Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mystery Solved, Apology Offered, and Information Shared About Open WorldCat Reviews

The mystery is solved, thanks to help from the friendly people at OCLC. If you read this blog last week, I expressed my frustration over not being able to submit my book reviews to Open WorldCat. The user-submission service had been working fine, but suddenly it seemed as though it was not working at all. I now know that it was never down. The problem stemmed from what and how I was submitting. Let me explain.

Through October I would occasionally submit a review to Open WorldCat, according to the instructions I wrote for the Library Success wiki. The length of my reviews varied, and I at times used Internet Explorer at home and either Internet Explorer or Firefox at my library. I never counted the number of words in my reviews. The Open WorldCat recommendation is that reviews be between 75 and 300 words. I could not imagine that I would ever hit 300 words. All my reviews submitted without error.

On Novemebr 2, I tried to submit my review of Peace is the Way from home using Internet Explorer as my browser. I pasted the review into the submission form, clicked the submit button, and watched while nothing happened. I assumed there was a temporary disruption of service. Still at home, I tried again several days later. Again it did not work. I thought that maybe something was wrong with the item record, so I tried another review. Same problem. I tried at work a couple of days late, probably using Internet Explorer. Same problem.

When I look at my review of Peace is the Way at Open WorldCat , it does not look long to me, but it is 377 words, well beyond the recommendation. When Judy from OCLC called me at the library on Friday, November 11, I happened to be using Firefox. She asked me to try submitting the review again so she could watch from her end. I pasted in the review and clicked submit. It worked right away. I loaded several more. They all worked.

On Saturday at home, I was using Internet Explorer and found I again was unable to submit a review. Remembering that Judy had asked what browser I was using, I loaded Firefox onto the computer and tried again. It worked.

On Monday, I sent a message to Judy and she replied that OCLC has found that Firefox will allow longer submissions than Internet Explorer. The OCLC staff is studying the situation. When I got home, I submitted some shorter reviews using Internet Explorer without problem, verifying what she said.

This seems a good time for an apology. I regret that I ever suggested that OCLC had let the service go down without even noticing. I learned from Judy that staff is actually reading every submitted review at this point. (Hey, I have captive readers!) They would notice if nothing was being submitted. I apologize.

I hope the episode does help OCLC in the design of the service and the writing of reviewing instructions. We are all learning as the project progresses.

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