Alleged deletion of comments on new Elsevier video – is that innovating?

A new video showing on YouTube that was produced by Elsevier aims to promote how “Open” most of it journals really are. It’s actually a decent explainer video about the basics of Open Access and how many of Elsevier’s journals meet Open Access requirements from funding bodies. A few details of course were left out, for example failing to explain what hybrid journals are and the controversy of “double dipping”, or the fact that not all Elsevier journals offer the same CC licensing, etc. 

The main concern, as shown in this Twitter conversation, is that Elsevier is selective in which comments it allows on its blogs, videos, etc. As pointed out in that thread by John Wilbanks, who was previously at Creative Commons, one should either turn off comments altogether, or allow all of them (save for obvious spam/abuse of course).  

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Now, there is no universal law that states a company must abide by the commenting “netiquette” described by Wilbanks. What the alleged removal of comments (in this case mentioning other Open Access options besides Elsevier) suggests however, is that there is a disconnect between what some companies say and what they do. You cannot proclaim to be innovative, but not understand or follow the norms of the Internet, which is to say allowing comments fair and square, even if it means competing journals are mentioned.

Removing comments is a prudent short-term business tactic, but it won’t help in the long-term. It suggests a lack of innovation and desire to have a real conversation for improving Open Access options available to researchers.  

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