Recently though I've seen a few circumstances where SODA gets mentioned in the same breath as STOC and FOCS as an equal. For example, the SIGACT Home Page lists the upcoming FOCS, STOC and SODA conferences. OK, SIGACT co-sponsors SODA but the bottom of the upcoming FOCS Home Page (side note: Early Registration Deadline Sept. 23) list the previous FOCS, STOC and SODA pages. FOCS is an IEEE conference with no official connection to SODA. Finally Cathy McGeoch is trying to set up a hockey game at an upcoming FOCS, STOC or SODA conference. Can you have a true TCS World Cup with just algorithms people?
Are SODA papers getting the same prestige as STOC and FOCS papers? Not yet but we are heading that way. Is it truly a good thing to move from a STOC/FOCS/specialized conferences system towards a STOC/FOCS/SODA/other specialized conferences system?