OK folks, I have a serious case of FAQ envy. Because of This question I took a good long look at the DBA.SE FAQ for the first time since it came out of beta. Compared to what they've done the front page of the ServerFault FAQ is pretty lousy.

I'd like to get some feedback on making our FAQ more like theirs. Specifically:

  • What bullet points and tags to we want on our What kind of questions can I ask here? section?
  • Let's explicitly steal some of their "But this is NOT the right place to ask about..." ideas. In fact let's steal that whole section!
    (and maybe add a few others -- What else shouldn't people ask about on SF?)

This question is to collect a consensus -- Once we have one I'll either open a new question requesting the changes or accept an answer listing them all and tag this one with &

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I think we have a post on our meta that has our markdown, if not I'll gladly snip it to you ... also, thank @JackDouglas for ours, he did most of the work. I just kinda was like "oh, we should do that" –  jcolebrand Jan 12 '12 at 17:00
    
@jcolebrand I may go looking for that for when we work out our final suggestion :-) mutters something about "markdown", "broken" and "kill all humans" –  voretaq7 Jan 12 '12 at 17:01
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Agreed! their's is aces, let's steal it! –  Chopper3 Jan 12 '12 at 17:02
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Considering how much effort we go through to weed out home/dev servers, I have doubts we'd be able to come up with some tags that unilaterally belong here unconditionally. "...in a professional capacity" is a broad concept, and we set specific exclusions to it. –  sysadmin1138 Jan 12 '12 at 17:12
    
@sysadmin1138 I agree, but we might be able to cut down on the "How do I ask for a raise? How much should I ask for?" kind of questions :-) –  voretaq7 Jan 12 '12 at 17:16
    
A defined statement of what and what does not qualify in terms of the policies and procedures would be extremely useful. Policy management has always been part of my job role but the responses I've had on a couple of my questions make me wonder how applicable those questions are here. –  Tim Brigham Feb 10 '12 at 17:18
    
@TimBrigham - We've workshopped the revised FAQ pretty significantly over here -- Take a look at what we've come up with, and if you still have concerns about the questions you're asking and how on-topic they may be definitely open a new meta question and ask us (link to your questions too so we know which ones you mean :-) The FAQ is not a final inviolate thing carved in stone and this whole process is just our first swing at making it better: we may make further changes and refinements based on community input. –  voretaq7 Feb 10 '12 at 18:36
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

A note about process

The FAQ is an amazingly important document (questions live and die by the text in it), and we need more opinions than just the regulars. We really do need everyone, preferably everyone who voted in the mod-election, to weigh in. To do that, we'll need to put up some message banners. As we had this election recently, I wanted to give SFers a break on dealing with that, so left this week fallow.

Anyway, the process for the next step of the FAQ-revision process:

  1. Monday morning, the working-draft answer gets Locked.
  2. Monday morning, a new Meta question is posted with the text of the working-draft in it.
  3. A message-banner is posted, linking to the meta-question, asking people for their opinions of the FAQ.
    1. If we don't have 2/3rds majority, we go back to editing.
    2. If we do have 2/3rds majority, we close the question and get the Devs to push the change.
  4. Proposed edits to the FAQ will be done via peer review:
    1. An answer is posted to the new Question, proposing a textual change.
    2. It is voted on, and commented.
    3. Once a positive vote threshold is reached (10? 15?) the text of the change is incorporated into the Question, and the Answer locked (or maybe deleted to remove clutter).
  5. The following Thursday, the question will be closed.
  6. A new question will be posted with the full text of the faq, for a poll. "Is this good enough? (y/n)" No more edits will be accepted.
  7. Another message banner will be posted to get people voting.
  8. Four days pass, we see the vote. Wash, rinse, repeat as needed (let's hope it isn't).

The alternate is to go Tuesday/Tuesday in order to give people a first-and-last workday to opinionate.

I feel really strongly about a super-majority on this one. As with all votes, the total number of upvotes will be what counts; downvotes will be ignored.

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Seems like too much process. I'm sure you can get half a dozen people to jump through all the hoops, but I don't think you'll get much participation with all that. Otherwise I like the general idea. –  Chris S Jan 27 '12 at 3:40
    
@ChrisS The other idea is to skip the edit step and go straight to polling. If enough think it needs more work we can do that. –  sysadmin1138 Jan 27 '12 at 12:32
    
I heartily agree about the supermajority - particularly as this revision is a pretty big change in our scope (reflecting all the other sites that have sprung up). I think this structured approach is probably the best way to proceed: we've bashed out a skeleton (mostly by the regulars), and this lets us fine-tune it democratically with a wider audience. –  voretaq7 Jan 27 '12 at 22:10
    
Monday morning in what time zone? :) –  John Gardeniers Jan 29 '12 at 21:10
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Working Draft

Server Fault is for System Administrators and Desktop Support Professionals needing expert answers on topics related to managing or maintaining computer systems in a professional capacity for their company or clients.

If your question is about…

and it is not about…

We have sister sites

We also have…

… a list of the most common questions with links to the "best" answer we've identified.

share
locked by sysadmin1138 Jan 29 '12 at 22:42
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There. Have a ComWiki to work with. –  sysadmin1138 Jan 12 '12 at 17:07
    
Also suggest tags that most people would probably want to start with –  jcolebrand Jan 12 '12 at 17:09
    
What do we think about questions concerning licensing of products? My pat response is "Call yo' vendor! Call yo' VAR! They true'en up e'rebody out her'" –  Wesley Jan 12 '12 at 17:32
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@WesleyDavid They're the poster-case for 'Too Localized'. –  sysadmin1138 Jan 12 '12 at 17:37
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@sysadmin1138 or "Talk to a damn lawyer!" (especially if we're talking an Oracle license) –  voretaq7 Jan 12 '12 at 17:53
    
Shouldn't a FAQ really contain answers to, well, FAQs, so don't forget 'My script runs OK from the command line but not in cron', 'How do I redirect www.example.com to example.com'... ;) –  Iain Jan 12 '12 at 17:55
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For shopping, we can link to Jeffs blog post and for licensing to the canonical answer, but I think we should add some parts on the faq page explaining why we don't like career/salary and legal questions, reachable via # links from the above list and the FAQs toc. –  SvW Jan 12 '12 at 19:13
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If we're going to be modifying the FAQ, then it might be time to figure out what we're going to do about this as well –  Holocryptic Jan 12 '12 at 19:20
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Further to Iain's comment: how about a link somewhere to the canonical question list? –  Ward Jan 13 '12 at 4:20
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Re: making the FAQ self-contained, I'm OK with links to stuff like the Lets Go Shopping blog or the licensing quesiton. We told them no - the link is there if they want to know why. Our FAQ is going to more than double in size with this edit, and we probably don't want to make it too big of a wall-o-text. –  voretaq7 Jan 13 '12 at 5:17
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@voretaq7: I agree. Instead of additional text at the end of the FAQ, we could think about writing a blog.sf post explaining all this and maybe integrate the core arguments from Jeffs shopping post and the canonical answers. This way, the FAQ stays at a reasonable length and we have a way to explain our restrictions in one place. Doing this explaining is important, I think, at least for the more reasonable users (and the others don't read the FAQ anyway). –  SvW Jan 13 '12 at 10:33
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I simply couldn't resist, sorry :D –  pauska Jan 14 '12 at 1:04
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Where would scripting come under? is that, without question, suited to SO? –  tombull89 Jan 16 '12 at 9:16
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@tombull89 personally I believe that scripting, that does sysadmin related stuff, belongs here, but I guess that really depends on the context, if it's "why doesn't my for loop work" I guess it's for SO. –  Sam Jan 16 '12 at 17:47
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Some phrasing suggestions (as a newer SF user): it doesn't say that other tags are allowed (i.e. you need an 'including' or an 'e.g.' somewhere); the statement 'If your question is about... and is not about...' isn't finished - previously there was '...then you're in the right place'; add (keep) the line (current FAQ) 'Please look around...'; clarify 'learning material' (e.g. books, manuals) - many questions link to procedures (or docs) which can be taken as 'learning material'; the phrasing "expert answers" may turn away some users - not every question requires an expert to answer. –  cyberx86 Jan 27 '12 at 15:53
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Alternate Working Draft (fixing grammar)

Server Fault is for System Administrators and Desktop Support Professionals needing expert answers on topics related to managing or maintaining computer systems in a professional capacity for their company or clients.

If your question is about…

and it is not about…

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

We have sister sites

We also have…

… a list of the most common questions with links to the "best" answer we've identified.

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1  
For SU: "for general software, hardware and networking". Technology is too broad as to invite gadgets which are off topic. –  random Jan 30 '12 at 2:06
    
I see one rather minor, albeit fairly important, additional line but absolutely no grammar changes, let alone fixes. –  John Gardeniers Jan 30 '12 at 3:14
    
@JohnGardeniers: Without that line, it's not a sentence, so I thought "grammar" worked to describe the change. –  freiheit Jan 30 '12 at 3:21
    
@freiheit, although I agree the line should be included the same logic of incompleteness applies to the "We have sister sites...", yet you haven't changed that. –  John Gardeniers Jan 30 '12 at 3:24
    
@JohnGardeniers: "sister sites" is a sentence, maybe it should be : instead of .... Making it "If A and not B then you're in the right place" seemed essential, since otherwise it was unclear what the purpose of first two the lists was. It's CW, so I think you can edit the changes you want. –  freiheit Jan 31 '12 at 0:25
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