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CSSM is a valuable newsgroup.
Unfortunately it is not possible to embed graphics in CSSM posts, but the noise is a bigger problem:
The number of posts in CSSM has been growing from 1993 to 2010 a kind of exponential with a bump from 2004 to 2006. Then MATLAB Answers started at the beginning of 2011 (red line), and at the same time the number of CSSM posts broke down:
[EDITED: Diagram updated, 02-Jun-2012, Jan Simon] see About CSSM
I have the impression, that Answers is very near to be CSSM 2.0. Currently the communication follows the fixed question<->answer schema usually, but there have been some votings ( Vote if you want functions in scrips / don't want / don't care ), tutorials about this forum, games and wish lists. These meta-posts, which are actually no questions in the sense of a FAQ, got the highest number of votes.
In consequence I think, that there is an important demand for more general discussions in this forum. How can the interface be improved to fullfill this need? Should Answers grow up to Discussions?
We had a lot of very good ideas in the wish-list for MATLAB Answers - this is the thread with the most answers. The TMW team seems to follow the old and wise strategy not to implement new features hastily. While this is method is very efficient to create stable and reliable MATLAB releases, I'd be glad to see faster advances in this forum.
[EDITED] Related CSSM post: 311689
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"In consequence I think, that there is an important demand for more general discussions in this forum. How can the interface be improved to fullfill this need? Should Answers grow up to Discussions?"
If I recall correctly TMW gives weight to our opinions and I take the opportunity to renew my suggestion to vote on Wish-list for MATLAB Answer sections if you think that a tutorial section could be useful.
Obviously the idea has gotten wider and I would be happy to vote Jan's proposal on the wish list.
MATLAB Answers is still in the stage of "We'll make it available and see what evolves out of it". If we want it to be more "Discussions", then we can make it more Discussions. All we have to do is start, and to let it be known that we have changed the scope of what is supported here.
I wouldn't call "slow" old and wise. I wouldn't think it is that hard to implement some of the high demanding wish lists, such as better search engine, mark a question for my own interest, edit comments, etc. The order of "My Answers" is still not fixed. The response from the MATLAB Central team has been disappointing.
I do miss some of the long theory (not all of it necessarily related to ML) discussions on CSSM (Walter helps here) and I feel like I learned more from it, though Answers wasn't around for my exponential ML learning curve.
This forum is just so much easier to use (I'd get so aggravated waiting 25 minutes for a post to appear across CSSM; or if you made a typo, waiting 25 minutes, replying to fix the typo, waiting 25 more minutes). We can still have discussions here through comments and post updating, it just doesn't happen very often.
I'm also curious what the Answerer demographic will look like in a year here. I just finished my MS degree and will likely be done with MATLAB when my license expires, (unless I can convince/justify to my future employer that it's worthwhile). Others are certainly in the same boat as me and others have slowed down/quit entirely.
Maybe we should begin an obituary thread for retired Answerers?
I stopped posting in CSSM. That accounted for a third of the posts right there ;-)
@Walter, Oleg, Fangjun:
Thanks for participating in this thread. I'm still hoping that this forum is under development and future versions will consider the needs of the users. But this hope is getting smaller from month to month. Obviously TMW has other preferences.
Currently it seems, like MATLAB Answers can attract 5 to 15 frequent contributors. This is not a critical mass, which ensures the quality of the answers, if e.g. 8 people are on holidays at the same time or if a question concerns a rarely used toolbox.
Currently the noise (unformatted code, questions without details, missing motivation to read the doc or ask google) exceeds the hard scientific information. The externally hosted pictures are going to be dead links soon such that the corresponding questions loose their meaning - together with their answers.
There has been the idea of letting contributors with more than 1500 points edit the questions. At first this is not realized (at least I do not have the possibility to edit), at second I do not think that the most assidious posters should be responsible for the most tedious job of formatting the code of users, who do not care about the readability of their questions. So I'd prefer an improvement of the guidelines and an implementation of the famous wish-list instead of getting more editors.
Last week I asked for the performance of filter: Answers: 23157.
I hoped, that a contributor, who runs Matlab on a multi-core computer, is interested in the speed of the filter command and runs the code I've posted. On one hand I assumed, that this topic is interesting, because filtering consumes much time and the documentation claims, that the command is multi-threaded since R2007a. On the other hand I thought, that perhaps TMW itself is interested in commenting by question. I'm convinced that the support of multi-core processors is very important in the present and the future.
Daniel and Walter replied, but they could not answer my question - an unexpected exception, btw. My conclusion is, that the audience I can reach here, is currently not large enough. I've read the "How to ask a good question" threads again, but I did not find a better way to motivate other users to spend 5 seconds for running the code and 10 seconds for posting the results.
But I do find dozens of users per week, who spend the time for asking homework questions without any details. Sometimes I wish, there could be a fixed input mask, which contains teh fields: "Type and dimensions of the inputs", "Code - properly formatted as explained [here]", "Results or copy of the complete error message - mention the contents of the failing line explicitely", "Question - including a question mark", "Checkbox: I've read the How-to-ask-a-good-question thread".