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Re: st: Statalist advice: a summary

From   Jeph Herrin <>
Subject   Re: st: Statalist advice: a summary
Date   Fri, 08 Mar 2013 08:23:29 -0500

That is much clearer, indeed.

On 3/8/2013 8:02 AM, Nick Cox wrote:
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.


  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

  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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