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Location: Fort Myers, Florida, United States

People tell me that my sarcasm and cynicism will get me into trouble some day. We'll see.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Frequently Asked Questions about FAQ's

Q. What is the difference between Q&A and FAQ?

A. Q&A is usually written by the developers prior to products being shipped. Its intent is to try to present user documentation in an easy to read format. Q&A's concise format is considered easier to follow for many audiences.

FAQ is a list of commonly asked questions users have asked after a product has been made available. Both are intended to assist the user in the use of the product.

Q. Why are many FAQ entries so specific? I thought they were supposed to be FREQUENTLY asked questions. How often can the following question POSSIBLY have been asked:

"Whenever I have 13 windows simultaneously opened and I right click on an icon immediately after hitting the J key but just before getting notified that I have mail I get a throbbing pain just under my left eyebrow but only during a new moon if it's raining on a Wednesday?"

A. Some development teams don't know what to call their support forum, so they call them FAQ. In the early stages of their product cycle, they may post every problem that occurs.

To make matters worse, some open their FAQ's so that ANYONE can post to them, thus creating the phenomenon you've observed: highly specific questions.

Q. Isn't the term FAQ somewhat redundant? I mean, what else but a QUESTION can be ASKED??? Shouldn't it be called FQ for Frequent Questions?

A. FQ was considered, but it created the problem that there was no way to say it as an acronym that would be universally pronounced.

Q. Whenever I have a question about a program I'm trying to install, I never see my question in the FAQ. Why is that?

A. Voila! Here's your question!


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