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Re: thoughts on manuals [Was st: -margin-, -mfx compute- and-manuals-]


From   SamL <saml@demog.berkeley.edu>
To   Stata Listserve <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   Re: thoughts on manuals [Was st: -margin-, -mfx compute- and-manuals-]
Date   Sun, 16 Nov 2003 23:34:33 -0800 (PST)

Clive,

(In hopes this will not be read in an angry tone, for it is really a tone
of concern and helpfulness I mean to strike).

How do you think I got to a, as you say, "blue-chip" university?
Certainly not by asking vendors to lower prices on products I needed in
order to make investments in my human capital.  It's easy to ask others to
change what they are doing.  It is harder to accept that we all make
choices in life, and nothing is free.  If you don't get the manuals, you
should accept what that means--being unaware of syntax, capabilities,
options, and caveats.  And one other thing I think it means is you should
try to avoid turning statalist into a Clive-support group where users
check the manuals (you don't have) and answer your questions (that would
be answered if you obtained and read the manuals).  Send questions to
statalist.  But, try not to get angry if the answer is "check the
manuals".  Often, when that's the answer, no one actually sends a
response.

In the same connection, the archive is for everyone, especially new users.
It is to keep the list from repeatedly dealing with the same issues, to
keep new people from joining and asking the same questions over and over.
The archive is one reason statalist remains a high quality list--people
who have been using the software awhile stay on the list because the list
is not inundated with problems that have been addressed before, especially
low-level syntax questions that have been documented.  And, it is the
presence of these advanced users on the list that makes it work for all of
us who are not long-time users--I myself have only been using stata for
about 18 months.

Finally, you are a new user, but you seem resistant to learning the rules
of etiquette on statalist, such as what resources to check before you send
a note to the list, and so on.  Your resistance makes me wonder, are you
on a one-man crusade to drive everyone else off the list?  Are you some
kind of Microsoft plant?  ;-)

Seriously, though, I hope you figure a way to get the manuals.  There
really is no complete substitute.  But if you are unwilling or unable to
do so (and, much of the syntax is the same so stata7 manuals can partly
suffice), that's unfortunate--but it is your problem, not that of the rest
of the stata community.  This is the way it is with all queries to
statalist. If I send a question saying I used syntax B to estimate a model
but can't get it to run, and someone responds and indicates B won't work,
but A will, I have a choice.  I can use syntax A, and get the model to
run.  Or I can persist in using syntax B, and the model will never run.
If I persist in using syntax B, I shouldn't get upset that this approach
won't work, when people have graciously taken of their time and energy to
show me how to accomplish the aim I tell them I have (i.e., to estimate
this model).  Analoguously, answers to your dilemma have been
provided--get the manuals--and several ways of doing so have been
suggested.  If you disagree that that is necessary, or feel it is too
costly to follow that approach, that's fine.  But, persisting in using
syntax B, or persisting in failing to avail oneself of the principle
resource, comes to the same thing--your work moves much more slowly than
it otherwise would, if it moves at all.  And that's a cost that depends on
the value of your time, a question only you can answer.

Respectfully,

Sam


On Mon, 17 Nov 2003, Clive Nicholas wrote:

> To answer Remzo's and Sam's comments (but Remzo's in particular), Stata
> was available in the form of version 7 on all of our university's machines
> up until (I think) the spring of last year; so they're extremely unlikely
> to bring it back. And it won't make any difference to me since I've now
> got SE 8 on my machine!
>
> As to the manuals, I agree with you, Sam: they are an investment (I had a
> thorough flick through the dictionary-style [R] books at Essex earlier
> this year, and they're very good). But then it's easy to say things like
> that when you're at a blue-chip university with massive resources such as
> UC Berkeley. I would suggest to you that not all of us mere mortals are as
> fortunate! ;-) I'll pass on the archive for now since we've had this
> interesting little exchange, but I might remind you that I've only been
> 'here' since last month!
>
> C.
>
> > You know, Clive, this was discussed less than 6 months ago, and is amply
> > documented in the archive.  To make a long story short, the manuals are
> > cheap.  They are investments.  They will pay off over the rest of your
> > life (even after the software has been superceded by stata18--because you
> > will learn very useful things to make you survive in the field until
> > stata18 arrives, as well as for other reasons).  If a person is unwilling
> > or unable to make a human capital investment early, that person will reap
> > lower returns later.  That's the way it works.
> >
> > Being a student, that's what one is doing--among other things; making
> > hci's.  It's okay to decide the stata manuals are not a good hci.
> > Although it is probably especially penny wise and pound foolish for
> > someone without any other way to access the syntax to regard the manuals
> > as poor hci's, it is just wrong to assert that the manuals are expensive.
> > As investments go, they are cheap--very very cheap.  And, as the saying
> > goes, if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
> >
> > Respectfully yours,
> >
> > Sam
> >
> >
> >
> > On Sun, 16 Nov 2003, Renzo Comolli wrote:
> >
> >> Dear all,
> >>
> >> I have already expressed my opinion on the general matter of the manual
> >> price for graduate students (or students in general). In order to limit
> >> repetition (the thoughts were leanghy and nounced) let me only update
> >> what
> >> changed.
> >> 1. When I bought Stata, I said to my self, "manuals? I can do without;
> >> I'll
> >> use the help"
> >> 2. When I wrote my email on this topic, I wrote "manuals? I would
> >> seriously
> >> consider buying them if they were cheaper"
> >> 3. Today I write "it would be really expensive, but if I could not
> >> borrow
> >> them, I would buy them".
> >>
> >> Now some practical advice to Clive on how to (try to) borrow the manuals
> >> and
> >> live a happy Stata life:
> >> 1. Propose to your library to buy them (it works)
> >> 2. Propose to your department (chair, director of graduate studies...)
> >> to
> >> buy them (it works too)
> >> 3. Propose to your supervisor to buy them
> >> 4. Some universities have mini-research grants for purposes such as this
> >> one.
> >> 5. Be brass and ask to other departments whether they have them (some
> >> epidemiological, public health, political science depts have them)
> >>
> >> Ciao
> >> Renzo
> >>
> >> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >> ----
> >> /* From   "Clive Nicholas" <Clive.Nicholas@newcastle.ac.uk> */
> >> To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
> >> Subject   st: -margin-, -mfx compute- and -manuals-
> >> Date   Sat, 15 Nov 2003 11:47:50 -0000 (GMT)
> >>
> >> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >> ----
> >> [...]
> >>
> >> By the way, unlike most Statapeeps on this list, I don't consider myself
> >> loaded enough to afford all of the Stata manuals. I find it hard to
> >> understand why people make this assumption. There are no books *at all*
> >> on
> >> Stata available at my (rather large) university library, not least
> >> because, quite wrongly in my view, Stata isn't on our university
> >> machines
> >> here. I'll let you all into a dirty secret I have:
> >>
> >> **I'm a student!**
> >>
> >> I know. Incredible, isn't it?! Yes, I'd *love* to own the whole kit and
> >> caboodle, but I had to make choices as to which I could purchase, since
> >> I
> >> needed to purchase Stata 8 and Stat/Transfer 7. I chose to buy [U]. I'm
> >> thinking of getting [XT] soon. But [R]? No way, not at that price. Love
> >> to, but you know, finances and all that... ;-)
> >>
> >> C.
> >>
> >>
> >> *
> >> *   For searches and help try:
> >> *   http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/findit.html
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> >>
> > *
> > *   For searches and help try:
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> > *   http://www.stata.com/support/statalist/faq
> > *   http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/
> >
>
>
> Yours,
> CLIVE NICHOLAS,
> Politics Building,
> School of Geography, Politics and Sociology,
> University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
> Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
> NE1 7RU,
> United Kingdom.
> *
> *   For searches and help try:
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>
*
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