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Discourse is so much better than answers.ros.org. Move help here?

We all see this when making a new post:

Welcome to ROS Discourse — thanks for starting a new conversation!

I think it would be great if there was a help category here. Discourse is simply a much better platform for it than the one at answers.ros.org. Things like voting for topics can be added to Discourse with plugins (there are many plugins for Discourse now, and the number is growing).

I don’t hate the idea of encouraging people to ask questions and have discussions on a single platform (and I do certainly prefer discourse as a site).

Personally, my reluctance would be that I go to either site with different goals, and I would be a bit annoyed if the discourse feed was bogged down with questions about very user specific issues. So I guess I would ask if its possible to filter out certain tags by default, or can you only filter for certain tags?

Bigger picture, I would predict some reluctance to transitioning everything over. ROS Answers isn’t the greatest platform, but it certainly has some inertia to it. Would questions get migrated over to Discourse or would they be left in a ROS Answers Archive? Would we be expecting everyone on ROS Answers to make a Discourse account?

Just some thoughts. I’m mostly commenting to follow the conversation and see what others think

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I think the ROS Discourse and ROS Answers sites inherently serve different roles for the community, and do not think it would be wise to merge the two. However I do think ROS Answers could use an update:

As for migrating ROS Answers to a newer platform such as stack exchange or a separate discourse instance, I’d recommend reviewing the thread above. There are perhaps a lot of logistical challenges though, such as maintaining/archiving URLs redirects, linking user accounts, migrating tags, etc.

I’ve seen other sites use discourse as a Q/A, although I think it’s a little too linear, and doesn’t fit well when there may be more than one correct or top answer, or when answers may change over time.

I also prefer the threading model that stack exchange (and AskBot before it) use, allowing parallel discussions to nest under comments for each submitted anser; it’s just a better way of organising answers for later readers who don’t want to slog through an entire thread just to find the other assortment of potentially interleaved solutions.

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answers.ros.org has such a large library of good answers built up, I don’t think it will get replaced anytime soon. Motivation for people to answer new questions is the main problem, I think.

6 Likes

Why look, it is this thread again.

As others have already said, the two websites serve distinctly different purposes. I think a more likely outcome is that we would port Answers to Stack Overflow. There is no plan to do this at this time. I agree that the Answers is a bit rough around the edges at this point; but unfortunately there is only so much we can do about that.

I think the broader question is how do we improve participation on ROS Answers? I have a rough plan around that but I currently don’t have time to implement it. Unfortunately, there is only so much Open Robotics can do to improve the quality of ROS Answers; realistically we need the community to pitch in on keeping the website vibrant.

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They had an official “Suppress category from latest” feature, but they removed it but an official plugin has been released due to so many people missing the feature:

I suggest make it read-only archive (thus still searchable) and ask users to create new accounts on Discourse, without migrating anything, and call it a day.

This summarizes Discourse co-founder’s thought on threading (some good points in that topic):

Discourse does have good quoting abilities (as demonstrated in this comment) and built-in “Replies” feature to view replies to a particular comment (make sure to use the “Reply” button on a particular post):

Here’s a plugin that adds Q&A to Discourse, giving thread authors the ability to mark a comment in a topic as the accepted answer, answer voting, and threaded discussion:

And this alternative doesn’t have threading, but seems to be more popular on all Discourse sites I’ve ever visited:

StackOverflow is really un-social. In comments, it is possible to only mention one person, and they have limited length. If you don’t mention someone, they will likely never know you commented at them. Etc. Discourse encourages building of relationships and community; allows quality commenting with embedding from external sites (like seen above), quality content (f.e. code blocks) in every comment unlike StackOverflow, etc.

I feel that the benefits of Discourse (plus a couple well-known plugins) outweigh the Answers site very much.