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Tag combination votes

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Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 8:34pm Top

UPDATE: THIS THREAD IS NOW CONTINUED HERE http://www.librarything.com/topic/84870

After more than a year of delay, I've brought back tag combination.

This thread is for substantive discussion, not bugs. For bugs, please see this topic.

The trick is, tag combination is too "radical" an action for any user to instigate at any time. Too much changes too fast, both for users—who would have to be constantly vigilant to prevent some of the worst ones—and particularly for the system, which can't handle the constant recalculations that tag combination requires. The largest works in LibraryThing have 50,000 users; the largest tags have millions!

So, I've instituted a voting system. The idea is that:

1. Votes stay open a while.
2. Votes must have large majorities to "pass," both by percent and by number.
3. Votes close at a fixed time every week or so, giving the servers the opportunity to make all the changes at once—and do all the recalculations at once, when the system isn't under stress.

Uncombination works the same way.


1. I've proposed combining the tag "ancient" with the tag "Altertum" (German) http://www.librarything.com/tag/classical+studies

2. You can see all the open tag combinations here: http://www.librarything.com/tags_combinations.php

3. The HelpThing page needs work. We can talk about it here, but ultimately I see it as something we need to hash out. I am, accordingly, opening up the topic more generally.

Feb 15, 2010, 12:45am Top

When you talk about voting and percent/number, how do non-voting members affect it? Are they simply left out? Because I can see 75% of the users not participating in anything like this. I think everyone who posts here in talk (myself included) are likely to be aberrations.

Feb 15, 2010, 12:49am Top

Well, that's already true with work and author combinations. If you don't care, well, sorry. Your library is ALWAYS yours—no combination affects how you label your books, or their authors and so forth. Combination only affects the global level and, to some degree, how you relate to the global level.

Feb 15, 2010, 12:51am Top

3> Oh, sorry, no, I didn't mean to imply leaving out the people who don't participate is bad. I meant quite the opposite. I figured you'd made it this way, but I just wanted to be sure that by #2 you didn't mean a certain (non-trivial) percent of the overall LT user population had to vote.

Feb 15, 2010, 12:52am Top

We have a 900,000 member quorum :)

Feb 15, 2010, 12:56am Top

I prefer that all decisions be ratified at a special biweekly meeting.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 1:00am Top

Can we go ahead and suggest the typo-type combinations as well? (I ask after the fact).

And how about a way to propose tag separations - such as the one brought up here:

"Someone combined the tags "transgender" and "trans". I think they should be separated because the tag page also shows books that are translated..."

And another one from:
Tag Separation: Short Stories / Short Story

Feb 15, 2010, 12:59am Top

Yes, absolutely.

And how about a way to propose tag separations

Duuuuude. Read the page. You can do it now. (Sorry for calling you dude.)

Feb 15, 2010, 1:00am Top

Thank you very much! The new system looks like an excellent compromise.

Would it be possible to allow people to post comments on proposed combinations? e.g., "No, we shouldn't combine sf with science fiction because some people use it to mean San Francisco." This could be done on the Combiners! group, of course, but I suspect that way fewer people will see it.

I suppose I'm thinking now of Wikipedia's Articles for deletion.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:02am Top

I've thought about that. I don't see an easy way to do it. Automatic talk-post creation? Some way to post vote IDs inside of talk posts? I dunno. I think the best way would be to post in Combiners. Chances are, those people can provide the edge in close cases—or even end up doing most of it anyway.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 1:06am Top

>8 timspalding:. Doh! I am a farking idiot - I was so excited I immediately started going back through the Combiners! threads looking for the examples I knew were there and forgot to RTFM.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:10am Top

I'm gleaning potentials from the old Combiners! posts but I don't feel comfortable being the one to make the call to put it to a vote. I'll post them in Combiners!

I think we'll probably end up maintaining a "Discuss proposed tag combination/separations" thread.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 1:15am Top

10> If you want to be lazy about it (works for me), just create a Tag combination/separation group and have the voting page say "For discussions about these votes, go to (link to Tag combination/separation group)." I think it'll be low enough volume of traffic that it'll be easy to figure out which thread is which. And you can always add more code later to do automatic talk post creation or whatsit.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:15am Top

Yeah, I can put a note. It would just go to the Combiners! group, though.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 1:20am Top

What's the normal breadcrumb navigation to get to the tag combination page?

Edited: the voting page that is. Getting to where to propose is easy enough.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:20am Top

14> Well, it's your call, obviously. But the people who do the combining (and what fabulously helpful people you are) might get a bit cranky if it adds a lot of tag combining noise. Given that there's already tons of tag combinations up for voting, I guess you'll find out. ;)

Feb 15, 2010, 1:22am Top

I think there needs to be better separation of polls you have and haven't voted in. Possibly all the ones you haven't voted in at the top followed by a nice visual division, then all the ones you have voted in. This is already getting a bit clunky.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:26am Top

Feb 15, 2010, 1:26am Top

>17 brightcopy:

I just separated it by section for combining and uncombining. That was requiring way too much reading.

How about a color difference for the polls you've voted in?

Feb 15, 2010, 1:29am Top

I don't know, maybe it will quiet down later, but so far it's on target to have a large number of polls. That's a lot of scroll just to get down to the uncombinations. My opinion is that the differentiation of voted/not voted is much more important than combination/uncombination and should therefore take precedence in which section appears first to the user.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:33am Top

I think combine/uncombine need to be separated because it's hard to see the difference, not just inconvenient.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:34am Top

I would do the combine/uncombine with colors, but voted/not voted with sections. But I'm a half-assed UI designer.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 1:50am Top

21,22> Right, I'm not saying combine/uncombine shouldn't be separated in some fashion. I'm just saying from a standpoint of what gets shown to a user first in a situation where there's a lot of lines, it should be the polls that they have yet to vote in. Secondary to that (in my opinion) is how you want to separate combine/uncombine polls. It could be like this:

Unvoted Combine
Unvoted Uncombined
Voted Combine
Voted Uncombine

Intermixed Unvoted Combine/Uncombine (with colors)
Intermixed Voted Combine/Uncombine (with colors)

or probably some other permutations. I just think you should follow the old UI rule of not making a user scroll down to further than they need to to find stuff they need to see.

ETA: The more I think about it, the more I think my intermixed example is probably the better one. The problem you have with your current design is that the uncombiner polls are at the bottom. User fatigue is going to make it more likely that people will vote in the combiner polls than in the uncombiner polls. So yeah, you probably do need to intermix them to avoid that bias.

ETA: Furthermore, though this sounds crazy, it might not be a bad idea to randomize the poll order for the ones not voted on. This will also reduce the bias that people will probably be more likely to vote in the polls that are in the top rather than at the bottom. I assume right now they're being sorted in the order they are proposed. As such, older polls are going to naturally have lower participation.

ETA: Final ETA, I promise. It might also be a good idea to have an Ignore button for a poll, to clear it off the list if you absolutely have no opinion. Much like talk, ignoring it would actually just move it to the bottom. Either below Unvoted polls or below both Unvoted and Voted polls. Probably the former since ignored ones are Unvoted polls. You shouldn't be able to ignore a Voted poll.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 11:57am Top

Example of what I'm talking about:

I left:
timspalding has proposed combining the tag classical studies and Altertumswissenschaft.

for later so I can look up what "Altertumswissenschaft" means. That poll is now four pages six pages twenty five pages down the screen, and I run a pretty high resolution on my monitor. I'm much less likely to come back and look at it later than I am to vote first three pages of new Unvoted polls.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:09am Top

I imagine the pace of suggested tag combinations will slow after the pent-up demand has been satisfied.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:11am Top

(Slightly OT: but can someone point me to a short explanation of how polls work/how to make them? I missed all that discussion over the holidays, but I've seen them cropping up in several threads, some polls by staff but others by members. I did find this thread; is this still the best description of how to mark this up? http://www.librarything.com/topic/79563#1660072
Maybe we should get something on this in HelpThing.)

Feb 15, 2010, 2:11am Top

See now. It's a toggle.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:16am Top

27> Definitely an improvement. You still have the problem of placing the uncombinations after several pages of combinations, though. I still think you're far better off either doing them intermixed with colors or placing them side-by-side in a two column layout.

And randomizing the order.

I know, it sounds silly, but unless tag combining/uncombining becomes an infrequent thing with just a handful of choices (is that the expectation?), you've got some classic polling problems that have been known for decades.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:17am Top

When I switched to All Votes, voted, and then switched back to Unvoted, the ones I had voted on didn't disappear.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:20am Top

It only changes on refresh. That's life.

Also, no more changes. I'm drinking wine and going to bed.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:21am Top

Also, no more changes. I'm drinking wine and going to bed.

Why do you hate democracy so much, Tim???


Feb 15, 2010, 2:26am Top

Oh, no, just you, keeping me from wine and bed.

FYI: My wife is in DC. We're doing Valentine's on Tuesday. I'm not utterly pathetic. ;)

Feb 15, 2010, 2:28am Top

If you have enough wine, anywhere is bed.

Okay, filled up your nice tidy thread with enough of my actual quote helpful unquote comments, I should put a stop to these totally frivolous ones.

Starting.... now.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:39am Top

The (what?) at the top of the tag page after the tags that are combined still says that tag combination is down.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:11am Top

15> Near as I can tell the only way is through the HelpThing page linked from "Combine tags?"

Feb 15, 2010, 3:55am Top

Just as an FYI, if you want to find misspellings to combine, I highly recommend looking at the tags for Stephenie Meyer books. I highly recommend not reading the actual books though.

Feb 15, 2010, 4:38am Top

In addition to voting yes/no, I would like to have an option "hide" in cases where I do not have enough information to make a decision either way, but I don't want to see this entry anymore in my "unvoted" list.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 5:48am Top

Also, when making a proposal for a tag combination/uncombination it would be nice if it was able to enter an (optional) comment which shows on the vote page to explain why these particular tags should be/should not be combined.

EDIT: just as an example of why I would like to be able to add a comment, I proposed to combine "science fiction" and "sci-fi", as I expected, it gets downvoted a lot.

But I'm somewhat doubtful that these No votes are the result of an rational analysis instead of a gut reaction or a blind following of the "don't combine words and their acronyms" rule.

Because of that I would like to have a place where I can put my rationalizations for that specific tag combination:

The reason why I proposed that combination of science fiction and sci-fi is that the top 200 of both have 178 entries in common. Of the entries that the 2 lists have not in common, 85% are beyond place 150, 96% beyond place 140 and 100% beyond place 100.

So, while I'm sure that there are some people that do use both "science fiction" and "sci-fi" for different books and associate a different meaning to it (and that would be an interesting statistic to see, how many people have both "science fiction" and "sci-fi" in their tags, and if they do, how often they have assigned only one of them to a book and not both.), the large majority of people probably don't make a distinction and always use one or to other in their own tags.

Because the large majority of people does not make a distinction between these 2 tags, there is no value in keeping them separated for any *global* reports, because any conscious distinction that a small minority might make between them is totally drowned out by the noise. Combining them also doesn't cause any disadvantages for people looking a their own tags as tag combinations only affect global reports, not reports against your own tags.

Last but not least, I don't think the "Combining acronyms with non-acronyms should be avoided in general." rule applies here as sci-fi is definitely not used as an acronym for anything except science fiction.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 4:55am Top

Okay, so no more changes for tonight buuuut...

Could there be more differentiation between which poll and which combination/separation go together? If I skipped more than a couple polls (because of no opinion or not knowing enough about the tags in question), I kept forgetting if the poll was above or below the question option, and then I had to scroll all the way up to the top (or bottom) to check the order.

An extra line break between the polls or an ordered/unordered list that puts a mark before the first line or a #CCC 1px border around each set would be enough. Please?

Also, I agree with everything brightcopy said in >#23 about randomizing and ignoring polls. And with what jBRa4hky said in >#38 about the explanation, although that could get pretty messy and people might end up wanting to debate.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 9:46am Top

My first laugh-right-out-loud of the day, KingRat/36!

ETA: And even funnier when I see those actual tags in the voting forum!

Feb 15, 2010, 10:09am Top

38> While I think your intentions are good, I think allowing a comment on these polls are bad. Know what a "push poll" is? It's very easy to sway polling by phrasing your comment/question in a certain way. This is unfair, as those who want to vote No have no easy way of pushing the poll the other way.

I think it's best to have these as clear-cut decisions without someone trying to argue one side of the point next to the poll. Discussion for both sides can then go on in Talk, giving both a platform for their opinions. And then you don't have to constantly have battling polls on the combining/uncombining the same tags because the last poll had a comment that swayed votes. Then you just say we only vote on something in a certain period (maybe once a year or whatever).

Feb 15, 2010, 10:13am Top

Another good example why there really should be a way to add comments to combining/uncombining proposals:

"Edward has proposed uncombining the tag doctor who and Doctor Who (Fictitious charact." - Current tally: Yes 2, No 4

Just looking at that proposal the way it is I would guess most people would say these belong together. But I don't think Edward would have proposed this uncombining if he didn't see some good reason for why it shouldn't be combined.

It would certainly be very helpful for people voting on this to be able to read some comment by Edward explaining why he thinks these should be uncombined.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:15am Top


No I don't think that those voting against combining science fiction and sci-fi are purely doing it on an anti-acronym basis. There has been lots of discussion about these two tags going back years - to when we last had tag-combining.

I would agree with brightcopy that a comment with the poll can push the vote one particular way and also that no-one wants to see battling polls where tags yo-yo between combined and separated.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:17am Top

42> All you have to do is send Edward a PM and have him post his rationale to the Combiners! forum.

If/when Tim makes it so that it auto-creates/links to a Talk topic about that poll, it'll be even easier.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:19am Top

Is there a way to list my tag combining proposals?

Feb 15, 2010, 10:23am Top

For now, if you want to make an argument for your tag combination/uncombination make a thread for it in the Combiners! group.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:25am Top

41> Ok, maybe showing the comment from the person that proposed the combining/uncombining on the poll page without anyone else being able to comment on it would be problematic.

I fully agree that there should be the ability to have a discussion about it with the comment from the proposer just being the first entry in that discussion.

But you can't just start a new topic for it somewhere in talk. People that look at the voting page would have no idea that there is a discussion about this proposal going on.

So what should probably happen is that when you make a combination proposal you can specify a comment, and if you do the site automatically creates a topic for it in some special group.

The entries on the voting page should then just have a "Talk (messagecount)" link (or "Start Discussion" if there isn't an auto-created topic yet).

Feb 15, 2010, 10:27am Top

It would be nice that when the polls close that there be some way to find out what the result was; other than trying to remember what they were and looking at the tag pages that is.

Could you have a page to announce the results?

Feb 15, 2010, 10:30am Top

> 42

Another good example why there really should be a way to add comments to combining/uncombining proposals:

And another: there's a proposal to combine the tags "Stephenie Meyer" and "Stephanie Meyer". While is some instances the latter is a misspelling of the former, there is, in fact, and author named "Stephanie Meyer" who is not the same person as "Stephenie Meyer".

Feb 15, 2010, 10:34am Top

49> Yeah, I really think it needs what I wrote above, a new group (not the Combiners! group, don't want to spam that to death) where topics are autogenerated for combination proposals and direct links to these topics from the voting page.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:36am Top

I don't think we really need to worry about the Combiners! group being spammed to death. The excitement will pass in a couple of days.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:38am Top

#50, I agree about the need for a new group - I've avoided posting rationales for a lot of my 'No' votes because I didn't want to fill up the Combiners group.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:38am Top

What if there were a way to touchstone tag combination polls from talk and then show any linked discussions from the poll? Or alternatively, what if there was a way with the poll to put not a comment but simply a URL to the discussion thread (in a field that only allowed URLs)?

Feb 15, 2010, 10:40am Top

>53 rsterling: I think this is way too complicated. We're looking at 16 months of pent-up demand today, but in general I imagine that only a couple of tags will be discussed at any given time.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:41am Top

I second the idea to be able to isolate just your votes so if I see an argument that changes my mind I can easily change my vote too.

Feb 15, 2010, 10:42am Top

53> I just think it would be beneficial to make commenting on a specific proposal as easy as possible to increase participation. If you have to go to different places and manually link things up some people might not bother where they would otherwise have had something worthwhile to contribute to the discussion.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 10:56am Top

For some reason, the link in the first message to the bug thread doesn't work (I get a blank page).

Feb 15, 2010, 11:06am Top

FYI, Tim has already floated the idea of topic auto-creation way back in message #10. Oh, and touchstones for these polls.

Feb 15, 2010, 11:08am Top

57> Yes. Naughty Tim included a space in his link:
<a href="/topic/84797%20" rel="nofollow" target="_top">

Feb 15, 2010, 1:13pm Top

So, I'm not really a fan of this "democracy" thing. There are times when the "obvious", popular decision isn't the right one. For example, lilithcat pointed out that Stephanie Meyer is actually someone distinct from Stephenie Meyer, and some of the tag usage refers to the real Stephanie Meyer. At the time that she posted, the polls were something like 20 to 1 in favour of combination. But one reasoned argument is more important than the popular judgement. (The polls have since swung a bit, so that it's no longer a problem in this particular case).

Even worse is the situation where the uninformed view is not to combine, since I think not combining wins out in any dispute. A case in point is the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics series, commonly known as Cambridge Green and Yellows. Not only is Cambridge Green and Yellow used for nothing else on LT, but a Google search seems to show that the phrase is used for nothing else anywhere on the internet. And yet, the combination poll is losing 5 to 13, because people who aren't familiar with the phrase can posit a hypothetical, "common sense" meaning that refers to something other than the series in question.

I think I preferred the situation where people quietly combined and separated the tags that they were familiar with. I know this isn't possible for technical reasons, but I hope the ultimate decisions can take into account more than the opinions of the mobile vulgus.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:28pm Top

60> I think there are pitfalls in either direction.

One thing that occurs to me is that it might be useful to have a button for discrepencies. So if there's a poll that wants to combine Stephanie Meyer and stephenie meyer, give me a link to show me which books are tagged Stephanie Meyer but never stephenie meyer and books that are tagged stephenie meyer but never Stephanie Meyer.

Speaking of which, as near as I can tell, none of the books actually by Stephanie H. Meyer (that's who "Stephanie Meyer" is supposed to be, right?) are actually tagged Stephanie Meyer. Or is there yet another Stephanie Meyer I'm missing?

Feb 15, 2010, 1:39pm Top

> 60

_Zoe_, I think I agree.

I am seeing combinations proposed where one is a translation of the other, but the non-English word has a separate meaning in English (roman/novel, for instance).

There are some fictitious characters whose names are the same as authors (see Anne Shirley).

I think people are so excited by having tag combinations back that some aren't really thinking the proposals through.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:39pm Top

Speaking of which, as near as I can tell, none of the books actually by Stephanie H. Meyer (that's who "Stephanie Meyer" is supposed to be, right?) are actually tagged Stephanie Meyer. Or is there yet another Stephanie Meyer I'm missing?

Stephanie (H.) Meyer wrote the Teen Ink books; the Teen Ink website has a review (or something) of Eragon; Eragon is tagged Stephanie Meyer.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:47pm Top

On voting vs. specialist knowledge, I think in the majority of cases voting will hit on the right and commonsense solution. So roman=novel is/was losing by a landslide (I can't find it now: has it been un-proposed?). However, in certain cases like those _Zoe_ and lilithcat mention, or others where a bit of specialist knowledge is needed to know that something is actually the same or different, it would be nice to have some other recourse or way of intervening. Perhaps a "nevering" system, or a way of appealing to Tim.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:54pm Top

Now that accessing "sub-tags" is working again (click on one of the tags that a tag is combined with at the top of the tag page) I'm thinking that a lot of the reasons for not combining goes away.

If you combined humor and humour you could still get a list of the books for each by accessing the page for the non-combined tag.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:55pm Top

While there's a risk of getting into combining/uncombining wars, if a combination does go through, a subsequent vote can uncombine something.

(I am thinking uncombination should have a lower threshold to win than combination, too.)

Feb 15, 2010, 1:57pm Top

62> The author Anne Shirley is in LT with one book owned by one person and that book isn't tagged with Anne Shirley. So I'm not sure I see the problem with the combination. Do you really want the rule to be stand-alone names should never be combined with the name plus (fictitious person)?

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 2:02pm Top

So, I'm not really a fan of this "democracy" thing ... The polls have since swung a bit, so that it's no longer a problem in this particular case.

Exactly. Nobody said that voting was the answer by itself. Democracy needs campaigning too. (Please, no campaign-finance violations!)

I am not able to do all the work myself—not would I be the best at it! And I'm not willing to turn it over to a Guardian Council of top Combiners! members.

But I am quite sure that anyone with a reasonable amount of respect on LibraryThing can post a reasonable case why a particular vote should go the other way, and be given a fair hearing and, probably, turn enough votes to prevent a supermajority.

Cambridge Green and Yellow

I agree. As another person with a bunch of them, and enough classics graduate school to know she's right, I urge members to go make or change their vote.

I'm going to add a code to insert a particular vote in Talk threads too. This should make it easier to encourage good swarming.

I am seeing combinations proposed where one is a translation of the other, but the non-English word has a separate meaning in English (roman/novel, for instance).

And that is LOSING COMPLETELY. It lost from the moment it was introduced!

The mere possibility of harm, without empirical confirmation, is not a reasonable argument in systems designed to contain, ameliorate and reverse harm. In theory, US voters could elect the Unibomber President. That's not an argument against Democracy.

Really, what's the alternative. Every day someone combines Roman and novel and you undo it? A whole new prevent-combination system. Is that one by vote, or can anyone prevent combination? Is there an undue-prevent-combination system, and how does that work.

I think people are so excited by having tag combinations back that some aren't really thinking the proposals through.

Again, we're going to need to have a supermajority. I think that, plus rabble rousing here, is going to prevent all bad combinations. If any of them happen, well, put the tag up for un-combination. It's just like before, except a little slower—a little more time to think the proposals through.

Feb 15, 2010, 1:59pm Top

With the mass of proposals right now I think that there is a lot less thought put into each one than they might once the flood subsides. Personally, I'm just voting on the ones that are obvious typos or different spellings of the same thing.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:00pm Top

63> So, are there any books by Stephanie (H.) Meyer that are actually tagged "Stephanie Meyer"? I think this combination has many votes because what's really happening is a typo, even though the "typo" name is an (obscure) author, too. It's a lot more fuzzy a situation than assuming that everyone voting Yes is just ignorant of their being a "Stephanie Meyer".

Feb 15, 2010, 2:01pm Top

I think what would also be very helpful would some statistics with each proposal (directly visible I mean, without having to search around for the information):

- how many works are only tagged with TagA
- how many works are only tagged with TagB
- how many works are tagged with both TagA and TagB
- how many works are tagged with both TagA and TagB *by the same user*
- how many users have used TagA
- how many users have used TagB
- how many users have used BOTH TagA and TagB

Feb 15, 2010, 2:01pm Top

Even worse is the situation where the uninformed view is not to combine

Seriously Zoe, it's not 'uninformed' in my case - I know exactly why and how both of these terms are used but my argument stands. I don't believe that terms like that should be combined. Stop calling people uninformed who disagree with you. It's a bad trait and shows a weakness of argument. We have a different view on tag combination (you're a lumper, I'm a splitter). I assumed as grown ups we could discuss it sensibly and then a consensus poll could decided whose opinion is OK. If it pisses you off that a poll hasn't come out the way you want it, live with it.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:05pm Top

some aren't really thinking the proposals through

I thought the Anne Shirley poll through. It's a proposal, not a mandate.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:09pm Top

Can someone define: must have large majorities to 'pass'? What if I have a unique tag and my friend has a unique different tag and we are in agreement to combine them? Is "2 yes 0 no" a valid large majority?

Feb 15, 2010, 2:09pm Top

Tim, the proposed combinations and separations on the sub-tag pages (the ones with norefer) aren't specific to that subtag, but rather to the existing combined/all-together tag. The same goes for the notice that there are open combination/separation proposals. This is confusing, because it just says so and so has proposed combining or separating "this tag."

For example, there has been no proposal, that I can see, specifically for the sub-tag história. If you go to that sub-tag page, though, it looks like there has, since it says X "has proposed combining this tag and the tag #history."

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 2:13pm Top

>I am seeing combinations proposed where one is a translation of the other, but the non-English word has a separate meaning in English (roman/novel, for instance).

>>And that is LOSING COMPLETELY. It lost from the moment it was introduced!

The vote is currently Yes: 0, No: 40. Which means even the proposer didn't vote for it. ;)

ETA: http://www.librarything.com/topic/84797#1793040

Feb 15, 2010, 2:36pm Top

I feel like voting for it, just out of sympathy for failure.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 2:42pm Top

But I am quite sure that anyone with a reasonable amount of respect on LibraryThing can post a reasonable case why a particular vote should go the other way, and be given a fair hearing and, probably, turn enough votes to prevent a supermajority.

The problem with this is that it only works one way: a reasonable case against combining can have enough influence that the combining won't happen, because you require this "supermajority". On the other hand, the fact that you require a supermajority means that no case in favour of tag combining is ever going to have enough influence to change the result. Not everyone bothers reading the threads.

So, are there any books by Stephanie (H.) Meyer that are actually tagged "Stephanie Meyer"? I think this combination has many votes because what's really happening is a typo, even though the "typo" name is an (obscure) author, too.

The tag Stephanie Meyer occurs on books that are reviewed on her website, that have nothing to do with Twilight.

>72 klarusu: klarusu, I'm not concerned about your one vote. My point is that while opinion in discussion is generally in favour of the combination, the system is such that the small number of people who participate in discussions isn't generally enough to change a proposal from negative to positive (maybe Tim speaking out in favour will change things--but if it's only going to be a matter of Tim using his influence to get people to change their votes, he might as well just override the votes when he considers it appropriate).

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 2:52pm Top

How about "No, with comments"?

Then, if you want to state your case why Roman != Novel (as an example), then you can say that "Roman may indicate something belonging to the culture of the Roman Empire, and is not always a way for some languages to indicate novel, etc."

My impression was that if something's not 1-to-1, it shouldn't be merged. Maybe the nay-sayers should be given a voice why they voted nay.

Also, can we have a special view to see pending merges that we haven't voted in yet?

Edit: Gee, thanks. Didn't see it before...

ALSO: where's the proposed venue for stumping? 'Cause nobody seems to understand that Epic Fantasy == High Fantasy. I may be wrong; if so, can somebody please tell me the distinction between them? Or are people using High Fantasy to indicate Psychotropic Fantasy?

Feb 15, 2010, 2:45pm Top

the small number of people who participate in discussions isn't generally enough to change a proposal from negative to positive

I would imagine most people who are voting are aware of the discussion threads. Posting isn't necessarily a judge of who is reading the discussions. That said, I still think that taking this out of Combiners and giving it a group of itself and then a link from the wiki page to that group may get more traffic. And for those that vote without reading the wiki ... well, you can't legislate for people who aren't going to read the instructions ... they are just always a few of them.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:49pm Top

~just spit tea on my computer monitor~

KingRat has proposed combining the tag democracy in tag combination sucks and totalitarianism.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:53pm Top

Yeah ... snorted over that one too.

Feb 15, 2010, 2:56pm Top

I would imagine most people who are voting are aware of the discussion threads. Posting isn't necessarily a judge of who is reading the discussions.

Right, but being aware of discussion threads isn't the same as reading them, either.

I'm not sure that moving from Combiners! to a different group would help; it's already clear where the discussion is, for those who care.

At the risk of annoying you further, I do think it might be helpful to include polls in the discussions about more controversial combinations/separations, and to base the final decision more on those than on the main poll in the long list.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:04pm Top

At the risk of annoying you further, I do think it might be helpful to include polls


Seriously though, I don't think so. That poll will only catch people who are on the thread. Some people may have valid, informed opinions and not feel the need to discuss them and therefore miss out on this. I don't really think there's a perfect answer.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:08pm Top

Sure, but is it better to have a smaller poll that includes only informed people but not all people who are informed, or a larger poll that includes all informed people, but also some uninformed people? (Maybe I should make a poll about this too ;))

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 3:15pm Top

Epic Fantasy == High Fantasy

On the level of the books selected, I think there's an argument for keeping them separate. Yes, Tolkien and George R. R. Martin appear on both lists, but the proportions are quite different. Since the totals are about the same for both tags, it's interesting to see some wide gaps in usage—Stardust (1/10), Enchanter (12/3).

One might formulate a rule of thumb: If there are enthusiasts out there who would prefer one term to the other, its likely their choice isn't random, but encodes something interesting, and they should be kept separate.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:14pm Top

> 62 I think people are so excited by having tag combinations back that some aren't really thinking the proposals through.


I wonder if it might not be beneficial to have a limit on the number of polls that can be open at once, so that folks would be less inclined to scroll through clicking and more inclined to discuss. I know this would be a pain with the backlog, but in the long run, I think it might be better.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:16pm Top

I think the problems we're having now are mostly about this being newly returned. There was a lot of pent-up demand.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:17pm Top

78> The tag Stephanie Meyer occurs on books that are reviewed on her website, that have nothing to do with Twilight.

The more informed I am about this one, the more I'm getting inclined to vote Yes on combination.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 3:29pm Top

>89 brightcopy: I don't get it.

edit: by "her" I meant Stephanie Meyer, not Stephenie Meyer.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:41pm Top

90> Because the tag appears to be used two ways. To mark Twilight books by a typo-ed form of Stephenie Meyer and to mark books reviewed by someone who's preferred name form appears to be "Stephanie H. Meyer". The former category seems to far, far outweigh the latter.

And in my opinion, there is a lot less utility in tagging books based on some reviewer. And to get that utility, you have to forgo being able to roll up the scads of books that have a typo.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:49pm Top

If the code automatically accepted a combination where the only difference was in the case of the letters then we could cut down on the number of polls a good deal. There are a lot of other simple transformations that could also be automatic, like substituting underscores or dashes for spaces, or various kinds of accented characters by their unaccented brethren.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 3:51pm Top

>91 brightcopy:.

Some may be using her name to indicate that they picked up the book on her recommendation.

Also, it's an 1-to-1 relationship for it to be combinable, or it should be.

"Thus," sayeth God unto Abraham, "if but one person doth use that tag to meaneth a thing other than the rest, I shalt spare the firmament."

I remember reading it somewhere. Maybe it wasn't in the Bible...

Edit: Pointer error....

Feb 15, 2010, 3:51pm Top

>92 jjwilson61:.

Or just autocombining things whose case-independent alphanumeric values match.

I'd write a regexp, but the talk posts always filter out what I'm sayin'...

Feb 15, 2010, 3:52pm Top

If the code automatically accepted a combination where the only difference was in the case of the letters

While I'm not necessarily saying this shouldn't happen, it would mean (hypothetically) Basques (the people) could be combined with basques (the underwear) ... that wouldn't be the greatest autocombination, and there may be more ...

Feb 15, 2010, 3:56pm Top

>95 klarusu:.

This would automatically happen in languages/cultures (and personal habits) that don't support Proper Noun Capitalization.

Feb 15, 2010, 3:57pm Top

klarusu just wanted a reason to look at pictures of underwear

Feb 15, 2010, 4:03pm Top

92> You're bringing up a downside. I'm not denying that there is one. There's a downside no matter which way you do it. I'm just giving my opinion on which downside is worse. Should it go one way or the other simply because in your opinion the other downside is worse, even if you're in the minority?

In my opinion, if anyone DID want a separate Stephanie H. Meyer tag to indicate anything, I would suggest they tag it Stephanie H. Meyer.

Should "tolkein" fail to roll up with "tolkien" because of Simon Tolkein?

Let me state again that this is my opinion. I do not believe their is some absolute right way to do this. I'm trying to approach it from the standpoint of which choice has the fewest downsides.

Feb 15, 2010, 4:03pm Top

#97 Yeah, I so did!

#96 True but tags do support capitalisation and I'm just saying it might mask differences.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 4:05pm Top


Please go read my case for keeping 'Chemistry (Biochemistry)' separate from 'Biochemistry'. The 'Yes' votes are winning right now and I think it's a miscarriage of tagging justice.


Feb 15, 2010, 4:06pm Top

And in my opinion, there is a lot less utility in tagging books based on some reviewer.

On the contrary, I would say there's a lot more utility in that than in tagging books based on the author. The author is already obvious; what new information are we gaining from the tags?

Feb 15, 2010, 4:06pm Top

99> In the few cases where it would matter you could propose that they be separated again.

Feb 15, 2010, 4:09pm Top

Sure, like I said, I'm not saying it shouldn't happen, just that there are drawbacks.

Feb 15, 2010, 4:17pm Top

Ugh, we've spammed Tim's thread enough. Will be following up on the StephEAnie Meyer issue in the appropriate thread:

Feb 15, 2010, 6:06pm Top

I've made big changes to the page, showing statistics and providing pagination. It should make it much faster.

If the code automatically accepted a combination where the only difference was in the case of the letters then we could cut down on the number of polls a good deal

It does. There are no cases such as you posit.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:07pm Top

I like the pagination, but the new paginated version is not filtering out my votes any more by default or when I click "unvoted."

Feb 15, 2010, 6:09pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:12pm Top

105> Much better, Tim! Hopefully once this backlog works its way through, it won't be a problem, but right I'll probably never make it past the first couple of pages. Of course, if most people do that, then none of those latter ones will get cleared out of the backlog because not enough people voted in the poll. Catch 22.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:17pm Top

105> I don't like the colours. Took me about three minutes to figure out that green stands for a separation proposal, totally non-obvious.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 6:22pm Top

106 - seems to be fixed now.

109 - Oh, is that what that is? I was about to post and ask why some of them were different colors. I completely agree with 109: differentiating by differentiation color is too subtle and too confusing (and that goes either for the current colors or even for more contrasting colors like red and green). I think these need to be in different sections of the page, or on different sub-pages.
(edited to clarify, then to remove that amusing tautology)

Feb 15, 2010, 6:20pm Top

I like using colors for combining/uncombining, but please can you make the colors more differentiated?

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 6:24pm Top

I like the pagination, but having combination and separation proposals mixed is not at all good -- I keep thinking "those are obviously different, what a terrible idea, why is it winning unanimously -- oh, that's a separation suggestion."

edit: and now that I return, they're differentiated by color, which helps a lot.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:23pm Top

> 109

I agree. And Uncombining proposals should be separate from combining proposals. The color isn't obvious and, as they're all mixed up together, I accidentally voted against a separation that I wholeheartedly favor. Fortunately, I caught it when I looked at my "Voted" list and changed it, but if I hadn't looked at that list, I wouldn't have.

Hello! They're yellow now! When did that happen?

Feb 15, 2010, 6:24pm Top

Tan is no better. The problem is that you can easily miss the key word: separating vs. combining. The words and sentences are the same length, and if you're going through the list from one to another it's easy to mix them up.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:25pm Top

Changed color.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:26pm Top

The color is VERY different now. If it's not so on your screen, twiddle with your screen.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:28pm Top

I see that they're different, but I still think it's not obvious and too easy to get confused when they're all mixed in the list together. My first reaction, noticing the different colors, was: "Why are these different colors? That's weird, must be a bug." It was not, oh, these are two different colors because they're different things. The block of words and poll just look too similar, even with the color differentiation, not to cause confusion.

And then you've got people who are color blind...

Feb 15, 2010, 6:38pm Top

105>It does. There are no cases such as you posit.

What?! They're all over the place. Take this one for example:

KingRat has proposed combining the tag bilbo baggins. and Bilbo Baggins.

Feb 15, 2010, 6:46pm Top

@105, Tim - not quite capitalisation, but a couple of things that might be able to run automatically:

"african american fiction." and "African American Fiction"; "southern fiction." and "southern fiction" - trailing periods.

(I suspect this is where the reports of capitalised ones are coming in - it's not obvious that these are non-identical tags when you look at the page, because the sentence gets a period added at the end...)

"Austria–Hungary" and "Austria-Hungary" - hyphens versus dashes.

I suspect these are both things that could run automatically without causing false positives, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised to be proved wrong!

Feb 15, 2010, 6:47pm Top

#118: In that case, there is a period after the first tag:
bilbo baggins.
but not after the second tag:
Bilbo Baggins

Note that the period after the first tag is blue -- part of the tag -- while the period after the second tag is black -- part of the statement. (I've combined a couple of others like this.)

Feb 15, 2010, 6:56pm Top

>119 generalising:

I hear you. Because of how tags work, it can't be done automatically at the time of making. But I suppose it could be done periodically as a background process.

So, anyone want to propose some rules?

1. Trailing period, colon, semicolon
2. Underscore equals space
3. Hyphen vs. dash

Feb 15, 2010, 7:00pm Top

>121 timspalding:

I think it's fine to have people propose and vote on these. There won't be as many later on. If there's something obvious, by all means go ahead and auto-combine them. But it's not really a huge deal to propose a combination and have it get voted through.

LTers *like* to pick through minutia as far as I can tell.

Feb 15, 2010, 7:09pm Top

121 - one that's looking at me just now is "Schools -- Juvenile Fiction" and "Schools > Juvenile fiction" - we could automatically group space hyphen hyphen space and space chevron space as the same as space hyphen space?

Feb 15, 2010, 7:11pm Top

I guess you're right. At least I can't find any now.

I'd say underscore equals space equals dash.

Can you consider accented letters and their unaccented counterparts to be the same?

Feb 15, 2010, 7:36pm Top

#121, 123, 124: Sounds good to me.

#122: LTers *like* to pick through minutia as far as I can tell.

No kidding. This has been a day of some high-level procrastination on my part, let me tell you!

Feb 15, 2010, 7:39pm Top

What happens when a bunch of combines happen on the same tag? Is it going to be disastrous if we mix (accidentally or on purpose) separations and combines?

Feb 15, 2010, 7:51pm Top

Oh, and the period at the end is not necessarily good for an auto-combine.

"lit." "lit"

"lit." ~= "literature"

Feb 15, 2010, 8:07pm Top

OH!! That's another "what if" question I had awhile back. If I were to tag all my Lit-recommended books as "LIT", would that automatically be combined with "literature"? 'Cause that's NOT what it means.

Edited: Feb 15, 2010, 8:35pm Top



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