My initial reaction is that this would be a huge mistake on the part of the
community. STOC/FOCS is a well-respected ``brand'' among computer scientists,
including chairs, deans, and funders. Diluting or making ambiguous the meaning of
a FOCS/STOC paper will have a negative iimpact on the careers of all researchers in
TCS, not just junior researchers. If you want a conference along the lines you suggest in this proposal, why not create a new conference rather than changing the meaning of the name STOC dramatically? If the new confernce overshadows STOC, then we can
eliminate STOC later.
I would not submit papers to a conference as in the proposal, under any name, or encourage my students to submit to it. It seems to provide no additional benefit
over having the paper in ECCC, and giving talks on the paper at university seminars.
I might attend such a conference if it were conveniently timed and located, but would
not go out of my way to attend. I would not want to be on the program committee, if it requires one.
If others reacted like myself, the main effect of the proposal within the theory community would be to merge FOCS/STOC into a single annual conference callled FOCS. This
conference would be fiercely competitive, having an acceptence rate below 15%, unless researchers decided that it wasn't worth the gamble/wait and submitted their papers to
specialized conferences instead.
As I mentioned above, the effect outside the theory community would be to make it harder to judge the quality of a theorist's publication record. It would take some time before
the distinction between ``old STOC'' and ``new STOC'' percolated to be general knowledge, and even then, the question of when the switch over occurred would have to be answered.
If the graphics community changed say, SIGGRAPHICS to a non-competitve forum, it would be a while before I caught on, and would permanently impair my ability to judge a CV from graphics candidates. I imagine the same thing would happen to non-theorists if we switched STOC to a non-competitive forum.
I do not see any positive consequences at all. Since I would not submit papers, or be
giving talks, going to such a conference would be a low priority for me, and I imagine
it would be likewise for colleagues that I am eager to talk to. Thus, I can't see that
attendance will soar rather than drop percipitiously.
While there are always imperfections and small improvements and experiments are needed in any human institution, STOC/FOCS as a bi-annual conference has been a
tremendous success so far. They are the type of prestigious conferences that other areas have emulated. People within and without theory know and respect puiblications in
these conferences. Perhaps some of this respect is unwarrented, in that conference referreeing is short of journal refereeing, and program committees are fallible. However,
I cannot see any benefit to moving towards the changes in the proposal, and see the possibility of significant harm.