From the latest CACM, a short article describing a wiki set up by the ACM Health of Conferences Committee to discuss best practices for running conferences. As I write this the wiki is empty, a victim of spam attacks.
The article mentions several selected ideas for computer science conferences in general with some of my TCS oriented viewpoints.
- Accepting More Papers. What is the right acceptance rate for a conference? The article suggests 20-30%, about where we have it for many theory conferences. We don't focus so much on acceptance rates, it tends to happen automatically. If we add more talk slots, then more people tend to submit.
- Visionary Venues. Showcasing papers that present more farsighted or creative ideas. Some theory conference have informal rump and open problem sessions. Should we do more?
- Author Responses (Rebuttals). Allow the authors to provide the program committee responses to reviewers concerns. In my opinion this will add too much to the reviewing time and if the authors cannot properly express their ideas, they can update their paper for the next conference.
- Competitions. For example the Electronic Commerce conference runs competitions on various automated trading strategies. Not particularly applicable to theory conferences.
- Tracking Reviews. Passing reviews on a paper from one conference to another. Sounds too complicated for us since we have so many different overlapping conferences.
- Two-Phase Reviewing. Some conferences have introduced a two-phase review process where papers with an obvious bug, obviously non-novel or out of scope are rejected with a less rigorous review than those that are competitive. This happens already in theory conferences as it is much easier for us to separate the wheat from the chaff.
- Double-Blind Submissions. Keeping authors and/or reviewers anonymous.
- Hierarchical Program Committee. Theory conferences still aren't large enough to warrant this structure.
- Co-Located Workshops. Helps boost attendance with more focused programs. We should also have more joint conferences, even just two in the same location as well as the occasional monstrous FCRC.