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Re: st: Claims of urgency

From   Marcello Pagano <>
Subject   Re: st: Claims of urgency
Date   Tue, 04 Oct 2011 15:27:10 -0400

I was going to leave this thread be because Nick has responded properly.
But I would like to add just one more thought: It is easy to criticize. It may be more difficult, but certainly much more constructive if we heard an alternative. Take the paragraphs in the FAQ you find disturbing and suggest other wordings. I know this would leave you vulnerable to our petards, but what the hey, you have had your shot at psychoanalysis, now grant us ours! :-)


On 10/4/2011 1:48 PM, Nick Cox wrote:

explains the addition of this advice, and echoes exactly what I said
here about the way it was done.


On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 6:37 PM, Nick Cox<>  wrote:
Douglas (and others) can clearly express opinions on this or any other
matter -- and if a strong
consensus emerges we will consider changing advice in the FAQ.

For the moment, I will just comment on two factual matters.

1. Strictly speaking, Statalist is the property of Marcello Pagano and
we are all his guests. Also, the Statalist FAQ is maintained by me. It
is not clear why Douglas appears to be in any doubt on this point as
it is explained elsewhere in the FAQ to which there is reference here.
Responsibility in a general sense is Marcello's and in a particular
sense for the FAQ is mine. Non-trivial changes to the FAQ typically
entail consultation between Marcello and myself, but there is no
polling of the list.

2. This advice on urgency was included a few years ago in response to
several emails claiming urgency and a search of the archives will show
the policy arising occasionally and there being strong support for it.
Of course, we never know until they speak who dissents but has so far
kept quiet.


On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 6:09 PM, Doug Hess<>  wrote:
I'm not sure who decides policies and "principles" on Statalist, but I
would suggest that the "warning" quoted below be rewritten in a tone
that is less belittling and less presumptuous. It should be less
belittling because it currently reads like somebody using what little
power they have over those in need of assistance to make derogatory
statements about their affairs. It should be less presumptuous because
it assumes what others think about people in urgent need. (I would
also point out that this brings up several interesting questions from
cognitive psychology, like attribution bias, etc., but that's for
another day or list.)


Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 08:04:46 +0100
From: Nick Cox<>
Subject: st: Claims of urgency

Statalist has an explicit warning about claims of urgency in its FAQ at

"Urgency is your concern only Pleas of urgency, desperation, and the
like are deprecated on Statalist. Your urgency, however compelling, is
a private matter and does not translate into urgency for other members
of the list. In fact, labeling your question as urgent is more likely
to lead to your question being ignored by list members, who know that
in most cases urgency arises from disorganization. On Statalist, 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 questioner."

It is a mystery why you are not aware of that as new members are asked
to read the FAQ before posting.

It is a fact that most answers to questions are sent very quickly;
those questions that members do not wish to answer -- usually  because
they are too obscure or too general or  because members do not know an
answer -- do not become easier to answer because it is claimed that
they are urgent. No amount of apologies will establish that you are a
special case entitled to subvert or overturn our existing policy.

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