Re: FAQs - what do you think of them?

Subject: Re: FAQs - what do you think of them?
From: Eric Haddock <eric -at- ENGAGENET -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 1996 07:39:09 -0600

>Should we as technical writers support or discourage this type of
documentation?

Like all documentation types and writing styles, there is a place for it.
FAQs are pretty much informal information dumps (kind of) and serve really
one purpose: stave off calls to customer service.
FAQs are marvelous for compiling information that needs to go in to the
next revision of a manual. They can be excellent tools. More accurately, the
method of compiling a FAQ serves a regular manual excellently. If you have
enough for a FAQ then you have enough to revise a manual.

For in-house purposes, a FAQ can be great because since there's no
introduction to a FAQ usually, the in-house person doesn't have to read
material she doesn't have to and can get right to what to what she wants.
Very good if that person is servicing customers.

I wouldn't distribute a FAQ to the public however. I think they're too
informal and basically too slipshod to give a professional appearence, and
this appearence is important. Instead of a FAQ, I would opt for a
troubleshooting section where common errors and solutions are listed in a
professional manner.




/`-_ Eric Haddock ------ http://www2.corenet.net/moonlion
{ }/ Technical writer
\ | Engage Networks, Inc. ----- http://www.engagenet.com
\__*| located in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee, WI


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