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st: RE: Statalist advice: a summary

From   "Reg Jordan" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: RE: Statalist advice: a summary
Date   Wed, 23 May 2012 08:10:55 -0400

I'm really surprised. Really. You omitted the Prime Directive from your 13

-1. Thou shalt use the name Stata, not STATA, and glorify its name.

    Reg Jordan

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Nick Cox
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 6:46 AM
Subject: st: Statalist advice: a summary

What follows is a revision of various earlier postings, with apologies to
those to whom this is all too familiar. New people are always joining the
list, and it can take a while before the ethos of Statalist becomes clear.
Even old hands can sometimes "forget" what they should otherwise remember.

It is important to remember that Statalist is a discussion list, not a help
line. The distinction might seem a little obscure or subtle, so let's spell
it out:

* On a help line, someone is obliged to reply, even if the answer is
perfunctory. On a discussion list, people will happily delete your posting
if they don't understand it or it's too much like hard work even to try to
find out what you are seeking. There is no mechanism on Statalist for
ensuring that anybody answers, so a question that looks too difficult for
everyone will just lie there.

* A help line is aimed at helping individuals, and giving the client a good
answer is the key goal. You will not know, and need not care, about other
clients. On a discussion list, it is fine if people get individual help in
public, but it is also important that such help contributes to an archive of
solved problems that people can search. A lousy question that is too
difficult to answer wastes the questioner's time and also clogs the list and
the archives with unhelpful posts.

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 firm Statalist policy. 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. (The idea that you
should search the web before you read the manual is a strange belief shared
by many new users.)

2. Explain your data structure clearly and with examples (variable types
etc.) We can only understand your dataset to the extent that you explain it

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. The best strategy is to ask a question that someone else will want to
answer, not to act clueless or desperate. (Many students close to finishing
appear to think that they are especially deserving of help, but this is a
view not widely shared by anybody else.)

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
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