SIG Governing Board Minutes: April 23, 2021


*Please note that the Attendees listed have been included within this document based on Cvent event registration records.

Adam Bargteil
Adrienne Decker
Alan Smeaton
Ashley Cozzi
Babak Falsafi
Ben Carterette
Benjamin Pierce
Chris Brown
Christine Harvey
Dan Richards
Diana Brantuas
Donna Cappo
Drew Hamilton
Giuliano Casale
Helena Mentis
Jeanna Matthews
Jeff Jortner
Jens Palsberg
Jessica Hodgins
Jian Pei
Jim Anderson
John Otero
John West
Jonathan Aldrich
Juliana Freire
Kalyan Perumalla
Kim Tracy
Laurie Fox
Lisa Brown
Nicole Immorlica
Ninghui Li
Pat Ryan
Peter Brusilovsky
Prashant Shenoy
Renee McCauley
Robert Beck
Roch Guerin
Sade Rodriguez
Sanmay Das
Scott Delman
Shan Lu
Shari Trewin
Shawn Newsam
Srinivas Aluru
Thomas Zimmermann
Vicki Hanson
Wayne Graves
X. Sharon Hu

Agenda Items

ACM Policies and Enforcement (Vicki Hanson)


  • ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct – Applies strictly to ACM members
  • Policy Against Harassment at ACM Events – Applies to members and non-members in relation to ACM events; Anonymous reporting allowed; however, this is not investigated considering there is no contact to follow up with due to the anonymity.
  • ACM Publication policies and procedures

Online reporting of Incidents is now available for violation against any of the above three codes.

What Happens When a Complaint is Filed?

  1. Complaints go directly to an ACM database
  2. Submitter receives an acknowledgement within 48 hours
  3. *Complaint sent for investigation to COPE or Publications Ethics & Plagiarism Committee
  • May be referred to professional investigators
  1. Interview stage: Complainant is contacted about event, witnesses, etc.
  2. Decision made
  3. Subject is emailed a Decision Letter with specifics of sanctions, if any
  • If sanctions imposed, the subject may file an appeal within 30 days
  1. Any bans are finalized and take effect 30 days after notification of the ban or after resolution of any appeal, whichever is later
  2. Complainant is notified when the ban is finalized
  • ACM does not communicate decisions to witnesses, other 3rd parties, or requests from SIGs

*While cases are being investigated, no sanctions are imposed on the subject of an investigation

Complaints take time to resolve (6 months to a year); complex cases require talking to a lot of people to get the facts straight

ACM Violations Database – single database that includes all complaints filed for the three types of codes; queries to database are limited to those with a need-to-know considering the sensitive nature of the information; Penalties are imposed for a limited time therefore Volunteers should check the database to confirm whether an individual can serve as a preexisting sanction may have expired; Volunteers are responsible for querying the Violations Database prior to making final appointments

Current Penalties & Enforcement

  • ACM volunteer positions: Ban may be applied for violations of Harassment policy or ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct; Individual is not permitted to hold any elected or appointed leadership or other volunteer position in ACM; Volunteer responsible for appointment needs to query the Violations Database before making final appointments
  • Organizing ACM events: Ban may be applied for violations of Harassment policy or ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct; Individual is not permitted to hold any appointed volunteer position in connection with event organizing; Volunteer responsible for appointment needs to query the Violations Database before making final appointments
  • ACM event attendance: Ban may be applied for violations of Harassment policy or ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct; Individual may be banned from attending (virtual or in person) conferences, other events, or ACM member meetings; this ban alone does not impede authoring a paper; The event Chair will need to provide a list of event registrants to [email protected] to have list checked for events that are NOT fully sponsored by ACM. The event Chair will need to delete registrations for those banned from these events. The lead organization should handle registration in the case of co-sponsored events.
  • Publishing in ACM venues: Ban may be applied for violations of Publications Board policies, Harassment policy, and or ACM Code of Professional Ethics; An individual is not permitted to submit or publish as an author in specified ACM venues; ACM solely responsible for enforcement (no Volunteer burden)
  • Reviewing for ACM: Ban may be applied for violations of Publications Board policies, Harassment policy, and or ACM Code of Professional Ethics; An individual may not be permitted to serve on Editorial Boards, Program Committees, or other form of reviewing; Volunteer responsible for appointment needs to query the Violations Database before making final appointments
  • Potential additional sanctions: ineligible to receive SIG award; SIG Chair / President will need to query Violations database for SIG Awards (this is not an exhaustive list of potential additional sanctions)
    • Decision letters are specific and will mention what an individual has been banned from and for how long
    • It is possible for a single individual to have multiple bans against them depending on the circumstances of their case.

Questions about ACM’s Policies and Processes on Misconduct (from SIGARCH/SIGOPS/SIGPLAN)

Q1. What is ACM’s Policy on Anonymity? It might be better to reveal the identities of those who have committed grave misconduct.

Vicki affirmed that ACM will not be releasing names of sanctioned individuals because of defamation as per advice from multiple attorneys, the intention is not to destroy people’s career and we want to essentially provide a path for redemption through punishment that fits the crime and maintains anonymity.

A leader indicated they were a proponent for having more information available regarding misconduct by individuals, so that their infraction (if minor) does not hinder their future chances of being appointed. Current disclosure system may work against individuals who have committed infractions, since those responsible for vetting may not be inclined to check the violations database for previously sanctioned individuals come time to appoint a new position holder.

The plan is to publish ACM’s Policy on Anonymity to help inform the community at large.

Q2: What is the Scope of Sanctions?

Action: Need to ensure that the sanctions are clearly listed on the enforcement procedures somewhere.

Q3: When to Vet & Who Should Vet?

Scalability is an issue. There is so much activity that falls under the umbrella of ACM and manual vetting is simply not going to cut it. We are looking at hundreds of thousands of queries each year, it is not feasible to have anyone type in hundreds of thousands of queries. There must be some way of automating some of this.

Action: Jens will provide Vicki with a list of SIGS interested in working with ACM to better understand the scope of activities that take place as it concerns sanctions & vetting. Helena Mentis (SIGCHI) offered to work with Vicki during the call regarding the scope of activities.

Q4: Support for Reporting?

Discussion concerned increasing support available to younger members of the ACM community who may be hesitant to report complaints. SIGARCH reported positive results when they expanded the CARES mandate to also cover help with complaints about reviewing/professional misconduct.

Q5: Long Investigations

ACM  has committed to notifying witnesses involved in investigations that a decision has been made, but the witnesses will not be notified regarding what that decision is.

Q6: Co-Sponsored Events?

The lead society in the case of Co-Sponsored Events should take charge in terms of determining how policies/processes for misconduct are applied as it relates to their co-sponsored activities.

Hu suggested that each SIG designate one individual per SIG/Sponsored Conference to perform checks against the violations database for upcoming positions that need to be filled. This will not only limit the number of individuals that have access to the Violations Database but also ensure proper vetting.

Hanson indicated that the letters that will be sent regarding the Violations Database will be clear and cover the expectations surrounding different volunteer positions as it relates to the Violations Database, so that involved parties are aware of what is expected of them in terms of communicating roles and vetting.

Motion: The SGB requests that the ACM council review and vote on the decision to keep sanctions confidential.

(20, 0,1)

Publications Board Updates/Feedback Requests

  • ACM is Plan S-Compliant
  • ACM is one of 10 publishers certified as Plan S-Compliant/only society on the list
  • Two ACM journals will start requiring ORCIDS (digital identifier that you own and control) from corresponding authors in the next month/requirement will roll out in other journals as 2021 progresses/expectation is that conference publication will require ORCIDS starting in 2022
  • Double-Blind Reviewing and arXiv
  • Some conferences restrict postings to arXiv around submission time
  • (This goes against ACM Publications policy; this prohibits behavior we want to encourage such as the sharing of scientific results)
  • Preferred solution: reviewer responsibility
  • Use of Reviews Outside the Review Process
  • ACM Publications Policy
  • It is okay for an author to share excerpts of reviews they have received for purposes of criticism (this would only be an issue if the reviewer were identified in the excerpt which would violate confidentiality)
  • ACM Publications will look at clarifying the applicable policy/when reviewers agree to review, they give the author consent to use their reviews
  • Author Name Change Policy

ACM set an industry-leading policy in 2019

  • Authors can request name changes
  • Names will be updated in prior ACM publications & metadata
  • Citing works may be corrected with consent of contact authors of those works (New ACM Publications policy – ACM authors by default give ACM permission to correct the names of other people in their papers, without consulting the contact author)

Some key points Scott Delman highlighted regarding the Author Name Change Policy

  • Prioritize the individual/the rights of the co-author over the archive, but at the same time preserve the original archive version for use cases that are very common for ACM
  • Make it very clear in the policy that no content will be changed, and that it is ACM that makes the change in the corrected version/acts as the guardian for this process/not the author

Turing Award Update

  • A new form has been made for ACM Awards that asks all the nominators and endorsers specifically to state whether they know of any concerns which violate ACM’s values (Technical Excellence, Education & Technical Achievement, Ethical Computing, and Diversity & Inclusion) mow listed on the nomination form.
  • It also asks if the nominators/endorsers know of any violations in terms of ACM’s Code of Conduct – these specific statements are listed as well on the form.

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