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st: program names [was: ... questions on -heckman- and income decomposition]


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: program names [was: ... questions on -heckman- and income decomposition]
Date   Tue, 28 Sep 2004 17:29:41 +0100

Stas is in a delicate state, showing signs of middle-aged
grumpiness before he's finished his Ph.D. .... 

Finding a good name for a Stata program can be difficult. The 
absolute rules include 

(1) You should not use a name used by Stata's own official 
commands. StataCorp doesn't forbid you from doing that, 
but otherwise you will have a job getting your program 
to be seen. (If that command is part of the executable, 
it will be impossible.) 

and 

(2) You should use a single name. 

StataCorp have also asked that people avoid using proper English words.
The rationale for this is that otherwise your choice of name may be 
broken by some Stata command introduced later, given that StataCorp 
like to use good common words for important stuff. (Your choice
of name might be broken, anyway.) 

In addition, there are clearly good grounds for not 
using the same name as an existing user-written program. 
SSC, for example, enforces this in so far as no two archived 
programs can have the same name. 

That said -- and avoiding proper English words is a good rule 
for everyone else to follow (!) -- I've every sympathy with 
a user-programmer who grabs a suitable and evocative name. 
Among other things, you want to be able to remember your _own_ 
names. A quick scan through my files shows that I have violated the 
"no English word" rule at least 20 times (adjacent chaos circular 
concord disjoint distinct dummies examples extremes flower groups 
levels majority marker modes moments nearest 
reorder spell split etc.), either accidentally or 
on purpose. 

In short, let's not make too much fuss about other people's 
program names, unless there's serious risk of confusion. 
At worst, someone may have to change a name. Not a big deal. 
 
Nick 
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk 

Stas Kolenikov
> 
> [Wishes and Grumbles section: I know of only one case of a worse
> general-sounding name that can be given to a very specific purpose
> program: I used to have -svybs- on my web page before I figured out
> that (i) what it does is statistically wrong, and (ii) what it does
> can be accomplished by the standard -bootstrap-, anyway.
> Decompositions are quite common in both statistics and applied areas;
> ANOVA decomposition of variance may be in place, and I know that
> people in quantitative psychology are fond of variance decompositions
> trying to attribute something like R^2 to every variable in the model.
> Shorrocks suggested Shapley decomposition as a general analytical tool
> for inequality and poverty analysis, and it is certainly applicable in
> this case, too. I am pretty sure there are many other decompositions
> of which I am not aware... so the title like -decompose- for a program
> that does only one specific decomposition does not sound right to me.
> Oh well... I must be in a bad mood these days, as my latest Statalist
> postings are mostly criticizing :). 

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