Re: The preprint is the postprint

From: Greg Kuperberg <greg_at_MATH.UCDAVIS.EDU>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 13:35:54 -0800

On Wed, Dec 06, 2000 at 03:58:34PM -0500, George Lundberg wrote:
> But i believe that the notion of posting "all" those that disappeared in
> some kind of unfiltered pre-print archive for the world to see would be a
> ridiculous waste of time and other resources and could seriously mislead

Some practicing doctors express this concern about hypothetical
arXiv-style archives in clinical medicine. I am more optimistic,
but I'm not sure either, since there is no widely used open archive in
medicine to settle the matter. The clinmed archive provides a little
bit of evidence to the contrary, but it is still a very small archive.

However, it is not quite true that the arXiv is completely unfiltered.
Rather, the system has the absolute minimum of filtering needed for
self-sustaining quality. Above some low threshold, the quality of the
average submission exhibits positive feedback. Most serious users care
about their professional reputations, and consequently the average quality
stays far higher than the minimum cutoff. If the threshold of filtering
were much lower, serious users would get disgusted and stop contributing,
leaving only crackpots. The policy on permanence and withdrawal further
supports the average quality.

So what kind of filtering is there? Each category has moderators, and
I am one of about 30 in the mathematics section. We have a few hours
to review submissions. If we do nothing they are automatically posted.
We are not allowed to censor any remotely relevant submission, no matter
how wrong or trivial it appears to be, nor do we want to. However,
we can reclassify a submission if it is off-topic. We can reject a
submission if we can't recognize it as research at all, for example if
it is pornography or a non-mathematical autobiography. We can reject
a submission if it has the wrong form, for example if it is only an
abstract or an unannotated bibliography or unannotated data. And we can
intervene against spam, e.g. an author who divides one self-contained
manuscript into 100 submissions.

Most of the moderating decisions reclassify legitimate submissions with
strange classifications or excessive cross-listings. For example a
high-energy physicist might submit or cross-list a paper to geometric
topology which is incomprehensible to topologists, just on the hope that
some geometric topologist out there might want to read it.

The system is similar to the conventions for informal seminars in the
non-electronic world. Anyone can attend, except for people who are so
clueless that they would disrupt the talks.
  /\  Greg Kuperberg (UC Davis)
 /  \
 \  / Visit the Math ArXiv Front at
  \/  * All the math that's fit to e-print *
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:58 GMT