Finding information on how to use SO is unnecessarily hard. I just posted one question asking about the notification system, and another one about search. I know there's some stuff in some wiki (and I didn't know where the wiki was till now!). There are no prominent links to the wiki anywhere. It's not in the FAQ.

I find SO's documentation scattered in posts, the FAQ, a wiki, podcasts, out on the web... I mean everywhere. It's not like SO is so complicated that its docs can't be easily be aggregated in one organized web page.

A lot of effort is spent on fixing spelling mistakes and such. How about spending some time on pooling the documentation in an organized fashion? Offer reputation or badges for this kind of work.

  • 3
    How ironic... A Q&A site that needs a FAQ...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 16 '10 at 20:52
  • What wiki are you talking about? I've been here for over a year and I've never heard of a Stack Overflow wiki (unless you mean the Community Wiki FAQ entries).
    – Pops
    Aug 16 '10 at 21:32
  • @Popular Demand: Exactly. The docs are everywhere. Some are in blogs (Jeff's SO blog?). Now someone will ask.. what blog? Fine examples of documentation being a big mess. Aug 17 '10 at 16:05
  • since you said you found the wiki, could you provide a link? I would like to see it.
    – Pops
    Aug 17 '10 at 16:12

While a "Manual" or "User Guide" wouldn't be read by the vast majority of our users, it can without a doubt be useful to some that are interested in not only getting their questions answered but also learning how to use the system in a more efficient manner.

  • If the user guide is slim and concise, users will read it. Users don't wont to read thick manuals. A user manual helps in discover-ability.. like "Oh.. I didn't know I could do that". You can't ask a question if it never occurs to you to ask it in the first place. Aug 17 '10 at 16:08
  • @Tony, I disagree with your first statement. People don't even read the quick Markdown tips on the Ask Question page when a poorly formatted question is right in front of their faces; I use this example because Jeff wrote about it at some point (link forthcoming).
    – Pops
    Aug 17 '10 at 16:14
  • @Popular Demand - it boils down to an important principle. Do the right thing first.. and then make judgments. I have spent a lot of time looking for information and I couldn't find it. That's why I asked about email notification. Some people do read manuals... regardless of how many don't. Do the right thing. NO ONE, NO ONE, will EVER complain why your docs are so clean and organized and helpful. BUT people WILL complain if they are not. Aug 17 '10 at 18:02

We do have a sponsored sidebar for the FAQ on the front page. The topmost Community FAQ is probably the most useful - and use the [faq] tag when that might not cover it.

As a community moderated place, it's up to us users to maintain these things. And we do have users who are taking these initiatives.

  • It needs to be a simple Help link in the home page. That help page then can link to all kinds of places. faq tag is already complex for a dummy. Make it as simple and as easy to use as possible. KISS it. Aug 17 '10 at 16:12

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