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Re: st: Statalist advice: a summary

From   Richard Williams <>
To   "" <>
Subject   Re: st: Statalist advice: a summary
Date   Wed, 2 Jan 2013 08:42:48 -0500

Thanks for posting this Nick. I would reinforce points 3, 4, and 5. It
is very frustrating when somebody takes the time to work out a
solution that requires Stata 12 and only then have the poster say s/he
only has Stata 10. I am also struck sometimes how people refuse to
provide syntax and output or other information even after they have
been asked to do so.

Sent from my iPad

On Jan 1, 2013, at 3:57 AM, Nick Cox <> wrote:

> Old hands will know that I post something like this every few months
> as a reminder of some basics. It is not to be thought of as the rules.
> There is only one rule on Statalist, and it comes from the top,
> Marcello Pagano. You are asked to use your full real name in posting.
> We are deliberately and deliciously old-fashioned in that sense.
> Everything else is _advice_ intended in everyone's best interests.
> Best wishes for your Stata activities in 2013.
> Nick
> In a sentence: Help us to help you, and here's how.
> 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
> <>
> 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 as a client 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.
> 0. Use your full 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 clearly.
> 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)". That means references of a
> standard that you would expect to find in a professional publication.
> 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.
> 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. Try to use Stata terminology wherever possible, not terminology that
> may be more familiar to you because you are more used to other software.
> Stata's the language we all share. For example, it is not a good idea to
> assume that people likely to answer questions think or work using
> spreadsheet terms.
> 13. The correct spelling is "Stata", not "STATA". Several of the most active
> experts on the list can get irritated if you get that wrong, and you are
> free to regard them as pedantic. More importantly, if you write "STATA"
> you are making it all too obvious that you haven't studied the FAQ carefully.
> 14. 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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