Vox Charta is a clone of arXiv used primarily for astronomy and astrophysics paper discussions. Users of this website have the ability to vote for papers they would like to talk about at the next discussion session. All papers that received votes since the previous discussion appear in an “agenda” at the top of the main page, sorted by the number of votes each paper receives. A copy of this agenda is e-mailed out to the department shortly before the discussion itself.

The basic idea is that everyone who is planning to go a department astro-ph discussion should use Vox Charta to “vote up” papers they find interesting. Additionally, each paper has a “comments” link that allows you to post things that people who are reading astro-ph may find interesting, or might be useful to look at when talking about the paper at a discussion section.

Viewing the web page can be done anonymously, but voting and commenting on papers requires an account. As quite a few spammers try to sign up for accounts, each department that uses Vox Charta has a person designated as a “liaison” who approves all new accounts for that department. People who are unaffiliated with any of the participating departments are currently not given accounts.

The page is designed and currently maintained by James Guillochon. If you belong to another astronomy or astrophysics department and would like to use Vox Charta to help run your regular astro-ph discussions, please send me an e-mail. Let me know if you have any suggestions, spot any bugs, or have any questions!

Some interesting factoids:

• There are unfortunately a number of delays that prevent the list from being updated exactly at 5 pm PST. First is astro-ph’s RSS feed itself, which updates at 5:30 pm daily. Secondly, the blog checks the feed for updates every 10 minutes. So, barring any unforeseen issues, the blog will be updated at ~5:40 pm with the new listings.
• Anything voted on after a discussion ends will appear in the agenda on the main page for the next day’s discussion. If there is no discussion the next day (because of a special event like Journal Club or because it’s the weekend), the votes will carry over to the next day. For example, if you voted for a paper on Friday at 4pm, the paper would appear in the agenda for Monday’s discussion.
• Paper order in the discussion agenda is determined by following criteria, in order of decreasing priority:
1. Total number of people committed to present, most first.
3. Number of comments, most first.
4. Last vote time, earliest first.

Papers with no up or down votes will not appear in the agenda, but items with zero votes or even negative votes will appear, as long as they received at least one positive or negative vote.

• Any paper in the calendar can be voted on at any time. If a paper was posted a month ago that you want to discuss, simply vote on that paper to add it to the agenda.
• You can use latex in the paper comments. Simply type $code$ and replace code with your latex code. Example: $a^2 + b^2 = c^2$.
• The e-mail sent out prior to each discussion with a copy of the agenda is usually sent a number of minutes before each meeting. Please vote before this time so your vote will be included in the e-mail!