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Sci-Hub as Necessary, Effective Civil Disobedience (brembs.net)
508 points by dredmorbius on June 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 138 comments

In my experience as a mathematician, most for profit journal publishing companies are essentially rentiers making money off a captive clientele, who don't even get much utility any more from them, except for access to some older articles. Moreover, the services they provide to authors are also usually worse than the non-profit journals: no copy editing, crappy editorial tools, just a complete disregard for the actual producers of the (free) content they make money off. It's a complete and unmitigated scam.

It's critical to realise that the main role journals play among active, tenure-track academics is in restricting upward professional growth.

If you must publish in high-impact journals, and those journals are closed-access, then you must publish in closed-access journals.

Unless and until a significant portion of the tenure committees of major academic institutions changes their selection criteria, this will not change. The rentiership is actually on the professional advancement track.

Corollary: it is only necessary for journals to retain the tenure committees on their side in order to keep their money-printing operation running.

> Unless and until a significant portion of the tenure committees of major academic institutions changes their selection criteria, this will not change.

Couldn't the top tier of Post-docs also make this happen? If they simply refuse to publish in the top tier journals, the departments who are competing for them will have to either relax their publishing requirements or take a 2nd tier candidate.

This only works if a truly top tier candidate who can continue to work without limitation in a Post-docs position. I.e. someone with the research equivalent of "fuck-you money". But it doesn't have to be all of them. When a 2nd tier institution can just make an administrative change and basically get a free 1st round draft pick, there's going to be institutions that take the deal. It doesn't even really hurt the scholar, because they really don't need to be at Yale, they can be successful anywhere with strong students and plenty of money.

It's a classic collective decision problem. If almost all postdocs at the same time decided to boycott closed journals, then this would work. However, in practice solutions are always failing whenever they are based on the idea that a majority has to voluntarily make the right move within a short time period, if that means smaller wins for people who do not make the move.

To give another example of such a problem: If in urban areas everyone switched his WIFI router to some open mesh network software at the same time, the gains from this ad hoc network would be tremendous. But if only few switch, the gains are almost nonexistent and the losses can be high. So it's never going to happen.

What if it's "kickstarted" with people pledging to submit papers to only a select few publishers once a critical mass of pledges have been received?

And maybe they pledge by providing a paper they're withholding from publishing? If the authors, pledging platform, and open journals collaboratively design & coordinate a process for handling the reviewing of said papers, then the process can safely be automated. Also, pledging can be done as a pledge to be available for free peer review if they aren't pledging a paper.

Good question. Finding ways to disincentivise defection would be key.

You might want to look up Mancur Olson's "Logic of Collective Action", which deals with this problem, generally.

Thanks for the lead!

The reward for defecting is too high. It's a classic collective action problem.

There's also no enforcement mechanism for punishing someone from defecting.

Textbook case.

Someone should write an article on that. And publish it ... Well, that's left as an exercise to the student.

They can't by definition -- a top tier post-doc is someone who posts in these journals.

Tenure-track academia is an exercise in restricting upward professional growth, anyway. It's built into the system.

When you've chosen the tenure track, you know you might be spending a decade at a school nobody has ever heard of pumping out research nobody is ever gonna read. There are some stars undoubtedly but there are only so many tenure track jobs. Academics have embraced that system for a long time, the journals are just a side-effect of that acceptance.

The question is: where do you place control of that gate, and what consequences derive from that.

Counterpoint: if closed-access journals are no longer the constraint, how does that change the overall academic landscape? For better or worse?

Information filters will remain, and they will remain imperfect.

My perhaps biased belief is they aren't any real constraint. Closed journals do have more power than they should, but they are also an effective signaling mechanism: if something is in X you know it's worth paying attention to over the hundreds of thousands of other papers that will get pushed out every year.

My personal academic experience has been that as the lowliest student at a uni you get access to everything anyway. If you're bored you can Google and grab the pdf. The closed nature hasn't been any real constraint and for the majority of researchers it isn't. You spend more time as a researcher filtering out material that is irrelevant and even now there are a ton of mediocre journals. To answer your question, the effect on the overall academic landscape will probably be minimal.

It's an obvious and easy target - hey, look at this cartel which dominates academia, but academia is a giant cartel, anyway, where everyone follows arbitrary restrictions and rituals because that's how you get a degree and a job. You can even argue (not sure it's believable) that this dynamic is useful - if you want to get access to the world's academic information, you need to get plugged into an institution with scholars around you who can help guide, inform, and interpret your work and the work of others and even if that isn't strictly necessary, it's more beneficial than not. If you're interested in "serious" research, you've probably already self-selected into this system of controlled but essentially free access already.

"essentially free access" costs libraries thousands to millions of dollars a year. For publicly funded or resource constrained institutions librarians have to make hard choices about what they can cancel just to pay for the more expensive journals. Why should publishers get all of this money?

They should not, but that's not to say out of all the things wrong with academia that it's a real chokepoint for research. It's just one small part of a system which throws away millions every year.

I will say this. I am currently a student working in a project and I cannot afford any kind of subscription and my institution does not subscribe to the journals I need for reference. Without Scihub my project is doomed. I find this a real bottleneck for me.

Not everyone who is doing such academic or is interested in such thing will be in any university anyways; anyone might, whether they are the scientist or mathematician or whatever or if not.

There are the people (including myself too) who will wish to read and to learn these thing even if not in any university and all of those "arbitrary restrictions and rituals". That way, you can learn more rather than being restricted.

The tenure should not be necessary either, to do. Anyone do.

I don't know what country you're in, but here in Australia I have known people have to travel hundreds of kilometres to get access to the latest research. If a wide range of papers are needed this can be cheaper than paying per-article, but is still an extremely expensive method of access to research which (a) we are forced through taxation to partly pay for, and (b) is surprisingly often required (eg. environmental & medical data for legal purposes, making political representations, etc).

I'm not asking how students (and in particular undergrads), or the public are to get access to materials published in journals, but how academics or professionals gain access to publication venues. These are two entirely different matters.

You'll also find that the question of who controls the mafia itself is of utmost significance to those who control the mafia.

Your comment is rather wide the point.

O, good point. For universities they probably have a system in place, but otherwise you could put on open access, on arXiv, on viXra, whatever. Is important to have anything even independent might sent too if needing.

What's the problem? Academics and professionals get published by submitting their papers to publication venues. It's really not that difficult to get published as long as you've got something interesting to say.

Ceterum censeo Elsevier esse delendum.

Wouldn't it be Elsevierum? You need an accusative, and –er nouns tend to be second declension iirc.

Yes, accusative, but I'm not sure how to decline it :-) (apparently it's a Dutch name of Arab/Moorish origin, also spelt Elzevir).

Just occurred to me: We could consider it neutral, and then nominative = accusative...

Beside Reed-Elsevier also Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, Taylor & Francis and Sage.

They're not great, but Elsevier deserves special opprobrium as far as I can tell; just see the longest section in their wikipedia article. They're just so antithetical to what science is about.


Delenda Carthago, delenda springer?

Playing devil's advocate: Sci-Hub is good thing for the publishers. Instead of revolting, those who can't afford (or don't want) to pay the high subscription fees for journals will just quietly use Sci-Hub. People can still continue publishing their papers via the same high profile journals and achieve a wide distribution without moving to open access scheme. Publishers may loose some money, but high profile institutions probably don't see Sci-hub as real alternative and continue paying.

In a similar fashion software piracy can actually help large, established players. Take for example Photoshop, which back in the days was quite pirated piece of software. Adobe certainly lost some money, but I think the main losers were cheaper alternatives. Young and poor pirated Photoshop, learned to use it and when they got employed wanted to continue using Photoshop since that was the only package they really knew. If piracy had not been an option, many would probably have gone for other, more affordable alternatives.

Economists would label it basic price discrimination, albeit with a floor of 0, and as a way to suppress competition rather than capture value on the low end.

So long as we're looking at intellectual property, and arguments against it:

An online book by UCLA economics professors Michele Boldrin and Mark Levine, making the case against intellectual property -- patents, and copyright most especially.

The opening chapter leads off with the patent battles of James Watt, which are credited by some authors with setting back the start date of the Industrial Revolution from 1769, when the patent was issued, to 1800, when it (after parliamentary extension) finally expired.


Joseph Stiglitz, "Knowledge as a Global Public Good," in Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century, Inge Kaul, Isabelle Grunberg, Marc A. Stern (eds.), United Nations Development Programme, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 308-325.


Interesting side note: the book itself is copyright Cambridge University Press. The authors have a free version accessible online and a promise to keep it that way, but seemingly no open license on it.

I don't blame them, probably not much choice to get a decent print run, but it's an interesting display of how pervasive copyright is.

Thanks! But the typesetting in the second link is off, with glyphs overlapping slightly.

Interesting reads. Thanks for sharing them with us.

This round is going to be fun.

See, I'm old enough to remember this battle starting for music and movies. We know how that ended.

But now, it's for the very knowledge that drives our civilization.

"Stallman was right", oh how that statement is going to get tested.

This is quite different to music and film for a variety of reasons:

1. Film and music were always vaguely reasonably priced, and collecting a fee is totally reasonable - at least some of the money goes to the creators. This is not true for papers. The authors are never paid and the prices are insane.

2. Music & videos are luxuries, and are also somewhat fungible. If you need a specific paper (e.g. because it was referenced by another) you usually can't just swap it for another.

3. The actual files are usually a lot smaller than music and definitely smaller than films, so it will be easier to share entire libraries and hence harder to stop.

4. Morality is clearly on the side of sci-hub. Music/film piracy is much more ambiguous.

1. is painfully true. Movies and music cost money to make, and that money is recouped by sales. We can talk about profiteering and Hollywood accounting and the like, but fundamentally sales still fuel production.

Academic work also costs money, but journals have tricked someone else into paying for it. Research gets done on government, corporate, and university budgets, submitters get no compensation, and reviewers do the hard work behind publication for free. Journals have been priced far above costs for decades, but with the advent of online distribution costs have sunk even further while prices continue to rise.

The best (moral) argument against piracy was always "if everyone does this, we won't get more media". That's not even true in the case of journals: it looks an awful lot like the system would find a way to work even at 100% piracy rates.

Regarding point 4: piracy has provided the ability to masses to a wealth of obscure, hard to find cultural gems. I for example am into animation. There is no way I would have been able to access, legal or otherwise, half of the films I have seen, many of which are cultural milestones in the history of animation.

Also, in wealth terms, if you start with the reasonable assumption that a pirated copy doesn't directly translate to a sales loss, then piracy can be argued to be a net plus, since vastly more people "profit" from it (the people who download) than there are people who suffer from it (the people being pirated).

Just wanted to mention those arguments, since I rarely hear them in these discussions.

> if you start with the reasonable assumption that a pirated copy doesn't directly translate to a sales loss

I think the reasonable assumption is that it translates on average to a fraction of a sale loss; less than one, but more than zero.

Even that is debatable, because it also creates exposure. This is especially true for non-mainstream stuff. So you might end up with a net sales-win because of the "advertising"

There's never been any impediment to people giving away their music for free to create exposure. To radio stations, TV, movies, as free concerts, as mp3s to download from their website, whatever.

The argument "I'm pirating the fruit of your work and investment against your will, but trust me it'll be in your best interest, I know your interest better than you do" is untenable.

In addition I think point 0 should be:

0. A huge amount of this research is publicly funded, and access to results is something we've already paid for via taxes.

>See, I'm old enough to remember this battle starting for music and movies. We know how that ended.

Extremely affordable all you can eat subscription models?

With the caveat that most people no longer own any media, and merely rent access to it under DRM terms.

So what?

Some people have strong opinions about media ownership and DRM. For that set of people, what I mentioned is just that: a caveat.

I think it's a right-of-passage now for every technology-orientated person to realise that Stallman isn't crazy after all this time about Intel, social media and the general degenerating human race he always bangs on about...

Well, I still think Stallman is quite crazy still, but makes some excellent points too. He's definitely not stupid.

Rite of passage, instead of right. :)


It really doesn't feel like the story of music and movie rights has ended. I can still see many plausible and distinct outcomes.

It is rare that true heroism can be framed as a catchy story. Those working for campaign finance reform is another example. People who fight "David-like" against these Goliaths are doing extremely radical work, and they will be canonized in the coming centuries. They don't get the semi-celebrity of Snowden or Ellsberg in the present day because they lack the whistleblower story of one person verses the full power of the federal government - the only sort of punishments they face are an unsexy sinking into obscurity, or a quiet snuffing-out such as with Aaron Swartz.

"True heroism" is raising your kid well because it's the right thing to do even though nobody except your kid and maybe grandkid will ever know what you did.

These people have gotten their acknowledgments (as they should), let's not act like they are nobodies in the shadow of history. You're reading about them on HN precisely because media knows who they are. How many people have documentaries made about them after they are dead?

The default is to raise your kids well, anything else is subpar.

I understand where you're coming from, but I was more focusing on the difference between a household name (e.g. MLK, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela) verses being the subject of a footnote or a chapter in books that are only read by graduate students. I meant heroism in terms of securing advances for the whole human race or an entire country, rather than being a hero to another individual or family...two meanings of the word "hero" that can't be compared.

You're right.

I am a person who has been benefited by Sci-Hub immensely and hope that it continues to stay just like the Libgen project. Journal publishers need to wake up and get their wits together and do something.

It used to be proprietary Software everywhere before GNU and Linux. Nowadays FSF has made FLOSS a good thing. Today we have FOSS everywhere. Even Microsoft which used to be a bastion of proprietary software now has Open Source projects.

Something similar to that needs to sweep the Academic publishing world otherwise progress will only slow down due to closed nature of existing literature.

"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master." - Pravin Lal, Alpha Centauri.

So many pithy quotes, that game. Lightning really struck when they made it.

I'm an academic and I have access to most journals through my college's library. I still use sci-hub all the time simply because it is much easier than the legal method where I have to go to my university's library page, log in, search for the article that I already found, struggle with the shitty search to find the article that I already found through google, then click the link to the database, then I get to download the article I already found 10 minutes ago.

Or I could just click the bookmarlet to search scihub...

Does your college not offer integration with google scholar? Go into the settings and check 'Library Links.' Scholar then gives me a link directly through the library proxy if the University has access to the Journal. It is amazing, but I have always wondered how many people have access, or even know it exists.

it doesn't for some reason. If I go into the settings for google scholar my university is greyed out. The college I did my phd at had it though and that was nice.

Does anyone know how Elbakyan was 'outed' as the creator of Sci-Hub? When I first started using it, it all seemed quite secretive as to the creator's identity. Was this something uncovered during the lawsuit?

I am not completely sure, but I think I doxxed her by accident on public IRC on 2013-07-06 ( http://gnusha.org/logs/2013-07-05.log ; someone else edited the public logs ("strangeland") to try to minimize my damage to her).

I recognized the rotated scihub admin profile picture because I had met her in person at a Harvard conference in 2010. She was on my pidgin buddy list, of all things.

Opsec is super important, y'all. Even someone who likes scihub (such as myself) might accidentally doxx you when they get all excited about finding who you are (such as I did). I get the sense from the rotated profile pic and subsequent self-publicity that maybe anonymity hasn't been a top priority for her the whole time, maybe she had her name on it earlier than 2013?

I should have exercised more caution.

Huh, fascinating. In all the stories about Elbakyan, I can't seem to find any reference to when she was first revealed as the Sci-Hub founder. It'd be sort of wild if this was how it came about.

Would it be illegal for a person to publicly claim that they would mirror content from sci-hub if N other scientists also made the same public claim?

Further, suppose a person anonymously made a copy of a partial snapshot of sci-hub content. Would it be illegal for that person to post a public search engine that responds to requests for articles from the collection with a only the hash of that document?

Finally, suppose N scientists have the above public hash engines and claim they will mirror a randomly chosen part of sci-hub content when N+1 scientists make the same claim. For what value of N would you be willing to mirror sci-hub content?

NAL, but (in the US) almost certainly not. After all stating the following is/was legal:

They always holler at us to get an education. And now I have already received my draft classification as 1-A and I have got to report for my physical this Monday coming. I am not going. If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is L. B. J.

I wonder if closed-access publishing is part of why academia seems so insluated from the "real world". People write for their audience, and if the general public can't read academic papers, then academics are going to write as if only other academics are reading.

Likewise, if research output is difficult to access, the feedback loop between ideas and implementation is broken; folks outside academia can't easily comment on the cutting edge work in a field, and academics only have to worry about what other academics think of their work.

Closed-access isn't the factor here; I'm in a field where pretty much all relevant publications are open access, and the same happens.

We're writing that way because we are the explicit intended audience anyway - the purpose of journals and conferences is not to write about our research and see who wants to read it, but entirely the opposite, to make up a venue that a particular research community wants to read and then ask for submissions that would be interesting to other researchers.

Public dissemination is not part of the research-publish feedback loop which drives the actual research, it's a (useful) output out of that loop but not really part of it.

The feedback loop is an exchange of novel research, not finding out "what others think of your work". If you've got a better method, that's interesting; if you've got a novel use case of a method that I know, that's interesting; if you've got experimental evidence that contradicts mine, that's interesting; but that's all novel research that would be publishable even with all the existing filters, and pretty much requires the person to be familiar with the field (by which I mean having spent at least hundreds of hours reading relevant research beforehand).

Comments, especially uninformed ones, have too low signal-to-noise to be worth reading - any active field of research produces more than a person can read anyway, so if anything the researchers want stricter filtering that reduces noise. That's a major purpose for the more selective venues; I want someone else to read and reject most of academic publishing so that I don't have to read it just to mutter the same objections that the reviewers would've had, just with more obscenities.

In my experience, academia seems insulated from the "real world", because specialization has increased and (maybe) also the overall scientific literacy in the population has decreased. I might be wrong about the second point, but the first one alone suffices to explain this perception. Even for scientists it has gotten harder to follow what's going on in neighboring disciplines.

In a nutshell, science has become more complicated and generally requires much harder math than it used to. Case in point: Almost everyone can learn the basics of Newtonian Mechanics or Special Relativity, but understanding the basics of String Theory is much, much harder. Our scientific knowledge has grown immensely.

That being said, your implicit assumption seems odd to me. The "general public" was probably never able to read and understand academic papers and folks outside academia never were able to easily comment on cutting edge work at any time in history. (Except for a few very gifted outliers maybe.)

I need to say this carefully.

Some things can't be written for a general audience. It can not be distilled that much.

That isn't to suggest that citizen scientists should be discouraged, just that some things are actually pretty difficult to explain and to grasp.

To be very clear, I support open publishing. I just feel obligated to point out that most of the general public isn't going to understand and it isn't ever going to be written with them in mind.

I'm a mathematician. I don't understand some of it.

Math is one thing. I did a lot of research into bio to check if Aspartame was dangerous, and while I didn't understand everything I was able to gleam enough.

I have also read many psycology papers, never had a problem with them.

Excellent. Again, I don't ever want to discourage learning. I just know many will not. That and, well, some of it can be pretty rough to digest.

But, absolutely keep reading, learning, growing, and sharing. I'm just not going to publish with the general public being the intended audience. On the other hand, I'm more than happy to try to explain stuff, for those who are curious.

I'd never discourage a citizen scientist. Never.

Oh I didn't think you wanted to discourage anybody - I just wanted to point out that of the different sciencies theoretical math is probably the most difficult for an outsider to get and psychology is surprisingly easy.

Ah... That makes sense. I had another person reply as if I were suggesting I weren't for open access - even though I specifically mentioned it. Thus, I was improperly primed, methinks.

But, absolutely... The idea of the citizen scientist is so important to me. I have some complains about the scientific community but this may not be the place for that.

> Some things can't be written for a general audience. It can not be distilled that much.

The fact that things cannot be written for a general audience doesn't mean that we need to limit access to information which cannot be understood by a general audience.


I was clear that I support open publishing.

When I have seen non-academic people latch on to academic papers (usually for political purposes), they've generally entirely misinterpreted them anyway. To the point of believing that the paper states the opposite of what it does, or even believing that the paper says something that it's explicitly stated it can't say.

Fact of the matter is... few people have any incentive to read academic papers in general, and often cannot understand the language or formats used.

Scientific output is often misrepresented by the media and misinterpreted by large portions of the public. This contributes a lot to the issue you've outlined.

Another problem is that even if all the research in the world were freely available, only a small portion of the population would still seek it out.

> Scientific output is often misrepresented by the media ...

Indeed, it's often misrepresented by science writers.

But if it is misrepresented, I can go read the original paper for myself.

Well, it's arguable that most non-expert commentary will be meaningless.

Worth noting: Many authors will be happy to email you a copy of their paper. People understand that not everyone's library can pay the hundreds of thousands needed for subscription fees. Research Gate has this functionality built in. Also, everyone likes to be cited :)

Being easy to circumvent is a big reason why these for profit journals still exist.

ResearchGate has the "emailing other researchers" feature built in so deeply, in fact, that it will email other researchers in your name automatically. Without you asking it to. Without your permission. Even after you die.

A site that makes LinkedIn's dark patterns look responsible is not the answer.

As a professional without access to academic libraries, this is my go-to method for obtaining papers, so I'm glad you brought it up. But it's not without limitations. Last year I was researching some crypto proving methodologies, and discovered the author was dead. I guess he's probably not going to get back to me...

'Many authors will be happy to email you a copy of their paper'. Posting the requested copy was the rule in the '60s and earlier. This could lead to impressive stamp collections. I wonder if Dr. Lowry took up philately. Most cited paper of all time - Protein Measurement with the Folin Phenol Reagent (Lowry, O. H., Rosebrough, N. J., Farr, A. L., and Randall, R. J. (1951) J. Biol. Chem.193, 265–275)

My former advisor keeps his .edu webpage full of pre-print versions of every paper that he has published. I'm not sure if every journal is okay with this, but I'm also not positive that he would stop if prompted. He'd probably just target other journals.

True, but I doubt that would scale, for popular papers that got press coverage. Authors could automate, of course. But do for-profit journals limit reprint distribution?

In my field (computer graphics) most conferences have put clauses allowing authors to host the submitted version of the paper in their websites. Far from ideal, but some compromises from the part of the publishers have been made.

1. Many of the authors I'm interested in are dead. The paywall dates to 1924.

2. I've had authors claim they don't have right (or copies) of works. Mind, one of those is a well-known idiot, but still.

Friction reduction of Sci-Hub is amazing.


I simply do a web search for the exact quoted title, and usually find a PDF floating somewhere. Often on the author's website.

elbakyan surely belongs to the category of contemporary outlaw-/folk-heroes. at least she is in my personal pantheon.

I send her $5 a month and it's 1000x more valuable than HBO go or any of that sort of shit.

She is quite simply a hero, full stop.

If you don't minD telling us, how do we send her money to support her?

http://sci-hub.cc/ lists a bitcoin address for donations

Thanks. I was looking for something like that. Are we certain that the .cc subdomain is under her control?

Why isn't Google allowing the Sci-Hub extension in its Chrome store?

This is why it sucks to have app stores and walled gardens. The vendors effectively become censorship agents for states. And Microsoft wants to take us in the same direction with Windows 10 S.

I wouldn't call chrome a walled garden, it is just curated list, if you don't like it you don't have to use the "store" . You can still install the extension without the store. There are plenty of extensions they reject and you can download, same for android(for ex:F-droid). You can maintain your own curated list in your own app store. Google will get sued if they allow listing in the store.

Slightly off-topic:

I downloaded the same file both directly from IEEE and sci-hub and the checksum did not match. I am a bit worried that sci-hub is/will be used to spread malware.

It would be interesting to diff the files. Quite a few journals put obvious tracking tags on the downloaded PDFs.

Please provide a link to the article so we can see what's the difference in files.

Was the version of the paper the same?

Same version, different checksums.

As new299 mentioned, this could be due to watermarking.

Related to this, I have one question.

Suppose one is going to write a paper and he need to add a reference of another paper which he has got from Sci-hub. So is there any check or any sorts of things of originality of reference paper ?

(I don't know exactly how publishing works)

It doesn't matter how you get a copy of the paper; the citation is the same either way. Plenty of academics have been passing around PDF copies of papers their libraries don't buy access to for years before this!

Also relatively recently though probably pre-SciHub, #ICanHazPDF hashtag was widely used on Twitter to request a paper from whoever happens to have access to it.

A reference is just a listing of author(s), year of publication, title, journal/conference. There's no link (perhaps a DOI). There are usually no checks (other than the reviewers/editor looking over the list of references).


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14633365 and marked it off-topic.

[citation needed]

Also, even if it was, so what? SciHub is literally raining tasty science on the researchers worldwide, improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their work everywhere, including in the US. Political affiliations of the site are really not much relevant to anything.

(throwaway for obvious reasons)

I don't understand people like the person you're replying to. Everyone here makes a point to respect each other's views on US politics but, with russians, it's fine to be against people on account that they support their leader (which by the way, for russia unlike the US is the overwhelming majority of the country).

As a european (and I really have to underline this: a supporter of neither Mr. T nor Mr. P) I find this ridiculously hypocritical. Be consistent.

Any support for Russia and Putin are orthogonal to her work with Sci-Hub.

But given that you brought it up, I gotta say that broad support for Putin is entirely understandable. Russia has been through hell. Millions killed during WWII. Bankrupted by the Cold War. Humiliated after the collapse of the Soviet Union. To many Russians, he is a hero.

Yeah and Germans' support for Hitler is understandable after WW1 and Weimar Republic but that doesn't not make them goddamn nazis. I'm Russian and I have the conscience to oppose my government's actions, so why can't she?

Yes, it's all understandable. I'm not saying that I support Putin. Maybe he's an oligarch, or a nazi, or whatever. But I don't have a problem reconciling any support that she may have for him with her Sci-Hub work.

s/Russia/Germany/ && s/Putin/(I'm terribly sorry, really)/ To the hell with understanding that.

> To many Russians, he is a hero.

Those are Russians who essentially crave authoritarian dictatorship and don't mind few victims here and there. Your analysis or Russian hell somehow managed to ignore hell caused by Russian own dictators.

No, those are Russians who are afraid.

And yes, I ignored Stalin. He did horrible things. But then, Russians were afraid then, too.

Right now many people in Russia celebrate Stalin. Literally. And there is correlation between those and Putin fans.

Again, that's understandable. Russians are afraid. And arguably, with good reason.

Afraid of what exactly that Stalin rule sounds safer?

Celebrating someone like Stalin is not about feeling safer. It is about wanting to rule ruthlessly.

I don't know. You'd need to ask them.

But I'm pretty damn sure that fear is a big part of it. Fear of the enemy, the other, the foreign devils.

It's how the ruthless always trick the weak. As Göring put it in that infamous quote.

Can this be sourced? Googling this takes me to, well, other Hacker News comments.

This is completely irrelevant.

This means it is our duty to the citizens to reduce our publishing expenses to no more than currently ~US$200m per year (and we would even increase the value of the literature by making it open to boot!). If we were to do that, we’d have US$9.8b every single year to buy all the different infrastructure solutions that already exist to support all our intellectual outputs, be that text, data or code.

Is is also our duty as the people to reduce all expenditures on software? Is piracy justifiable especially within government institutions?

I guess my point is that necessary is a really strong claim and you can justify a lot of crazy stuff with that. Scientific progress has continued on just fine despite these cartels. With no supporting evidence I'd argue that today's scholars have hundreds of times the free information available than they did a century ago and that ramps up the further you go back. It's easy to imagine that Elsevier's lockdown of a paper is the difference between an academic breakthrough or not, but in reality that's probably not the case, even if it's a noble cause.

I don't believe the publishing model is significantly impeding progress in science , but that doesn't change the fact that the publishing companies are simply leeches, profiting off the work and labor of others. It's worth breaking that up, because there's no actual value there.

As a layperson who hasn't looked into this in detail, I can't tell whether or not the academic publishing racket has impeded sciences. But I do know it impedes public access to the findings of research that is frequently supported in whole or part with public money.

That public access to its own research is a good is clearly recognised (at least here in Australia) by universities, most of whose libraries are open to the public (as are the databases via in-library PCs, but not remotely). But you must be near one for this to be practically useful.

One example how it is messing up progress: Someone publishes a wrong study with loud claims. The press eager to report something new is racing to spread the false claims around.

There is no counter-balancing force - journalist have no interest in debunking the myriad falsehoods. But the public has a real interest in knowing, particularly when there are health concerns.

It is.


NB, your Wikisource reference doesn't hit any specific document.

Right, it's two court opinions.

Was the last bit of incivility really necessary?

Have you read the article? ...the part about human rights?

What are some street slang bits against a billion dollars money making depravity that keeps the world from spreading the know-how needed to solve problems right now at the front door?

I'll never understand why disrespectful words are more comment-worthy than disrespectful actions at a global scale. At least the former can be ignored. If you really feel that upset help the OP to find the right words to adequately express his overwhelming emotions.

Are you familiar with "broken windows theory"? According to Wiki, it states that:

> The theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking, and toll-jumping helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes from happening.

I'm not sure how much of it can be applied to online discourse, but it does seem relevant. If you allow "disrespectful words" in some instances, they will soon pop up everywhere, lowering the overall quality of discussions on the site.

Well, at least that's what I think it is about, I may be wrong of course :)

Do you really propose because we failed to contain ~crime against humanity we should at least talk nicely about?

I'm not remotely suggesting the ad hominem was more comment-worthy than the maleficence of the rentier academic publishing market. I commented on both, but if that's against a rule somewhere let me know and I'll delete the lesser.

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