This blog post is about some of the key issues facing both the CHI conference in specific, and the SIGCHI community overall. The questions came from the townhall at CHI2019. Traditionally, the townhall has been more related to SIGCHI business, but naturally people have many questions about the conference as well. This post is coming a long time after the CHI2019 conference, but we think the responses to these questions will still be valuable to the community.
The questions below were elicited using the Sli.do app. They are bundled by their thematic similarity, though we left the number of votes each question received attached to the question. We removed name information, but otherwise made no changes at all to the questions that were asked. These are all of the questions asked before and during the Townhall. Many, many people took a hand in answering these questions. In particular, we want to thank Helena Mentis, Cliff Lampe, Philippe Palanque, Regan Mandryk, Julie Williamson, Aaron Quigley, Shaowen Bardzell, and Ayman Shamma for their active roles in responding to these questions.
QUESTIONS RELATED TO THE CHI CONFERENCE
Answered by the CHI Steering Committee
QUESTIONS ABOUT ORGANIZING THE CONFERENCE
Can we organize chi at visa friendly countries? A good start could be to collect stats on how many chi attendees require visas to the US, UK, etc..
When will sigchi committee directly engage with “visa issues” and maybe a part of accessibility. It is not an issue on the side anymore, it is integral to CHI.
Could we have conferences in countries that are both accessible to the developing world as well as the Western world (I.e. Mexico)? Visa shouldn’t be a barrier!
The process for where to locate CHI involves considering a series of factors important to our attendees. Potential issues around visas are *always* considered in placing the conference, along with factors like accessibility of the venue, safety for marginalized populations, the geographic location of our growing and changing attendees, and more. However, location decisions for CHI begin 5+ years out by the CHI Steering Committee. There are some geopolitical changes that they simply cannot foresee.
At the townhall, the CHI steering committee proposed a set of 3 measures to mitigate visa issues for authors that were positively received, they will be implemented for CHI 2020:
○ Provide a specific (for authors), explicit and early mechanism to issue the visa support letter as early as formal acceptance of the paper
○ Provide explicit letters from local “high-level” people (instead of the ACM letters when the conference is not inside the US)
○ (maybe) Make explicit on the CHI website which countries require a visa to reach the location of the conference (at a given date as we cannot forecast evolutions)
It is ABSOLUTELY essential to support multiple languages at CHI. English-supremacy harms scientific progress. Let’s work on translation services.
Translation services are very expensive and would significantly increase the fees that many consider already too high. Beyond, most of the convention centers are not equipped to provide efficient translation services. This is something the CHI Steering Committee would like to address in the future, but at this time it is not feasible.
Why did no food or snacks list ingredients/allergens? For me this has meant I’ve eaten almost no food provided by CHI
This was not suitably handled at CHI2019 and we are sorry about that. Future chairs are aware of this issue and the accessibility co-chairs are aiming to stay on top of it. While the venue/food supplier is primarily responsible for the provision of suitable food, drink and snacks, having appropriate signage is something that we as an organisation ask for in the catering contracts we draw up.
Why do I pay 1000€ to get locked out of session after session after session???
How are session sizes predicted? Why are registrants not polled to get an informed guess about what sessions need what room capacity?
Can we poll registered attendees at a few points instead of guessing?
The room size issue was unfortunately a factor of our success this year – a record attendance of over 3800 people. In addition, the added challenge of the venue not having any additional larger rooms (or anymore rooms at all) prevented us from being able to coordinate overflow rooms or put sessions that we know will be popular into a larger room. Luckily, the CHI 2020 convention center is much larger than for 2019, as will CHI 2021 and CHI 2022, so we hope this will not be as much of a pain point moving forward.
The Technical Program Chairs who schedule these sessions use many methods to predict which sessions will be popular, but there is always the potential for error. Session sizes are predicted by a variety of factors. First is the attendance of similar sessions in the previous years. Second is the number of submissions in an area over time (which tends to roughly correlate to interest in a topic). It would be a mistake to say, however, that it’s a process entirely driven by an algorithm. A lot of room scheduling is driven by the need to place sessions in a way that doesn’t conflict with similar topics, where you don’t need authors in two places at one time, and where there’s actually a room available. Author conflicts alone make this one of the largest jigsaw puzzle exercises that could ever be done.
It’s very possible to consider a crowdsourcing activity that would elicit preferences. It was tried in 2016, and we didn’t find participation in the program was useful for scheduling sessions. Turn around for the scheduling is so tight and must be done so early, that people would need to supply their preferences in days, not weeks, and months ahead of the event itself.
Why aren’t livestreams made public after the talks? With all the room size issues, even a low quality stream is better than having nothing at all
How can we make session streams easily available for attendees as well as people who could not come? How do we enable remote presenters and participation in QA?
Why don’t you live caption the streams? That would be good for accessibility too.
The livestreams are available for overflow and access during the conference. Archiving them would require higher quality videos with captions as per our commitment to accessible content (as we do with the video capture systems we deployed in some sessions).
The high quality video capture efforts that are done at CHI take an amazing amount of work from a dedicated team of volunteers and a bespoke video-capture device; expanding that work will require us to get more volunteers and devices. Beyond, higher quality might impact attendance which might have an impact on the financial health of the conference.
While the livestreams could be later captioned at low quality, there’s still no high resolution slide capture. This is important as any livestreaming efforts must follow the SIGCHI policy on live and recorded video: https://sigchi.org/about/sigchi-policies/conference-policies/live-and-recorded-video/ In its current form live streaming is meant to be low quality as quality of service is not guaranteed at the network level by convention centers. Captioning live stream would have a high cost that will have to be covered by an increase of attendees registration fee that is not something the community is pushing for. This is not a service we will consider in the near future, but maybe on the longer term.
How large (in tons of CO2) is CHI’s impact on global climate? Given the urgent need to drastically reduce CO2 emissions, how will CHI adapt near/far-term?
With climate emergencies being declared when will we see acm starting to discuss the sustainability of academic practice?
How can we coordinate travel and accommodation on a large scale to collectively reduce the ecological impact of our meetings while maintaining intimate contact?
This information has not been calculated yet, but is clearly a concern. Some small improvements were made this year in terms of sustainability, going in the right direction (e.g. no bags, reusable bottle water …). ACM has now set up a policy to make it possible for attendees to purchase carbon offsets at registration time, which will be available for CHI2020 registration. You can also use the ACM CO2 calculator for determining the impact of any given conference.
Additionally, CHI has been making incremental steps to reduce our environmental impact over time. For example, moving the Program Committee meeting to an increasingly virtual meeting has reduced air travel significantly. Live-streaming also has benefits for removing the need to travel to the conference. Finally, in coordination with volunteers from SIGPLAN, SIGCHI is mining old registration data to estimate the CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent, cost of air travel for those sufficiently far away for all 24 of our conferences. This information will be made available to the community to discuss in the future.
Can we transparently advertise what accommodations are available for people with disabilities, and make sure we provide them successfully.
It seems like the accessibility training for SVs was really successful. Can we have more programs like that?
CHI 2020 has already started a significant amount of work on making accessibility a priority. The convention center has been measured and journey time within it recorded. Accommodation accessibility has also been discussed and will be salient. You can contact CHI 2020 accessibility chairs for more details firstname.lastname@example.org
Access is not just a logistics issue. It is a cultural practice. How can we transform chi culture to embrace social justice at the attendee level and beyond.
We agree and are both happy with recent progress over the last several years and still impatient to see faster transformation. There have been many successful community-led initiatives (e.g., allyship program at 2019, gender reference guidelines published in May 2019) and also many successful organizing committee-led initiatives (e.g., desensitization rooms in 2018 and 2019, childcare over various years, ensuring all-gender bathrooms starting in 2016, prayer room in 2019). The SC, VP Conferences, and 2019 equity chairs have been discussing how to transform attendee culture through new initiatives that integrate equity, diversity, inclusion, and access fundamentally. We are looking into methods employed by granting agencies to address reviewer bias, at the ACM’s policies, and at our own models. Further, there are now positions on the SIGCHI Executive Committee with mandates to specifically address inclusion.
Can the CHI SC also have a role for inclusion/diversity? This is relevant to discussions around all the working groups shown in the slides.
CHI SC takes inclusion/diversity very seriously. We have multiple members who represent perspectives from various aspects of diversity (e.g., geographical, racial/ethnic, gender, ability). Rather than replicating efforts among multiple volunteers, SIGCHI has an Inclusion Adjunct Chair, with whom the CHI SC works closely on D&I issues that relate specifically to the CHI conference.
To attend a presentation in which my people are objectified, pathologized, and othered is an unacceptable retraumatization.
The SIGCHI EC and conference program committees seek to ensure that the organization of events is managed in a positive and inclusive way that respects everyone’s human dignity. At the same time, decisions about what constitutes acceptable research is made by the community itself, via the peer-reviewing process. It is therefore up to individual reviewers, associate chairs (ACs), and subcommittee chairs (SCs) to determine what meets the standards of scholarship accepted in the community. Determining acceptable content is a highly subjective process, and one which ACM specifically entrusts to peer reviewers, programme committees, and conferences leadership. The ACM Publications Board is currently drafting a policy on inappropriate content in the ACM Digital Library, but this specifically does not support calling out published work as this was considered a form of censorship that the Board was not willing to support.
As guidance for those involved in the peer reviewing process, the EC holds that any works, including papers, presentations, posters, etc., that raise issues connected to individual identity (including any form of individual characteristics, abilities, identities, and/or orientations) must do so in a scholarly way, that is, according to prevailing scholarly standards and usages. This expectation therefore not only excludes overtly abusive language but also any form of language that falls short of scholarly standards of precision and bias-free expression, as specified in widely available resources such as the APA Style Guide. Such standards have been designed to accommodate the expression of a range of scholarly perspectives, without devolving into censorship. Any ACM event participant who feels that any individual or work has violated these standards should report following the guidelines set here.
The SIGCHI EC also recognizes that such standards do (or at least should) evolve over time, and thus it is possible that prevailing scholarly standards might fall short of protecting the dignity of our participants and therefore need to be changed. There’s no set process for that, which is why we are so glad that people are making this issue visible, and advocating for themselves and others.
Is there too much identity politics in CHI community?
That’s not a question we should answer, as it’s up to the community, not to us. We support the community, and are here to help make SIGCHI conferences fulfilling for our members.
Harassment and discrimination have both occurred at this conference. The community needs to wake up to the fact that the code of conduct isn’t optional.
Can we have an infrastructure to protect those of us who experience harassment and do not want certain people to have an influence on their papers in any way?
We agree. An example of how CHI2019 tried to respond to this was the Allyship training program to help people have more venues to express their experiences than reporting directly to the general chairs. Moving forward, SIGCHI has now instantiated its own SIGCHI CARES (Committee to Aid REporting on discrimination and haraSsment policy violations) – led by VP at-Large Shaowen Bardzell, this committee will help people who experience discrimination or harassment through our activities by providing advice on the steps necessary to have the matter further investigated by the ACM (more information will be shared soon and will be fully in place for CHI2020).
Can CHI be be more inclusive to industry/practitioners in addition to researchers? Practitioners have a lot to add to the research community (and vice versa)!
How can we make CHI more attractive for UX practitioners and increase the number of talks from companies?
How can practitioners get involved not only in attending but also organising chi?
We don’t see any barriers we have to having practitioners organize CHI. As proof, practitioners have been part of our organizing committees for many years, including at CHI2019, with the goal of making the conference more valuable for them to attend and for academics to learn from practitioners’ experiences. We have practitioners who present in all the tracks and who provide courses for the attendees. In particular, the case studies track was created to provide “compelling stories about HCI practice based on real-world experiences” and is intended as a platform for practitioner voices. We would love for the CHI conference to provide greater value to practitioners so that it was their conference of choice to attend and welcome any ideas that would bring in more practitioner perspectives.
At CHI2019 there was a special UX Event that was particularly targeted to practitioners with special registration to meet their needs more flexibly. Additionally, we made special efforts to include practitioners as core members of the volunteer team that organized the conference.
Can LBW posters be left for the whole conference?
Decisions like this are always up to the General Chairs of the individual conference. Usually this decision is based on space constraints that limits our ability to leave them up.
Can we please move more of these talks to posters as we cannot keep growing the number of talks each year
We feel the growth pain as well. Many people have recommended moving talks to posters, and others have argued against it. This is something that must be figured out and discussed amongst the community members.
Why does the wifi break even though we pay to ensure it won’t break?
Conference chairs along with the ACM work closely on the contract with the conference venue. The expected usage patterns are included in the contract and if the venue miss the delivery targets, penalties apply. We cannot ensure the WiFi “won’t break” but we try to factor our expectations into our contracts and ensure penalties apply for missing delivery targets. Indeed, ACM contracts team are developing contracts with harsher penalties for non-compliance with our threshold network requirements listed in the “request for proposal” signed by the wifi contractor.
Can we have more community involvement in organizing chi? (Selection of location, etc.)
The CHI Steering Committee was created (in 2016) with the objective of doing just that – having a group of people with deep knowledge about CHI conference including scientific content selection, organizational aspects, finance, etc. come together to strategically plan out the future of the conference series. These are community members. This group of people takes an active role in the decisions related to the organization of current but also future CHI conference. Community involvement takes place explicitly every year through the CHI conference survey and the dedicated town hall event. Finally the conference organizing committee is devised through an open call process – anyone can apply.
How can new SIGCHI members (not students) get involved in the community and organisation of CHI?
CHI general chairs select the people that take part in the organisation of CHI. The committee is large (about 100 persons) and relies both on experienced people and relatively novice members. Typically these positions are filled through an open call that occurs over a year before the conference itself. For instance, CHI 2021 published an open call for those interested in getting involved in January 2019 and the organizing committee was almost set by the time CHI2019 occurred.
SIGCHI has organized some sessions at prior CHI conferences explaining how to be a volunteer. One key point that we always state is to have demonstrated reliability and organizational skill in other smaller conferences before being involved in CHI. In addition, new members or junior members can also get involved in the SIGCHI organization which also regularly has open calls.
Can the doctoral consortium be opened up for Masters students as well? They have as much to benefit from the session as 3rd year PhDs!
Based on our experience, the doctoral consortium is challenged to fit in as many doctoral students as would benefit from it. Adding Masters students as applicants would add strain to that program. There has been discussion about growing the DC program, but that has not been possible under current funding models.
Why is SV selection done as a lottery? Why not based on a motivation letter or skills? Lottery is a waste of time and energy.
SV selection is managed by the individual conference chairs. In general, our sense is that the work of assessing hundreds of applications for “motivation letter or skills” would be prohibitively expensive. The SV chairs do an immense service for the conference, and adding an evaluation process of this size to their load wouldn’t work in our current structure.
An interesting survey: if CHI would not be as important career vise, would you submit to CHI?
There is an annual survey of CHI attendees where we often get a sense of their motivations for attending. For some people, if CHI was less valuable to their careers, they would stop attending. For others, that doesn’t drive their attendance. As with all things CHI, heterogeneity abounds.
Could we have lunch/coffee/dinner chat options based on topical relevance between senior & junior authors(choose a few broad themes only for Q&A)?
In 2019 there was the “Lunch@CHI” event to help connect people and build social networks. Hundreds of people expressed interest in this event, showing that you’re right that social connections are an important part of the CHI experience. If you are equally motivated to organize such an event, we recommend contacting the general chairs for the future conferences and pitch your idea. Most ideas like this come down to people willing to volunteer to organize it, which is never as easy as it seems!
QUESTIONS ABOUT CONFERENCE COSTS
Can we be transparent about the budget for chi and where all of this money goes? This is by far the most expensive conference I attend and I’m not sure why.
You can see more of the budget breakdown here https://sigchi.org/conferences/conference-history/ with information about registration breakdown too. One of the most important things to note is that the registration paid by a student attendee does not cover their costs. Thus a portion of one’s non-student registration is going to support a student attendee. In addition, as we continue to create a better experience for all of our attendees, these things cost money – extra rooms for prayer/desensitization/pumping, accessibility support including dedicated SVs, greater variety of food options for dietary restrictions, subsidized childcare, and so on. Even something as simple as adding a ramp or handrail to a podium costs money. We are not saying that we choose not to pay for these things – we think they are all important and thus we prioritize them. But all of these do cost money.
How come we have a budget presentation without a single number!
In the past we have been told that the townhall is a poor environment for delving into the numbers. Thus, we presented more of an overview to show the foci of SIGCHI strategy. To supplement this presentation, last year, we wrote a blog post to cover more details about the SIGCHI budget (see https://sigchi.org/2019/06/notes-on-sigchi-budget-fy20/). As always the CHI https://sigchi.org/conferences/conference-history/ numbers are posted on the SIGCHI website as well as every other SIGCHI sponsored conference.
What is $200 workshop registration spent on? Why do organisers have to pay? & what are current plans for changing things so workshops become more accessible?
The money paid for workshops goes to pay for the rental of the room, the furniture in the room, the AV, the snacks during breaks, the SVs who staff the workshops, and much more. Food at events like this is surprisingly expensive. That’s not because hotels are greedy, but because they are bundling their overhead costs into the food item. So, for instance, a bottle of water we pay $6 for isn’t just water, it’s part of the pay, and hopefully benefits, of the people who bring the bottles and clean them up. This is why everyone has to pay as well. The venue bases their invoice on headcount – if you use the A/V, sit on a chair, eat the food, create trash, you are a cost to them and they charge us for you.
Unfortunately, we are not sure what you mean by “more accessible” with regards to workshops. We strive to support all workshops with the same level of accessibility as we do our main conference. If you meant accessible in terms of cost, we have done our utmost to keep these costs as low as we can.
Buying breakfast, lunch and dinner can be v expensive, especially for students on a stipend. Can money be made available for students struggling?
Putting aside that we wouldn’t even know how to identify those students who are and are not struggling, we are already subsidizing student attendance at the conference. In addition, almost half of our attendance is students. As we explained above, student registration does not cover their cost to the conference as it is. If we covered even more meals for students then we would have to raise registration rates across the board.
Thus, we try to keep student prices low in other ways. First, the student fee is lower than the actual cost of a student attending the conference, so student registration is already heavily subsidized. In addition, CHI has the Student Volunteer program, which provides free attendance for a subset of the student population as well as some additional meals. CHI also remains committed to supporting conference food events, like receptions, because we know that it’s a way to feed students. And finally SIGCHI provides the Student Travel Grant and Gary Marsden fund to support students to attend CHI or any other SIGCHI conference.
Given the 2M+ surplus sitting in the sigchi bank, why not drop registration costs.
2M is less than the budget of one single CHI conference. We need to have a financial cushion in case something goes wrong (like it happened in 2001 with 3 CHI conferences in a row losing money). As a non-profit organization we target at break even and surplus (if any) is used for supporting SIGCHI members. While 2M+ is a large amount, the total budget of all the SIGCHI conferences is much larger. If we are not careful with our conference budgets, we can run through the surplus quickly. And once we lose it, regaining it will not be easy.
Instead, the SIGCHI EC has been using the surplus to run several projects for strategic development of the community. The Gary Marsden fund, the SIGCHI Student Travel Grant, Early Career Development Fund, the SIGCHI Development Fund (which has supported numerous summer/winter schools around the world as well as D&I events at some of our other 24 specialized conferences), the Asian Development committee, and the SIGCHI specialized conferences development fund (which provides support back to specialised conferences for everything from support for telepresence to tutorials) are some examples of this.
Please give us a USB key with the program, linked to the schedule so I have something to show for my reg fee.
It would be great to be able to order an optional USB stick with Proceedings, etc. with registration (for small fee to cover cost).
This is a choice made by the individual conference chairs as it is a significant cost that the budget must bear. CHI used to do this in the past, but recent conference chairs have seen little role for this now. It makes little sense to create a physical artefact that has added costs (this is non-trivial), volunteer time (taking effort away from core activities), and sustainability implications (plastic ending in landfills) to generate things that don’t seem really necessary, or indeed, that many people have requested.
Please explain what “possible to open (CHI 2020) registration before 2021 so remaining budget can be spent?” means (paraphrased, the slide changed)
If registration is opened in December 2019, rather than January 2020, companies and institutions can use budgets from the 2019 year to pay for registration to CHI 2020. This helps when there is leftover money in a budget that needs to be quickly spent; it might mean that people can attend without the need for an accepted presentation or that more practitioners can attend. Some organizations have fiscal years that align with calendar years; others start in different months (e.g., April 1 in Canada).
QUESTIONS RELATED TO SIGCHI
Answered by the SIGCHI Executive Committee
We need to talk about the impacts, both practical and discursive, that corporate funding has on SIGCHI.
SIGCHI itself is a volunteer organisation, and is not industry funded (although we acknowledge that some of our volunteers are industry-based). Corporate funding of conferences offers advantages in subsidising the costs of these conferences and in gaining access to people in organisations who can make real-world change, while we recognise the potential that we could also become, or be seen to become, potentially ethically compromised in doing so. We think that the SIGCHI family of conferences have managed this balance effectively, and strongly argue that the agenda and organisation of the conferences is led by its members, takes place in its members’ and societal interests, and is grounded in it’s scientific orientation. As it stands, conference sponsorship only makes up a relatively small proportion of any SIGCHI sponsored conference budget, meaning that conference organisers would have little reason to shape their activities to appease corporate interests where this does not have a positive value for the community. If you want to have this discussion, though, please organize a session/workshop/etc. to talk about it.
SIGCHI OPERATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS
The SIGCHI app is an embarrassment. How come SIGCHI cannot commission an app that follows even the most basic usability rules?
The SIGCHI Native applications for iOS and Android had several issues regarding their maintenance, testing, and deployment. Tracking bugs and fixing issues was arduous and as a result, the applications will be removed from the store in early 2020. In their place there is a new progressive web app which was a ground up effort to have the program for iOS, Android, tablets, laptops and any capable browser. For more information, see our blog where we detail the progressive web app or visit https://programs.sigchi.org.
Should we shut down CHI Meta as it has become too toxic?
Should we scale up CHI Meta as it is the only way for most people to discuss and give feedback to CHI?
Can we add alternative communication channel outside ads-based social media? (as an additional channel that is monitored by Cliff et al.)
As CHI Meta is not an official SIGCHI or CHI communication medium, we can not take action. CHI Meta is an unofficial channel where people can discuss with peers their thoughts about the conference. Specific thoughts, questions, requests should go to the SIGCHI EC, CHI SC, or general chairs, depending on the topic. If you write one person, though, and they are not the right person to answer you, they will gladly point you to the correct person.
To solve the larger problem of SIGCHI/CHI/HCI communications, this is a real challenge that the SIGCHI comms team has been exploring. There’s no single channel that has access to all people interested in CHI as an event, a publication venue, or a community. We have the SIGCHI-members email list, but not all CHI attendees are SIGCHI members. We have the CHI registration information, but not everyone goes to CHI every year, or is interested in future CHI conferences because they went to one. And this registration list also has GDPR implications. There’s also a problem with using commercial platforms for official discussion, as it excludes some people who cannot or do not want to engage on those platforms. And some of those people may be the ones who are making decisions about the conferences or organization. Thus, the answer to date has been a multi-channel approach. And the SIGCHI comms team is continuing to look into options for other types of community systems. For instance, check out our new Medium blog: https://medium.com/sigchi.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AT SIGCHI
We need more people of color in positions of power, from conference chairs to ACM
Yes, we whole-heartedly agree. We need to build in some mechanisms for that. Specific programs and opportunities for people of color, people from the global south, people with disabilities, etc could be developed to help prepare them for leadership opportunities.
As we build towards this we want to be careful of tokenization as a measure of success. We also want to make sure that we aren’t putting burdens on people of color in our community, who already face additional barriers to success in academic jobs. In other words, this has to be opt in. To be transparent, people of color have been offered positions in the SIGCHI EC and CHI SC in the past year and have declined them. We respect these decisions as being a member of the SIGCHI EC is a lot of work and being strategic in one’s volunteer commitment is important.
The SIGCHI EC would love to consider development fund proposals to help address this problem. In the past, we’ve funded “summer schools” in different parts of the world to build capacity outside of North America and Europe. We’ve funded convening meetings in Egypt and Central America. We’ve funded grants for people from the global south to travel to multiple SIGCHI conferences.
Finally, this speaks to our need, throughout all levels of education, to develop equal opportunity to *all* students and for our community to invest in the pipeline of education that is essential for real change in this space.
Can we please extend the allyship program to ALL SIGCHI conferences?
We have 23 conferences beyond CHI and we won’t always have access to volunteers experienced in training people on “basic bystander intervention, harassment and discrimination management, relevant policies” and other equity procedures. In the near term we have asked the chairs of all the steering committee’s to see who are interested in taking what was undertaken at the scale of CHI and move it to their conference. This will rely on volunteer effort. In the medium term, the program was presented to the council of steering committee chairs who will in turn share this with their conference chairs. We would encourage anyone reading this, who is a member of a specific conference community interested in moving the program out to their event to contact us.
Can we make a commitment to hiring professional support and consultants to help with paper, site and conference accessibility
Why won’t you pay to support accessibility? Asking for volunteers undercuts the value of accessibility and puts pressure on people with disabilities
SIGCHI has just (as in January 2020) hired an accessibility consultant to help with processes, procedures, and oversight of our 24 conferences. We will continue to evaluate this investment to determine if it is making our conferences more accessible and inclusive. If not, then we will find another way to invest in ensuring accessibility is supported.
Can we increase representation of people with disabilities in leadership across SIGCHI, not just accessibility-related positions
It is important to ensure that we have wide representation that includes people with disabilities. We recommend anyone with a disability who has the requisite skills or interest to apply to any one of our open calls. We’d also like to remind our community that not all disabilities are immediately visible. The SIGCHI EC and CHI SC both have members with disabilities – it should be their decision to make this explicit or not to community members.
Can we ensure that there are accessibility chairs at all conferences and that they recieve proper support?
The CHI steering committee clearly saw the problems with the CHI 2019 convention center this year. We have taken actions to ensure better digital and physical accessibility at future conferences. For instance, the arrangements made by the accessibility chairs of a given CHI conference will now be supported by the accessibility director on the CHI Steering Committee and the SIGCHI accessibility consultant.
Could we create a means of fostering research-practice interaction (aka industry-academia collaboration) at the SIGCHI level rather than per conference?
We would be happy to hear any ideas in this space. Typically, the SIGCHI EC sees themselves as facilitators of the ideas of others. We don’t have the volunteer capacity to *lead* several initiatives, but we often are happy to provide monetary or social support to our members who want to take on an initiative like this.
Why did the last VPs resigned?
With the CHI 2020 chairs resigning, and four VPs having turned over all in the last year… is our entire leadership being driven out?
It would be inappropriate for us to speak for these volunteers. In some cases, they’ve posted their reasons publicly, and we would refer you to those posts. In other cases it was the natural timeline for turn-over or they took another demanding volunteer position like being a CHI Chair. However, it is important to state that no one was forced out – all decisions are up to the volunteers themselves to step back from a position.
We are all volunteers in these roles. People should make choices that are best for them in how they express their service. In all cases, we are grateful to people who have provided so much service to SIGCHI and its related conferences. There has always been turnover and difference of opinions – it just may not have always been as publicly known.
More importantly, there is still amazing leadership within SIGCHI. Thousands of people volunteer in many, many capacities. As we continue to grow and evolve we see our students and junior members developing leadership skills and commitment to HCI that is very encouraging for the future of our organization.
Why are the sigchi exec and steering committees so large and complex? Why not 4 professionals.
All of the SIGs in ACM are volunteer run, though it is true that some depend on more paid help than we do. None of them are fully run by paid staff though.
Being a volunteer-led and run organization is core to our identity. It may be useful to supplement our volunteer effort with more paid support, but we would lose intellectual engagement with our programs if we totally turned SIGCHI over to professionals who aren’t representative of our community.
How can we incentivise the chapter chairs to continue to conduct great events? How can the leadership team of the chapters be connected to each other?
During CHI 2019, we conducted a series of workshops with the chapter leaders to discuss how we can improve communication, engagement and involvement of chapter leaders and members locally as well as global level. Organizing online office hours for the chapter leaders on a monthly basis, activity reporting tool, supports and incentives are some of the items that we would like to explore this year. If you are interested to become one of the volunteers for the chapter development, please contact email@example.com.
QUESTIONS RELATED TO PUBLICATION ISSUES
It seems we discuss many questions not related to scientific impact. How can we move towards bringing our work quality front and center, keeping issues in mind
Where is the science?
There are some initiatives ACM wide that SIGCHI could get more involved with if we want to reflect more on scientific rigour. For example, artefact review and badging (https://www.acm.org/publications/policies/artifact-review-badging) would allow our community to review and archive research artefacts like datasets, software, and analysis techniques. Conferences can opt in to trial initiatives like this, if support is needed interested conferences can contact the SIGCHI VP for Publications (sigchi-VP-Publications@acm.org).
SIGCHI has also committed to a leadership summit, taking place in summer 2020 (http://summit.acm.org/), that brings together community leaders and volunteers over three days to work together on ensuring quality in research creation, evaluation, and dissemination across the entire SIGCHI family of conferences.
Why are we encouraging/forcing people to use latex? It’s also at odds with 40 years of work on wysiwyg. It’s also pushing less technical communities out of CHI.
This probably refers to the way that CHI templates this past year were very hard to use in Word, and easier to use in LaTex. These challenges were specific to CHI 2019 and do not represent the Word author experience moving forward.
First off, the templates are evolving rapidly. Word is bad at converting markup for more dynamic formats, but new workflow will allow word authors to maintain much of the same working practice while still generating markup formats for archiving. We are not encouraging or forcing people to use either LaTex or Word, though we know this past template process was stressful. As we’ve reported in other locations [https://sigchi.org/2019/03/the-transition-to-a-more-open-and-mobile-acm-digital-library/], the end result will be a more flexible and accessible proceeding.
If you want more information about the new approach for Word authors, look at the ACM Blue Diamond Newsletter article on this topic: https://www.acm.org/articles/pubs-newsletter/2019/blue-diamond-mar-2019#3
How can our community lead in developing/adopting interactive papers (better for describing analysis, interactive systems, etc) instead of pdf or static html
Responsive HTML is nice, but we are trailing – not leading – in developing future, truly interactive paper formats. How do we lead and not follow in this space?
Within ACM, the change to the new proceedings and ACM Digital Library has required substantial institutional and infrastructural change. Now that the new workflow is becoming established (see the responsive html articles in the CHI 2019 Proceedings), we are in a position to start innovating in what we archive. One of the best ways to explore this is to volunteer for and/or work with technical programme leadership in specialised conferences, where innovations can be explored in smaller communities before scaling up to CHI and beyond.
Why, with the level of nitpickiness Sheridan exhibits, do papers end up on the DL with typos that make our community look like we aren’t to be taken seriously?
Sheridan is incredibly detailed in the formatting and meta-data surrounding our papers. Conferences do not contract them to look for typos or do copy editing. That is up to the authors and the ACs.
ACM is a non-profit organisation, and authors do not pay a fee to publish their work. Although conference attendance is sometimes closely related to paper publication, this should not be conflated with publishing fees. Providing copy editing services would increase the cost of producing proceedings, and have significant impacts on conference budgets.
The new template is horrible and was designed by non-human-centered engineering disciplines (and it shows!). Why can’t we iterate on our own design?
The “new” template (as in the template used for CHI 2019) is gone. Members of the SIGCHI community, alongside authors from across ACM, worked from Autumn 2018 to establish a new workflow that solves many of the challenges faced during CHI 2019. There is plenty of detail about how the new workflow works in the ACM Blue Diamond Newsletter March and in the SIGCHI Blog. ACM and SIGCHI conferences are already using this new workflow and iterating where improvements can be made.
How can we give ACs the tools to evaluate the ethics of papers, and demand paper revisions that identify ethical limitations and convey respect for subjects?
ACs are asked to evaluate the research contribution, significance, and validity of papers they handle. Although it is standard in North America for behavioural studies with human participants to require approval from an ethics board, this is not the case globally or for most practitioners, whom we wish to include in our conference. As such, ethics board approval cannot be the means by which we vet the ethics of contributions and it is our task to identify ethical criteria that must be met and to communicate these to authors. There is an ethics committee within SIGCHI who are considering this issue and the CHI steering committee will also consider it as part of our efforts to maintain a high-quality review process.
Can we collect feedback about going for the PACM model (like imwut, cscw)? And maybe have several CHIs a year in different places abt different research areas?
There is active assessment of the PACM models being done at the SIGCHI and the ACM level. It’s too early in the PACM process to know for sure how they are doing, but early indicators are that this is a strong potential model for SIGCHI publications.
What about converting the proceedings into a journal? Research evaluation metrics goes against the conferences which are predominant only for computer science
New approaches are already being trialled at specialised conferences through the PACM HCI and PACM IMWUT venues, which are a hybrid approach to journals and conference proceedings styles. Both PACM venues are exploring how different publication models impact submissions, reviewing, and conference cultures and there are exciting ideas coming out of these communities.
Is there intent to simplify/clarify the submissions process for SIGCHI conferences? Between template issues, Sheridan’s needs, & PCS bugs, it’s a real time sink
Yes. Check out our previous blog post for more details.
“Policy set by” … can we change policies to support open science, open publications and so on?
CHI and other SIGCHI conferences are ACM conferences. They are our publisher. They set the rules for publications, though they are always eager to hear feedback from authors.
ACM has a very flexible policy on green open access, for example ACM policy explicitly permits pre-prints of ACM articles in arXiv. The full details of ACM current state of open access is available here: https://www.acm.org/publications/openaccess
Could we enable mechanism to have senior people farm our reviews to their students with mentoring?
At the moment, the reviewing confidentiality agreements for most (though not all) SIGCHI publication venues seem to preclude this in an official way: reviewers usually formally agree not to show papers under review to anyone else, which would include their students. Maintaining some degree of confidentiality is clearly extremely important, and this needs to be respected. There is also a worry that lack of control over such a ‘farming’ process might cause quality issues if professors simply abandon their academic responsibilities to others more junior to them. However, there are some really good reasons to consider some form of collaborative reviewing, extending the ‘mentored’ review process currently used, for eg. in CSCW (https://cscw.acm.org/2019/volunteer-mentors.html), in which more experienced senior reviewers support students in writing their reviews. This has huge community benefits in bringing the experience of senior reviewers (who may not be as active) into play by developing the skills of new members of the SIGCHI community so that the pool of reviewers grows, as well as sustaining the future of our community over time. We would welcome any comments or suggestions on this, which should be communicated to the Adjunct Chair for Volunteer Development (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What would it take to bring back some form of in-person program committee meeting?
At this time, CHI has no current intention of moving away from a synchronous PC meeting. To the question of physical versus virtual, it is unlikely that we will ever remove the virtual PC entirely and return to an entirely physical PC meeting. The benefits of a virtual meeting to both the environment and to the accessibility for ACs without funding or who have difficulty traveling (e.g., visas, mobility, accessibility, caregiving constraints, responsibilities to work) simply outweigh the advantages of meeting face-to-face. Further, the data shows no evidence that the virtual PC meeting harms the review process. We recognize that the physical PC meeting has benefits for training and community building, so it may be that the physical meeting returns in some form; however, it would be accompanied by major changes to the review process, as it is not feasible for a PC of 400 people to meet. The CHI steering committee is initiating a working group on the review process and will be considering various models—we value community input!
QUESTIONS RELATED TO THE TOWN HALL
An hour into the town hall and we have not answered any questions from the audience. Can we please have a town hall for questions, with logistics later?
The town hall is importantly a venue where we share information about the status of a *really* large organization in a short amount of time. That requires presentation.
Shall we move to live questions?
Hopefully the response to this shows that we are serious about answering *all* of the questions that were posed in Sli.do. We chose Sli.do because we wanted to make the Q&A more inclusive. We felt moving to a mediated system would enable people (students, junior scholars) who might feel intimidated by a live question to also have their voice heard. It would also prevent certain types of people from “hogging” the microphone and would enable a broader set of questions to be asked.
Why is the town hall avoiding all the hard questions?
Our process was to answer questions in the order of the vote from Sli.do. Then we committed to answering *all* of the questions posed on Sli.do via this blog post. We are always happy to answer questions, including the tough ones – though we may disagree on which ones are hard.
I am curious if slido is being used to curate and silence commentary the committee doesn’t want to address.
I think this was addressed more fully above in why we used Sli.do. The intention is to be more inclusive so that Q&A is not dominated by the exigencies of microphone access. We think it worked well this year, and we answered questions in the voting order, though sometimes the voting order changed as we were answering questions.