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FAQs can be extremely helpful when used in context and well maintained. The “shift in point of view” has never bothered me when using an FAQ page. It’s expected…in my opinion.

“…if users are asking the same questions so frequently, then there is an obvious gulf between their needs and the site content.” Definitely if you’re talking about questions such as, “How do I contact customer service?” Contact information should be easy to find. But more detailed or technical questions about a product or service that isn’t managed on the website itself, can be a perfect fit for an FAQ page.

To be honest, I don’t see FAQs as inherently bad. Like all web content, if it’s useful and current, great. If not, lose it. Of course, then someone will need to make that determination!