Back in 1999, there was a great paper co-authored by anti-Altaicist Stefan Georg with some Altaicists that gave the history of the Altaic theory, gathered up all of the evidence, and tried to work out what the substantive questions were and who was trying to answer them: Telling general linguists about Altaic (also on Google Scholar).
Since then, the debate has changed quite a bit—as I understand it, Starostin completed his system and published an etymological dictionary and basically nobody follows Poppe anymore; Japanese is now central to the theory (so the various alternative Japanese classification theories now directly oppose Altaic); Vovin set out to systematically answer all of the old criticisms by Dörfer that had been mostly ignored; etc. (Also, Martine Robbeets' "Transeurasian" seems like an alternative to Poppe and Starostin that's roughly equivalent to Altaic, and didn't even exist in 1999.)
But trying to look at any of the publications, they're more like flame wars than scientific papers (especially after Vovin switched sides).
Has anyone written anything like Georg's survey, but updated to cover the last 20 years? Even if there's not a paper, a solid blog post would be helpful.
There are a few related questions on this site which aren't being automatically picked up by the Related sidebar, so I'll link them directly:
- What are arguments for and against a common origin of Korean and Japanese?
- Why is Korean considered a language isolate?
- Origins of Turkic language family? Alternatives to Altaic?
The last one links to a no-longer-available 2014 blog post; digging it up on Wayback, it gives a brief summary of the issues, but not at the depth I'm looking for. It also has links to a number of papers—including Georg 1999, and some of the more recent flame-war papers I mentioned, and Starostin's actual primary research data—but none of them are what I'm looking for. Which implies that, at least as of 2014, there probably is no answer to this question. But I'll leave it open out of optimism.