MATLAB Spoken Here

Introducing MATLAB Answers 13

Posted by Michael Katz,

This week I’d like to introduce guest poster Garth Mitchell from our product marketing team to tell you about our latest community product, MATLAB Answers.

We are excited to announce the recent launch of MATLAB Answers, which is a collaborative environment designed to allow you to get the best answers to your programming questions about MathWorks products.

MATLAB Answers makes it easy to ask and answer questions because it provides you with the ability to:

  • Select the best answers to your questions
  • Vote up the best answers
  • Gain reputation by contributing questions and answers

Since this is the first release more features will be added later, but the application is currently robust enough to handle your Q&A needs. That being said, go ahead and try out this new application and let us know what you think.

Editor’s note: I’ve already “constructively used” quite a bit of time on the site. It’s a lot of fun, but right now a bit heavy on MathWorks employees answering questions. I recommend that you try both asking and answering a question. Be sure to send any feedback you have to files@mathworks.com.

13 CommentsOldest to Newest

What about the existing Usenet newsgroup comp.soft-sys.matlab? There’s a wealth of information there, it would be useful to link to it from here, or to migrate the archives to the Matlab Answers site.

@Arnout,

MATLAB Answers is meant to compliment comp.soft-sys.matlab. The newsgroup is great for long discussions as well as questions and answers. MATLAB Answers is just just for questions and answers and has the added ability for the question-asker to choose the answer that worked, and for participants to earn reputation.

So far some people have preferred one system to the other, and I expect both will continue to provide value for a long time.

MATLAB Answers may be becoming a pleasant environment for vendor curated community support with a low barrier to asking questions. The present implementation supports editing and correction of questions, answers and comments, but does not appear to store a history of the edits. Adding access to view edits (e.g., source control or a wiki) could lead to better appearing final answers, more coherent discussions (one could view comments as a function of time as exemplified by Google Wave), and prevent multiple answers by the same user such as “Oh, this one is even better! No wait, check this one out!” I consider MATLAB answers to be a good start and look forward to its further adoption and development.

I just found a kind of problem, it seems that some people use MATLAB Answers like they use a Web search engine, they ask and wait for a response that suits their needs, never saying thank you or using the system to select the accepted response or voting on the responses, maybe because the system is too easy to use or there are too many users helping.

Who can really accept responses? the person who ask the first question? the admins? both?

@John, @Jonas, @Hy,
Right now Answers does not have a ton of functionality, but we have a long list of enhancements that will be rolled out over the next few weeks/months (like RSS). In particular the advantage that MATLAB Answers will have over other sites is that it will eventually be able to pull in information from other areas of our website and MATLAB Central.

I’d be interested to know what is so wrong with Stackoverflow that you felt that you had re-implement it here. What are you going to be able to achieve that Stackoverflow can’t? because at the moment it just appears to be “not invented here syndrome”. Is there any intention to use the registered user base for marketing purposes.

At least a tacit acknowledgement of Stackoverflow as inspiration would have been appreciated.

Adrian

I agree with above that this is a crude replica of stackoverflow. Why did you do this? I guess you wanted more control over the answers suggesting numpy/scipy?

By the way, your tab sequence in this webpage is horrible. If you press tab in name field, it goes to search, not email.

@Paulo,
Currently, the only person who can accept an answer is the person that originally asked the question since s/he would be the best to judge if their question was fully answered. Getting people to accept their answers is a tougher group-psychology question, but our community team is working on some solutions.

@Adrian,
We do acknowledge StackOverflow as inspiration, and we right now provide one big bonus that SO does not, and that is MathwWorks staff to help answer questions. In the future we’ll be able to incorporate more of our MATLAB and Simulink technologies to enhance the site to make it more specific to our products.

Our marketing staff respects your contact/privacy settings of your account.

@Muiboso,
Thank you for that feedback, I’ll let our web guys know.

@Mike
There’s an obvious way to cheat the current system, I saw someone posting a question (maybe more) and accepting his own answer, that answer was extra info about the problem, fortunately I pointed out that he shouldn’t do it and the accepted answer disappeared, I guess that there’s a way to change the choice, please don’t let people accept their own answers.

I don’t know exactly how the system works but before letting someone accept an answer please display a dialog box with a good explanation and asking the user if he really thinks that the answer is the best in there, YES or NO style.

Another bad experience with the system is the way we can manage code, it’s a nightmare formatting it because there’s nothing in there to show us where it begins or ends, no obvious tag/mark on our text after we press the code button, this is specially important for many lines of code, happens many times because of comments on the code.

Also it would be useful to vote down questions, this would be great when people use titles like “urgent” and don’t provide enough details on what they want.

Sorry but to claim that your Answers big bonus is having Mathworks employees responding which SO does not, is a little disingenuous. Especially when at least two of your high profile bloggers, Doug and Loren, have been very active on SO for a number of years. Although it was disppointing to see that after a number of valuable contributions, some this year, that Doug has now posted that he is no longer active on SO. So forgive me if I seem a little jaundiced but it doesn’t appear to be as altruistic as you’d like us to believe. It just seems a shame to me that this seems to be fragmenting the knowledge pool, I don’t have time to monitor two sites and given that MATLAB is not my sole language I’ll be sticking with SO. Best of luck with your endeavour.

These postings are the author's and don't necessarily represent the opinions of MathWorks.