EasyChair (Conference Management System)

My own experience is with LinguistList’s EasyAbs, but I just learned that there’s a competitor out there. EasyChair, like EasyAbs, is “designed to help conference organisers to cope with the complexity of the refereeing process”. Read more about it at This is a rare instance in which I am posting a product that I have not tried, myself, because I want others’ opinions on it!

Visuwords: WordNet gone visual

Visuwords takes Princeton’s WordNet (see previous post), the data it is based on, one step further and turns into into a visually attractive “online graphical dictionary” that lets you “Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.”

I’ve got to admit, while WordNet itself might be fun for serious linguists to play with, this is fun for everyone, and far more accessible. I love how the nodes keep popping out. Give it a try at The word “help,” for example, produces a particularly rich network.

helpnetwork wordfinder describes itself as a “word game wordfinder” (e.g. to help you with crossword puzzles, hangman, scrabble, etc.) but I encountered it in an ESL context: I had to come up with sets of words that ended with certain suffixes and my brain was really tired and I just wanted it done FOR me (and I also wanted to make sure that the examples I was using were ideal, rather than words that ended in -ity or whatever but maybe weren’t so common). I imagine that this could be useful for ESL instructors as well as linguistics instructors, English/writing instructors, and so on. Some examples of the kinds of things you can search for there:

Example searches:
check for exact word like “crosswords”: crosswords
three letter word, ending in “r”: –r
six letter word, first two letters “pu”, last letter “e”: pu—e
ten letter word, middle two letters “sw”: —-sw—-
words containing the sequence “sswo” anywhere: *sswo*
words of any length starting with “cross”: cross*
words of any length ending with “zzle”: *zzle
word starts with “a”, ends with “z”: a*z
starts with “b”, “c” somewhere within, ends with “d”: b*c*d
words starting with “ab” that don’t contain an “e” or “o”: ab* ^eo”

Of course it also does stuff specifically helpful for people playing word games, e.g. it shows anagrams, words that can be formed by adding one letter to the start or end of the word, shorter words found within it, etc. (Click here for an example of it being done for said.)

*Note: For select words, it shows frequency information, based on the BNC (British National Corpus), e.g. this is what it looks like for words ending in –ment. However, it doesn’t do it for all words, and I’m not sure how to get it to do it on demand. It’s being worked on. for scheduling student conferences

I know that (easy way to schedule a meeting time for a bunch of people and–much appreciated by me–does not require any sort of registration for participants or administrators) is old news to many people. Not sure that everyone realizes that it can be used to schedule a bunch of individual meetings too, though. This makes it awesome for instructors who need to schedule student conferences (or presentations, etc.). No paper sign-up sheets, and no wasted class time. Just click, under “Settings,” the boxes “Participant can only choose one option” and “Limit the number of participants per option” (to one). Then sit back and watch them sign up.

Partial screenshot from a Doodle poll