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Monday, May 17, 2004

Knowledge Reuse and FAQ

A body of knowledge often contains a (hyper)document called FAQ - "frequently asked questions". But the word "frequently" is often a lie. There are three possibilities.

Never asked questions. Here is some miscellaneous information we want to put out, which we didn't find anywhere else for. We have made up some phoney questions, to make it appear as information pull instead of information push.

Once asked questions. Here are some obscure and awkward questions which we've been asked once, and hope never to be troubled with again, so we'll dump the answers here.

Genuine reuse. We have identified some common threads among the many questions we have been asked, and designed some generalized answers.

FAQ often represents a transitional stage in the production of knowledge, somewhere between adhoc and fully commoditized. FAQ is inevitable, because the fully commoditized knowledge always leaves something to be desired. Thus properly interpreted FAQ documents may expose some misalignment between the production of knowledge and its consumption; although they are often carefully composed in an attempt to cover up any such misalignment.

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