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st: Statalist FAQ and new members [was: RE: Re: statalist-digest V4 #2725]

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: Statalist FAQ and new members [was: RE: Re: statalist-digest V4 #2725]
Date   Wed, 13 Jun 2007 10:22:42 +0100

I have changed the title of this thread partly because 
I am focusing on one specific point. 

Sebastian Kruk suggested 
> Maybe a new subscriber should receive the FAQ as first message.

In any case Sebastian's original title 

RE: Re: statalist-digest V4 #2725

is meaningless to those who do not receive the digest
and hopelessly vague to those who do. If you are
replying to a digest, please use the heading of 
the specific posting you are replying to as the 
basis for your subject. 

Sebastian's suggestion is not one that I propose
to instigate. 

New members already receive this admonition like 

Welcome to the statalist-digest mailing list!

Please save this message for future reference.  Thank you.

If you ever want to remove yourself from this mailing list,
you can send mail to <> with the following
command in the body of your email message:

    unsubscribe statalist-digest

If you ever need to get in contact with the owner of the list,
(if you have trouble unsubscribing, or have questions about the
list itself) send email to <> .
This is the general rule for most mailing lists when you need
to contact a human.

 Here's the general information for the list you've subscribed to,
 in case you don't already have it:

Welcome to Statalist. We hope that you will find Statalist postings
interesting and useful, and that you may feel able to contribute.
Statalist has been going since 1994, and over that time we have
developed an FAQ which is at 

It is packed with information and, indeed, the distilled wisdom of
Statalist veterans.

Please read that FAQ at your convenience, but certainly before you post
anything to the list. We hope you will find that acting on the advice
given in the FAQ will increase the chance of someone answering your
questions fruitfully and keep the list pleasant for all.

Over the years, we have experimented with various alternatives
to this message. One was sending a shortened version of the FAQ 
with key points, but it is impossible to tell what are the key 
points for any new member, as points obvious or relevant to some 
are evidently not obvious or relevant to others. 

Sending the full FAQ would not be a good idea, however, 
for several reasons: 

1. The FAQ is revised from time to time. Thus, we would need
to revise the material in the welcome message everytime 
we tweaked the FAQ. The burden here would fall not so much 
on Marcello Pagano or myself but on Harvard School of Public 
Health personnel who do the nitty-gritty entirely as a matter
of good will. 

2. The FAQ is manifestly an HTML document with various links 
and other clickable detail. It is, we suspect, much more 
natural and convenient for members to look at it in their 
favourite browser. 

3. Sending members HTML documents by email would run contrary 
to the Statalist philosophy, itself explained at length 
in the FAQ, that only plain text messages are guaranteed to be 
intelligible and acceptable to all members of the list. 

4. Sending members an ASCII version would raise issues
already explained under #1 and #2. 

5. The alternative of asking new members to click on an URL or 
to copy and paste that into a browser is, we feel, a minimal and 
reasonable request. 


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