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

From   Marcello Pagano <>
Subject   Re: st: A gentler introduction to Statalist and Seven Deadly Sins
Date   Tue, 31 Jul 2007 20:45:11 -0400

My apologies, I usually jump into these once I see that the original intent has been lost or I see repetitions, but I am currently at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Salt Lake City and have just gotten back to my room. Having read the various contributions to this thread I can understand why not too many people have joined in; once again we let Nick carry the load for us!
Anyway, I am reminded of the artist who said to his critics, don't tell me how to paint, show me. The FAQ has evolved over the years and possibly Roy can envision a FAQ that is slicker, trimmer and much better than the existing one. Please write it Roy and post it. I'll refer listers to it if it fits the bill.



Nick Cox wrote:

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

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.

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