Where's the FAQ?

Why is the FAQ so popular as a style for conveying technical information?

Why is factual writing with declarative section headings in such disrepute?

How completely have conventional overviews in technical documentation failed to address users' (sometimes unasked) questions?

Why is a heading such as “How do I Install the Product” so much more compelling to a user than a heading such as “Installing the Product”?

How come all those interrogative pronouns don't get in the way?

How can version 1.0 of a product have any FAQs on the day of its release?

How many FAQs are really IAQs or even NAQs?

Why do users in search of answers turn first to a list of questions?

Why isn't a relentlessly interrogative style tiresome?

Why emulate the requirements for Prime Minister's Question Time?

Comments:

Well of course it's because we're all so lazy. Show me a 100 page manual and I'll look for the 2 page FAQ to get started, hoping the other 98 pages were repetitive and unnecessary filler. Let present trends continue a few more years and we'll have 100 page FAQ's, at which time readers will look for the 2 page overview instead. By the way, I've watched PM question time, and he gets nothing like the "softball" questions typical of FAQ's.

Posted by Walter Bays on October 08, 2007 at 09:32 AM PDT #

With the volume of reading on my plate, I am happy to find FAQs that will give me a quick clue about whatever new thing I have to learn. That said, if these FAQs do not include links to in-depth, trustworthy documentation, I am annoyed because now I have to go hunting for yet another means (a blog? a podcast? a manual? a forum?) of expanding my knowledge on the thing I need to learn about. FAQs with useful links are my friends. Trumped up questions with no links are just clutter.

Posted by Dixie Pine on October 09, 2007 at 04:33 AM PDT #

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