In Area 51, proposals in the Commitment phase show a box listing 5 examples for on-topic and 5 examples for off-topic questions near the top of a proposal (sorted by votes), which allows one at a glance to get a feel for what kinds of questions are acceptable there. The FAQs for SE sites start with the heading "What kind of questions can I ask here?" and generally contain written explanations with bullet points but few or no examples, from what I've seen. While I have nothing against the written explanations, I believe providing examples could help reinforce and clarify the range of acceptable questions for new members.

As such, it might be useful to include examples in the FAQ using a similar format to proposals in Area 51.

I don't know how easy or hard this would be to implement but thought it was worth throwing it out there.

EDIT: @Popular Demand brought up a good point regarding the quality of example questions found on A51. I think the quality varies. So here is a screen shot of some example questions that I consider more or less worthy of showing up on a FAQ:

alt text

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    Meh... I haven't been impressed by the example questions that A51 comes up with. Good idea, though.
    – Pops
    Dec 12 '10 at 2:16

The moderators have the ability to edit the FAQ. The communities should be discussing the top example questions and creating a comprehensive definition for their site. This doesn't happen as much as I would like.

But I wouldn't want to cut-and-past the top example questions directly into the FAQ. Sometimes multiple top questions cover the same subject. Sometimes the questions are not as clear and all-encompassing as they can be. The ideas of the top questions should be included in the FAQ… only not the exact, mechanical wording of the top questions.

To make the FAQ as clear and concise as possible, it really requires thoughtful effort on the part of the community. That's why I've been resisting the idea of starting out with something as mechanical as the top 5 on- and off-topic questions.

  • Well, you definitely have good points, but on the other hand if you re-read what I wrote you'll notice I'm not suggesting a mere copy and paste, although I also didn't explicitly rule it out. I just wrote that providing questions in a similar format to A51 questions could be useful. The questions could be selected in other ways, and there need not be 5 of each. The presentation could also change; e.g., there could be a drop-down panel for each question explaining why it is on- or off-topic. Anyway it's just an idea; in the end, policy becomes clear simply by participating on the site. Dec 14 '10 at 9:48

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