Principles for SIGCOMM

Rough Consensus and Running Our Conference

The SIGCOMM conference has been the central gathering event for the SIGCOMM community since the first conference in 1969. Many of us feel a strong attachment to this conference as a place where the pursuit of technical excellence, the engagement of diverse viewpoints, and the dedication to connecting the world have simultaneously flourished. While our research has helped transform the world around us, and our community has grown in size and scope, our basic conference paradigm has remained largely unchanged.

In recent years, a growing number of voices have suggested we change our conference practices; for a sampling, see a recent CCR editorial and its references. Many of us are now convinced that to keep SIGCOMM’s tradition of excellence, engagement, and dedication alive for the next fifty years, we must fundamentally rethink how we organize the SIGCOMM conference. We are a community of designers, so there is no shortage of proposed changes. However, to make tangible progress we should start with a clear articulation of our goals before turning our focus to designing specific mechanisms for implementing those goals.

To that end, we have written a document outlining three principles that we think should guide the redesign of the SIGCOMM conference. If we, as a community, can converge on these three principles, we can then engage in community-wide conference redesign discussions with a clearer sense of purpose. We are asking for your signatures as a sign of support, so we can assess how the community feels about these principles.

Of course, subsequent design discussions must address a broader set of issues than those covered by the principles, such as whether these principles might be applied to other SIGCOMM-sponsored conferences, and how changes to the SIGCOMM conference might impact other conferences and the academic prospects of those who publish mainly in SIGCOMM. However, all of those issues are moot if we cannot achieve a rough consensus on a few guiding principles for change.

There will undoubtedly be different perspectives on this set of principles, and we want to understand the full scope of the reactions among both those who sign and those who don’t. Thus, in addition to asking for your signature, we welcome your comments (which will remain confidential) whether or not you sign. We will anonymously summarize this input and provide it to the community, noting in advance that while this is not a scientific sampling of opinions we nonetheless think it will provide useful context for future community-wide discussions. We shared our plans with the SIGCOMM Executive Committee and they requested that we add the following context: “Earlier this year, SIG leadership convened and charged a task force to develop recommendations for future conferences around a set of issues that partly overlap those addressed in this document. The task force welcomes community input to their work and will follow with interest the reaction to this principles document.”

Read our proposed principles →

Jun 20, 2023