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I just closed another "what should I write about" question, and left a note to the poster that questions asking what to write about are off-topic here. I directed the user to our FAQ, but our FAQ is long and sprawling. Have a look.

There's a lot to take in, particularly for users unfamiliar with Stack Exchange. It's an intimidating place for a new user to land.

I wrote a short summary paragraph explaining how Stack Exchange works. The new bits come directly after the first sentence:

Writers - Stack Exchange is for authors, editors, reviewers, bloggers, copywriters, professional and aspiring writers.

...and directly before the allowed and disallowed topics.

What do you think? Is this a decent summary of what Stack Exchange is about? Does it lead well into the list of allowed and disallowed topics? Did I make any mistakes? How can I make it shorter and clearer?

Edit: The only text we can change is immediately following the headline "What kind of questions can I ask here?" and up and not including the sentence "Please look around to see if your question has been asked before." The rest is not accesible to site mods.

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    >How can I make it shorter and clearer? - That's a question for the main site ;) – John Smithers May 8 '12 at 11:03
  • The irony is not lost on me. :) – Neil Fein May 8 '12 at 14:21
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For me the titles of the sections are misleading:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Writers - Stack Exchange is for authors, editors, reviewers, bloggers, copywriters, professional and aspiring writers.

Instead of wading through a lot of random discussion-board chat to get to the good stuff, the best answers are always voted to the top!

This page is huge! Do I have to read it all to use this site?
...

The question "what kind of questions" is not answered in the first section. A new question "Do I have to ..." is raised instead. Yes, it is subtitle of the bigger "What kind of questions" part, but that is not really visible. We do not answer the first question, we divagate. No good advertising for our own site.

All the stuff which is written there before the first question is really answered, should be in an "About" section. Move up the "ask - don't ask" part, so that the important stuff is at the head of the page directly under the corresponding question.

  • You're right, but unfortunately, that headline is hard-coded and there's no way for us to change it. And I have no ability to move the don't-ask stuff. The only text we can change is immediately following the headline "What kind of questions can I ask here?" and up and not including the sentence "Please look around to see if your question has been asked before." Any suggestions withinthose constraints? – Neil Fein May 8 '12 at 14:20
  • @NeilFein: Kick Jeff ;) - So you could put the sections "Questions on these topics are welcome here:" and "On the other hand, these kinds of questions aren't allowed here:" beneath the "What kind of question" header? – John Smithers May 8 '12 at 15:38
  • I'm trying to have a summary "above the fold" - i.e., what people will see when they open the FAQ. I'm assuming busy users may or may not actually scroll down. What can we do with that? – Neil Fein May 8 '12 at 20:55
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    @NeilFein: I call that a standard mistake (sorry about that). Above the fold should be essential information. A short summary is a good start, but emphasis is on "short". The existing one is too long. Essential for an asker is what to ask or what not to ask. So I would keep the two sentences at the beginning ("Writers - Stack Exchange is for ... always voted to the top!") and would then insert the "Questions on these topics are welcome here" section. The difference to other forums can be under the fold. – John Smithers May 8 '12 at 22:22
  • Making this shorter would be excellent. However, I think the bewildering list of topics being first was the problem: It had no context. But it does cut to the chase. Hmm. Proposal: A much shorter introduction before the list of topics, and the rest after it? Say, the paragraphs beginning with "You might want to at least skim it all" and "This site is about writing", then the "okay, I get it" section. What do you think? – Neil Fein May 8 '12 at 22:51
  • @NeilFein: First: kick out the "FAQ cheat sheet" link, because it's ridiculous (just click it). I think the whole "This page is huge" part is unimportant. You should trust people's intelligence more (yes, they are dumb, but nevertheless ;) People know that skimming through would be a good idea, that does not mean they do it, but well... We have enough context: The site is called "Writers", there is the "Writers is for..." paragraph. I really think you can skip the skimming part and go directly to "Ok, I get it", but rephrasing this header (because there is nothing to get anymore ;) – John Smithers May 9 '12 at 7:32
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    I had a few minutes, so I kicked out the FAQ Cheat Sheet, and did some reorganizing. I'm not done yet, I still need to go through your comments and edit on a more detailed level, so I'm not ignoring you, I promise. :) – Neil Fein May 14 '12 at 16:49

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