MATLAB Answers

Walter Roberson
3

MATLAB Answers Wish-list #4 (and bug reports)

Asked by Walter Roberson
on 14 Aug 2015
Latest activity Commented on by Walter Roberson
on 7 Dec 2018 at 20:52
This topic is for features you would like to see for the MATLAB Answers facility itself, and also for bug reports about the MATLAB Answers facility.
This topic is the follow on to the first Wish-list for MATLAB Answer sections and second MATLAB Answers Wish-list #2 (and bug reports). Those grew large enough to become unwieldy; and Mathworks has made enough changes to make a number of the past points no longer of relevance. More recently there was the limited purpose New design of the forum - grey on white which turned into a bug and wish list; I have renamed that for continuity.
I suggest one wish (or bug report) per answer, so that people can vote their wishes.

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60 Answers

Answer by Jon
on 15 Aug 2015
Edited by Jon
on 19 Aug 2015

Maybe this functionality already exists and I'm not aware of it, but why isn't there a notification of some kind on my profile page that alerts me to new comments, questions, and answers that I'm involved in? An unread message alert, something like this:
Then when you click on "Questions", those that are "unread" are at the top of the queue. And you can mark them unread if you want to come back to them later. I have a hard time keeping track otherwise, especially if I leave for an extended period of time.

  3 Comments

Work around: do a search on
contributor:jon
However, that will find all jon as it is a substring search on the contributor name. It is a bit more effective on names that are more distinctive.
You can search for your answer, Jon, by searching on
answered_by_id:86349
This number has nothing obvious to do with your Author number, and I do not as yet find a way to search by author number. And if you wanted to search on your Questions you would need a differerent id number yet. The only way to find those numbers is to left-click on a link to you and let it pop up the small summary about you, and then go and hover above the link to your Questions or Answers and read off the URL to discover the ID. Or click on the link and then read the tag out of the search box on the resulting page.
Yes, this could be made easier!
I am the only roberson around so it is easy for me to search for my own material, but you might have some difficulty if you searched by name.
This is a great idea!
A couple of months ago, Mathworks implemented "Activity Feed". If you look under "My MATLAB Answers", it is the first entry.
Notification is only for Questions that you are "subscribed" to. There is a configuration option to determine whether by default you want to subscribe to any question that you ask or answer or comment on. You can always toggle any given question on or off -- including toggling notifications on for a Question you have not responded to at all.
The subscriptions are not back-dated for anything you answered or commented on in the past, but it looks like they might have been turned on by default for any Question you asked.

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Answer by dpb
on 15 Aug 2015

Again the complaint of excessive white space (futile, I know :( ).

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Answer by Rik Wisselink
on 29 Jun 2018

Maybe it would be a good idea to ask for a confirmation before allowing users to answer their own question. Many people mistakenly use the answer field, which results in weird threads and a lot of talking about not-the-problem (and maybe a bit of frustration).
I think requiring a few reputation points before being able to answer your own question would be a bit harsh, but it would be alternative.
The main downside to the first option would be that people who don't understand the structure, will probably not read a warning popup.

  5 Comments

(Answers dev) Thanks for the feedback!
As I've suggested elsewhere, another option is to give editors the ability to move posts between answers and comment and even to promote comments as new questions.
I'd agree 110%+ with just a button to automagically re-categorize A-->C (and vice versa, sometimes someone writes a comment that is, in fact, a very good Answer) keeping poster ID, etc., ... I've moved quite a number over the years but it's tedious so not nearly as many as coulda'/shoulda' ...

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Answer by dpb
on 19 Sep 2018
Edited by dpb
on 19 Sep 2018

I wish the ability to Delete or Close a Q? while someone is preparing an Answer could be disabled -- several times I have just finished a detailed response to a Q? and go to post and discover the Q? is no longer visible. It's really frustrating.
Latest was just yesterday on a Q? that had to do with stock market weekly averages -- both Walter and I had posted comments trying to lead the poster down the path (in somewhat differing directions, but that's useful, too) and I finally decided to just illustrate how retime could solve his problem in one line and had prepared a really nice (I think! :) ) demo and BAM! Black hole... :(
If the poster subsequently chooses to delete or some other editor thinks inappropriate or whatever, well, ok, I can accept that as being inevitable occasionally but in this case as in the others I can recall I think it was a legitimate-enough question (albeit from a naive user) that the answer/demo would be worthwhile even if the OP never came back.

  19 Comments

I feel that there should not be any trust ratings built in to the system. I think that it is too subjective and exposes too much risk of abuse.
However, sometimes it would be useful if you could attach private notes, visible only to you, to profiles. This would allow you to create an entry like "trashed questions after answer" or "asks good questions" or "knows a lot about CANBUS" for your own use. For this to be most useful, appearances of the username should be marked with a "you made notes about this person" icon.
@Walter I bet some people already have a system like that on their own, but having it on this site in the first place would indeed be really useful.
Walter, I'd suggest that suggestion (so to speak :) ) is worthy of its own Answer as a forum enhancement.

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Answer by Walter Roberson
on 28 Aug 2015

Needed: a Ban Hammer. Or at least a Spam Hammer. So that we can flag a poster as a raw spammer and toss all their postings, past and future, into spam quarantine.
Signed: the overnight spam janitor. Spamnitor? Spamitor? Spaminator?

  1 Comment

I’ve deleted a bunch of them as well recently. It’d be nice to be able to ‘freeze’ a spammer’s account to immediately prevent further postings from it, and automatically flagging it so that TMW will then take appropriate follow-up action.

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Answer by Walter Roberson
on 14 Aug 2015

When we delete a Question for spam, either by Delete with a spam flag or by clicking on This Is Spam for postings detected as probable spam then when the deletion is finished, the page is forwarded to the Answers home page. The painting of the home page requires that a time-consuming database lookup be done to find the most recent messages and present them. As it is common when doing spam control for us to have 6 to 20 Questions open in tabs (to allow the pages to paint in the background while we deal with them in sequence), that database lookup and repaint is slow and unnecessary, often adding 17+ seconds to the deletion process.
I therefore recommend that when a posting is deleted for spam, that instead of going to the homepage, that it just refreshes, taking us to the "Can't find your Question?" page; we can Back or close the tab or whatever we find appropriate from there.
Remember, deleting spam is not the normal work-flow for anyone but the staff and the decaSpartans (the 3000-ers ;-) ), and that when engaged in spam control the work-flow is seldom to want to see the Answers home page for each Question killed off.

  1 Comment

Thank you to the developers who made it possible to select large number of spam posts and delete them on one go!

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Answer by James Tursa
on 22 Oct 2015

I would like power-users to have the ability to conditionally accept an Answer during the initial 7-day wait period. There have been many occasions when a Question gets answered and it is obviously worthy of accepting. The original poster may not acknowledge it, or may simply provide a comment of thanks without formally accepting it. Rather than waiting the 7 days and then spending additional time coming back to the Question to accept the answer (if it hasn't been already), I would like to have the ability to click on some type of conditional acceptance button immediately. If no additional answers are subsequently posted and no answer has been accepted then when the 7 days expires the conditional acceptance would turn into a formal acceptance automatically. If additional answers do get subsequently posted then the conditional acceptance could be automatically deleted (maybe with an e-mail notification to the power-user to re-visit the Question).

  10 Comments

Afterthought It seems that a large number of ‘Questions’ of late could easily be resolved by the four-letter quasi-expletive used years ago (and still used in the gaming community): RTFM! = Read The (Friendly) Manual!
Not knowing where to look is a real thing. MATLAB is not a small language
Walter is right. The traffic is cyclical. But if we trail 4 quarters(T4Q), we actually see a significant increase each quarter.

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Answer by Paul Metcalf on 26 Oct 2016

One idea for MATLAB Central is the ability to follow an author. Currently you can only follow a file but there are some authors for which I'd like to receive a notification if new files are added...

  2 Comments

In addition to file authors, I would like to be able to follow contributors on Matlab Answers, and optionally receive an email every time the chosen person asks/answers/comments.
I find the e-mail notifications annoying, so I just check the activity center, but I would think following a contributor would show up there anyway.
This is a very good idea. I currently have a few bookmarks that I check from time to time, but that is very prone to missing stuff.

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Answer by dpb
on 4 May 2018

Seems excessively strict given that the "extra-x" format is now default for all MS Office products; what's the reason isn't allowed--just never added to the "allowed" list, I presume? Just had a Q? wherein the poster ran into the problem; renamed the file but didn't change the format and caused issues because of incompatible format in Excel.
Run into when try to attach any .xlsx file--error box contains following text (I didn't bother to capture image, just the text):
Cannot attach this file because:
File format is unsupported. Use any of these formats: .bmp, .csv, .fig, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg,
.m, .mlx, .mat, .mdl, .pdf, .png, .txt, .xls, .zip
Attach a file:
Choose file.xlsx

  2 Comments

(Answers dev) Hi dpb, Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
(Answers dev) You should be able to attach .xlsx files now.

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Answer by Walter Roberson
on 14 Aug 2015
Edited by Walter Roberson
on 15 Aug 2015

Please add a keyword to Search Answers that specifies sorting order. I frequently want to link to a discussion from a few days ago, so a lot of my searches are of the form
contributor:roberson Some Terms of Relevance
and then I have to search and click on the sorting order drop-down to sort to Date Updated (Newest to Oldest) which does a page refresh. And then afterwards I have to Back twice, with the search needlessly being done again as I get back to the search results sorted by the default Relevance.
I suggest a keyword such as "sortby", such as "sortby:recent" with "sortby:newest" being equivalent to that. The default would be sortby:relevance (with sortby:relevence perhaps being accepted as an alternative for those of us who are sometimes weak in our spelling ;-) )

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Answer by Greig
on 29 Aug 2015

A "Follow Question" button.
How many time have folk encountered a question that is useful or interesting and they won't too keep track of it, but don't necessarily have a comment or answer to contribute?
Basically a mechanism that allows you to follow a question, without having to answer it or comment on it, or bookmark it in your browser. An extra option, called "My Following", in the "My MATLAB Answers" menu would be an obvious place to link to a list of threads that you are following. Obviously, an "Unfollow" option would be needed too.

  3 Comments

Should following generate email notice of updates?
I would say that having the option to get email alerts would be useful.
A couple of months ago, Mathworks implemented "Activity Feed". If you look under "My MATLAB Answers", it is the first entry.
Notification is only for Questions that you are "subscribed" to. There is a configuration option to determine whether by default you want to subscribe to any question that you ask or answer or comment on. You can always toggle any given question on or off -- including toggling notifications on for a Question you have not responded to at all.
The subscriptions are not back-dated for anything you answered or commented on in the past, but it looks like they might have been turned on by default for any Question you asked.

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Answer by Image Analyst
on 14 Feb 2016

Far too often the original poster posts a new "Answer" to a question posed by someone in a Answer or Comment, instead of replying to that specific Answer or Comment where the question was posed. I suggest that the "Answer this question" caption be changed to mention the original poster, like "Answer the original question by Walter Roberson". Hopefully that will lessen the number of times people answer their own question when they should be replying to someone else.
I'd also like to see "Comment" be changed to "Reply" to be consistent with the wording used in almost all other online forums.

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Answer by Chad Greene
on 8 Apr 2016

For new users, it might help to force askers to answer yes to these questions before their question can be posted:
  • Did you describe your problem in detail? {{Include a help bubble that error messages should be included in the question, etc.}}
  • Have you provided a minimal working example? {{Include a help bubble describing an MWE for those who are unfamiliar with the concept.}}
  • Have you formatted your code for readability? {{Include a help bubble describing how to format code.}}
I don't think it would be necessary to make askers say yes to these questions forever, but it may get rules of etiquette and effectiveness into their heads if they have to think about their questions the first few times posting on the forum.

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Answer by Cedric Wannaz
on 10 Oct 2017
Edited by Cedric Wannaz
on 11 Oct 2017

For people who don't check the "Allow users to contact me securely" option in their profile, there could/ should be a button that allows us to send them an automated message "there has been some activity on your thread" (and e.g. a field or drop down for us to enter/select a thread ID).
The rational is that if someone wants time from us, it should be acknowledged/imposed that he/she accepts to receive reminders about open threads or just about added comments. This may help reducing the amount of questions for which the person asking never comes back (if only for saying that he/she doesn't need an answer anymore).
Some option for sending electric shocks remotely would be nice too..

  2 Comments

Unless contributors have manually disabled email alerts, your wish has been fulfilled.
Awesome! .. but where do I click for sending electric shocks? ;-)

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Answer by Adam
on 6 Jun 2018

Hopefully this is still work in progress, but the options for asking a question are a little odd at the moment. I notice that 'Release' has been added as a field which is great, but it is disabled until you enter a Matlab Product, which itself is not compulsory and is rarely filled in by people. The ability to ask the question is enabled straight away, without tags, product or release so why is release disabled until you enter a product? It just means that one of the most useful pieces of information for a question is very unlikely to be filled in most of the time.

  16 Comments

Thank you everyone!
We appreciate all the great feedback around the release field and will consider these suggestions when we revisit this feature.
Is it worth having "Full Suite" as a separate product when it is at best an obscure name for a campus-wide license (referenced that way only once that I can see) ?.
I see there is also "Standard Suite". It looks to me as if "Standard Suite" and "Full Suite" are the two Student bundles, rather than products.
I was reminded of this discussion again today on seeing this question. Most of the time people still simply don't include version information in any form, but when someone here is explicitly adding it into his question text it is surely a clear sign that the method for including this information via the dropdown lists is fundamentally not working.
I really hope this is being strongly considered for redesign because version information is so fundamental it should be in every question and should be so obvious how to do it (or compulsory) when asking a question that even a total newbie to the forum can easily add the information.
To take another very quick sample, 6 months on, at a rough count ~15% of the first 100 questions currently on the first 2 pages of questions have a Product entered that isn't Matlab and 21% include Matlab as the only product. It is maybe better than it was, but still not good for the use case of having to enter the product before it suggests valid releases (given that, as mentioned earlier, every release is valid when the product is just 'Matlab').

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Answer by Rik Wisselink
on 14 Nov 2018
Edited by dpb
on 14 Nov 2018

Since the new editor has become way more fancy:
A while back I read in some help page for the Answers forum that a referrence to a function should be the name in monospace with a hyperlink to the doc page. It would be helpful to have this automated via a button in the 'insert' part of the toolbar (complete with the doc-page search bar).
Also, are there plans to try to expose the text of comments/answers to the browser spell checker? I rely on it embarassingly often, so it would be helpful to still have it. I just tried if it was specific to Chrome on W10, but Firefox has the same issue (or feature?)

  8 Comments

I don't know how I missed it the first time I looked at it, but in the help page there is a list of keyboard shortcuts. It list 3 different methods of inserting urls. The old <url text> is now [text](url).
This voids my main issue with inserting urls with the new editor. I just have to get used to the new shortcuts.
I still think that the url field in the CTRL+K dialog box is much too short.
I also think that the pop-up that shows the target when you hover a url in a post is much too narrow, wrapping a long url over many lines, making it much harder to decipher.
Por-tip: if you want to use a copy-pasted comment, you need to finish the keyboard shortcuts yourself. So pasting in a full [label](url) will not work, but if you only paste in [label](url and then type the close paren it does work.
Or maybe it is just time to make an elaborate autohotkey file...
dpb
on 17 Nov 2018 at 15:15
The old <url text> is now [text](url).
I fail to understand why there was any need to do that.
And why both "underscore-text-underscore" and "star-text-star" yield italicized text instead of italicized and bold, respectively, is hard to follow reasoning behind???

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Answer by Walter Roberson
on 14 Aug 2015

When making a response (Answer or Comment) to a topic originated by Mathworks Support, the browser will almost always time out, with the "Saving" notification going back to "Submit" as if the response had not been saved. This leads people to click Submit again, often several times. Usually the response does get saved, so we end up with one copy of the response for each time the person clicked Submit, but at least once for me the response did not get saved.
My work-around now is to select my response and Copy it in my browser and then refresh the page to see if the response did get posted, and if not then Paste and try again.

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Show 1 older comment
"Lazarus Forms Recovery could not be verified for Firefox. Proceed with caution"
(and I do not get a Lazarus menu item when I right-click.)
It worked for me in the past, but I stopped paying attention to it partly because Lazarus has never worked with Google+. And now I can't bring up the manufacturer's page.
I use Firefox for pretty much everything. ‘Lazarus’ installed without problems (or notifications from Norton) on Firefox 40.0.2 (the latest version) earlier this morning. I’ve not used it yet.
@Image Analyst, thanks for the link!
Firefox evolved into aa security model that does not support Lazarus unfortunately .

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Answer by Walter Roberson
on 19 Sep 2015

If there were a search tag based upon who last modified a post, then I would be able to search
contributor:roberson asked_at:7 -last_updated_by:roberson
to select postings in I had contributed but I was not the most recent contributor. Especially if this was combined with my proposed sortby:newest I could be filtering down to things that have been recently updated by someone other than me.

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Answer by Adam
on 16 Oct 2015
Edited by Adam
on 16 Oct 2015

This seems to have been something that changed in the last few days. Why has the 'Home' link on Matlab Answers suddenly changed to take me to a page I find useless?
For the last year I have been here I have clicked on 'Home' as my standard way of returning to the full unfiltered list of all questions. I browse this sometimes to answer one and sometimes because the question is of interest and I want to read someone's answer.
Now this link takes me to a page where I have to click to 'Ask a Question', 'Answer a Question', read 'Top Questions' or 'Try Answering These'. This is very annoying.
It does at least seem that when I clock 'Go' next to 'Answer a Question' that this does now take me to the unfiltered list (yesterday it was taking me to a filtered list of only unanswered questions), but I'd still prefer that 'Home' takes me to the Matlab Answers page of all questions as it intuitively should.

  23 Comments

Hi Walter, thanks for the great thoughts. I would also vote if I could. :) Your feedback are very valuable for us to design our long term strategy and prioritize winning moves. I'll bring them to the community team. Power users will hear from us in next few weeks.
Thanks again!
Sometimes I see the backward compatibility of Matlab very critically, e.g. when base functions as fopen or strncmp change their behavior without a hint in the release notes. Getting a free Matlab license will have an influence on my mind, or at least on the way I express myself in the public forum.
In opposite to gifts, which mean a big finanviel advantage, I'd appreciate the oportunity to contact the developers directly.
(Answers dev) The new "Browse" link in the subnav menu works to take you to the old home page without filters on.

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Answer by Jan
on 24 Oct 2015

I admit, that I have problems to understand the meaning of the new landing page. I'm simply confused by the offered information. Therefore I assume, that this page does not support newcomers to improve the handling of the forum.
E.g. I see a list of "popular tags", which contains the terms "matlab", "matlab code" and "error". To improve the usage of the forum it would be much better to mention, that these terms are useless for the purpose of the tags.
Newcomers are still not instructed to use code formatting. In consequence the high reputations users spend time for editing questions and post instructions. This is a waste of power. Mentioning the FAQ on the landing page would be a shortcut also.
I do not think, that new users need to recognize users with a high reputation. They will recognize a valid answer, even if it was posted by another newcomer.

  3 Comments

I have had difficulty with new users not recognizing valid answers. New users tend to "know" that they are right, and that we are "hiding" the real answer from them, or that we are ignorant and do not know the real answer, or that obviously the fact their code does not work is a bug in MATLAB that will be fixed and a new release issued in 10 minutes. Convincing new users that MATLAB is right (or self-consistent) and their understanding is at fault is not always easy.
Thanks, Jan Simon. The new landing page will get better with great thoughts from power users like you. To your code formatting point, I'm thinking if we can also have this mentoring on the "ask a question' page.
@Walter: Over 6800 times users recognized your answers as valid and useful. I'm convinced, that they did so, because of the validity of your answers, and not due to the estimation of the other 6799 accepted answers.

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Answer by Rena Berman on 13 Nov 2015

(MATLAB Answers Developer)
Thank you all for your valued feedback. We continue to monitor the wish lists and have incorporated the following projects into our development plan:
  • Ability to follow question threads and contributors
  • Enhancements to notifications
  • Unaccept/multiple answer acceptance
  • Improvements to the text editor
  • Less whitespace in Answers
We will you update you when each feature is closer to release. In the meantime, please continue to post new ideas, enhancements, and problems within this thread.
Thank you!

  36 Comments

I would like an email notification when comments are added to my question, and not just when answers are added. The comments are often asking for clarifications which people need to answer my question, and if I'm not notified about the comments, the question just sits there until I remember to check it.
And I would love to not get e-mails when someone unaccepts my answer. I switched off e-mail notifications, yet these somehow get through the net and are totally irrelevant to me!
KAE:
Under "My MATLAB Answers", there is a "My Questions", which shows you the recent activity on questions you have asked. There is also "My Comments", to see the activity on questions you have commented on (as I recall, you have made some contributions to other people.)

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Answer by Adam
on 27 Sep 2016

Not so much a wish, just an oddity I noticed. I set my profile to not allow me to be contactable by e-mail etc and I deselect the option to e-mail me when someone answers my questions so in general I don't get any e-mails from the forum which is as I want it.
Except..when someone unaccepts one of my answers I get sent an e-mail. Of all the things I might want e-mails about if I chose to this really isn't high on the list. I'd rather get an e-mail when someone accepts my answer instead if I really were to want e-mailing when someone makes some response to something I posted!

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Answer by Image Analyst
on 27 Oct 2016
Edited by Image Analyst
on 28 Oct 2016

Has anyone else other than me been getting strange symbols that say E6 52 or E630 or similar symbols instead of the little icons that are supposed to show, like these:
I first noticed them this morning on my home computer, and then again at work. Then they went away for most of the day, then they came back at work. And now at home they're here also. Rena suggested I clear my cache but that didn't fix the problem. I was just wondering if anyone else is seeing them too.

  14 Comments