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The opening line of the About page says

Server Fault is a question and answer site for professional system and network administrators.

however the opening line of the FAQ says

Server Fault is for Information Technology Professionals needing expert answers related to managing computer systems in a professional capacity.

I'm not a very active member of Server Fault, however I am active on other SE sites, and the FAQ is typically the first place I check when I want to know if a question is on-topic or not.

I found the About page opening much more helpful than the FAQ opening at describing the site's scope, so can the FAQ opening be updated to match the About page opening?

Server Fault is for professional system and network administrators needing expert answers related to managing computer systems in a professional capacity.

Edit

Just to clarify, I realize that you are not trying to exclude non-network admins from using your site, however the current phrasing does not accurately convey your site's scope to many users.

For most people (including me), "Information Technology Professionals" just means "a person who makes a living by working in the field of information technology", so it indicates to most users that your question is OK providing you:

  • work in the field of information technology
  • are asking a question about managing a computer system in a professional capacity
  • and it's related to one of your on-topic bullet points, such as "servers" or "routers" or "firewalls"

It does not immediately bring to mind the job duties of a network or system admin, which is the actual site's topic.

By changing that phrase to "professional system and network administrators", it immediately brings to mind the job duties of system/network admins. Sure you might be a developer, or a dba, or a security technician, however if you are seeking answers for something that would typically be accomplished by a systems/network admin, then it's easily understood that you're OK.

The change already exists in the About page, and I thought it did a much better job at introducing users to the site's scope, so I thought your site would benefit from copying that change to the FAQ as well since that is where most SE users go when they are trying to figure out if they should post on your site or not.

Don't forget the FAQ is for the new user, not for the existing users, so it should try to cater to them as much as possible.

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    I strongly agree with you. – Jenny D May 17 '13 at 16:19
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    I regret that I only have one upvote to give to your suggestion. – Michael Hampton May 17 '13 at 16:20
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This was somewhat covered in the comments on your answer to my question about the SF dynamic, but I wanted to repeat it here:

The problem isn't that we don't want any questions from developers (gasp! developers!!), the problem is that the type of questions developers often ask don't fit well here.

A canonical example would be a developer who's throwing together a webserver running in Virtual Box on their laptop and is having some problem with networking - maybe throw in VPN issues because they're working at home. The problem isn't that it's a dreaded developer asking, it's that we don't consider that to be the proper - professional - way to run a web server, so OT, or Too Localized.

We've struggled with defining this - there was a LOT of heated discussion about "production quality" systems - but I don't think anyone's come up with a concise way to summarize the distinction.

  • Hrrmmm the proposal isn't for a new change though, it's to copy an existing change from one place to the other, where it is more likely to be seen by a specific group of new users (Users already familiar with Stack Exchange). Let me see if I can update my question to clarify the reasoning. – Rachel May 17 '13 at 16:31
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We tried to come up with something better before. The big problem is that Server Fault's audience is:

[ Senior | Junior ] ( System[s] | Network | Database | Security | Application | Infrastructure ) ( Engineers | Administrators | Technicians | Operators )

That's 84 titles if you want to enumerate all of them. And those are just the common titles. We could break out DNS Administrators or IDSN/ATM Engineers or who knows what else.

I'm all for this ideas, if we can come up with a single sentence that conveys the audience more accurately than the current one.


Perhaps the best explanation I remember seeing was one dividing computer usage into "Creation", "Maintenance", and "Usage" (SO, SF, and SU respectively). But now there's dozens of SE sites that carve out bits and pieces, and the Dunning-Kruger effect means many (most?) people can't actually place themselves in one of those three categories accurately (and it's worse with the zillion SE sites).


History (in case you hate your eyeballs that much):

  • I had heard it mentioned that there was a failed FAQ rewrite in the past, but I couldn't find it on meta and assumed it was simply trying to do too much. This proposal is only to change the opening line so it matches the About Page's opening line, because as a fairly inactive ServerFault user who frequently needs to check the FAQ before posting, I found the About page opening much more helpful at conveying the site's scope than the FAQ opening :) – Rachel May 17 '13 at 15:52
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    The rewrite wasn't failed so much as the initial attempts tried to solve too many problems, so it got trimmed back until it only solved the worst problems. The influx of "poor" questions has caused new problems however, and now the attention is focused there. It's sort of a "pick you battles" situation, but any way you look at it you're still losing. – Chris S May 17 '13 at 16:03
  • lol ok, so does your answer mean you'll make the change, or disagree with the change? I'm a bit unclear about that. :) I know moderators can change the FAQ, and the exact "single sentence" wording of the change I'm proposing is in the question. – Rachel May 17 '13 at 16:11
  • Moderators can not change the FAQ. Only blessed Stack Exchange employees can. =] – Chris S May 17 '13 at 16:46
  • Hrrm is that something specific to ServerFault? Because I know moderators can make changes to the top section of the FAQ on other sites, and was recently shown screenshots of how it looks by another mod when I was asking what they could edit :) – Rachel May 17 '13 at 16:49
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    Quite possibly... They hate us, even though we're mostly low maintenance. – Chris S May 17 '13 at 16:53
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    It could just be something overlooked for the original trilogy sites. It might not hurt to ask a SE employee or community manager about it next time you see them, or make a MSO proposal asking for moderators here to be given the ability to edit the FAQ, like other SE2.0 site mods can. – Rachel May 17 '13 at 16:59
  • We don't wade into mSO willingly... They're the only site notably more unfriendly than SF. There's only been two versions of the FAQ in ~5 years, so not sure if we really need that power anyway. I think in the meantime you're right that the FAQ and About should say the same thing, and the About page is less bad than the FAQ. =] – Chris S May 17 '13 at 17:02
  • 2 versions in ~5 years??? Wow, the few SE sites I was active enough in meta to pay attention to (Programmers and the Workplace) have made many more changes in much less time. Since the moderators have the ability to tweak it, there are often meta proposals suggesting changing to wording, or add/removing links or bullet points, or in general keeping it up-to-date. Server Fault mods should definitely be given this ability, as it's one of the larger SE sites out there! – Rachel May 17 '13 at 17:06
  • (And wtf, I searched for those links repeatedly, including searching by "[sffaq]", and clicking on the tag itself! It told me when typing the tag for my question that there were 27 other questions with that tag, but my searches kept coming up with 0 results. Thank you for the links though :)) – Rachel May 17 '13 at 17:09
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    Let us just put the regex in there instead. It should be coupled with an admission test presenting the user with 10 choices and the task to find the two which are not covered by the regex. Only after providing the correct solution should new users be able to post to the site. – the-wabbit May 17 '13 at 20:58

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