What is the Distinction Between Answers and Discussions?

Paul on 26 Jan 2024
Latest activity Reply by Dyuman Joshi on 2 Mar 2024

I just now discovered Discussions.
Can anyone provide insight into the intended difference between Discussions and Answers and what should be posted where?
Just scrolling through Discussions, I saw postst that seem more suitable Answers?
What exactly does Discussions bring to the table that wasn't already brought by Answers?
Maybe this question is more suitable for a Discussion ....
Chen Lin
Chen Lin on 7 Feb 2024
Thank you for initiating this conversation, and I'd also like to thank @John D'Errico and @Matt J J for their insightful contributions regarding the distinctions between Answers and Discussions.
I'd like to elaborate on the rationale behind introducing the new Discussions area. As we know, MATLAB Answers already include hundreds of discussions, often tagged with meta, humor, or discussion. Interestingly, we've observed that these discussion threads are, on average, 10 times more engaging than the Q&As. However, there are several pain points.
The primary pain point is the issue of discoverability. With over 500,000 questions in Answers, it's very challenging for new visitors to stumble upon these engaging discussions. Given that we receive over 100 new questions daily, a valuable discussion can quickly be pushed out of the first page and becomes hard to discover.
Another pressing issue is the user experience. MATLAB Answers was conceived as a Q&A platform, where content is prioritized based on the number of votes or accepted answer to highlight the most useful answers. Joining an ongoing discussion can be daunting, especially when threads become lengthy and convoluted (for instance, the wishlist threads).
Furthermore, we believe we're missing out on a significant opportunity. We heard from many users that they want to share technical articles or discuss fun projects but are uncertain about the appropriate venue. If we had a dedicated space for such diverse content types, we could potentially see tens of thousands of threads, rather than the mere hundreds currently existing in Answers.
To tackle these issues and capitalize on the opportunity, we've developed the Discussions area. Our aim is to ensure high visibility for engaging content and to deliver a vastly improved user experience. We envision this space as a hub for all kinds of discussions, extending beyond MATLAB-related topics. Feel free to post pictures of your pets, share memes, or write about your travels. We want to foster deeper connections among our users. After all, we're not just MATLAB enthusiasts; we're also individuals seeking to stay connected within our community.
We acknowledge that the Discussions area is a new community venture and may initially cause some confusion. We're embracing a 'learn by doing' approach. Therefore, we encourage you to dive in, try it out, and share your feedback with us.
By the way, we're rolling out a new feature soon: Editors will be able to transfer questions from Answers to Discussions.
Chen Lin
Chen Lin on 8 Feb 2024
What you described is exactly the workflow for transferring a question to Discussions. Since there is no reputation system in Discussions today, you need to be a moderator to transfer a thread from Discussions to Answers, as well as edit or delete a thread (we might need to build one in the future). Anyone who is interested in discussions can apply to be a moderator by reaching out to us.
Paul on 8 Feb 2024
Hi Chen,
Thanks for the response. Regarding this very last statement:
"Editors will be able to transfer questions from Answers to Discussions"
If such a transfer is made on a question that I'm following, will I get a notification of that transfer and will I get subsequent notifications of activity on that discussion (assuming notifcations are already implemented for Discussions)?
Will the orginal question remain on Answers in any form, perhaps in closed state with a link to the Discussion?
I assume Editors will be able to transfer Discussions to Answers if appropriate ...
John D'Errico
John D'Errico on 26 Jan 2024
@Paul, your question really is arguably more suitable for a discussion. I'd suggest the rule(s) should be:
If it is a question about MATLAB, about a function, how to use it, how to solve a problem with it, or a problem in code, then Answers is the place.
If it is a question about the site, then the question belongs in one of the channels in Discussions.
If it is just something you want to say and not a question at all, then it belongs on Discussions.
If it is a question about how to solve some generic problem, where you don't have a clue about the mathematics and don't know where to start, then it does not belong on Answers. Possibly it might belong in some channel on discussions, or possibly it might fit better on some StackExchange forum.
If it is a homework assignment, with no effort made, it belongs somewhere else, but not here, and not on discussions either, unless they decide to create a homework with no effort made channel. I could only imagine that.
Of course, none of those rules have even remotely firm, hard edges. And they might change with time, if for example new channels are added to discussions. (I am sure we will see new channels be added over time.)
Should any posts be moved? Probably not, certainly not if an answer has been made, as then it might start to interfere with reputation earned. And while I don't give a rats ass about site reputation, others do. (When I'm gone, if the best my obituary can say about me is my site reputation, then I will have failed miserably in life.)
What do the Discussions bring to the table that Answers cannot satisfy? This is something we are all learning, and it is something that will be updated and will change with time as that part of the site matures. As such, this is a part of the site we can help to define ourselves. Are there new channels that beg to be seen? If so, then suggest it. I will positively state your ideas will be heard.
I do think Discussions will be a positive step forward, since it allows us to direct stuff that is not explicitly about MATLAB into a different place. It makes Answers less of a generic catch-all bulletin board, and more of a site about MATLAB questions.
John D'Errico
John D'Errico on 26 Jan 2024
I'd argue guides like that would belong on the page where someone starts to post an answer, trying to gently guide a poster to the right place.
Paul on 26 Jan 2024
Those proposed guidelines seem pretty reasonable at first reading. Whatever the final guidelines are, is there going be a way to get people to become aware of them to self-apply?
Matt J
Matt J on 26 Jan 2024
Answers is intended for seeking solutions to difficulties encountered by the OP in using Matlab.
Discussions is not for solution-seeking, but instead for gathering peoples' thoughts and opinions on a Matlab-related subject, e.g, what would be a useful new feature in future Matlab releases.
There are indeed a lot of solution-seeking threads incorrectly posted in Matlab Discussions. It is an issue the Community forum developers are wrestling with.
Dyuman Joshi
Dyuman Joshi on 2 Feb 2024
@David, imo, it would be better if someone from the community development team posts this update on the Wishlist thread directly.
So, everyone will have an idea of the change via an official channel beforehand and know where to proceed for further discussion.
And hopefully, that will also bring some light on Discussions as well.
Dyuman Joshi
Dyuman Joshi on 2 Mar 2024
Any updates, @David?
David on 1 Feb 2024
Speaking on behalf of the community development team, we're planning on moving the wish lists and other similar threads to the Discussions area.
Matt J
Matt J on 26 Jan 2024
The Wish Lists would be more appropriate for Discusssions, but I don't know what will be done about it.
Paul on 26 Jan 2024
Are there recent threads on Answers that would be more suitable for Discussions? Should such threads on Answers be flagged?
What's going to happend to old Answers threads, like Wish Lists, that would presently be more suitable for Discussions?

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