Rage against required templates for paper submissions

Anyone who wants to submit a paper to a computer science conference usually faces two options: Use a TeX template or use a Word template. I haven’t written TeX in thirty years as a first author (I do edit and contribute as a coauthor because it can’t be avoided) and I use Linux and hence LibreOffice which usually can’t handle the Word templates well.

May I ask why I am exposed to this pain? I’m sure the authors of these templates are comfortable using their own creations, but for everyone else it is a misery. What may be a beauty of a logically structured set of styles to the template authors (or just an abandoned toy project) to me is only a hot mess of convoluted styles and miserable instructions. And no, I’m not willing to submit my brain to weeks of figuring out what that beautiful logic might be.

As computer scientists we should hold each other to higher standards and provide a descriptive specification of the required formatting so that I can use the tools I want to, rather than require the use of a prescriptive template that makes me miserably limping along. An editor or program chair can still desk-reject papers that don’t fit the specification if they think enforcing specific formatting is required. Just don’t make your community waste all this time on figuring out someone else’s undocumented template code.

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