The idea of FAQs is a response to the following phenomenon: when new users come into an established discussion group, such as the commenting community at feminist blogs, they often ask questions that have been frequently answered beforehand. This often leads to mutual frustration, as the established community doesn’t wish to go over old ground (especially when doing so derails an interesting discussion), and the new user doesn’t wish to be ignored. Thus ariseth flamewars.
So, long ago in a USENet far far away, the convention arose whereby discussion groups put together an FAQ, and when one of the oft-covered basic questions was raised, people could just say “Read the FAQ” or, if they were being more helpful , point to the specific answer in the FAQ. This was often known as handing the newbie a cluestick.
New users who accept the cluestick can follow the links and become more educated about the subject area pertaining to their question. New users who don’t follow the cluesticks to at least make their next question less ill-informed tend to be seen as arguing in bad faith, and will probably continue to be ignored as proven to be wilfully clueless.
Each FAQ post is a work in progress, subject to revision and in particular the addition of new links to appropriate articles. Feed the FAQ with link suggestions, please. If you can’t find a relevant FAQ, either suggest that it be added or if you’re not sure what sort of FAQ it needs then just ask your question on the Questions thread.
Also, please use the comments threads to link to articles/posts/books that cover the subject area addressed in that FAQ. That way the comments threads will become a user-generated “further reading” list, and a way for fellow feminists to find more great feminist blogs/forums/resources.
- People who are told to “read the FAQ” without a pointer to a given article that addresses the question they are asking are entitled to return to the originating discussion and request a more specific pointer, IMO. If people are asked to go do some homework those making the request should do theirs first. [back]