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RE: how to reply on Statalist [was: RE: st: Categorizing HIV status using a series of string variables]

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   RE: how to reply on Statalist [was: RE: st: Categorizing HIV status using a series of string variables]
Date   Tue, 25 Nov 2008 20:45:55 -0000

Yes. I am saying exactly that. 

Whatever you do when you reply to a thread without directly replying to
one of the postings in that thread is likely to mess up the archiving.
Archiving of postings depends, as I understand it, much more on material
that is usually hidden by mailers, especially flags indicating what
posting you are replying to, than on the literal titles (subjects) of
the posts. I don't think there is any AI in there that scans for

One alternative I can imagine is to ban people like yourself who take
the digest from replying to threads on the grounds that such behaviour
messes up the archives. Clearly that is unworkable as well as
Or, we could ask people to join the main list if they intend to post.
That is also highly unsatisfactory as an idea. Alternatively, we could
abolish the digest. But as more people take the digest than receive each
posting separately, there is obvious demand for the digest. How much of
that consists of people who receive the digest but hardly ever read it I
don't know, but that is their privilege. 

All ways round, we'll live with the problem you highlighted. Although
it's long been obvious to anyone who looks carefully, it's not been a
source of expressed discontent so far as I can recall. 

Also, let's be clear: there is no problem whatsoever with
digest-subscribers initiating threads. Those posts look the same as
anybody else's. 


Polis, Chelsea B.

Thanks very much for this response, Nick.  I'm not sure if you are
saying that the paragraph below is the entirety of what you plan to add
to the FAQ, but I'm not sure that it fully answers my particular
question, which is: What is the best way for a digest subscriber to
respond to a response within an already existing thread?  Is it enough
to simply copy the title of the post you wish to respond to, put "RE:"
in front of it, and send a new email to

When I tried this above, it appears to have generated "<Possible
follow-ups>" above my response, which seems atypical.  Does this have to
do with the fact that I didn't copy any of the text in the message body
into the body of my response, or something else?  I've tried the same
method again with this post (putting "RE:" in front of the title of the
post I wish to respond to), but I've also copied the body of your post
to see if that changes anything.

Nick Cox 

Chelsea is correct. The FAQ does not spell this out. I guess that we
thought it didn't require comment, but we'll add a paragraph to the FAQ
section 2.2, as follows:

If you are replying to a posting, your mailer will typically produce a
sensible message title (e.g. by prefixing the previous title with
"Re:"). However, if you are replying to a daily digest, please take care
to edit the title to that of the specific posting you are replying to.
In addition, please do not start a new thread by replying to a previous
posting, even if you delete its contents and change its title, as such
practice messes up archiving.

The last bit is also mentioned elsewhere, but it is often ignored....

Polis, Chelsea B.

I'm still trying to understand how to reply to individual postings when
I receive Statalist in digest form...I'm hoping that slapping a "RE:" in
front of the subject line I wish to respond to will allow me to do that,
but I couldn't find information in the FAQ on specifically how to do

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