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From |
"Julia Gamas" <jgamas@mit.edu> |

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

Subject |
st: How to Get Help in Stata and Statalist |

Date |
Mon, 2 Aug 2004 09:23:29 -0400 |

Dear all, Here are some things that work for me in getting Stata help. Something someone said in last Friday's digest, about reluctance to use Stata manuals, prompted me to write this. BEFORE POSTING YOUR QUESTION TO STATALIST: 1. Search the Statalist archives (or on google). Chances are someone already asked the question I need answered. 2. Use and abuse the "help" window in Stata. Typing in different words that could possibly address my problem in the "help" window is good for two reasons. One is that eventually I type in a word that takes me somewhere I want to go and answers my question, and second, I get to learn about a bunch of other commands that I remember later. Sometimes a command that you need is within the explanation of another command. For example, if I want something about matrices I go to matrix commands first and to the bottom of the explanation to find other potentially useful commands or links. This may take a while. I find this reduces my need to consult the manuals to times when I want much more detailed information (about a model structure, for example). WHEN POSTING YOUR QUESTION: 3. State the problem early in subject line and email. I find that postings that start by stating a summary of the problem and then go into the details are easier for me to understand (and possibly answer). The person reading can decide quickly if they know anything about it and can offer help. Examples: "Is there a command that takes a matrix and stacks its columns into a list?" Or: "I need to put the columns of a matrix one on top of the other, but each column is a different size, does anybody know how to do this?" Then the statlist reader can answer me quickly by saying: use "stack". It is then up to me to go and find out how "stack" works. If instead I copy and paste in my matrix and then copy and paste two of its columns one on top of the other and ask if there is a command to do this at the end of the email, readers may have to spend a lot more of their time going through my email to understand the problem. 4. Read all answers to your question. Maybe you find one answer to be most helpful. But you will certainly learn something from the others, that you might be able to use later. 5. Don't give in to the temptation of skipping these steps and asking the statalist members directly. This will only make learning Stata harder in the long run and impose on their time. Trying to navigate it by yourself is what teaches you how to really use it. This requires an investment in time and this part is inevitable. As you do this however, you learn a lot and looking for solutions becomes increasingly easier. AS I'm sure many users agree, the benefits of learning and using Stata are enormous and well worth the work. I hope these steps may be helpful. Julia * * 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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