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I've seen several answers lately that are using an FAQ-style Q&A-format within the answer. The answer ends up as a set of Q&A's within a Q&A.

Examples:

Thinking of switching to Ubuntu!

Why does apt-get require sudo?

The content of the answers themselves are fine, but am I the only one thinking this is not a great way to format our answers?

I argue that in most cases, the Q&A format in an answer:

  1. Makes the answer cluttered and actually harder to read.
  2. Draws focus to the sub-questions and away from the info being provided.
  3. Tends to cause the sub-questions to become very artificial and overly wordy, also making the answer harder to read and detracting from the content.
  4. Often become a substitute for clearly thinking out how the parts of your answer work together to create a coherent whole. This makes the answer less likely to be effective.

Judicious use of headings, in contrast, tend to frame important information or highlight cautions; and create better flow within an answer, helping the answer stay clear and concise.

I was tempted to just edit them, but I'm not looking for rollback wars; so I'm seeking consensus first.

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Especially when the question asked has several sub-questions or when the answering person wants to address single points of the question this format seems fine. It helps the reader to focus on the part that’s relevant for her.

If the rendering of the subtitles is optimal is another point (I personally don't care for big bold)

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I usually gently encourage one question at a time and try to help anyway. Some questions are really logical to hold in that kind of format like Broadcom Wireless troubleshooting.

Do I think it's a good pattern to have for many questions? No.

Do I think there are instances where it's good? Yes.

  • Exactly. It's the seeming spread of the format that worries me a little. Big orgs like this are fluid. Users replicate styles that they see others do, and (what I see as bad habits) can quickly become ingrained. I think your use in the kernel panic question in particular is excellent. The questions are normal size and subordinate to the numbered list. My goal here is not to ban a certain style but to raise awareness of how styles and formatting can dramatically change readability and effectiveness. – chaskes Mar 29 '14 at 6:47

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