An Amazing Record redux

Posting to Autocat & Radcat

(This does eventually get around to catalogs, so bear with me! It’s my vice)

I thought I would share something I discovered recently. A few months ago, I changed the hosting of my website ( and my original intention for my blog (hosted at Blogger) was just to keep using it. This turned out to be complicated so I decided to change everything to WordPress. That turned out to be more difficult than I thought, but I was stuck.

I am a novice at WordPress but still find it to be very good. Currently, I am learning WordPress plugins and I recently included the “thumbs-up, thumbs-down” for each post. I find it interesting that people have used the WordPress version much more often than what I had on Blogger.

But I don’t really understand it. For instance, I wrote a post An Amazing record, about a record I found on Worldcat that has a huge number of authors, and won’t even load.

I didn’t make any comments–I just pointed out that this record exists; then I found the document it pointed to at, and discovered that there are several others of these types of records in Worldcat. In another post, I discussed it a bit (where I can understand an up/down vote), but not in this one where I just mentioned it.

As it stands currently, this post has 2 thumbs up and 3 down. What do the thumbs-down represent? The fact that these records exist? That Worldcat accepted these records? Or that I pointed them out?

Another example is where I mentioned that I knew the writer of a Star Trek episode about libraries (Jean Aroeste). This also currently has 2 thumbs up and 3 down.

Again, what signifies the thumbs-down? I can’t believe that anybody could ever dislike Jean, who was one of the nicest people I ever met. Perhaps it’s people who dislike the original Star Trek series, or this particular episode. Or perhaps it is just that I wrote something about it.

There are many other similar examples I could point to.

Bringing this back to catalogs (I said I would!), it seems that most do not use thumbs up/down but employ a rating system for their records (1-5 stars), e.g. in LibraryThing Hamlet got 4.17 stars, while Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone got 4.26.

There are “likes” on on the author pages. Shakespeare got 70 while Glenn Beck got 73 and Noam Chomsky got 47. J.K. Rowling beat them all easily with 476 likes. Homer got a humiliating 19 likes but even he did better than Dante, who has a lonely single [1] like. Dislikes (thumbs-down) are not available.

What do all these stars and likes mean? I don’t know.

So, while in itself, a thumbs-down from an anonymous reader doesn’t bother me, I am not at all sure what the likes/thumbs up-down are supposed to mean. I realize I have some ideas that go against the general trends of many people’s opinions, so I understand thumbs-down on those, but a thumbs-down to a simple “This bibliographic record exists” or “I knew this person” is something different. People are communicating something, but what I cannot say.

I watched the Frontline episode Generation Like and while it is very interesting, it doesn’t seem to explain anything either. Maybe I should switch from thumbs to stars! But I don’t know if even that would help me understand. I am sure that this post will get several thumbs-down and I will still be at a loss to understand what they mean.

Perhaps others can help enlighten me.