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An acronym for Frequently Asked Questions, FAQs are online documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject.
A wonderful tradition on the Internet, the FAQ was developed by people who got tired of answering the same questions over and over again. FAQs were made available to newcomers who were urged to read them before asking redundant questions in a Usenet newsgroup, on a BBS, or on a mailing list. As a tool to help you get up to speed before joining a conversation, FAQs provide you with a wealth of information about a particular subject.
There are thousands of FAQs on the Internet, on subjects as diverse as gardening and virtual reality. They have become particularly popular with online services and retailers, since they reduce the need for email and telephone staff to answer common inquiries.
FAQs may be organized by subject or simply provided in a long list. They sometime feature an index of questions at the top of the page, with links to the answers below. Since too many FAQs can be difficult to browse through, many sites provide searchable FAQs, which allow you to find answers without having to know the exact question you’re looking for.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are all FAQs actually frequently asked?
As originally used on Usenets and bulletin boards, FAQs were based on the questions most commonly asked of the group, in order to keep discussions from getting bogged down or even derailed by questions that have already been answered hundreds of times.
However, FAQs have become popular all across the Internet, and many of these are not based on questions that were ever asked. Instead, many companies create FAQs they believe consumers or website visitors are likely to ask. This is because many companies create the bulk of their FAQs at the launch of a website or new product, before consumers have had a chance to ask questions. In these cases, FAQs are provided to get in front of likely questions and reduce the amount of email or phone calls companies receive, which can save companies millions of dollars a year. However, as these sites are updated, new FAQs are often added based on questions that are being frequently asked.
Are FAQs always called FAQs?
The acronym FAQ is usually saved for tech-related websites, where it can be assumed users understand its meaning; however, many sites (like this one) have “Frequently Asked Questions” sections. Some sites prefer the more traditional Questions and Answers or Q&A, while other sites utilize a Help system, which contains a list of commonly asked or likely questions. The naming convention used generally depends on the audience and the site designer, but they are all the same thing.