Originally the term FAQ referred to the Frequently Answered Questions,
and listed answers that had previously been posted to the mailing list.
The word now is usually considered Frequently Asked Question and the
compilation of questions and answers was known as a FAQ list or some
similar expression. Today "FAQ" is more frequently used to refer to the
list, and a text consisting of questions and their answers is often called
a FAQ regardless of whether the questions are actually frequently asked
(if asked at all). This is done to capitalize on the fact that the concept
of a FAQ has become fairly familiar online - documents of this kind are
sometimes called FAAQs (Frequently Asked and Anticipated Questions).
In some cases informative documents not in the traditional FAQ style
have also been called FAQs, videogame FAQs in particular. A number
of online repositories of videogame FAQs have emerged in recent years
(such as CheatCodes.com and GameFAQs), where most so-called "FAQs"
have nothing in common with the meaning of the name, but are often
instead rather detailed descriptions of gameplay, including tips, secrets,
and beginning-to-end guidance. Rarely are videogame FAQs in a question-
and-answer format, although they may contain a short section of
questions and answers in this format.
Over time, the accumulated FAQ across all USENET news groups sparked
the creation of the "*.answers" moderated newsgroups such as
comp.answers, misc.answers, sci.answers, etc. for crossposting and
collecting FAQ across respective comp.*, misc.*, sci.* newsgroups.
The term "FAQ", and the idea behind it, has spread offline as well, even
to areas not related to the Net at all. Even bottles of bicycle chain
lubricant have been marketed with accompanying leaflets titled as a "FAQ".
There are thousands of FAQs available on many subjects. Several sites
catalog them and provide search capabilities—for example, the Internet
In the World Wide Web, FAQ nowadays tend to be stored in content
management systems (CMS), or in simple text files. Since 1998, a high
number of specialized software has emerged, mostly written in Perl or
PHP. Some of them are integrated in more complex software applications,
others, like phpMyFAQ can be both run as a stand-alone-FAQ and
integrated into web applications. The purpose of FAQ are to inform
the website visitor of questions to inform them of changes or curiosity.
Recently, the term FAQQER has become more popular, but has two possible
uses. The original definition was of someone who typically asked a lot of
questions. The abbreviation has also been applied to users who have built
up a level of knowledge to allow them to frequently answer questions.