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st: Twelve commandments
Nick Cox <firstname.lastname@example.org>
st: Twelve commandments
Tue, 18 Oct 2011 09:29:13 +0100
My antennae sense a recent upward drift in questions that are unlikely
to be answered, or at least answered in the way that members hope. In
particular, Statalist is _not_ intended as a substitute for reading
the help and the manual or getting into appropriate literature
yourself. Nor is it very likely that active members will be able or
willing to sketch out an entire data analysis project, as some recent
postings seem to expect.
What follows is a revision of a posting from June 25, with apologies
to those to whom this is all too familiar.
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
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
A Statalist glossary
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
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.
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.
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