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st: RE: Potential bugs in user-written commands


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: RE: Potential bugs in user-written commands
Date   Thu, 20 Feb 2003 08:57:37 -0000

Difficult though it may seem, I find myself 
agreeing with both Patrick Joly and Lee Sieswerda
in most respects. 

First, let me remind members of what is said in 
our own FAQ. 

"Before posting, consider other ways of finding information: 

	...

	the authors of user-written ado-files (who usually have email 
	addresses, but are NOT always members of Statalist)"

That last detail has not been mentioned on in this thread, but 
it is often crucial.  

Second, I'd rather argue from examples in this case. 
(I confine myself to user-written programs. I do think 
that it is usually better to refer apparent bugs in 
official code direct to Stata Corp. One good reason 
for that is not making a fool of yourself. Only the 
other day, I referred Stata Corp to what seemed to me 
a clear problem and they kindly directed me to the 
sections of the manual in which everything was explained.) 

* It seems that Patrick's initial post was prompted by 
a thread on a program of mine, -regplot-. The thread 
was quickly resolved in this case because I was watching 
Statalist. It was established fairly quickly that the 
problem, reported by two people, was resolved by users 
updating their Stata, as in their case -regplot- tripped 
a bug now fixed in -graph-. If I had been out of town or 
off sick, others would have, I guess, have sensed that 
somehow and had a look at the problem and sorted it out 
for users. That's what Statalist is for, in part. Also, 
the need for updating your Stata may well have been noticed by 
others, and served as a timely reminder. 

* It is also very helpful to get bug reports direct 
from users and I imagine that essentially all user-programmers
benefit from this. A bug is a bug is a bug and every 
programmer worthy of the name wants to be told and to 
be able to fix it as soon as possible. 

* At the other extreme, I know of bugs in user-written 
programs which have lain uncorrected for years, 
despite reminders. For example, people have moved or otherwise 
become inaccessible, or just never get round to fixing them. 
In a tail of cases publicising a difficulty on Statalist 
may be the only way to resolve a problem. 

Nick 
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk 

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