It is that time of year: all palaeontologists in the English-speaking world try to predict the future, and know now what brand-new and interesting research results they will have found by late fall. That’s for submitting an abstract for the Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology – a gargantuan meeting made much worse than it needs be by deliberate choices made by the Society. Like the choice of usually running parallel sessions of massively overlapping topics, like “tetrapod locomotion” and a “dinosaur” session that has nearly only biomechanics talks. Or by how the abstract submission page is set up.
First stupid decision is that you can’t log in with your SVP member login data. Doesn’t say so, though – you need to guess that when your login attempts fail. Luckily, the guy running the SVP member page help is a very nice person and replied to my exasperated email quickly.
Then, you need to add your authors for the talk, and one of them must be a member of SVP. OK, I joined the society over 5 hours ago (time stamp of email confirming my membership), so I should be able to submit as the sole author, right?
I am, according to the system, not a member. Searching for my email, last name, member number doesn’t help: I am officially NOT an SVP member.
Now, I’ve been frustrated by often complicated and badly run SVP websites before, for example a WYSIWYG site a few years ago that pretended to show you what your name tag would look like – only to find that once I got there the name of the museum was suddenly mis-spelled with an u instead of an ü. If that had been shown correctly, I could have replaced the u with an ue instead of an ü, which would have been a correct spelling. Minor stuff, to be sure, but that’s the kind of “we pretend to try but then just don’t do it” stuff that annoys me. Or offering an option called “talk only”, as opposed to “talk, or poster if talk not possible”, then turning my “talk only” submission into a poster. WTF?
But this really takes the cake: that it takes more than 5 hours to update the database, so that someone who just forked over $125 can submit an abstract.
I emailed the admins, let’s see if and when this gets fixed.