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st: Re: collaborative work

From   Kit Baum <>
Subject   st: Re: collaborative work
Date   Sun, 2 Nov 2003 15:29:01 -0500

On Nov 2, 2003, at 2:33 AM, Renzo wrote:

Case1: I saw some code on StataList. That code gave me the idea. I made an
ado out of it which is much more than what I saw, but the code I saw still
constitute the conceptual backbone of my code.
Proposed Solutions: I think that acknowledgements are a must, but is
anything more necessary? Asking permission? Offering coauthorship?

Case2: Most of code is all mine, idea and all, but a piece is copy pasted in
from someone else's code.
Proposed Solutions: acknowledgments and permission?

Case3: Most of code is all mine, idea and all, but a piece is copy pasted in
from another StataCorp ado. What does the copyright agreement say? (Please
don't make me read it, I am far too lazy for that, moreover I am not sure it
is available anywhere (after you click "I accept" upon installation, where
does it go? It is not anywhere in the Stata8 folder that I can see, it is
not on the Stata Website that I can find)

Case4: how to propose to somebody that I would like to coauthor a program
with him/her? Via email it is kind of difficult to broach the issue

Case5: for a newbie in writing ado files like me, who/how to approach
somebody to ask him/her whether in his/her opinion the ado is fit for
circulation of it would create a lot of problems for users?

Case6: my code requires somebody else's ado to work properly. How to plan
ahead? What if this other person changes his/her ado? May I package his/her
ado with mine as a subroutine?
Proposed solution: ask for permission, acknowledgements

Any comment welcome.

Best Regards,
Renzo Comolli
There are numerous examples of all of these combinations among the modules on SSC. Some routines require a separate ado, written by another author. In that case I put a statement that "Nick Cox' routine _hogwarts_ is required for this routine, and included in the package" in the "abstract" showing up on the web and in SSC describe. There is of course the potential that a separate author may independently alter his/her code in a way that breaks yours; e.g. said Cox has a penchant for revising routines to (a) add value and (b) make them Stata 8, which would then break if you had a pre-Stata 8 routine. In most cases that can be dealt with by ensuring that your routine calls the older version of the routine, or upgrading your routine to Stata 8.

As to how one should acknowledge contributions (e.g., a code snippet) from other authors, most people include that in the help file. I indicate that some of my own routines are based on StataCorp code to signal that unless I have done something stupid, much of their functiionality and reliability is derived from that professional code.

There are many instances of collaboration where someone will come up with some good ideas for a user-written routine, and be invited to join in as a coauthor. I don't see anything wrong with discussing the potential for that sort of arrangement via email. I have coauthored a number of routines with people whom I have never met.


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