This is a continuation of Part 1.
3) POSTING A FAQ 3.1) How do I post/distribute my FAQ? 3.2) Where do I post/distribute my FAQ? 3.3) How often should my FAQ be posted? 4) LEGAL STUFF 4.1) Do I need to copyright my FAQ? 4.2) Do I need a disclaimer? 5) APPROVAL FOR *.ANSWERS - THE BIG TIME 5.1) Why bother getting a FAQ approved for *.answers? 5.2) How do I get my FAQ approved? 5.3) FAQ maintainers 5.4) FAQ maintainers mailing list 6) ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 3) POSTING/DISTRIBUTING A FAQ 3.1) How do I post/distribute my FAQ? If you only need to post your FAQ to one or two USENET newsgroups (or mailing lists), then you can just manually post it whenever the posting date rolls around. It is also possible to cross post it to several groups at once. Check with your system administrator for more details on how to do this. Some sites don't keep their news around for a long time, so your posting might disappear from those location sooner than you planned. For this reason, and to allow general access to your FAQ, it is a good idea to archive it somewhere if possible. This might be on a friendly ftp site that agrees to keep the current copy available for ftp'ing, on a mail server, or on your own system (as long as others have some sort of access). If your FAQ is to be posted to a large number of newsgroups, then it might be a good idea to take advantage of the faq-server set up by the *.answers team. The faq-server can be used to automatically post any periodic posting that is first approved by the *.answers team. It allows automatic posting at set intervals to as many newsgroups as required. A big advantage of using the faq-server is that it is quick, easy, and automatic. Check with the *.answers team for more details on this. 3.2) Where do I post/distribute my FAQ? Among the many places that you might choose to post or distribute your FAQ: - USENET newsgroups - Commercial on-line services (Compuserve, America On Line, BIX, Prodigy, etc) - Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) - manufacturers' literature (I have given my permission to several major corporations to include portions of my microcontroller FAQs in various product/technical documents.) - published works (many authors or publishers like to include portions of the appropriate FAQs in their works, this gives the reader an easy way to find more information on the subject) - a number of FAQs (as well as other articles that started out as information guides on USENET) are now being made available in print (these range from full-blown works issued by major publishers, to simple pamphlets printed privately) 3.3) How often do I post/distribute my FAQ? Posting your FAQ once a month should be sufficient. In some special circumstances, you might need to post your FAQ twice a month to keep it available in the newsgroup. Adding an expiration date in the header also helps keep it from being purged too soon. This doesn't always work, since your local system determines when the articles will be purged, and this doesn't always coincide with the expiration date. 4) LEGAL STUFF 4.1) Do I need to copyright my FAQ? If you invest a lot of time on your FAQ, and most FAQ maintainers do, you might be concerned about protecting your work. Under the Berne Convention (to which the vast majority of "Western" nations are signatories), as soon as something is published, then the writer/producer of the item is held to own the copyright. You can add (C) copyright 1995 if you want, but it is no longer necessary (sort of like chicken soup, doesn't necessarily help, but it couldn't hurt). Protecting your work with a copyright protects your rights if someone else decides to steal your work and make a buck from it. As mentioned above in section 1.5.5, it is very common for companies to compile information from the Internet, put it on a CD-ROM, and sell it. While copyright protection won't prevent this from happening, it at least makes it illegal and gives you legal recourse if you need. Check the copyright FAQ for further details. If it is important enough, you should consult with a lawyer experienced in copyright law. 4.2) Do I need a disclaimer? In this "sue the pants off of anyone that looks at me cross-eyed" world that we live in today, many FAQ maintainers are using disclaimers to protect against possible law suits. If your FAQ contains information that might be used in sensitive applications, and if something were to go terribly (and tragically) wrong, do you think that you would be sued? Does a bear defecate in the woods? See section 2.4 (How important is accuracy?) for more information on this subject. I'm not a lawyer, so I won't attempt to give definitive advice here (yes, this is a disclaimer), but something such as the following might help cover your tush. Whether it in fact really helps or not, I don't know. This article is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, the author/maintainer/contributors
assume(s) no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. Another common disclaimer (that you have more than likely already encountered), is that used to disclaim any connection between the author's opinions and those of their employer. If your article is in anyway related to what you do for a living, and if there might be a conflict of interest, it might be worthwhile to include something like this: The contents of this article reflect my opinions only and not necessarily those of my employer. 5) APPROVAL FOR *.ANSWERS - THE BIG TIME 5.1) Why bother getting a FAQ approved for news.answers? When your FAQ is approved for posting to one or more of the *.answers newsgroups (news.answers, comp.answers, sci.answers, etc), it is brought to the attention of those who might not be regular readers of the newsgroup(s) that you usually post your FAQ to. This means that a larger potential audience gets a chance to know about your hard work. One of the major reasons for getting your FAQ approved by the news.answers team, is that a FAQ that is posted to one of the *.answers newsgroups is automatically archived. This is important since some sites purge old postings more frequently due to lack of space. The archive makes your FAQ available anytime someone wishes to ftp it from rtfm.mit.edu (the archive site) or any of its mirrors. Another important reason to get your FAQ approved, is that you can then use the faq-server to automatically post to whichever newsgroups you want. Last, and least or most (depending on your personality), there is always the fame and glory associated with being a FAQ maintainer. Once your FAQ becomes widely read and distributed, you will be amazed at how many times your name will be mentioned in postings or other articles. 5.2) How do I get my FAQ approved? In order to get a FAQ approved for posting to news.answers, you need to submit your FAQ to the *.answers team. For a detailed explanation of what you need to do to make your FAQ *.answers compliant, read the *.answers guideline. Check in news.answers to see if it is posted there under the heading "news.answers submission guidelines". If the document isn't currently available at your site, send a mail message to email@example.com with the command "send usenet/news.answers/news-answers/guidelines" (without the quotes) in its body. You can of course ftp the document from the same place. Getting a FAQ approved is easy and doesn't require much on your part. The most important consideration for approval is a proper header. A minimal example follows: From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Russ Hersch) Newsgroups: comp.robotics,comp.realtime,sci.electronics,comp.answers,sci.answers,news.answers Subject: 68hc11 microcontroller FAQ Followup-To: poster Approved: news-answers-request@MIT.EDU Summary: This article is a collection of information sources on the Motorola 68hc11 line of microcontrollers. Archive-name: microcontroller-faq/68hc11 Posting-Frequency: monthly This is a real live header taken from one of my FAQs. Another example would be the header to the FAQ you are currently reading. The news.answers guideline document clearly explains the purpose of each line of the header. To make things simple, you can just take the above example and adapt it for your FAQ. Just a few cautions: - All of the fields in the above header are required and all must be included. There are additional, optional fields which may be included if you want to take the time to figure out what they're used for. Personally, I'm too lazy. - The Newsgroups line must have one space after the colon. All of the newsgroups must be listed on one line with no spaces or extraneous characters (which is why the Newsgroups line seems to fall off the edge of this document - it is not a mistake). - Followup-To must specify either "poster" (which directs followups back to the author of the FAQ) as done above or the home newsgroup of the FAQ (which directs followups to the newsgroup). Do not forget this field since responses then might be directed to the news.answers team, and they will not be very happy about that. Do NOT put an E-mail address in the "Followup-To:" field. - *** IMPORTANT *** The Approved heading is ONLY used when your FAQ is actually approved. When you are notified by the news.answers team that your FAQ has been accepted, then you may add this line to your header. DO NOT include this field until your FAQ is approved, or you will find yourself in deep doo-doo. - For a multi-line summary, the second line of the Summary field should start with at least one space. - One blank line should appear before the Archive-name line. - Archive-name should be fairly descriptive but short. If you aren't sure about this, take your best shot at it and the *.answers team will adjust it if necessary. Once you've added the appropriate header to your FAQ, you can submit it to the news.answers moderators for approval. Send it to the following address: email@example.com. Don't expect an immediate answer as these guys are REALLY busy. They will send you back a letter indicating if your FAQ has been approved, and if not, what needs to be done to get it in order. If you have any questions, don't be embarrassed to ask the news.answers moderators, that's what they're there for. Most of the time the problem is simpler than you think. As you gain more experience, things will become clearer. Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. To get your FAQ approved for posting to *.answers, you need to do the following: 1. Get (as described above) the "news.answers submission guidelines" article before you do anything. This is a good reference document which discusses many details that I chose not to delve into. 2. Make sure your FAQ is accurate. If you've already been posting it, then your readers have probably already helped you out on this. If you prefer, you can begin by posting the article marked as "DRAFT" a couple of times, to get feedback - then submit it for approval. 3. Make sure that your FAQ is organized so that the material is easily accessible to the reader. 4. Similarly, make sure your FAQ is formatted nicely (proper margins and indentation). This really helps when trying to read it. 5. Prepare a header (as described above) to add to the beginning of your FAQ. 6. Submit your FAQ for approval. The address for submitting your article: email@example.com - ONLY for submissions (no questions!) The address for requesting information and for asking questions about the process: firstname.lastname@example.org (questions and requests for help) 7. Please be patient and don't ask the moderators about the status of your submission. They are very busy and are not able to deal with "nuisance" mail. Use your judgement - if your teenage daughter was in Kindergarten when you submitted the article, then you might be justified in sending them a note. If she was only in fourth grade, think twice. 5.3) FAQ maintainers Once your FAQ is approved, you are now included in the fraternity of elite individuals known as FAQ maintainers (FAQers might not be the best term for obvious reasons). Pass out cigars, throw a party, have a beer, and write and tell Mom about it. So what now? Well, you should prepare yourself for Email. Possibly lots of it. You've now become a "personality" on the Internet (as Jonathan Horen, a good friend of mine put it), and an "authority" on the subject that your FAQ covers (whether you really are or not). You will more than likely become a central address for those who have questions about the topic that you've addressed in your FAQ. Enjoy yourself - you will end up "meeting" a lot of very nice people from all over the world. These new friends of yours will help you keep your FAQ up-to-date. Everyone will benefit. It is very likely that you will find yourself very busy maintaining your FAQ. Some FAQs require a lot of attention. Others, once they hit their maturity, just sort of coast for a while. My microcontroller FAQs keep me pretty busy and often keep me from working with the very microcontrollers that I originally set out to do. Since I'm still learning a lot about the subject, I don't mind this too much. However, I would like to apply what I'm learning and actually accomplish something. I wouldn't want anyone to say (to paraphrase an old saying), "Those who can do, those who can't write the FAQ." 5.4) FAQ maintainers mailing list As a FAQ maintainer, you might want to consider joining the faq-maintainers mailing list. This is used for discussing issues related to the *.answers newsgroups and the maintenance of FAQs. There is also a faq-maintainers-announce list, which is used only for announcements. Subscribers to the faq-maintainers list automatically receive messages sent to faq-maintainers-announce. Traffic on the faq-maintainers list is sporadic and the topics eclectic. Sometimes I feel that this mailing list is really useful, other times I have no use for it whatsoever. Lately, the traffic has been heavy and the topics varied, some interesting and some not so interesting (in my opinion). Try it out for yourself and see if you get anything out of it. You can always terminate your subscription if you don't find it useful (don't try asking for your money back though :-). You may send a subscription request for either one of these lists whenever you want. Please send an Email request to email@example.com with a short message in the body specifying which list you would like to subscribe to. The faq-maintainers list is not restricted to only those who have [approved] FAQs that are posted to news.answers. Anyone who is interested in the fine points of FAQ writing/maintaining is invited to participate in the discussions. If you are considering putting a FAQ together, even if you don't intend on getting it approved, the faq-maintainers list is a valuable source of information, and a good place to ask questions. 6) ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the following individuals who have helped and contributed to this document: Jonathan Horen (a real personality in his own right) for his brilliant technical support and who has finally stopped calling me a Techno-Wimp just because I don't know UNIX Pamela Greene, Ping Huang (a true gentleman and a scholar), Thomas Koenig, Aliza Panitz, and the rest of the news.answers moderation team for their valuable help in getting my various FAQs approved for news.answers and for providing important suggestions to this document Mark Moraes (the news.announce.newusers moderator) for his valuable contributions and continuing support The subscribers to the FAQ Maintainers mailing list who from time to time provide valuable insight and who are always there when help is needed Mark Israel (the maintainer of the alt.usage.english FAQ) who pointed out a lot of errors a long time ago that I finally got around to fixing a short time ago! Carl Aude for his suggestions about copyrights. You, my readers for your support and encouragement, I'm glad I was able to help My three rug rats (son Menachem, and daughters Michal and Edya) for your "Frequently Asked (stupid?) Questions" :-) Special thanks to my Mom and Dad (Gloria and Morton Hersch) who never hear from me because I'm always busy with my FAQs. I'm writing a FAQ about myself to send to them, so they'll know what I'm up to. __________________________________________________________ I disclaim everything. The contents of this article might be totally inaccurate, inappropriate, misguided, or otherwise perverse - except for my name (you can probably trust me on that). Copyright (c) 1995 by Russell Hersch, all rights reserved. This FAQ may be posted to any USENET newsgroup, on-line service, or BBS as long as it is posted in its entirety and includes this copyright statement. This FAQ may not be distributed for financial gain. This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections or compilations without express permission from the author. ----------------------------------- Russ Hersch - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com