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Should the community alone moderate Review Submission Requests?

+ 0 like - 3 dislike
467 views

There was a paper recently submitted for review that came under a lot of criticism for even being submitted for public review. It's now been removed, with the status of its submission given here as {REJECTED]

But isn't the whole point of the Submission Creation Request for the community to decide if a paper should be publicly reviewed?

I don't think there is a need for moderators to intervene, and the community is well able to decide for itself. A simple benchmark could be 1 week for the community to vote, and the ratio of upvotes to down votes >= 2 making the submission request [ACCEPTED].

What does everyone else think?

asked Jul 26, 2014 in Discussion by physicsnewbie (-20 points) [ revision history ]
recategorized Jul 27, 2014 by dimension10

Can you post questions only once, please? This is spam, really. I'm deleting the duplicates.

@dimension10 sorry. I thought my original post got lost because I got an error: "page can't be found".

2 Answers

+ 2 like - 0 dislike

I disagree with voting online, because online voting can be used to attack the site. You can end up submitting more crackpot papers, then getting a bunch of phony accounts which vote to review the paper.

But I am also wary of rejecting things based on moderation power. The "objective criteria" are not so simple to evaluate in practice, and people need to exercize judgement and always err on the side of acceptance, I think.

But given that this paper was obviously insincere, offensive, garbage, I am happy that this particular paper was removed. This is one way of dealing with this sort of attack. But I think it should have been considered SPAM, so as not to set a precedent for political deletion of other things.

answered Jul 27, 2014 by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ no revision ]
Most voted comments show all comments

It wasn't "spam". It would have been spam if he posted advertisements of his "illusion" everywhere across PhysicsOverflow, but he did not.

Just in case anybody is confused, Kimmo Rouvari is not blocked, he is intentionally (as far as I can tell) posting without an account to mislead people into believing that he has been blocked.

@dimension10 Sorry about not using my account. I'm at the moment in friend's summer cottage and not able to access my password file. No need to be paranoid ;-)

Voting for accuracy is not the same as voting to exclude or censor. Voting for accuracy works, exclusionary voting for censorship doesn't. The reason is that people voting on accuracy are looking at the guts of a contribution, while those voting to exclude are playing political games to gain power over others. The first is a valuable activity, the second, not so much.

Sure, ok, someone can sock-puppet or meat-puppet a handful of upvotes, in the worst case, 10 or 20. but ultimately, it's not as destructive as a community of intentional saboteurs flooding the site with mentally deranged crackpot submissions. A paper with unworthy upvotes will start to get attention from people anyway, due to it's apparent popularity, and then get heavily punished when people who read it realize it isn't as good as the votes say. The voting process for accuracy is effective and self-correcting, and doesn't require heavy policing. But the decision to include or exclude some text or some people is of a completely different nature, it creates an odeous bureaucracy whose only purpose is to maintain an elite inner circle, whose texts only are worthy of consideration. It is this situation that one must avoid, while at the same time, rejecting illegitemate nonsense papers. It is nearly impossible to do by any sane procedure, since the temptation to exclude others one disagrees with begins immediately the moment one has the power to do so.

Most recent comments show all comments

But the questions and answers here are voted upon online!

Moderators only have to intervene if there is any suspicion of multiple account voting, socket-puppeteering etc because the community doesn't have access to that information generally.

If someone goes to the trouble of setting up multiple accounts to get their paper submitted, then they're going to use them to vote upon it as well. And not just the paper, but all of their activity including questions and answers they give. People like that can't organize their dishonesty that well.

+ 1 like - 0 dislike

The rejection isn't a unilateral decision up to the whims and fancies of moderators, it's based on an objective criterion (which has already beenn discussed in great detail) you can read about in the FAQ.

answered Jul 27, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ no revision ]

"objective criteria" can be easily manipulated by other people into censorship policies, by making political judgements on whether you fulfil or do not fulfil the criteria. This is dangerous, and I would rather have rejection based on the criteria of "dimension10 thinks it is without doubt crackpot" than based on rules written down.

@RonMaimon Is that supposed to be serious or sarcastic? Objective criteria is exactly that - it cannot be manipulated further. It's clear what "conflict" is; it's clear what "established physics" is; it's clear what "mainstream" is, it's clear what "mathematically" is, it's clear what "experimentally" is, it's clear what "justified" is, therefore it's also clear what "something in conflict with established physics not in the scope of a mainstream theory, which is not mathematically or experimentally justified" is.

Ron, the procedure Dimension10 has suggested as our guidline to decide what submissions we accept has absolutely nothing to do with "politics", but it will prevent our reviews section from getting filled with crazy stuff of the worst crancks, crackpots, server dudes, biker dudes, wannabe Einsteins etc who want to "revolutionize" well established physics for no reason ... The procedure does nothing but ensuring the scientific method, as it worked for centuries. And as I understand it, non if the in my opinion interesting examples you mentioned would be "censored out" ... I think we must now urgently make the point that PhysicsOverflow does not accept every nonsense and stick to this, as we already started to look weird ...

You will see that it will be abused. These rules always start out sounding nice, but with time, they become stricter, and the criteria become more restrictive, as it is in the nature of political organizations to restrict membership unduly to those who are already powerful. I request that there should be a failsafe, so that a subcommunity of a few people may exercise a veto on a rejection. I do not feel comfortable with an "objective" process, as there is no such thing, and it is when one is under the delusion that there is such a thing that one starts to fall into the trap of instituting censorship other than review.

Remember, terrible submissions are already torn apart viciously, and are ignored by any sensible reader. It is not clear to me that we need to institute any censorship at all, or perhaps we should make it that any such censorship is temporary, and will be lifted to the extent that it does not lead to an undue number of crackpot submissions flooding the site.

I don't want any barriers between a person and a referee, it can be abused, and although it has not been abused in this case, I guarantee you it WILL be abused in the future. Unfortunately, the only examples I can give you are cases where the passage of time has already show the idea not to be crackpot.

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