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I think the reason for this might be because a lot of machine learning research and practice takes place outside of academia. Maybe there isn't the same pressure to publish in official sounding places.

And people outside of academia often don't have access to journal publications. Who wants to spend $30 per paper? That's just obscene. The arxiv link is accessible everywhere, will never go away (probably), and can be updated as the authors revise the paper. Why not cite it?

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