I've submitted my first scientific paper to KDD, an academic conference with a decision deadline of May 12, 2016. However, before decisions there is an "author response phase" (see below). I'm a bit surprised that we haven't heard from the reviewers yet as there is only about 5 weeks from now (Apr 3) to the decisions deadline.
Is this normal? Also, how many days are authors usually given to formulate a response? It seems like we'll have very limited time so I'm slightly concerned with how intense the author response phase will be (seeing as I also have other ongoing projects).
Papers will be reviewed by members of the KDD program committee and decisions will be emailed to all authors by May 12, 2016. Note that there will be an author response phase between submission and decisions.
It's still relatively rare for conferences to have an author response period at all, and when it happens, it's typically very different from the response to a journal submission.
For a journal, you are expected to submit a revised version explaining how you've changed things to deal with reviewer criticism. For a conference, on the other hand, the author response period is typically more an opportunity for quality control on reviewers, in which the authors get a chance to say things like: "Reviewer #3 claims that this paper should be rejected because we didn't do experiments, which we find confusing because several key experiments are presented on pages 4-5." The program chairs then use this review/rebuttal pairing to make decisions on which papers will be accepted and whether they will need shepherding to ensure quality of the camera-ready (for those conferences that use shepherding).
As such, the response time is typically quite short, often only around a week, and typically happens not long before decisions are scheduled to be sent.