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Re: st: re: SSC Activity, November 2009

From   Austin Nichols <>
Subject   Re: st: re: SSC Activity, November 2009
Date   Mon, 7 Dec 2009 09:41:09 -0500

Hear, hear!
I applaud Nick for pointing out that silence does not indicate assent
in this case.
For my own part: slander is another "potential career killer."
Or is it libel when posted to the web for posterity?

On Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 9:26 AM, Nick Cox <> wrote:
> I don't think you can fairly infer from collective silence anything
> except that other people are unable (e.g. through not looking at
> work-related email over a weekend) or unwilling to contribute to this
> thread. There could be several reasons for the latter, which are equally
> a matter for speculation, but nevertheless members of Statalist will be
> able to make their own guesses.
> I personally find this entire line of enquiry very puzzling at various
> levels, and ultimately deplorable. Having looked with some considerable
> interest at Kit's download statistics I too occasionally have been
> surprised by various spikes in downloads. But why not? Only an entity
> omniscient of all downloaders and all their intentions can be _certain_
> of not only who is downloading what and when and where but also _why_
> they are downloading packages, which is what you are concerned about.
> You are not that entity, I am not, and even collectively on this list we
> don't approximate it.
> I can not rule out, as an impossibility, the speculation that there may
> be someone, somewhere who is artificially boosting downloads either on
> their own behalf or on behalf of others. But equally I think it in poor
> taste to post even speculations of this kind without any hard evidence.
> We are not talking of bug reports here. Claims in a public forum that
> uneven unnamed individuals are guilty of systematic dishonesty are a big
> deal.
> Even your analysis of download data is seriously flawed: you slide down
> a slippery slope of interpreting whatever is (a) puzzling or implausible
> to you in the time series as being (b) self-evidently strange to all and
> thus being (c) evidence ipso facto of manipulation. If there is anyone
> who is concerned to boost their ratings, and I doubt there is, they
> could easily be clever and cunning enough to so do in a way that would
> not be obvious, e.g. as strange spikes in the series. More importantly,
> there could be any number of other interpretations for surprising
> changes in the series, as for example, that someone is for a short
> period repeatedly running a do file that installs the latest version of
> one or more packages. It is shocking that you pay almost no attention to
> the possibility of other quite different interpretations of the data and
> that you airily dismiss Kit's hard evidence of IP addresses as being
> easily faked. Moreover, your own mention of a program at a meeting is
> regarded as fair comment in interpretation, but you do not extend the
> same courtesy to all other programs mentioned explicitly in commenting
> on any number of things that might have boosted downloads (papers,
> talks, postings; also mentions in teaching, which are difficult to
> document).
> As against all that I place my own experience that all the
> user-programmers I know personally are people of high standards. You
> don't get to write high-quality software that people want to install
> without having
> integrity that doesn't include faking download statistics. I think it
> immensely more plausible that fluctuations in downloads reflect
> collective minor moods or dopeyness among thousands of downloaders than
> that some dark programmer stalks among us. Besides, no one really much
> cares about these download data any way!
> I don't know, Roy, why in this thread and in many others you show such
> deep-seated distrust for, and even contempt for, the Stata user
> community in making these accusations, to the extent of implying that
> the community is knowingly tolerating bad behaviour. This thread started
> with an insinuation that the data for your -outreg2- (among others) was
> faked. I and many others trust you and imagine that kind of claim to be
> absurd. You don't need to defend yourself against contemptible
> insinuations made by others on the basis of no evidence. Why not trust
> others as they trust you?
> Nick
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