# What has happened with the Publications of the $n$Lab?

What has happened with the Publications of the $$n$$Lab? They seem to have published only a couple of articles back in 2011, 2012. A little search i made was not very enlightening.

Has the project been discontinued? If yes why?

(In principle, the idea seemed to be pursuing an alternative, electronic, publishing system with a public and transparent peer-review process. But it seems it didn't work as expected. Was the focus too narrowlly limited? Or is there some other reason?)

• You can also ask on nforum.ncatlab.org – Praphulla Koushik Feb 2 '19 at 4:43
• Sadly, the current system of academia actively disincentivises such novel experiments. It's hard enough to set up a new journal to effectively replace a journal run by some for-profit shareholder-pleasing company, although it has been done, with a lot of goodwill and determination by sub-communities of the mathematics world. Setting up a wiki-journal is even less respected. – David Roberts Feb 2 '19 at 5:36
• The Steering Committee of the nLab (which doesn't run it, officially) hasn't done a post-mortem, or tried to dig into why it didn't take off. But it's clear from the relative lack of 'official' recognition Urs had gotten, for instance [1], for having the largest hand in creating a piece of impressive scholarship, that some kind of journal run along the same lines and asking others to risk their careers is not going to be a roaring success. ([1] I mean: he took a job in the Middle East, not exactly Scholze-level career recognition :-) – David Roberts Feb 2 '19 at 5:40
• Recall that 2012 was 'peak Elsevier', people were quite fired up and willing to think about new things, even if briefly. But look at a really serious attempt to change publishing by Fields Medallists at that time: Forum of Mathematics: Pi, which published three (3) articles last year, compared to the 33 in the Annals (the intended competition), over 6 issues. (to compare: FoM:Sigma published 24 last year, fairly respectable given the selective nature) – David Roberts Feb 2 '19 at 5:51
• @KonstantinosKanakoglou ok, done :-) – David Roberts Feb 3 '19 at 0:02

[This is not an official nLab position, just my take]

Sadly, the current system of academia actively disincentivises such novel experiments. It's hard enough to set up a new journal to effectively replace a journal run by some for-profit shareholder-pleasing company, although it has been and can still be done, with a lot of goodwill and determination by sub-communities of the mathematics world. Setting up a wiki-journal is even less respected.

The Steering Committee of the nLab (which doesn't run it, officially) hasn't done a post-mortem, or tried to dig into why the journal didn't take off. But it's clear from the relative lack of 'official' recognition Urs had gotten, for instance¹, for having the largest hand in creating a piece of impressive scholarship, that some kind of journal run along the same lines and asking others to risk their careers is not going to be a roaring success.

Recall that 2012 was 'peak Elsevier', people were quite fired up and willing to think about new things, even if briefly. But look at a really serious attempt to change publishing by Fields Medallists at that time: Forum of Mathematics: Pi, which published three (3) articles last year, compared to the 33 in the Annals (the intended competition), over 6 issues. (to compare: FoM:Sigma published 24 last year, fairly respectable given the selective nature)

¹ I mean: he accepted an affiliation in the Middle East, in addition to his position in Prague, not exactly Scholze-level career recognition :-)

• Personally, the conclusion that I came to is that it was not worth the (substantial) effort because it was not solving the right problem. It might have been kind of neat to have a journal designed with wikilinks, but the real problem facing category theory journal-wise was (and to a certain extent still is) that we need free and open alternatives to the "most prestigious" proprietary journal options, not experimental journals that would have had an uphill battle to establish even the level of prestige of existing open journals like TAC. – Mike Shulman Feb 3 '19 at 12:02
• I have been encouraged by the creation of journals like Higher Structures and Compositionality, which at least provide more options for publishing category theory papers in open journals. – Mike Shulman Feb 3 '19 at 23:49
• Maybe the real solution is for us to boycott universities that rely on such ridiculous measures to determine tenure and promotion. (-:O – Mike Shulman Feb 4 '19 at 1:16
• "my career has not been helped by boycotting Elsevier": please consider continuing to boycott despite this. – André Henriques Feb 6 '19 at 15:52
• @AndréHenriques don't worry, I'm sticking to it. – David Roberts Feb 6 '19 at 21:16