Ever try to write a FAQ?
It’s damned hard. I always wondered why there were so many crap half assed FAQs out there in the Internet world, and now I know why… it’s hard to write a good, informative, and complete one.
Currently I’m trying to co-author a FAQ for Sunbeam Coffeemasters, which are in the vacpot family (ed.note: siphon coffee makers for you folks in 2021 land). Yeah yeah, coffee crap again.
The Coffeemaster was as much a part of the 30s, 40s and 50s kitchen as a toaster or a kettle was. But do you see them in kitchens today? Nope. Why? Because they were crap? Naw… several reasons – one – they were a bit of a pain to clean, two – to mass produce them today would make them cost in the $300-$500 range, something most consumers wouldn’t pay, and three – percolators, then auto drip coffee makers (Mr. Coffee et al) killed off vacuum brewers like the Coffeemaster.
But they are having quite the revival amongst hardcore coffee lovers. Very unique looking devices, very kitchy, art deco, solid as a rock (the typical 4 pound Coffeemaster would make a great home robbery deterrent if it was thrown), and in good shape, they make superb coffee. The fact that so many are still used (and sold for good prices) today is a testament to their longevity and great tasting coffee.
I own 5 of them, in various states of repair. 3 are completely working units, two are for salvaging. My partner thinks I’m nuts, but hey, I know of at least three people who own 40 or more! Now that’s dedication! (or is it fanaticism? :-))
So I’m working with these people to write a FAQ for them because there’s a real dearth of info online about the Sunbeams, or vacuum pots in general (can you even imagine finding out something that isn’t talked about on the Web?? I mean, there’s a million porn sites about people who do the craziest, weirdest things during sex, yet not a single page on Sunbeam Coffeemasters or vacuum brewers worth a salt!), and we have run into so many roadblocks.
We are currently waiting to hear back from Sunbeam, the company, on many of the details, but like most corporations, they take their time. Probably have their lawyers pouring over it, trying to figure out if we have a hidden agenda or something 🙂
And you have to think about this for a second. By writing a FAQ, you’re setting yourself up as some kinda expert. You’re opening yourself up to criticism, especially if something in your FAQ is wrong. There’s actually quite a bit of pressure associated with writing a FAQ.
But not everyone feels this pressure. I’ve seen plenty of FAQs in my time that are so full of high and mighty bullshit it’s not funny. People who think they are the be all, end all of FAQs on their subjects. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, but I think that a fair amount of people don’t realize the responsibility that comes with writing one of these things, and they just toss them out, continuing the number one adage of the net: don’t believe 95% of what you read.
I’m under pressure a bit (by myself) to get this thing done well. I want it to be as accurate as possible. So I’m double and triple checking my facts. I’m doing research on the Net and in the library. I’m writing letters (not email, but old fashioned letters!). I hope someday to turn this FAQ into the be all, end all of vacuum brewer FAQs (baby steps for now… baby steps). But I want to do it right.
One thing I’ve learned just recently is that the Sunbeam company of today may not be the same Sunbeam company of the 1930s-1970s, and I’m looking into that right now, including some deep searches in records at my alma-mater, UBC and its library.
And that’s about it for now… till next time….