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st: RE: A gentler introduction to Statalist and Seven Deadly Sins

From   "Nick Cox" <[email protected]>
To   <[email protected]>
Subject   st: RE: A gentler introduction to Statalist and Seven Deadly Sins
Date   Wed, 1 Aug 2007 23:20:37 +0100

This is a funny old list at times. 

Lee Biernbaum, whom I've never met, feels free to post speculations 
about the British and the Americans, touching on my email style in 
particular. If I understand him correctly, it includes the thought 
that if my emails appear terse and even mildly insulting, the 
explanation may be that I am British. 

I don't take offence at any of that personally, whether true or not.
But it is easy to imagine that some people might, not least
those who work in British banks. 

This all underlines the difficulty of getting this list to 
agree on anything much, except that Stata is a pretty good thing. 

Only yesterday one member urged strongly that people be 
warned against making personal comments, and here they are 
spilling all over Lee's message. Naturally I don't like 
the idea that any Statalist posting seriously upsets anybody, 
but with a thousand messages a month, and with a range of styles 
and personalities -- which I take to be Lee's main serious point -- 
it is going to happen occasionally. 

I don't think that the Atlantic has much to do with it, 
as styles similar to mine are shared by Stata friends
in several countries, including the United States. 
(And it's fitting to remember always that _many_ countries 
are represented on this list.) 

This thread, and related threads, have raised some
important points, and I felt I needed to reply to Lee, 
but otherwise I guess many people prefer that this thread faded away
and that the list focused once more on Stata and statistics. 

[email protected] 

Biernbaum, Lee
> At the risk of over-generalization (or over-generalisation) 
> Might I add
> that part of the underlying problem here may be more cultural than
> technical?
> I recently spent some time in the UK and found there to be a
> surprisingly large difference in email tone. Specifically, I found
> emails written by Brits to appear quite terse. While 
> efficient, it rang
> as uncaring, or even mildly insulting, to my American (virtual) ears.
> It took a while to convince myself that a 2 sentence answer devoid of
> unnecessary niceties was not intended to cause offense. Now back
> Stateside, Nick's emails often remind me of those I received from my
> British professors. 
> Also, a stern voice reprimanding someone for not following 
> (or reading)
> instructions, regardless of the document's length, is more 
> common in the
> UK than the US. If you want proof, spend 5 minutes in a British bank.
> I wonder if perhaps the feeling of being "cyber spanked" is a 
> result of
> these cultural differences in email tone and style as well as 
> responses
> to ignorance of the rules, especially given the large proportion of
> Americans on the list.
> That said, I'm not certain what to do about this for newcomers to the
> list who may not have experienced varying cultural norms, but perhaps
> this can shed some light on the issue.

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