Note: This is similar, but unrelated, to this question, which asks about using a non-US TLD for a US site.
Do country specific TLDs influence users' perception of the relevance of content on a site? Is this more pronounced on a community information site than, say, an ecommerce site?
Put another way, if presented with two equally relevant search results, will users tend to prefer the site that has a country-specific top level domain (.com.au say) over the one sporting a generic domain (.com)?
Google's own policy of not privileging local TLDs over .com sites outside of the US provides a prima facie argument that it doesn't matter to users (after all, Google is in the business of providing the most relevant results to users), but it's not clear whether that policy is skewed to favour global ecommerce (which would be understandable).
So it's not clear whether it properly reflects user perception of local community sites.
Obviously, this is a difficult question to provide evidence for, one way or another, but this is a call for evidence, if such exists.