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Re: st: notes and labels and saving datasets

From (William Gould, StataCorp LP)
Subject   Re: st: notes and labels and saving datasets
Date   Wed, 01 Dec 2010 12:30:06 -0600

Will Senn <> wrote, 

> Is there a rationale for why Stata doesn't prompt to save files after 
> notes or labels have been added/updated/deleted? If not, is this 
> something that can be addressed in an update? What's the process of 
> requesting such a thing?

Yes, there is a rationale. The formats, labels, and notes that you add
or change to the data are just dressing, not changes to the data
themselves.  In the same vein, changing the sort order of the data is
not considered a change.  The rule is that, if a change would not
affect statistical results, if a change would affect only how results
are displayed, then it does not count as a change.

In terms of how to suggest improvements to Stata, you just did.
Statacorp reads Statalist.  You could make the suggestion more formal
by sending it to technical support, but that is not necessary.

I admit that there have been times when I've made important changes to
a dataset, where importance is measured in terms of my time to make
the changes, and I've been irritated that Stata did not count that as
a change when I forgot to save the dataset.  Generally, however, I
like Stata's current behavior.  There have been times when the current
behvaior has irritated me, but more often I use a dataset, generate
results thinking that I have not changed the data in a meaningful way,
and learn later that that I did.  In those situations, it's time for
me to trace back and figure out what I did and whether the real change
was intended.

In this case, it would take a rising up of users -- such as on
Statalist -- to convince us that we should change the
data-have-changed-since-last-saved behavior.

-- Bill
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