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Posts Tagged ‘Book Tags’

DEAR LIBRARIAN: Newsletter – November 2008

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Dear Librarian–I was totally psyched by the Similarity Index.  But then I looked at my Buddies, and no one is more than 10% similar to me!  Am I such a freak?  Why don’t I have higher similarity to other people?  –Outcast in Orlando

Dear Lanny,

Don’t worry!  You’re not a freak.  Well, you might be, but not because of low Similarity Index numbers :).   The Similarity Index is inaccurate if it doesn’t have good data to work with.   If you haven’t chosen favorite genres, haven’t rated many books using the star-rating system, and haven’t put a lot of books on your Wish List, then it’s hard for the system to tell who is similar to you!

You can improve the accuracy of the Index by (1) choosing favorite genres on the Member Homepage (you don’t have to choose three- one or two are fine), by (2) putting items on your Wish List and (3) by rating books with the star rating system.

Number 3 above is super-powerful – the more books you rate with 1-5 stars, the more likely it is that you will rate the same books that someone else has rated.  Giving the same books the same number of stars is really the most accurate measure of your similarity to another member.  So turn to the stars to find your reading soul-mates!  They’re out there, we just know it.

Don’t forget, you can see your similarity on ANY viewable profile -not just on Buddies.  You can view a member’s profile by clicking his or her highlighted nickname anywhere it appears on the site.

Dear Librarian–I keep my books in a bunch of different places, and I have been using the Book Tags to help me find the books when they are requested.  I have been tagging books “box 1”, “box 2”, “Living Room Bookshelf”, etc.  The problem is that when a request comes in the Tags don’t even show on the pending request!  Is there a better way to do this than using the Book Tags?  –Cluttered in Colorado

Dear Rad,

Yes!  There are two much better ways to do this: (1) the Book Journal (which you can read about in the Help Center – it costs 8 dollars per year to subscribe) will show the “space” to which you have assigned a book, right on the request on your account page.  (2) the Book Notes – you can apply a note to any book on your bookshelf and that note will follow the book wherever it goes; you just have to mouse over the note to read the text.  You can read about using the Book Notes in the Help Center (they are also described in What’s New linked from the very top of any page on the site).

Both of these are more useful options than Book Tags for information relevant only to you, that you want to show on an active request.

Dear Librarian– Well, then, what are the Book Tags good for?  Should we all be clicking the “R” on tags like this, to report them as inappropriate?

Good question, Rad.  No, you shouldn’t click the R on tags that are clearly “personal”.

Personal tags are tags that have meaning only for their creators (initials, numbers, “save for Joanne” etc).  You can leave these alone – even though Notes are often a better way to manage this information, personal tags are not confusing or misleading, and if left alone they will disappear eventually, since other tags will be applied to those books and only the 10 most commonly-used tags are shown on any listing.

The Tags that SHOULD get the R click are the tags that are misleading: tags that describe book condition (“yellowed pages” or “ex-library book” or “some underlining”).  Why?  These tags do not apply to all copies of the book and do not help other members know more about the copy that is “next up” for requests.  Note also that underlining is not permitted in books swapped at PBS (see the Help Center Book Conditions Guidelines for the exception to this rule for textbooks).  You can read more about “personal”, “inappropriate” and “club-useful” tags in the Help Center (or click What’s New at the top of any page on the site and read “Book Tags”).

So you can use these personal Tags, Rad.  Members can remove them (if enough  members click on enough of your Tags you could wake up and find them gone!), so for personal information like this, Book Notes are safer – and more effective for your purposes!  Plus, they’re really keen-looking, aren’t they?   We can’t stop looking at them!

  • The unification of this wonderful nation.  It’s time to remember that U.S. = US, not Us versus Them.  We Americans have so much to be proud of already; yet if we all pull together, despite our differences of opinion, the country’s finest hours are yet to come!

DEAR LIBRARIAN: Newsletter – September 2008

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Dear Librarian–I have been offered a book from my wishlist. The member who posted it sent me a message saying the book was listed as a paperback but her copy is hardcover, and do I still want it?  The book on my Wish List is paperback!  I don’t want the hardcover–I want a paperback because they’re lighter and easier for me to hold.  Now I don’t know what to do. Do I cancel the request — which will take the book off my wishlist (and lose my place in the wish list queue!)?  How can I cancel that request for the erroneously listed book without taking the book I DO want off my wishlist?–Stymied in Saratoga

Dear Sara,

The sender made a mistake here, posting the book she has with a listing that does NOT match her book.  Book listings must match the book’s ISBN, title, author and booktype.

When a sender makes this mistake with a Wish Listed book, she puts the wishing member in a difficult position: of having to say “no I don’t want this book” in a Personal Message while ALSO having to click “Yes I want this book” on the request so she isn’t kicked off the Wish list by the system.

If you get a message like this for a book you have Wish Listed, you can tell the member something like this:

“Thanks for telling me you posted the book incorrectly. I do NOT want the hardcover. I will have to click to accept the offer though so I don’t get removed from the Wish list line that I have been waiting in to get the paperback. Please click “I cannot mail” on this request when you get it from me, and that will remove the book from the system, and then you can repost it with the correct booktype on the listing. The Help doc “Solutions to Common Book Posting Problems” in the Help Center can help with getting this book posted correctly, so that someone who wants the paperback can request it. Thanks again!”

It’s not okay to post a book incorrectly so it matches a Wish Listed item.  This is unfair and members shouldn’t do this.  Sometimes the ISBN/title/author will match the listing, but the booktype won’t, but ALL FOUR need to match.  Reading “Solutions to Common Book Posting Problems” in the Help Center makes this situation (and how to solve it and post the book correctly) very clear.

We hope you get your paperback version soon, Sara!  And that this sender finds a member who wants the hardcover she has to offer!

Dear Librarian– I logged in today, and OMG all my “Read” tags are gone!  I tagged every book I have read “Read” so I didn’t have to load up my BIR List, or go to the Book Details page to see the notation that the book is already on that list.  I have dial-up and it’s inconvenient to have to go to the Book Details page to see that notation!  Why did my tags go away?  They weren’t hurting anyone!  How am I going to keep from ordering a book I have already read??? –Wailing in Waukeegan

Dear Kiki,

We are sorry that the membership pounced upon these tags and clicked the R on them to mark them as inappropriate.  They weren’t technically inappropriate–just redundant.   And of course if you were using “Read” without your initials or some other personalizing bit, who knows how many other people have also used this Tag, and it might be confusing to you and others to see this Tag there on books you have not read.

But dry your tears, Kiki, we have great news for you!  You now can see the notations of what lists a book is on right from the search results in the Book Browser.  Yes, the “On My:” (Bookshelf, Transaction Archive, Books I’ve Read, etc) notation appears right there, so you don’t have to click to load up the book details page to see it.

You can also use Book Notes for this kind of thing–just mousing over the note on the search result will show you what you wrote there.  And no one else will see it!  So no confusion.  And no need to re-tag all those books!

You can read the Help doc Book Tags in the Help Center to understand better what Tags are actually inappropriate and deserve that report.  Personal tags are merely redundant, and they will be “drowned out” naturally in time, by club-useful tags.  The Help doc explains these different categories.

Dear Librarian–Oh no!  You removed all the “Brand New Giftable” and “Book is from a nonsmoking home” Book Tags!  I have been using them and so have others, to get gifts and to be sure we request books only from nonsmoking homes.  Now how are people going to know that my books are from a nonsmoking home?  How am I supposed to tell them that some of my books are brand new and giftable?  And how am I going to be able to order books from a nonsmoking home? –Agitated in Alabama

Dear Allie,

The reason why those tags were removed (and will continue to be removed) is that they are confusing to members!  They are false advertising, actually.  Too many members don’t understand that a book listing represents all copies of that book in the system. Say there are 20 copies of a book in the system.  Any Book Tag you see could have been applied by ANY of the members who posted that book, or by anyone just passing by.  The Tagger could have the copy of the book that is #13 out of 20 to be requested, or #2 or #9, or that book could have already been swapped and the Tagger never took the Tag off (yes, people, you KNOW who you are).  So when you go shopping for books from a nonsmoking home, or a giftable book, by clicking that Tag and browsing the list of books that come up, any time you click Order This Book on the book, your request will go to the next copy–the one that is #1 in the list, and there is no way of knowing if that copy was the one that was Tagged by that member.

And when you use the Book Tags to tag your books this way, you are saying (even though you don’t mean to) that every single copy of the book available in the system is giftable, or from a nonsmoking home.  So…you could have been the cause of little Jimmy’s bout of wheezing last week.  Yes, indeed.  Jimmy’s mom ordered the book seeing your Tag and got the book from someone else.  Jimmy’s mom wasn’t using Requestor Conditions saying she didn’t want books from a smoking household.  Jimmy’s mom got a smoky book (not yours) and had to give Jimmy his inhaler and put the book into a big plastic bin with some kitty litter for a week.  It got the smoky smell out and Jimmy is just fine but Jimmy’s mom was pretty upset, and thinks someone lied to her with the tag on this book.  She doesn’t know who did it, but if she finds out…watch out.

So what do you do if you have allergies to smoke, to find books that are from a nonsmoking home, and to tell others that your books are in a nonsmoking home?  Here is what you can do:

  • Make Requestor Conditions in your account that say you don’t want books that are currently in a smoking household.  Remember to read about using Requestor Conditions properly, so you don’t just confuse senders by saying “I don’t want books exposed to smoke”.  That kind of thing will get you a lot of declines, since these are used books and who knows if the books have EVER been exposed to smoke.   If the sender isn’t sure, she or he will click to decline your request, and you can’t re-request the same copy after it’s already been declined for Requestor Conditions, so using Requestor Conditions carelessly could make you miss out on books that would be perfectly fine.
  • You can also double-check the Bookshelf Header when ordering a book, to see if the posting member has a Header saying his or her books are from a non-smoking household or that some books they are offering might be giftable.  It’s not the best use of the Header, but it’s a lot better than using Tags and misleading members about the condition of the book they are going to order.

Now when you make your Requestor Conditions–what?  You don’t know what we mean by the Bookshelf Header?  You want us to explain that RIGHT NOW?  Okay.  You can read about it in the Help Center, but we see you are too ecstatic for the fine-motor control necessary to click your mouse.   Just let go of our arm, please.

This is how to use the Bookshelf Header for this purpose: When you click Order This Book, you can then click “Order More from Member” on the next page (you don’t actually have to order more books after doing this).  The next page will show you the bookshelf, and the Bookshelf Header will be at the top of that page.  If a member wants you to know that his or her books are in a non-smoking home, the message will appear there.  Then you can feel absolutely sure that the book will be coming from a non-smoking home, and you may even want to add more books to the order.  Now–seriously, let go of our arm–remember that this is a new feature, so it may take a while for members to make their Headers, and not all members will use the Header to indicate smoking/nonsmoking home.  So if you DON’T see a message in the Header about that, don’t presume you’ve hit on a bookshelf located in a nightclub or tobacco factory.  Your Requestor Conditions will still make sure that books from a smoking home aren’t sent to you, even if the sender isn’t using a Bookshelf Header.

It’s important to continue to use Requestor Conditions, in case the first sender misses the request or doesn’t mail it in time or clicks “I cannot mail”.  If the request cancels, your request will be passed along.  The next sender will see your RCs though, so you’re covered.

And you can make your own header to tell people that your books are from a nonsmoking home, or which ones are brand new and giftable.  Yes–okay, okay, that’s nice you’re hugging us, we love you too–you can do that and anyone who clicks Order More from Member on a request for one of your books will see that message you wrote.  And anyone who clicks to see your books from your profile or a forum post or a personal message from you will see that message too.

That’s quite a good happy-dance, Allie!  Whoa, careful with those backflips!  We’re glad you’re so tickled.  Now…get thee to the Help Center and use the Help Docs Search to read all about these features and how to use them to work best for you!

DEAR R&R, Newsletter – March 2008

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Dear R&R–What the heck are all those tag things on book listings?  They bug me. I can’t make any sense of them.  Some are just abbreviations, some are people’s names, and some say things like “autographed copy”!  Does that mean that every copy of the book available in the system is an autographed copy?  Will I get an autographed copy if I order a book that has that tag on it?  What is going on here?–Tag-sick in Tulsa

Dear Tully,

Ah, the Tags.  So many members use them in so many ways.   The Tags can be used as personal notations–you can tag a book your sister recommended as “recommended by Tally”, or a book you want to take to the beach as “for Maui 2008”.    They can also be used as descriptors for the general book: you can describe the genre (“historical fiction” or “Paranormal romance”),  or the main character type (“colorblind protagonist” or “techno-geek main character”) or the setting (“set in texas” or “urban setting” or “Nova Scotia”) or even your personal recommendation (“great for 9 year old boy”, “better than the movie”).

Personal tags are less likely to be applied by many members, and so they won’t all show to all members once enough tags have accumulated for a book listing (only the top 15-used tags for a book listing will show to all members; each member’s applied tags always show to that member).  General tags are more likely to be applied by many members, and are intended to be helpful to the membership–they can give information about the book in general.  Clicking a tag on a listing for “set in texas” for example will bring up all of the books tagged this way with one click.   Which is nice if you are looking for a book set in Texas.

There is a problem with some tags: some members are trying to use them to describe their particular copies of the book–they are apparently unaware that this is ineffective and even confusing to requestors.  Books at PBS are requested in FIFO order.  So “Missing Dust Jacket” and “Autographed copy” can be applied by anyone to any book listing, but that will not mean that if you request that book your request will go to the member who applied that tag.  Ignore the tags that seem to describe particular copies of books.  All books posted at PBS should meet basic condition requirements; if requestors want to define more specific requirements, they need to use Requestor Conditions.

We have one member who is determined to improve the use of Tags on the site!  Kudos to Jane K. (mahbaar).  She has various “Tag Missions” to make Tags useful to the membership.  Jane, your industry and organizational abilities make our heads spin!  Check out Jane’s Tag Missions by searching the Discussion Forums for “Making Tags Useful” or go to any of the threads directly:

Mission #1Mission #2Mission #3, Mission #4, Mission #5, Mission #6, Mission #7, Mission #8, Mission #9Mission #10

You can also turn tags off completely in your account settings, if you like.  You can read more about the Tag feature in the Help Center (search the Help Docs for “Book Tags” or just “Tags”).  We do have some improvements and expansion planned for this feature; these are on our list of things to get to in our continuous process of upgrading the site.

Dear R&R–I am what is known as a “snowbird” –I have two residences, each of which I live in part of the year.  Obviously, I have books in both places.  How can I manage my PBS Bookshelf to show only those books I have access to while I am in one of my homes?  Do I have to unpost my whole bookshelf and repost the books each time?  –Peripatetic PBSer

Dear Perry,

Good news!  Since the Bookshelf Upgrade, you are now able to put individual books on hold on your bookshelf.  Which means you can put the summer books on hold just before you move to your winter location, and vice versa.  When you are getting ready to head to your warm-weather locale, go to your bookshelf and click to place a checkmark in the boxes next to those books you will be leaving in your winter home.  Then click the Hold button on the top right of the Bookshelf to apply the hold to those books.  You should put your whole account on hold while you are in transit (so you don’t miss any requests or Wish list books); then when you get to your Winter location, you can unHold whatever books you have with you that you want to swap, and also UnHold your account.   This will save you lots of posting-unposting-reposting time.  You can even use the Tags (see above) to tag your books with codes for your two homes, so it’s easy to tell which ones are where.

You can read more about the recent changes to your Bookshelf in the Help Doc Bookshelf Upgrade under What’s New in the Help Center.

Ooh, we want two houses, too!  Wait…um…that would mean two houses to maintain, and two mortgages….okay, we still think it’s neat that you do this, Perry, but when it gets cold, we’ll just put on a sweater. 🙂

Dear R&R–Did you know that most paperback books/board books/dust covers can be cleaned up with ordinary rubbing alcohol dabbed on with a soft white cloth?  It makes them looks almost like new, takes off sticky stuff and most smudges.  —Marie T.

No we sure didn’t Marie, but now we do! Thanks for telling us.  We are sure many members will find this tip useful!

Instant Credits & Book Tags: Newsletter – October 2007

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Instant Credits are here. Yes, if you print your postage through PBS (you can choose this on the Wrapper Settings page), you will get credit as soon as you mark the book mailed–no waiting for USPS to scan or for the member to receive! What’s better than clicking a button and getting a credit? You can read the FAQs About Printable Postage in the Help Center, to learn all about this feature.

Tag–you’re it! Now you can apply Book Tags to any book in the database, pretty much anywhere you see the book listing. What are they used for? Tags let you put your mark on any item in the database, and create any number of one-click “custom searches”! Tag books you liked…books you hated…books with an antihero…books about the Russian Revolution…books you think have a good moral message…biographies…books you read in school…books you were supposed to read in school…books you have on your nightstand…books you would want with you on a desert island…pretty much anything goes! You can apply any number of tags to an item. and you can click on any tag to see a list of all the books bearing that tag. (We will soon have a way to view the available tags without having to see them on a book listing first.) When you look at a book in the database, you will always see the tags you applied (and you can remove them from there too), even if no one else can. You will also see the top 15 tags that members have applied to that book. Read more about Tags in the Help Center document Book Tags.