[DISCONTINUED] MATLAB Answers Wish-list #5 (and bug reports)

Rik on 3 Jul 2019
Latest activity Reply by Rena Berman on 17 Jan 2024

This is the 5th installment of the wish-list and bug report thread.
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). The third started out as New design of the forum - grey on white and the fourth MATLAB Answers Wish-list #4 (and bug reports) is also growing so large it is slow to load and navigate.
Same idea as the previous ones: one wish (or bug report) per answer, so that people can vote their wishes.
What should you post where?
Wishlist threads (#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6): bugs and feature requests for Matlab Answers
Frustation threads (#1 #2): frustations about usage and capabilities of Matlab itself
Missing feature threads (#1 #2): features that you whish Matlab would have had
Next Gen threads (#1): features that would break compatibility with previous versions, but would be nice to have
@anyone posting a new thread when the last one gets too large (about 50 answers seems a reasonable limit per thread), please update this list in all last threads. (if you don't have editing privileges, just post a comment asking someone to do the edit)
DGM on 14 Feb 2023
Now that moving answers/comments is possible, we kind of need these objects to have accessible timestamps with a resolution better than 24h. When multiple people are posting comments on each other's comments-as-answers, it gets a bit difficult to untangle the thread without knowing the order of events. The sequential identifier numbers are useful to some degree, but comments and answers are not comparable in that manner; furthermore, once an object is moved, it's no longer in-sequence.
A lot of other sites will show rough timestamps, but a mouseover will reveal the full timestamp. That'd be fine.
Rena Berman
Rena Berman on 14 Feb 2023
(Answers dev) Thanks @DGM for your feedback. I will capture it for consideration.
Paul on 13 Nov 2022
I wish that the Categories feature be much more useful. Check out hte categorization of this Question:
Scroll over the right and we see: Gaming / Historical Contests. If I was actually trying to find this Question, or others like it, I don't think Gaming would be the first Category I'd check in the "Filter By" pane. I've seen a lot of cases where the categorization seems not useful. Calls into question the utility of the Filter By pane in general for finding interesting content, IMO. As an example, this question is also categorized the same way.
Paul on 15 Nov 2022
I've alos noticed that many questions are not categorized at all. Any idea why that is? I assume that means such questions can't be found via the "Filter By" pane either?
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 13 Nov 2022
I have been complaining about the AI categorization in other channels. It is often pretty far off. For a while I tagged the Questions with "miscategorized" to flag them, but there were so many of them that I mostly gave up and stopped looking at the categorization.
DGM on 7 Nov 2022
I've been spending a lot of time browsing old content and making use of the RHS "See Also" related forum links ... and I think they're less useful than expected. The related forum links seem to be drawn from a small pool of frequently garbage questions, many of which are unanswered or answerable. I see the same ones all the time.
I don't know why the pool is so shallow, but it is, and that's frustrating. I'm half inclined to delete some of the unanswerable ones just to get them out of the pool. While maybe cleanup is in order, why is it so persistent at recommending things with no demonstrated interest?
With the search tool and sidebar in mind, the difficulty in finding relevant content is what has made me more inclined to simply provide direct links to things I think are relevant. Even then, I find myself going back and updating answers to add links to newer threads/answers. It's hardly maintainable.
But that got me thinking about the value of being able to have some curation done by humans. I already keep a growing list of links to reference answers myself, and I know I'm not the only one. Sometimes I wish I could just make it public. I have no idea how it would be implemented, and I doubt anyone ever will, but I think it could be incredibly valuable if we could create something like custom public/private "collections" or "playlists" of content (threads/answers/comments).
The idea really struck me when I saw John D'Errico posting a tutorial on doing exponential curve fits, and I realized that there were a lot of good curve fitting examples that I wish I could still find in this giant sea. I think about Stephen23's tutorial threads, some of the "How to ask" threads, and meta threads like this.
Let's say you loaded up the "Why you should avoid dynamically named variables" thread. You look over in the sidebar and there's a little section that says "Part of the Mega Tutorials collection by Stephen23", and there's a list of links to content that an actual human decided was relevant for a particular reason that's probably described by the name of the collection.
Let's say you add an answer or comment to a collection, maybe the answer can have a little widget at the bottom that links to the collection so that a user can just browse it.
I know, I know. It's hardly a well-defined proposition, but the post is long enough already. It's just an idle thought that might provoke some opinions.
Rik on 8 Nov 2022
I find myself using them as templates. If I already have something written, I will just use my clipboard and paste it back once the quick reply has overwritten it.
DGM on 8 Nov 2022
I thought quick replies would be great. I do have a couple quick replies set up, but I think I've found that the only scenario that I'm comfortable with a canned response is when I'm probing junk nonsequitor/copypasted answers before shoveling them. Maybe I'd feel different if I were more active on current general questions.
I prefer to either put the links inline in the explanation or at the end of the answer with some context. Quick replies aren't conveniently inserted in a half-written answer.
Steven Lord
Steven Lord on 8 Nov 2022
I have a small number (7 right now) of Quick Replies for various topics, some of which (like my "Dynamic variables" Quick Reply) link to Answers that I frequently reference. I find this to be a lighterweight version of Adam's Trello board and a more portable solution than DGM's flat file (which I used prior to the introduction of Quick Reply but had some challenge keeping synchronized between my work and home machines.)
DGM on 8 Nov 2022
@Adam Danz See you're way ahead of me. I just have a giant text file with poorly delineated categories :D. I find that it's valuable to add some sort of description to each link to describe why it's been cataloged or what things it demonstrates.
Still, it's largely up to me to remember what's in the catalog.
I admit that the way I collect this wouldn't be suitable for a public list of links. Besides the terse descriptions, much of it is simply for me to have quick references to my own answers so that I have something to adapt upon.
DGM on 8 Nov 2022
Bear in mind it may well be an artifact of my browsing behavior. I've had a habit of just browsing down every rabbit hole provided by the "for you" recommended list on the Answers front page. I browse (and answer) a lot of old low-traffic threads related to image processing or image editing.
I'd take that for a spin and see if I could rustle up some instances, but it won't load for me at the moment. That tends to happen fairly often when my connection is slow.
Similarly, sidebar links won't always load on slow connections either, so it's difficult to search for good examples but from memory right now.
There are some that I recall by name. Bear in mind, these aren't the worst. They're just the ones that are common enough that I can get links without browsing for hours.
I see this one and this one all the time. I'm sure half of those monthly views are from me.
Here's a few more of variable frequency or value.
There are plenty that are perfectly valid questions or answers, but they just show up way more often than expected, while much better, higher-traffic/value threads with multiple good answers rarely ever do.
I have noticed that after I answer some of these old questions, I can reload the page and the sidebar is changed for the better (usually). Is it just that old unanswered questions are relevant to old unanswered questions? I imagine questions like "how do i do a thing with a thing" don't really provide much information to work from. Even still, within the scope of junk threads, I know the pool is large enough that I'd expect to see more variety in junk recommendations.
As an aside while we're talking about the sidebar, why are unanswered links formatted with the same style as accepted answers?
As far as screensharing meetings, that's not going to happen. Much of the time, I can barely use the site on my connection. I have no control over when and how bad my connection gets. It's safe to assume that I have less than zero bandwidth to spare and that any attempt at voice/video/screencast will be reduced to an hour of getting disconnected repeatedly without communicating a single thing. Without exception, that has been the sum of all my experiences attempting such things.
Rik on 8 Nov 2022
That Trello board seems like a huge amount of work. On the other hand answering all the questions here is a huge amount of work as well. So perhaps looking at a way to let such work be useful for multiple people makes sense.
Kent Millard
Kent Millard on 7 Nov 2022
Hi DGM - You mentioned that the See More links seem to be drawn from a small pool of low quality question threads. Can you tell me more about what you're seeing so I can understand the issue more thoroughly? Specifically, it would be very helpful if you could tell me:
  1. What you were searching for?
  2. What question(s) you were on?
  3. Which See More links were low quality/unexpected?
This would help us pinpoint the root cause.
If it's more convenient, I'd be happy to set up a brief meeting where you could share your screen and walk us through some of the things that you've been seeing. Feel free to contact me at:
Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 7 Nov 2022
Several years ago I started tracking a selection of my (and others') answers so that I could find them again quickly.
I use a Trello board where each list is a topic (e.g. "Data types') and the cards in each list are sub-topic (e.g. "structures", "cell arrays", "timeseries"). When you open a card (2nd image below), it is further broken down into categories of solutions. Over the years it's become large and sometimes requires some clean-up but overall, it's a big time saver relative to searching for the content in the forum.
This is to say, I support DGM's human-curation idea.
Kent Millard
Kent Millard on 7 Nov 2022
Thanks for your feedback on the quality of the links in "See Also". I'm a UX Designer on both the Search and Answers teams; this is definitely an issue we need to look into and I'll forward your feedback to both teams.
Best - Kent
William Rose
William Rose on 30 Sep 2022
Sometime a poster posts approximately the same quesiton more than once, for whatever reason. Is there a way for a moderator to merge such duplicate posts, if it is suggested to the mods, and if a moderator agrees? The advantage of merging the questions is that the various answers and comments woudl be in one place for all to see. A possible disdvantage might be allocaiton of answer points, if there are accepted answers in multiple versions.
Sorry if this was already asked and answered. I search this thread and Matlab Answers for "merge" and did not see it already asked.
Thank you @Sam Chak for suggesting this venue.
dpb on 1 Oct 2022
And I was just throwing another somewhat related editor function in the suggestion hopper while talking of such things...
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 1 Oct 2022
@Sam Chak, yes we knew exactly what he meant, because many of us have thought the same thing. There was no misunderstanding of what he meant.
Sam Chak
Sam Chak on 1 Oct 2022
William Rose
William Rose on 1 Oct 2022
Thank you @Image Analyst and @dpb and @Star Strider for your thoughts.
dpb on 30 Sep 2022
On a very few I've done something in that vein and noted that I had posted author X's comment/answer. But it is time-consuming to automatic merge function if an editor flags two or more as duplicates could be useful as starting point from the flagging option, maybe??? That all gets into a lot of manual effort though, and most of those of this ilk are of questionable value, anyway, it seems to me...
Star Strider
Star Strider on 30 Sep 2022
I flag them as duplicates (if they are actual duplicates and not variations on the same theme).
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 30 Sep 2022
@William Rose No. We can move posts within a single discussion thread but cannot move to post to a totally different thread. However you can edit it and copy and paste it from one to the other but that would be a very interactive/tedious editing operation, though you could do it if you thought it was worth the trouble. You can't assign authors though. So if author1 replied in thread 1 but not thread 1 and you copied the reply to thread 2, it would show up with your name. If author 1 is in both threads, then you can edit either one and it will retain the author 1 ownership (and just show that you edited it).
DGM on 23 May 2022
Well, I skimmed a bunch of these threads (you might have noticed) and I didn't see anything about this sort of thing, so I'll just throw this idea out there.
I would feel a lot more comfortable if I were able to give some sort of reason or substantiating information when I delete an answer/comment. This usually seems to cross my mind when I'm faced with what I regard as spam in the form of seemingly random chunks of code/text which have been copied and pasted from other comments/answers or from other threads without any added commentary. I'd like to be able to say "comment is a verbatim duplicate of this one" or "this is a partial chunk of code copied from this unrelated thread over here".
I have no idea if there's any review on these deletions or if the "this is spam" checkbox actually changes anything. I think of what it's like moderating spam through the "manage spam" page. If I were to see any of these posts show up there, I would often have no way to know that they were copied and pasted garbage posted on unrelated threads. Since many are copypasta of legitimate comments and answers, initial appearances would strongly suggest they're not spam.
Then again, if deleted items just disappear into the abyss without review, I'd only be satisfying my desire to prove some modicum of reason or due diligence. Any thoughts?
DGM on 23 May 2022
It would be nice as a feedback to the original poster -- That's a good point. I occasionally see things deleted on threads that I follow, and it just says "[user] deleted an answer on [question]". Having that little bit of commentary added to the notification would be nice to know for anyone following the thread.
Speaking of fat-fingering things, I've come close a few times. Partly because I really need a new mouse, and partly because the pages on the site really like to jump around after I've scrolled. Sometimes you end up clicking on something four inches above/below the cursor. Similarly, the recent inconsistent location of the upvoting button has led to clicking on the flag button when I was trying to get a permalink. Maybe I need new eyeballs too.
I didn't know the spam marking fed the AI, but that makes sense. It kind of makes me wary about marking copy-pasted things as spam. I fear I'd be training it to flag legitimate content.
I only really brought up the "manage spam" page as an example of the hazards of decontextualized manual review. I usually try to visit the content in-context and see if it makes sense. ... but yeah, some of them are extremely obvious (and persistent).
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 23 May 2022
"mark as spam" is (automatically) used as input to the AI that (tries to) detect spam.
"closed" questions can be reviewed (and occasionally someone bothers to re-open one.)
The entries in the spam logs that look like legitimate posting content: for those you often have to examine the user name or user profile to see that the posts are intended as spam, such as if the username turns out to contain the URL for a gambling site.
Rik on 23 May 2022
I think there is a reason you need 3k reputation points to delete things. It means you have been Walter-levels of active for a year (like Madhan), or fairly active for several years (like plebs like me). The idea is that you have proven to be able to make decisions and have some motivation to make this site better. You don't have to delete things yourself if you don't feel comfortable to do so. Simply flag it (or not) and someone may at some point come along and take action.
I suspect the lack of free text feedback is because that would require manual interpretation, or vast numbers on the scale of YouTube/Facebook. The checkbox is probably only there to feed it to the automatic spam filter.
Providing a reason for a deletion (or at least having the option to provide one) would be a nice-to-have, but only people who are already invested as frequent users are allowed to do that. It would be nice as a feedback to the original poster, but I doubt it would improve anything much. The reason for closing a thread is also not easy to find (it's in the activity feed and on this page). I have never fat-fingered a deletion, so that type of accidents also seem unlikely (I tend to flag first which helps in this regard, and I must admit I have forgotten the spam check box at times).
per isakson
per isakson on 26 Mar 2022
I noticed a minor issue with hyperlink.
Clicking the link (marked with yellow below) in my Content Feed takes me to the wrong position in Question, close to the comment near the end of the Question. However, the hyperlink itself is ok, i.e
Clicking the link (marked yellow below) in the "header section" of the Question takes me to the correct comment.
I checked this issue and a second time an hour later with refreshed pages.
Windows 10 and Firefox. Both are recently updated.
DGM on 27 Mar 2022
I always thought it just did that because I have it set to expand all comments.
It's annoying, but I kind of expect websites to jump all over the place uncontrollably anyway.
P.S. Yeah, I'm using Firefox.
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 26 Mar 2022
I demonstrated this to MATLAB (Rena) and she has some theory on the reason. Unfortunately it was not fixed in the new Answers code they rolled out 2 days ago. It did fix the missing/hidden comment bug though.
Actually it's not a minor bug. It's extremely annoying for me. I've found a workaround though. It's particularly bad for very long threads. You end up not a comment or two away but many screens away from where you should be. The workaround is to go up to the top and click on the last activity there are the top of the screen in the discussion thread. If you do that, you should land on the correct location.
per isakson
per isakson on 26 Mar 2022
The two hyperlinks to this particular comment works correctly with Edge. However, with Firefox the Content Feed hyperlink still takes me to the wrong (same) position in the page.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 26 Mar 2022
This is a known problem that affects at least Firefox. (I do not know if it affects other browsers; all the reports I have seen have been from people who happen to use Firefox.)
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 28 Jan 2022
It would be really nice if we could double click a function name in our Answers response, click some toolbar icon, and have it convert that word in our response to the URL for the online MATLAB documentation for that function.
dpb on 23 May 2022
Since smart-sense can put in the links, I wonder why it can't do something to automagically highlight them some how as well -- at least with settings here (that I've made no known changes to any defaults I'm aware of, anyway), they're essentially indistinguishable from ordinary text. I think there may be a color change, but it's not enough I can really even tell that for sure. I (sometimes) will use <> to surround, but it's more time/effort than typically take unless pasting a remote link with the CTRL_K route in which case have to edit the display text anyways, generally.
However, the doc link, while useful, doesn't have links to base functionality -- other than functions, it doesn't know about keywords where those could be the most helpful/pertinent to the poster/question raised. I tried to link to <for> the other day -- it didn't know anything about it.
Star Strider
Star Strider on 23 May 2022
I just type ‘@doc:’ then type enough of the function name to bring up the appropriate function in the drop-down menu (that magickally appears at that point), and click on the one I want. I generally use bold+underline+monospace for function links so I have to go back and do that, however once I highlight the function name that’s straightforward.
Kent Millard
Kent Millard on 23 May 2022
Thanks for describing your workflow @Image Analyst--this is very helpful. As you pointed out, step 3 does not trigger the dropdown--I agree with you that it should. I'll talk with the developer about this. Thanks again.
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 23 May 2022
Kent, it's an improvement, and works fine if I remember in advance to do it. However I'd still like a tool bar icon to doc it after I type the function name. Here is a common workflow for me
  1. Type sentence, including some function name, for example bwlabel().
  2. Remember that I can make the function name a link but I forgot to add @doc: in front of the name.
  3. Return cursor to the beginning of the function and type @doc:
  4. That does not bring up the popup list of functions, so I have to delete the function name I typed, and start all over again using @doc: in front and re-type the function name.
It would be easier if I could just double-click the work and click the toolbar button to turn it into the link.
Kent Millard
Kent Millard on 23 May 2022
This feature has been released.
Type @ or @doc:[function name] to search and add a Documentation link to your post.
Let us know what you think.
Rik on 28 Jan 2022
Any quick way to link to the doc would be really nice. IMHO the documentation and Answers are the biggest advantages Matlab has over its competitors, and currently they are poorly linked.
per isakson
per isakson on 20 Jan 2022
A minor issue
By mistake I accepted an old question of mine. I realized my mistake an unaccepted the question. However, in my "Followed Content" both actions are reported as "accepted an answer"
per isakson
per isakson on 20 Jan 2022
@Rik, Yes, you hit the nail on the head. I edited the question and now "Followed Content" shows accepted, unaccepted and edited.
Rik on 20 Jan 2022
If the last two actions on a page are taken shortly after each other, the activity feed sometimes displays one action twice. It often goes back to showing the different actions if there is something new.
I have noticed this especially if the OP accepts an answer and posts a comment saying thank you.
Paul Hoffrichter
Paul Hoffrichter on 12 Jan 2022
PROJECTS is too closely coupled with Git CM
Some users may want to have a limited view of the files in the Set Path folder list.
MATLAB chooses files based on the ordering of the Set Path. Our developers share a CM repository. Some users create temporary projects to do some analysis. They might need only a couple of files in the main project. So to focus on just the files the user needed, files were deleted from the project. Later, after the analysis and the temporary project was deleted, the user pushed his changes to the shared repository. When users pulled from the shared repository, they were surprised to see that some files disappeared.
When I called MathWorks support, I was told that this is by design. When a file is removed from a project, then the file is staged for deletion in Git CM, so when everyone else pulled from the share, the corresponding files were deleted.
But, they said not to worry, because when the file is removed from the project, the file is not actually lost to the file, because Matlab makes sure to keep a copy even though it is deleted from Git CM. So, when other complain about lost files, then the user who removed the file from the project can be added back into Git followed by a Git Commit and Git Push, and everyone can then restore the file(s) by doing a Git Pull. The user will still be able to work fine with the so-called deleted file(s).
This is not good - very ineficient recovery as well as having confusing history. Project is too tightly coupled with Git with respect to deletions. I recommended strongly that when a file is removed from a project, do not by default, mark it for deletion in CM. Or, at least have a toggle where the user can set the default to not to delete it from CM.
In 2020, after a short tryout, we had to stop using projects.
per isakson
per isakson on 24 Jul 2021
Background: I recently put some effort into answering How to store and reuse coefficients in a for loop. My answer together with a comment includes a discussion on "column-major order" and "performance". I searched in vain for references in the documentation and in Answers regarding the significance of taking "column-major" into account. OP has read my answer an comment. So far so good. Now I would like a few more users to read my responses. To make my responses to OP's comments more visible, I sometimes add them at the end of my answer. And I add tags, in this case I added "column-major"..
  • support multiple code blocks/wells in one answer. In the current case my answer contained one code block and my comment another. Adding the comment to the answer causes "Run in 2021a" to throw an error for the second code block.
  • support searches (Cntr-F) in the current thread to include hidden comments. Currently, "Search Answers" for "tag:"column-major" singleton" returns the question ("singleton" is in a hidden comment), but Ctrl-F doesn't find "singleton". (I use Firefox.)
Rik on 27 Jul 2021
As a temporary work-around you can do what I do: make use of the fact that the output is persistent. I sometimes reorder everything to make it run with the correct output in the correct places, and then edit the code to a more sensible structure. One example was a user posting a question about fminsearch where their cost function didn't return a scalar. Easy enough to show, but I didn't need the entire function to do that, so I just ran it with the function and then edited away the function, leaving only the call.
So if there are plans to remove this persistent behavior, please don't.
Star Strider
Star Strider on 27 Jul 2021
@Tushal Desai Slightly off-topic, however thanks for the online Run feature!
Tushal Desai
Tushal Desai on 26 Jul 2021
Thank you for your suggestions @per isakson. There are currently some limitations preventing what you suggest for multiple code blocks and we're working with teams to look for ways to provide these capabilities.
Kent Millard
Kent Millard on 26 Jul 2021
Thanks Per.
  • For mulitple code wells, I'll refer that to @Tushal Desai--he implemented the Run feature and can respond to your suggestion.
  • For supporting search of hidden comments, to Walter's point, we released a "Show/hide older comments" that appears at the top of every question thread. The toggle is persistent so if you prefer to see or, in your case, search threads with CTRL-F, you now have that ability.
Thanks as always Per for all your work in Answers.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 24 Jul 2021
Mathworks did some work, at least for power users, to make comment expansion easier. Now that I think of it, though, it might possibly only be in place on mobile: on mobile, if you expand older comments, then it expands all of the comments in the entire post and it remembers that you want comments expanded.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 24 Jul 2021
I suggested distinct code-wells to Mathworks a number of months ago, along with automatic numbering of lines in code wells, and control over which code wells restarted the line numbering .
It is common that we want to quote particular user code to discuss it. We might not want to quote the entire code before that point (readability) so variables might not have been defined that are needed -- and of course the reason we might have quoted a line is that it might have a syntax error that we want to discuss. And we might want to then show correct code. Thus there might be code wells that we do not want to have executed at all.
Paul on 8 Jun 2021
After I click the "Follow" link on a question, I'd like that question to show up in my Managed Followed Content list immediately (with some reasonable delay for the system to catch up). As it stands now, it only shows up in my list after someone else subsequently answers or comments.
Josh Natanson
Josh Natanson on 9 Jun 2021
@Paul, Thanks for the additional info. Defaulting the latest activity to the time of follow seems like reasonable behavior, we can consider that for a future update.
Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 8 Jun 2021
I see my first follow is on that date too but I couldn't remember when I actually started contributing here. The system says 2014 but that was probably a single question/comment and I may not have followed it.
I'm surprised that I follow twice as many threads as the number of my contributions. I thought the number of follows would be slighly higher but not double.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 8 Jun 2021
October 11, 2017.
As per the default, following is on for any Question I ask, Answer, or Comment on. The system thinks I have contributed to over 83000 Questions.
Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 8 Jun 2021
But you have ~20K more answers than that. Was the follow-feature added later in the forum's development?
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 8 Jun 2021
Over 33000 threads followed for me ;-)
Paul on 8 Jun 2021
It never occurred to me that it would be at the end of the list and that sorting by Date Followed would be the workaround. Good to know. But I like my list sorted by Last Activity, so it would be great if me clicking the "Follow" link was considered activity, thereby pushing it to the top of the Last Activity list.
As for workflow, sometimes I click on "follow" with the intent of coming back to the question, either to review it in more detail, answer, or comment. Of course, when someone else answers or comments it bubbles to the top of my list. But if nobody does, it gets lost in the shuffle and I'll forget about it. So I guess my use case is similar if not the same as Adam's use case.
Adam Danz