- "I go to meet people, not attend talks"
- "All the interesting conversations happen in the hallways"
- "Talks are too difficult to follow: I'd rather read the paper or just ask the author"
- "I read this paper 6 months ago when it appeared on the arxiv: it's old news now, and there are improvements"
But there's a certain 'band-aid on a bleeding carcass' aspect to this discussion. Indeed, between overloaded reviewers, authors who need the imprimatur of a prestigious conference, and registration fees that skyrocket as meetings get longer, it almost seems like this system is heading for a nervous breakdown.
But there are a number of experiments in play that point the way towards a gentler, kinder conference system (even if we decide not to grow up). In this G+ discussion, Fernando Pereira and Zach Ives describe two models that put together address the main problems with our conference process.
NIPS receives over 1400 submissions, and accepts a small fraction (
- It removes artificial limits on number of papers accepted based on conference duration. Posters are presented in (semi)-parallel.
- It eliminates the "20-minutes of droning with no questions" style of many conference talks. Posters are a much more interactive way of presenting material, and it's easier to skim papers, talk to the authors, and have a good discussion. The papers are still in the proceedings, so you can always "read the paper" if you want. As an aside, it really helps with communication skills if you have to answer questions on the fly.
- There isn't a huge burst of submissions, followed by a draining review process. Reviews are spread out over the year. Moreover, area chairs are used to partition papers further, so any (P)VLDB reviewer only gets a few papers to review each month. This can only improve the quality of reviews.
- The journal-style back-and-forth makes papers better. Authors can make changes as recommended, rather than trying to defend their choices in an often-contentious rebuttal process.