Understanding the Use of e-Prints on Reddit and 4chan's Politically Incorrect Board

Satrio Yudhoatmojo, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Jeremy Blackburn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The dissemination and reach of scientific knowledge have increased at a blistering pace. In this context, e-Print servers have played a central role by providing scientists with a rapid and open mechanism for disseminating research without waiting for the (lengthy) peer review process. While helping the scientific community in several ways, e-Print servers also provide scientific communicators and the general public with access to a wealth of knowledge without paying hefty subscription fees. This motivates us to study how e-Prints are positioned within Web community discussions. In this paper, we analyze data from two Web communities: 14 years of Reddit data and over 4 from 4chan's Politically Incorrect board. Our findings highlight the presence of e-Prints in both science-enthusiast and general-audience communities. Real-world events and distinct factors influence the e-Prints people's discussions; e.g., there was a surge of COVID-19-related research publications during the early months of the outbreak and increased references to e-Prints in online discussions. Text in e-Prints and in online discussions referencing them has a low similarity, suggesting that the latter are not exclusively talking about the findings in the former. Further, our analysis of a sample of threads highlights: 1) misinterpretation and generalization of research findings, 2) early research findings being amplified as a source for future predictions, and 3) questioning findings from a pseudoscientific e-Print. Overall, our work emphasizes the need to quickly and effectively validate non-peer-reviewed e-Prints that get substantial press/social media coverage to help mitigate wrongful interpretations of scientific outputs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWebSci 2023 - Proceedings of the 15th ACM Web Science Conference
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9798400700897
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2023
Event15th ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci 2023 - Austin, United States
Duration: 30 Apr 20231 May 2023

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Conference15th ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • 4chan
  • doc2vec
  • e-print
  • preprint
  • quantitative
  • reddit
  • top2vec


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