Invisible Mending

Should we blow our own SF Encyclopedia trumpet harder? Editorial modesty discourages perpetual self-promotion (also known as the Curse of Facebook), but here are a few peeps behind the scenes and notes on features you may have missed.

• The biggest “invisible” achievement of 2013 so far has been the fixing of a long-known but not easily tackled website bug that affected SFE search results and headword lists. In both these places headwords could occasionally be duplicated, with one linking correctly to the appropriate entry while its evil twin had a corrupt link that gave a horrible and incomprehensible Server Error page. After much cogitation David Langford suggested a fix to eliminate the bad links, and this was dextrously installed by the site designers STEEL of London on 13 February. Many thanks to all of you who reported this problem over the last year. Let’s hope it’s gone forever.

• Although the What’s New page automatically lists the 100 latest entries newly added to the SF Encyclopedia, it doesn’t show major changes to already existing entries. Rob Kilheffer, for example, has just expanded the old Aliens (as in extraterrestrials) theme entry to about five times its former size: this coverage of a big subject now runs to some 17,500 words. Conversely, the international entry for Latin America has shrunk considerably because – thanks to the academic initiative organized by Rachel Haywood Ferreira – the countries whose sf was all too tersely summarized under Latin America in the encyclopedia’s second edition are receiving full entries of their own: Brazil, for example, which links in turn to new entries for Brazilian authors.

• An alternative “What’s New” option, for those who like such things, is the RSS feed which reports the latest new SFE additions in your browser or news aggregator. By default this shows a modest 12 entries, a figure which can be changed: and give the latest 20 and the latest 50 respectively. Other numbers can be inserted by the alert and intelligent user, though there’s a limit of 100.

• Besides the official SFE Twitter feed on our home page (see “Connect with SFE” in the right-hand panel), John Clute regularly tweets about new, improved or timely entries. Follow him and expand your vocabulary.

• Speaking of timeliness, the On This Day page has a few options that we’ve been too busy to plug. Selecting any desired day and month, for example (use the pulldown menu and click the Above Date button), to reveal anniversaries for future dates. David Langford wishes he’d had this facility when he was working on daily newsletters for sf conventions. Yes, we made allowances for smartarses who enter dates like 31 February or 31 June.

• Who’s writing this thing? A great many people, as ever; the most prolific contributors appear in an informal league table on the Statistics page. Look on Clute’s works, ye mighty, and despair. By way of extremely modest trumpet-blowing, the latest word count and entry count can also be found in bar-chart form at the editors’ home page, alias SFE Facts.


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2 responses to “Invisible Mending

  1. Susannah

    I just discovered your site while doing research for a class project. Do you have an API that would allow using your data for mashups?

  2. Sorry not to have noticed this comment for so long. To the best of my knowledge, no such API was built into the SFE site by its designers and there’s certainly no budget for adding one at this late date.

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