Excellent post with lots of good information here;
There are some especially good thoughts about preprints.
Ross is right, I think, that using preprints is uncommon in the Humanities. For anyone interested in exploring the idea, I recommend the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. Aside from being one of the few places to publish preprints in the Humanities, the SERRC preprints section also allows for extended responses to posted preprints, such as this one. The one major drawback (as Ross points out about sites such as Academia.edu) is that the SERRC doesn’t really archive preprints in the way that, say, a library would. Of course, if you happen to have an institutional repository, you can use that, as well.
Another site worth mentioning in this context is peerevaluation.org. I posted the same preprint on my page there. There are two interesting features of the peerevaluation.org site. One is that it uses interesting metrics, such as the ‘trust’ function. Similar to Facebook ‘likes’, but much richer, the ‘trust’ function allows users to build a visible reputation as a ‘trusted’ reviewer. What’s that, you ask? As a reviewer? Yes, and this is the second interesting feature of peerevaluation.org. It allows one to request reviews of posted papers. It also keeps track of who reviewed what. In theory, this could allow for something like ‘bottom-up’ peer review by genuine peers. One drawback of peerevaluation.org is that not enough people actually participate as reviewers. I encourage you to visit the site and serve as a reviewer to explore the possibilities.
As a humanist who would like to take advantage of preprints, both to improve my own work and for the citation advantage Ross notes, it’s difficult not to envy the situation in Physics and related areas (with arxiv). But how does such a tradition start? There are places one can use to publish preprints in the humanities. We need to start using them.