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st: command-name registration [was: RE: RE: findvar command?]

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: command-name registration [was: RE: RE: findvar command?]
Date   Mon, 17 Nov 2003 16:30:57 -0000

You are correct that -lookfor2- is not registered. 
What you do you infer from that? You can certainly 
infer that the author (myself) did not register it! 

I have the impression that -cmdname- was largely a good 
idea in principle, and a near total failure in practice. 

I could be wrong, but it seems many user-programmers 
either did not notice -cmdname-, or did not adopt the 
practice of registration. 
I am as much to blame as anyone, as it never became 
part of my standard routine. 

Also, I have not heard Stata Corp people mention 
this either in public or in private for some 
years. Perhaps they have forgotten too, or 
accepted that the experiment just didn't work. 
Not a big deal. 

One principle announced 
was that "The registry represents a loose agreement 
among Stata programmers to try to name new commands 
uniquely", but that was announced from on high, 
and perhaps wasn't the right psychology, not that 
it matters directly. 

Actually, I think there really is a loose agreement to 
this effect; it is just that the idea of needing 
Stata Corp approval for your precise names was perhaps a 
little too much to swallow. 

In practice, clashes between program names do 
arise occasionally and are usually easy to resolve; 
in particular, if necessary, user command names _must_ 
yield to official command names. Make no mistake: 
the latter must be a golden rule. But even 
registration did not rule out the possibility
that a name accepted by Stata Corp would not 
be grabbed back by them at some later stage. 
And again, Stata Corp were right to claim 
that, and to emphasise it, but it lessened the 
appeal of registration. 

Looking at the rules announced with -cmdname-, 
I would say that they all have considerable 
justification, but I have felt free to ignore 
them on occasion, and others have too. 
In what follows, _me_ means _you_ as well: 

1.  You may not register a name already registered.

This would seem binding, except that a name 
used for some user program now moribund, or more generally 
for a user program not used by _me_, is of no concern 
to _me_. 

2.  You may not register a name that appears in the English-language 

This has often been ignored, at least by 
myself. After all, the English language 
belongs to _me_ as much as to Stata Corp. (More so!) 
Sometimes it seems that a word really is right for a program, 
and -- especially if you think it's quite a nice 
little program -- an ugly name seems wrong. Sometimes
you then have to give in, as Stata Corp later use the word
themselves, but not always. After all, there are lots 
of good shortish words in the English language. 
(Of course, Stata program writers can also use names in 
Spanish or Elvish or whatever else they want. An interesting 
middle case is _Greek_ words, which so often have
statistical meanings.) 

3.  You may not register a name that is less than 4 characters long.

This has also been ignored, especially 
privately for convenience abbreviations. Of
course, private programs are of no direct concern here, 
except insofar as they sometimes are mentioned 
as answers to questions on Statalist. (Nick Winter
has a program called -c-.) 

4.  You may not register a name that is a word of 
statistical jargon that is in common use.

Similar comments to 2. 

I am not trying to justify selfishness or petulance, 
just trying to explain, anthropologically as it were, 
why the tribe never really adopted this practice, 
so far as I can tell. 

There is also a much better answer: -findit- tells 
you directly whether a program name is in public use. 
That cuts through the whole question of names registered 
or not, approved or not, or whatever. I suggest that 
easy search of the internet finally made -cmdname- 


Dan Blanchette
> Thanks Nick for naming the command -lookforit-.
> I'll will document it and submit it to the SSC archive.
> I just discovered -cmdname- written by Stata Corp back in 1999
> that can be downloaded:
> . findit cmdname
> This command allows you to check to see if a command name
> is already registered at Stata and if not allows you to register
> it in your name with your email address.
> I noticed that -lookfor2- is not registered.

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