MATLAB Answers

Is the Answers sections becoming a glorified Newsgroup?

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I was under the impression that the Answers Forum and the Newsgroup Forum were to be two distinct entities.
The Newsgroup answering folks questions on issues with specific Matlab issues to their problems and the Answers Forum offering more global issues with respect to Matlab.
It seems to me that the majority of submissions to the Answers forum should be submitted to the Newsgroup and in a lot of cases, desperate folks are posting to both.
So, my general question to this group, is there any value to the Answers forum?
As a professional, trying to promote Matlab in my field, I am finding the two forums starting to compete for my time. As a professional, time is limited. I do not want to have to search two forums.
I think Answers was a nice try, but without some sort of control on what is posted, this is simply becoming a second Newsgroup.
So, I ask again, what value is there in having two forums when one when works?


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Accepted Answer

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 4 Jul 2013
The Answers forum is intended to be MATLAB / Simulink specific, and is not intended to be a location for discussions of theory and algorithms. It was not intended to be anything about "global issues with respect to MATLAB".
The Answers forum is controlled by Mathworks, as is the software that runs it. The rules are Mathworks' rules. Mathworks works to enhance the presentation software to provide convenience and value. The Answers forum is monitored by volunteers and postings that are clearly inappropriate (such as Turkish streaming soccer) are removed. However, the volunteers are not usually strict when it comes to algorithms and theory, especially for smaller algorithms and small bits of theory. Postings that ask big algorithm or theory questions are sometimes replied to saying to do the research, sometimes "closed", and often just left sitting there until someone gets some Round Tuits.
The Newsgroup is not under an anyone's control. Usenet is more or less cooperative distributed anarchy. If someone posts to the MATLAB newsgroup asking for the history of The Hamburgler, there is not much that can be done. The guidelines for the MATLAB Newsgroup were established long ago and are probably mostly obsolete and are mostly ignored anyhow. There is a software protocol for the exchange of Usenet messages from system to system, but there are no standards for what client readers should do, and not much room to make meaningful improvements.


Marc on 6 Jul 2013
Not to harp on this... Although I tend to do that... Your point on who controls the forums makes my point even more. If the Mathworks is able to control content on the Answers forum, you would think that they would want information on how to make their product better for the customer.
On the other hand, us doing homework for others is not so much their concern. A nice feature, albeit. Free technical service. Over the 15+ years I have used Matlab, I have found CSSM as an invaluable part of my Matlab evolution. Folks like yourself, Bruno, John D.E., Fig, etc. etc. etc. have helped my own code get more usable and efficient.
If it was up to me, I would try and keep those resources, the unofficial experts helping this community, day in and day out on ONE forum.
Anyway, always happy to hear your thoughts. Hope the MacBook Pro is treating you well....

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More Answers (1)

Jan on 4 Jul 2013
Edited: Jan on 4 Jul 2013
It is an interesting opinion, that the two platforms are thought for different issues. I do cannot find an evidence for this. But of course there has been a specific intention for opening the Answers forum, which should make a difference to the existing CSSM:
- Spam and unrelated threads can be deleted - Code, links and text can be formatted and images can be embedded - The hierarchical structure of questions versus comments and answers improves the readability - Editing of the postings improves the quality
In consequence the signal to noise ratio is higher than in CSSM. Initially there was the hope, that Answers has such a high density of information, that it can be used as a kind of database of solutions. But the community did not support this aim completely and today you find many homework questions here. The intention, that repeated questions are avoided because the users search in the forum before they ask a question, was unrealistic also, unfortunately. We still have the same high frequency of questions, which are explained exhaustively in the FAQ already:
  • Create variables A1, A2, ... in a loop
  • 0.3-0.2-0.1 ~= 0
  • save File versus save(File) versus save('File')
  • Please solve my homework
The chance to add graphics is limited by the fact, that the files must be hosted externally, but many file hoster keep the data for some months only. When the pictures vanish, the corresponding threads are junk only.
The voting system has some benefits, which are not very important for the quality of the forum in my opinion, but interesting for some users. This has been discussed repeatedly, so I do not go into details here.
My impression is, that Answers is CSSM 2.0: A much better interface for the same problems. See also: Answers: Future of Answers and CSSM. Considering this, it is puzzleing, that bugfixes and improvements of the interface take about 6 to 12 month usually. I like the conservative maintenance of Matlab, but a forum should be managed much more dynamically. I see "Disabl" with a missing "e" for over a year now for toggeling the preview, which still is extremely slow under certain circumstances. Sigh.

  1 Comment

Marc on 5 Jul 2013
To Walter and Jan
I guess my point is that I see you guys answering on both forums, to very similar types of questions. It seems like answers is becoming the new newsgroup and I was wondering if that is the direction that was intended.
As for "global" I was referring to global Matlab stuff. I particularly liked Jan's question regarding Matlab's new interface and thought that this was the right place for that. When the Mathworks starts moving away from some functions in favor for newer (better?) ones (ie textread vs. textscan), again, answers not newsgroup.
Answering problems to specific sets of code, I thought the newsgroup was the right place...
That said, if we are "moving" the newsgroup to answers, fine. Just wondering were I should spend the majority of my limited time.

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