|April 4, 2014 © Dieter van Melkebeek
Summary of the reactions, answers to issues raised, new assessment, and opening of the voting period.
A number of people who have been involved in the organization of conferences have posted reactions on this forum or elsewhere – thanks to all! Here they are in chronological order:
- Lance Fortnow, CCC steering committee chair 2000-2006.
- Luca Aceto, local organizer ICALP’08.
- Luca Trevisan, local organizer CCC’13.
- Boaz Barak, PC chair FOCS’14.
- William Gasarch, local organizer CCC’08.
- Jacobo Toran, local organizer CCC’90 and CCC’97.
ACM SIGACT chair Paul Beame has posted a full statement, clarifying a number of issues. In particular, Paul points out that in the future joint ACM/IEEE conferences will only need to do the paperwork with one of the two organizations (depending on the year). He also mentions the possibility that, in case CCC becomes independent, the proceedings of CCC may be included in the ACM digital library even if CCC provides open access to them elsewhere.
In spite of further delaying the vote we have not received a statement from IEEE TCMF.
Answers to issues raised about the scenario of CCC going solo
How much extra volunteer work would be involved?
The transition would require a substantial amount of work, and will only be possible if enough people step forward and offer their help. Those people would need to take care of legal issues like creating a nonprofit organization, negotiating an insurance policy, opening banking accounts, securing start-up funds, selecting a venue for the proceedings, and setting up a system for registration and record keeping.
In steady state the amount of work for the steering committee members would be somewhat higher than now as they would be responsible for running the organization.
The amount of work for the local organizers would be reduced. There would be less bureaucracy, and some aspects that local organizers now have to figure out from scratch each year would be handled by the steering committee.
Some of the transfer of responsibilities from the local organizers to the steering committee could also happen in case CCC does not go solo, but the increased flexibility in case CCC goes solo would allow us to go further.
Are the savings in registration cost worth the effort?
In steady state I would expect the registration fees to be 20% to 25% lower than now. Depending on the amount of the start-up funds we manage to secure, we may need to maintain the current levels for a few years until we have enough of a financial buffer.
Whether those savings are worth the effort is a valid question, especially as the registration fees only represent a fraction of the cost of attending the conference. The answer may be different for people with grants and people without grants. The trend to concentrate grant money in fewer hands makes the latter group larger. I feel we have an obligation towards that group to keep the registration fees low (as well as to try provide support in other ways, e.g., by offering travel allowances and dorm options).
Is open and free access to the proceedings worth the effort?
In recent years ACM and IEEE have enacted some relaxations regarding copyrights to the proceedings, and are unofficially willing to condone more. They are making an effort to accommodate the requests from authors without jeopardizing the revenue that their digital libraries provide. However, truly open and free access seems to require a fundamental change in their business models.
A central question to me is how much our community cares about the issue of open and free access. I am not sure what the answer is. We will try to get a sense during the upcoming vote.
Given that the double bookkeeping can be avoided, I agree with Paul Beame that there are no downsides and some potential advantages of CCC becoming a joint ACM/IEEE conference vs CCC remaining IEEE-only.
As for going solo vs becoming jointly ACM/IEEE, I maintain the preliminary assessment stated in the manifesto. To me the decisive factor is the open and free access to the proceedings, for which going solo seems to be the only option in the foreseeable future. However, we should only go that route if the community feels strongly about it, and if there are enough people willing to commit and deliver the efforts needed to realize the transition.
The purpose of the vote is to provide the steering committee with accurate data about:
- what course of action the community prefers,
- the rationale for this preference, and
- the willingness to commit effort in the event that CCC does go solo.
Everyone on the CCC mailing list has one vote, and will receive an individual email with a link to their ballot. The voting window lasts from April 4 through April 21. The results will be made public in aggregated form right after the vote is closed.
Below is what the ballots look like.
In the current situation, which of the following options do you consider best for CCC?
- Remaining IEEE-only
- Becoming joint ACM/IEEE
- Going solo
In case you answered 1 or 2, please check the main reason:
- Maintaining continuity
- Financial backing and insurance
- Prestige of being affiliated with a professional organization
- Having proceedings in the digital library of a professional organization
- Other — Please specify:
In case you answered 3, please check the main reason:
- Open and free access to the proceedings
- Reducing monetary costs for the attendees
- Reducing time costs for the local organizers
- Increased flexibility
- Other — Please specify:
Independent of how you voted on 1-3, would you be willing to help
out as a volunteer in the event that CCC does go solo?
- Yes — Please specify how you think you can help:
Possibilities include: legal issues, insurance, banking, sponsoring, proceedings, record keeping, local organization.
Other thoughts you may have about the issue: