[pmwiki-users] FAQ Page Layout

H. Fox haganfox at gmail.com
Thu Aug 4 05:05:16 CDT 2005

On 8/3/05, Benjamin Wilson <ameen at dausha.net> wrote:
> H. Fox wrote:
> [snip]
> > Like the Firefox FAQ, it uses list markup at the top that links to
> > answers below, where the questions are bold and the answers have
> > left-margin.
> >
> > The designers of that page are probably PhDs with emphasis in UI design. :-)
> I believe in wiki markup that's the DL/DD/DT set of HTML tags, and so no
> need to get fancy.

That's an excellent suggestion.

> As far as using PhDs, (present company
> excepted)--I've been reading depositions this week and can tell you that
> when PhDs get involved so do egos,

I'm sure that's an understatement!

> so the UI was probably done by a 13 year-old. :-)

I doubt that.  Let's agree to disagree about the probable quality of
Google's UI people.

> > Notice a pattern?  This one uses a return-to-top link after each question.
> That is/could be a feature of pagetoc when it gets incorporated into the
> core.


> ## Q: and A:
> Markup('^Q:', 'block', '/^Q:(.*)$/', "<dl class='faq'><dt
> class='Q'>$1</dt>");
> Markup('^A:', 'block', '/^(A:.*)$/', "<dd class='A'>$1</dd>");
> Or:
> Markup('^Q:', 'block', '/^Q:(.*)$/', "<ul class='faq'><li
> class='Q'>$1</li>");
> Markup('^A:', 'block', '/^(A:.*)$/', "<li class='A'>$1</li></ul>");
> Then, whether the Q: is bold or not is site-admin preference. Notice
> that if you want to include the Q:, or exclude the A:, just move the
> open-parenthesis in the Markup.

Those are good, but the answer only spans one "paragraph".  A second
paragraph or a code block would need to be indented separately.  In
other words, this markup

    Q: How do I turn on the ?action=diag and ?action=phpinfo actions?
    A: Use
        $EnableDiag = 1;
    in your config.php file.

produces the DT, the DD, the code block, and a paragraph.  If you
styled answers to be in red text, only "A: Use" would render in red.

It would be better to have the answer be in one block.

> > All three of these examples use bold text for the questions, but I
> > still would prefer to see the font weight normal and use some other
> > styling to set the questions apart.
> Yes, but bold is a predominant factor in FAQ questions.

To my surprise.

I still prefer normal text and some other CSS style (e.g. the 1px gray
border) to set the question apart.  Whatever people think is best is
fine with me.  Compare here:


The little gray border popped into my mind because I like the look of
Pm's new gray frame.  Maybe the CSS selectors for the frame could be


> *Examples where Q:/A: are present in the FAQ:*
>         http://frequentlyaskedquestions.com/faqs/domainFAQ.asp
>         http://wiki.theory.org/BitTorrentFAQ
>         http://www.kci.org/meth_info/faq_meth.htm
>         http://www.animesuki.com/faq.php
>         http://scsifaq.paralan.com/scsifaqanswers.html#18
>         http://www.microsoft.com/xna/faq.aspx
>         http://www.digitalmastery.com/companionsite/faq/
>         http://www.bbc.co.uk/opensource/faq.shtml
>         http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/faq/faqs1.shtml
> Not exactly a limited set.

Certainly not.  A Google search for [faq q] comes up with 17000 hits.

Are those examples of how the PmWiki FAQ page should look?  If so,
we're definitely not on the same page.  If you were just proving that
some FAQ pages on the Internet use Q's and A's, then point taken.

I searched for a couple of dozen specific FAQ pages that I thought
might be good examples of UI design.  Almost none of *those* sites
displayed Q's and A's.  None of the ones that displayed Q's and A's
were IMHO examples of good information design.

If the question is "what would Edward R. Tufte recommend?" I think the
answer would be "leave out the Q's and A's".

> "Show me a set of numbers that prove your point, and I'll introduce you
> to my statistician who will disprove your point with the same numbers." :-)

True, but I'm trying to figure out the best solution for the FAQ page,
not win a numbers contest.  Besides, my statistician had a higher
grade point average than yours.  ;-)

I'm hoping the FAQ page can dramatically improve before the 2.0 release.


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