Friday, June 08, 2007

Mismanaged, Again

Another day, another conference paper manager. For another conference we're using something called OpenConf. It's going to be another long one.

First, when I log in to view my list of assigned papers, I get a category called “Papers to Advocate”. The output below this is:

We have encountered a problem: Unable to retrieve papers for advocating

SELECT paperadvocate.paperid, paperadvocate.adv_recommendation, paperreviewer.reviewerid, format, title, avg(recommendation) as paperavg FROM paperadvocate, paper left join paperreviewer on paperadvocate.paperid=paperreviewer.paperid WHERE paperadvocate.advocateid='2' AND paperadvocate.paperid=paper.paperid GROUP BY paperid

Can someone really have failed to test this on the empty input? Startling as that seems, it appears possible, even likely.

After an exchange with the program chairs, I went to view the list of all papers to bid on a few. The papers are listed by title, with no additional information, but that's a perfectly good start. You would expect clicking on a title would give you the title and abstract, and by control-clicking you could open it in a new tab for reading in leisure. Instead, this silly program has no notion of such things; the only other datum it has is the entire paper itself, which slowly loads in a PDF viewer (and consequently makes it difficult to switch between different papers in different tabs).

So my very first two encounters with this system have been painful. Do program chairs not test these things before selecting them? Or do they not realize how bad these interfaces are? Or do they not care?

Addendum: It turns out the conference manager can't show you the other reviews for a paper, either. Not that it has a setting for showing or hiding the other reviews and the PC chairs have turned it off; no, it simply can't show this information at all. No comment necessary.


Tom Hoffman said...

Can't say I've tried it. Nor for that matter have I ever had to use a conference site for anything other than registering, but Edd Dumbill is a pretty well regarded hacker, and his company has just launched expectnation to address the task in question..

Shriram Krishnamurthi said...

Thanks for the pointer, Tom!. This looks like interesting software, though there are many things about the conference domain that require quite a bit more specialized support. I actually have more of an opinion about these packages than I'm letting in on, because I'm the author of one myself: Continue. There is a Tour on that site, which should give the curious some sense of the kind of things one wants to see in such a package.