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(March 22, 1999)
An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page is common to websites. As the name indicates, the page is a list of, well, frequently asked questions. The answers are there too, often with links to webpages or websites that contain more detailed information.
The FAQ page serves two purposes: it gives the user a quick way to find the answer to commonly asked questions; and it gives the webmaster (or whoever answers the mail from a website e-mail account) a break from having to answer the same questions over and over.
UConnWeb does not yet have an FAQ page - a page that would pose and answer the commonly asked questions about the University. In part that's because the task has loomed as rather a large one, and in part because there hasn't been a big demand. "Where's your FAQ?" is not one of the most frequently asked questions about UConnWeb.
Still, there is a need. As webmanager for UConnWeb, I answer the daily e-mail that comes to the generic UConnWeb and webmaster addresses. The most common questions from that source used to be about undergraduate and graduate admissions and athletics. One year ago, however, the Comments/E-mail page on UConnWeb was updated and explanatory text and mail-to links were added to take users directly to the admissions offices and athletics.
Since then, what are the most commonly asked questions? They are still about undergraduate and graduate admissions. They have tapered off, but some users are either not catching the direct links or just like filling out the form. Athletics questions have almost dried up.
While there hasn't been an outcry for an FAQ, the need is there. It will help people not familiar with UConn's structure and programs quickly find the basic information they want. And so a volunteer committee of webmasters from throughout the University has begun working to develop the FAQ.
There are already some FAQs at various websites within UConnWeb, covering a variety of topics. For example, there is an extensive FAQ on the Registrar's site (http://www.registrar.uconn.edu), answering questions about transcripts, add and drop, and a host of other issues relating to course registration. How do you rename a file on the University's mainframe computer? Check out the Computer Center FAQ at http://vm.uconn.edu/~uccfaqs/fmf.html. Questions about housing are answered at the DRL website (http://www.drl.uconn.edu/homepage/new_faq.htm).
The first thing members of the FAQ group did was to conduct an online survey of more than 30 of UConn's peer institutions (public Research I institutions) to see how they structure their overall FAQ. What we found was that very few colleges and universities have an overall FAQ. If there is one, it's often on an admissions page and deals mostly with issues regarding admissions.
As the group continues to work, we will be examining some questions compiled by Student Affairs, and the vast array of statistical information maintained by the Office of Institutional Research.
And the committee could use your help in compiling a comprehensive list of questions about the University. What do you find is the most frequently asked question about the University? Maybe "How do I apply?" Or would it be "How do I get to the campus?" Or perhaps it's "Where do I park?"
These are the obvious questions, but what is obvious to one may not be to another. What questions are you most frequently asked about the University? Send your top five or 10 questions via e-mail to me at: email@example.com Or write them down and send them to: Mark J. Roy, U-4144.
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