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A data point from another area that I do research in...

     The Automated Software Engineering conference (ASE) gets
submissions in the form of 10-page papers, and accepts them as
either "long papers" or "short papers".  Long papers get 10
pages in the conference proceedings, and a 25-minute talk at the
conference.  Short papers get 4 pages in the proceedings, no
talk, and a poster at a poster session.  ASE has the poster
session in a clean well-lighted place, in a prominent spot in
the schedule, with no other parallel session going on, so that
poster presenters get the most out of the discussions around
their posters.

     I have had papers accepted there as either long or short
papers.  I am disappointed when a paper is accepted as short,
because it does mean it was not as well loved as the long
papers.  On the other hand, I have had good discussions at the
poster sessions.  A 10-minute discussion in front of a large,
detailed poster beats a 5-minute Q&A after a talk, or a
20-minute discussion over lunch with only napkins to write on.
The paper shows up on my resume as a 4-page paper at a
conference, which is what it is, not stigmatized by a label like
"poster".

     I'm not saying it's perfect (e.g., there is endless debate
in the PC about what should be accepted as short and what as
long).  However, it seems to work pretty well and gets more
people involved than is possible when every accepted paper
corresponds to a 25-minute talk in a session.

cheers
--Jamie.

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