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Noting a post in a separate thread today by Vern Edwards on adding a FAQ area for WIFCON I would like to suggest an alternative.

How about a "How to Use WIFCON Before You Post" pop-up for when a person first registers to use the forum. The same could be posted elsewhere as a reminder. It could give some quick points about posts, content, etc. It would take a little smithing but here are a few ideas to start....

1. Before you post your question try using the WIFCON search engine for the "Forums" to research your question before creating a new thread.

2. Remember your questions should be brief but provide valuable info such as are you asking from a Government or Contractor point of view....(others? I am sure there are some that fit).

For what it is worth on extending Vern's proposed idea.

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I have a few other suggestions for the pop up.

1. Do not assume everyone knows the acronyms.

2. Describe the research that was done.

3. Avoid general questions when you are concerned about a specific situation (e.g., don't ask when an award fee type contract is appropriate when you are concerned about an award fee for a fixed price supply contract; others can probably give better examples).

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Guest Vern Edwards

The longer the instructions get, the less likely that people will read them. The best way to ask a question is to start with the question, written as clearly, directly, and succinctly as possible (which is hard to do), and then say what you're doing that makes you want to know the answer, this latter being the context. I'm not much interested in reading a research history.

What I wanted when I suggested an FAQ page was to give people a way to look at answers to questions that have been asked and answered a hundred times already, like questions about multiple award IDIQ contracts, GSA FSS contracts, small business size standards, and small business subcontracting limitations, contract types. price evaluation, etc.

Wifcon Forum has become mainly a contracting for dummies (a la "Ask A Professor") help desk. The main users are (a) the clueless who are without resources (and maybe without imagination) and ( b ) the 15 or so people who answer their questions. Let's make it as easy for the clueless as possible by telling them what questions have already been asked and answered.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well Edwards, I've learned a lot on federal contracting through the Wifcon Forums, and I don't consider myself a dummy.

Cosign here. I don't post often, but Vern and many other people's analysis here is essential reading for me. I strongly recommend to the specialists that I work with that they read this site.

Put me in the category of not minding the basic questions because I think the people that post here have shown some interest in being a pro at contracting. I think that's half the battle.

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Guest Vern Edwards

Everyone using the site, or who encourages others to use it, must understand that Wifcon is very democratic in the sense that anyone, anyone at all, can post an answer to a question. What makes Wifcon problematic is that newbies are in no position to judge the answers that have been given.

What makes Wifcon better than Ask A Professor is that anyone can challenge an answer that has been posted and someone is almost certain to challenge an answer they think is bad. So newbies have to be able and willing to follow a debate through to its end. Sometimes a discussion will go on for days before someone finally jumps in with a good answer.

I think there are fewer than 10 people who regularly post decent answers. Most of the regulars are pretty good, although some simply won't learn the importance of citing something in support of their answer instead of simply asserting this or that. Moreover, there is a subtle competition among answerers that sometimes prompts hasty responses. I'm sometimes guilty of that myself. All citations to case law should be taken with a heavy grain of salt, since most posters do not know how to do case law research properly and don't have the tools to do it properly. Besides, anyone who has too healthy a respect for case law, especially GAO "case law," is foolish.

Some might be surprised to know that I discourage newbies from going to Wifcon for answers. You learn best by doing your own homework. I consider Wifcon a form of professional entertainment. It's good for what it is, but what you really can learn here is not the right answers to questions but (1) how to formulate better questions, (2) what makes some answers better than others, and (3) how to argue. Of all of the skills of a contracting person, the most important skills are the ability to think well, write clearly, and argue effectively. I've been working at it a long time, and I'm still trying to learn how to do it properly. I sometimes think that I never will, and now that I'm getting up there I worry that I'm not even as good as I once was, which wasn't all that great by the highest standards.

Yes, Wifocn is Contracting for Dummies. Whether you should be ashamed of being a dummy depends on how long you've been at the task. I like to quote Solzhenitsyn about this: "You can't know everything in the world. Whatever happens, you'll die a fool."

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