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From |
"Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk> |

To |
<statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu> |

Subject |
st: Asking Stata questions on Statalist |

Date |
Fri, 22 Nov 2002 19:51:57 -0000 |

The Statalist FAQ continues to exist, and it is advertised at the bottom of this and every other Statalist posting, and we hope it is useful. Still, presenting advice in other forms from time to time may also have its uses. What follows is a personal distillation, but it does draw on many interactions with others in the user community. Asking Stata questions on Statalist =================================== 1. You have -- naturally -- already looked at the on-line help, read the manual, looked at the FAQs at http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/ and asked the local expert. If not, please do so. 2. Did you do a search using -findit-? If you don't know what -findit- is, look at this FAQ: http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/findit.html 3. Is your version of Stata up-to-date? Your problem might already have been identified and fixed. Type . update query in Stata to find out. If it is under your control, please -update-. If it is not your control, please ask the systems adminstrator to -update-. 4. What version of Stata you are using and what date is it? Type . about to find out. Quote what Stata types as the first two lines, something like Intercooled Stata 7.0 for Windows 98/95/NT Born 11 June 2002 5. What command(s) are you using? a. Is the command built-in? If so, typing in Stata . which <command> will tell you that. For <command>, substitute the name of the command you are using. Then just name the command in your posting. Use - - in your posting around command names, as in this document. Good example: I am using -regress-... b. Is the command an official command defined by an ado file? . which <command> will specify a file somewhere in BASE or UPDATES. (In Stata, type -sysdir- to see where they are.) Just name the command. Good example: I am using -xtlogit-... c. Is the command user-written and downloaded from the SJ/STB, SSC or other archives? . which <command> should specify a file somewhere other than BASE or UPDATES; and if the command is carefully written it should give an internal version number of the form 1.2.3. Have you got the latest version of the command? If it is from SSC, use -ssc-. Type . help ssc If this doesn't work, you clearly did not update (#2). See http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/findit.html to learn what alternatives are available. Say what the command is and where and who it comes from. Good example: I am using -dmexog- (version 1.4.1) from SSC written by Kit Baum and Steven Stillman. 6. Tell us about your data as far as is relevant to your question. 7. Say exactly what you typed and exactly what Stata typed (or did) in response. N.B. exactly! If you can, reproduce the error with one of Stata's provided data sets or a simple concocted data set which you include in your posting. Bad example: The command -fiddle- worked yesterday, but it is not working today. [No information] (Remarkably or not, questions of this form have appeared on Statalist...) Bad example: I am using -frog-, but I just get the message "invalid syntax". [Very little information] Good example: I am trying to draw a time series plot using -graph-. Here is a silly example showing my problem with the auto data: . gen time = _n . graph mpg time, c(1) sy(i) Stata says "invalid syntax". What I am doing wrong? 8. Please write carefully. List members often delete badly written postings without reading them. They will, of course, take note whenever it is clear that you are not writing in your first language, but postings marred by careless grammar, spelling and punctuation and sloppy presentation generally are often just too much like hard work to be worth bothering about. Why should people put themselves out to try to understand you when you are so thoughtless about presenting your question? 9. Make sure that you answer any supplementary questions which you may be asked. Wrap up a thread whenever appropriate by reporting what worked. The formula "Thanks in advance" does not absolve you from this responsibility. On that, and other matters relevant, see http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html 10. Don't say "Is this a bug?". Almost all the time, it isn't! Nick n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk * * For searches and help try: * http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/findit.html * http://www.stata.com/support/statalist/faq * http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/

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