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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Bill James Mailbag

BABIP. There I said it. Plus some Dylan, Pete Palmer freak show biz…

with BABIP steadily declining, is this years .259, a drop off of 20+, points just random or do you expect it to climb back up into the .270-.280 range?

1)  The use of the term “BABIP” is lazy and annoying to the readers, and I would prefer that you not use it. 

2)  I wasn’t aware that Batting Averages on Balls in Play HAD dropped.  Have they dropped over a period of years, or just down this year?

3)  While I wasn’t aware that they were down, I had it on my list of things to do to check and see whether they were down, because John Dewan estimated that the Defensive Shifts had saved 75 runs last year.  IF defensive shifts have saved 75 runs that would imply that they have saved something like 150 hits, which would lead to a measurable drop in batting average on balls in play (although not anything like 10 points).

Batting Average on Balls in Play: 2010: .297 2011: .295 2012: .297 2013: .293

A slip from .297 to .293 is not statistically significant, and does not establish a trend.  It could be explained in part by more usage of defensive shifts, or it could be (essentially) random.  If there’s a LARGE slip, that probably is due to early-season cold weather.

Repoz Posted: April 23, 2013 at 05:43 AM | 137 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   101. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:12 PM (#4423877)
How you managed not to reply "QFT" is beyond me.


First, I wanted to spell things out. I planned on using QFT in later posts.
   102. bigglou115 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:24 PM (#4423894)
I'm having a hard time figuring out what the difference between the two is. His first point was to point out that website policy was to ask people to spell such things out. I don't know why it's so bad that he dedicated an "entire point" of one sentence to it.


OK, I'm only speaking for myself here, but if I'm the question asker one of these makes me mad and one makes me a little embarrassed.

"Just a reminder, my policy is not to use acronyms like BABIP. If everyone wants their questions answered, then in the future please type out Batting Average on Balls In Play."

"What Bill James actually said."

One is designed to inform everybody that James has a way he likes things to be done, the other makes a much bigger deal of it. Note that I actually don't mind him calling someone out if there's some place that actually says, "don't use acronyms." I don't see anything posted, so unless it comes when you sign up or as boilerplate before you ask, calling out a specific guy is pretty rude. Especially when one of the reasons you don't use BABIP is for new to saber guys who probably just stumbled onto the website during a wikipedia quicksand session.
   103. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:40 PM (#4423912)
The proper way to abbreviate Batting Average on Balls in Play is '$H'.
   104. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4423913)
The proper way to abbreviate Batting Average on Balls in Play is '$H'.


RDF.
   105. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:12 PM (#4424049)
I assume James does the right thing and only refers to Carsten Charles Sabathia.
   106. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:24 PM (#4424060)
"Just a reminder, my policy is not to use acronyms like BABIP. If everyone wants their questions answered, then in the future please type out Batting Average on Balls In Play."


Yes, it's a bit more prickly, but

The use of the term “BABIP” is lazy and annoying to the readers, and I would prefer that you not use it


is almost identical to what you said you wished BJ (*Bill James) had said. If the thesis of all this bristling is that Bill James's social skills are slightly below Miss Manners level, I guess we don't need to continue with this discussion--it's something BJ himself admits he lacks and wishes he didn't. I mean, if you want to keep kicking him around because he may or not be somewhere on the spectrum and wishes he weren't, by all means, have at it, I guess
   107. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:30 PM (#4424113)
This originated from the teen comedy "American Pie" and stands for Mom I'd Like to F***.

It certainly did not originate there. Maybe the movie popularized it; I have no idea.
   108. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:34 AM (#4424164)
If there is a pitcher who can post a 3.50 ERA as a reliever or a 4.50 ERA as a starter, a 100-win team will make him a reliever. A 100-loss team will make him a starter.

I honestly think I would rather have a cromulent 5th/6th starter, than a useless middle reliever. 200 innings at 4.50 is what, about 2 wins? 60 innings at 3.50 is maybe 1 to 1.5...
   109. bjhanke Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:36 AM (#4424166)
Hah! You guys were right. Looking up MILF was the best laugh of the day for me. And yes, it is in Wiki. I never saw American Pie.

As for Jolly Old St. Back In The Day (I guessed that one), he and I may have gone through an experience with footnotes that you guys who are younger don't remember. When I (Jolly, I can't answer for) was in school, through grad school, there were no word processors. You typed up your research papers on a typewriter, which meant that you had to figure out where to stop the text and start the footnotes on each page. Since the footnotes had to be at least started on the same page as the text they applied to, and since footnotes were single-spaced, while the text was double-spaced, this was an enormous pain, probably the worst part of writing a term paper except for the occasions where the teacher would make you use carbon paper so you could keep a copy for yourself. Carbon paper is hell.

I thought this would go away when word processors came out, and to some extent it did, but then an odd thing happened in academics and the long footnotes. The reason that some footnotes were so long was because you were supposed to cite, in a footnote, anything you had used from any other source than your own head. Some of these citations made no sense unless you included a paragraph or more of the surrounding context from the original source. You could, if things got too long, include the citation within the text, indented and single-spaced, but you weren't supposed to do that if the citation would spread over two pages. Then you used a giant footnote, which could spread over multiple pages. This was obnoxious and then the version of Microsoft Word that was just after Word 6 (it's, I think, Word '95 - they started using the year instead of a sequential number) came out, and it had a feature that allowed you to include a reference code for a passage of text in an end note, which would then calculate the page number that it should refer to. That way, you were supposed to be able to make a lot of changes without looking over all your footnotes and changing the page numbers. It would happen automatically.

The problem was that this particular version of Word was buggy, and that particular feature was one of its buggier parts, and remained buggy through to at least Windows '98. So people were slow to convert to that version, and Word 6 didn't allow you to auto-endnote that way. I actually witnessed (well, heard) a tech writer get fired for stubbornness about this. He was determined to use that feature in his documents, but several highly-placed executives refused to convert from Word 6 to Word '98. The tech writer had been writing his stuff in the current version and then just saving it as a Word 6 file, which messed up all his auto-references. He, to my astonishment, refused to change. The executives, being executives, refused to change. You can guess who got fired. The tech writer was really stupid about it. His firing interview involved over half an hour of absolute screaming at his supervisor, screaming that could be heard all over the floor. Then the supervisor lost it and started screaming back. Jeez. Over which version of Word to use.

Anyway, the upshot was that people started using end notes. This accelerated when Word got less buggy, and you could include ALL your page references in the end notes, without worrying about messing anything up. You, essentially, wrote the end notes up as a separate document (although you included it in the original Word document, because no referencing will work if you don't do at least that), auto-referencing everything. This was so much easier than footnoting that everyone started to do it. I, personally, prefer footnotes, because it's really disappointing to stop reading the text, flip to the end notes, and find out that the note you just looked up was "ibid." But, then, I haven't written a grad school paper since the 1980s. Things may be much better now. - Brock
   110. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 24, 2013 at 06:31 AM (#4424167)
As for Jolly Old St. Back In The Day (I guessed that one), he and I may have gone through an experience with footnotes that you guys who are younger don't remember. When I (Jolly, I can't answer for) was in school, through grad school, there were no word processors. You typed up your research papers on a typewriter, which meant that you had to figure out where to stop the text and start the footnotes on each page. Since the footnotes had to be at least started on the same page as the text they applied to, and since footnotes were single-spaced, while the text was double-spaced, this was an enormous pain, probably the worst part of writing a term paper except for the occasions where the teacher would make you use carbon paper so you could keep a copy for yourself. Carbon paper is hell.

It may be just a repressed memory on my part, but IIRC my answers to those two problems were (1) letting grad students' wives deal with the typing and formatting at 35¢ a page**; and (2) kissing the filthy sidewalk the minute I finished my last undergrad class. You're a better man than I am, Brock.

**Adjusted for inflation, that's about what graduate student teaching assistants probably make today.
   111. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:46 AM (#4424217)
IF defensive shifts have saved 75 runs that would imply that they have saved something like 150 hits, which would lead to a measurable drop in batting average on balls in play (although not anything like 10 points).


Actually, it would be a little more than 1 point, which is well within the realm of YTY variation. Realize that 150 hits = 5 hits per team, and that the typical team allows ~4200 balls in play.

-- MWE
   112. BDC Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4424227)
Anyway, the upshot was that people started using end notes. This accelerated when Word got less buggy, and you could include ALL your page references in the end notes

Interesting, Brock. Another watershed, in the humanities at least, was the acceptance by the Modern Language Association (always, always called MLA, For What It's Worth :) of parenthetical documentation, so that instead of dropping a footnote to The High Hard One, you could just put (Higbe) after a quotation and then just stick the citation in Works Cited. Lots of papers then began to appear basically footnote-free. This was in the 1990s If I Remember Correctly.
   113. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4424246)
Another watershed, in the humanities at least, was the acceptance by the Modern Language Association (always, always called MLA, For What It's Worth :) of parenthetical documentation, so that instead of dropping a footnote to The High Hard One, you could just put (Higbe) after a quotation and then just stick the citation in Works Cited. Lots of papers then began to appear basically footnote-free. This was in the 1990s If I Remember Correctly.

That reminds me of one of the more amusing yet creepy radical memes of the 70's: "Footnotes are Fascist". If you've ever had the misfortune of being around a certain strain of 70's radicals, you won't have to have the reasoning behind that concept explained to you.
   114. Morty Causa Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4424296)
It can't be a meme since it didn't survive for very long or spread very widely.

I got no hits when I goggled it, which tells us something about how very unwidespread that sentiment was. But, yes, it was a sentiment held in some quarters, and I'm surprised I couldn't find any use of it.

My feelings about footnotes (not considering their use in fiction) are that they should only be used to source something. No comments. It's not the place for alternate argument or tangential speculation. If the substance of a comment is pertinent, then it belongs in the text proper. If not, then it shouldn't be made at all. If the comments are interesting and applicable they can be included in endnotes, and of course bibliographical endnotes with comments are perfectly appropriate. Richard Dawkins's subsequent editions to The Selfish Gene use endnotes appropriately and to the point.
   115. bjhanke Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4424312)
BDC - Yes, that one was not in general use when I finished up my grad school career. It was, however, available in earlier versions of the MLA Style Sheet, which has always applied to academics. In the earlier versions, though, you had to fulfill one of these two criteria before you could use a citation like just "Higbe." First, you could be citing the entire point of Higbe's short essay or journal paper. Second, you could, in a short-enough paper of our own, use that kind of citation for every reference to Higbe other than the first one. The audience was supposed to understand that you were really doing a version of ibid, except that you're saying "the same Higbe book that I cited before" instead of "the same citation I just used in the previous note, regardless of whose paper that last one was." This was useful when you had a lot of identical references to Higbe, but they were not consecutive, so you could not ibid them in either footnotes or end notes. - Brock.
   116. GuyM Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4424327)
Actually, it would be a little more than 1 point, which is well within the realm of YTY variation. Realize that 150 hits = 5 hits per team, and that the typical team allows ~4200 balls in play

Also, 75 runs saved would mean 100 fewer hits, not 150. Each hit prevented reduces scoring by .7-.8 runs. Strange error for Bill James to make.
   117. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4424337)
If the thesis of all this bristling is that Bill James's social skills are slightly below Miss Manners level, I guess we don't need to continue with this discussion--it's something BJ himself admits he lacks and wishes he didn't. I mean, if you want to keep kicking him around because he may or not be somewhere on the spectrum and wishes he weren't, by all means, have at it, I guess


The thing is, Bill James' prickliness is one of the things that people like about him. We like when he's prickly towards Enos Cabell or Ken Harrelson or Larry Bowa or whomever. It's unrealistic to then complain when he doesn't suddenly turn into Mr. Generosity toward his readers.
   118. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4424391)
That reminds me of one of the more amusing yet creepy radical memes of the 70's: "Footnotes are Fascist". If you've ever had the misfortune of being around a certain strain of 70's radicals, you won't have to have the reasoning behind that concept explained to you.

It can't be a meme since it didn't survive for very long or spread very widely.

I got no hits when I goggled it, which tells us something about how very unwidespread that sentiment was. But, yes, it was a sentiment held in some quarters, and I'm surprised I couldn't find any use of it.


That may be because it was largely an argument advanced by articles in the underground press that wouldn't show up in google. At least that's where I read them BITD. The idea was that to demand footnotes (or end notes, as the two were used interchangeably) was to imply a lack of trust in the author's honesty, which only a "fascist" would do. Of course this rule was applied only to critics of radical authors, but that's another story.

My feelings about footnotes (not considering their use in fiction) are that they should only be used to source something. No comments. It's not the place for alternate argument or tangential speculation. If the substance of a comment is pertinent, then it belongs in the text proper. If not, then it shouldn't be made at all. If the comments are interesting and applicable they can be included in endnotes,

I think it depends on the author, and on how long the note might be, but in some cases if an author tries to incorporate an elaboration in the body of the text, it can make for an overly cluttered train of thought. Some authors are better at avoiding such cluttering than others.
   119. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:55 AM (#4424427)
Also, 75 runs saved would mean 100 fewer hits, not 150. Each hit prevented reduces scoring by .7-.8 runs.


Right. My point is that even if Dewan is correct about the impact of defensive shifts, the effect wouldn't be large enough to show up in in-play BA.

The four-point drop between 2012 and 2013 (if it's sustained) would be worth a look. My instinct is that it's largely an aberration due in part to the number of games played in cold, damp conditions so far, and that it will correct when the weather warms up.

-- MWE
   120. The District Attorney Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4424458)
I think acronyms longer than three letters get problematical. Unless you are intimately familiar with the subject, the time to mentally expand the acronym multiplied by the number of readers is orders of magnitude greater than the time saved by the author using the acronym.

Sure, one can easily Google the acronym, but that breaks up the flow of reading. By the same reasoning, the author could easily use the acronym during the first draft and then expand it before publication.
I think this is basically Bill's point. I don't think he's that worried that his readers won't know that "BABIP" stands for (although, y'know, I'm sure some of them don't). I think his main concern is that, even if you intellectually know that "BABIP" means "Batting Average on Balls in Play", you still don't process the acronym as easily and naturally as you would process "Batting Average on Balls in Play" written out.

I suspect that he's correct about that. In any event, it's not really the type of thing you could refute by saying "well, I understand it just fine." The effect would be more subtle than that, if it exists.
   121. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4424467)
In case you guys haven't seen it, James fielded a question on this topic:

Everyone on the site knows what BABIP means. We use plenty of your acronyms, why do you have so much trouble with this one?

Asked by: ventboys


That's not true; there are lots of people reading this who actually DON'T know what that is. Even if you know what it is, you don't process it the same way you process a word. It catches in your mind for a second, then you unravel it and move on. Writers shouldn't do that to their readers; they shouldn't throw fish hooks into the middle of a sentence. I don't like and don't use ANY acronyms other than those things like RBI, which are SO familiar that readers process them the same way they process any other word.


I think many of you are overestimating how many people know what BABIP stands for. The universe of baseball fans comprises millions, and many of them have no in-depth statistical knowledge other than what they read from Bill James. So if James doesn't use "BABIP," many of his fans won't either.
   122. Jack Keefe Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4424483)
Al what is wrong if when you want to put it in the computer and see how good a guy will be they call it POCOROBA. Every 1 knows what that means Al.
   123. smileyy Posted: April 24, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4424491)
[114] But how else am I going to pretend to be David Foster Wallace, other than a length of rope?
   124. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: April 25, 2013 at 06:02 AM (#4425374)
My feelings about footnotes (not considering their use in fiction) are that they should only be used to source something. No comments. It's not the place for alternate argument or tangential speculation. If the substance of a comment is pertinent, then it belongs in the text proper. If not, then it shouldn't be made at all. If the comments are interesting and applicable they can be included in endnotes, and of course bibliographical endnotes with comments are perfectly appropriate.


Wow. I could not disagree more strongly. I don't like endnotes at all, but why in the hell would you prefer to flip AWAY from the text to read an interesting and applicable comment? If the comment truly sheds light on the text, it should go WITH the text. As should sourcing, ideally, but if you're going to have footnotes and endnotes at all, I think you've got their utility exactly backward.
   125. Greg K Posted: April 25, 2013 at 07:09 AM (#4425378)
As I read works of history almost every day, this comes up quite a lot for me. Especially since sometimes I'm reading specifically to find out what sources the writer is using.

I absolutely despise endnotes, flipping back and forth is beyond annoying. Especially annoying are endnotes which are just marked at the end of every paragraph, and list off about 5-6 sources, with no indication which information came from which source.

Footnotes are the way to go, primarily for sourcing purposes, but some appropriate text within them is not a problem. For instance, some information about the source, a list of similar places to get the same information, or a clarification of something in the text ie. you quoted a source in the text that mentioned the Lord Steward, but the dating of the source is vague enough that we don't know if it's referring to Lord Steward, Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo, or his successor at that post, Lord Steward Rusty Shackleford. This information isn't strictly relevant to the point of the text, but it can be handy there just to clarify.

This rant of course, applies pretty narrowly to history books/articles. For instance, Lit Studies use an entirely different citation model that from what I can decipher appears to have been devised by Satan.
   126. Morty Causa Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4425442)
If it's applicable to your argument, there's no reason it can't be in the text proper. If it's not, then it's a diversion and belongs as an endnote or appendix or something like that. Or another book or essay. If it's a tangent, you should have to flip away from the main text (or save it for after you have devoted some concentration to the presentation proper). Footnotes should be to source your material, not to give in to an urge to pander to your Attention Deficit Disorder.
   127. Morty Causa Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4425456)
Footnotes are the way to go, primarily for sourcing purposes, but some appropriate text within them is not a problem.


Well, it depends. A footnote like, say, "John Keegan, The Second World War, yadda yadda, is of the contrary opinion" is fine. Going heavily into that view of Keegan's in a footnote is not. It belongs in the text or in an endnote, like Keegan did in his book The Second World War. You do stuff like that in footnotes and pretty soon the reader is at a lost as to what the book is about.
   128. Morty Causa Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:20 AM (#4425464)
When it comes to writing judicial opinions, judges/justices and their clerks differ, too, just like here. Some (rare) believe there should be no footnotes. That just diverts from the issue and the reasons for the ruling in question on that issue. Of course, points of law in an opinion are in the text proper (and that should be considered, too). Others use footnotes extensively (I believe one Supreme Court justice, Powell, I think, once buried his actual holding in a footnote).
   129. Morty Causa Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4425479)
Exploring substance in a footnote is like a speaker allowing himself to be constantly interrupted and just riffing along with the interruption . There's a danger of losing focus (writer and reader) and having the effect and force of the planned presentation etiolated. It can be fatal.
   130. BDC Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4425480)
Footnotes should be to source your material, not to give in to an urge to pander to your Attention Deficit Disorder

For the most part yes, but as mentioned upthread, there are authors who make footnotes into an inextricable part of their style, and their work wouldn't be as interesting without it. Gibbon and David Foster Wallace, indeed, and also Oliver Sacks, at least in Awakenings, which is what it is thanks to an accumulated dialogue between the text and the notes across several revisions. Massive footnotes were one way of writing in several "dimensions" long before digital hypertextual spaces were invented. And in a novel like Pale Fire or House of Leaves, footnotes themselves become a whole literary genre.
   131. Greg K Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4425482)
If it's applicable to your argument, there's no reason it can't be in the text proper. If it's not, then it's a diversion and belongs as an endnote or appendix or something like that. Or another book or essay. If it's a tangent, you should have to flip away from the main text (or save it for after you have devoted some concentration to the presentation proper. Footnotes should be to source your material, not to give in to an urge to pander to your Attention Deficit Disorder.

I think that's a fine attitude to have in general, (and one I more or less try to follow when I write, my tendency is to lean to purely source footnotes). But in practice it's can be a tad strict and unnecessarily rob you of flexibility.

To flip open a nearby book for an example...this passage on the parliament of 1628:

Confusion about the law of arbitrary imprisonment gave way to relief when it was discovered that neither the judgment in the Five Knight's Case, nor the "Anderson" judgment of 1592, gave unequivocal authority to the crown to imprison without cause shown. (*)

* claim sourced, as well as a 12 word sentence saying it was John Eliot who provided the manuscript of the 1592 decision, and citing the source of that manuscript document.

Now, the author could have put that information about Eliot into the body of the text, and I don't think it would have been jarringly out of place. A bit of interesting information, considering who Eliot was, and how the practical process of finding precedents worked. But as that section of the piece was more a narrative of events establishing the background of events before analysis he deemed it best to include it as an aside. Seems much more practical to do that in a footnote where you can scan down, rather than flip back and forth to get one tiny bit of information.

The way I see it, there is a hierarchy of asides. Is it an aside that is important enough, or related enough that it doesn't interrupt the flow of the text? Then include it. If it's a piece of information that might be relevant to the purposes of some people reading the book, but not to others? Keep it close by, but out of the body of the text. If it's a piece of information that sets you off on a tangential point? Write another book and put it in there. If it's essentially trivia? Why bother?

Some things are useful enough to include, somewhat out of place in the flow of the text, and small enough that providing an appendix at the back of the book would be not worth the effort of page-flipping.

EDIT: I see by #127 that we are probably on the same page. I suppose we're reading different kinds of books as the extended diversion via footnote is not something I often see.
   132. Greg K Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4425486)
For the most part yes, but as mentioned upthread, there are authors who make footnotes into an inextricable part of their style, and their work wouldn't be as interesting without it

The Flashman series is like that as the footnotes/endnotes providing historical context to the fiction are a great part of the books. And unfortunately the reason that reading them on my kindle absolutely sucks as the flip back and forth from endnotes and text is extremely cumbersome (at least my technologically impaired brain can't figure out how it make in un-cumbersome).
   133. Morty Causa Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4425491)
"For the most part"? I'll settle for that. I specifically excluded fiction and works indulging creative fancy. If you're writing Giles Goat Boy, introductions and afterwords, footnotes and glosses, comments upon comments, are integral to a unique literary presentation. In non-fiction, it's too often just coitus interruptus. Put it in the text proper if it's that important, or relegate it to the back. Otherwise, you're giving it undue importance and engaging in unconscious misdirection.
   134. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4425493)
Especially annoying are endnotes which are just marked at the end of every paragraph, and list off about 5-6 sources, with no indication which information came from which source.

That's one of the reasons I'm not yet 100% on board with abolishing the death penalty. What can those people possibly be thinking when they do that? And I see it more and more every year.
   135. Greg K Posted: April 25, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4425497)
That's one of the reasons I'm not yet 100% on board with abolishing the death penalty. What can those people possibly be thinking when they do that? And I see it more and more every year.

Right?
I mean, if you're not making it clear where the information is coming from, what's the point?

You may as well have a note at the end of the book saying, "by the way, I read a bunch of books in preparation for this, trust me".
   136. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4425510)
If it's applicable to your argument, there's no reason it can't be in the text proper. If it's not, then it's a diversion and belongs as an endnote or appendix or something like that.


I find it extremely annoying when I'm reading a book, get interested in the source for something the author mentions, and flip to the back to find the endnote, only to find that the author has been stashing away nuggets of factual goodness back there all along. And I've missed all the subtextual asides for the chapters I've already read, because I had no idea they were back there.

My personal preference is that endnotes should be used for sourcing, and footnotes for providing additional context or asides to the main text. I don't care if I pass over most of the sources, but I'd like to at least know what the author is discussing in the notes, without having to flip back and forth every five minutes.
   137. BDC Posted: April 25, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4425542)
What can those people possibly be thinking when they do that? And I see it more and more every year

I'd imagine editors insist on it, whether because a page or two of endnotes saved is a big deal to them, or they think that source notes are nerdy. The "vague source note" (something like "page 29, the Gas House Gang, see Frisch, Durocher") is a half-###ed compromise; you could check the sources, but now all the work is on you, not on the author.
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