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Professional looking Matlab FAQ

Asked by Jan Simon on 26 Dec 2012

A nice and clean FAQ is fundamental to learn to avoid the basic mistakes made by others. Therefore it should be either inlcuded in the local documentation or hosted and maintained professionally. A simple and static systems for anchors would allow to post links to specific topics in the forums.

But currently the FAQ http://matlab.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ looks like a county fair: A colored chain of lights, a link to copyright basics for authors, a lot of commercials for a steam iron, a new cinema movie about small lifeforms with large jobs, holidays in Sardinien, VBS software, job offerings for IT profis, and of course Amazon's advertisment is adjusted to my personal searches from the previous week.

I cannot forward a beginner to this page with a good consience anymore.

Posting links to corresponding threads in the Answers forum would be more convenient, easier to maintain and free of confusing, ugly commercial banners. Therefore I suggest to convert the current FAQ point by point to threads in this forum. And in the next step TMW could collect them in an extra list displayed by an "FAQ"-link in the navigation bar on the left.

In addition I would like to exclude these FAQ threads from the standard reputation counting: Copying the "why is 0.3-0.2-0.1~=0" section is not worth to gain 1000+2000 points for the question and the answer, although it will be useful 1000 times. Other forums solve this by an anonymous user called "FAQ bot". If TMW creates such an owner, the editors and admins could fill in the contents.

As we know, TMW does not rush changes in the forum. Creating the threads and a unique tag would be a cheap and fast temporary solution. Unfortuantely searching for "tag: FAQ" replies the threads tagged by "faq6.1" also. But these tags have become meaningless at all (there are no section numbers anymore), and only 92 threads are concerned. Perhaps "FAQlist" is sufficient already for the list of FAQ problems.

How ever this is implemented later on, it is essential that beginners are encouraged to read the FAQ and profit from the mistakes, which have been made too often by others before. This is not the case at the moment.

2 Comments

Jan Simon on 26 Dec 2012

Problems, which have been forwarded to the FAQ most frequently:

In a final version not my avatar would appear in this threads, but the one of the "faq-bot".

Jan Simon on 8 Jan 2013

BUMP. Now the end-of-the-year holidays are gone and I want to ask, if this could be a useful feature.

Jan Simon

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2 Answers

Answer by Sean de Wolski on 8 Jan 2013
Edited by Sean de Wolski on 8 Jan 2013

That's what I have here:

http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/answers/26359

I just need to find good answers to replace the links to the FAQ. Like you, I have felt guilty about sending people over there recently.

0 Comments

Sean de Wolski
Answer by Daniel on 8 Jan 2013
  1. I would suggest that this be left up to TMW since they have professional documentation writers. Answering these types of questions only requires a modest amount of MATLAB and programming expertise.
  2. I am not sure if the answers for the FAQ can be freely copied and reproduced. I don't know what wikia's copyright rules are. This isn't a big problem. I also don't even know if the answers on the FAQ are even that helpful or well written to be worth copying.
  3. As for the reputation, this was tried before 1-2/3-1/3~=0 right at the launch of Answers. 7 votes for the question and 5 for the answer will hardly skew the reputation system. I think leaving the reputation might be a good motivator for someone wanting to gain privileges to make a worthy contribution.

1 Comment

Jan Simon on 8 Jan 2013
  1. I agree completely. Actually I expect to find a professional FAQ in the local documentation already or at least on the home page. But as the matter of fact there is none. Leaving this up to TMW could mean, there there is none for the next 5 years. We have 10 active editors and some admins, therefore I'm sure we are professional enough, when we work together.
  2. The text on Wikia is available under CC-BY-SA. I did not want to suggest a copy of the articles. In fact, some sections need a general redesign, e.g. the "evil eval" warning must be much more impressing.
  3. When you, Daniel, post a good answer and earn 5 votes, I would never edit some of the sentences only because I think they could be improved. But when we write a thread for the FAQ, I do hope and wish, that you and the other editors will improve my formulations and fix errors to increase the clarity. I do not think that the reputation system is skewed, but that this system skews the motivation to collaborate and improve other ones posts.

So my point is: We need a FAQ. TMW does not offer one. The currently existing FAQ on Wikia is too ugly. A new one here in this forum would allow for more clarity and less noise. The FAQ should be created, edited and expanded by multiple editors to increase the quality and ensure a long term support. The old "1-2/3-1/3~=0" thread is nice, but it is impossible for a newcommer to find it. If there are 20 really good and frequently read threads, I'm sure TMW can and will spend a link on the navigator panel, such that all beginners can read them in compact form.

I hope my intention is more clear now.

Daniel

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