Since so many users are not happy about the current genre list, I've made a list of how we could possibly reduce the current genre list, keep it perhaps only for literary/writing forms/genres, and move everything else to credits (About/Subject):
https://www.biblio.gs/wiki/Genre-list-suggestion

Note that the list is very rough, so there might be some mistakes. Any feedback, suggestion, and discussion is more than welcome. I just wanted to get the ball rolling.

(Decided to start a separate thread for this, as not everyone necessarily reads the genre request thread)

Someone could say: just two:
- Fiction
- Non-fiction

A very orthodox/basic list (with a lot of subgenres):
- Lyric
- Epic (Narrative)
- Drama (to be played by actors)
+
- Educational

I'd say first start with this first stage, general genres, maybe it could be adding a few more, later keep ading subgenres and sub-sub genres.
The current list mix genres, subgenres, age categories, fotmats.

Novel is a subgenre of epic
Encyclopedia is a book or books about many subjects, Nor sure if genre, maybe part of Educational
Pastoral is a subgenre of lyric
Tragedy is a subrenre of Drama
YA is an age category
Parody could be a subgenre of Satire
Satire is a subgenre of lyric

My suggestion is not meant to be a final list. Its purpose is to separate subjects (that can be entered to credits) from the rest.

Whatever the final model is, I think the first step is to remove the unnecessary subjects from the list and create credits for them. This way we don't lose any data.

After the subjects are removed (and moved), it's easier to organize and think about the final content and structure of the list.

Encyclopedia is a book or books about many subjects, Nor sure if genre, maybe part of Educational

Encyclopedias are usually under reference, together with dictionaries, atlas, etc.

I've said Humour and comedy should be merged.

But they are not the same. There is some overlap, I'm sure, but isn't comedy usually understood to be a form of planned entertainment, a sub-genre of drama, while humor is more of tool that writers use to tell the story but is rarely the main point of the story? And wouldn't it be a bit weird apply a humor tag on a book about the history of comedy for example?

Mirva I'm not sure. So what you are saying is Comedy mainly applies to fiction such as screenplays. I'm not sure about the Humor tag, would a joke book count as humor or comedy? Would a memoir about a comedian be classed as comedy or humor if it contains many anecdotes?

So what you are saying is Comedy mainly applies to fiction such as screenplays

Or stage plays. Or books about comedy. I'm not an expert by any means, I was asking because I have obviously made a distinction of the two in my head... :P

I would probably tag joke book as humor. A memoir about a comedian with many anecdotes could be tagged as both comedy and humor.

The term comedy is used in drama and like tragedy could be defined as a sub-genre or category. I don't see the term as interchangeable with humour (humor). A comedy play is "characterized by its humorous or satirical tone and its depiction of amusing people or incidents, in which the characters ultimately triumph over adversity" and not "consisting of jokes and sketches, intended to make an audience laugh."

I worry that such an approach could become too stratified and rigid, not to mention confusing. To consider the novel a subgenre of the epic, for instance, is to locate it in a very specific and narrow historical lineage, which wouldn't really apply from the eighteenth century novel onwards (and not to mention non-European novel forms).

Regarding comedy, isn't one rule of thumb, if it ends with a marriage it is (generically speaking) considered a comedy. All sorts of strange texts are structurally comedies (see Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice).

I would be in favour of having a short, clear list that would look perhaps something like this. It runs the risk of being broad in places ("hobbies", for instance), but I think the fluidity at this higher level would complement a more niche "About / Subject".

Fiction
Poetry
Drama
Essays and Criticism
Philosophy
Biography, Autobiography and Memoir
History
Music
Film, Television and Entertainment
Politics, Economics and World Affairs
Atlases, Travel and Travel Guides
Geography and Anthropology
Art and Design
Science and Technology
Animals and Nature
Sports and Leisure
Religion and Theology
Cookery
Humour
Dictionaries and Reference
Educational
Children and Young Adult Literature

I'm basing this on the local bookshop I work at, but I am sure I have overlooked some essential categories!

I agree with some of those Drugs has already been broken down by specific drugs. With a subject for Cannabis and Ecstasy in place. Agree an about subject Feminism would be more useful the same for specific religions.

To consider the novel a subgenre of the epic

I agree, and that's why I think such categorization won't work.

I would be in favour of having a short, clear list that would look perhaps something like this. It runs the risk of being broad in places

It depends how far we're ready to stretch the About/Subject section. Personally I would like to have the literary/writing genres (horror, nursery rhyme, satire, etc.) in the genre list because they are not really subjects.

Lucky you for working in a bookshop. :)

Mirva I have had a look at the list that you prepared and it looks great. I noticed one omission and that is Religion from the genre list.

Religion was one of the ones that I wasn't sure whether it belongs to the genre list or the subject list, because it kinda can be both. To keep them separate, I'll add "Religious Text" to the genre list - does that work?

I honestly think we should copy Amazon's system.

And I'm quite happy having psychology / psychoanalysis / psychotherapy as distinct categories because they are, for many I suspect, useful distinctions. Having an "about" credit seems a little ungainly. And, no, feminism is not often a shelf one encounters at bookstores, but many larger, academically-oriented sellers (think City Lights in San Francisco, or perhaps Strand in Manhattan, or Moe's in Berkeley) do have sections for sexuality, feminism, gender, and so forth. They're not common but, then again, very little of what's entered here is "common," or would be commonly found at, say, Barnes and Noble.

Religion might need distinctions between primary texts / exegesis & philosophy / "religion studies" (more or less impartial, not adopting any one religious stance) / religious life texts (think Barnes and Noble) / religious fiction (again, not a genre exactly but a niche category that people seek out--see, again, Barnes and Noble)

Okay, not copy, but I think they're on to something with the tiered system.

And "exegesis & philosophy" should be "exegesis & theology."

Okay, not copy

Yeah, we probably couldn't copy it, at least not without paying Amazon money (assuming it's their own system). :)

We have over 30,000 books in the database, so if the staff wants to implement something completely different than the current system, it should be done ASAP.

Just to say - I just merely split the existing list, I did not add or remove anything. The "Religious Text" is the first one I added, and I probably should mark it as an addition.

I just wanted to see if there was interest for redefining the existing list because there has been some complaints in the genre request thread about the contents and length of the list. Also there seems to be some overlap between the About/Subject credits and the genres, so I was trying to see if we could find a clearer distinction between the two.

For example we have "Jazz" as a genre, and "Jazz Music" as a credit:
https://www.biblio.gs/credit/189072-Jazz-Music
At least in my opinion we should go with either or.

Having an "about" credit seems a little ungainly.

Could you elaborate? Do you mean in general, or for specific subjects?

Should self-help be a genre, technically it could be classed as educational or philosophy or social science, but it they are more a pseudo science and with some like "men are from mars" the education worth is questionable.

About the list of gentes, why not Waiting for more active users in this database, i'd say a year or so, and then voting every single genre by itself, finding sources, etc. Also maybe we will be able to edit posts

There's no harm in discussing things. :)

I would suggest that if the genre list is going to be modified, then it would be better to do this sooner rather than later.

For example, just recently I added the original language and titles to a number of Agatha Christie books. When I tried to submit the edit, I found that I before I could complete the task I also had to provide a number of credit roles that have been modified but not automatically updated. This is tricky when you don't own a copy of the book and you need to look at the history to find out just what the original role was.

As the database expands implementing retrospective modifications will become increasingly onerous.

Could you elaborate? Do you mean in general, or for specific subjects?

I just fear that it'll bloom out of control. Proper names at least restricts the list a little bit.

I just fear that it'll bloom out of control. Proper names at least restricts the list a little bit.

True - though it might be too restrictive. That's just my opinion though, and based on the current situation/system. Because if we include all the subjects that are not proper names to the current genre list, the list will become massive and probably completely unusable.

I would suggest that if the genre list is going to be modified, then it would be better to do this sooner rather than later.

Indeed. Hopefully the staff will chime in at some point. :)

i think that p. adkins list is very good. i also think that we might want to try and avoid being too free and easy with the about/subject credit, as we will end up with more subject credits than author credits! although that might be an interesting direction for bibliogs to go in...

I think the list is good for a book store, but insufficient for a book database. ;-)

Also if the list was kept that short, and the About/Subject credit reduced to proper names, then where should we put subjects? Because I think they will become necessary as the genres alone will eventually become too massive to be useful.

I mean if someone is interested in jazz music, surely it would be useful for them to be able to browse books about jazz?

I still think that at a top layer having a simpler categorical approach will be the easiest way to generally browse, organize, population and submit books.

To take your very valid final point Mirva, I have been thinking about this and I think a two tier system would work best, with a smaller and limited range of genre at a top level and subgenres below. The sub genres could perhaps work like tags (which could autopopulate with suggestions?) and there could be much more fluidity to them too. This will enable and even encourage the kind of fun debates about categories that we have been having on this thread, without it leading to an overly complicated genre list in general! It could also mean that the 'About / Subject' is only used for propernames (people, countries, etc)

If we have genre option for every single style of music and then applied this model to other hobbies and interests of which people collect books - say different modes of transport, sports, countries, animals - that the genre list would soon become interminable, I feel.

My current bane is that every time I add a book on philosophy, the drop-down box jumps to "Philosophical Fiction", which seems an absurd category to have on a list of genre (since its parameters are so contestable and even unclear) and is an example of how overly-burdened the genre list already is.

My biggest fear though is that nobody at Bibliogs is actually reading any of these discussions!

I think a two tier system would work best

I think in that case we need to consider a multi-tiered system as there are a lot of subjects. Imagine a list of all music genres and styles. All art and design periods and movements. All fields of science and technology. And so on...

Don't get me wrong - I'd be more than ok with a tiered system, it just needs to be well-thought-out. My initial suggestion here was just based on what could be easily done within the current system without having to really change the system itself. We would only need to delete the subjects from the genre list, and create credits for them. Also anyone can create a new subject credit, so the staff would have not to worry about maintaining a separate subjects list(s).

But you're right, the fact is that one list is not practical in the long run. I wish we knew if the staff had any plans for it, so could go to a more precise direction with all the thoughts and ideas. :)

My biggest fear though is that nobody at Bibliogs is actually reading any of these discussions!

seburns seems to read the request lists sometimes, so there's hope!

I think a list of subgenred subject might be a way.

e.g Videogames as a main subject list - Sony Playstation as a sub subject.

Thanks for bringing this up and discussing it. I apologize for not responding sooner. I will make sure the devs are aware of this thread and we'll let you know how we can help.

seburns - you still around? Are there any news about this, or genres in general? Just asking because there hasn't been any new additions to the genre list for nine months. :/

I think the reason this is likely to have gone no-where is because it's all too nebulous and potentially too complex to implement with too little return.
I don't know how much of what's been talked about has been actioned, but perhaps this ought to be broken down into steps:
1 List (and then petition to remove) genre entries that are not really genres.
2 Determine what the problem with the rest of them really is and work on a resolution to that.

From what I've read here (and experienced myself), 2 is really about the pick-lists being ungainly.
Reworking a flat list to a hierarchical structure is going to be a problem for a developer in a system that's already heavily in use - and to what benefit? Probably not enough.
Better would be to improve the search/filtering selection functionality for every place where data needs to be cross-linked. So have a pop-up box that allows typing in a genre to filter the pick-list to manageable size or to quickly see if a genre is present. Perhaps that list can be presented in a hierarchy, for clarity.

Then roll that same method out to other places where you need to pick from existing data (joining a credit to a book for example, and picking a credit role type - they are a nightmare... a list in two halves? - who thought of that monstrosity? eh?).

I'd love to see a pick button next to a credit input field which pops up a form to allow good searching through credits entries, showing their description as well as just the name (and also showing all ANVs used for that credit so that people didn't pick a known ANV as a new entry by mistake - I've done that enough already!)

So many improvements to be made... but is anyone listening?

1 List (and then petition to remove) genre entries that are not really genres; 2 Determine what the problem with the rest of them really is and work on a resolution to that.

Well, that's what my original suggestion basically was. The resolution was to move them as subjects by using the About/Subject credit. That's what the wiki list is trying to depict:
https://www.bookogs.com/wiki/genre-list-suggestion

But as some users seem to want more, and some don't really like the About/Subject credit being used for other than proper names, the discussion veered off to another direction.

a list in two halves? - who thought of that monstrosity?

I don't remember, but I agree that it seems to be really impractical. For example some users have had difficulties finding the Publisher credit because they don't realize the list has a second section.

So many improvements to be made... but is anyone listening?

They are, at least to some extent... heh. Bugs get fixed pretty fast, though bigger updates/improvements usually take some time, I'm guessing because of the work required.

a list in two halves? - who thought of that monstrosity?

I couldn't agree more. It is cumbersome and tedious to use. After several consecutive submissions I begin to wonder why I'm involved with Bookogs (especially when I have to scroll down to publisher). There must be a better system.

As for the genre lists, I still think p.adkins's list (see above) is fairly close to the mark. Specialist subjects would be better treated as About/Subject credits. IMO the longer a menu list becomes the less likely average users are bothered to use it properly as it is simply overwhelming. The KISS principle works every time.

Ever mindful of Ben Harper's lyric "what good is a cynic with no better plan", after some thought I concluded that a menu in two halves would be more user friendly if the frequently used names were listed in the top section.

Given the number of book submissions in the database, an accurate profile of the most frequently used credits and genres should be emerging. The top list could contain, for example 15 or 20 of the most frequently used names in alphabetical order. Just so users don't miss the full selection, I would suggest that it might be useful to have a reminder at the top of the list to the effect, that more options are available in the 2nd part of the list. I recently saw that a user didn't know that you could credit a publisher, so it is evident some people are unaware of the 2nd part of the current Credit list.

I know this thread is about the Genre list, but my suggestion for the Credit list might also apply if it is decided to include umpteen names.

As for the genre lists, I still think p.adkins's list (see above) is fairly close to the mark.

I have two tiny issues with it:

1) it's completely different from the system we're currently using, which means 43,000+ submissions need changing. But - I'm not saying it can't be done, just that it's a big thing.

2) it also leaves out certain literary forms (novel, novella, short story, etc.) which are not traditionally seen as subjects. What should we do with them?

IMO the longer a menu list becomes the less likely average users are bothered to use it properly as it is simply overwhelming.

Agreed. The "genre" list is probably already too long, and confusing as it's just a hodgepodge of random genres, forms, and subjects.

especially when I have to scroll down to publisher

I'm not sure if you know this, but instead of scrolling down, you can also type the credit you're looking for. For example if you type "wr" into the dropdown, it will go directly to the Writer credit. Some credits require a bit more typing, but at least it reduces the need to scroll.

Sorry, I should have said p.adkins's list along with the use of the two tiered system that was subsequently discussed. This system would be analogous to the Discogs Genre and Style menus. For example, tick Fiction in Genre and you have access to a drop down menu of major forms like Novel, Novella, etc. The aim should be to keep these menu lists to a minimum. I would then promote the use of About/Subject Credits for more specific genres such as Fantasy, Crime, Romance, Science Fiction, Westerns etc. I know many users will be horrified at this suggestion, but where do you draw the line at being inclusive?

you can also type the credit you're looking for

Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but it doesn't work for many credits such as Publisher. If I type publisher I just get a succession of credits that are everything but Publisher. The same with Periodical Title or the other credit I use a lot, Series.

i absolutely agree with the this!

I would then promote the use of About/Subject Credits for more specific genres such as Fantasy, Crime, Romance, Science Fiction, Westerns etc. I know many users will be horrified at this suggestion

Well, I'm not sure if they will be horrified, but some might be wondering why as they are usually treated as genres, not subjects. Any particular reason why these should be excluded from genres and moved to subjects? I mean if we're going to have a two-tiered system, surely there needs to be something in the second tier too? ;-)

Would anyone have the time to do a quick mockup of what the two-tier system would actually look like, and what it would include? It doesn't need to be perfect.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but it doesn't work for many credits such as Publisher. If I type publisher I just get a succession of credits that are everything but Publisher.

Hmmm. That's odd. For me it works just fine. For Publisher you have to type out the whole word (because there are many similar credits), "peri" for Periodical Title, "ser" for Series.

Any particular reason why these should be excluded from genres and moved to subjects?

Because if you list some, then why not others? If you have a look at the genres and sub-genres on this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_writing_genres#Genres_and_subgenres you would have to agree that is a very long list (and I certain that is not exhaustive). My thought was to keep the 2nd tier to a minimum listing only major forms. That way no one can complain they have been cheated out of their pet genre, sub-genre or subject.

For me it works just fine.

That hint did the trick. I was giving up before I reached the end of the word Publisher. That's an example of my type A personality coming to the fore: ready to smash the keyboard if something doesn't work instantly. Thanks.

I'm not sure if they will be horrified

I was thinking of one particular user with whom I had a lengthy exchange debating whether a subject was a genre or not. I can't speak for the rest of the community, so yes that was a generalisation.

Would anyone have the time to do a quick mockup of what the two-tier system

Until there is some consensus as to the direction the genre question is moving towards, I feel this might be a waste of time.

That's the risk you always take with suggestions. It would just help others to see what it is exactly that is being suggested, and where the line is.

I agree though that it would be good to hear from the devs what they think, and what would be doable.

I'm always for finding a solution that would somewhat please everyone, or at least the majority. Because a solution is always better than no solution, and the truth is that the current situation is kinda crappy.

I couldn't agree more on all accounts.

I also think it would be very helpful to hear from the developers as well. Without knowing the parameters of what is possible or not in respect of the proposed two tier menu system, I could go off on a time consuming tangent designing a model that is unusable. As I previously stated, the system would be analogous to the current Genre and Style system on Discogs.

What I envisage is a Genre list similar to p.adkins' list:

Fiction
Poetry
Drama
Essays and Criticism
Philosophy
Biography, Autobiography and Memoir
.....etc.

Tick one of the Genres on that list and up pops the sub-genre list for that particular genre. For example, the Poetry sub-genre list might consist of Elegy, Epic, Lyric, Verse, etc. Click on the one that best describes your submission (or as many as you want). Fiction might consist of sub-genres such as Novel, Novella, Short Story (and anything else deemed important).

Regarding keeping the 2nd menu to a minimum, that is just my opinion and the decision could be made to make these lists more comprehensive and ignore my suggestion to use About/Subjects for a lot of the sub-genres in Fiction. I can live with that. Like you, I just hope that we can arrive at a system that the community finds user friendly.

I should have said “I couldn't agree more on all counts”. It was 5:30 a.m. when I wrote this.

Hah, no worries, at least I didn't notice. But then I'm not a native English speaker.

I started to create to quick mockup while sipping my morning tea:
https://www.bookogs.com/wiki/genre-list-suggestion-ii

I stopped though as I realized that the list is less than exhaustive. I've saved it anyway, just in case someone wants to add to it, or we can figure things out.

We will definitely need more headers, and probably change some of them. We also would need to agree where exactly draw the line. For example some academic disciplines are included on the list (like geography and anthropology) but some are excluded.

Also we have things like Anthology, I'm not quite sure where to put it as an anthology can consist of fiction, poetry, essays, etc.

Looks good. I will put my mind into gear and have a think about the list over the next few days.

As for anthology, I would just include it in each of the 2nd tier menu lists where it is relevant. The same situation occurs in Discogs with the Genre and Style lists, e.g. genre Rock and genre Funk / Soul both list Gospel as a Style.

Thanks.

This discussion makes me uneasy. The genres/styles feature in discogs causes a fair amount of tension and disagreement between submitters and later editors.

I understand the need for simplicity. But the current suggestion is based on the shelving strategy of a book shop (a western one), and so has more to do with the way books are marketed and sold in western Europe and America.

Calling this feature 'genre' seems to be misleading, because most of the categories we would think of are missing. Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile is generally considered Crime Fiction.

Could we consider evolving what we have instead and fix things as we go along? Methodically moving replacing genres with subjects until things make more sense.

Psychotherapy is a subject covered within the wider study of Medicine. Company law is a subject within Law etc.

I must admit I hadn't considered the Western-centrism of the genre list.

At this point nothing is missing. We are simply debating the best way to deal with the genre list.

The only tension I have witnessed on Discogs about the genre and style lists is users clamouring for more diversity. A similar situation has occurred on Bookogs with the genre list. The logical outcome would be a list a mile (1.60934 km) long and growing over time to cater for every nuance of literary genre.

I am hoping that as a result of our discussions we might be able to provide the basis for a better system. The alternative is to ignore the problem and hope that it improves with time.

This discussion makes me uneasy.

It shouldn't. :-) This discussion has existed basically since the dawn of Bookogs, but so far that's all that has happened. I feel like we're left in the dark, and I got impatient so I started a new thread.

The only tension I have witnessed on Discogs about the genre and style lists is users clamouring for more diversity.

The reason why there are constant requests for additions is because the genres/styles are basically never updated. You have to get some support in the forums for an addition, and even then it's not guaranteed that it gets added.

That whole experience is one of the reasons why here I've been supporting moving at least subjects to credits, so that they are maintained by users, making it easier to add/rename/delete them.

Other pretty constant argument has been about the styles that are not actually styles, and what to do with them. It took years of arguing to get Opera there, the fact that it's not a real style was more important than its usefulness.

But most of the tension is actually due to subjective issues. The line between certain styles can be very fine, and definitions sometimes change with time. Avoiding these kind of arguments is nearly impossible, and the arguments will exist as long as genres/styles continue to exist in the system.

Calling this feature 'genre' seems to be misleading, because most of the categories we would think of are missing. Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile is generally considered Crime Fiction.

And/or Detective Fiction. ;-) But I agree with you. When people see the word "genre", the second suggestion is not what they would expect to see.

The current list is not exclusively for genres either though, if we're accurate it should be called "Genres, Forms, Subjects & One Format"...

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