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st: Twelve commandments


From   Nick Cox <njcoxstata@gmail.com>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   st: Twelve commandments
Date   Sat, 25 Jun 2011 08:09:45 +0100

As new people are always joining the list, and old people are notoriously
forgetful, a concise summary of advice aimed at helping you get answers
quickly and efficiently may prove useful. Following all the advice below won't
guarantee an answer that satisfies you, but ignoring most or all of it
will make
such an answer much less likely.

Reminder: When you joined the list you were asked to read the FAQ

<http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/statalist.html>

before posting, and we really did mean that. Please read the FAQ
before posting!
Much of it can be skimmed or skipped on a first reading.

For other compressed statements of Statalist advice, see

William Gould
<http://blog.stata.com/2010/12/14/how-to-successfully-ask-a-question-on-statalist/>

A Statalist glossary
<http://www.stata.com/statalist/archive/2011-01/msg00003.html>

Nick

1. Help yourself first. Use the Stata help, the Stata manuals, -findit-,
the Stata FAQs, and the Statalist archives.

2. Explain your data structure clearly and with examples (variable types
etc.)

3. Show the exact Stata syntax you used and show the exact Stata output
you got. (Never say that something "didn't work", but explain precisely
in what sense you didn't get what you wanted.)

4. Specify the Stata version you used and the operating system you used
if it could possibly be relevant. Don't assume that the whole Stata
world uses MS Windows, let alone MS Excel.

5. Give an example which can easily be replicated using data supplied
with Stata or in your post.

6. Explain where user-written commands you refer to come from.

7. Give full literature references, not references of the form "Greene"
or the form "Sue, Grabbit, and Runne (2002)".

8. Ask a precise question that is easy to answer. Is this correct? or
what should I do with my data? usually don't qualify.

9. Remember that Statalist is a discussion list, not a help line. The best
strategy is to ask a question that someone else will want to answer, not
to act clueless or desperate. Urgency is your problem, not ours.

10. Do send plain text only. Don't send attachments or use formatting
such as HTML.

11. Post once and wait patiently for a reply. (To see if something "got
through", check the archives.)

12. Close threads with concise summaries of what worked. That is the
best way to show appreciation and to contribute further to the list.
(Note that some people hate "Thanks in advance"!)
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