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Re: st: responses to new users


From   Scott Cunningham <scunning@gmail.com>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   Re: st: responses to new users
Date   Sun, 16 Jul 2006 18:44:19 -0400

This is a very good point. I tend to just ignore those posters I am starting to find annoying, but if everyone did that the poster might never find out how to get a better response or solve the problem on their own. This listserv does seem to have a bit more of an "edge" than some others I have been on, but overall the mix of styles seems to work pretty well. Also, those responses that might seem a little harsh or abrupt almost always seem to contain an answer to the question.
I see both sides. As an economist, I am sympathetic to serious policing of the listserv, because people who ask questions that could be easily answered if they searched through the FAQ are imposing external costs on everyone else. Listserv congestion is a real pain, and seems like an electronic form of "tragedy of the commons." Trying to get newbies to internalize those external costs is a good idea. So maybe I'm just being over-sensitive when the other side of me, the moralist, thinks that harsh, condescending responses to simple questions is so bad. But I do find those offensive to read. Many newbies are not just newbies to Stata listserv; they're generally ignorant of listserv etiquette altogether. True, being on the receiving end of a strongly worded email directing you to the obvious solution has motivated me to search out the answers more carefully the next time a problem arose. But is there a way to pursue that same goal that does not look like bullying? I don't know, but if there is a way to do that, I'd like to see it because I have felt at times the listserv is overly harsh. It also has an unusually high number of gracious people who continually surprise me by how much work they put into answering questions, though.

But, like I said, I'm hyper-sensitive. I stopped buying the albums of my favorite band after seeing the lead singer berate a fan on the front row for singing too loud.

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