FAQs/HowTos/Writeups - A [temporary] solution
Since a solution has not been found for a more permanent FAQ/HowTo has yet to be found/implemented I decided to go ahead and come up with an, at least temporary, solution that we can do with the forums as they are.
When you have a FAQ/HowTo/Writeup I am going to suggest this as the basic modus operandi. I do technical writing where I work, and I am adapting some of the basis that we use for that here.
- Step 1. Be thorough. Document everything you do during the process. Even if you think something is a given, write it down and include it in the writeup. Nothing is more frustrating than coming to a step that was not included and spending half an hour baffled why you can't get that part off.
- Step 2. Take LOTS of pictures of the process. This is best if you have a digital camera with a preview screen that you can verify the shots are good and show what you want them to. I am going to suggest avoiding the use of a camera phone unless it is your only option. I know this is snobish, but camera phones just typically take appalling pictures compared to real cameras.
- Step 3. Image hosting. You will in fact need to host the images somewhere on the internet in order to get them to display in your post using [img] tags. That being said, my first step will be to re-host your images on the gencoupe server. The reason being that this way we can ensure that those images never dissapear some day when you have moved on to bigger and better and delete your imageshack account.
- Step 4. Think everything through before writing anything. Make sure that you have not forgotten anything. This harkens back to step 1 really. We just want to be sure that your writeup is easy to follow and understand.
- Step 5. Type up the writeup in notepad. Notepad? really? why? Simple. This will allow you to take your time writing it. You can take several days if you would like, perfecting it and making sure that everything is covered. Wherever you will be inserting an image, just note there that there will be an image. Once you are finished you can simply post your new writeup in a matter moments. This also avoids the possibility that half way through your incredibly detailed writeup (remember steps 1 and 4?) you accidentally lose your post and have to start over. Notepad has a save button . Further, you can have a copy in your records for the future, this is always nice to have.
- Step 5-b. This is most likely the single biggest point that I can make. Be professional! Do not use slang or "net speak" words in your writeup. Remember that this is an instructional article, and as such should live up to standard of writing. This includes spell check and proper grammar. I am a grammar nazi and I will ask you to correct these things before I include it in the stickies.
- Step 6. gencoupe.com Welcome to the site! Don't click that post button! The button you are looking for is actually labeled "Search". Make sure that there is not already another writeup or post dealing with this issue/topic. (Ideally this would have been Step 0, but I am mentioning it NOW because it has to happen here too for safety)
- Step 7. Post! NOW you can click that post button.
- Step 8. Selecting your topic statement. Ahh such a simple task, or is it? The topic of the post should be descriptive and understandable, yet not so long that it is cumbersome. This is actually more important than you may think. A new user should be able to tell by scanning topic statements what that post is about without any guess work. They should not need to even search as long as they browse the topics.
- Step 8-b. When you enter the topic prepend [HowTo], [FAQ], or [Writeup] at the beginning of the topic. I will use this to help identify posts that should be included in the listing sticky that I will be writing. Further, once you are done with the writeup and it has been posted use the "Report Post" function to send a note to all moderators and Admins that you have written a new writeup. Enter in the reason indicating that it is a new writeup so we don't look at it and say "there's nothing wrong with this post??", lol.
- Step 9. Enter your writeup. This should be pretty simple and straight forward since you just need to copy and paste from notepad (because you listened to me in step 5, right?) At this point you can replace your image placeholders with the actual [img] tags and you should be ready to make it so. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Drink it in in all it's glory.
- Step 10. step 10?? Yeah, step 10. This is where your work is done, but the moderators work begins. It is at this point that I log in and notice a new [HowTo] post (because you paid attention to step 8-b of course) and I lock that and move any replied to another, new thread. Yep, locked. My plan is to include the writeup in a sticky and then leave the writeup thread locked to avoid it ever possibly going off topic. I will edit it and include a link at the bottom to the discussion thread, however, so that questions can still be referenced. I will also edit the first post in the discussion thread to include a link back to the writeup for reference.
I have not decided if I want to make a single thread sticky that includes ALL of the writeups at this point, then uses links in the first post as a sort of table of contents or not. I am leaning toward not. I do not want all of the writeups stickied though, as that would be quite rowdy quite fast I am sure.