Proposals for Change

Conferences are a vital part of creating and maintaining community. However, our conferences face a number of endemic and critical problems, ranging from difficulties achieving diverse representation from women and minority groups, lack of inclusion of students and young faculty, imprecise and improper reviewing processes leading to rejection of good ideas and slowing the progression of science, and more. While we have long known about these problems, surprisingly, the structure of conferences in our community has remained basically unchanged for decades, with venues like the SIGCOMM conference operating in largely the same format since the 1970s.

The pandemic forced us to experiment -- conferences moved online, and organizers had to rapidly prototype and test highly innovative and experimental approaches, from online broadcasting of talks to use of video game-based tools like While some of these efforts had a debatable success, we as a community came away with certain lasting mechanisms (e.g., use of slack to encourage questions, pre-recording of talks, shortening of talks) that improved our conferences. Unfortunately, since the pandemic, that pace of innovation has slowed, and we face a danger of returning back to the "comfortable" and "safe" approaches of running things as they are, when in fact our community continues to face challenges that we must not ignore.

To address this challenge, the SIGCOMM Executive Committee is leading an open and decentralized to collect and encourage adoption of proposals for change, wherein we will collect ideas, apply vetting, create a menu of suggestions, and encourage those responsible for organizing conferences to pick up ideas from our list. To assist us in this undertaking, we need your help. In particular, we call for community involvement to help (a) submit ideas for change (b) help discuss and improve on them (c) encourage their adoption.

Submit an Idea for change:
Our community shares a common goal of improving the SIGCOMM conference and helping each other. At the same time we all have different perspectives and experiences, and hence all have something unique to contribute to solving our challenges. To help us hear your voice, please fill out this form with your ideas on changes SIGCOMM could make to improve:

Discuss ideas for change:
Many ideas seem easy at first glance, but have hidden challenges once they become implemented. We may also have misunderstandings on others' ideas that could be resolved, or ideas on how others' ideas could be improved. To help us refine proposed ideas, as well as to answer questoins of those considering their adoption, we encourage the community to continue discussions on the SIGCOMM slack in #community. Please click on this link to join the slack, and then please click on this link to reach #community. We also encourage upvoting of proposed ideas on our Dory.

Encourage adoption of change:
SIGCOMM relies on volunteers, from program committees, conference organizers, chairs, and so on. These volunteers already do so much work to help our community, yet to achieve change we must ask them to do more. We encourage conference organizers to adopt ideas that have been proposed (see some proposals from the Conferences Revisited Task Force, as well as a list of Submitted Proposals for Change). We acknowledge organizers are taking a risk by implementing these ideas, and we appreciate the patience, support, and positivity of all conference participants to the volunteers that make our community function.