Lots of conference news and views going around. Let's sort it out.
FOCS early registration deadline is September 29th, fast approaching. Deadline for applying for student support is this Thursday September 22. Apply even if you don't have a paper there and take the opportunity to attend one of theory's most important meetings.
Also the STOC 2012 submission deadline is still November 2. There was a mistaken deadline listed on a theory events site.
The SODA 2012 accepted papers (and links to Arxiv) are out. Program Committee Chair Yuval Rabani explained the PC process. Seems pretty much along the lines of PCs I've been apart of. I wished they did penalize people who had poorly written papers, otherwise there's little incentive to write well. I'm also not a big fan of the "pet paper" idea, people tend to choose papers of their friends and colleagues.
Michael Mitzenmacher posted about the number of good papers not accepted and whether SODA should accept more (an issue at most of our major conferences). In this blog, Sami Khuller guest posted about whether it makes sense to have SODA in Japan. There are a handful of SODA accepts with primarily Japanese and other Asian authors but the vast majority of the authors are US-based.
Some of the comments on Khuller's post talked about having a virtual conference. How about this idea: We don't bother meeting and just collect the accepted papers into a single volume. We can give this idea an innovative name like a "journal".
In this month's CACM article, Moshe Vardi complains about the quality of conference talks. (I like the "journal that meets in a hotel" quote but it didn't originate with me). You see this at STOC and FOCS too, people giving a talk only to other specialists in their field instead of aiming for a general audience.
Most of you readers know my position on conferences, that we need to get conferences out of the ranking business in CS so conferences can instead play their role of bringing community together and escape from the explosion of conferences just to give people who were rejected from another conference a place to submit their papers.