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First, if you do nothing else, please prominently post link to the Community FAQ somewhere (anywhere) in the Official FAQ.

Secondly, the Official FAQ should be searchable, even if only by the brower. The first thing I got here was a downvote as a 1 Reputation user because I didn't think to look for information on making comments and votes under the collapsed category What is Reputation? (I didn't come here to be popular, but to ask and answer questions, so the subject of reputation actively disinterested me). If I'd had the capacity to actually search the entire Official FAQ, I would have seen that I needed 15 points to vote up and 50 to leave a comment. (When you're at 1 reputation both those seem FAR away and a -2 reputation seems impossibly large.) It should not be necessary to read an entire FAQ before you interact with a site. A FAQ should be browsable for easy answers to specific questions. Anything else is not a FAQ, but a manifesto.

The lack of FAQ searchability, and the fragmentation of FAQ information between the Official FAQ, Meta.Stackoverflow and the Community FAQ (let me know if I've missed any) is VERY n00b hostile, especially with the Shoot-From-The-Hip attitude of some of the more experienced users around here.

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There hasn't been an "unofficial FAQ" for years. You have two links to the same meta FAQ question. It's also linked, just at the bottom of the FAQ. If you haven't noticed, the Meta extended FAQ is far too long for most readers to care about, so it's posted after the main FAQ which covers the most important points as briefly as possible. –  Ben Brocka Sep 16 '12 at 3:18
    
@BenBrocka - My bad, with all the references I constantly find to the unofficial FAQ I assumed it was still available and the one I visited when I clicked a link claiming to be for the Unofficial FAQ. How am I supposed to know that there are (at least) dozens of mislabeled links pointing to non-existent FAQs? Possibly I found the Community FAQ instead, how is a n00b supposed to know the difference? Regardless my main point still stands: That the SO FAQ should be searchable. That and the lack of an easily located, and centralized location with with links to all the FAQ's is new user hostile. –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 4:28
    
@BenBrocka - BTW, I took out the broken links, but if when you say Meta Extended FAQ you mean the Community FAQ you're wrong. The SO FAQ only has a links to the site <a href="http:://meta.stackoverflow.com">meta.stackoverflow</a> and to the FAQ tags on Meta. –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 4:51
    
You might want to check Meta's FAQ also: Downvotes on Meta are different so the downvotes on this question mean people don't agree, not that it's a bad question... –  The Unhandled Exception Sep 16 '12 at 13:05
    
@TheUnhandledException - "You might want to check Meta's FAQ" I'd still like to know WHY people disagree with it. (Redundant does not equal unhelpful. And unnecessary also does not mean unuseful.) –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 21:51
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Um, you seem to allow for the possibility that your suggestion is redundant and unnecessary, but you don't understand why people might disagree with it? You've made some valid points, but have approached the topic in an overly agressive manner. Consider rewriting your request. –  Michael Petrotta Sep 16 '12 at 22:20
    
@MichaelPetrotta - Actually I have been seriously considering rewriting my question, but thanks for the suggestion anyway. I do find it ironic though, that my post would be seen as too aggressive considering some of the examples I've seen of aggressive and intolerant comments pointed at new users. I wasn't aware that seeing a hostility towards inexperienced users in the layout of the FAQ or an unwillingness to cater a little more to new users would be seen as overly aggressive. What's good for the Goose, the Gander apparently dislikes. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 1:23
    
See, that's what I mean, @James. You may feel that the community is behaving badly. That doesn't justify rudeness on your part. In other words, I disagree with that aphorism, I suppose. We can debate that over beers sometime. –  Michael Petrotta Sep 17 '12 at 1:26
    
@MichaelPetrotta - ^_^ that'd be nice but I can't drink alcohol, my meds would make me pay a vicious price. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 1:30
    
@MichaelPetrotta - I'm really sorry, I've re-read my question and looked at my comments and can't find where I've been rude to anyone. Please enlighten me. The only rude comment I've seen was pointed at me, and that's been deleted. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 1:34
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@James, there's some from the original edit of your question: "ridiculous Unofficial FAQ", "Shoot-From-The-Hip attitude", the (deleted) whinging comment at the head of the question, the rollback of a constructive edit (though that may have been an accident). The "unnecessary also does not mean unuseful" comment was fairly strange. As was, frankly, your extended, ranty series of comments on Unhandled's answer. I don't know how helpful this comment will be, and I'm tempted to delete it (I probably will, after a time), but you did ask, several times. –  Michael Petrotta Sep 17 '12 at 1:52
    
@MichaelPetrotta - +1 for honesty and straightforwardness. Don't delete your comment, I certainly don't find it offensive, it's relevant to the topic, and as you said, I did ask for feedback. To reduce confusion, I will address your points in separate comments. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 2:32
    
@MichaelPetrotta - The "ridiculous Unofficial FAQ". - I'm sorry, but an Unofficial FAQ officially maintained as the major source of information is ridiculous. That it is/was mentioned in many reprimands of new users rather than the Official FAQ is ridiculous, and telling. That it has been deleted made my comment unnecessary, but hardly rude. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 2:36
    
@MichaelPetrotta - "Shoot-From-The-Hip attitude". (You have me at a disadvantage if you are reading from deleted material as I don't think I have access to that, and don't have perfect recall.) You leave out important context. What I said was "Shoot-From-The-Hip attitude of some of the more experienced users". Hardly a sweeping generalization, and specifically tailored to indicate that I was referring to a subset of experienced users. And hardly rude or offensive unless you you consider yourself one of the "Shoot from the hip" crew. Or is it offensive to simply point out that they exist? –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 2:52
    
@MichaelPetrotta - "the (deleted) whinging comment" - 1) As you said it was deleted. 2) Whining != Rude. 3) When I thought better of it and came back Michael had removed it so I left it alone. 4) That comment couldn't have been up for more than 2 or 3 minutes. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 2:54

3 Answers 3

The FAQ is searchable. Just open all the headings. This can be done quickly by just clicking the links on the right. As a bonus, we give you a badge for doing so!

If I can make this graphic in under 2 minutes, you can click all the links...

Or, as Bart mentions, you can click the "Show More" link at the bottom, and then "Expand All", and now you can search using your browser's "Find" command:

Show more Credit to Bart


And while you're at it, you might want to actually read the text revealed when you open the headings... There's some very helpful stuff in there.

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In addition to that, a click on "show more" within a FAQ entry also reveals an "expand all" link for a somewhat quicker way to expand the full FAQ. –  Bart Sep 16 '12 at 13:07
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That's even better, thanks @Bart! Question updated. –  The Unhandled Exception Sep 16 '12 at 13:12
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You shouldn't be trying to search the FAQ until after you've read it anyway....it's short for a reason –  Ben Brocka Sep 16 '12 at 13:21
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@TheUnhandledException - "The FAQ is searchable. Just open all the headings." And just how is a new user supposed to know that? –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 21:27
    
@BenBrocka - You should be able to search the FAQ regardless how new or old you are to the site. Besides I DID read the entire FAQ. Everything that was obvious anyway. I just didn't realize that there were collapsible headings until after my first post. –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 21:32
    
What's everybody got against making the FAQ more user friendly anyway? "I suffered, so everybody else should too!"? Like a SO hazing ritual? That's just plain stupid. –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 21:34
    
@TheUnhandledException - I also notice that your CLICK image does not mention either of the two questions I had: Why couldn't I Vote and Why couldn't I comment. –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 21:58
    
@JamesK it's really something you have to read; ctrl F only helps when you already know what's there. Trying to ctrl F your way through it the first time just doesn't make any sense. –  Ben Brocka Sep 16 '12 at 22:15
    
@BenBrocka - Two points: "Trying to ctrl F your way through it the first time just doesn't make any sense" As I said in my last comment to you I did read it, but: 1) Missed the uncollapsible sections. And 2) Even if I had realized what they were, had no reason to believe that reputation, which I did not come here for, had any bearing on why I could not Vote or Comment. –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 22:26
    
Is everyone's point that if we lived in a perfect world that no-one would skim, no-one would space-out while reading, that everyone would immediately understand that uncollapsible sections were available, and notice everything in the the pre and postamble, and retain it all on the first reading, so we should act as if we live in that perfect world, and to hell with everybody who doesn't live up to those standards? I hate to break it to you, but we do not live in a perfect world, perfect understanding does not exist, and users will act in less-than-optimum ways. Especially new users. –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 22:36
    
@BenBrocka - In your opinion: "Trying to ctrl F your way through it the first time just doesn't make any sense" - So in your opinion it doesn't make any sense to try to reach the widest possible number of people already reading the FAQ? That a new user is reading the FAQ indicates a good-faith attempt to be a good user. Not getting all the information the first time round is not an indicator of ill-will or a determination to act as he/she pleases without regard to the rules or the other users. –  James K Sep 16 '12 at 22:55
    
@TheUnhandledException - I just wanted to apologize for being snippy and possibly rude in my deleted comment. I can't even find it to remind me what I said, I just remember feeling embarrassed that I said it. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 3:47
    
@JamesK no problem at all -- I don't remember what it said, but I wasn't offended by anything you posted. I can be somewhat snarky myself, this answer is a good example ;-) No offense meant by that as well. –  The Unhandled Exception Sep 17 '12 at 12:10
    
@TheUnhandledException - I'm glad to hear it. I certainly didn't come here to troll or make enemies, and was becoming worried that I was starting off on the wrong foot. Especially with @MichaelPetrotta's assertion that one of the reasons for the poor reception my idea was getting was that I was overly aggressive and rude. ( Overly aggressive =? insensitive to others feelings? || Too assertive in stating my perceptions / defending my ideas? ) –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 18:33

I'm saddened, but unsurprised, that this question has been dismissed rather curtly. It makes some valid points behind a rather bad presentation.

First, if you do nothing else, please prominently post link to the Community FAQ somewhere (anywhere) in the Official FAQ.

Let's say you're looking for something in the official FAQ linked at the top of every page. So you scroll down to the bottom, and get to a section titled “What if I need more help?”. That seems like a logical place to link to the community FAQ… which it does.

Secondly, the Official FAQ should be searchable, even if only by the brower.

It is searchable. However, there's a trick: you need to click on the little “show more” link at the bottom of a section, then on “expand all”, otherwise your browser only shows you the beginning of each section.

The first thing I got here was a downvote as a 1 Reputation user because I didn't think to look for information on making comments and votes under the collapsed category What is Reputation?

The basic usage of comments (asking for clarifications) is illustrated in the section on asking questions. What this section doesn't show is how to reply to them (it only mentions editing your question in response to comments), but seeing the “add comment” link on your question and its answers should be enough to suggest the possibility. Voting is also mentioned in that same section.

(I didn't come here to be popular, but to ask and answer questions, so the subject of reputation actively disinterested me). If I'd had the capacity to actually search the entire Official FAQ, I would have seen that I needed 15 points to vote up and 50 to leave a comment. (When you're at 1 reputation both those seem FAR away and a -2 reputation seems impossibly large.)

You seem to worry a lot about reputation for someone who was “actively disinterested” in it.

It should not be necessary to read an entire FAQ before you interact with a site. A FAQ should be browsable for easy answers to specific questions. Anything else is not a FAQ, but a manifesto.

You don't need to read the entire FAQ. Skimming through the first three sections (What can I ask here What kind of questions should I not ask here? How do I ask?) is enough to get you going. After interacting with the site a bit, you might come back for things like What if I don't get an answer? Why are some questions closed? People can edit my posts!?

The lack of FAQ searchability, and the fragmentation of FAQ information between the Official FAQ, Meta.Stackoverflow and the Community FAQ (let me know if I've missed any) is VERY n00b hostile, especially with the Shoot-From-The-Hip attitude of some of the more experienced users around here.

All the information in the official FAQ should be in the community FAQ (the tag on Meta Stack Overflow) as well. Searchability, on the other hand, is a problem. It took me about a year to be able to find things on Meta Stack Overflow. It has its own culture, its own vocabulary sometimes, and a fraction of the community is very quick to rebuke people who rehash what to the regulars are old ideas.

It doesn't help that many of the “n00bs” are out to get the regulars. It goes both ways: being polite and not barging in thinking you have all the answers will get you a better reception.

Taking your post in particular, it would help if you wrote more calmly. The formatting of your post alone puts the reader in a non-receptive mood, with the random code markup thrown in. Your choice of words is also problematic. Your post starts well (the first paragraph is fine — except that what you request is already the case), but then it heats up. Avoid wordings like “not a FAQ, but a manifesto” — manifesto is a charged words (and I don't see how it applies here: the official FAQ is not so much an FAQ as a user's manual, but “manifesto”?). Your last paragraph is worded so as to antagonize the very people that you should be reaching out to. Here's how you might say the same things in a more constructive way:

The difficulty to search the FAQ, and the fragmentation of FAQ information between the Official FAQ and the Community FAQ makes it difficult for a new user to figure out everything they should know. It would be easier to fit in if there was an easier way to learn the ropes. Please, consider that the n00bs aren't so much clueless as uninformed; give us a chance.

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Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. I think that I probably could have asked my question better, but I also think there is some hypersensitivity evident. As a META site, I assumed most discussion here would be about solving stackoverflow issues and making stackoverflow improvements, and that as such I could present my issue and point of view as I would have with a programming issue on the stackoverflow side of things. The difference being, I suppose, that probably no-one on stackoverflow helped create any of the programming languages, so they don't feel attacked by expressed frustration. –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 18:53
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I will, though, point out a few things. Your link to what you call the Community FAQ leads to a page of questions and answers labeled "Newest 'faq' Questions", the heading "Tagged Questions" prominently displayed at the top like a title. I was under the impression that This was the Community FAQ, because that is what it is titled, or at-least displayed at the top of the page in a title-like fashion. There is no link to whatever that is on the FAQ. –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 19:13
    
@JamesK FAQ for Stack Exchange sites is the table of contents for the community FAQ. –  Gilles Sep 20 '12 at 19:14
    
The basic use of comments and votes are under "how to ask", but does nothing to answer either of my questions: "Why can't I comment?" and "Why can't I vote?". No offence intended, but I wonder why I keep needing to point this out. –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 19:21
    
Ok. That explains my confusion. –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 19:22
    
"You seem to worry a lot about reputation for someone who was “actively disinterested” in it." - You seem to be implying something with that comment just hanging by it'self. What you're implying I have no idea. Yes, I did not come here for bragging rights, I came to use the facilities of the website. As the use of those facilities is intimately tied to reputation, I in fact WAS interested in reputation, but was unaware of it. Why is it necessary for me to go into such detailed explanation of it? Why is that not the obvious meaning of that statement? –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 19:35
    
@JamesK “Actively disinterested” means that you were aware of it and chose not to care about it. –  Gilles Sep 20 '12 at 19:42
    
"It doesn't help that many of the “n00bs” are out to get the regulars." - I can't see that statement as anything other than confirmation of a hypersensitive outlook. New users may see and so expect to get the same harsh treatment they see other new people get, and so appear agitated or ready for a fight. But I doubt that if you asked them they would say that "putting people in their place", or "taking the air out of someone" would be one of their goals. I find it hard to believe that new users come pre-loaded with an addenda to "get the regulars". –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 19:50
    
That's right. I know what Reputation outside the context of this website is, and though I'm not looking for a bad reputation, to be a jerk, or to offend people, in the end I'm not going to let what people say about me dissuade me from following my goals, making my friends, thinking about what I please or following my morality. –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 20:02
    
Manifesto I don't dare comment or risk (possibly correct) accusations of sarcasm, so I simply include the definition. "A manifesto is a written public declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government." - Notice how that is not a FAQ, but a FAQ could easily be turned into one. Especially if the writer feels besieged. –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 20:09
    
"Your last paragraph is worded so as to antagonize the very people that you should be reaching out to." - Not intentionally. I did not count on people feeling so personally connected to the website that calling the presentation of some of _it_ (and the "attitude of _some_") hostile to the uninitiated to be an attack on them. –  James K Sep 20 '12 at 20:19

Welcome to the "I've been seriously down voted for even hinting that the FAQ and access to thereof might be improved" group. The prevailing sentiment, usually kindly worded, is that you really can't and shouldn't improve on the way things are. In addition, folks are absolutely responsible for getting themselves to the FAQ and also for understanding what's in there. Questions/Comments to the effect that FAQ access can be made easier for folks get quickly down voted. Keep in mind that with the voting system in meta, they're not down voting at you, they're down voting with you.

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I totally agree that it's up to the user to get to the FAQ, though it is the website's responsibility to provide an easily found one. (Which StackOverflow has done. I'm neither saying or implying different. There's a prominent link to it on every page.) And I'm not saying that it's not the users responsibility to understand it. One of the things I'm saying is that to expect that every new user to immediately absorb, retain, and understand it is to expect the impossible. Imperfection is the default (and only) state of being human. There will be misunderstandings. Period. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 2:10
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(Continued from above.) How we deal with that says a lot about us. As individuals, and as a group. We can try to build ourselves up by tearing others down with condescension towards and dismissiveness of those that fail to live up to the unreasonable standard of 100% understanding 100% of the time, or we can accept that there will always be some, for whatever reason, that don't get it the first time round and take pro-active steps to minimize their number. Rather than take reactive steps by hounding them into complience or withdrawl. –  James K Sep 17 '12 at 2:12
    
@JamesK: Absolutely agree. –  Chris Gerken Sep 17 '12 at 2:49

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