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RE: st: responses to new users

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   RE: st: responses to new users
Date   Sun, 16 Jul 2006 20:24:29 +0100

I agree with the spirit of this, but I don't think the suggestions 
herein really take us much further forward. 

Thus I guess no one votes for displays of arrogance or condescension, but 
who is to say which posts qualify? I can think of several long-standing members
of the list who often answer lazy or dopey questions with rather brief and firm 
advice. (And I dare say that many of my own postings fall under those headings.) 
The list belongs to these people too just as much as anyone else, 
and they have a right to their own styles. Also, their concern is with the well-being
of the list, and that a common resource is not polluted by thoughtless users. 

However, one answer is that if you think a post qualifies as arrogant or 
condescending you should take that up with the poster off-line, or with Marcello 
Pagano as coordinator. 

Similarly, it is quite correct to say that you can ignore posts which 
you think are wasting the time of the list. But to repeat a point often made, 
including in this thread: most people do respond to reasonable criticism that
includes constructive advice. Many Statalist members have morphed 
from clueless newbies to good citizens and even to pillars of the community. 
If everybody ignored every poor question, this would be 
less likely to happen. 


Steffen Hokland
> The issue of ''netiquette'' was much debated on the 'LaTeX on Mac OS
> X list' a couple of years ago. The main issue was posting FAQ or
> generic LaTeX-questions. I full heartedly agree that posting such
> questions is basically the same as saying 'my time is more valuable
> than yours - and I simply can't be bothered'. It is my impression
> that the Stata-list works pretty much the same way that all the other
> lists I subscribe to (which appears reasonable from a statistical
> point of view) - a very limited number of people answer almost all
> questions.
> ***I am very grateful in all cases to those who have chosen to use
> their precious time to help others - my self included - at very
> little or no return***
> However, it is my impression that the tone at the Stata-list is
> unnecessarily harsh, and that what some perceive to be trivial
> questions (but not FAQs) are treated with outright arrogance. After
> some months row and a few rather abusive postings it became the
> consensus of the OSX-LaTeX-list to simply ignore the FAQ- and/or RTFM-
> posts. May I propose a similar approach at the Stata-list? Replying
> in a purposefully arrogant and condescending tone doesn't seem to
> achieve anything, apart perhaps from scarring people away from the
> list, and is in any case very little becoming in an academic forum.
> It could be helpful to remember, that the person on the receiving end
> - although not proficient in Stata - may be much brighter and more
> academically successful that you. Or, to quote Niels Bohr: 'An expert
> is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow
> field.'
> Now, I am in no way ungrateful for the huge amount of work that the
> list-wiz's are doing, but I've just noticed this sometimes rather
> unpleasant tone. Also I apologize for the salvaged zen-like post -
> which is very much out of character - but why not just ignore FAQs
> and RTFMs and save yourself the frustration?

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