FAQs and Facts: making www-html really useful

Daniel W. Connolly (connolly@beach.w3.org)
Fri, 05 Apr 1996 23:50:18 -0500


Message-Id: <m0u5Px4-0002UVC@beach.w3.org>
To: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
Cc: HEATH MCCARTHY <MCCARTHY.HEATH@epamail.epa.gov>, www-html@w3.org,
Subject: FAQs and Facts: making www-html really useful
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Tue, 19 Mar 1996 09:41:56 EST."
             <199603191441.JAA14944@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca> 
Date: Fri, 05 Apr 1996 23:50:18 -0500
From: "Daniel W. Connolly" <connolly@beach.w3.org>


[I just spent 20 mintues writing a response about transclusion links,
<INSERT>, <EMBED>, and <a rel="embed">..</a>, but then my telnet
client GPF'd and it went in the bit bucket... where's vi and crash
recovery when you need it?]

In message <199603191441.JAA14944@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca>, Paul Prescod wr
ites:
>
>I wonder, should there be an html-standards FAQ? It could explain about HTML
>3.0, about common requests, it could point to places in the archive where
>particular issues are discussed, point to information about SGML, explain
>the relationship between W3C and the HTML-G, etc.  What does everyone think?

I think not enough folks would read it to make a difference :-{

Thomas Boutell does a fantastic job with the WWW FAQ, but here we
are discussing server side includes again.

www-html is potentially a very valuable resource. But when folks ask
the same questions over and over again, and reply with the same
misinformation and acrimony, the time required to participate goes up,
driving the experts away, and the value extracted decreases.

Folks have called for these lists to be moderated. I might not 
mind that, but who's got time to do it?

All I really want is for folks to do their homework before posting:
Spend some time making sure the question you're asking hasn't been
completely answered somewhere else.

Considering that there are well over 1000 readers of this list, each
posting consumes a significant quantity of network bandwidth, CPU, and
disk space. But none of that matters: the TIME that the readers spend
reading and responding that is the real cost that matters.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect folks to do the following
before posting to www-talk or www-html:

	(1) read the FAQ (see http://www.boutell.com/ There
		should be a mirror on www.w3.org, but I don't think
		there is :-( )

	(2) search the archives (see: http://www.eit.com/)

	(3) read the abstracts of the published drafts, and
	completely read those drafts relavent to the question.

	(4) Consult vendor documentation (MS, NCSA, Netscape, ...)

In fact, I've been considering requiring some form of proof
of the above in order to get messages redistributed. Something
like boilerplate:

	"I've read the FAQ and searched the archives, and I
	believe what I'm writing is worthy of the readership's time."

Any message without the boilerplate would be rejected, and the
instructions on what to read and how to add the boilerplate
would be returned in stead.

Another idea would be to have a "Required reading" document on
www.w3.org that has a "password" that changes every month or so.
You'd have to at _least_ visit the required reading document once
a month to get the password, and anybody with any scruples would
actually _do_ the reading.

Whaddya think?

Dan