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I hope this is not a politically incorrect question to ask, but for a PhD student who usually publishes at CCC/ITCS/ICALP (and occasionally at FOCS/STOC), could it be harmful (career-wise) to publish less significant works in less prestigious conferences (e.g. MFCS, FCT, STACS, IPL)? Could it be better to just leave such papers laying at ECCC/arXiv?

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it depends on the quality of results. focus on getting the best results 1st & getting them into the best journals that will take them. =) ... the electronic sites are useful for not-as-fully-cooked stuff & establishing priority etc. –  vzn Feb 23 '13 at 19:35
What kind of career are we talking about? –  Thanatos Feb 23 '13 at 23:38
I assume she means an academic career at a research university. –  JɛffE Feb 24 '13 at 1:29
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No. Publish.

The only things that would be actively harmful to your career would be publishing most of your papers in third-tier venues (strongly suggesting that you have mostly third-tier results), or publishing anything in a fake/scam conference (strongly suggesting that you are either dangerously uninformed or a scammer yourself).

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Are you saying that having a couple papers in these venues is good, but having too many can hurt? I might agree that that's how it may work in practice, though my feeling is that ideally a venue should either be considered good/serious or not. Having an additional paper in the former should never be harmful to your career. –  Lev Reyzin Feb 23 '13 at 19:36
At various stages in your career, your body of work will be compared to that of your peers. If most of your publications are in less prestigious venues (like STACS and IPL), you will be likely judged weaker than someone else who publishes primarily in more prestigious venues (like STOC and JACM). Rightly or wrongly, the likely knee-jerk reaction is that either you couldn't publish in those venues or (just as bad) you didn't try. See also the supposed "importance" of scientists' publishing in The Tabloids (aka Science and Nature). We are apes; we do apey things. –  JɛffE Feb 23 '13 at 23:17
That's not exactly what I mean. All else being equal (impossible, I know), compare 1) someone who has 5 papers in the very top venues and nothing else to 2) someone who has 5 papers in the very top venues and 3 papers in less prestigious venues to 3) someone who has 5 papers in the very top venues and 20 papers in less prestigious venues. It seems you are saying that career-wise, 2) > 1) > 3). I'm not saying I disagree, but I want to make sure I understand your answer. –  Lev Reyzin Feb 24 '13 at 1:55
Assuming letters for all three only discuss the 5 papers in top venues -- all else being equal, right? -- then yes, (2) > (1) > (3) is the right order. –  JɛffE Feb 24 '13 at 6:22
@JɛffE: I appreciate your honesty, but can you explain the apparent contradiction between your comments saying you agree with Lev Reyzin's ideals and your stated preference to hire in contradiction with those ideals? I understand your comments about apes and Plato, but the only explanation I can find is that you must have very soft ideals ... and that's not very charitable to you. ='( –  A. Rex Feb 25 '13 at 23:54
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