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Re: st: responses to new users

From   Marcello Pagano <>
Subject   Re: st: responses to new users
Date   Sun, 16 Jul 2006 16:25:16 -0400

The first thing I learned when I started using e-mail is that it defines its own standards of communication. That is, it is not correct to transfer norms from other modes of communication to e-mails. What may pass as a bon mot in an intimate situation may seem like an insult in an e-mail. Add to that the desire to be brief and that English is the main language in Statalist but is not the native tongue of a number of listers, and I can understand why some as Steffen might *think* that some messages are unfriendly. I do not believe that we have experienced too many really rude messages these last ten years. Try and understand different styles from different cultures is my advice, and be prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the friendlier interpretation!


Clive Nicholas wrote:

Nick Cox replied to Steffen Hokland

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
of the list who often answer lazy or dopey questions with rather brief and
advice. (And I dare say that many of my own postings fall under those
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
of the list, and that a common resource is not polluted by thoughtless

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
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
including in this thread: most people do respond to reasonable criticism
includes constructive advice. Many Statalist members have morphed
from clueless newbies to good citizens and even to pillars of the
If everybody ignored every poor question, this would be
less likely to happen.

I agree entirely with all of Nick's comments on this today, and would like
to add a few comments, if I may. It seems to me that Steffen's very
thoughtful post bears little relation to the post that went out under my
name yesterday, and I rather think that it's worth reminding listees of a
couple of facts here:

(1) My post was not an "arrogant and condescending" attack on the person
in question; anyone reading my post _carefully_ would have noted that it
was commenting on _several_ posts that I've seen reach Statalist over an
unspecified period from people who report problems with their Stata whilst
failing to recognise that their Stata is not up to date. I merely pointed
out that -update-ing one's Stata regularly is not all that difficult.
Anyone who thinks otherwise should come and talk to me off-list and I'll
be sure to set them straight.

(2) In answering the question, I actually gave Anna G an extra tip _over
and above_ those mentioned by Richard Williams: namely, the option of
-adoupdate-. We really should go on bended knee, at least once a week, to
Kit Baum and Bill Gould for devising it. For those of you who haven't
tried this godsend of a command, try it: you'll wonder how you managed
without it!

(3) Do I really need to emphasise that my post in no way implicates those
mentioned in it, namely Rich, Constantine Daskalakis and Al Feiveson
(three of Statalist's many 'pillars' that Nick made an oblique reference
to)? Surely, I don't.

(4) Although I've had just one off-list complaint from a Statalister about
my post, I fully recognise that it's more than possible that other listees
may have complained to Marcello or Nick about this. If this is so, either
will be sure to contact me and I'll make the appropriate response to the


CLIVE NICHOLAS |t: 0(044)7903 397793
Politics |e:
Newcastle University |

Whereever you go and whatever you do, just remember this. No matter how
many like you, admire you, love you or adore you, the number of people
turning up to your funeral will be largely determined by local weather

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