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Re: st: Statalist advice: a summary

From   Nick Cox <>
Subject   Re: st: Statalist advice: a summary
Date   Fri, 8 Mar 2013 13:02:00 +0000

In #3 "much clear" is a typo for "much clearer".

On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 12:08 PM, Nick Cox <> wrote:
> Old hands will know that I post something like this every few months
> as a reminder of some basics. It is not to be thought of as the rules.
> There is only one rule on Statalist, and it comes from the top,
> Marcello Pagano. You are asked to use your full real name in posting.
> We are deliberately and deliciously old-fashioned in that sense.
> Everything else is _advice_ intended in everyone's best interests.
> Nick
>  In a sentence: Help us to help you, and here's how.
>  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 another source of advice on Statalist, see
>  William Gould
>  <>
>  It is important to remember that Statalist is a discussion list, not a
>  help line. The distinction might seem a little obscure or subtle, so
>  let's spell it out:
>  * On a help line, someone is obliged to reply, even if the answer is
>  perfunctory. On a discussion list, people will happily delete your
>  posting if they don't understand it or it's too much like hard work even
>  to try to find out what you are seeking. There is no mechanism on
>  Statalist for ensuring that anybody answers, so a question that looks
>  too difficult for everyone will just lie there.
>  * A help line is aimed at helping individuals, and giving the client a
>  good answer is the key goal. You as a client will not know, and need not
>  care, about other clients. On a discussion list, it is fine if people get
>  individual help in public, but it is also important that such help
>  contributes to an archive of solved problems that people can search.
>  A lousy question that is too difficult to answer wastes the
>  questioner's time and also clogs the list and the archives with
>  unhelpful posts.
>  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.
>  0. Use your full real name in postings. Incomplete or cute or cryptic
> names may be
>  standard elsewhere, but this is firm Statalist policy. If you don't
>  agree, please don't post. Other forums are likely to be more to your taste.
>  1. Help yourself first. Use the Stata help, the Stata manuals, -findit-,
>  the Stata FAQs, and the Statalist archives, in that order. (The idea
>  that you should search the web before you read the manual is a strange
>  belief shared by many new users.)
>  2. Explain your data structure clearly and with examples (variable types
>  etc.) We can only understand your dataset to the extent that you explain
>  it clearly.
>  3.  Indeed, it is usually much clear if you give an example which can
> easily be replicated
> using data supplied  with Stata or in your post.
>  4. Show the exact Stata syntax you used and show the exact Stata output
>  you got. (Never say just that something "doesn't work" or "didn't
> work", but explain
>  precisely in what sense you didn't get what you wanted.)
>  5. 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.
>  6. Explain where user-written commands you refer to come from, for
>  example the Stata Journal, SSC, or someone's website. This makes clearer
>  what you are talking about, to everyone's benefit.
>  7. Give full literature references, not references of the form "Greene"
>  or the form "Sue, Grabbit, and Runne (2002)". That means references of a
>  standard that you would expect to find in a professional publication.
>  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. 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. Try to use Stata terminology wherever possible, not terminology that
>  may be more familiar to you because you are more used to other software.
>  Stata's the language we all share. For example, it is not a good idea to
>  assume that people likely to answer questions think or work using
>  spreadsheet terms.
>  13. The correct spelling is "Stata", not "STATA". Several of the most active
>  experts on the list can get irritated if you get that wrong, and you are
>  free to regard them as pedantic. More importantly, if you write "STATA"
>  you are making it all too obvious that you haven't studied the FAQ carefully.
>  14. Close threads with concise summaries sent to the list of what
>  worked. That is the best way to show appreciation and to contribute
>  further to the list.
> *
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