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st: RE: intro social science stats book


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: RE: intro social science stats book
Date   Tue, 4 Jul 2006 19:32:58 +0100

This could be discussed at several different levels. I will
comment on just a few. 

On a formal level, the expectations underlying 
Statalist are codified in the FAQ. Anyone who wants a different 
kind of list is welcome to start their own list with different 
expectations -- or to open a debate on why that FAQ is misguided
in any way. Curiously, although the "rules", such as they are, 
are often broken or ignored, I can recall almost no attempt to argue 
that they are misguided, beyond claims made that some people 
cannot control their mailers to emit just plain text. 

I have much sympathy with the idea of a "gentle" list, which 
has been mooted many times over the years. I just have never 
heard anyone say that they want to run it, but rather that 
they wish it existed. 

On a practical level, those who start any "gentle" list 
are probably best advised to keep it quiet, because otherwise 
they will be swamped with elementary questions. Current 
practice on Statalist is to be rather firm with those who 
appear to be lazy and disrespectful of the list's advertised
mores, but to try to be gentle with those who are just 
confused or overwhelmed. Naturally even experienced users 
have no way of getting this distinction right all the time -- 
but anyone who gets their fingers rapped in error and then rages 
at the list, or the poster, or goes off in a huff, is going 
to have a difficult life. 

Also, I fear that from the birth of a "gentle" list, 
some people would happily send
their postings both to Statalist and to the "gentle" list,
with disingenuous apologies for cross-postings, 
with results worse than before for those who might want 
to subscribe to both. 

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

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
> [mailto:owner-statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu]On Behalf Of Kit Baum
> Sent: 03 July 2006 17:14
> To: statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
> Subject: st: intro social science stats book
> 
> 
> Suzy wrote a very interesting post about SPSS/SAS/Stata, and said
> 
> Off the beaten track somewhat, but something that  might be helpful in
> the long run for encouraging  new Stata users, which I've 
> suggested once
> before and I'll bring it up again. It might be nice to also have a
> beginner/student Stata listserv - something just a bit more
> newbie/student friendly. By that I mean  a little more easy-going, not
> too protocol intensive, a place where perhaps more basic questions can
> be just  asked and answered without too much fuss or concern. I truly
> believe that many students  simply can't afford the manuals, 
> don't know
> where to look for information, and truly do not have the time to spend
> looking for an answer that is perhaps easy to find (for those with
> extended exposure to the world of Stata). Since younger people tend to
> use the Internet and listservs quite a bit, their first exposure to
> Statalist might be a bit of a shocker  - I know it was for me and I'm
> not that young. Nonetheless, I got over it, learned the basic 
> rules, and
> try to follow them as best as I can. However, not all 
> students may be so
> inclined.
> 
> 
> 
> I am not sure that there would be much incentive for "the usual  
> suspects" who respond to questions on Statalist to subscribe to such  
> a list. I'll let people like Nick Cox, Mark Schaffer and Clive  
> Nicholas offer their own views, but I would think that staying  
> abreast of _two_ lists might be somewhat much to ask. Furthermore, I  
> take it that you are concerned about the "bit of a shocker" 
> aspect of  
> posters who respond to questions somewhat brusquely, or even with  
> some hint of annoyance.
> 
> That annoyance is often well deserved. Agreed, many people can't  
> afford the manuals, and many who have them do not have them within  
> arm's length at a point in time. That is excusable. But not being  
> able to figure out how to use the on-line help is not. Perhaps the  
> acronym should be "RTFOLH."  If one can send email to Statalist, one  
> can use "findit" or "search", tools that many posters do not bother  
> to try before asking the q on Statalist. People ask "does Stata do  
> the x y z procedure?" when it happens that "findit x y z" 
> retrieves a  
> quite useful list of references. I don't think that there is any way  
> that knowledgeable respondents will not find that sort of post a bit  
> annoying.
> 
> Also annoying are those who say, contrary to the good advice of the  
> Statalist FAQ, "I tried this command and it didn't work" without  
> providing any of the diagnostic information that might allow a well- 
> meaning respondent to say something helpful.
> 
> And messages from those who post "winmail.dat", HTML-encoded mail,  
> etc. --repeatedly in many cases--are immediate candidates for the  
> circular file.
> 
> These are aspects of etiquette that are relevant to many listservs,  
> not just Statalist. So creating a "kinder, gentler Statalist" where  
> responders might have more tolerance for manners better 
> suited to the  
> fast-food joint than the fancy restaurant could be done, but it may  
> be a land where the one-eyed person is king.
> 

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