What is / are CompFAQs?
CompFAQs is a wiki site, meant to be a space for collaborating on answers to questions we pose regularly as writing teachers and as administrators of writing programs. CompFAQs provides research-based answers to frequently asked questions; shares solutions to oft-appearing problems; enables the sharing of resources that address common needs. CompFAQs is not a single-authored site. It is a site that will grow and survive only if the composition community joins in the barn building.
An especial thanks goes to Christiane Donahue for beginning the International Writing Studies FAQ.
A brief history of CompFAQs:
In early October, 2005, in a WPA-L email exchange (WPA-L Archives) about “u-shaped learning curves” and regression and writing skills, Joe Williams observed that this was one of many questions about which “the research . . . [is] in such general agreement that one would think that it would constitute a point of received general knowledge in the field of comp, like the principle of DNA in biology” (Williams 10/4/05). In the same message, Williams wonders if these kinds of questions might be connected to CompPile, to point the way to the research that addresses the question, “not as a topic, but as a question that has been answered, or a problem that has been solved, with the relevant references” (Williams 10/4/05).
Rich Haswell replied, asking Williams how that CompPile connection might work. And Greg Colomb offered this suggestion:
I’ve recently developed a fantasy of an encyclopedic web site called “Recurring Questions, Settled and Not,” in which the endlessly enduring questions get little bibliographical essays that summarize the current state of the research. The essays would focus on the kind of practitioner’s issues that typically prompt such questions, but would also point to the research that licenses the answer—by listing classic or definitive works, by listing keyword combinations that will yield productive CompPile searches, and by pointing to relevant research in other disciplines. If the essays do reflect the current state of the research, they would make it obvious which questions are settled and which contested; and for contested ones, which positions are in fact supportable with research. (Colomb 10/5/05)
Haswell responds to Colomb: “I’m more than willing to make ‘Recurring Questions, Settled or Not’ a third part of the Archives section of CompPile, along with ‘Professional Resources’ and ‘Documents.’ It’s the sort of thing that someone knowledgeable about a particular area (e.g., a recent doctoral thesis writer) could quickly compose—much less daunting than the formal review-of-research article, though Lord knows our profession desperately needs more of thosez” (10/5/05).
Robert Royar suggested that “a name for this could be ‘CompZilla.’ It has elements of a bug-report tracker for composition research” (10/5/05). And the next day, Tim Gustafson suggested that “Another way to do this would be via a wiki, so that the recurring questions and their ‘settled-ness’ could be collaboratively composed by various people in the discipline who are knowledgeable about a particular area” (10/6/05).
Over the next few days, Rich, Tiane, and I decided to launch CompFAQs, a wiki extension of CompPile meant to serve the needs identified in the WPA-L email exchange. For the first CompFAQ, Christiane (Tiane) Donahue developed an extensive resource for International Composition Studies, and we think it serves as an exemplary model of one way that CompFAQs can serve the profession. Rich developed a resource for “Regression and Writing Skills”; and we posted two other resources that were developed in response to questions on WPA-L in the past few weeks: “Writing Majors” and “Composition and Emotion” (a bibliography compiled by Ian Montgomery from postings to WPA-L in early October).