How do I identify an authentic FAQ?

Tell Me

The word authentic in this context means a question that is genuinely being asked by a particular audience. FAQs should not be about telling people what you want to tell them but should answer questions they really are asking.

To help identify authentic FAQs consider the following:

  • Are there questions you seem to be getting over and over?

  • What are your top 10 most frequent questions? Start by creating FAQs for these 10.

  • Use statistics to measure the frequency in which you get support requests about a particular topic in RT. (REX is a great place to start.)

    • Certain questions are cyclical or only apply to a particular portion of the Academic year.  Other types of questions may remain consistent over the course of the year. Because of this, it's helpful to consider yearly, semester, and even monthly trends. 

  • Some of the best people to help identify an authentic FAQ are the people asking the questions. Survey your audience and your staff; they usually have an interest in helping out and know the niche audience very well.

I've identified an authentic FAQ. Now what?

Once you've identified an authentic FAQ, check to see if existing FAQs have already been created on the topic. Often times, multiple offices across campus receive similar questions, and an FAQ may already exist. In this case, you may be able to simply link to the existing FAQ.

If an existing FAQ doesn't quite answer your office's question but comes close, it's often helpful to reach out to the department maintaining the existing FAQ to see if there's an opportunity to improve the existing FAQ to fit your needs as well as their own.

Best Practices

  • Answers will be used by many. Please ensure, to the best of your ability, that the content you are adding/modifying/removing is relevant to the topic and is accurate.

  • Private, personal, confidential, or sensitive information should never be added to Find Help (FAQs).

  • Information that should not be publicly available on the internet should be put into a restricted space or restricted using "Page Restrictions".

  • Copyrighted material: material that belongs to intellectual property should not be included in Find Help (FAQs).

  • Offensive or malicious content will not be tolerated. Use of answers must follow UMBC's responsible computing policy.

  • Image files should preferably be of type .PNG or .JPG, if available. .BMP pictures tend to be large in size and can be converted using popular image editing software (Paint, Photoshop, etc).

  • Keep pages on the same topic organized together. Child pages should be correctly linked to the parent page to maintain proper hierarchy.

  • Any problem statement and solution should be stated clearly.

  • Screenshots and screencasts will help people understand the steps better.