Thanks for the feedback guys. I agree what you are suggesting is better than what I came up with. However I did think about such solutions and ended up deciding not to make such changes for this specific jira, a summary why:
1) Originally I nearly implemented what Suresh suggests, which is a great idea, but decided against it because of the reason Todd mentioned (offline deployments), the fact that no such faq already existed (I checked both the faq and the troubleshooting guide on the wiki), and finally because afaict none of the existing screens are linking out to such docs. I didn't want to introduce new functionality here, just address the jira.
2) newbie users are the most likely to make this mistake. If you're more experience with hadoop you're also more likely to know what other issues could have caused this, or at least where to look. So having a big long list didn't seem that important.
3) I could have introduced a new "faq" page, however I decided against that because I didn't want to duplicate information that rightly should be in the wiki (faq).
4) I had limited time, I'm a hadoop "newbie", I wanted to address the issue at hand. Philo's comment "perfect enemy of good".
I'd be happy if someone else were to create another jira that addresses this at a higher level (adds a faq, external links, whatever) and as a results wipes out my change, but short of that happening I'll re-submit this as a short term fix. If it doesn't meet your approval at least I can say I tried. Thanks!