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Re: st: A gentler introduction to Statalist and Seven Deadly Sins


From   "roy wada" <roywada@hotmail.com>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   Re: st: A gentler introduction to Statalist and Seven Deadly Sins
Date   Tue, 31 Jul 2007 13:04:31 -0700

You said there exists only one commandment (the golden rule), and
then went on to list five more.

How is someone who doesn't know to know if they have given
you enough information to answer their questions?

They can't. It's hard enough to grasp a problem, much less
express it. They probably don't need the help if they could do
it unassisted.

Instead of applying the golden rule to the people who are doing the
asking, I would apply it to the people who are doing the answering:
have we given them enough directions on asking questions politely,
intelligently, and usefully? How can they minimize mistakes if they are
asking questions for the very first time?

If we have a list of common mistakes that people make when
asking the question, then such a list ought to be explicitly
shared when new members join Statalist. As it currently stands,
the majordomo sends you a link to FAQ, which takes you
to a rather broad collection of information about Statalist.

As a matter of fact, the list of common mistakes, aka, the
Seven Deadly Sins, should not be bundled with FAQ. This is
not about questions. This is about the standards and protocols
whose lack of universal adoptation has been questioned recently.

It should not be tucked in the middle of FAQ where a new
member is sure to miss it, making it that much harder for people
working to maintain standards at Statalist.

I'd say there is only one statalist commandment: Put yourself in the position of someone who is trying to answer your
question and ask yourself: Is there enough information in your question
so that someone from an entirely different discipline can answer it?

This automatically includes many common mistakes:
o incomplete references
o not telling where a non-official Stata command came from
o not telling the exact command typed
o not telling the error message
o not telling how the result you got deviated from what you expected

maarten
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