Thursday, December 15, 2005

the why FAQs suck FAQ

Q. Isn't the act of asking a question, what makes a question be a question?
A. Yes. It is the asking that brings the question into being.

Q. Can an unasked question exist?
A. No! For it is in the asking, that the question comes to be. Left unasked, it does not exist.

Q. Isn't, then, the phrase "asked question" not only redundant, but downright stupid?
A. Yes.

Q. There would be no point, then, in creating a FUQ, for frequently unasked questions?
A. As a Zen koan, perhaps. And it would be more fun to say than "fack". But though an amusing concept, such a list would be impossible to create due to the metaphysical contradiction alluded to in the earlier questions.

Q. Would not "FQ", meaning "frequent questions", be a better term?
A. The purpose of the A in FAQ is to provide pronounceability of the acronym. "fack", though a hideous word which sounds like you are ejecting a hairball from the throat, is easy to say. "FQ" is too much trouble to say. Redundancy and stupidity is the price we pay for this convenience.

Q. "Frequently asked" implies some mechanism for sending questions to you, the FAQ owner, such that you can tally them up and answer the ones you receive most often. Is there such a mechanism?
A. No. The implication is deceitful.

Q. How then, do you know what questions are frequently asked? Or even asked at all?
A. One question at a time please. The answer to both is the same. I do not know.

Q. Are you just making up what you imagine people might ask, because you have no way of actually knowing what they might ask?
A. Yes it is true. I make the questions up because I have no way of actually knowing.

Q. Are you aware that the practice of providing a FAQ with a new product is inherently dishonest, because a new product has not been available to those who might ask questions about it long enough to count up the questions to determine their frequency?
A. Boy you got me on that one.

Q. How do you live with this hypocrisy?
A. It is a source of unending shame.

Q. In fact is not a developer the worst person to come up with the questions in a FAQ, because that person knows the product too intimately to put themselves in the position of the very person who needs the FAQ the most, a person who has just come to the product knowing nothing, who looks to the FAQ for informational sustenance?
A. I am forced to admit that you are correct.

Q. Is a FAQ just a lazy way of writing your documentation, because it's too much trouble to organize the information logically, by topic?
A. Yes, it is true.

Q. Is the real reason you have a FAQ, in spite of in your heart knowing it is deceitful and lazy, that you think people expect you to have one, because everybody else does?
A. Yes my friend. You have revealed the truth.

Q. Are you aware of the fallacy known as ad populum or "appeal to popularity", which states that because most lemmings approve of a claim (in this case, that a FAQ is necessary or good), that the claim is therefore true?
A. Yes. At one time most lemmings thought the world was flat. But that did not make it so.

Q. Do you resolve then to get out of the FAQ-writing business, and pledge yourself to righting this wrong by being honest with your readers?
A. I so resolve. Henceforth I pledge to write either proper topic-based documents, or provide the less pronounceable but more truthful QIGPMABIFHNFIITW--Questions I Guess People Might Ask But In Fact Have No Fucking Idea If They Will.

Q. When encountering a new object, what do you suppose is the most frequent first question about the object?
A. What is it?

Q. What is GlassFish?
A. I don't know. The question is insufficiently frequent to be addressed by a FAQ.

2 comments:

c said...

Too true, too true!

nickensr said...

Did you write that yourself or did you compile it from other text written by people of your ilk who are indeed FAQ haters?