Basic Guidelines for Posting, Querying, and Responding on H-Diplo*


1. Basic Principles

2. Composing Queries and Replies

3. Responding to Commissioned Material

4. Formatting Replies: Avoid "Top-posting"

5. Submitting Announcements

6. Seeking Panelists at Major Conferences

7. Posting by Non-Subscribers

H-Diplo is a list organized primarily for academic specialists in the fields of diplomatic history and international affairs to exchange ideas, discuss research and teaching, and stay abreast of professional events. Given the scholarly character of the list, the editors try to maintain a professional atmosphere and endeavor to adhere to high standards of discourse in the electronic medium. Thus, subscribers should take care when they post to the list, and comply with the below-listed points.

1. Basic Principles

H-Diplo, like other H-Net mail lists, reserves the write to edit messages for clarity, ease of transmission, and concision (see H-Net posting guidelines Section 2.03. Guidelines on Posting and Subscribing). List editors also reserve the right to request revision of or refuse to post incoming messages that have the potential of being taken as inflammatory or sarcastic; fail to demonstrate adequate scholarly preparation or sophistication; or that are primarily commercial in nature.

In terms of message format, subscribers should follow the below stylistic guidelines:

  1. STYLE: the default editorial style for the list is that of a letter to the editor or parliamentary address. Remarks can be crafted to suit the tone of an existing discussion thread, but in any case they should address the editor and not make direct or 2nd-person references to others (e.g., "you are wrong"). Messages should focus on individual's arguments, not the individual. Sarcastic and "one-liner" posts will usually be rejected. Subscribers should avoid excessive quotation of messages in replies.
  2. SIGNATURE: All messages require a signature. At the minimum, this means the first and last name of the poster at the end of the message. H-Diplo encourages subscribers to include their department and institutional affiliation or city of residence below their name to foster a sense of scholarly community. No advertisements or quotations are permitted in signatures. Subscribers posting queries should include their e-mail address in either the signature or the body of the query.
  3. FORMAT: Messages should be sent in plain or Unicode text: no styles, html, non-Unicode fonts, or graphics files. Book or journal titles should be preceded and followed by _title feet_. To emphasize a point, use asterisks before and after the word. Do no type in capital letters for emphasis. Advertisements in signatures will be removed. Remove or turn off .vcf, digital signatures, or other automatic attachments. As a rule, editors do not redistribute attachments to the list; consider posting the material at a web site, or consult with the editor concerning proper venues for publication.
  4. GOOD WRITING: Subscribers should proofread, and if possible, run a spell-check program before submitting posts. In submissions with abundant misspellings or grammatical errors, editors may return the message for revision. Editors will correct English grammar and usage without consulting subscribers unless the meaning of the message is affected.
  5. CONTENT: As is stated on the preamble on the top page, H-Diplo is a list primarily focused on the scholarly discussion of research and teaching in diplomatic history and international affairs. It is not a forum for discussions of international politics from a partisan perspective. List discourse should be scholarly in tone and content, and thus discussions of rumors and hearsay, as well as personal political opinions, are not permitted. In general, submissions that primarily advocate or criticize contemporary policy or politics are not published. Commissioned reviews or essays and replies to them are excepted from this rule to the extent that work under review deals with such topics.
  6. ACCURACY: To encourage informed debate among subscribers, H-Diplo will not post replies that, in the judgment of editors, misrepresent statements or claims made in a subscriber's message or in commissioned material. Similarly, editors may ask subscribers to provide supporting citations for certain claims or statements in queries or replies.

2. Composing Queries and Replies to the List

H-Diplo welcomes requests for information — typically, bibliographical. Such queries are most likely to elicit helpful responses if they are as precise in their formulation as possible. Queries should describe the range of sources already consulted (particular publications and reference works, local libraries, Internet resources and search engines). Providing institutional affiliation in the signature gives respondents some idea of the library resources available to the subscriber. Precise queries tend to invite precise responses, and editors may send submissions back for revision if they are judged too imprecise to be helpful. An example of a poor query would be :

"Hi, I'm looking for some information on Eisenhower's policies toward China."

An example of a well-crafted query would be:

"I am researching the role of domestic interest groups on U.S. policy toward China during the Eisenhower administration. I have consulted the relevant FRUS volumes, and JSTOR searches yield several articles on the role of business groups (DiBacco, "American Business and Foreign Aid: The Eisenhower Years" Business History Review, 1967). I am also familiar with Bachrack's _The Committee of One Million: "China Lobby" Politics, 1953-1971_ (1976). Are there any significant secondary sources on this period that I am missing?

Subscribers should make use of basic printed and internet resources available in the field before posting a query to the list. These include JSTOR, the FRUS, including historical volumes), and The Avalon Project.

Thus, in summary, when preparing a query for the list, please consider the following points:

  1. What sorts of research efforts connected with the topic of your query have already been made? What major sources (and their bibliographies), whether textual or online, or other media, are already known?
  2. Can your own working bibliography be made available in some way, as through a web link?
  3. What language materials will you be able to benefit from? (keeping in mind that other list members may benefit from materials in other languages)

Similarly, replies to queries should provide useful citations. Book citations should include at least the author's last name, the title, and the year of publication. Journal citations should include the same information, along with the article's title.

3. Replying to Commissioned Material

H-Diplo commissions review essays, article reviews, roundtable reviews, H-Net Reviews, and other essays. In general, respondents are expected to have read the reviewed work or be familiar with the relevant scholarship on the subject, as evidenced by citations.

Replies that focus on tangential questions will be rejected. H-Diplo also will reject replies that primarily advocate or criticize contemporary policies or that are diatribes on current political questions, except when the commissioned item or the work under review itself discusses such topics.

Much of the H-Diplo|ISSF publications examine contemporary policy issues, drawing on historical and social science research. Discussion of these topics should draw on this research explicitly, through specific scholarly citations.

4. Formatting Replies: Avoid "Top-posting"

H-Diplo adheres to a posting style that is fairly standard on technical, Open Source related e-mail lists, but which may be new to many scholars. It is called interleaved posting (also known as "bottom posting") which is distinguished from what is known as "top posting" (the wrong way).

"Top posting," a sort of non-style which is commonly seen in everyday e-mail correspondence (which began to appear with the proliferation of Microsoft e-mail programs such as Outlook and Outlook Express) occurs when someone responds to a prior post by simply hitting the reply button, writing at the top of the new message screen, and leaving the remnants of the prior message(s) at the bottom unreferenced.

There are a few reasons why this is seen to be undesirable—foremost among these being the problems that are created in the process of archiving, and the accessing of information by subsequent web searches. What happens is that a year or so later, when someone looks for a key phrase in a web search, one finds remnants of the same post over and over in different messages in a confusing manner.

This does not mean that in replying one should simply quote the entire previous message and write at the bottom, as the term "bottom-posting" might suggest. Rather, one should edit away the parts of the previous message not needed to establish context for the reply, and interleave replies to each point being addressed. Or, in the words of RFC 1855, the Netiquette Guidelines, which comprise a comprehensive set of netiquette conventions:

If you are sending a reply to a message or a posting, be sure you summarize the original at the top of the message, or include just enough text of the original to give a context. This will make sure readers understand when they start to read your response.

Therefore, in crafting a response to a post on H-Diplo, please compose the message by taking a moment to contextualize the prior message, citing relevant portions, and skillfully incorporating them into the response. There should be no further information contained after the signature. The only exception to this case is when the remainder of the message is specifically referenced data.

5. Submitting Announcements

Calls for papers (CfPs), calls for applications (CfAs) for grants, awards, & fellowships, notices of upcoming conferences or forums, and invitations to free, public events will be published if the editors consider the topics of sufficient interest to H-Diplo subscribers. Notices of new academic-oriented websites or the publication of primary source documents, if relevant to H-Diplo's mission, will also be published. H-Diplo does not post book announcements alone. Journal TOCs are published via H-Diplo's Journal Watch [jw].

H-Diplo does not post announcements for commercial products, paid enrollment in academic institutions, or advertisements for events charging fees for attendance. Under H-Net rules, H-Diplo cannot post advertisements for fellowships that require teaching and temporary or tenure-track positions unless the institution has paid for a listing on the H-Net Job Guide.

Announcements must include the name and e-mail address of the sender. H-Diplo frequently publishes similar kinds of announcements (e.g., CfPs) in a single message.

6. Seeking Panelists at Major Conferences

Subscribers seeking panelists for major academic conferences may submit queries. Such queries should include the name and dates of the conference, the subject matter to be explored, and the name and e-mail or phone number of the person submitting the request. H-Diplo will compile the queries on a separate webpage as well.

7. Posting by Non-Subscribers

H-Diplo will consider prospective posts by non-subscribers for publication on the list, especially for announcements that may be of interest to list members. However, there is no guarantee that any such post will be published. H-Diplo will post replies by authors of reviewed works, provided the message complies with other H-Diplo rules.

H-Net also offers a free announcement service. H-Diplo subscribes to H-Announce, and posts relevant announcements to the H-Diplo list. To circulate an announcement to a broader audience, organizers should submit an announcement there.

* H-Diplo thanks H-Buddhism for permission to adapt their guidelines for use here.
Last revised: March 12, 2010