How to prevent automatic attachment of "comments"

Sometimes when I "Add item(s) by identifier", Zotero will automatically attach a "Comment" file.

For example, if I "Add item" 1902.08438, Zotero will automatically attach the note file
"Comment: The first two authors contributed equally"

I've tried toggling all "Automatically...." settings in preferences, but Zotero always adds the comments.

How can I disable the automatic attachment of "Comment:" notes and other automatic files?
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  • edited March 20, 2019
    What citation style are you using? Is the comment statement in a note or did you enter it in the Extra field?
  • edited March 20, 2019
    DWL: This isn't about citations — it's about a note being attached to the item when entering an arXiv ID into Add Item by Identifier. The text comes from the "Comments:" field on arXiv pages. The arXiv translator has added those as notes for many years.

    @evdcush: There's no way to turn this off other than by modifying the arXiv translator, but we could consider removing this behavior. I'm not that familiar with what goes in these comments, but the ones in our test cases and your example don't seem particularly valuable, and you could always view them by clicking back to the page.
  • This isn't about citations -- it's an automatically attached note. You can't turn it off, I'm afraid. It's in the imported metadata for the identifier as a note.
  • Thank you all for the follow-ups.

    @dstillman : Is there anyway I can modify the arXiv translator locally? I think this behaviour should be removed. As you mentioned, they are not particularly valuable.

    Every note comment that has been automatically attached (sometimes more than one) has been just spam I have to manually delete. It's the reason why I do not add more than one arXiv ID at a time.

    Some other examples:
    "Comment: 18 pages, 19 figures"
    "Comment: 13 pages"
    "Comment: v3: Update trained-from-scratch results in COCO to 41.0AP."
    "Comment: Files to help replicate the results reported here are available on Github"
    "Comment: In NeurIPS'18"
    "Comment: Tech Report"
    "Comment: Code and data have been released"
    "Comment: Changed formatting from ICML workshop to ICLR. We added additional resnet ablation studies, hinge loss, and an empirical comparison between KID and FID"
    "Comment: updated tables and references"
    "Comment: 15 pages; fixed typo in abstract"

    Not one of these provides information I need preserved as an attached note. Most of them sound like git commit messages (not particularly expressive ones at that).

    The only attached comment I thought had potential relevance was a comment with a direct link to the paper code on github--but even that was available in the paper as well.
  • @adamsmith: Any objection to removing this?
  • I don't have an opinion either way, but this was done based on another user's request: https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/comment/156754/#Comment_156754

    I don't know how many people would be interest, e.g., in the "submitted to/accepted by" comments that are often included in there, but seems at least potentially relevant. Similarly, the fact that data are released/available, as included in some of the comments above, seems potentially quite useful.
    Some of the other comments clearly less so.
  • edited November 6, 2019
    Please add an option to prevent automatic attachment of such notes (for every imported item, not only from arxiv). Also, if possible, please add a context menu option to delete attached notes from selected files.

    In the way I use Zotero, I reserve the notes for my personal notes. As with @evdcush, these automatic comments are "just spam I have to manually delete", which is tedious.
  • @adamsmith , @dstillman : any chances this could be implemented in a future version?
  • For what it's worth, you can create a saved search for notes containing "Comment:", periodically do a Select All in that search, and delete them all in one go. (You can't currently do a "begins with" search in notes, but that could be added.)
  • Adding books by ISBN (I assume therefore via Worldcat?) often adds superfluous notes like "includes index/bibliography". Sometimes a full table of contents for edited volumes is included. At least for the former type, that is just meant for librarians and not something that Zotero needs to include.

    Generally these are just in the way and must be deleted manually.

    Rarely the notes have useful information (in my opinion) such as stating that the work is a published version of a thesis ("A revision of the author's thesis at..."), which is somewhat useful for organizational purposes, or other times including the original conference information for proceedings volumes. Whether that really belongs in Zotero seems questionable to me, but at least the information is potentially useful, unlike the most common note types.

    So I can see an argument for sometimes keeping these notes in order to avoid any possibility of losing useful information, but I think personally I'd prefer to have this feature turned off, so an option to do that would be nice, or perhaps an 'opt in' I can easily avoid with the escape key when one of these is going to be saved. (Otherwise it's multiple clicks to open the note dropdown, right-click and delete, and then empty the trash, before finding my way back to where I was.)

    Notes also sometimes come from other sources, which I also delete. For example, Google Books always includes a link as a note, which I don't need. I understand some people might want to keep that, but Google Books isn't an official source like a publisher, so I don't see why that's needed. So an option to turn this off for myself would be nice.

    (Sorry for jumping into this discussion which was originally about notes from arXiv but I was actually thinking about this earlier today, and the same issue applies.)
  • @djross3 FWIW: Notes like "Includes bibliography" are not intended for use by librarians. They are intended to help users decide if that particular resource is desirable (for example, through interlibrary loan).
  • edited December 9, 2019
    OK, that makes some sense, but (1) it's too inconsistent to be reliable (only a minority of items have such notes), and (2) why would the average user want to add that information to Zotero before deciding if they want to request it by ILL? (I say that as someone who uses ILL more than most.) It's useful to have the information on Worldcat (etc.), but why does it need to import? Again, I'm not saying the feature should be removed, just that individual users should be able to opt out.
  • @dstillman I think I think some more user-control on this may indeed be helpful.

    I see two implementation options:

    1. Automatic tags seem like the closest analogy, so you could implement a similar preference for automatic notes

    2. Alternatively, we could just tag notes from translators in a consistent way so that they're easy to filter by and delete (i.e. generalizing & streamlining your suggestion above).

    I think 1. is the better UX solution, but pointing out 2. as it does offer some more flexibility and would probably be easier to implement.

    Thoughts?
  • Yes, (1) would be good.

    The problem with (2) is that it works under the assumption that some of those notes might be valuable enough to keep, but then would let you mass delete all of them including the minority you might want to keep. It would only be useful to the extent that you decide to purge your entire library of all such notes, rather than as a way to partially use the feature.
  • The idea with 2 is that you could remove the tag from notes you like to prevent auto deletion (or for more high-tech users, even remove it from a given translator). But as I said, I do think 1. is likely the better option.
  • Oh, I see. Yes, having the option to untag as automatic notes could potentially be useful. Still, it means that most of the time we'd have to go through various clicks to remove them if we're doing it as we go rather than retroactively after many imports.
    I hope 1 works out, but 2 could be somewhat helpful. Thanks!
  • Old thread, but I don't think this ever got resolved? I agree that it's an important option to be able to disable automatic notes, just like automatic tags.
  • No updates on this, no.
    @dstillman -- did you ever decide which direction you want to go on this?
  • 1. Automatic tags seem like the closest analogy, so you could implement a similar preference for automatic notes
    How would we describe such a preference? I'd be concerned that the contents of these notes differ too widely between translators to be described in a coherent way.

    I get the sense that this information is not useful to most people, but to the extent that it is, I do wonder why we're including it in notes instead of Extra. While we tend to use Extra key/value pairs for fields that we intend to add in the future, that's not required. Is there any reason not to include a "Comment" field there, as a bit less invasive way of including this information?
  • A comment like that would be easier to delete, as well. Perhaps it should be removed from Extra before exporting to CSL?
  • I was just thinking that such a thing would rarely be cited, even in an annotated bibliography, so not having them in the `note` variable would be better. But maybe not a big enough concern to bother with.
  • If the "Comment" is coming from the arxiv.org website, the Extra field could be named "arXiv Comment:", similar to the "arXiv:" field for the arXiv ID. (I'm not sure whether this would exclude the field from CSL exports.)

    I would also prefer arXiv comments in the Extra field rather than in separate notes. However, a possible downside is an Extra field that could get very long. To deal with this, an abbreviation option for the Extra field might help, similar to what the Abstract field currently offers. In order to make the Extra content more apparent, each line in Extra could be abbreviated separately:
    (…) Extra arXiv: 2012.1234
    arXiv Comment: A long comm…
    PMID: 123456789


    Regarding adamsmith's implementation options above, it could be useful to introduce categories for Zotero notes, analogous to the tag categories for automatic tags. This would make filtering notes easier. For example, in addition to "attachment notes", you might want to have some way of marking other note types such as "extracted annotations" for PDF attachments. One could add an "automatic note" category as well. But the question would be how to integrate this in the UI.
  • If the "Comment" is coming from the arxiv.org website, the Extra field could be named "arXiv Comment:", similar to the "arXiv:" field for the arXiv ID.
    That's reasonable, but I'd want to know what other translators we're doing this in and how we're prefixing them there. If we're adding "Comment" across sites, just "Comment" would seem to make more sense.
  • How would we describe such a preference? I'd be concerned that the contents of these notes differ too widely between translators to be described in a coherent way.
    This seems contradictory in a few ways:
    1. We aren't sure what information is there or why it is useful, yet it is being imported.
    2. It is being treated in completely different ways in different translators.

    That suggests to me it would be better to completely omit it because even if possibly useful in some instance, it wouldn't be reliable because not all translators would include that information consistently.
    I get the sense that this information is not useful to most people, but to the extent that it is, I do wonder why we're including it in notes instead of Extra.
    That would be less intrusive, but again it seems odd that we don't know what information might be there, and if in principle it might be useful putting it in extra would essentially hide it. And on the one hand it's easy to notice that there's a new note I need to delete (but then multiple steps to delete it), while I might not even notice that there is additional information there (but it would be easier to delete).

    In summary, yes, putting it in extra seems like probably the best option, although another option is to simply remove this feature or discourage translators from having that option because no one seems to know what it is for.

    ---

    To add to the conversation above about where these notes are coming from, I encounter it most often from Worldcat. And as I wrote above, those notes are usually useless for a bibliography per se, and more useful for librarians or researchers looking for additional information about a book (e.g. whether it has an index or bibliography). That information is never included in citations, so on the one hand it doesn't seem necessary in Zotero at all, and on the other hand, that's an argument against adding it to the Extra field because it should/would never be cited. The appropriate place really might be as a note, except that I don't think anyone really needs/wants that information in Zotero. And if they do, it will be very inconsistent from different sources (even in Worldcat), and for a use case that is different from the typical user just trying to make a bibliography.
  • This seems contradictory in a few ways:
    1. We aren't sure what information is there or why it is useful, yet it is being imported.
    2. It is being treated in completely different ways in different translators.
    I'm not sure what you think is contradictory. My point is that, if we can't describe it in a coherent way, it wouldn't make sense to use a pref. That doesn't mean it's not potentially useful information, even if different translators are saving different kinds of information to notes.

    And it's not that we — as a project — "aren't sure" what information is in there. The people who wrote the translators presumably know. I just didn't write any of them, which is why I'm asking.
  • that's an argument against adding it to the Extra field because it should/would never be cited
    Not everything in the item pane is meant to be cited. It's still metadata about the item. If we keep it, the goal would be to separate it more clearly from notes, which are generally used in a completely different way by users.
  • edited 27 days ago
    If users (and even some developers) aren't expected to understand what it is, the feature should be redesigned. Simple as that. It seems to vary arbitrarily by translator, and then indirectly by whatever various database websites decide to post as notes. It's a catch-all category that doesn't have any consistent use.
  • Not everything in the item pane is meant to be cited. It's still metadata about the item.
    The number one guiding principle to Zotero or any similar project should be consistency. There is nothing consistent about this feature. It's confusing to everyone, and crucially it is inconsistent for different items, so it would not be possible to rely on this information even if a user wished to do so.
    If we keep it, the goal would be to separate it more clearly from notes, which are generally used in a completely different way by users.
    I agree with you, except in the sense that if this information is exceptional (given its inconsistency) maybe it should be highlighted as a note, if it is to be included at all. But I agree it isn't really appropriate as a note either.

    The main question should be: is this information actually necessary? And if so, for what?

    On a practical level, I'd prefer it to be put into Extra because it's easier for me to delete that way.
  • Off topic
    I seem to be complaining about WorldCat lately but here is another, not original with me:
    Many times the WorldCat note that a book contains an index is incorrect. It does not contain an index but only a table of contents.
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