Indo-Eurasian_Research List: Rules of Posting

Below are posting guidelines for the Indo-Eurasian_Research List (jointly run by Michael Witzel, Lars Martin Fosse, and Steve Farmer).

The List is primarily aimed at professional researchers in premodern Indology, Iranology, Near Eastern and Central Asian Studies, Sinology, and Comparative History. Participants include linguists, historians, archaeologists, art historians, specialists in ancient religions, comparativists, and researchers in many other fields. Active members are located in S. Asia, China, Russia, Eastern and Western Europe, Australia, Japan, and the United States.

The List is open to the public, but professional researchers in historical fields get priority in discussions. For details, see below.

The List format is loosely modeled on the format used at the annual Harvard University Roundtable on the Ethnogenesis of South and Central Asia, organized by M. Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard and Editor of the Harvard Oriental Series. The 2005 Roundtable was held in Kyoto, Japan. The most recent (devoted exclusively to comparative mythology) was held in Beijing, China, on 11-13 May 2006, in a collaboration between Harvard and Peking Universities. Since then, there have been 13 Conferences held in many countries all over the world  - from Scotland to Japan to France, Holland, the US, Armenia, Russia, and Estonia, etc. The 2020 Conference is scheduled to be held in Mexico.

Please sign your name at the end of each post: the List does not allow anonymous postings.

1. Who can post and what can be posted? Any researcher can submit posts on any topic to the List, including research inquiries. Posting of new articles for List comment, including PDF preprints, is encouraged. The public is also invited to propose messages, but none will be passed on to the List that are amateurish or are not likely to be of general interest to the List's core members. (On postings reflecting religious or nationalistic perspectives, see rule #3.) Key fields of List members currently include over 30 areas in premodern Eurasian studies, including Indology, Iranology, Near Eastern and Central Asian studies, Sinology and East Asian Studies, Comparative History, and related fields.

2. Major topics of controversial nature. Topics of special importance to the advance of premodern Eurasian studies may from time to time be introduced to the List by core List members. Priority in discussion of these high-interest topics will be given to researchers doing advanced research in the fields under discussion. The moderators may step in at times to ensure that these discussions keep on track and don't get diverted (through gratuitous 'splitting' of threads) in tangental directions.

3. Scientific, international, and humanistic aims of the List. The aims of the Indo-Eurasian_Research List are secular, progressive, and humanistic. List discussions of political-religious issues are encouraged (especially on weekends) insofar as those issues affect research or matters of humanistic concern in the regions studied by core List members. Messages that in the judgment of the moderators are driven by nationalistic or religious views of premodern history will not be forwarded to the List. If reading the opinions of researchers who approach religion and politics from non-religious and global perspectives offends you, this isn't the List for you.

4. No arguments from 'authority' or personal comments aimed at other researchers. While routine research inquiries are always welcome on the List, the List's main goal is to encourage discussion of major unsettled issues in premodern studies. As a result, it is critical that all posts focus exclusively on ideas and evidence, and not on the persons proposing those ideas. No posts are allowed that claim anything on the 'authority' of past researchers; nor will messages be posted that include rude comments, 'flames', or ad hominem remarks aimed at other posters. All messages are subject to editing to improve formatting or to remove gratuitous personal comments; no changes will be made in the editing process to any evidential claims. Questioning of standard views of history are encouraged, not discouraged, on the List, so long as this questioning is backed by credible and verifiable evidence.

5. Timing your posts. Time your posts to maximize the effectiveness of group discussions; don't add a long message on a major topic when several other long messages on that topic have just been posted; when traffic is heavy on one issue, don't try to introduce another major thread on an unrelated topic. Save discussion of lighter matters or political issues (satire of pseudo-archaeology and nationalistic absurdities are welcome) for the weekends, unless those matters are of exceptional importance. Weekdays are normally reserved for discussion of straightforward research matters.

6. Message formatting. Pay attention to the way you format messages. Only quote previous posts insofar as the citations are needed to understand the context of your message (don't quote a long string of old posts). When quoting earlier messages, make sure that your readers can clearly identify who said what. Quoted materials must be reformatted to avoid 'jaggies', which undermine the value of whatever you are quoting.

7. Avoid thread 'splitting' and 'omniposts'. Avoid gratuitous 'splitting' of threads and try in your posts to cover only one key point at a time. If you want to start a new topic do so in a new thread; don't sabotage ongoing discussions by taking off on tangental issues or by trying to discuss so many ideas in one message that no one can reasonably respond to your post. 'Omniposts' are themselves an invitation to disruptive 'splitting' of threads; together, these two problems are perhaps the biggest impediments to sustaining useful Internet discussions, and we'd like to eliminate these problems as much as possible on the List.

Minor updates July 2006; url revised March 2020 (now at