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st: urgency, importance, desperation and the like

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: urgency, importance, desperation and the like
Date   Wed, 30 Apr 2008 17:22:52 +0100

An element in several recent postings has been appeals of the form, "I
need this urgently", "This is important to me!", "I am desperate for
help", "I would really appreciate your help", and so on, and so forth. 

What follows is a personal reaction to this kind of posting. 

Please don't do that! 

I am sure it is all true and all sincere. But I don't think it helps at
all in maintaining the cool tone or promoting rational interactions on
the list. I wouldn't want this kind of thing to become a meme that
people, especially new members, sense that they have to follow. 

1. Please lay off any and all emotional blackmail. It's a fair bet that
pretty well all members of Statalist are very busy people and under
considerable pressure themselves and, even if they are not, I guess no
one wants or needs this kind of extra stress, minute though it may be in
individual cases. 

2. What makes your situation extra-special that your case is more
deserving than anybody else's? You think all the other people don't care
about getting a good answer, and quickly? Oh, so you are not claiming
that? Then please back off on the histrionics. 

3. There is a lot of evidence that on technical lists many of those who
answer lots of questions are _more_ likely to delete questions presented
in such a way. I am. 

4. Labelling a problem as important or urgent does not make it any more
soluble or interesting. On technical lists, the principle of charity is
that you answer questions because you are able and willing to say
something about the question, not because you have pity on the


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