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Inspired by this question:

https://raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/6653/raspberry-pi-faq

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Why we should have an FAQ

I agree entirely with the points raised by xxmbabanexx. It would be extremely useful to have a place on the site in which new or returning users could find out information quickly, without asking a duplicated new question.

However, the proposed method was not the correct way to do this.

Implementation rebuttal...

I am going to be honest about this - I am not sure exactly how this is going to work. I believe that we should copy from the Meta Stack Overflow FAQ.

That is a Meta question, about Meta questions. Which is why it's okay, and why there exists an on meta.raspberrypi. Meta is for questions about the site. I would say that Questions or Answers that are just internal links are about the site and should not exist in main.

The main site is not a place for creating questions that add no content but link to other questions. The reasons behind this are twofold;

  • It creates precedent for list based questions and answer, making them more likely to reoccur. This flies in the face of what I consider to be two of the Stack Exchange core principles; questions should be specific, and answers should be able to stand alone.
  • It is too difficult to pose an FAQ as a question, because it isn't one. We can't start breaking the rules that govern the Stack Exchange format. It looks bad and will add an air of confusion to new users.

So what is the solution?

  1. Tag-wikis.

A tag is a keyword or label that categorizes your question with other, similar questions. Using the right tags makes it easier for others to find and answer your question.

That is exactly what the purpose of an FAQ would be. There are some extremely compreshensive tag wiki pages (see ), demonstrating their effectiveness.

However, consider that tags should be resilient. There should be questions that require them, and we shouldn't create tags for our own purposes.


I am by no means saying that tag-wikis are the only solution. I just can't think of a better one that doesn't compromise the site integrity. Please feel free to volunteer ideas.

I really don't want to put you off helping out here, as you're obviously really enthusiastic and we appreciate it :)

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    Another solution is to curate the FAQ on meta. It's not perfect, but it may be better than the tag wiki. Another solution is to lock the post on main(to prevent voting) and only let mods add to it. – Manishearth Mar 30 '13 at 10:00
  • The only issue with the tag wiki thing is "which tag wiki?". The faq tag will die 31 days after the question gets closed, sooner if the question gets deleted. – Manishearth Mar 30 '13 at 10:01
  • @Manishearth Thanks for your input :) Do you know any other sites that have implemented or even discussed a like feature? – Jivings Mar 30 '13 at 11:34
  • Not sure. On Physics we plan to shift a few lists to tag wikis, but these are just book recommendations. Stack Overflow does a lot of this tag wiki business (check out the php tag wiki, for example). – Manishearth Mar 30 '13 at 11:45
  • @manis so... You think that proposed FAQ-questions should be discussed on meta, and added by mods? I think that that is a brilliant idea. I am assuming that the meta proposals will be voted upon, right? – xxmbabanexx Mar 30 '13 at 17:19
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    @xxmbabanexx: well, pinging a mod in chat may also work. – Manishearth Mar 30 '13 at 17:24
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I am the creator of the now notorious FAQ, and I would like to take this as a chance to explain my rationale behind the post.


Why we should have an FAQ

Despite its simplicity, the Raspberry Pi is a frighteningly complex device. Users who would have otherwise used OSX or Windows 7 are now having to learn about the many oddities inherent to Linux: terminal commands and an eerily familiar GUI interface (at least with "Wheezy"). In addition, the Pi doesn't even come with a preinstalled OS - something that surprised myself and surely many others.

With so many new options and ideas flying at us (the n00b users - a.k.a myself) I thought that it would be helpful to implement an area where people new to the site can begin to get an understanding of the Pi - and of the Stack Exchange community as a whole. There are other reasons to create an FAQ - as mentioned in this meta post, "Only around 6% of our total user base are staying around to gather over 200 reputation" and "on average we're only getting 3 new questions each day. This needs to be 5 times higher for us to stand a chance of graduating." These, are serious issues, which I believe help to warrant the need for an FAQ. If new users don't understand how to ask good questions - they are likely to be down voted - and this drives them away from our community. But, if they first find an answer through an FAQ - where the questions are presumably rather good, they will be able to follow the lead and ask appropriately. Secondly, I have found in school that once I have a greater understanding of a subject, I will ask more questions in return. An FAQ solves both of these issues and also puts less of a strain on the community to answer questions which may have been easier to solve through a central hub.


Implementation

I am going to be honest about this - I am not sure exactly how this is going to work. I believe that we should copy from the Meta Stack Overflow FAQ. I failed in doing this due to my zeal, but an FAQ should definitely be collaboratively edited - this ensures that such an important post will not be the creation of one person. To me, that FAQ also proves that it is possible to have an FAQ in the question form... except that it isn't one. I also think that the tag is a brilliant idea - it helps moderators and the user base as a whole identify potential candidates for the FAQ. Lastly, questions that are part of the FAQ should have a link that links back to the FAQ - this will make it easier for users to navigate the post.

Despite my overall concurrence, I still have a few gripes about their method. Firstly, the people whom asked the questions should not have to convert them to community wiki - good questions should be rewarded, not taken away. Lastly, we should ensure that there is a high section to question ratio - otherwise the FAQ will become overly confusing.


Why not tag-wiki's

Despite the fact that tag wiki's are automatic, they can at times be rather overcrowded. As this site gets bigger (the Pi is gaining in popularity - I believe that we will pass beta eventually) tags will become more crowded and confusing. Yes, there will be several comprehensive, easy to use ones (such as as Jivings mentioned. But, the vast majority will be confusing and impossible to use. To prove this, go to Stack Overflow and search for Python. I truly doubt that that will help anyone. In addition, searching up questions in the search bar is hardly ever helpful - you are usually greeted by a bunch of unhelpful, badly made questions. This is why a community moderated FAQ is better - it creates a central hub for common questions. Also, remember that the FAQ is meant to be used by novice users of the Pi - it is unlikely that they will be able to navigate this site effectively.


Summary

Why?

  • It will be easier for new users to get used to the proper Stack Exchange format

  • "Avid" users will not be burdened with easy to solve questions

  • Because they will know the proper format, new users won't leave - and might get over 200 rep, bringing us closer to graduation.

  • We will become easier to find on search engines

Implementation

  • Should use question format

  • Collaboratively Edited

  • Questions in FAQ should not be community wiki questions - reward helpful questions

  • Higher section-to-question ratio; don't become confusing

  • On FAQ questions, there should be links to the actual FAQ

Why not tag-wiki's

  • Overcrowded

  • Confusing

  • Novice user's might not realize this functionality

I will edit this as my views evolve, but I hope that this conveys my current views effectively. I implore you to respond in the comments - that will help me to understand the communities gripes.

  • I think the python tag wiki is actually quite good... But I get your point. – Jivings Apr 1 '13 at 8:10
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I agree that tags are the best tool for this.

However, the real question for me is - what exactly do we want this FAQ to be? Should it really be a FAQ? If so - it's enough to sort questions by upvotes which I believe is the best estimation of how frequent the question would be asked.

What @xxmbabanexx did is a little different, however. First of all he took some questions he though are important for new users. Then he categorized them a little.

So I believe it's all about gathering some questions that all not experienced users could find in one place, structured in some way comfortable for them (i.e. they will find the answers they probably need even when they don't yet know about that).

Single FAQ tag unfortunately can't achieve that. Creating multiple FAQ tags can make a burden. Using tag-wikis and faq-proposed temporary tag (which would then could be removed when some user with enough reputation edits the wiki-tag) could do the trick. But I think it would be the best if TOC of the FAQ could be in the tag-wiki's excerpt so that it's immediately visible for the users. I'm not sure if that's possible, thought.

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