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

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   RE: st: A gentler introduction to Statalist and Seven Deadly Sins
Date   Wed, 1 Aug 2007 00:42:43 +0100

I am a bit confused. I may well have contributed to this confusion
myself by writing at cross-purposes with Roy's concerns. 

If Roy wants something different from the FAQ, he should feel free to
write what he wants, and post it where he wants. If he's right, and it
gives good guidance, it will be very much appreciated. Whether it's
labelled official or not doesn't matter if it strikes the right chords.

I sense from various public and some private posts quite a range of
views on what is appropriate Statalist conduct, including -- but not
only -- those moved to speak out critically about what they think is an
over-critical tone in some posts, from myself and some others.
Naturally, I note that expression of opinion with respect. It's your
list too.  I am not clear why some who have spoken out seem to regard
their own kind of criticism as "fair comment", but not others'. However,
it is very important in this atmosphere that people feel free to express
a range of views on the list. 

Most crucially, no one wants a list riven by dispute or marred by tone. 

For myself, I really don't want to extend the FAQ in the direction that
Roy suggests, particularly because it seems futile to try and
second-guess what he has in mind, which is still not completely clear to
me, and because, as said, I don't want to lengthen an FAQ criticised
as being too long. 

He makes several detailed suggestions about the FAQ, which I won't
respond to one by one, but they are helpful. 

I don't agree with Roy's suggestions about order. Joining the list
should be explained before discussing how to post.  I'd be more
convinced by this argument if I heard a chorus of agreement, but so far
this is a lone view. 

I agree with Roy that imputation of motive is tricky territory, but 
I suggest it's better to guess at an attempt at banter rather than intention to 
impugn or insult. 


roy wada
> Since Nick appears to solciting advice about the future revisions to
> FAQ, if I may add the following suggestions:
> Sections 2 and 3 of FAQ contain the useful information for not
> behaving badly on Statalist. I believe these are the two sections
> Nick frequently refers to when pointing out other people's mistakes
> for not following them carefully.
> I would like to point out that, unlike the rest of FAQ, these two
> sections alone lack sub-headings. The existing structure already
> suggests to me that these two sections may have been given a
> short shrift within FAQ. This is what the "structure" that Nick
> refers to is appearing to suggest.
> >3. How to use Statalist: advice
> >
> >4. What to do if you do not get an answer
> If people's inattention to these two sections are the source of
> much dissatisfaction as Nick has repeatedly suggested elsehwere,
> perhaps these two section could be given more prominence in
> the next revision of FAQ.
> As it currently stands, these two sections do appear "buried" in the
> middle of FAQ.
> Good stuffs shoudl be placed at the top where people are more likely
> to notice them. This is not about making assumptions people's reading
> prowess; this is a basic writing technique they teach in 
> journalism schools.
> Put the good stuff at the top; hide the bad stuff in the middle.
> I have already suggested that these information about how to ask
> questions on Statalist are not FAQ materials. The information 
> contained
> in these two sections are not about frequently asked questions.
> They are about the standards and protocols that Nick seems to be
> inordinately interested in of lately. Since they appear to be 
> the source
> of much discussion, they might be given a separate treatment from
> FAQ.
> You could call it "A Gentler Introduction to Statalist."
> I would again urge Nick to consider making a short checklist that
> Statalist users could go by. Anyone from a rank beginner to an
> expereinced veterans benefits from a well-made checklist.
> I was not going to mention this earlier, but the multiple 
> authorship of
> the current version shows. Too many cooks spoils the broth, they say,
> and the current FAQ does look like many people have had their 
> hands in it.
> I know Nick is a careful writer; perhaps he could fix it in its next 
> revision.
> I know it takes Nick "at most a few minutes" to read the whole thing
> FAQ. Let me reassure Nick that this is not the case with 
> people who are
> not its current maintainer.
> Finally, I would respectly suggest that the next revision of 
> FAQ or the
> "Introduction to Statalist" contain a gentle yet firm warning 
> about the
> perils and pitfalls of making assumpitions about other 
> people's character.
> Certain words such as "proud" is generally considered not polite when
> describing other people's intentions. I was merely identifying myself
> with the accused when I recounted my own experience.
> I believe enough people have expressed their sentiment against harsh
> words to warrant the inclusion of such a warning in the 
> future revisions
> of FAQ.
> Let me be the first to thank Nick beforehand for taking on such 
> responsibility
> as the currently maintainer of FAQ.
> I do appreciate Nick's expertise on many things and his hard work in
> maintaining standards here at Statalist and elsewhere even if his work
> may appear to go unappreciated at times.
> Roy

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