I'm not sure that this is the best place for this post, but on the other hand I could not think of a better forum. Of course I understand if this post must be downvoted since it doesn't strictly pertain to MathOverflow.

In the past few months, since Covid-19 has turned our world upside down, nearly all mathematical seminars have gone online; a huge number of them can be found on researchseminars.org. Moreover, nearly all of these seminars now take place via the videoconferencing program Zoom.

It has come to my attention that Zoom does not work with IP addresses in Iran. If you check their website


you will note that several countries are restricted, such as Cuba and Iran.

These sorts of restrictions are, of course, huge obstacles in the way of the free flow of ideas and the cohesiveness of the mathematical community; and no matter your opinions on this particular matter, I think that most would agree that the decision of whom we share our research and work with should not be made by a company, particularly a company beholden to the political situation of its parent country.

I don't have a particular solution in mind besides "find a platform which doesn't restrict access and service in this fashion", but I think it's probably an important time to start a discussion about how we, as a mathematical community, are going to run our seminars and disseminate our work, especially as things move more and more fully online.

Please let me know if there are any corrections I should make, if this is the wrong forum (and you have a better forum in mind) or with any other comments.

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    $\begingroup$ This would be more appropriate for Academia stackexchange, as the issues you have raised pertain to a variety of fields of science. Also, the main thrust of your post is an objection to the "nonuniversality" of Zoom, and does not ask a proper question. I recommend asking a question related to the title of your post. Scientific exchange and interaction does not have to be video based; there may be alternatives that do not require a realtime protocol. Gerhard "Imagine Three Hundred Years Ago" Paseman, 2020.07.23. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 5:21
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    $\begingroup$ @GerhardPaseman Are you suggesting, with your middle name, that there were research environments that could be found 300 years ago that would be a reasonable fit for our current needs? $\endgroup$
    – S. Carnahan Mod
    Jul 24, 2020 at 6:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm suggesting that you rethink about what the current needs really are. Gerhard "See Constraints In Different Lighting" Paseman, 2020.07.23. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 6:57
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    $\begingroup$ @GerhardPaseman "Scientific exchange and interaction does not have to be video based; there may be alternatives that do not require a realtime protocol" sure. I'll write a letter that goes by ship half way around the world to arrive weeks or months after the seminar that everyone else in the north-west of the world watched live and had their questions answered. /s $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Jul 24, 2020 at 6:58
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed. And on that journey, perhaps new questions will come to you. Gerhard "Answers Aren't Everything You Know" Paseman, 2020.07.24. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder whether this question would be received better if the most common software used for mathematics online conferences worldwide would be unavailable in the US due to sanctions by the EU, China and Russia in response to President Trumps' withdrawal of the Paris agreement, his breach of the Iran nuclear deal, his decision to quit the WHO, and so on. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Jul 26, 2020 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ I should note that in our teaching this past semester, we had to supply two copies of zoom links for students: one for the majority, and a special one for students in China. If conference organisers only give a zoom.us url including a hashed password, then I believe this won't work in China (and one cannot join manually using the meeting ID because the plaintext password is lacking). $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Jul 27, 2020 at 0:02


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