This document will describe the alt.usage.english FAQ structure; the documents that make up that structure; and the software and procedures that are used to maintain those documents.

FAQ Structure

The alt.usage.english FAQ structure has the following components:

Search Utilities

The inconvenience of having FAQ information spread over a number of different documents is mitigated to a large extent by the provision of search utilities that will search all hypertext files at the AUE Web site on any desired word.   You can read about, and use, these search utilities at

Component Descriptions

Mark Israel's 1997 AUE FAQ

The version of Mark Israel's 1997 AUE FAQ at the AUE Web Site is maintained with the following guidelines kept in mind:

Each item in the FAQ Table of Contents is a hyperlink to the corresponding item in the text.

The full AUE FAQ is at <>.

The "Fast FAQ" version of Mark Israel's 1997 AUE FAQ

The Fast FAQ version of Mark Israel's FAQ contains all of the material that is in the full FAQ that is described above.  Each piece of the document that corresponds to an item in the Table of Contents has been placed in a separate file.  This makes it possible to access individual items in the FAQ without having to download the entire FAQ document.  Downloading the full FAQ can take several minutes.  Retrieving an item in the Fast FAQ structure can be done in seconds.

The Fast FAQ is at <>. The Fast-FAQ links are also provided in the "Intro F" document at <

"Intro" Documents

The Intro documents are intended to bring information in concise form to AUE readers who may not want to take the time to peruse the other FAQ documents.   This information consists of summaries of frequently discussed topics, pointers to language-related reference material, and other helpful items.   The Intro documents are posted in the newsgroup on a rotating basis, one every two days.  There are seven documents, so each one gets posted every 14 days.  They are also converted to HTML format and installed at the AUE Web Site.  If an Intro document has a table of contents, each item in that table is converted to a hyperlink to the corresponding material in the document.  An introduction to the Intro documents, with a hyperlink to each document, is at <>.

The "AUE FAQ Supplement"

The AUE FAQ Supplement is intended to be the current FAQ for alt.usage.english.  Its purpose is to cover frequently discussed topics that are not covered in Mark Israel's FAQ.   It also provides a variety of items that are not frequently discussed topics, but are thought to be of interest to AUE readers.  There is as yet no Fast-FAQ equivalent of the AUE FAQ Supplement, although some thought has been given to the idea of implementing one.

The AUE FAQ Supplement is at <>.

Any reader of AUE is invited to submit new material for incorporation into the AUE FAQ structure.  If you think there is a frequently discussed topic that should be covered in a FAQ, either the Supplement or one of the Intro documents is the place for it.  To discuss adding an item to the Supplement or to one of the Intro documents, send e-mail to <[email protected]> or <[email protected]>, respectively.

Maintenance Software

I have implemented Perl scripts to perform the following functions:

For anyone who wants to look at the scripts now, or for the use of someone who may want to use them for FAQ maintenance when I am no longer available, I have archived the Perl scripts at
<> and
<>.   I find that I can retrieve them with the "Save As" function in Netscape.  For some reason, they come out double-spaced.  This shouldn't keep them from working, though.   I will probably, eventually, refine the scripts to make them more user friendly.  If and when I do, I'll install the revised scripts at the locations I've given above.

Descriptions of these Perl scripts follow:

This script takes as input a file named "intro-<x>>.txt", where "<x>" stands for one of the letters "a" through "g".  It converts the text file to an HTML file with the name "intro-<x>>.html".  Directories for the input and output files are hard-coded in the Perl script.  The input file consists of the body of the Intro document as posted to the newsgroup.  When the Perl script is executed, it prompts "Which?", to which the response is one of the letters "a" through "g".  It takes a few seconds to generate the HTML file.

I'm going to defer the description of this script.  It does okay what I want to do with it at present.  Whenever I make changes to the file au970929.mod, I run this script to generate all of the Fast-FAQ files and the full hypertext FAQ.  This takes about eight seconds.  (Using FTP to upload the new files to the AUE Web site takes considerably longer, but it runs unattended.)  The script needs work, though, in some areas that I haven't been using.   It also needs to have deleted some things it's doing that I no longer want to do.   After I finish cleaning up the script, I'll complete the description of it here.   Let me mention at this time, though, that while the source-file name "au970929.mod" is hard-coded in the script, this can be changed to any file that follows strictly the formatting of Mark Israel's FAQ.  I'll identify the formatting requirements in my complete description of the script.

This file was written by Bob Cunningham 19 December 2000 01:26 GMT.