I very much like the conference-based publication system of computer science. But an obvious problem with the system -- which mathematicians sometimes throw back in the face of CS theory researchers -- is that this system leads to buggy results getting published and accepted by the community. (In my last post, I talked about the headaches this issue can cause PC members.)
This problem could be ameliorated if as a community we had some standard ways of reporting or dealing with such errors. But I don't think we really do. Occasionally an author will self-report an error or fix something for a journal version, but I imagine errors slip through more often than we'd care to think about. Perhaps it isn't really a problem; for big, important papers, bugs will be found and knowledge of them disseminated. But for smaller papers (which, let's face it, is most of what actually gets written -- even in the major conferences), there doesn't seem to be a process -- in fact, even trying to suggest that there's a bug in someone's work can get your own paper killed.
Yes, I'm unhappy to report, this happened to me. Once, on a paper, a student found a bug in some previous related work, and thought it important to mention in the conference submission to deal with possible questions about how our work related to this other paper. [Since he's job-hunting, I feel I should say this was NOT Adam.] After going back and forth, I agreed that we could in a footnote mention that there appeared to be an error that we were discussing with the author. (The author took a while to admit there was an error, and in fact the student helped suggest a fix.) The PC sent back nasty reviews, with one even suggesting that our action was unprofessional. I, obviously, disagree. This was a submission, ostensibly confidential, not for publication (the PC could ask us to remove the footnote if they objected). We were in contact with the author and trying to clarify and fix the bug we found. How the heck else were we supposed to let the committee know what was going on, if they felt it important? If they felt it wasn't important, it was just a footnote they were welcome to skip.
This attitude, I think, stems from the fact that, on the whole, we're a very pleasant, non-confrontational area of science. Fights in CS theory are rare; most people get along (professionally) quite well. From what I've seen, with rare exception, we're much less confrontational than other sciences. So somehow mentioning out loud that someone might have made a mistake is not considered good form. Again, I may be wrong, but other sciences seem less sanguine.
Of course, the underlying problem in this incident, and others I've seen as a PC member and in other contexts, is that we don't have an error-correction mechanism that allows one to report bugs or suspected bugs in published work. Perhaps we're better off without it -- maybe it would just take up time and provide little value. But I've never heard it even come up as an issue to be thought about and discussed by the community. Perhaps it should.