TOO MUCH CONVERSATION. NOT ENOUGH PAPERS.

John Sides notes that the Social Science Research Network -- one of the web's leading repositories of academic papers -- has started a blog. But it's not a very good blog. It's seen three posts in two weeks. And my hunch is that's partially due to a poor mission statement. "The SSRN Blog will not be a broadcast vehicle," they promise. "We want to engage you in an ongoing conversation."

No! Lots of people are willing to engage me in an ongoing conversation. The world has, if anything, an abundance of ongoing conversation. Conversely, it has a decided scarcity of useful research papers, or at least people willing to point me, and others, to useful research papers. According to the statistics on SSRN's sidebar, the site has received 23,315 papers in the past six months. That's around 130 papers a day. That's a lot of graphs I could be using for this site. And you don't know how the knowledge of missed graphs pains me.

What all us folks having ongoing conversations need, more than anything, is a broadcast vehicle to help us find the best of those papers. We don't need "posts [that] will explore and share our perspective on issues such as Open Access, new publishing models and directions for scholarly research, and the technologies that affect us all." Specialize! We'll do the ongoing conversation. You help us find papers so that conversation is less uninformed and we'll download them so your site is more popular and more academics funnel their papers in your direction. Win-win!

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