FAQs in user guides?

Subject: FAQs in user guides?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 10:51:10 -0500

Chuck Martin <<... just encountered a question that I have never had asked
before, nor seen it dealt with here or elsewhere: Should a FAQ page be a
part of a User Guide?>>

Almost certainly not. In my not so humble opinion, all the frequently asked
questions should be answered directly in the manual, in the right place and
context and somewhere they can be easily found via the index. The worst
thing about typical FAQs is that they're simple braindumps, with no logical
or other organisation, and finding the answer to a question requires readers
to skim the entire FAQ, desperately hoping they'll find a question that
resembles the one they really want to ask. Not effective or user-friendly in
the least.

<<The current online Help system had a FAQ page, which is a common
convention for web-based user assistance.>>

Pointing the user to a Web page with a good index or an effective search
engine might make the FAQ concept more usable. But I'm still skeptical given
the FAQs I've been forced to use thus far.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
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