The chairs of the SIGCOMM PC were asked to submit a note to CCR on the Commitee Process, available here. It's an interesting read. (Overall, I've found the systems community a bit ahead of the theory community in thinking about and reviewing its conference processes.) They also make some anonymized data available -- which looks safe to me, but if anyone thinks that's a bad idea, I think it's worth speaking up about it.
1: "We do see a problem with requesting only 14-page submissions, and want to use this document to convey a position we frequently heard from TPC members as well: short papers could be an interesting addition to future CFPs. In a conference with such a low acceptance rate as that of Sigcomm, “small contributions” naturally find themselves at a disadvantage. The issue is that the description and evaluation of an ingenious but small idea certainly takes less than 14 pages. The same is true for work that improves on prior work or presents tools with important practical use but small technical contribution."
Short papers are, in my mind, also a potential mechanism for mixed theory/practice papers to get into SIGCOMM. One issue that arises is that theory papers aren't written in the way systems papers are. In a theory paper, if we're describing an algorithm or data structure, our goal is to make it as GENERAL as possible -- here's a neat idea, here are some places it might be useful, please find others. SIGCOMM pappers are designed almost the opposite way -- to show an algorithm or data structure is useful requires looking at a very specific application and experimentally detailing exactly what performance gains arise in the context of that specific application. I will push for short papers to include interesting algorithms and data structures that might be GENERALLY useful to lots of people and applications but may not yet have been shown to offer groundbreaking performance for a specific application. (As pointed out in the PC meeting, my work is often in that space, so I have a bias in this argument...) Suggestions for making this workable are desired.
2: "ACM SIGCOMM defines a conflict of interest between an author and a reviewer if the two have worked together in the past two years. Students and advisors are considered “conflicted for life” and of course any institutional or private relationship between the author and the reviewer instantly qualifies as a conflict."
I just had to point out the "of course" there, after some of the inane commentary regarding my introducing much weaker conflict of interest policies and goals for STOC. (See here and here.) [When I've talked about the theory community's standard conflict practices to systems people, most politely shake their heads and mumble, "Well, if that's the way it's done..." The more open people privately make clear their opinion our approach opens the door for all sorts of systematic biases and seems remarkably backward. And I'm phrasing that politely.]
3: "For a few years Sigcomm has used a two-tier TPC: “light” members are asked to do 10-15 reviews and are not invited to the meeting; “heavy” members are enrolled for 20-25 reviews plus mandatory participation in the TPC meeting. The split is mostly motivated by keeping the TPC meeting of manageable size. This year we introduced a third tier, called “senior” for lack of a better name. The role we intended for senior TPC members was a mix of conflict solver, an additional voice during the TPC meeting, helping hands for last minute reviews, and possibly carriers of a different perspective that could put the submitted research under a more positive light."
Compare with the theory discussion taking place here on the roles of junior/senior PC members in theory conferences. Also, compare with the theory conference practice of using 100+ subreviewers with PC members responsible for 45+ reviews. I'm not claiming this approach is better; but it is food for thought.