People hate system messages for one simple reason, you can't dismiss them.
If they come too often, people ignore them. Which is bad.
Because of this, they're only used for grave emergency (downtime notices), or moderator elections. The mod-elections get the treatment since they're asking users to vote on who gets to wield the mod-hammer and we like eyeballs on that kind of decision.
On ServerFault, we're in the process of completely rewriting our FAQ.
- Original working-draft
- First round voting
- First edit round after voting didn't get an approval
- Second voting round, ongoing until Friday
As I said, this is a complete rewrite. The original SF FAQ was rather pre-StackExchange and now that we have 9 sites with potentially overlapping topics rather than the original 2, we felt this rather important document needs to have more clarity and to codify some meta 'case law' regarding topicality. This should serve much better as a 'what we are' document than our current one.
Since this is the first complete rewrite we've done since our own Beta back in Q2 2009, the vast majority of our users haven't been through one. We've added a line or two along the way, but nothing this drastic.
I feel, and so do several of our high-rep users, that something of this magnitude is on-par with a mod-election for importance to the user-base. Questions live and die through their conformance with the FAQ, which makes it as impacting as picking the person who will handle the flag-queue.
Is a complete FAQ rewrite worthy of a main-site system-message, even if only for the last day of voting?