IFDB curation questions

Creating the IFDB must have been a labour of love, but I don’t imagine changing it all now would be! Similarly for the IFWiki.

I think I read somewhere that the IFTF were considering working on the IF Archive. It would be great if the other two sites could be adopted by the IFTF and all three combined. Or at least if their territory could be marked out more clearly - for example, it might make sense for IFWiki not to have pages on games.

With MediaWiki, the reviews could be on user sub-pages, and user pages can be protected so that only admins and the relevant user can edit them. But there are probably many reasons for MediaWiki not being suitable. It’s just the software I’m most familiar with and it seemed (at first) to be relevant to the thread.

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Except from a few details, such as we cannot remove other people’s tags, I think IFDB is close to perfect. For instance, it is very user-friendly. Not sure if you can obtain the same user-friendliness if you implement it as a Wiki-site. I am not an expert, but if you are to write a review on a wiki-site, how do you keep count of the reviews, the ratings, the average rating etc. And as someone mentioned, how do you make sure reviews are not edited by others? How do you implement the advanced search function, polls etc etc.

At least I think it would be a huge work to reach the same functionality and user-friendliness as IFDB so only if IFDB could not be continued, would I regard it as a good idea.

I also think the IFWiki is pretty good as it is. Many games do not have much information, but it is a good place to add information about a game, or to link to relevant information.

Perhaps IFWiki would be used more, if there on IFDB was a direct link to IFWiki for each game, similar to (or instead of) the link to Baf’s Guide.

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I haven’t used any of the sites enough to know for sure but “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is usually wise.

I have not added anything to an IFDB page but after adding a couple of things to IFWiki about Zork 1 I wondered whether really they belonged more on IFDB.

The fact that this forum is the forum is appealing, so I suppose I just hanker after something that is the website.

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The biggest recent change was adding links from each IF Archive game entry to its IFDB page. I need to do more work on that (the links should be auto-added for new entries).

We’re interested in helping here, but it would be a matter of supporting the people who are support it now. We can’t just take over a site and impose a plan on it.

If the group of people in this discussion wanted to form a more organized structure for IFDB/IFWiki planning, we could help. Say, with a committed Slack channel or forum area?

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To echo that, IFTF doesn’t have a bunch of free labor ready to be deployed, but they can provide structural support for volunteers who want to accomplish something.

For example, if a volunteer wanted to work on deploying IFDB, they might not want to deploy it to MJR’s machine. IFTF could help arrange for hosting, domain transfer, making sure someone is paying the bills, etc.

So if someone really does want to put a bell on the cat and improve IFDB, they can stand up and say so, and then they can do that work with some IFTF support.

But first, someone would have to volunteer.

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Well, there’s also the step where you have a discussion with MJR and agree on what’s going to happen.

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That’s kinda what I mean by “bell the cat.” The volunteer would have to sign up for a difficult project that may or may not even happen, even if you do a bunch of hard work.

I’ll have a think about all this.

It would be a big task to merge the content of the sites. It’s a pity it couldn’t happen magically. IFWiki began in 2004/5 (from it’s page about itself) and has 3,475 pages in its “Works” category. IFDB began in 2007 (from the IFWiki page about it) and from a quick (maybe too quick) look at the SQL dump has 10,213 rows in the “games” table. The IF Archive started in 1992 and is probably sacred, but maybe somehow could be coordinated with IFWiki more closely, like with the IFDB links.

But maybe creating the site is not the answer. The sites work well for what they do (though the wiki would be improved by the Cargo extension). It seems that IDFB is the main site for games, so maybe the answer is some sort of guidance to newcomers like me who are considering contributing: e.g. “Put review links on IDFB instead of IFWiki”, or even “Don’t put anything on IFWiki which could go on IFDB”.

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That sounds good.

When you edit an IDFB entry there’s a field for “Baf’s Guide ID”. The wiki software has a unique ID for each page too. It’s not in the usual URL but is easy to find out, and could automatically be displayed on the wiki page itself. For instance, http://ifwiki.org/index.php/Zork_I and http://ifwiki.org/index.php?curid=3887 display the same page.

I have never actually seen Baf’s guide! Has it disappeared forever?

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Yes. The reviews remain readable on archive.org (I believe ifwiki has updated all their links to point there, although ifdb has not). Carl has not indicated any desire to put the site back up.

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I do have a project that parses IFDB and can make wiki pages (as a source code or as a bot, if the wiki has no corresponding page). The tech is not the problem here.

The problem is that IFDB has no curation, and English IFWiki is semi-abandoned. Forget installing extensions, it had no software updates since 2015. If you want to do something, you can fork it using content dumps but then you’ll have to delete all that content because it is in the grey area of having no specific license.

Let’s just stick with IFDB please, at least it’s alive.

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I note with interest your comment on that page in January 2019: “If it’s still relevant, I do agree to CC-BY relicensing. (We probably need a new wiki at this point though.)”

I tend to agree with Oreolek. IFDB is a valuable resource. MJR is providing a great service to the community. IFDB is very functional and would be a can of worms to replicate. I would like to see IFTF provide a backup system to Mr. Roberts (if he so desires) to help guarantee its continued operation. A small committee with Mr. Roberts as chairperson?

Just thinking out loud.

Does it make sense for the Revolutionary Council to discuss in one place and for me to ask more prosaic questions like “so is Isaac Asimov an IFDB-as-it-exists-grade co-author of Robots of Dawn, or isn’t he? Dude’s on the box cover and all!” in another?

It looks like he got top billing in this screenshot too: https://www.mobygames.com/game/apple2/robots-of-dawn/credits

So it seems like he or his ‘people’ approved the project and wanted their name on it. I think he’s a shoe-in for a co-author credit.

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Right, so, let’s chat agreeable guidelines, because the case law gets murky real fast when you look below the surface.

Here’s my take on the instructive value of some precedents:

  • Some games are very active collaborations with a living source author, like Hitchhiker’s. The collaboration is well-documented and understood. Non-controversial. Hooray!

  • Some games have living source authors where there was very clearly a formal licensing arrangement and that author’s name was clearly emblazoned on the cover, and you don’t have to know too much about Isaac Asimov to know that he wanted credit for being the best at basically everything ever, so sure he probably belongs on the author line of Robots of Dawn. But nobody took the bait on my question about Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less.

  • Some games have living source authors whose work has become part of a larger corporate collaboration, and that corporation licensed the work. Star Trek: Kobayashi Alternative and Promethean Prophecy lean heavily on the characters and setting devised by Gene Roddenberry, but he didn’t contribute to the games. (And where does it end? Do you credit Harve Bennett and Jack Sowards for their story contribution of the Kobayashi Maru scenario? Do you credit Balance of Terror writer Paul Schneider for the episode that gives Promethean Prophecy the prologue involving the Romulan Bird of Prey and the super-cloak?) Adding any of those names feels weird and unnecessary, there are other trappings which make clear they are officially sanctioned works.

  • Some games have living source authors but are clearly unauthorized. It seems oogy to put those authors on the author line and imply a collaboration or business arrangement which did not exist.

  • Some games have dead authors with works still under copyright, whose settings, characters, and storylines were fundamental to the game’s creation. But the author obviously didn’t actively collaborate, and in some high-profile circumstances they weren’t put on the cover, etc. The Hobbit/LOTR games are the clearest examples. It’s… complicated.

  • Some games have long-dead authors whose work is in the public domain. I hesitate to treat The Tempest as a strong precedent on these matters. The chain of credits on that game, like many Nelson works, is murky because for various and sundry reasons he frequently publishes pseudo/anonymously. Posts at the time seem to indicate that at least one early version of the game was credited solely to Shakespeare, which if done was done to serve a particular author’s particular purpose, and isn’t otherwise instructive. My point being: it’s cool that Nelson apparently wanted to credit Shakespeare for all that text and stuff, but I don’t think that rises to the level of a mandate.

  • All that said, there are games like Windham’s Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, and Wizard of Oz. Dead authors, public domain, heavy use of original setting and characters and plot, they’re on the cover… but are they top-line authors of the game? Mmmmmmgh.

I think that “did they make the game, or just enable the game?” question looms larger and larger.

I think a strong willed person, almost a dictator, that sets down the rules. Something like the ÜberStandard. :smiley:

IFDB is not an official source, so generally we can just copy the original credit (“This is a game by A.Christie and juju2817”) and leave it at that. It’s the wiki rule: we don’t want to search for The Truth as much as we want to prevent an edit war.

Any original research needs a ton of proof to back it up. If we want to dream then sure, we’ll need some sort of a “reference list” space and another separate “Talk” forum to argue about these references. The game description would be fine to describe all special precedents (“The I-0 is credited to Anonymous because the Anonymous says so”).

But right now, the editors don’t explain their edits and don’t leave references. The game credits are unambiguous and easy to reference. If the author wanted to credit Tolkien, that’s their choice.

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That’s the thing, though: many of the commercial titles of the 80s, particularly but not exclusively the lower-budget ones, don’t have clearly delineated original credits in the way that became more common by the 1990s where everything is spelled out at the back of the documentation more like music album or film/TV credits. (Jeffrey Archer is the only visible credit on Not a Penny More!)

Or they’re ambiguous: authors Thomas Disch/Isaac Asimov prominently featured on the front cover, lead programmers Kevin Bentley/Jon Leupp specifically called out on the back cover.

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I’m sure you all saw this, but just to be sure:

The question of reorganizing IFDB as an IFTF community project is now its own thread: The future of IFDB: volunteers wanted

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