Minutes of the 22nd SIGIR Business Meeting

Berkeley, California

August 18, 1999


The 22nd annual SIGIR Business Meeting was convened at 12:30 on August 18th, 1999 at the University of Berkeley during the annual SIGIR Conference.


The meeting was presided over by Susan Dumais, the newly elected Chair of SIGIR, who began the meeting by introducing the full slate of officers for SIGIR, namely Vice-Chair, Susan Gauch; Secretary, Liz Liddy; and Treasurer, Jamie Callan. Also, Regional Officers, Peter Schauble and Ross Wilkinson; Information Officer, Charlie Viles; and SIGIR Forum Editors, Fazli Can and Bill Hersh were introduced.


The outgoing officers were introduced and thanked for their efforts over the past year. They were: Nick Belkin, Chair; Vice-Chair, Howard Turtle; Secretary, Elke Mittendorff, and Treasurer, Susan Gauch.


Jamie Callan provided reports on membership and the treasury. While our membership has been gradually decreasing since 1996, this is a phenomenon occurring in all SIGs, and our decrease is, in fact, less dramatic than the others SIGs. Additionally, the SIG is financially sound. The vital statistics for the last four years stand are:


                                                1996    1997    1998    1999

        Members                          1317    1190    1125    1035

        Revenue ($1000)                  61      138     117       195

        Expenses ($1000)                58        95       73       172

        Net ($1000)                           3        43       44         23

        Balance ($1000)                 214      244     329       352  


Nick Belkin, past SIGIR Chair, gave a general report on the SIG’s activities and accomplishments for 1998, commenting particularly on the Annual Conference which was held in Melbourne, Australia, our first conference outside of America or Europe, which was quite successful, particularly given the required travel distance for many attendees.


The following SIGIR Awards were announced:





Sue Dumais described the Salton Award, which will be next awarded at SIGIR’00. Nominations can be submitted to Sue at any time.


Info on other SIGIR sponsored conferences was provided - specifically, CIKM ’99 will be held November 2 to 6 in Kansas City, Missouri and the chair is Charles Nicholas. CIKM ’00 will be held in the eastern US and Jamie Callan is in charge of the IR portion of the technical program.


Digital Libraries ’99 was held just prior to SIGIR in Berkeley and DL’00 will be held in San Antonio, Texas.


Presentations (with appropriate maps) of the recent and next few SIGIR conferences were made, with Sue filling in for Alistair and Justin to report on the very successful SIGIR’98 Conference, held in Australia. There were 250 participants and a profit of $25,000 was earned, which will go into the student travel fund.


SIGIR’99 will go down as a very successful conference, but final conference attendance figures are not yet available from Fred Guy.


SIGIR’00 will be held in Athens, Greece from July 24 to 28. The CFP is out already. Nick Belkin, Peter Ingwersen, and Mun-Kew Leong are co-chairs of the technical program. There will NOT be electronic submission for this conference, but rather hard copy submittal to regional chair. However, the software developed this year for assigning reviewers will be used. The 1st tier reviewers will be the regional committee and the 2nd tier reviewers will be the international review committee.  There will be Silver Cups awarded to the winners in the three categories of Best Paper, Best Student Paper, and Best Poster.


The conference will be held at the university and all meals will be included in the $400 registration fee. Participants will stay in nearby hotels. As a new amenity, baby sitters will be available for both day and evenings.


SIGIR’01 will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Don Kraft is General Chair and is actively seeking folks who want to be involved.


SIGIR’02 will be held in Tempere, Finland from August 12th to 16th. It will be held at the university and conference hall.


An active discussion amongst attending members was held regarding possible locations for SIGIR’03, which in the alternating (US, European) mode was planned for the US. There are 3 possible sites. Each site will need to submit a formal ACM proposal. The Executive Committee will review the applications and make a decision in the October/November time frame.


Presentations from the 3 sites who are currently interested were made. First, Gary Marchioni presented for the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina area, where it would be held at the Carolina Inn, on the UNC campus. There are a good number of local SIGIR members who could assist. This is a vibrant technology area and there is an international airport, but not a very busy one.


Charles Clark from Waterloo proposed the Toronto/Waterloo area of Canada, with the University of Toronto as the possible venue, and he and Gordon Cormack as contacts. There are 30 to 40 graduate students in the area who could assist. Direct flights are available from most major American and European cities. It is an ethnically diverse city and there is an excellent rate of exchange for both American and European currencies – 30%.


Ricardo Baeza-Yates proposed Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nivio Ziviani, Berthier Ribeiro-Nieto, Ricardo Baeza-Yates will serve as contacts.


The question was raised as to whether the Brazil site would be considered as the US or the European rotation. The Executive Committee will reach a better understanding of the financial implications of holding SIGIR outside the US, as there are some differences in what happens to the profits when the meeting is held outside of the US. When held in the US, ACM takes the financial risk but also gets the profit, while when held outside of the US, the local organizers take the risk. The financial implications are of concern to us because the conference will be held outside the US in 2002 and 2004. So if 2003 were outside the US as well, that would be 3 years in a row when there would be no profit returned to SIGIR and there would be financial implications for the treasury. Jamie will check into the potential impact and advise the Executive Committee.


Discussion was held and an informal show of hands on the sites was called for, with multiple votes allowed. The subjective conclusion of the Executive Committee was that the order of preference was Toronto, then Rio, then Chapel Hill.


Suggestions for new directions were offered. First was in regards to the Forum, where the possibility of converting it from a paper to an electronic forum was raised and discussed.

The Forum is currently published 2 times a year, plus the Conference Proceedings, which is also considered a Forum issue. If we go to electronic, the first few years will be published in both formats. The concern for permanence was raised and responded to by the fact that all issues are part of the ACM electronic archives. There appeared to be strong support of an electronic Forum.


In terms of membership, Jamie Callan led a discussion on whether the gradual decline in SIGIR membership was a threat to the sense of IR community and what to do about it. Issues included how to inform and involve interested non-members, how to increase dissemination of high quality IR research, and how to better serve the dues-paying members.


In response to the concern for informing and involving interested non-members, the Information Director will begin maintaining a database of people deemed likely to be interested in IR. The database would include both dues-paying members and people who attend any of the conferences sponsored by SIGIR. This database of names can then be used for PR involving conferences and workshops sponsored by SIGIR such as Digital Libraries and CIKM. It was clearly stated that this membership list would only be shared with approval of the SIGIR Executive Committee.


A new membership class for SIGIR was proposed as another means to increase membership – a “Value Plus” membership. Eligibility would be based simply on paying slightly higher dues, perhaps $10 to $15 per year.  Benefits for Value Plus members would include all the benefits of regular membership, plus a copy of either the ACM Digital Libraries Proceedings or the CIKM Proceedings. The benefit to SIGIR is the increased dissemination of proceedings from IR conferences, as well as the potential for slightly lower printing costs. The attending risk is that we might need to print only a small number of proceedings and the additional money brought in from Value Plus memberships would not compensate for the costs of printing a small run.


Suggestion was made to follow ACL’s approach where the difference between conference attendance as a non-member versus as a member is exactly the same as the cost of membership, so non-members tend to join when they register for a conference. 


The decision was made to move forward, but to do so conservatively in changes in membership.


The meeting was adjourned.