So, thanks to the latest Bundle of Holding, I've acquired Transforming Mythic Europe, including the rules on how debates within the Order are influenced by the sending of persuasive texts back and forth.
Reading the rules, it looks like, if you're not the one writing the polemic, diatribe, or apologia, you get the study bonus to Order of Hermes Lore or whatever similar ability the text is about, which is a good reason for a player magus/maga not to turn it into palimpsest (at least not immediately).
More importantly, though, I'm the kind of storyguide who likes to pre-plan the greater Order events/gossip that come with the Redcap, how often are disputes with circulating texts likely to take place? Once per regional tribunal? Once per Grand Tribunal? More? Less?
Look at the difficulty level for getting a text circulated. It's not easy unless you've got a really stout reputation, and it's a distraction from lab work that cuts into your rest days every season. And that's after you go through the effort of making six copies
I don't think there's an "average" saga or Tribunal. House Tytalus probably has a couple of debates ongoing at any one time (usually over trivial things that provide a convenient excuse for fighting), and the Normandy, Iberian and Hibernian Tribunals likewise because their Tribunals are highly politically divided. (The Rhine would be likewise, but in my own headcanon, the Rhine's politics are handled backstage by archmagi and Gild leaders, and tyros are expected to vote the way their betters tell them. I kinda envision the Rhine Tribunal as having become the Camarilla, though, so take my headcanon as you will*.) In Novgorod or Loch Leglean, or House ex Miscellanea, there's unlikely to be a lot of debate going on because these backwater Tribunals are far more of a Wild West and most Tribunal issues are criminal cases (assuming they even make it to Tribunal) - as for ex Misc, they're not a functional political organization to begin with. Order-wide debates are rare unless there's a big sea change coming up.
*In 1220, Normandy, the Rhine and the Order as a whole will have an active debate going on regarding the resurrection of the Lotharingian Tribunal.
But there aren't likely to be a lot of debates going on at once - or if there are, they're going to be diluted because most magi don't have the time or effort to get involved in reading that many texts, let alone writing responses. So the more big debates going on at once, the more likely it will be that the little guys' writings get used as palimpsest or toilet paper.
I think the frequency of polemics etc. is directly proportional to the amount of redcap mail and the quality of the Bonisagus Folio being taken round by the redcaps...
ie it only comes out if the main SG takes the time to prepare it. We saw polemics once, when playtesting the rules, and then once afterwards. For years we thought redcaps were all drunk or useless because we never got replied to letters, but that was because it would have taken work by the SG and it made for more stories if we kept being blindsided by what was happening elsewhere in the tribunal.
If you can take the time to create a load of polemics then there is no reason why your magi shouldn't be as busy reading as a theologian during the pope/antipope schism.
Though as I said, that itself limits the number of polemic wars that are being fought throughout the Order. Magi have to care more about the issue in question than they do about a season of lab time.
Depends on your magi - if they're into new spells and good enchantments, they'll want lab time. If they want knowledge, then diatribes etc. may engage them. Alternatively, if they are xp junkies like me, they'll want anything that puts their favourite arts and abilities up.
The limit of (ability/2) tractatus in a subject, enforced in RAW, means after a couple of political debates you've probably used your limit for Order of Hermes Lore and Code of Hermes (if your skill is 4-6 in each, you can maybe contribute 4-6 items). Far better to mix it up with books on Rego that illustrate your favoured methods of organising and controlling things, or Finesse to show how subtle manipulation of mundanes is a good thing and should be permissible under the code, or Creo books that illustrate the desirability of magically creating wealth.
There's room for an experiment here - have different sides in an argument take different approaches (very high skill level tracts of academic abilities and Code of Hermes from one side, and moderately good tracts on arts from the opposition, and a third side writes Magic Lore and Dominion Lore tracts to express how they feel other realms will interact with proposed changes) and see which ones your players want to read? Will selling the people what they want to know change the political structure of the Order?