Voting is open!

This afternoon I sent an announcement to everyone on the compgeom-announce mailing list inviting them to the final vote on the future relationship of SOCG and ACM.

Since BallotBin is broken, we are running the vote on PollDaddy, a commercial polling service run by the same company as WordPress (which hosts this blog).  All votes are recorded anonymously.

To give everyone adequate time to participate—especially over the summer when people may be traveling—the steering committee has decided to leave the poll open for three weeks. Thus, the voting site will remain open through July 15, Anywhere on Earth (= July 16 at noon UTC).  Results of the vote will be announced on July 16.

If the total number of votes cast by July 15 is too low (less than 100), or the outcome of the vote is undecided (both alternatives receiving at least 45% of the votes), the steering committee reserves the right to decide differently than the majority vote. All members of the computational geometry community are strongly encouraged to vote.

I plan to send a reminder email to all compgeom-announce subscribers approximately one week before voting closes.  So you can still register to vote by subscribing to the mailing list now.

This blog will remain open and active during the voting period; guest posts in favor of either outcome are definitely welcome. In particular, I invite ACM President Vint Cerf and ACM CEO John White (both of whom have posted comments) to publish longer statements in support of SOCG’s continued association with ACM.

If you have questions or concerns about the vote, please feel free to either post them here or contact me directly.

Here is a copy of the final ballot:


This is the third and final vote on whether the Symposium on Computational Geometry (SOCG) should continue its long-standing affiliation with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The purpose of the vote is to provide the SOCG steering committee with accurate data about (1) whether the community prefers to stay with ACM or organize SOCG independently, (2) the rationale for this preference, and (3) the community’s willingness to commit effort in the event that SOCG does go solo.

Ongoing discussion of issues related to the vote can be found at https://makingsocg.wordpress.com/. Background information and results for the two previous votes can be found at http://computational-geometry.org/.

Results from this vote will be announced on July 16, immediately after voting closes.

Thank you for participating in this important decision!

Question 1

What is your preference for the future organization of SOCG?

  • I prefer to stay with ACM, with the understanding that ACM will approve all good-faith requests for in-cooperation status outside the United States. Refusal of in-cooperation status outside the US triggers our immediate departure from ACM.
  • I prefer to leave ACM, and organize SOCG as an independent conference with proceedings published in LIPIcs and with financial backing provided through other means, starting as soon as practically possible.

Question 2

If you voted to stay with ACM, please select your 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):

Question 3

If you voted to leave ACM, please state your main reason.

  • Open and free access to the proceedings
  • Reducing costs for the attendees
  • Reducing administrative overhead for the local organizers
  • Increased flexibility
  • Other (please specify):

Question 4

Independent of your vote in question 1, would you be willing to help out as a volunteer in the event that SOCG does go solo?

If you answer “yes”, please indicate what kind of help you can offer. Possibilities include: legal issues, insurance, banking, sponsoring, proceedings, record keeping, and local organization.

  • No
  • Maybe
  • Yes

If you answered “yes”, how would you be willing to help?

Question 5

What is your current academic status?

  • tenured faculty member
  • untenured faculty member
  • postdoc
  • PhD student
  • Other (please specify):

Question 6

How many times have you attended SOCG in the last ten years? (Prior or recent attendance is not a requirement for voting.)

  • At least 5 times
  • 3 or 4 times
  • 1 or 2 times
  • Never

Question 7

We welcome other thoughts you may have about the issue.


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About Jeff Erickson

I'm a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the chair of the steering committee for the International Symposium on Computational Geometry.
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3 Responses to Voting is open!

  1. The bigger issue is the role of professional societies. Since I straddle
    various disciplines, I’m a member of four, in decreasing order of cost,
    IEEE, ACM, SIAM, and CAGIS. My following discussion is restricted to IEEE
    and ACM since SIAM and CAGIS don’t exhibit the same problems.

    The vast majority of the IEEE and ACM membership are “practicing”
    professionals. The role of the small minority of academic members seems to
    be to freely produce papers for consumption (at a price) by the industry
    people. Initiatives by these societies principally include new insurance
    offerings and more finely graded levels of distinguished membership.
    Initiatives valuable to academics that IEEE and ACM did not provide
    include, as mentioned by others, EasyChair and DBLP. Their news feeds are aimed
    squarely at practicioners. I get academic and intellectual news, for free,
    from other sources.

    The professional societies are particularly bad for interdisciplinary
    research. Ignoring the necessity to belong to several, even the indiviidual
    societies are subdivided into an increasing number of subgroups, each
    having an increasing annual fee. This hits the practicioners particularly
    hard because academics can get the material through their libraries.

    At this point, I’m a member of IEEE and ACM mainly because of inertia, and
    because my university might look askance at my quitting.

    To be fair, IEEE and ACM have do some continuing good. I think that
    sponsorship is worth something, especially with the number of new
    conferences and journals announced each year. Also, small social groups
    w/o external guidance have a danger of spiraling downhill. That applies to
    fraternities, churches, social clubs, and university boards. That is not a
    current concern for SOCG. However if it happened in the future then ACM
    might step in, replace the board, and restart things. Of course, w/o ACM,
    academics in the field could also simply abandon the organization and form
    a new one. So, this is not a major concern.

    Against that are the increasingly harmful effects that have been listed by
    others: the hassles, the cost, the difficult access to papers. SOCG
    leaving ACM is the first step towards a possible larger paradigm shift.

    • Thanks for the long comment, Randy. Do you mind if I upgrade it to a separate post? (This offer is open to anyone.)

      Two questions:

      1. What does SIAM do differently? (My interaction with SIAM is almost exclusively as a regular participant at SODA.)
      2. Are you aware of any conferences where ACM (or more likely, the leadership of the sponsoring SIG) actually stepped in and replaced the steering committee?
  2. Sure, upgrade my post, thanks.

    SIAM seems more aimed at, to pick a charged term, the intellectual producers, whether in industry or university, than are ACM and IEEE. As evidence, SIAM advertises new and interesting conferences to me. ACM and IEEE offer rudimentary tutorials.

    I don’t know where ACM ever stepped in, but I am surprisingly ignorant about this sort of thing. With universities, New York replaced the board of Adelphi some years ago. Of course, the mere existence of the option makes it less necessary to have to use it.

    OTOH, the financial guarantee can be worth a lot. I’m thinking of a well-reputed GIS conference about 20 years ago that was guaranteed by the individual organizer, since the society sponsorship was quite loose. The story was that there were fewer than expected attendees and so the organizer was personally out a lot of money. This story is second hand.

    More recently, I attended two conferences, a small one and a large one that had fewer then expected attendees. The organizers balanced books by drastically cutting costs. E.g., the banquet was cancelled and we ate boxed lunches sitting on the floor of the conference center. They did this to preserve the intellectual parts, like presentation facilities. That was the right decision.

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