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st: RE: Out of Office notifications

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: RE: Out of Office notifications
Date   Wed, 15 Jul 2009 17:27:24 +0100

Neil's post is helpful in drawing attention to these small issues. 

I think he's right to imply that we should not be singling out MS
Outlook in the FAQ Section 2.9 when other mailers offer identical or
similar facilities. We'll fix that detail in due course. 

However, the FAQ asks you (only) not to automate the sending of "out of
office" messages _to Statalist_. 

The rationale for that should need too much spelling out. As far as the
list is concerned, out-of-office messages from individuals are typically
neither interesting nor useful. At worst, out-of-office messages from a
very dumb mailer can provoke yet more such messages from the same member
in a feedback loop, which requires prompt action at the Harvard end to
avoid a list crisis. Anyway, if you set up such replies, you will
typically get thrown off the list by Marcello Pagano  -- without
prejudice, as you can re-join later if and when you want. 

What Neil is doing here, however, is complaining that posters to
Statalist get _private_ notifications that recipients are out of office.
That is a different though related matter. In my view it is a lesser
nuisance. I even get very minor amusement from noting the various forms
of message, including those who promise that they will reply to me
instantly on their return. (They all lie.) 

Presumably what is happening is that the member's mailer is smart enough
to see through a posting from Statalist and read off the original
poster. (There will be others on the list who know much more about this
than I do.) 

While I can agree that such messages received are again typically
neither interesting nor useful, I'm not clear that it's possible even in
principle to stop such messages. For a start, some people may be under
obligation under some institutional policy to set up such an automated
reply. Not sending such replies would seem to imply that the member
might have to specify in advance who will post to Statalist in their
absence, which is going to be tricky, short of a few usual suspects. 

Nevertheless I can think we can add a request for people to try not to
do this. 


Neil Shephard

I posted to the list yesterday and received six "Out of Office"

The Statalist FAQ (linked at the bottom of every post to the mailing
list) has very clear instructions with regards to automated "Out of
Office" under section 2.9...

"2.9 When you go on vacation

Some people use MS Outlook's Out-of-office Assistant when they go on
vacation. Such replies to Statalist are an abuse of the list and an
irritation to members. Please unsubscribe when you go on vacation."

Its not just Outlook but many other email clients have the same
option.  Personally I never use such notifications, but if you must
then please either follow the advice on the FAQ or define certain
rules that mean that everything _but_ messages from Statalist are
responded to with your "Out of Office" notification (see for details under Outlook, for
other email clients please consult the appropriate documentation).

Personally I have filter rules set up to automatically trash anything
that contains "Out of Office" so its not much bother, but it is a bit
of a nuisance, and contravenes the guidelines in the FAQ.

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