MATLAB Answers

Wish-list for MATLAB Answer sections.

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 8 Feb 2011
Commented: Adam Danz on 25 Feb 2020
This topic (which was not started by Mathworks) is for features you would like to see for this MATLAB Answers facility.
I suggest one wish per answer, so that people can vote for individual wishes.

  7 Comments

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 28 Jun 2012
I have been thinking myself that we should start a volume 2. I would not delete anything here, though.
Ideally some of what is here should be moved to the new list. I did not want to just go ahead and create the new Answers, though, as that would not give proper credit to the people who originally proposed them.
Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 25 Feb 2020
For easy navigation and for the historians,
Anyone with edit privileges should feel free to update this whenever needed.

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Answers (149)

Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 8 Feb 2011
It should be possible to mark up Comments.

  10 Comments

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Randy Souza
Randy Souza on 28 Jun 2012
We implemented this in a release on June 27, 2012 (I'm using it right now!).
Here's a blog post describing the major changes.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 29 Jun 2012
Already I'm editing comments regularly. It's a very welcome upgrade!

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Royi Avital
Royi Avital on 9 Feb 2011
M Language Syntax Highlighting.

  1 Comment

Amro
Amro on 24 Aug 2012
I've created a userscript that applies MATLAB syntax highlighting using google-code-prettify (it was originally intended for Stack Overflow). Project is hosted on GitHub.
Install userscript directly from the following link: prettify-mathworks-answers.user.js

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vish
vish on 8 Feb 2011
Notification when someone replies on a previously commented question or published.

  6 Comments

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Lindsay Coutinho
Lindsay Coutinho on 24 Feb 2011
We have implemented a notification system for new answers to questions. Thank you for all the feedback, it helps us to prioritize what features the engineering team works on.
Bob Li
Bob Li on 15 Oct 2011
Please, notification for comments on answers. Desperately need it.
Bob

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 8 Feb 2011
  • In the list of questions, each question should have a "last updated" date and time, where an update is the addition of an answer or a comment or the editing of any part of it.
One can get the list sorted by most recent update time, but without a time stamp, one has to look at the individual questions all through to determine whether there has been an update since the last time one looked at it.

  4 Comments

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Andy
Andy on 12 May 2011
It would also be useful to list the user name for the most recent update.
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 28 Oct 2011
Looks like this finally got done in October 2011. Yay!
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 28 Jun 2012
And improved in today's update!

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 8 Feb 2011
  • "Next" and "Previous" buttons while reading questions, to move to the next or previous question without having to go back to the list of questions.

  1 Comment

sheen
sheen on 21 May 2011
its really nice suggestion

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Matt Tearle
Matt Tearle on 11 Feb 2011
Include questions you've commented on (but not necessarily "answered") in "my answers". This way you can keep an eye on a question where you're asking for clarification or suchlike discussion.
Note: this would be rendered less important if we had notifications of some kind.

  6 Comments

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Ashish Uthama
Ashish Uthama on 6 Jun 2011
Search for your user name, and look for the 'Subscribe to this View' link (below the search text box, on the right).
Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 1 Jul 2011
I just noticed this answer. If I search for my user name, I get 12 hits.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 21 Apr 2012
According to the help documentation, you can currently search using commented_by: tag

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Jan
Jan on 15 Feb 2011
Perhaps this is implemented already - I didn't ask a question yet: If you select an answer as accepted, can you change the selection afterwards, if a better answer is given?

  6 Comments

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Matt Fig
Matt Fig on 7 Apr 2011
I was going to nominate that one for the longest living dead question so far...
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 7 Apr 2011
The Night Of The Living Dead Question!
("Brains. We want Brains!")
Matt Tearle
Matt Tearle on 7 Apr 2011
Wow. I hadn't seen that one. That's...
Yeah.
Pity I can't vote twice.

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Kent Cabarle
Kent Cabarle on 9 Feb 2011
Posting a photo in a thread..

  4 Comments

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Kent Cabarle
Kent Cabarle on 9 Feb 2011
Yep. Anything related to the post, which may find useful for easier understanding and visualization.
Oleg Komarov
Oleg Komarov on 10 Feb 2011
You can do that with double passage, first by uploading a photo on say tinypic and then using the markup <<>>
Jan
Jan on 15 Feb 2011
And if tinypic stops its service, the corresponding question or answer becomes meaningless. Would it be possible to host the pictures on a TMW server?

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Matt Tearle
Matt Tearle on 16 Feb 2011
An automated email: "Dear [user], than you for using MATLAB Answers. Your question "[title]" now has [num_ans] answers. If any of these responses has helped you, please accept and/or up-vote them. If none of these answers has resolved your question, please provide further input to help guide others on how they can assist you"
This email should be sent after n days inactivity, at an exponentially increasing frequency;)

  9 Comments

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Matt Tearle
Matt Tearle on 28 Feb 2011
That's why we care so much: because the stakes are so low!
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 28 Feb 2011
@Matt: LOL
I have heard it said that in situations where large-scale distinctions between people are relatively rare, that people tend to become preoccupied with small-scale status symbols, such as parking privileges or office size.
Matt Tearle
Matt Tearle on 1 Mar 2011
Hah. Makes sense. I ripped off that line from somewhere -- it was describing university politics... I can completely see how the stuff I observed at universities was an affluent society's update to our primal urges to have our political enemies ax-murdered by corrupt government goons (after which you take their mud hut, beads, and lion skin loincloths).

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Matt Fig
Matt Fig on 2 Mar 2011
Answer folding.
Say there is a question which has 55 some-odd answers. I keep coming back to look and see if there is anything new, but since the answers move up and down with votes and other mechanisms, it soon gets exhausting. If I had the ability to fold answers I have read before - a choice that would stick between logins - then this process would be much easier.
I would like to be able to fold and unfold answers within a question. Perhaps a little star would appear next to the unfold button if there were new comments since I folded the question.

  1 Comment

Jan
Jan on 3 Mar 2011
A very important improvement! It is nearly impossible to find the new answer or comment in a set of 55 answers and 100 comments. It seems like even a comment, which is deleted directly after the creation, changes the oder of the answers. Then it is even absolutely impossible to find the modifications...

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Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 8 Feb 2011
My Answers should display the number of votes for the answers, not the questions.

  0 Comments

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Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 8 Feb 2011
Allow links to a specific answer, not just the question it answers.

  9 Comments

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Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 22 Jun 2012
You're right. I'm not sure why I didn't see it at first. Maybe there are too many non-tutorial answers tagged as tutorial when they shouldn't be because they're just regular answers saying how to do something specific, such as this one: http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/answers/19062-fprintf-table or unanswered requests for a tutorial, such as this one http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/answers/32107-manage-oceanoptics. I might untag some and get rid of the clutter so that only real tutorials are in there.
Randy Souza
Randy Souza on 28 Jun 2012
We made it easier to find these in a release on June 27, 2012. Click on the "Link" button next to an answer or above a comment.
Here's a blog post describing the major changes.

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Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 11 Feb 2011
The accept button should be further away from Comment on this answer, and it should be possible to undo it - at least for a grace period of a few minutes.

  3 Comments

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 25 Feb 2011
Looks like this has been implemented in the last couple of minutes!
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 25 Feb 2011
The further-away part, anyhow.

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 9 Mar 2011
Andrew mentioned as part of a previous suggestion that My Answers should include a search box. The same should also hold true when viewing someone's profile.
Go to my Answers and try to find something specific in there. With over 700 Answers logged already, good luck in finding what you are looking for...
The situation would not be as bad if the existing search box supported a tag for author search (and if author names were unique.)

  8 Comments

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Helen Chen
Helen Chen on 18 Aug 2011
Hi Matt - Yes, I did notice. Randy is working on this one. :-)
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 18 Aug 2011
But it took 21 days to see Matt's post. ;-) There has to be a better/faster way to find new posts since last time you looked at a post.
Helen Chen
Helen Chen on 22 Sep 2011
As of last night, when you look at My Answers, it is now sorting by most recent. Enjoy!

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Oleg Komarov
Oleg Komarov on 8 Feb 2011
We wanna see our reputation scores, let the challenge begin!
Smt like a Users list by score under the Home link (upper left corner)
Oleg

  3 Comments

Lindsay Coutinho
Lindsay Coutinho on 24 Feb 2011
The Contributors list has just been added, it's located under Home link. Check it out: http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/answers/contributors . Keep the feedback coming!
Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 26 Feb 2011
Very nice! Sorry, Oleg - it looks like your program has become obsolete.

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Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 14 Feb 2011
Adding a button for inserting images. Even though instructions for adding an image can be found in Markup help, more than one user has been unaware that it could be done (including one on this page!).

  1 Comment

Jan
Jan on 24 Mar 2012
And store the images on a MathWorks server. The other hosters will delete the images in the near or far future and then the corresponding question will become meaningless.

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jiro
jiro on 16 Feb 2011
A way to automatically scroll to the most recent answer/comment/edit. For example, this question has many, many answers and comments. But I don't know where the most recent stuff is. Perhaps there should be a "go to next recent content" button on the page, that takes me to different sections.

  9 Comments

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Randy Souza
Randy Souza on 28 Jun 2012
This is a regression--we will change it back to votes-first soon.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 28 Jun 2012
Ah, I notice that the recent activity information at the top of the Question display, is now a direct link to that activity. That helps for the very most recent change, but not so much if multiple changes have been made.
Randy Souza
Randy Souza on 28 Jun 2012
The sorting regression is fixed--answers should now display with the accepted answer first, then the remaining answers sorted by number of votes (high-to-low) then date/time asked (least-to-most recent)

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Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 16 Mar 2011
Walter mentioned a "Best of Answers" area. A more flexible alternative would be an "Add to my favorites" button, so we can each keep a list of answers that we find really useful.
Of course, we can always bookmark them in our browser, but it would be good to keep them in the same environment as our personal questions and answers.

  3 Comments

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 16 Mar 2011
That's an interesting idea, Andrew.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 16 Mar 2011
Though the Best of Answers would be aimed more at the incoming people who are willing to do *some* searching but would get lost in the unstructured morass that exists now.
Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 17 Mar 2011
I get lost in the morass too. Recently I spent fifteen minutes trying to find a particular answer and gave up.

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Matt Fig
Matt Fig on 8 Jun 2011
A "Views" counter for the questions.

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 9 Feb 2011
When one is being shown a list of Questions, it would be nice if hovering over a question link would show you a brief summary (e.g., first 100-ish characters) of the question statement. This would make it faster for people to take a quick look to see whether the question was interesting, or a quick reminder of exactly which question it was.

  1 Comment

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 21 Apr 2012
Still on my wish-list! Was wanting this again about 2 days ago...

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Oleg Komarov
Oleg Komarov on 12 Feb 2011
  1. More meta info about the contributors: num. of votes given, num. of comments...
  2. Keep the meta info separate from answers/questions: try to load Walter's profile...it takes already a lot of time and if he keeps at this rythm in a year it won't be possible to load it at all...
I'm trying to think of long run stable way to query the site to have a score of the contributors. You can see an attempt in User reputation: post here to get into the list. It already takes 6 minutes to retrieve that info.
In general, it would be nicer if the list of the contributors and the meta info was available at one shot (and basically this is what I'm trying to reproduce)
EDIT
TMW team implemented a page with the metascores: http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/answers/contributors
Please refer to it and congrats to the team!

  0 Comments

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 7 Apr 2011
Somewhere or other in the documentation, we need a note saying plainly that when a Title is edited, the effect is to create a URL which aliases the old one. For example, I had
http:.../4321-j-random-title
and after I renamed it, that continued to be valid in addition to the new name
http:.../4321-john-q-title
This behavior of keeping the old name accessible can be important because URLs may have been created linking to the old name. This is a good feature; documenting it would save people like me from having to worry about such things.

  2 Comments

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 19 May 2011
Interesting... the behavior is not quite what I thought it was. It is not that aliases are created, but rather that as long as the number and dash are there, followed by any non-meta character (e.g., excluding '?'), then the match will be found. In the above example, http:.../4321-* would work just as well.
This is, incidentally, a way to link to a question by number without having to remember or copy/paste the entire title.
Randy Souza
Randy Souza on 28 Jun 2012
Technically, the dash is not needed either. So, for example, you can get to this question via:

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Matt Tearle
Matt Tearle on 24 May 2011
Some way to prevent questions being deleted without a good reason!
I'm getting really annoyed with people whose response to your help is to disappear and take with them both their question and your response to it. It's happened more than once to me, and not necessarily questions where the poster was doing something dumb -- perfectly normal question, valid answer(s), then... floop! It's gone.

  2 Comments

Daniel Shub
Daniel Shub on 17 Oct 2011
What really upsets me about a question that I have answered being deleted is I never can remember who asked the question. My feeling is if you are going to delete a question that I have answered, then I am not going to answer any of your other questions (at least until I think you have learned better).
Randy Souza
Randy Souza on 28 Jun 2012
We implemented a partial constraint on this behavior in a release on June 27, 2012. You can no longer delete your own question once someone has answered it.
Here's a blog post describing the major changes.

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Sean de Wolski
Sean de Wolski on 8 Jun 2011
A "How many users are online" string somewhere on the home page.

  5 Comments

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Matt Fig
Matt Fig on 8 Jun 2011
How about how many people are logged on to MATLAB central? That would at least give an approximation...
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 8 Jun 2011
"logged on to MATLAB centeral" is the same thing as "authenticated to the web site" that I wrote about.
Matt Fig
Matt Fig on 8 Jun 2011
Oh, o.k. You confused me with your technical speak. ;-)

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Paulo Silva
Paulo Silva on 18 Jul 2011
I would like to have a way to see when someone's account was created and how many questions that person deleted (maybe even the names of the questions deleted for those who are editors), this is because I clearly remember having answered several questions from someone but all those questions were deleted and the very same person posted a new question yesterday, I replied and that person exhibited the same old behaviour that triggered my memory, he/she didn't even look at the links I provided and asked something that isn't MATLAB related, I didn't answer the specific question because I would waste my time, this is MATLAB Answers not Control Engineering Answers.

  6 Comments

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Sean de Wolski
Sean de Wolski on 18 Jul 2011
Or at least answered by someone else. If you want to delete a question you answered yourself, I don't really see an issue.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 19 Jul 2011
Although it is true that in theory this forum is about MATLAB, I find that in practice there are a lot of more questions about theory posed, or questions about theory that are disguised as MATLAB questions.
A fair bit of the time, "How do I do {something} in MATLAB" really means "I barely know what {something} is, but I have to implement it in MATLAB: how do I do that, preferably without ever having to learn anything about what the {something} really means or the mathematics behind it?"
I do admit that is the cynical view from having dealt with large number of students; I _do_ see people (including some of the students) who are interested in their topic, but are lacking the background in it and are also perhaps weak on their research skills (or research initiative) to investigate before trying to implement.
Randy Souza
Randy Souza on 28 Jun 2012
We implemented "no delete if already answered" in a release on June 27, 2012. Click on the "Link" button next to an answer or above a comment.
Here's a blog post describing the major changes.

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Oliver Woodford
Oliver Woodford on 20 Jul 2011
Many questions get asked again and again. Why? Because people are not searching for previous answers before asking questions.
Stackoverflow suggests some similar questions that have already been asked when people are typing in their questions. It's therefore easy for them to see that the questions already exist.
This system also relies on good questions being voted up, so they appear at the top of the list. I have asked several (dare I say) well-worded questions (and usually answered them well too), with a view to providing a resource for people to refer to. This effort is wasted by the questions and answers receiving no votes, and the fact that people never search for them anyway.
So, TMW please implement question suggestions like Stackoverflow, and regular users please vote for well-worded questions.

  1 Comment

K E
K E on 9 Feb 2012
Just curious, why is Matlab answers separate from Stackoverflow? I would like to combine all my reputation points (low as they are) in one place.

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 8 Feb 2011
  • Whether Preview is automatic or manual (or the switch-over point) should be a user preference.

  7 Comments

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 24 Feb 2011
Jan indicated yesterday in another thread that he is getting quite badly hit by the slow speed of the automatic preview.
Randy Souza
Randy Souza on 28 Jun 2012
We added a disable/enable button for the preview in a release on June 27, 2012.
Here's a blog post describing the major changes.

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 8 Feb 2011
  • For the benefit of those of us that like to do some infrastructure maintenance, it would be appreciated if there was a way to select questions that had no tag, or that had no Product . Especially in conjunction with the "next question" button that I proposed, this would make it much easier to step through postings adding appropriate meta information.

  0 Comments

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Igor
Igor on 11 Feb 2011
Perhaps,
to group questions on Category (and create category list)
keywords do not enough

  2 Comments

Jan
Jan on 24 Feb 2011
This would be a great advantage. I've never worked with Simulink, so it is more efficient not to read Simulink questions.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 12 Apr 2011
Looks like this has been at least partly implemented.

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Matt Tearle
Matt Tearle on 13 Feb 2011
Has anyone else been tripped up by the auto-folded comments? I'd personally prefer expanded by default, or at least a higher threshold.

  1 Comment

Oliver Woodford
Oliver Woodford on 19 Feb 2011
It can make some comments appear nonsensical.

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George Evers
George Evers on 15 Feb 2011
I like the idea of checking for relevant answers before posting a new question. As mentioned at [1], neural nets would be one vehicle for accomplishing this; alternatively, consider the following routine, for which x and y could be optimized.
Maintain a database of URL's, keywords, and tags for existing articles, threads, and questions.
For each new question title proposed:
* Define X as the set of all words of length > x from the user's proposed title.
* Search the database for articles/threads/questions whose keywords and tags match y% of the members of X.
* Display "Do any of the following answer your question?"
* Display best matches.
Implementing a quality search procedure now could prevent unnecessary clutter and avoid the difficulty of deciding whose answers to delete should cleanup otherwise potentially become necessary. This would help answerers by politely encouraging common sense questioning practices with which to prevent redundant and unnecessary questions, and users would feel more intelligently assisted and locate answers more quickly.
The dual objectives would be time-efficient search and high-quality user feedback. Search time might be reduced by categorizing questions and searching only within relevant categories. And recommendation quality could be optimized by using a modern optimizer to maximize the recommendation success rate per 100 questions on the 2D search space defined by x and y [2].
  1. http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/301724#818324
  2. http://www.georgeevers.org/HESTEC_poster.jpg
Regards,
George
http://www.georgeevers.org

  5 Comments

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jiro
jiro on 16 Feb 2011
George, I like this idea a lot. This happens quite a bit in CSSM where people *may* search for things, but ultimately end up posting his/her own question (which happens to be the same as 10 other questions). I think the interface can be changed to encourage the "search first" behavior.
Right now, there is a Search bar where you can type in keywords. There's also a separate "Ask a Question" button. The first problem is that some people will always go straight to "Ask a Question". Having two separate interfaces (search and ask) gives the user options, and it becomes hard to enforce the behavior.
Now once a user asks a question, we could do something that you suggest which is to give some recommendations on existing questions. But we run into the issue that Walter mentions, which is that some people don't provide meaningful titles. Some titles have nothing to do with what they actually ask.
So what I think is that they should get rid of the "Ask a Question" button. There should only be an edit window that says "What is your question?". With that wording (as opposed to "Search MATLAB Answers"), people would hopefully ask the question using natural spoken grammar. They certainly won't type "help!" or "Plz give me code!" because that's not a question. It would force users to type descriptive questions. Based on that question, the system can go through and search the Answers database to come up with some candidates that may be relevant to the asked question. This part is the same as your idea. If the user doesn't see anything relevant, then he/she can go ahead and fill in the rest of the question (description, tags, products).
Andrew Newell
Andrew Newell on 19 Feb 2011
Walter's experience with tags is exactly why I think that it would be better to just use Google for searching MATLAB Answers (see my separate answer). Why try to reinvent the wheel when someone else does it so much better? This would be quite consistent with many of the other proposals in this discussion.

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Jan
Jan on 15 Feb 2011
I do not like to be tracked by Google-Analytics. In Germany it is currently checked, if this service conflictes with the laws for data protection.
It is obvious that participating in a newsgroup is not very private at all. Nevertheless I see no reason to let Google know my IP, such that they can check if I've opened a browser window for Ebay or Amazon, while I'm posting at MATLAB Answers. Or does anyone needs informations like this: "People who have bought this book have been interested in these questions also: ..."
So my wish is: Disable tracking by Google-Analytics.

  2 Comments

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 24 Feb 2011
With Firefox and the Abine and NoScript extensions, I have enough control to disable cookies on a site by site basis.
On the other hand, unless I change my username, there isn't much that can be done about the fact that google is going to index the 'Walter Roberson' author against the content I write -- not without disallowing google from indexing the site, which would have many disadvantages.