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st: Stata questions and statistical questions


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: Stata questions and statistical questions
Date   Wed, 7 Sep 2005 15:33:29 +0100

I quote from the FAQ:  

===== begin extract 
0.1 What is Statalist for?

The appropriate subjects for discussion on Statalist are 

Stata 
statistics 

Postings on anything to do with Stata are welcome, such as 

how to do something in Stata 
difficulties in using and understanding Stata 
apparent bugs or limitations in Stata 
areas for future additions to or improvements to Stata 
neat tricks in Stata that others may appreciate 
new Stata ado-files 
announcement of Stata-related meetings or material. 

Once a statistical topic is mentioned, comments on the 
statistical or scientific merits and demerits of different 
approaches are legitimate. Statalisters want to use Stata 
to do good statistical science, and many members value 
Statalist for the broader material it includes. 

While you should refrain from asking questions that have 
absolutely no Stata content or implications, statistical 
questions concerning interpretation, applicability, and the 
like, are acceptable and even encouraged. 
===== end extract 

In recent weeks, there seems to be have been an upward
drift in the fraction of questions that are totally 
statistical, including the two main forms 
(a) how should I analyse something? 
(b) is this kind of analysis correct? 

In many cases, the posters appear to be relatively new
to Statalist. 

I suggest strongly that while a mix of Stata and statistical 
issues is often both natural and fascinating, we should 
resist any morphing of Statalist into a list that takes 
a large fraction of purely statistical questions with no 
Stata content. Not only is the amount of traffic on Statalist 
quite large enough for most tastes, other lists exist for these purposes. 

In practice, experienced Statalisters often ignore 
questions of types (a) and (b), especially if they get 
the impression that the poster needs to exert a little 
more self-help. This posting therefore is a personal plea 

* to those experienced listers to hold the line _whenever_ 
the most appropriate answer is probably "for goodness' 
sake, do some reading, or get some guidance from people
locally who know more than you do". (If the question 
is more advanced, it is often very interesting, but 
that's very different!) 

* to newer list members to note that, in essence, 
Statalist is about the statistical software Stata 
and not a hold-your-hand list for basic statistical 
help. 

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


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