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Re: st: intro social science stats book

From   Suzy <>
Subject   Re: st: intro social science stats book
Date   Mon, 03 Jul 2006 12:46:48 -0400

I agree with you on all the counterpoints raised and Nick responded to this suggestion previously with the same basic counterpoints the first time I mentioned it, I think early last year.

I'm personally very comfortable with the minimum etiquette that is requested on this listserv. I agree with you that it is not excessive. I also do understand why some people get some rough treatment at times. I'm just looking at this from a strictly new user/student perspective, and perhaps a younger generation perspective (although I'm not in that category). It's just an (unpopular) idea based on a general observation. I don't want anyone to be required to do extra work and I can certainly see that there would be no incentive for our current moderators. I'm thinking that such a listserv, however, might expand the list of "usual suspects" that answer questions, since the questions in general might be of a more fundamental nature. Please know that I'm not strongly advocating for a new listserv - it's just a thought!
Best wishes,

Kit Baum wrote:

Suzy wrote a very interesting post about SPSS/SAS/Stata, and said

Off the beaten track somewhat, but something that might be helpful in
the long run for encouraging new Stata users, which I've suggested once
before and I'll bring it up again. It might be nice to also have a
beginner/student Stata listserv - something just a bit more
newbie/student friendly. By that I mean a little more easy-going, not
too protocol intensive, a place where perhaps more basic questions can
be just asked and answered without too much fuss or concern. I truly
believe that many students simply can't afford the manuals, don't know
where to look for information, and truly do not have the time to spend
looking for an answer that is perhaps easy to find (for those with
extended exposure to the world of Stata). Since younger people tend to
use the Internet and listservs quite a bit, their first exposure to
Statalist might be a bit of a shocker - I know it was for me and I'm
not that young. Nonetheless, I got over it, learned the basic rules, and
try to follow them as best as I can. However, not all students may be so

I am not sure that there would be much incentive for "the usual suspects" who respond to questions on Statalist to subscribe to such a list. I'll let people like Nick Cox, Mark Schaffer and Clive Nicholas offer their own views, but I would think that staying abreast of _two_ lists might be somewhat much to ask. Furthermore, I take it that you are concerned about the "bit of a shocker" aspect of posters who respond to questions somewhat brusquely, or even with some hint of annoyance.

That annoyance is often well deserved. Agreed, many people can't afford the manuals, and many who have them do not have them within arm's length at a point in time. That is excusable. But not being able to figure out how to use the on-line help is not. Perhaps the acronym should be "RTFOLH." If one can send email to Statalist, one can use "findit" or "search", tools that many posters do not bother to try before asking the q on Statalist. People ask "does Stata do the x y z procedure?" when it happens that "findit x y z" retrieves a quite useful list of references. I don't think that there is any way that knowledgeable respondents will not find that sort of post a bit annoying.

Also annoying are those who say, contrary to the good advice of the Statalist FAQ, "I tried this command and it didn't work" without providing any of the diagnostic information that might allow a well- meaning respondent to say something helpful.

And messages from those who post "winmail.dat", HTML-encoded mail, etc. --repeatedly in many cases--are immediate candidates for the circular file.

These are aspects of etiquette that are relevant to many listservs, not just Statalist. So creating a "kinder, gentler Statalist" where responders might have more tolerance for manners better suited to the fast-food joint than the fancy restaurant could be done, but it may be a land where the one-eyed person is king.

Kit Baum, Boston College Economics

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