Subject: RE: FAQs
From: "Johnson, Tom" <TJohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com>
To: "Diane Boos" <dianeboos -at- comcast -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2006 16:28:01 -0400

Some web sites use FAQs as a sort of primer to a subject. I've found that to be very helpful when evaluating products and believe this is a very good use for the technique. I don't think they are as helpful for troubleshooting issues.

Tom Johnson
Technical Writer
tjohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+tjohnson=starcutter -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+tjohnson=starcutter -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]On
Behalf Of Diane Boos
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2006 4:12 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: FAQs

Barry Campbell wrote:
If something is a FAQ, that means one or more of the following is true:

-- It isn't covered or explained adequately in the documentation, or
-- People aren't finding it in the documentation, or
-- People aren't reading the documentation, period.

My point of view is that a FAQ should be a living document, and is a
great place to capture quick answers to problems that you're going to
fix/information you're going to make easier to find in the next
revision of the documentation. The answer(s) to a *really* frequently
asked question probably belongs in your Quick Start guide and your
online help (at a minimum.)

Increasingly companies are directing you to web sites for their
documentation or the answers to your questions. Many times, you don't have
traditional documentation. All you have access to is what is online or id in
help. So when end users are directed to FAQs, how many find the answers? How
many search like I did and give up?

To me it could be more than a question about "documentation" but
effectiveness of an accepted technique. How many technical writers and
managers assume that FAQ are effective because it's an accepted
communication technique? So do we know or do we have any stats relating to
FAQ and thier effectiveness?

Frankly, speaking from my current very frustated viewpoint, I doubt I'll
every use another FAQ site.

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