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RE: how to reply on Statalist [was: RE: st: Categorizing HIV status using a series of string variables]


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   RE: how to reply on Statalist [was: RE: st: Categorizing HIV status using a series of string variables]
Date   Fri, 28 Nov 2008 13:12:48 -0000

Quoting the URL that links to that thread is double-edged. That thread
showed some enthusiasts, some outright sceptics, but no one evidently
able and willing actually to do anything. Has anything changed since? 

I'm reminded of a thread about a Stata Wiki. There were some warm
welcomes for the idea, but nothing (visibly) ever happened. 

I'm reminded of various attempts to set up RSS feeds for Statalist, all
of which seem to have stalled somehow. 

More positively, there are various personal websites and blogs with much
Stata content. See e.g. http://enoriver.net/ It's up to the people
concerned to flag how much they welcome (or do not expect) contributions
from others. 

My crystal ball is no better than anybody else's and all the people
concerned can speak for themselves, but it is not too risky to assert
that 

1. None of the people behind Statalist has any interest in converting
the list to a web forum. There is probably a long list of reasons behind
that starting with "Not convinced it would be a net again" and "Too busy
anyway". 

2. None of the people behind Statalist or highly active on Statalist has
any animus against a web forum. Scepticism about whether it would not
have disadvantages as big as or bigger than its disadvantages does _not_
mean that people should not feel totally free to try it out. 

3. StataCorp's line about a web forum is predictably its line about a
discussion list. It would welcome anything that supported and
strengthened the user community but it would not want to run it. 

However, there are always surprises. When Stata became internet-capable,
the StataCorp expectation was that most user-programmers willing to make
stuff public would prefer the independence and flexibility of
maintaining their own personal websites. The emergence of SSC as by far
the largest source of Stata material beyond StataCorp/Stata Journal was
not predicted. 

What would happen if a web forum and Statalist both existed might well
be very surprising, or not. It would be disappointing, for example, if
people started to feel that they needed to post in both places, and very
keen people were seeing the same stuff twice over. 

Anyway, on a web forum: some user or group of users able and willing to
take an initiative must do something themselves to get this going.
Otherwise, the age-old conclusion can only be that talk is cheap. 

Nick 
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk 

David Elliott

Just [... to bring ...] up a previous
discussion around a bulletin board for Statalist
[ http://www.stata.com/statalist/archive/2007-01/msg00033.html ].
Posts on a bulletin board are explicitly threaded, always available,
searchable, and so on.

The threading function in various mail readers and the archive is fair
in trying to rejoin same-subject responses, but it is basically
playing a guessing game without the original response-headers.

Attempting various bits of trickery may make congruency better, but a
mailing list is not really the tool for the job regardless of how many
FAQs you throw at it.

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