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Discussions about the FAQs

Comments, queries, suggestions....

How does it work?

The Original Idea was to compile answers to FAQs, in a format that allowed easy update and improvement to keep the information fresh and mainly relevant. I think the Original Idea still holds (2001.04.02) now about 2 months after establishing the site.

The basic scenario for answer-seekers is:

  1. Arrive at the site by following a reference link, from a newsgroup or other site, directly to a specific FAQ page, or
  2. Come to the site, and immediately find some way to proceed to a FAQ.

The options are:

A newbie could also enter a new question on the New Question page for the relevant topic, or on any other page on the site, then return later in hopes of finding an answer.

The seed list of FAQs came from existing FAQ sheets on the web, with links back to the originating sheet for the answer to a particular question. The evolution from the seed state to roaring site puberty seems to be --

  1. Sort and merge FAQs to group duplicates.
  2. Organize a FAQ page to allow for comments.
  3. Track the FAQ links to check on the relevance and usefulness of the original answer.
  4. Rewrite or expand on the original answer in hopes of improving usefulness.
  5. When the AllMyFAQs rewrite or improvement on the original answer supercedes the relevance of the original answer, delete the link and let the AllMyFAQs version stand alone.

The explanations and rewrites come from --

The net effect is to crystallize the otherwise transitory and repeated information flow generated by FAQs on the Usenet, and put it in a handy-reference form.

It runs on generosity, and works by cooperation. I'm glad I started it. -- Jerry Muelver


Uh-uh, are you SURE you want some ciwah-expert-types (like me) to provide answers for these kinds of questions? --Matthias Gutfeldt
Of course! I'm fearless. Besides, you'd only have to answer such questions once, instead of daily! Also, someone might come along and edit the answer to improve its... social delicacy. -- Jerry Muelver

Continued from CSS FAQs so as not to clutter up the FAQ with a discussion

I wonder how you're going to maintain the FAQ as it gets bigger. At some point there will be many questions that fall into a certain category; who's going to re-format all those pages then?

We should be able to import some obsessive-compulsive types from ciwah, don't you think? Wiki people call such restructuring "refactoring". I'll do some, at least initially, but I don't have a clue how it'll all work out in the long run. -- Jerry Muelver
I suppose you could assign community leaders (or equally colourful job titles) to specific FAQ topics in the HomePage listings.

Another question: Does the Topic List update itself automagically, or do you have to edit it each time a new FAQ comes up

Topics are main categories, so adding a new category is not such a big deal. And putting the questions on the subcategory pages takes care of that organizational aspect. You could reference the topic page in child pages, then click on the topic page title to get a list of referring pages. This could be workable, if we don't watch out! -- jm
Ah wow, I didn't know about the referring thing. Awesome. But only useful to a certain point, I guess.

And how do you feel about this Discussions page? My idea was to have a special page for discussions because they don't really belong into the FAQ. But then again, this might be contrary to the whole WIKI idea? - AlpenFalten

It suits the Wiki idea just fine, and is a common technique. You could particularize such diversions with naming. For instance, a discussion around HowToMakeFavicons could be called HowToMakeFaviconsDiscuss or ~Debate or ~Chat or ~Rant -- whatever the community adopts commonly. -- jlm
Woohoo, so we've got a <nowiki> tag? I found a nice description of the Thread Mode over at http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ThreadMode, guess I'll find more about different techniques when I search a bit longer.

About the question-as-link thing: This long blue underlined text really hurts my eyes. how about something a bit smaller? Small, but still a large enough target that it's easy to hit. - AlpenFalten

Good point. Bracket the [Q>] maybe? But we want to keep the initial question-posting procedure dirt-simple, if possible. Newbies, you know.... -- jm

Yeah, maybe a bold bracketed [Q>] would be useful. And Newbies aren't supposed to ask questions, anyway <eg>.

Could you adjust the CSS so that the highlighting of links works in Opera? The a:link:hover simply messes things up! -- Sam Hughes

Uh-oh. We over-fancied things, hey? What would be the fix? I don't have Opera to experiment with. Jerry Muelver

In Opera, all the links look like you are hovering over them (ie - the background is highlighted), except for the visited links, they display fine. Bodidily

That's interesting. I wonder if specifying the background better for the non-hover modes will affect that. I'll tinker a bit. -- Jerry Muelver

Have a look in Opera and you'll know what I mean! Kinda hard to explain. It's only a 2Mb download, can't take long on your satellite connection! Bodidily

I downloaded the version with JRE 1.3, about 11 Meg. 3 minutes and ten seconds.... Jerry Muelver

Running Opera.... It =does= look a little wacky. This should be challenging. Matthias and I went round and round a bit to get the sytles working originally (see archived Talk to Me discussions). -- Jerry Muelver

Okay -- CSS fixed. Now, how do I set my default font to Smaller? In IE it's View > Font Size. Jerry Muelver

Never noticed that before, there isn't a font-size option in Opera. You can use the Window Zoom thingy, like in Word, it does a similar job. Or use a custom CSS file. Bodidily

Custom CSS would seem the way to go, then. The Zoom grunges up graphics, and makes the froggy look rumpled. -- Jerry Muelver


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