I've been on this site for over a month now and have noticed several fundamental issues regarding the FAQ. The purpose of this post is to elucidate these issues or wait for other users to tell me to hush.
Rules or FAQ?
The general usage of the FAQ (exclusive of the StackExchange network) is a reference. It is used as a guide when things are not clear and obvious. While I have never used a question-and-answer site before, I read everything I could before posting my first answer and question. Fortunately, likewise with most people, I realised that the so-called rules actually reside within the FAQ.
While containing guidelines inside the FAQ is fine for the majority of people who are considerate and strive to behave 'correctly' on this site, there is still a large number of people who the FAQ as a secondary reference (or not at all) and then find their question closed within minutes for asking something off-topic.
I understand that 'rules' itself is a strong term - independently, the FAQ contains guidelines on what is permissible, but yet questions get closed promptly because people don't adhere to the rules in the FAQ; in this case, they are hard-and-fast rules.
Suggestion: make the rules more distinct or force each newcomer to read the rules section of the FAQ before posting a question. It is true they will learn inevitably, but let's go one step further and properly define what is and isn't accepted here from the beginning.
Accepting an Answer
The FAQ states:
When you have decided which answer is the most helpful to you, mark it as the accepted answer by clicking on the check box outline to the left of the answer. This lets other people know that you have received a good answer to your question. Doing this is helpful because it shows other people that you’re getting value from the community. (If you don’t do this, people will often politely ask you to go back and accept answers for more of your questions!)
For this site, it is simply wrong. There are countless instances where a member will ask the original poster to accept more answers. This is always countered by another (more experienced) user or moderator stating that the acceptance rate is irrelevant to programmers.stackexchange.com.
Example: 2-3 weeks ago, Péter Török, possibly the fastest person to gain reputation on this site was in the position of asking the original poster to accept more questions. Anna Lear was the one who retorted, saying that accepting answers doesn't matter because this site is based on subjective discussions. This shouldn't have happened.
Based on the stackexchange model (here and here), this site is a self-regulating site (where the community sets the conventions). This results in advice (from experienced users) and direction (from the moderating team) which directly conflicts with what is stated in the FAQ.
Suggestion: change the FAQ.