Paper submission follies

Late last year I submitted a paper to Agile 2007, probably the foremost North American conference on Agile Programming and various related methodologies. I’ve already made one blog post about my experience.

Today is the day that had been listed as the acceptance date. I’d forgotten about it until I got email from the paper-judging committee. However, while the email had my address, it started “Dear Person X” and didn’t talk about my paper. It was someone else’s rejection letter. I started to write a note back, explaining that I wasn’t person X and that they had the wrong email address for him. But then I got another email, another rejection email for someone else. And then another one, a paper that was accepted.

I have now received 161 emails from the paper judging committee, all of them concerning different papers. I think they’ve stopped coming in now.

A screw-up of this magnitude is regrettable. I now have the tools to determine who submitted a paper to the conference, and which of those papers were accepted and which were rejected. Some of these are research papers, and even just the titles might tell me what the writer is working on. And seriously, 161 emails? That’s a little extreme.

Unfortunately, my paper was one of the rejected ones. The comments attached to it indicate that it was judged as a well-written paper, but was not a research paper and should have been submitted as an experience report. It’s obviously too late to submit it as such now, and by the time Agile 2008 rolls around, the experience that I’d be reporting on would be two years old. I’ll likely just post it to the public section of i-proving once we’re sure there’s nothing else we can do with it.

But I’ve already started on my papers for next year. I’m working on two: “The Importance of Testing Automated Email Systems” and “Ha ha, {author name}, Your Paper Was Rejected Last Year Too”, where {author name} is a bigwig in agile circles.

More seriously: I knew my paper might not be scientific enough to be considered a research paper, but it also seemed a bit more rigorous than most experience reports. The problem is that I wrote the paper before I’d seen the breakdown of categories and so tried to fit it in where I thought it belonged. In the future, I’m going to pick a conference and a category before I start writing so I can be sure that I’m writing to the appropriate audience.

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