Antony Lewis wrote:So, 500+ users, but VERY few posters (this is not supposed to be my personal forum!) What would it take to get some more input?
Money, sex, drugs (e.g. real coffee?), or getting people to install speakers and webcams in their offices and "assaulting" people audiovisually with a psychological "Hey, you, what cool paper did you read today?" effect?
But seriously, people are busy and under pressure and in a coordinatorist or capitalist economic system tend to be forced to spend time on things which give them brownie points and increase their "intellectual capital". The question is how to avoid the tragedy of the commons
. We get brownie points (jobs, funding) by being the first to publish an idea. If during a discussion we come up with a new idea and then someone else submits first to a journal, at the moment, the chances are weak that the journal will give precedence to description of the idea on cosmocoffee. There's at least one precedent (to avoid reigniting a closed issue, I won't mention the specifics) in which one of the main astronomy journals flatly rejected an article on the basis of prior publication by another group and refused to accept online, verifiable evidence showing that precedence went in the other direction.
So I don't think we can (yet) expect journals to credit people for what they write in forums, even in terms of precedence.
On the other hand, there's no formal brownie points for going to conferences (well, there is a bit), but people nevertheless are eager (well, sort of) to go to conferences. Is it just for the food and the fun of seeing people's faces and discussing non-electronically? Or is it more for the informal, useful cosmocoffee type discussions? Or both?
Presumably it's something that will evolve with time. With ADS blogs and some non-ADS blogs, the whole cosmo communication system is a dynamical system which will evolve however it wishes to evolve...
One specific suggestion:
How about adding a FAQ about whether or not it's considered the Right Thing to post discussion about your own articles in the astro-ph section? Or whether or not it's an unanswered question which will develop by community feeling?
I've got a feeling that a few people have done this, but not many, and many people would feel that it could be a bit pretentious to post about your own articles. On the other hand, probably nearly all of us are more or less coauthors of coauthors of each other, so it's hard to be completely neutral.
The point is that if discussion of your article on cosmocoffee leads to the same citation effect as posting on astro-ph (was this Fraser Pierce's article on astro-ph? i don't think so... - there was an analysis finding more or less cosmologists post nearly everything on astro-ph, stellar people nearly nothing, and articles posted on astro-ph get cited twice as often as others), then eventually people might start doing this systematically.
Anyway, i've finished my "coffee" now. Back to work... :)