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st: FAQ reminders

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: FAQ reminders
Date   Mon, 1 Mar 2010 17:16:43 -0000

As long-time members will aver, the list works well almost all of the
time, especially if the criterion is getting help that is free, fast and
good. But all of us some of the time, and some of us all the time, might
helpfully pay a little more attention to well-meant advice in the FAQ,
intended in the best interests of all. (The URL for the FAQ appears at
the bottom of every Statalist posting.) 

Below my signature please find various extracts from the FAQ signalling
some of the most common lapses. And -- if you've never read it -- please
do look through the complete FAQ before making your first posting! 


Plain text only; no attachments

We ask you not to post formatted messages or attachments. Please make
sure that your mailer is set to send ASCII or 'plain text' for outgoing
messages, or the equivalent for your mailer. That is, do not send HTML,
rich text, VCards, winmail.dat files, or anything other than Plain Text.
It is your responsibility to find out how to do this in your mailer or
email provider. You will not receive any error messages if you send a
message that is trapped by Statalist. (Advice on various commonly used
systems can be found at [2.2] 

Start a new thread with a new posting

Please do not start a new thread by replying to a previous posting. Even
if you delete the previous posting's contents and change its title, such
practice messes up archiving. [2.2; 3.4] 


Some people use their mailer to send out-of-office messages to Statalist
when they travel. You are asked not to do that, because such messages
are of no interest or use to almost all readers. If you do send messages
of that kind to Statalist, you will usually be unsubscribed by the
moderator. You may naturally resubscribe when you return. 
Similarly, you are asked not to set up your mailer to send such messages
to individual posters who send to Statalist. [2.9] 

Clear questions

Many questions do not get answered because they are too short, too
unfocused, or too obscure. If you hope that others will spend time
answering your question, be prepared to spend time writing as clearly
yet as crisply as you can. [3.2] 

What did you type? What did Stata do? (exactly)

Say exactly what you typed and exactly what Stata typed (or did) in
response. N.B. exactly! If you can, reproduce the error with one of
Stata's provided datasets or a simple concocted dataset that you include
in your posting. [3.3] 

State Stata version you use if <11

The current version of Stata is 11. Please specify if you are using an
earlier version; otherwise, the answer to your question is likely to
refer to commands or features unavailable to you. Moreover, as bug fixes
and new features are issued frequently by StataCorp, make sure that you
update your Stata before posting a query, as your problem may already
have been solved. [3.3] 

Explain where commands come from 

Say what command(s) you are using. If they are not part of official
Stata, say where they come from: the STB/SJ, SSC, or other archives.

Precise literature references

Please do not assume that the literature familiar to you is familiar to
all members of Statalist. Do not refer to publications with just minimal
details (e.g., author and date). Questions of the form "Has anyone
implemented the heteroscedasticity under a full moon test of Sue,
Grabbit, and Runne (1989)?" admittedly divide the world. Anyone who has
not heard of the said test would not be helped by the full reference to
answer the question, but they might well appreciate the full reference.

State platform if relevant

Stata runs on different platforms Similarly, please remember that Stata
runs on Windows, Macs, and other Unix platforms. Specify the platform
you are using if your question is specific to that platform. [3.4] 

Edit previous postings

Edit mail so that readers see easily what the issue is and what your
contribution is. Please do not repost the whole of a very long message
together with your one-sentence tidbit. Your mailer may have a facility
to select a block of text and then reply quoting only that text. [3.4] 

Don't walk away from the thread you started

Continuing or closing a thread you started is important, especially by
answering secondary questions and by reporting what solved your problem.
You can then thank those who tried to help. [3.4] 

Re-posts disapproved

If you get no answer, you might be tempted to repost the question, but
please think twice before you do that. The same post reappearing
repeatedly strikes many Statalist members as impatient and
inconsiderate. You had your chance, but no one wanted to answer the
question. The best advice is to rewrite the question so that the key
issue is made as clear as possible but also is stated as briefly as
possible.  [4] 

Spell 'Stata' correctly 

Stata is an invented word, not an acronym, and should not appear with
all letters capitalized: please write "Stata", not "STATA". Mata is also
an invented word, not an acronym. [8.2] 

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