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st: Statalist commandments

From   Nick Cox <>
Subject   st: Statalist commandments
Date   Thu, 16 Feb 2012 19:45:28 +0000

What follows is a revision of postings from June 25 and October 18
2011, with apologies
to those to whom this is all too familiar.

A concise summary of advice aimed at helping you get answers
quickly and efficiently may prove useful. Following all the advice below won't
guarantee an answer that satisfies you, but ignoring most or all of it
will make such an answer much less likely.

Reminder: When you joined the list you were asked to read the FAQ


before posting, and we really did mean that. Please read the FAQ
before posting! Much of it can be skimmed or skipped on a first reading.

For another source of advice on Statalist, see

William Gould

0. Use your real name in postings. Fake or cute or cryptic names may
be standard elsewhere,
but this is a Statalist rule. If you don't agree, please don't post.

1. Help yourself first. Use the Stata help, the Stata manuals, -findit-,
the Stata FAQs, and the Statalist archives, in that order.

2. Explain your data structure clearly and with examples (variable types

3. Show the exact Stata syntax you used and show the exact Stata output
you got. (Never say just that something "didn't work", but explain precisely
in what sense you didn't get what you wanted.)

4. Specify the Stata version you used and the operating system you used
if it could possibly be relevant. Don't assume that the whole Stata
world uses MS Windows, let alone MS Excel.

5. Give an example which can easily be replicated using data supplied
with Stata or in your post.

6. Explain where user-written commands you refer to come from, for example
the Stata Journal, SSC, or someone's website. This makes clearer what
you are talking about, to everyone's benefit.

7. Give full literature references, not references of the form "Greene"
or the form "Sue, Grabbit, and Runne (2002)".

8. Ask a precise question that is easy to answer. Is this correct? or
what should I do with my data? usually don't qualify.

9. Remember that Statalist is a discussion list, not a help line. The best
strategy is to ask a question that someone else will want to answer, not
to act clueless or desperate.

10. Do send plain text only. Don't send attachments or use formatting
such as HTML.

11. Post once and wait patiently for a reply. (To see if something "got
through", check the archives.)

12. Close threads with concise summaries sent to the list of what
worked. That is the
best way to show appreciation and to contribute further to the list.
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