A number of commenters on my last post have mentioned the INFOCOM Miniconference. I hadn't actually known about the miniconference -- although I found out more details about it soon after the comments, as my second INFOCOM submission, rejected from the conference, was accepted to the miniconference. (I did have a paper in INFOCOM 2008, but my student Adam Kirsch went to the conference to deliver the paper, and I can't recall ever hearing anything about the miniconference format. Someone should have blogged about it before. :) )
100 additional papers -- a bit over 7% of the original submissions -- were apparently accepted to the miniconference, covering most of that "top 20-30%" range. The main difference appears to be the labelling (INFOCOM miniconference, not INFOCOM) and that the paper will be limited to 5 pages in the proceedings.
While I'm happy the paper got in, I must admit, I don't understand the reasoning behind the INFOCOM Miniconference, and I hope some readers in the know will explain and elaborate. If the purpose is to have a 2-tier conference, it seems an odd structure -- why not just accept 25-30% of the papers? (A few hundred pages in the proceedings wouldn't seem to matter much since it's on a CD?)
I wonder if theory conferences like STOC, FOCS, or SODA should adopt some sort of 2-tier structure in order to accept more papers. Certainly most people who have papers rejected from these conferences (myself included) believe they should have gotten in, and some fraction of them are probably right. On the other hand, such a structure would seem to lessen the prestige associated with these conferences. Any opinions?