6

Yesterday, we closed this question about an individual conference’s reputability, i.e., as to whether the conference is a scam or not. The author correctly remarked that a similar questions remained open and there are comparable questions about individual publishers (1, 2, 3).

I thus think, we should have a clear decision as to whether such questions are welcome here or not.

An important related discussion is: Should we name names when talking about bad publishers and researchers?

8

As I've said here, I believe it is much more useful to characterize a publisher (or conference, university, etc) than ask about it by name.

Consider the question "Is a university that grants me a PhD for $1000 and a copy of my unpublished book fake?", which has a great, general answer that someone put some non-trivial effort into. There are dozens of diploma mills out there. If this question is asked dozens of times (once for each diploma mill, by name), either (a) they won't all get such great answers, or (b) a lot of effort will be duplicated providing essentially the same answer to dozens of questions.

So I am in favor of the following policy for questions that ask about reputability of X:

  • If there's an existing question about a Y which has essentially the same characteristics of X (for purposes of the question), close as a duplicate1. Indicate to the OP in a comment that while the name is different, X and Y have the same relevant characteristics and so the answers still apply.
  • else, edit the question to ask about something with the characteristics of X, not just X itself.

1 I prefer closing as a duplicate over closing as 'too localized' in this situation. Duplicate questions are not usually deleted. So it's still searchable by name (i.e. will still show up in Google results for "Is X a scam?"), and also, can be reopened by the community if, in the future, somebody decides that X is different from Y in a way that affects the answer to the question.

2

I think that there is an important distinction between "Is this a good conference?" vs. "Is this a scam?"

The first is often a matter of opinion and perspective ("good" as evaluated by which community?), and may also change over time, so I think it is not appropriate for this forum. The second is both more objective and less likely to change, but the boundary between the two may be fuzzy regarding certain for-profit venues. Thus I think that the question may be appropriate, but should be approached gingerly and only answered with independent evidence rather than opinion.

I therefore think we ought to accept "is this a scam?" questions on a trial basis, and if they prove to be problematic reverse the policy.

  • 1
    Should be... answered with independent evidence rather than opinion - Call me cynical, but I'm against any proposal that assumes users will independently refrain from posting unsubstantiated opinions or even completely libelous answers. – ff524 Dec 30 '14 at 8:20
  • (This is a fundamental limitation of the SE platform. There is a mechanism for restricting questions based on the kind of answers they might elicit. There is no mechanism for enforcing restrictions on certain kinds of answers, or even discouraging them (even really lazy, opinion-based answers usually get an upvote or two).) – ff524 Dec 30 '14 at 8:20
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    I upvoted becuse I think there is a difference, as Jakebeal says. I trust the community in managing answers and even libelous answers, as she always does. The fact that a journal/conference is a scam brings much more damage for the academia community (and thus, society as a whole) than an opinion-based answer, IMHO. – Aubrey Dec 30 '14 at 14:07
  • See this comment and all the deleted answers on that post. That's why I'm so cynical :( I think "Is this conference a scam" questions have already been problematic. – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 22:31

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