Frequently Asked Questions
This paragraph discusses two subjects:
- What are Frequently Asked Questions or FAQs.
- What should a FAQ be. The opinion of the author.
What are Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a set of documents containing questions and answers about a specific subject.
Select Usenet FAQ's to learn more about FAQs in general.
- FAQs are available for many discussion groups. A discussion group is a group of people who discusses a particular subject via e-mails.
- FAQs are a prerequisite to read before someone starts asking a question in a discussion group.
- FAQs are maintained by individuals (maintainer) and have copyright.
Select FAQ-List to observe an alphabetical listing of all FAQs.
Select: The homepage by Russ Allbery or select directly: Faqs and Documentation to learn a lot about FAQ's and Usenet.
The opinion of the author
Your author is in favor of FAQs. However also has certain objections and remarks.
In the rest of this page with FAQ is meant: a detailed description of a subject consisting of an index, paragraphs, text, formulas and figures.
With question is meant a remark or comment about a part of a FAQ, that someting is not clear or wrong, with the final intention that the FAQ has to be changed. This is called a first level question. A second level comment is a remark about a first level question.
- FAQs should not have a copyright. FAQs are of every one. The maintainer should not claim any rights, specific because the task of maintainer is temporary.
- A FAQ should not contain the opinion of the maintainer.
- FAQs should express the opinion of the contributors.
In fact they should own copyright.
- For each discussion group there should be: at least one FAQ, a moderator and a maintainer.
- The moderator and the maintainer can be the same.
- The task of the moderator is not to reject or evaluate questions but more for clarification.
- The task of the maintainer should be to update the FAQ based on feedback received.
This will increase the worldwide acceptance of the FAQ.
This task is not easy.
- The maintainer can also ask new questions. Questions by a maintainer are called: proposals for a change.
- The FAQ should be more than only the questions and answers.
- Instead FAQ should give all detailed (on-line) information about current state of knowledge of the subject.
Including alternative theories and the links to places where more detailed information can be found.
- In fact all FAQs together should be more than an encyclopedia.
- For each discussion there can be more then one FAQ. However care should be taken that no subject is discussed twice. This is specific important for definitions.
- If the subject of a discussion group becomes too large than the discussion group can be broken down in two. The same should happen with the FAQ.
- A typical case how it should not are the two FAQs for sci.physics:
Frequently Asked Questions - Sci.Physics and
Introduction to the Physics FAQ.
Each of those FAQ has a lot of valuable things to say, however there should only be one.
- To make things more complicated the following FAQ for rec.arts.startrek.tech newsgroup discusses similar subjects: Relativity and FTL Travel. A startrek newsgroup should have A FAQ explaining everything about startrek. However a startrek FAQ should not explain relativity, which belongs somewhere else. There can be one separate FAQ for FTL Travel. However it should be clear to which newsgroup it belongs.
- Each first level question should identify to which part of the FAQ it belongs or as near as possible. This allows to add new information into the FAQ and limits cross posting (To ask the same question in two newsgroups)
- Each first level question should only refer to a very small section of a FAQ. Each question should be rather short.
- Second level comments should repeat the original question.
- Second level comments are preferred. That means as many people as possible should give comments on the original question if they agree or not.
- Third level comments by the initiator should summarize the replies received. If the original question was not clear or complete than the initiator should start a new question.
- Third level comments (and higher) by others tend to deviate from the original question and should be minimised. You can always start with a new question.
- First level questions identify in principle an error or omission in the FAQ. Second level questions are in most cases a rejection and are in favour of the original text. Third level questions should be more like a vote.
- For each newsgroup there should be Library with old questions.
This wish is solved. Select Google Usenet groups
- Each FAQ should regular be updated.
The quality of the FAQs should be such, that, if during an examination and a student gives the answer at a question that is in a FAQ, than that answer should be honoured as being correct.
Created: 19 September 1996
Last modified: 5 january 2002
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