with trying to adapt. But its a bit of a challenge to try to do both simultaneously.

Apr 6, 2013, 3:11am Top

>192 bunwat:

I don't see a contradiction... or anyone saying that thoughts should not be posted...

Apr 6, 2013, 3:17am Top

193 > jbd1 was suggesting (189) it's not useful to ask for review comments.

Apr 6, 2013, 3:20am Top

>194 AndreasJ:

After it was asked for and the reasons for not having it were explained. So the message is more a "ok, we heard you but this is one of those things that will not happen... so let's move to the next request" kind of thing... So that the requests that have a chance of being implemented can be discussed...

Apr 6, 2013, 3:24am Top

what's the etiquette if you see something that looks like Spam?

Apr 6, 2013, 3:34am Top

Depends on what kind of spam: message, profile, cover, group, work? All can be flagged, but flagging a profile or a work is a pretty big deal.

If you're not entirely sure post a link to it here in the Spam Fighters group "Is this spam?" threads, current incarnation at: http://www.librarything.com/topic/150669

Apr 6, 2013, 3:41am Top

Thanks. It was a general question, with the ones I thought most likely being comments and messages. There's a topic in 75 book challenge that looks somewhat dodgy to me...

Like the idea of Spam Fighters Group. Image in my head has them armed with sharp cutlery and those keys for opening tins. raaaaah!

Apr 6, 2013, 4:11am Top

198, and a can crusher. :D

Apr 6, 2013, 6:10am Top


Pretty much what k4k said in #188.

I don't think anyone feels upset, or feels that you are impugning the system. There are a number of groups and subjects where the culture is of fairly strong debate and nearly always disagreement. When it is something that has been rehashed a couple of times there can often seem a rush of anti-posts (and often posts in favour too) from the previous time round the loop.

Normally people go a bit easier on newcomers but I guess you got accepted ("Gabba gabba, we accept you, we accept you, one of us") pretty quickly.

Apr 6, 2013, 8:35am Top

I know that we said we'd drop the review comments conversation, but I wasn't part of any of the previous discussions and wanted to bring up a feature that will help you find discussions about a book one is interested in.

Under each work, there is a number for Mentions in discussions. It is the last number on the right just under the author's name. Click on it and you will see where the book is mentioned in a thread. Now sometimes it will just me a listing of books someone has read. Sometimes it will be listed in a Five Books Parlour game - list 5 books title mentioning homes or something. But it will also lead to discussions in groups like the 75 challenges where discussions are often the result of a review. It's not the same way that Goodreads handles comments on reviews, but I believe that it will serve the same purpose just with a little more indirection and a little more work. Sound familiar?

#185 & #200. Murphy-Jacobs, you've contributed so much so quickly to the threads on here, I think it is entirely possible that folks thought you'd been part of previous discussions on this topic. I am so very glad that you are here. We share about 10% of our books in common, we'll definitely need to talk books sometime :-).

Apr 6, 2013, 8:45am Top

201> Unfortunately, that just doesn't work out in practice. What dominates are the challenge groups, where a book is likely to be mentioned but not discussed. It worked so poorly that Tim eventually added a way to mark a whole thread as being about a specific book. But it's fairly new so it's hard to determine its effectiveness yet.

Apr 6, 2013, 1:47pm Top

>202 brightcopy:. I'm not saying that it is ideal, but it is a method I use with some success. It helps that I've done it enough to figure out which "hits" are more likely to get me what I am looking for.

Posting after the new thread was started because the conversation was not continued on the new thread.

*** see new thread above!!! ***

Apr 7, 2013, 4:19am Top

I've always thought that we should be able to organize our groups, and then view Talk by specific subsets of groups, instead of just all or one.

Most people won't organize their groups into groups. If we want less of a "flat" structure, we need to push the UI toward separating the groups more. I frankly don't see how to do it without making people scream for lost features.

Perhaps we could do the talk tab as it is, but group by group. You've have to have cut-offs—no more than 5 topics per group group.

I'm not sure that would improve things though.

bunwat: Part of my job as a group moderator on the larger site was just to maintain a system of organization so my membership could find things. I spent a lot of time moving things around and grouping them, pulling things up and archiving others and responding to member requests wanting to know, hey where is the link to that review we were talking about last month? It wasn't really about being a dictator so much as about being a resource librarian.

I'd be interested in hearing more about this--just what you did and didn't do.

We can answer the question asked, or we can shut up and accept that we don't know the history here and just get on with trying to adapt. But its a bit of a challenge to try to do both simultaneously.

My apologies for any hard feelings. I want to know what you think.

I happen to think that we can satisfy the desire invovled in commenting on reviews without adding commenting on reviews. For example, we can add commenting on things in your feed, including reviews. Or something else. I'd be interested to know more about how it worked on GR, what you feel you got out of it, etc.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:01am Top

>204 by timspalding, I'd be interested in hearing more about this--just what you did and didn't do.

Tim, see this post in the continued thread for the detailed explanation.

Apr 7, 2013, 1:40pm Top

204> I think you can most of this without having to group groups by giving you a checklist (hidden behind a link) down the left side of all your groups with checkmarks so that you can choose which of your groups to see in Talk at any one time.

Apr 7, 2013, 2:10pm Top

I happen to think that we can satisfy the desire invovled in commenting on reviews without adding commenting on reviews. For example, we can add commenting on things in your feed, including reviews.

I disagree. The main benefit I see to review comments is that they're around for the long-term and can easily be seen and read by other people later on. They'd add value to the site in a way that my friends commenting on my newsfeed in the moment wouldn't. The latter may also be valuable (although the challenge groups mostly cover that already), but it's not remotely equivalent.

Most people won't organize their groups into groups.

Most people won't use (arbitrary feature). Beyond that, a lot depends on how friendly the UI is.

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 2:26pm Top

Most people won't use (arbitrary feature). Beyond that, a lot depends on how friendly the UI is.

And functional. Time spent on afiddly feature used by a tiny fraction of users is time not spent on a more general, simply solution.

I disagree. The main benefit I see to review comments is that they're around for the long-term and can easily be seen and read by other people later on.

Right. And here's where the objections come. Frankly, if members were all against me, I'd do it. By my feeling is also that I don't want my precious review of X to be permanently tied to some idiot's comments. Every time I bring up ancient history in one of the groups, for example, another user brings up half-baked mystical and afro-centrist ideas. And, for that matter, every time you bring up Christianity on LT, even in the Christianity groups, you're sure to get someone telling you that Christians are stupid. I can bear being told how stupid I am by people who can't spell, let alone form rational arguments, because I know Talk is transient. I like the scrum. But having that stuff stuck to my reviews in perpetuity would just piss me off.

Comments on the feed part satisfies the transient part for me. Conversation is prompted—and I'll engage—but a stupid, trivial or offensive conversation is not permanently affixed to my review.

Apr 7, 2013, 2:26pm Top

#208 by timspalding> Having that stuff stuck to my reviews would just piss me off.

If only someone had ever suggested being able to turn off review comments on your reviews...

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 2:30pm Top

If only someone had ever suggested being able to turn off review comments on your reviews...

Right. Defaults are critical. So what's the default? If it's on, people will be caught unawares, then feel guilty about effectively deleting the comments. If off, virtually no reviews will have it. Either way, users will be confused why the feature comes and goes, etc.

Tim's eleventh UI principle: When the answer to a widely-felt, serious objection to a feature is "give people a way to turn it off," you've often made a wrong turn.

And, BTW, as I said, I'd be happy to engaged in comments on the feed. So what you're suggesting would cut me out of the conversation, because I'd go "locked down" entirely.

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 2:31pm Top

#210 by timspalding> You'd feel guilty about effectively deleting someone's comments, even though you've already categorized them as "some idiot"? C'mon, Tim.

Tim's first UI principle: If it doesn't feel right in my gut, there must be some reasoning by which I can prove it's a bad idea. ;)

Apr 7, 2013, 2:33pm Top

>211 brightcopy:

Guts are important.

Apr 7, 2013, 2:33pm Top

people will be caught unawares

People have used other sites on the internet, like Goodreads or Amazon. Or do you mean current users? Send a profile comment.

Apr 7, 2013, 2:34pm Top

#212 by timspalding> Indeed. I'm fine with calling a spade a spade. It avoids wasting time on argument. ;)

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 2:52pm Top

People have used other sites on the internet, like Goodreads or Amazon. Or do you mean current users? Send a profile comment.

Attention: All the reviews you wrote have been made open to comments. We know you probably didn't intend them to be that way, but it's going to increase social throughput for the site and, well, what did you expect?

Seems Facebook-y to me.

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 2:57pm Top

>215 timspalding: Because clearly pretending you'd do it in the most obnoxious way possible means that the whole concept is intrinsically bad.

We've talked before about opt-out periods before it goes live.

Apr 7, 2013, 2:59pm Top

#215 by timspalding> Kind of like:

Attention: All the bookstores you've visited may now have been posted for everyone to see. We know you probably didn't intend them to be that way, but it's going to increase social throughput for the site and, well, what did you expect? PS: We'll add privacy in two weeks.


I mean, as long as we're being hyperbolic and get to write the notices in the worst possible light because we don't like the feature.

Apr 7, 2013, 3:25pm Top

Attention: All the bookstores you've visited may now have been posted for everyone to see. We know you probably didn't intend them to be that way, but it's going to increase social throughput for the site and, well, what did you expect? PS: We'll add privacy in two weeks.

No new information is public. The system always showed it. That members want to add privacy is great, but it's quite different.

Apr 7, 2013, 3:26pm Top

#218 by timspalding> Oh, you mean things can actually be more complicated than a glib response that completely distorts the situation? I would have never guessed.


Apr 7, 2013, 3:28pm Top

Look, I'm not anywhere near alone here. A LOT of members don't want review comments. I'd go so far as to say it's a defining feature for a large number of users.

Apr 7, 2013, 3:31pm Top

>220 timspalding: I'm one of them. I've seen firsthand all the abuse of it at GR. I think LT is incredibly fabulous at keeping spam/flaming at bay (for the most part, obviously no one can keep it all away), and one of the reasons is not having comments stuck on every little thing you can possibly comment on. Talk threads or PMs work perfectly fine for discussing that stuff without opening the floodgates to abuse.

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 3:40pm Top

#220 by timspalding> I'm actually fairly neutral on review comments. So I think the hubbub over it is pretty overblown. Especially with a long opt-out period as Zoe has repeatedly suggested before. Or even just giving you the power to delete specific trollish comments on your review just like you can delete them off your profile. I just think it's a tempest in a teap... no, in a teacup.

Anyway, as I said somewhere the thing I'd rather have is the ability to post an embedded view of my review (with all the normal controls of a review) as a Talk post.

Apr 7, 2013, 3:47pm Top

>220 timspalding:/221 - And I'm another of them, both as a member posting my own reviews and as the staff person who does much of the spam/sock-puppetry/&c. wrangling.

Apr 7, 2013, 3:50pm Top

And we love you for keeping the riffraff out, Jeremy! :D

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 4:04pm Top

>220 timspalding:/221/223 Me too, this was one of the reasons I left Goodreads - someone objected to the fact that I didn't like a book they loved and posted abusive comments on all my reviews. I'm always up for a good discussion about a book and my reviews, but not for abuse but would like to keep these in Talk threads.

Sorry forgot to add, thanks for zapping the spammers so quickly Jeremy.

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 5:01pm Top

I would also like to be counted as against review comments. Please send me a message if you feel strongly about one of my reviews.

I still don't like the thumbs up and down on recommendations, because I feel adding recommendations is a service to the community and should be respected (i.e. no thumbs down). I understand the purpose -- to float the most popular recommendations to the top, but I still don't like it.

Comments on reviews would be worse. This probably wouldn't happen so much to me because I am not that active or controversial, but I could see someone with lots and lots of reviews spending (wasting?) time deleting objectionable comments. I am happy to argue in talk, but not over my reviews.

Best wishes to all,


Apr 7, 2013, 4:09pm Top

#226 by krazy4katz> This probably wouldn't happen so much to me because I am not that active or controversial, but I could seem someone with lots and lots of reviews spending (wasting?) time deleting objectionable comments. I am happy to argue in talk, but not over my reviews.

But as has been suggested a million times, how would this even happen if you could opt-out of comments on your reviews altogether?

Apr 7, 2013, 4:27pm Top

What would comments on reviews do to enhance our LT experience? What's going to be said that can't be communicated on a person's thread (for things you want to discuss with a group) or in a PM (for things you just want to say to the reviewer)? The arguments for seem to be (and I may wrong, please correct me) that it's simpler and requires less involvement. Is that what we want to encourage? There are interesting conversations about different books all the time in the various groups and I don't think anyone would be unhappy with an unfamiliar name joining a discussion, but without a notification of some sort, a comment on a review I wrote would go unnoticed by me and when I'm looking through reviews I'm not sure I'd want to read comments on someone else's review.

Could someone copy a review of theirs from GR, with the comments, to show how this works? I'd worry that it would end up being a series of "I agree with you about x"s and "good review"s, which is great in a PM or on a personal reading thread, but not much use in deciding whether or not to read a book. Or are the comments a rolling discussion about the book? And why attached to one review and not the others or on the book's page?

I don't want to say no without fully understanding why this is a significant improvement. For me at least, discussions about specific books that spring up with in the threads are meaningful. I'm not convinced that moving these conversations to a specific review builds a sense of community.

Apr 7, 2013, 4:35pm Top

>228 RidgewayGirl: The argument in favour is that it would have more lasting visibility; the conversation could endure and even continue years after it originally took place. No one has ever commented on one of my challenge threads from a previous year, not even once.

It's about building a more permanent conversation structure in a place where people are actually going to go to look. Abouts can do this to a certain extent, but there's room for much more. (I'd also like each work to have an embedded Talk group, for example.)

Apr 7, 2013, 4:36pm Top

#228 by RidgewayGirl> I think the argument is that it just provides more grease to the treads of being social. Not everyone really uses Talk. In fact, it's gotta be a pretty small minority of LT's total userbase I'd think.

I think this is also what those who don't want review comments fear - it will grease the treads for JERKS as well. The response to that has been to allow people to turn off comments on their reviews if they don't want to be social in that way. To which I added being able to delete specific comments on your own reviews if you just have the problem with the occasional jerk (it could even tie into your ignore list).

To be honest, I think at this point I think that people on both sides are about tied on their arguments (again, I'm pretty neutral on it myself). The tiebreaker is the side that Tim's on.

Apr 7, 2013, 4:40pm Top

>230 brightcopy: I'm actually not in favour of individuals being able to delete other people's comments, though; I'd rather have deletion via group flagging (similar to Talk now, but actual deletion).

I should also add that I've mostly given up on LT reviews anyway, for various other reasons, so I'm not really invested in the review comments discussion anymore. But it still seems worthwhile to put the arguments out there when the opportunity for a non-vitriolic discussion arises.

Apr 7, 2013, 4:40pm Top

I remember a discussion a while back that talked about having threads that had mentions of, or were about, books be on the bottom of each work page. In my head the description I remember seemed kinda like the way IMDB has threads about particular movies or tv shows at the bottom of the page. I don't remember why the feature request was decided against. I wonder though, if this could be an ideal way to have discussions about what people say in reviews, without actually having the comments directly on the reviews.

The threads would still have to be started in a particular group, so the initial poster would have to take a first step to find an appropriate group and make the thread, but once made, it would be easy enough to find for people interested in discussing something. If I wanted to invite comments on my review, I could even make a thread ahead of time "Comments on bestem's review of x book" and put the link at the end of my review inviting comments. If I wanted to start one for someone else's "Single words as reviews, Tim's review of The Making of Late Antiquity" and if I wanted your input, send you a private message to the link offering you to take part in it.

This means the comments could be there, but not directly attached to the review (unless the reviewer linked to the thread, and even that wouldn't be a direct attachment), as well as not being in your face because they'd be mixed in with other threads about the book.

Threads could even be split up so the ones that had abouts were at the top, and the ones that merely had mentions could be below that, so if someone is looking for an in-depth discussion about a book that is merely glossed over in a 75 book challenge thread, they look there last, not first.

Again, I don't remember why the idea of the threads with mentions and abouts being at the bottom of the work page didn't go through, and the reason it didn't go through might make this idea unworkable. Just thought I'd throw it out there, though.

Apr 7, 2013, 4:44pm Top

>232 bestem: I'd also like to see this. I don't know that it was decided against so much as half-implemented, as Abouts. The main issue I run up against, though, is that there isn't necessarily an appropriate group for detailed discussion of some minor aspect of a particular book, which is why I'd like each work to actually have an associated Group, at least in some underlying way.

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 4:45pm Top

227> But as has been suggested a million times, how would this even happen if you could opt-out of comments on your reviews altogether?

You are absolutely correct. If LT decided to implement comments on reviews, I would probably opt out. This is a reasonable solution if the LT community would mostly want comments on reviews. I am just telling you how I feel. ;-)

Apr 7, 2013, 4:48pm Top

>232 bestem: Actually, current discussions do show up on the work page. If you take a look at the work page for Alias Grace there is a "Current discussions" box right below the "Quick links" box with links to the April group read in the 75 Books group.

Apr 7, 2013, 4:49pm Top

#231 by _Zoe_> I'm actually not in favour of individuals being able to delete other people's comments, though; I'd rather have deletion via group flagging (similar to Talk now, but actual deletion).

That's what makes it a compromise. :D

#234 by krazy4katz> No worries. :)

I'm not really invested in review comments one way or the other, either. It just makes me a bit twitchy when I'm familiar enough with a subject that I keep seeing things come up that were already addressed before. Whether or not you like the proposed solution, you should at least acknowledge it has been proposed (if you know about it).

Kind of like how it annoys us every time we see someone post the "But LT is 40% owned by Amazon!" kind of thing and we get the urge to correct it.

Apr 7, 2013, 4:59pm Top

>236 brightcopy: Yup. But I think it goes too far against LT's basic premise of protecting user content (and by user content, I mean the comments, not just the reviews). By assuming that all comments are basically bad spam that needs to be defended against, it could end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy; I'd probably only comment on the reviews of people I already knew, because why bother getting into a deep conversation if it might just disappear at a whim? It's the same reason that groups shouldn't be delete-able after a certain point, though I still don't think that's actually been coded.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:00pm Top

I'm completely agnostic about review comments, I rarely used them on GR or got many of them either. So there wasn't much trolling, there wasn't much spam, nor was there much in the way of positive feedback either. But that has to do with how I personally used the site. I know there were long and interesting discussions on review comments. Also some mega flame wars too.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:01pm Top

>235 cbl_tn: That has 2 posts, and they're both from the 75 books group, so possibly not very in depth. My head sees something in the center column that you can move up and down, just like you can with reviews, CK, etc. It would say "Abouts" and have up to 10 threads that were about the work (and a link to more if there are more), and "Mentions" with up to 10 threads that had mentions of the work (and a link to more if there are more). Graphically it'd look like the Talk section on your home page.

So maybe kinda like the "Current discussions" on the right side of the screen, but more fully featured, allowing it to be more useful.

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 5:05pm Top

#237 by _Zoe_> But I think it goes too far against LT's basic premise of protecting user content

Don't you think it's analogous to profile comments, though? You can selectively delete those to your hearts content. Or decide you don't want any.

ETA: I guess the difference is that I see a review as MINE. Not nearly like I see a Talk thread or a reply to a post of mine in Talk.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:05pm Top

>239 bestem: What about the Conversations page? But it was much more useful when it used to show snippets of the conversations.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:06pm Top

>240 brightcopy: Right, except one of the main reasons I want review comments rather than just profile comments is so that the conversation can be broader and more inclusive than just a one-on-one with the review writer. If you and Tim are having a discussion via profile comments, I shouldn't be able to delete it.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:07pm Top

I can see that having a discussion about a book attached to each work's page might be useful to some, but what is the point of attaching comments to a reader's review? One review has a few comments about a book then another review has a few more comments. I don't see this leading to a discussion about the book, or if it does, what prevents this from the redundancy of everyone posting their thoughts onto a different reviews and no conversation taking place.

As it exists now on GR, do the review comments reference the review or the book being reviewed? Discussions about books are useful, I'm not sure that comments about reviews would be, in a way that makes them important enough to preserve beyond their appearance in the reviewers thread or profile page?
IMDB has discussions about movies attached to movies, but not discussions attached to user reviews. And many of those discussions tend to be somewhat fan-based, and not what LT generally would generate.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:11pm Top

>243 RidgewayGirl: Well, the point is that it could get into specific aspects of the book that happened to be raised in the review. I wasn't thinking that it would just duplicate general conversation, with everyone giving their general impressions, but that people might address, say, my concerns about excessive political correctness in Bitterblue.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:14pm Top

>241 _Zoe_: Actually, yeah, that's kinda exactly what I was thinking. It's a little hidden, so I didn't know it existed, unlike having the threads directly on the work page. I don't know how often I'd go looking for the page, which is where it's usefulness is lacking, in my opinion. I know if I'm looking at a work page and I notice an interesting thread I'm likely to open the thread and read it and maybe respond, but unless I really want to talk about something in particular for a book, or looking for a particular discussion, I don't think I'd ever go to the conversations page.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:16pm Top

>239 bestem: That has 2 posts, and they're both from the 75 books group, so possibly not very in depth.

There are few posts because it's an April group read, it's still early in April, and some people are still reading it or haven't even started yet. If Alias Grace is one of your favorite books, star the thread and follow the discussion as it unfolds. It seems to me that the feature is working. I can go to Talk, view Book discussions of the books in my library, and see which ones are active right now. As RidgewayGirl suggested earlier, most groups would be fine with other interested readers joining the conversation.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:21pm Top

And don't assume that because it's in a specific group, that the conversation will be either too shallow or too complicated for you to follow.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:23pm Top

>246 cbl_tn: I'm not saying it's bad, at all. It just doesn't have the functionality that I envisioned. The conversations page that Zoe linked to has the functionality, it's just not where I'd look for it.

And, honestly, I wasn't looking for the feature. I was just trying to find a middle ground for all the people who were saying "allow comments on reviews" and the ones saying "no, don't allow comments on reviews." The fact that we have two features that kinda-sorta do what I was describing could let those who really want to start commenting on reviews do it in their own way. I could totally start a "bestem says" group for random posts that don't belong anywhere, and start commenting on all the reviews I want, the way I described, and maybe people would even find them (if that was something I wanted to do).

Apr 7, 2013, 5:29pm Top

I wouldn't mind the ability to have commenting on reviews as long as there was a way to moderate the exchange. If it was a feature that you had to opt out of, I wouldn't. If it was a feature that required an opt in, I'd probably opt in. But I come to my opinion as a person who writes book reviews professionally, so I've always written them in the expectation that they will (might!) be read by people who would or would not like them. And it's always been an option for people so moved to write me personally through the publication, or to comment on the page.

But LT is a little different in that it isn't trying to be a media outlet or a sales site, so there is no expectation, really, that the point of a review is to inform an audience or sell a book. (Even among the early reviewers, this seems to be a subsumed goal.) Instead, it's more like the scribbled notes people make in their reading diaries. Personal and closer to a reading journal, rather than a news article or product review.

In any case, I see both sides. It would be nice to have this one more avenue of interaction based around a book you liked (or disliked) enough to write about, without having to start a whole new thread in talk to watch in order to sustain a conversation. But given that commenting is currently the favorite place to trash talk on the Internet, I'd think you'd need some ability to control what people posted if you allowed it.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:37pm Top

>231 _Zoe_:, 236, 237 Hypothetically, if review comments were implemented, I don't think it would work unless the reviewer could delete comments attached to the review. If the reviewer chooses to delete the review (either by deleting the review or by deleting the book from his/her library) it wouldn't make sense to have visible comments about a review that is no longer there.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:38pm Top

>250 cbl_tn: Well, if the review comments were basically an embedded Talk thread, then that thread could still exist.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:43pm Top

I would most certainly not want people discussing my review that was no longer even on the site. That doesn't make any sense at all. And yes, the only only only way I'd be even slightly okay with comments on reviews is if the reviewer had the option to delete them.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:45pm Top

>251 _Zoe_: Yes, but what's the point if it's about the review rather than about the book? Suppose the first comment was something like "I disagree with your interpretation of X, but I think your assessment of Y is right on target" - referring to content without quoting the content. Some comments might be useful without the context of the review, but there will be plenty of others that won't make sense without the original review as a reference point.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:49pm Top

Also, how likely are you to post a snide comment on a review if all the reviewer has to do is click a button and that comment is gone? One of the aspects of the internet that so many people are afraid of with review comments is the tendency to provide a stage for people who like to be Publicly Rude. I just don't see people bothering.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:53pm Top

And also how likely are people really to "abuse" the deleting and remove non-trolling comments? So I don't see any point at all in objecting to that, were comments ever to be a thing.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:54pm Top

>253 cbl_tn: I don't know; I've never seen anyone arguing that Talk threads should be deleted if the original message is.

Apr 7, 2013, 5:58pm Top

>255 .Monkey.: Well, people have deleted whole groups, and it was upsetting, and presented as something that should be prevented in the future. It's problematic despite the rarity.

Apr 7, 2013, 6:01pm Top

>256 _Zoe_:/257 Those are both entirely different situations that I really don't think are comparable to a review comment. And yes, it's possible that onrare occasion someone might delete a comment but... why would that be a huge deal? It's just a comment on a review. If it went away at some point, you likely would never even be aware of it happening.

Apr 7, 2013, 6:09pm Top

>258 .Monkey.: Well, it comes back to what sort of conversation we're trying to foster. If it's trivial "ooh, I agree!" things, then it doesn't matter--but then what's the point anyway? If it's deeper things that people actually put thought into, it's nice to think that they won't just disappear suddenly.

Apr 7, 2013, 6:20pm Top

>259 _Zoe_: Except that you're talking about the internet, where things can always disappear suddenly. A side conversation on a review that the vast majority of people will never see (given the amount of books, varying tastes, etc), and even you will likely mostly forget about after the exchange has fizzled, is really not a huge concern in the grand scheme.

Apr 7, 2013, 6:32pm Top

>260 .Monkey.: Sure, things can always disappear, but I have a pretty high degree of faith in Tim and LT. And your second sentence could equally be applied in favour of review comments ;)

Apr 7, 2013, 6:37pm Top

If you want a more direct parallel, I'd say review comments would be like photo comments. I post a photo to my gallery and allow comments. People can comment to me or to someone else who is commenting. They can check a box to be notified of new comments, even.

In fact, you can even delete any individual comment left on your photo at will. *gasp* :D

And if I want to delete the photo? POOF!

Apr 7, 2013, 6:39pm Top

>262 brightcopy: Yeah, and I don't expect any serious conversation to develop in the photo comments.

Apr 7, 2013, 6:51pm Top

#263 by _Zoe_> Most people don't expect it in review comments, either. ;)

Apr 7, 2013, 6:52pm Top

>264 brightcopy: I remain optimistic :P

Apr 7, 2013, 7:04pm Top

>208 timspalding:
maybe the reviewer that the commenter is writing to can decide to keep or discard on their feed? this solves that problem but still allows for discussions to happen any time in the future.

Apr 7, 2013, 7:05pm Top

>209 brightcopy:,210

sorry, already suggested...

Apr 8, 2013, 12:15am Top

264> If you allow their comments to be deleted at a moments notice then I wouldn't expect anyone to leave any but trivial comments anyway. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Edited: Apr 8, 2013, 12:17am Top

#268 by jjwilson61> I don't really see that. If I'm leaving a non-trollish comment to someone who has review comments turned on, my expectation is that they will almost assuredly not delete my comment.

Apr 8, 2013, 12:21am Top

As a final argument:

Commenting on your feed is coming. It will, of course, be optional—as will sharing your feed at all. But I think members will take to it—and to far more than doing it on reviews. They will take to commenting when users they care about add a book, or do some particularly great combination work, etc.

Given that, it would be a shame to come up with a commenting feature that's basically about just one category of things—reviews. And it would be confusing to have both comments on the feed action of posting your review and on the review itself.

Apr 8, 2013, 6:52am Top

>270 timspalding: I suspect those will still be transient, less meaty comments, but whatever.

Apr 25, 2013, 8:54am Top

or which collection it's in, particularly if it's wishlisted.

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