[Cabal] FAQ and support.pidgin.im

Ethan Blanton elb at psg.com
Tue Oct 31 10:48:15 EST 2006

Luke Schierer spake unto us the following wisdom:
> Let me know what you all think.  Is there something better I should be
> looking at?  Does the lack of good auth prove to be an unacceptable
> flaw?

So, I missed almost this entire FAQ thread due to hardware failure
(I've been fighting a dying disk drive for quite some time now; I now
have a replacement, but it's not behaving either, becauase it's a
decade newer than the controller it's attached to.), but I have some
comments.  I'm not sure precisely what has been resolved and what
hasn't, but here are my opinions on the matter.

The FAQ should be rendered as one large page, or at the very worst one
page for each major section.  One page per question is simply too
painful to *read*, regardless of how nice it might be to edit -- no
one will ever read our FAQ (even more so than right now).  Regardless
of the FAQ solution we go with, it needs to be easy for the *user* to
read, or it won't serve its purpose.  Easy for the developer to edit
is also a major bonus.

I'm not convinced that "easy for the user to edit" is a good idea -- I
think this means we'll have to spend a lot of time babysitting the
FAQ, honstly.  Think of all the users who come in with some obscure
problem (Gaim doesn't compile because I have a hand-built merge of gtk
2.8.1 and gtk 2.10.3 that plays my themes just how I like ...) and
then say "that should be in the FAQ".  An *important* feature of a FAQ
is that the Qs really are FA.  If that is not the case, you run into
the same problem as the previous paragraph, and users just won't
bother to read it.  Also, most users are horribly illiterate, and it
reflects poorly upon *us* when our FAQ is mangled pseudo-English.

That said, I'm willing to give an open wiki FAQ a try, and possibly be
proved wrong.  (Other FAQs I'm aware of on the web seem to support my
position, but...)

I don't know jack about so-called "web programming", but if one of us
does, maybe we could write a FAQ parser and frontend that does more or
less the same thing as the current sf.net FAQ (reads some textish
files and compiles them), but with a data format that doesn't suck.
It shouldn't be too hard, for example, to come up with some semi-sane
way of putting each entry (or each section) in its own file and tying
them together.  Or whatever Luke's requirements are, as he largely
manages the FAQ.


The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws [that have no remedy
for evils].  They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor
determined to commit crimes.
		-- Cesare Beccaria, "On Crimes and Punishments", 1764
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