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Xfind is Expanding: Questions & Answers

Bernd Pollermann and Andreas Wagner , IT/User Support

Before coming to the main subject of this article, a quick word about the new top page of xfind, i.e. what is got from It has been redesigned (using Javascript) to show immediately all the areas in which xfind can search and, at the same time, to allow you to restrict the search to one (or more) areas.

This is what you get when you call xfind:

CERN home page CERN home page The Consult page The Consult page This page This page

Search and View services, IT-documentation and more
Search Areas:
      Books    CNLs    ShortWrups
      Writeups    QAs    Services

As you can see, by default all areas are selected. This is usually adequate if you specify sufficiently restrictive keywords (especially if you give more than one). However, if you are only interested in a particular area, you can easily select just this area and thus get a more "precise" answer.

Example: If you are looking just for an answer to a question/problem you encounter in your work, rather than a full document, your choice would be the QAs (Question & Answer) area of xfind. To select it you would

The Questions & Answers in Xfind

In the recent months considerable work has been invested into our Questions & Answer collection and we believe that users could profit from what is already there. This article will make you more familiar with this part of xfind and encourage you to give it a try.
What are the Questions & Answers?
A searchable collection of Web pages consisting of a (relatively) short question and an answer to this question. The questions are usually quite specific and the answers will just answer the question and only rarely point to more general information.
What are the questions about?
About everything any user may ask during her/his work with computers at CERN.
How many Questions & Answers are there?
1725 at the time this CNL-article was written.
Will there be more?
Yes, by hosting collections of other QA providers and constantly creating new QAs our collection will grow constantly. We are aiming at about 10000.
What is the difference between the Questions & Answers and a "FAQ"?
They cover all (rather than specific) areas in computing and may also contain questions which have been asked rarely (but can be extremely useful when available).
Where do the Questions & Answers originate from?
Mainly from you, the users! The QAs have either been directly asked at the Computing Helpdesk and - after some editing - fed into the QA-database or they have been composed by members of the User Support group (and User Support oriented colleagues in other groups) on the basis of user questions.
What is the typical audience for the QAs?
Difficult to say. In principle everyone. However, as the answers will just answer the question, a beginner may not always be able to fully profit. On the other hand, in well defined cases, the answer will be complete (eg. by giving the exact command to type) which will satisfy everybody's needs.
Are they all up-to-date?
A thorny question! Obviously, with (in the future) many thousand questions to deal with we cannot possibly check all questions all the time. Several strategies will help us to keep the quality at a high level:
  • make it very easy for every person in charge to update/correct QAs via Web-tools
  • share the reponsibility for the QAs with a large number of colleagues
  • facilitate the feedback as much as possible, and encourage the users to use it
Should I give feedback?
Yes, Yes and Yes
We really need your feedback on all levels! Design of the QAs, missing QAs or QAs which are unclear, wrong or out-of-date. Do not hesitate to let us know via the feedback link, available into both the top pages as well as every single QA! We appreciate, of course, also feedback on the feedback-mechanism itself.
How can I use best the Questions & Answers?
The first way is via xfind in the way described at the beginning of this article. However, the QAs have also their own top page via having the same functionality as the xfind page with the selection.
How does the search work for the QAs?
The search is extremely simple: no confusing options, just a simple logical AND in case you specify more that one keyword.
When should I use the QAs?
Preferably before you phone or mail the Computing Helpdesk!

For matters related to this article please contact the author.

Last Updated on Fri Sep 24 18:02:57 GMT+03:30 1999.
Copyright © CERN 1999 -- European Laboratory for Particle Physics