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st: A few matters of procedure

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: A few matters of procedure
Date   Tue, 14 Sep 2004 16:27:49 +0100

As Marcello Pagano pointed out recently, 
Statalist celebrated its tenth anniversary 
last month, just before the Boston users' 

At that meeting's dinner, in lieu of a cake, Marcello 
introduced some ice cream with some candles
and made a nice speech. We hope that others
who could not be there felt that ten years of 
Statalist was least something worth regarding 
as an achievement. 

Some photos of this meeting, including the dinner, 
are up at

(For some reason, most of those photos in 
which Bill Gould, StataCorp President, is prominent
are labelled "Dinner". I can assure you that he was very 
active throughout.) 

Marcello's quiet diplomacy, his firm "Now stop this 
please" postings (sometimes to me), his puckish 
sense of humour, and his endless nitty-gritty emails 
behind the scenes have been crucial over most
of that decade in keeping Statalist going, and 
in keeping Statalist well. 

Let me now lower the tone a lot by reminding 
people of various "rules" quite frequently 
forgotten on the list. 

Please don't send HTML/MIME/mailjunk

Statalist software tries to stop HTML, MIME 
and other stuff that just bloats postings
as far as many listers are concerned. (In 
extreme cases, it makes them unreadable.) 
It does not always succeed. (Don't ask 
"Why not?" as I don't know.) But we 
want ASCII text, and ASCII text, alone. 

It is easy to forget this, or to do it 
accidentally. It is also easy to try to 
remember this. 

Experience shows that many people have no 
idea that they are doing this, as their 
email just looks normal to them. 

Consider this list: 

1. If you are using some word processor 
to edit your mail, it is probably not 
being sent as ASCII text. 

2. If you are using some proportional 
font (non-typewriter, letters vary in 
width), same story. 

3. If you look in the archives at 
a recent message of yours, in several 
cases the HTML/MIME is all too obvious. 

Please say where programs come from

In many recent cases, people have said 
"I am using -foobar-", irrespective of whether 
-foobar- is an official command, something published
in the STB/SJ, something from SSC or something 
from some other source. 

Part of the courtesy to be extended to other
users is to _explain_ to others where a program 
comes from whenever it is not part of official

The reasoning is at least twofold: 

1. You increase the chance that some expert will 
have a look at your question. If that expert 
glances at your posting, shrugs "Never even heard 
of it", and deletes, you just lost your chance of getting that 
person's brain to think about your problem. If 
you say "I am using -foobar- from STB-33", you increase 
the chance that said expert will pull it over, and have
a quick look, and perhaps even solve the problem. 

2. You do your bit at spreading some good news. If 
you are finding -foobar- useful, perhaps somebody 
else would gain by knowing about it. 

Please give references in proper style

This isn't a rule, but it can irritate. 

Another fashion is to give a reference as just 
names and date, without a title, journal title, etc. 
It is likely that the reference will be a familiar one 
to anyone who answers your question, but the full 
reference can help others who are not familiar with it. 

In addition, any sense that you don't care two hoots
about the people who won't understand your question 
because you don't explain it fully won't help your 
case very much. 


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