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Re: st: Thanks and Amazement
"William Gould, StataCorp LP" <email@example.com>
Re: st: Thanks and Amazement
Wed, 23 Nov 2011 10:16:04 -0600
Ben Hoen wrote some awfully nice words about Statalist, among which
> [...] I suspect I speak for most of the users on this list when I say
> that StataCorp is extremely well served by your bright minds, and
> willingness to help out. [...]
StataCorp does know how well it's served by Statalist. Ben Hoen took
the time to write down his thoughts regarding Statalist, and mentioned
that he was "suprised/delighted/amazed".
I would now like, in turn, to scribble down my thoughts about why
Statalist deserves such praise. My explanation is
1. The linear nature of the list.
Statalist is not just about questions and answers. The linear
threading of the list forces us to read all the questions and
all the answers, although each of us reads some parts some
more carefully than others. In the process we not only learn
something, we are invited to contribute. Statalist is not
divided into one group that provides to the answers and
another that seeks advice. There are no job titles on
Statalist. Yes, there are people who answer more questions
than they ask, and there are some who have only asked
questions so far, but anyone can cross the line whenever they
By the way, even people the like prickly guy in Northern
England -- you know the one, the one with all the genuinely
useful advice spiced with reminders that you write Stata not
STATA, that you change the Subject line, and that, whatever
you do, you do not ask the same question twice -- that's the
one -- even peole like him ask questions. They do that when
they write, "What was StataCorp thinking?" or they suggest
StataCorp ought to make a change to how something works.
2. The genuinely respectful nature of the list.
Smart people can ask stupid questions and, when they do, it is
the question that is stupid, not the questioner.
I emphasize the word genuine. Statalist is not about the
appearance of respect, its about genuine respect. Even when
the prickly guy in Northern England chastizes someone for
asking the same question yet a third time, it is with the
intent of helping the questioner modify the question so that
it can be answered.
And all list members do an excellent job of distinguishing
between ignorance and real stupidity.
3. The subtle, almost invisible hand, of the list's moderator,
We don't mention Marcello's name often. Marcello mostly stays
quiet in hopes the list will police itself when it goes the
wrong direction. But when he does speak, everyone listens.
4. And, if I may say so, the appropriate participation by StataCorp.
The emphasis here is on the word appropriate. Did you know
that every member of the devleopment and technical staff reads
Statalist daily? We have the abilty to smother Statalist by
turning it into our list. We have the ability to starve
Statalist by ignoring it. We try to find the middle ground
where we just participate.
You might be surprised to learn how often postings on
Statalist are discussed at StataCorp. The development staff
has Monday morning and Friday afternoon meetings. There is
not one of those meetings where one or two postings from
Statalist do not come up in the discussion. They are not on
the agenda -- there is no agenda -- they just arise naturally.
What you write on Statalist really does get the attention of
In summary, Statlist seems magical. It's worth thinking about what
supplies the pixie dust, and I'm sure I've missed some important things.
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