Erfahrungen und Folgen der Trackback-Funktion bei ArXiv

DaÃ? ArXiv Trackback unterstützt ist nicht neu, aber heute zitiert Peter Suber einen aufschluÃ?reichen kurzen Bericht darüber, wie es zur Einführung dieser Funktion kam, wie sie funktioniert und welche Erfahrungen damit bisher gemacht worden sind:

For more than a decade, physicists have been posting their manuscripts on a public database, known as ArXiv, even before they submit the work to journals for publication. Now the same preprint site, hosted by the Cornell University Library, is taking another leap forward: creating an archived comment system to accompany the papers. The process works like this: A physicist with a blog writes about a particular paper in ArXiv and links to that paper. Using a protocol called TrackBacks, the blogger’s Web site sends a notification, or a „ping,“ to the ArXiv site, which then provides a link to the blog next to an abstract of the original paper. Now anybody who examines a paper on ArXiv can read what others have written about it. In theory the process will promote a more free-flowing exchange of ideas among scientists. In the past, physicists would react to papers by talking in hallways or writing formal responses. The new process allows them to offer „quicker feedback that wouldn’t necessarily otherwise propagate very widely,“ says Jacques J. Distler, a professor of physics at the University of Texas at Austin. He has lobbied for such a system for years in conversations with Paul Ginsparg, a professor of physics at Cornell who started ArXiv in 1991 and now serves as an adviser. Mr. Ginsparg asked the library staff at Cornell to enable TrackBacks, which they did late last month. Most of the comments on ArXiv so far appear to come from Mr. Distler. Only a handful of physicists have blogs and can take advantage of the option right now, he says. But he expects more to follow as they learn about the feature. The system won’t allow just anybody to comment on papers. „We imagine that blogs associated to professional physicists, or other professional academics in other fields, will be permitted,“ says Mr. Ginsparg in an e-mail message. The ArXiv software is set up to reject TrackBacks from anonymous sites. „The aim, as ever, is to avoid anything remotely resembling Usenet-newsgroup-type free-for-alls,“ he writes.

AbschlieÃ?end kommentiert Suber:

Instead of merely saying that ArXiv supports comments, we could say that ArXiv has taken the first step toward supporting open peer commentary or retroactive peer review.