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st: Re: how to reply on Statalist

From   Phil Schumm <>
Subject   st: Re: how to reply on Statalist
Date   Tue, 25 Nov 2008 14:57:57 -0600

On Nov 25, 2008, at 2:23 PM, Polis, Chelsea B. wrote:
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.

To answer your question directly, there is no good way to respond to individual messages if you are subscribed in digest mode. I'm not trying to be glib here, but threading is based mainly on special headers that your email client (should) add when you hit "Reply" to a message (in particular, the "In-Reply-To" and "References" headers). Secondarily, some clients (and archivers) will attempt to fall back on the Subject header when these other headers are unavailable, but that is always a hack (at best), and can cause unwanted side effects.

Personally, my feeling is that if people want to participate in the conversation, they should subscribe in the regular manner (and should follow good practice when replying to and/or starting new threads). I don't believe this should be a "rule", and I don't get upset when people don't follow this -- I'm just much less likely to read their message(s).

If you are trying to respond to a message and don't have the original (e.g., if you are subscribed in digest mode or if you deleted the original from your client), your best option is to start a fresh message (i.e., don't use the reply function) and to copy the subject header exactly as it appears in another reply to the original post. At best, your message will get lumped together with the thread in people's mailers (though probably at the end), but that's no guarantee. I have no idea how the online archiver hosted by StataCorp will handle this.

-- Phil

P.S. Threading has nothing to do with the body of the message.

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