How to respond to FAQs [was: [Mailman-Users] Banner and Complexcode ...]

Robert Echlin rechlin at
Mon Aug 16 16:47:44 CEST 2004

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen at>
To: "Brad Knowles" <brad at>
Cc: <mailman-users at>
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 10:07 AM
Subject: How to respond to FAQs [was: [Mailman-Users] Banner and Complexcode

> >>>>> "Brad" == Brad Knowles <brad at> writes:
>     Brad> I've been thinking about this a bit more.  I can
>     Brad> change the stock answer I give to the following:
> This is a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question).  Please search the
> FAQ Wizard and the archives of this mailing list in accordance
> with the FAQ entry at
> <>.
> If you have done so and still not found the answer to your
> question(s), please let us know what your problem is and what
> you searched for, and we should be able to update the FAQ
> Wizard to suit.
> I think this is genuinely rude.  "I know the answer but I'm not going
> to tell you until you prove you've jumped through some hoops."
> I suggest that you merely change the phrase "if you had bothered to
> follow" to "if you had followed", or to "by following", in the current
> formula.  The presumption that the person had not read the FAQ or the
> archives is valid with rather high probability, and the implication
> that they should learn to do so certainly is appropriate.  It's
> abrupt, but the "polite" alternative is a personal admonition in
> private mail, a waste of time all around.
> The presumption that they should have known better is unwarranted,
> IMO, and is better avoided.  In most cases newbie rudeness is due to
> simple ignorance of the mores.
> Many thanks for the wonderful service you are providing for the
> community!

I like Stephen's suggestion. I think you should let them know where the
answer is, and let them know that the FAQ Wizard is the place to look before
posting to the list. They will automatically look at the other titles on the
list, over time, once they know they exist. Obviously, in the rush to fix
something that's broken, they won't have time to read the whole FAQ

Stephen, I think what you call "Newbie rudeness" is NOT ignorance of the
mores. It is simply not yet knowing the resources. After all, it is not even
the official FAQ, it is not hosted on the same site as the MailMan project,
it has an odd name. Certainly it was not on my radar before I joined the
list. And I had no reason to read FAQ entry 1.22, or even notice that it
existed. And no, I didn't notice the Wizard was on the same site as the

Brad, yes, please fix your wording a bit, perhaps:

If you followed the instructions in the Mailman FAQ Wizard at
you should have fairly easily found the FAQ entry at
which addresses this issue.

Also, Brad, your pointers to the right spot in the FAQ are extremely
valuable, and even more so to people who are pushed backwards into being
mail list sysadmins as part of another job, who often don't understand which
specific term in the FAQ titles means the same thing as what they are trying
to do.


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