We just posted the talk schedule for the 2009 ACM Electronic Commerce Conference. Early registration deadline is June 12th and hotel deadline is June 5th.
The EC conference covers a broad range of work connecting computer science and economics. While a large part of the EC community draws from the from the theoretical computer science community, it also draws from AI, computer-human interaction and economists. So the PC process works a little bit differently than in other conferences. Some thoughts.
PC co-Chairs: We had two PC chairs (Pearl Pu and myself) to spread the workload and add some diversity. The workload wasn't that much less but having different viewpoints definitely helped. I worried about what would happen if we had irreconcilable differences but we managed to work around our disagreements. I have nothing but great things to say about working with Pearl, but I would suggest future conferences avoid having PC co-chairs seven time zones apart.
Multilayered Committee: We had a dozen Senior PC members and a very large (about 90) PC members. We let the Senior PC members choose their PC members. Most papers were assigned to two senior PC members who submitted it to two PC members each, some of whom sent it out to outside reviewers. There was discussion between the PC member and sometimes the senior PC members before Pearl and I made the final decisions. The system seemed to work well for this diverse community.
Author Rebuttal: We sent the reviews to the authors before the final decisions and allowed them to give a 500-word rebuttal. Some papers were helped (or hurt) by the author's ability (or inability) to argue against the criticisms given by reviewers. I found the rebuttals quite useful but we did hear some complaints about the extra work required of the authors and the PC.
Would these ideas work for pure theory conferences? I suspect they would work best for the more diverse conferences like STOC/FOCS/ICALP where for any given paper, most of the PC do not have expertise in that paper's area.