Tinkering With The FAQ

I’m going to try a slightly different approach to dealing with the FAQs for a bit and see how we go. Rather than doing nothing at all, then big updates, I’ll try to trickle out the replies to comments, getting a bit done here and there. For example, I’ve dealt with a few more of the DZ questions today. The big updates will then largely be collations of things that are already in the comments.

Of course, I understand that most of you won’t bother reading through all of the comments to see what’s been answered. I probably wouldn’t do that myself either. However, the devoted few who post most of the queries and debate such things will, I’m sure, be on hand to help refine these answers. This should help them to be more robust when they do get collated into a more user friendly format for a broader readership.

Also, it occurred to me that some of the FAQ documents were getting a little long. This is for two reasons. Firstly, I answer all sorts of questions that have only been asked once rather than only dealing with the ones that come up lots. This is because I assume that the ones I hear are the tip of an iceberg, and that if one person asks then there are probably more that I either don’t hear or simply don’t say. I’d rather be thorough even if it does make it look a bit long.

The other reason the FAQs have got a bit long is that I discuss the why of an answer and don’t just say yes or no. Again, that’s just me. When I read someone else’s FAQ I find it helpful to know why in case anything comparable comes up that isn’t answered directly. Also because I’m curious and just want to know.

What might be useful is if I try doing 2 versions of the longer FAQs in future; one as it is now and the second condensed and without my waffle (just the Q & A, no D). That might be a more convenient document to print out and have on hand for a game.

Just a thought πŸ™‚

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25 Responses to Tinkering With The FAQ

  1. PikaRapH says:

    Yup, I saw that on DZ topic, good idea to give us a quick answer, we only need a yes or no much of the time. That will help me complete my work on DZ rule !

    Maybe there’s a way to help you improve this work by compiling all of our questions (and only questions) somewhere to avoid identical questions, maybe some moderator that can delete already answered thing and so on ?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve already got your first compilation, which is a help. The main limitation is simply time: I’ve already answered (and deleted) over 600 comments from the DZ FAQ thread. We’re getting there though πŸ™‚

  2. Teskal says:

    Answering questions only with yes or no is not much help. The D section is helping much to understand why it is so. The long FAQ shows mostly that the rulebooks need lot of rewording and more examples.

    What I do not like is, if I read a FAQ, I want all the answers in the FAQ and not getting ‘further explanations’ links, even if they are good.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It’s all part of the not being able to please all of the people all of the time thing. Some people don’t want all that explanation in the FAQ, others (like you) want everything in one place regardless of the length. For the moment I will continue to write some explanatory articles separately because it seems to work for as many people as it doesn’t and it also helps me get things done. In the FAQ the question is answered so you can play the game with just that. For those that want the in-depth discussions the articles are there.

      You’re right that the rule book could do with more examples, and this is one thing we will look to doing in the 1.5 version we hope to do with the Kickstarter. It will help to explain stuff better, which is the aim.

      Rewording is always a tricky problem as almost every phrase can be interpreted if you’re determined enough – we may just move from one confusion to another πŸ™‚

      • Teskal says:

        I think a rule book autor has the same problem a dungeon master has in roleplaying games, if he has a plan, his 6 players see 7 other possibilities to do it. Only difference that the rulebook autor has few thousand players they find other interpretings of the phrases. πŸ™‚

        That is why I find the 19 questions from Barry so interesting. I though I understood the rules after reading them twice, but Barry find some interesting interpretions, some are nitpicking, but not all. I posted the questions in the Mars Attacks FAQ, I hope you will find time to answer them. πŸ™‚

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I will indeed. Read them through already, and got some done.

          One of the additional challenges these days is not just a large audience, but a large international audience. Even groups that share the same language (allegedly) don’t really when it comes down to exact subtleties of meaning and dialect. And as we all know, with rules a subtle shade of meaning can make all the difference between crystal clear and hugely exploitable.

          This is something we’re stuck with, so we need to adapt to it. By “we” I mean both the authors who write stuff and readers who use it. An author needs to understand that someone isn’t just being obtuse if they don’t understand and that it is often possible to read things in more than one way. Similarly, readers need not think that the author is deliberately being unclear. They are usually perfectly clear to themselves and the playtesters who tried it out before it went public…

  3. Bala Matt says:

    Hi Jake,

    I like the idea of having FAQ with AND without the discussion.

    Yep, one person’s enquiry may be just the tip of the iceberg.

    Love your work!

  4. Luke says:

    I personally really like seeing the explanation so am very happy with the current FAQ style. I do think more frequent comments between large updates will be very helpful though!

  5. jasb87 says:

    I’m all for little updates on the FAQ page. A lot of the time these questions have been debated to the nth degree anyway and often just require a clarification from yourself.

    I wouldn’t be worried about people having to trawl through the comments to see what has been asked/answered as if you come to the page you can just do a couple of keyword searches to see what’s been discussed already, plus as you said there’s an active user base to help out.

    With regards to the (D) section of the FAQ, I really enjoy these extra insights but I think they have, at times, muddied the waters when further rules have been being discussed. Although this is likely to be mitigated by the more regular updates.

    As for the idea of making two separate FAQ’s, why not? I’m pretty sure you need to be increasing your work load. πŸ˜‰

    • Teskal says:

      Yeah, would have missed the comment about the same unique character on both side without it. Loved it and it made me laugh.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      @jasb87 – I think that the second version will take me 20-30 minutes or so to derive from the longer one, so not a huge extra job. And if it makes a more convenient FAQ for gaming with then that’s worth doing πŸ™‚

  6. Sam says:

    The discussion is really important.
    The condensed version is a low priority for my playing group, it helps to see your intention as well as the rule.
    Don’t feel a long FAQ is something to worry about. Deadzone is the detailed game, if I wanted quick and clean I play Kings. They both have their strengths.

  7. Teemu Hemminki says:

    Are you able to do little by little with multiple games? You’ve often said that you must immerse yourself back to the game system you are doing FAQ for.

    Descriptionless FAQ alternative does sound nice, you could also keep it completely black and leave “orange text for news” for longer FAQ (orange turns grey with black and white printer).

    Will DZ 1.5 be ruleswise identical with DZ 1.0+FAQ?? If yes, then how will it affect the FAQ?

    • Teemu Hemminki says:

      Forgot one, if you do shortened FAQ, remember that some answers do rely on description part (like p.3 Sentry Gun packing/unpacking).

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Good questions!

      1.5 should include all of the FAQ plus add more examples. At least, that’s the current plan. The aim is essentially to make a cleaner and more accessible version of the game we have already. I’ve been thinking about what this means for the FAQ as it stands, and I think I’d need to start a new 1.5 FAQ. The current one would still be available for those who carry on with the original rules.

      Keeping it all in black has pros and cons. Maybe. I’ll have to think about it. I will also have a look at the questions to make sure that they a lll have an abbreviated answer that makes sense. The D will always add to it (that’s the point), and as long as folk know they can check the long version if they want to know more. The short version is really just for convenience during play.

      Yes, it is easier to focus on one thing at a time and do FAQs in big lumps. The problem is that I seldom get large uninterrupted blocks of time to do FAQs. From a pure time and motion study doing little bits is less efficient, but if the more efficient approach won’t happen…

  8. mike says:

    To comment about FAQ clean up, why not just have the Discussion part collapsable, by hyperlink or some such tech, so easy to get definative answer, then thinking behind it if needed.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I don’t know how to make that work easily. And, as the FAQ will doubtless change, it would need to be a quick and simple thing to do if it was to be practical. A lovely idea though.

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