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Re: st: Thanks and Amazement

From   "William Gould, StataCorp LP" <>
Subject   Re: st: Thanks and Amazement
Date   Wed, 23 Nov 2011 10:16:04 -0600

Ben Hoen wrote some awfully nice words about Statalist, among which 

> [...] I suspect I speak for most of the users on this list when I say
> that StataCorp is extremely well served by your bright minds, and
> willingness to help out.  [...]

StataCorp does know how well it's served by Statalist.  Ben Hoen took
the time to write down his thoughts regarding Statalist, and mentioned
that he was "suprised/delighted/amazed".

I would now like, in turn, to scribble down my thoughts about why 
Statalist deserves such praise.  My explanation is

    1.  The linear nature of the list.  

        Statalist is not just about questions and answers.  The linear
        threading of the list forces us to read all the questions and
        all the answers, although each of us reads some parts some
        more carefully than others.  In the process we not only learn
        something, we are invited to contribute.  Statalist is not
        divided into one group that provides to the answers and
        another that seeks advice.  There are no job titles on
        Statalist.  Yes, there are people who answer more questions
        than they ask, and there are some who have only asked
        questions so far, but anyone can cross the line whenever they

        By the way, even people the like prickly guy in Northern
        England -- you know the one, the one with all the genuinely
        useful advice spiced with reminders that you write Stata not
        STATA, that you change the Subject line, and that, whatever
        you do, you do not ask the same question twice -- that's the
        one -- even peole like him ask questions.  They do that when
        they write, "What was StataCorp thinking?" or they suggest
        StataCorp ought to make a change to how something works.

    2.  The genuinely respectful nature of the list.  

        Smart people can ask stupid questions and, when they do, it is
        the question that is stupid, not the questioner.

        I emphasize the word genuine.  Statalist is not about the
        appearance of respect, its about genuine respect.  Even when
        the prickly guy in Northern England chastizes someone for
        asking the same question yet a third time, it is with the
        intent of helping the questioner modify the question so that
        it can be answered.

        And all list members do an excellent job of distinguishing
        between ignorance and real stupidity.

    3.  The subtle, almost invisible hand, of the list's moderator, 
        Marcello Pagano.  

        We don't mention Marcello's name often.  Marcello mostly stays
        quiet in hopes the list will police itself when it goes the
        wrong direction.  But when he does speak, everyone listens.

    4.  And, if I may say so, the appropriate participation by StataCorp.

        The emphasis here is on the word appropriate.  Did you know
        that every member of the devleopment and technical staff reads
        Statalist daily?  We have the abilty to smother Statalist by
        turning it into our list.  We have the ability to starve
        Statalist by ignoring it.  We try to find the middle ground
        where we just participate.

        You might be surprised to learn how often postings on
        Statalist are discussed at StataCorp.  The development staff
        has Monday morning and Friday afternoon meetings.  There is
        not one of those meetings where one or two postings from
        Statalist do not come up in the discussion.  They are not on
        the agenda -- there is no agenda -- they just arise naturally.

        What you write on Statalist really does get the attention of

In summary, Statlist seems magical.  It's worth thinking about what 
supplies the pixie dust, and I'm sure I've missed some important things.

-- Bill
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