April 12, 2005
SSRN & Social Norms
Posted by Christine Hurt

Eric Goldman brings up an issue that has also been nagging me:  If we are now to be ranked according to our SSRN downloads, how will that change our behavior?  For all the fury with which law professors rail against the defective USNWR rankings, we must, however, love the concept of rankings.  When SSRN sent out an email a few weeks ago ranking the Top 100 SSRN authors and schools by downloads, every blog I read (and write) had a link to it.  To repeat:  How will this new download analysis change our behavior?

Eric thinks that authors may refrain from advertising SSRN posts for fear of backlash.  I really doubt that will happen.  I suspect the opposite.  I also suspect that we will engage in subtler strategies.  At my conference last Friday at the University of Toledo, the EIC of the law review came in to tell the presenters that the law review would be happy to upload drafts of our papers on the website before the symposium issue is published.  One professor asked that his paper not be uploaded to the website but that instead that the SSRN link for the paper be posted.  (I have no idea what his motivations were.)  Brilliant! 

Who wants to get uncounted downloads from a naked link?  Now, I want counted downloads from SSRN.  Count me in, too!  Sadly, this shifts the goal of just wanting people to hear your ideas to wanting people to download your article from a platform with a ticker.

I have two boxes of reprints in my office.  Should I sent them out or should I send out professional stationery with the SSRN link?

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