I've been busy the past few months, but here is the latest version of the STAT-L FAQ. Comments and suggestions are welcome; please note my new address.

I added a new section "How do I know that my message got posted" since that seems to be the cause for a lot of duplicative postings. Richard Ulrich had some nice comments about this and about cross-posting, which I borrowed and adapted. I also surfed the web to plug in many of the gaps in the FAQ, such as details about some of the stat software resources in section 8.


Table of contents


2. What are other related listserv/usenet groups?

3. How are STAT-L and SCI.STAT.CONSULT related?

4. How do I know that my message got posted?

5. How do I use LISTSSERV to...

6. How do I get the archives of STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT?

7. How can I contact the American Statistical Association?

8. How can I contact the major statistics software vendors?

9. What is Statlib?

10. Where can I find free/shareware statistical software?

11. What statistics resources can be found on the web?

12. What should I do about these "Spams"?

13. Acknowledgments


STAT-L and SCI.STAT.CONSULT are a combined LISTSERV/USENET group for the discussion of statistical consulting issues. We discuss statistical issues of all levels of difficulty, as well as statistical education, the practice of statistical consulting, and other related topics. We also like to debate some of the more controversial issues in Statistics like the validity of the statistical models used in the Bell Curve book and the pitfalls of stepwise regression models.

If you have a question about a particular statistics package, you will probably get a faster and more accurate answer by posting the question on the list that specializes in a particular package (e.g., SAS-L/COMP.SOFT-SYS.SAS or S-NEWS).

We appreciate questions at a levels from beginner to expert. Sometimes, the beginner questions lead to some interesting discussions as to the subtle nuances in statistical consulting.

If you want advice on how to analyze some data, please include some context as to what your data means and what you are trying to investigate. No one can answer a question well that only says "Listed below is some data. How do I analyze it?"

Be careful about advice on STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT. You'll find many people who are glad to help you, but you must realize the serious limitations of e-mail. There is no adequate substitute for getting advice face-to-face with a professional, especially BEFORE collecting any data and BEFORE performing any experiments. Even the most experienced and wise Statisticians will be unable to make sense out of a poorly designed study.

There are three types of messages that we discourage. First, try to avoid any overly commercial pitches, including posting your resume. On the other hand, we do like to hear about job openings, especially ones that list starting salaries so we can bemoan how little we make on our current jobs. Postings of upcoming conferences are also acceptable.

Second, don't post your homework questions on here, even if you have permission to do so from your teacher. On the other hand, asking for recommendations on books for beginners is fine.

Third, while we enjoy a spirited debate, please refrain from flaming and personal attacks. Although we have occasional lapses, this list has a generally high level of civility and politeness. Let's keep it that way.

Here's some additional advice from Richard Ulrich for SCI.STAT.CONSULT folks.

If you are going to CROSS-POST to several groups, PLEASE send just one message in which you LIST THE SEVERAL GROUPS in the header.

i) That way, when someone writes a response, it will show up in EACH group where the question could be read, not just in one.

ii) That way, when a person reads with a Threaded-newsreader, he will see your message just ONCE, instead of over and over.

2. What are other related LISTSERV/USENET groups?

Mailing lists for specific software packages (e.g., BMDP-L, S-NEWS, SAS-L) are covered in section 8.

Note: Mike Fuller is maintaining a list of statistics lists, which probably is more accurate than what I have developed below. Here is an excerpt from one of his e-mails:

The latest version of my list of statistics lists is always available as follows. Send a one line email message to


send minitab list-of-lists

The list is kept with the files of the minitab list simply for my convenience, as the list owner of the minitab list is me.

The list can also be accessed using gopher. Use the command gopher mailbase@mailbase.ac.uk

to reach mailbase and then use menus to get to the minitab list, where you can see and retrieve a copy of the file."

Please, please, please note that subscription requests go to the LISTSERV or MAILBASE address. If you send a subscription request to the list itself, it will be read by hundreds or thousands of people, none of whom can get you subscribed. Some of these people will be annoyed enough at your naivete that they will introduce you to a concept known as "flaming".


The Albert Gifi mailing list discusses correspondence analysis, multidimensional scaling, nonlinear multivariate analysis, and optimal scaling.


How to subscribe: subscribe ALBERT-GIFI First-name Last-name



Discussions on this list are similar to STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT, but there is a decidedly British flavor to ALLSTAT and a more U.S. flavor to STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT. This is particularly noticeable in the postings of meetings.

ALLSTAT is a Mailbase system so it uses a slightly different syntax than the LISTSERV system.


How to subscribe: subscribe ALLSTAT


Note: Several people tell me that MAILBASE does not like it when you include your name in the SUBSCRIBE command.


This can also be found under bit.listserv.edstat-l.


How to subscribe: subscribe EDSTAT-L Firstname Lastname



This list is for people using multilevel analysis (multilevel modeling; hierarchical data analysis) and any associated software (e.g. MLn, HLM, VARCL, GENMOD). It aims to promote discussion, mutual support, and the spread of information (e.g. conferences, workshops, new software).

MULTILEVEL is a MAILBASE system so it uses a slightly different syntax than the LISTSERV system.


How to subscribe: subscribe MULTILEVEL first-name last-name



A more mathematical flavor can be found on SCI.STAT.MATH, which sad to say, is not mirrored to any LISTSERVer.


Researchers who study or apply structural equation modeling methods may be interested in an electronic mail network called SEMNET. Operating over the Internet computer network, SEMNET is an open forum for ideas and questions about the methodology that includes analysis of covariance structures, path analysis, and confirmatory factor analysis. SEMNET bridges the gaps between users, between disciplines, and between conferences. SEMNET was founded in February 1993. As of April 1995, SEMNET had over 500 subscribers worldwide.

SEMNET is for sharing ideas about this methodology with other interested researchers. SEMNET is also for researchers who are just learning (or re-learning) about structural equation modeling, or who are facing problems in applying these techniques to their own research.

SEMNET maintains an FAQ on:



How to subscribe: sub SEMNET first-name last-name

Post message to: SEMNET@UA1VM.UA.EDU

3. How are STAT-L and SCI.STAT.CONSULT related?

Through the magic of Internet, any message posted on SCI.STAT.CONSULT also appears on STAT-L. Any message posted on STAT-L appears on SCI.STAT.CONSULT. So you can follow all the fascinating questions and answers using either system.

We have had many anecdotal reports of messages posted on STAT-L not appearing on SCI.STAT.CONSULT. Bob Wheeler offers the following comment:

The problem is real and is caused by the settings of expiration dates on news items. Local machines have limited space to store items, and so those older than some given date are discarded. Since messages bounce around the Internet before arriving at a local machine, they are sometimes DOA (deleted on arrival) because they are older than the local expiration setting. It can also happen that the local machine subscribes to a service and the service deletes items before forwarding -- thus the local manager sometimes has no control over the problem, other than to use a different service.

4. How do I know that my message got posted?

First of all, be patient. It takes a while for your message to be posted. There's nothing more annoying than seeing the same messages posted again and again by people who are unsure whether their messages got through.

While the Internet is faster than the Post Office, it isn't always instantaneous. Wait for half a day or more before panicking.

If you are using SCI.STAT.CONSULT, there is a place where you can practice sending test messages (MISC.TEST or NEWS.TEST). If you are a beginner, don't post to SCI.STAT.CONSULT until after you are comfortable posting to one of these test groups.

If you are using STAT-L, by default you will not see your own messages, nor will you receive any acknowledgment that your message was posted. See the next section for details on changing this default.

Also, please note that not every question posted on STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT gets an answer. No one is getting paid for their time, so you need to appeal to their curiosity or their altruism. If no one answered your question, maybe you need to ask the question differently?

5. How do I use LISTSERV to...

Subscribe to STAT-L?

First things first. If you are using SCI.STAT.CONSULT, your USENET reader software should have a menu pick or a command that will allow you to subscribe to SCI.STAT.CONSULT. Every reader is different, so please consult your help file or your local computer guru.

To subscribe to STAT-L, send a message to LISTSERV@VM1.MCGILL.CA with a single line:

SUB STAT-L First-name Last-name

in the body of the text.

Please be sure that you send the message to LISTSERV@VM1.MCGILL.CA and not to STAT-L@VM1.MCGILL.CA. If you send your subscription request to STAT-L, hundreds of people will see your message and none of them will be able to subscribe you to the list. Some in fact will flame you for not reading these instructions more carefully.

It's sort of like a newspaper which has a circulation desk and a letters-to-the-editor desk. If you want to start delivery of the paper you send it to the circulation desk. If you want to start delivery of STAT-L, you send the request to LISTSERV. Sending a subscription request to STAT-L is like sending a letter to the editor that reads "Please start delivery of the Sunday paper to 1313 Mockingbird Lane".

Get the digest option turned on/off?

If you have no strong preference, the digest option (multiple messages compiled into a single mailing, usually daily) is less burdensome on Internet and creates fewer bounced messages for the list administrator to deal with. The default when you sign up is for the digest option.

To cancel digest format and to receive the list as separate mailings, send the command



To receive the list in digest format, send the command


in the body of a message to LISTSERV@VM1.MCGILL.CA.

Again, please be sure that you send all of these types of messages to LISTSERV@VM1.MCGILL.CA. and not to STAT-L@VM1.MCGILL.CA.

Obtain a list of subscribers to STAT-L?

Send the command


to LISTSERV@VM1.MCGILL.CA or to sort by name send the command


or to sort by country send the command


This does not include subscribers to SCI.STAT.CONSULT, as they do not subscribe to the list the same way. I know of no way to obtain the list of subscribers to SCI.STAT.CONSULT.

Keep my name off of the list of subscribers

Send the a message to LISTSERV@VM1.MCGILL.CA with a line in the body of the message reading


To reverse this, send the command


Get a copy of my posting to STAT-L?

By default, STAT-L does not send you a copy of the message that you send in. You read it when you wrote it, so why would you want to read it again? Well, okay, a very eloquent message is worth keeping and re-reading.

You can change the default option in two ways.

The command


will cause STAT-L to send you back a copy of any message you send in.

The command


will cause STAT-L to send a brief acknowledgment that your message has been sent to the list.

If you want to go back to the default, send the command


All of these commands go to LISTSERV and not to STAT-L.

Stop mail from STAT-L (temporarily or permanently)?

Send a message to LISTSERV@VM1.MCGILL.CA (again, please don't send the message to STAT-L@VM1.MCGILL.CA). To signoff permanently, include the line


in the body of the message. To temporarily suspend mail, use the line


and when you are ready to resume reading, use the line



SET listname DIGEST

depending on your preference for individual messages versus a daily digest.

What if my initial signoff command doesn't work

This happens sometimes, particularly if your e-mail address changes, even slightly. I would recommend that you get a list of subscribers and see how your e-mail address looks to the system (see above for details).

Some mail systems (like ELM) allow you to change the FROM field of a message. If your mail system supports this, then try sending a message to LISTSERV and change the FROM field so it looks like it came from the original address.

You could also ask your system administrator to create a temporary (or permanent) alias name for you for outbound messages (including the necessary deviant domain part).

If none of the above works, or if it seems too complicated, don't panic. Every list has a human owner who can go in and unsubscribe you manually. You can find the e-mail address of the list owner on the same list of subscribers that you just got (again, see above).

When I last checked in August 1995, the list owner was

* OWNER= MICHAEL@VM1.MCGILL.CA (Michael Walsh, McGill University)

* (514-398-3680)

The key thing to remember here is that only the list owner can help you with this. Sending a message to STAT-L will not help much unless the list owner happens to be following STAT-L right at that moment. Send a message directly to the list owner, explaining your problem. The list owner will manually unsubscribe you from STAT-L.

6. How do I get the archives of STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT?

The are three ways to get archives of STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT.

First, the LISTSERV software for STAT-L maintains monthly archive files. To obtain a listing of these file names, send the command


to LISTSERV.VM1.MCGILL.CA, and to retrieve an archive file send the command

GET filename filetype F=MAIL

You can also search the archives for keywords

For a full description of LISTSERV search functions, send the command



You can also use GOPHER to search the archives:


7. How can I contact the American Statistical Association?

American Statistical Association
1429 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314-3402

Tel: 703-684-1221
FAX: 703-684-2036.
Web: http://www.amstat.org
8. How can I contact the major statistics software vendors?

Many of these companies have numerous locations and international distributors. I have only listed corporate headquarters to save space. If you can, check out the web site to get more detailed information.

Also please bear in mind that mergers and other business activity may quickly make parts of this list obsolete.

Finally, I need to repeat my earlier plea about listservers. Please, please, please note that subscription requests go to the LISTSERV or MAILBASE or MAJORSDOMO address.


Aptech Systems, Inc.
23804 SE Kent-Kangley Road
Maple Valley, WA 98038 USA
Tel: 206-432-7855
FAX: 206-432-7832
E-M: support@aptech.com (support)
info@aptech.com (sales information)
GAUSS mailing list:
How to subscribe: subscribe GAUSSIANS

Web: http://www.civilized.com

Conceptual Software Inc.
9660 Hillcroft # 510
Houston, TX 77096.


Data Description, Inc.
Box 4555
Ithaca, NY 14853

Tel: (607) 257-1000
FAX: (607) 257-4146
E-M: datadesk@datadesk.com

MathSoft, Inc.
101 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

Tel: 617 577-1017
970-339-7119 (Support, daily from 9am to 9pm EST)
800-MATHCAD (Sales, US or Canada)
44-131-451-6720 (Sales outside the US/Canada)
Fax: 617 577-8829
Web: http://www.mathsoft.com
E-M: ideas@mathsoft.com (comments and suggestions)
support@mathsoft.com (Support, US or Canada)
help@mathsoft.com (Support outside US/Canada)
sales-info@mathsoft.com (Sales, US or Canada)
int-info@mathsoft.com (Sales outside US/Canada)

The MathWorks, Inc.
24 Prime Park Way
Natick, MA 01760-1500

Tel: (508) 653-1415
Fax: (508) 653-2997
Web: http://www.mathworks.com/home.html
E-M: info@mathworks.com (Sales, pricing, information)
support@mathworks.com (Technical support)
bugs@mathworks.com (Bug reports)
suggest@mathworks.com (Product suggestions)
service@mathworks.com (Service)

Minitab Inc.
3081 Enterprise Drive
State College, PA 16801

Tel: 814 238-3280
Fax: 814 238-4383
Web: http://www.minitab.com
E-M: sales@minitab.com


Web: http://www.ncss.com


Web: http://www.palisade.com


Web: http://www.statistics.com
E-M: stats@cais.com


SAS Institute Inc.
SAS Campus Drive
Cary, NC 27513

Tel: 919 677-8000
919 677-8008 (JMP technical support)
919 677-8000, ext 5071 (JMP sales)
Fax: 919 677-8123

Web: http://www.sas.com
ftp: ftp://ftp.sas.com
E-M: corpcom@unx.sas.com (Corporate Communications)
eurwww@mvs.sas.com (European Offices)
pubs@unx.sas.com (Publications)
software@sas.sas.com (Sales and Marketing)
bussol@unx.sas.com (Business Solutions Division)
sasblb2@vm.sas.com (jmp-sales)

JMP mailing list:

How to subscribe: subscribe JMP-L
Post message to: JMP-L@WUBIOS.WUSTL.EDU
SAS mailing list:

How to subscribe: subscribe SAS-L First-name Last-name
Post message to: SAS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU
SAS Technical Support News

How to subscribe: subscribe TSNEWS-L First-name Last-name
Post message to: Messages posted by SAS Institute only


E-M: 75450.3171@compuserve.com

SPSS Inc. (BMDP, SPSS, Systat)

SPSS, Inc.
444 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago IL 60611

Tel: 312 329-3410
800 543-2185
312-494-3283 (SYSTAT Technical Support)
Fax: 312/329-3668
BBS: 312/836-1900 (8/N/1)
ftp: ftp.spss.com
E-M: support@spss.com

BMDP mailing list:

How to subscribe: sub BMDP-L Firstname Lastname
Post messages to: BMDP-L@VM1.MCGILL.CA

SPSS mailing list:

How to subscribe: sub SPSSX-L Firstname Lastname
Post messages to: SPSSX-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU

SYSTAT mailing list:

How to subscribe: sub SYSTAT-L Firstname Lastname
Post messages to: SYSTAT-L@SPSS.COM


Stata Corporation
702 University Drive East
College Station, Texas 77840

Tel: 409-696-4600
Fax: 409-696-4601
E-M: stata@stata.com

STATA mailing list:

How to subscribe: subscribe STATALIST First-name Last-name


Statistical Sciences, Suite 500
1700 Westlake Avenue N.
Seattle WA 98109-9891

Tel: (206) 283-8802 (business)
(800) 569-0123 (sales)
Fax: (206) 283-6310
Web: http://www.statsci.com/
E-M: sales@statsci.com (Sales)
support@statsci.com (Support)
mktg@statsci.com (Marketing)

S-plus mailing list:

How to subscribe: subscribe

Also check out the parent company, Mathsoft.

StatSoft, Inc.
2300 East 14th Street
Tulsa, OK, USA 74104-4442

Tel: (918) 749-1119
Fax: (918) 749-2217
Web: http://www.statsoftinc.com
E-M: info@statsoftinc.com

9. What is Statlib?

Statlib is a system for distributing statistical software by electronic mail and ftp.

To access the statlib server, send a mail message to statlib@lib.stat.cmu.edu. For starters, do the following on your machine:

mail statlib@lib.stat.cmu.edu
send index
send index from S

This will give you an index of the general and S-specific material available on the statlib server.

Remember that the server does not understand English or any other language. Your requests must be exactly in the form specified.

Anonymous ftp access is also available. Type:

ftp lib.stat.cmu.edu

At the login prompt, type "statlib" (without the quotes) and give your e-mail address as the password.

A `mirror' of the statlib archive in the UK will shortly be available at unix.hensa.ac.uk:

mail netlib@unix.hensa.ac.uk
send browser

for further details of the mail server.

The site can also be accessed by telnet (log in as 'archive') or by anonymous ftp. The statlib archive is under /statlib.

10. Where can I find free/shareware statistical software?


Epi-info is a series of computer programs produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization which provides public-domain software for word processing, database and statistics work in public health.

Epi-info can be downloaded at


Support is available through

Tel: (404) 728-0545
FAX: (404) 315-6440

There is a companion product, Epi-map, for geographic mapping. It can be downloaded at



XLISP-STAT is a comprehensive statistical environment based on the XLISP dialect of LISP. It runs on Amiga, Macintosh, MS-DOS, MS-Windows, and X11. XLISP-STAT is highly extensible, and many interesting extensions can be found at Statlib (see above for details about Statlib).

XLISP-STAT can be downloaded at


There is a mailing list, stat-lisp-news. At the moment, the list is maintained by hand.

Subscribe to: LISTSERV@JULIA.MATH.UCLA.EDU How to subscribe: Ask to join and include your e-mail address Post message to: stat-lisp-news@stat.umn.edu

11. What statistics resources can be found on the web?

There are lots of interesting statistics sites on the web, and the web is growing and changing rapidly. Here are some interesting sites, and you are welcome to send in other good web sites. Pointers to other interesting sites may be found, of course, on these web pages listed below.

Measurement theory FAQ:


Neural networks FAQ:


Statistical power analysis software (Len Thomas):


Statistics on the Web (Clay Helberg):


Statistics servers and other links (The Institute of Statistics and Decision Sciences):


12. What should I do about these "Spams"?

A message distributed across multiple newsgroups or list servers, usually for commercial purposes is known as a Spam. Some examples of Spams that have hit STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT are the green card lawyers, information about lonely women in Russia, and blueprints of the original atom bomb.

First, keep in mind that often it is not the original spam messages that are so conspicuous as potentially intrusive, but rather the inevitable threads of discussion which seem to result from them. Please do not complain to STAT-L about a spam. The person who sent the spam is almost certainly not a subscriber to STAT-L and will not see your complaint. Other victims of the spam will see your complaint though, which multiplies the annoying effect of the spam.

There are constructive steps that you can take to discourage a spam but be assured that hundreds if not thousands of people have probably already done this on your behalf. You can do nothing and still be assured that others are looking out for everyone's interests.

So the best course of action is to shrug off the message. You might want to get in the practice of recognizing a spam by its subject line and deleting it unread.

If you don't want to ignore the spam, try following the advice given recently by Michael Palij:

In a situation such as this I suggest that you send E-mail to the postmaster of the machine from which the offending E-mail was sent, alerting the postmaster of the E-mail message and including a copy of the E-mail message. If for some reason postmaster@machine does not work send E-mail to root@machine. Don't respond to the person of the account that sent the E-mail nor mailbomb. The reasons for this are:

1. The E-mail may have a forged name/account. That is, the return address may be bogus or belong to someone who has a legitimate account on the specific machine but who did not send the E-mail.

2. Some people, if they want to punish a particular person/account or machine, may send out a spam message such as the one above, with the expectation that the person's account or machine/site will be overwhelmed by the reaction (yes, some people will send a copy of a coredump or Moby Dick to the offending E-mail address in the hope that it will crash the mail program). In this way, an innocent person gets hurt because of a set-up.

3. Notifying the person who has responsibility for the machine (i.e., the postmaster or root) will allow that person to determine whether one of their real users posted the message (and give that person a good talking to) or whether their system was hacked and someone posted the offending message as a prank/whatever.

In general, try to stay cool about such occurrences, E-mail the postmaster to investigate the situation, and appreciate that much more may be going on than you realize.

13 Acknowledgments

This list has grown thanks to the small and large contributions of many people. Part of it was shamelessly stolen from well written messages on STAT-L. Here is a partial list of people who you should thank for directly or indirectly contributing to this FAQ:

      Gary Ash
      Grant Blank
      Byron Davis
      Emil Friedman
      Mike Fuller
      Duane Griffin
      Clay Helberg
      Jan de Leeuw
      Tim Hesterberg
      Haiko Luepsen
      Brian C. Monsell
      John Nash
      Michael Palij
      David Ronis
      Warren Sarle
      Ronald Schoenberg
      Jim Steiger
      Len Thomas
      Richard Ulrich
      Vittorio Viaggi
      Meredith Warshaw
      Bob Wheeler
      John Whittington
      Sara Young

If there are errors in this FAQ, they are probably my fault; it is difficult to accurately transcibe all of the information I have receive, even with cut and paste. Please send any corrections and additions. Complaints are appreciated also, but please realize that I am doing this on a volunteer effort, mostly during lunch breaks and after work hours.

Steve Simon, ssimon@cmh.edu (note new address) Standard disclaimer applies.

*** End of FAQ for STAT-L/SCI.STAT.CONSULT ***

Subject: Re: optimization software


David recently asked about software for optimization. I thought thet part of my reply might be of general interest. If not, just hit the delete key and forget it.

james ssemakula

Also checkout SAS/IML. See:

1. SAS/IML Software: Changes and Enhancements thru Rel 6.11

2. Wolfgang Hartman & Ying SO 1995.al. Nonlinear Least-Squares and Maximum-Likelihood Estimation Using PROC NLP & SAS/IML

3. W. Hartman The NLP Procedure: Release 6.10 & 6.11: Extended User's Guide.

4. Harman, Minbo Kim & Ying C So. Applications of Nonlinear Optimization Using PROC NLP and SAS/IML Software.

You can get a copy of pubs 2-4 by calling Wolfgang at SI: 919-677-8000 x 7612 or sending e-mail to saswmh@unx.sas.com. Wolfgang is very helpful.


james ssemakula
uc riverside
ps: PROC LP in SAS/OR could also be used for optimization.

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