Planned Migration of ROS Answers and Gazebo Answers to Robotics Stack Exchange

Hello ROS Community,

I have some exciting news for you. We’re planning to migrate ROS Answer and Gazebo Answers to the Robotics Stack Exchange! This will help make ROS and Gazebo Q&A more discoverable and make it easier to find relevant answers.

Being part of the Stack Exchange network has a lot of significant benefits. It has a much more thorough moderator workflow and privilege escalation path. The meta discussion board is valuable. https://robotics.meta.stackexchange.com/ It has bots which poke questions which it things could get an answer as well as cull old ones. It has a close voting system. There’s good documentation of how to answer question and it’s generally better at rewarding contributions. The user experience is also significantly improved over what we can offer on answers.ros.org and gazebosim.ros.org. Finally, we won’t have to worry as much about redirecting people to ask a robotics but not ROS or Gazebo question to another location.

What’s going to happen?

We’ve been working with Stack Overflow to prepare for a data migration. We will be moving ROS Answers and Gazebo Answers to read only mode and then migrating questions, answers, and comments to Robotics Stack Exchange via the API. The Stack Overflow team will help us do things beyond what the API allows to provide an even better migration experience. We will maintain the existing site in read only mode for a period of time as well as looking at options to setup redirects to the new question locations for the maintenance of deep links.

To make our arrival on Robotics Stack Exchange a positive impact we will be using heuristics to only migrate answers that have demonstrated value. This will take the form of a heuristic filter such as one that only moves questions with answers that have been accepted or have one or more upvotes. Questions that have no answers but at least two upvotes will also be moved. Comments will be migrated and attributions maintained.

What should you do?

In the next few weeks log into ROS Answers and review any questions that you have asked, and accept any answers that you find valuable. In addition if there are any questions or answers that you find valuable on the site please make sure to vote them up, so that they will be preserved in the migration.

We also ask that you create an account on Robotics Stack Exchange and start answering questions there. There are many of us who have a lot of experience answering questions on ROS and Gazebo Answers, and it will be important for us to migrate to Robotics Stack Exchange as well.

Please let us know your thoughts. If you have something that you’d like to reach out to us about that’s not appropriate for a public forum you can reach the team working on the migration at answers-se-migration@openrobotics.org

FAQ

  1. Why now?

There’s been a perennial question of why doesn’t the ROS community just use Stack Overflow or Stack Exchange. We are not a perfect fit for Stack Overflow proper. Recently Stack Overflow has committed to hosting it so we have their public commitment to keep hosting it by taking Robotics Stack Exchange out of Beta status.

  1. When will this happen?

We are still testing the migration scripts. We expect to make this happen sometime before the end of the year, hopefully in November.

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Quick question, in the first FAQ

Stack Overflow or Stack Exchange?

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How will you do the user account mapping?

Some questions are without upvotes or answers/accepted answers, but useful information appears during the discussion in the comments - what about them?

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Stack Overflow is the company that hosts both stackoverflow.com and stackexchange.com .

At a minimum it will be attributing your ROS/Gazebo Answers username. We also are working with Stack Overflow to be able to associate Robotics Stack Exchange user ids with ROS and Gazebo Answers userids. We will likely need to have users submit their user IDs to make the mapping fully work.

In general I’d ask that anyone who runs into one of these please vote for them. If you can identify some examples for us we could consider updating the heuristics to include questions with upvoted comments or something like that. But in general we have mechanisms to reward and acknowledge usefulness of answers. If no one has found it valuable enough to simply vote the question or answer up then the odds are that it hasn’t been that useful, and won’t be useful in the future

There’s an overall trade off between potentially losing some information and making it harder to find good information in a haystack of non-useful information. Part of the value of the Stack Exchange model is that they bias towards making sure to have high quality questions and answers and we’re working to meet those higher standards in our migration process.

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If its possible, can we get an “unanswered” button on the top as a sorting mechanism on the Stack Exchange? I use that to sort out questions I might be able to answer over my morning coffee. Active / Hot seem more useful for lurking but not for contributing.

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If you click on Questions instead of the Home page (They are similar but slightly different

There’s a tab for Unanswered

Or I found there’s a dedicated Unanswered page on the left side too:

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Thanks, Bookmarked! :slight_smile:

Edit: Oh, that means no answer selected, not that no one has answered at all. I suppose maybe I’m asking for too much.

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By default Stack Exchange filters for ones without accepted or upvoted answers. If you find one with a good answer but unaccepted, upvote the answer and I think it will disappear from that list. And it will be helpful for others to know that you support the answer.

But you’re not asking for too much, there’s a “No Answers” tab too that will filter for zero answers

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Do the original dates/times of the migrated posts get preserved?

Good luck in that process as it seems a lot of work! But definitely needed.
As long as answers stays online as read only for a decent amount of time so we don’t loose knowledge, everything proposed seem fair.

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I am not familiar with stack exchange system, can we use channels (such as #memes channel) which are not part of questions with stack exchange?

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This is great news. This automatically gives all the infrastructure benefits of Stack Exchange to ROS/Gazebo Answers and provides a coherent platform for all ROS/Gazebo related questions. We anyways see a lot of ROS questions peppered across Stackoverflow/robotics.stackexchange but inconsistently + we use StackOverflow for a lot of core C++/Python questions as well.

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Awesome! Glad to hear this. I wish you the best migrating!

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Excellent news!

(filler text because my answer has to be at least 20 characters for some reason)

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We will be providing that information and the team at Stack Overflow is planning to reprocess the posts we migrate to adjust the metadata. There will likely be some aggregation of content and lost of full granularity as we have challenges such as our comments are too long to fit into Stack Exchange comments 1-to-1 etc.

We’re only migrating the Q&A sites ROS Answers and Gazebo Answers. The categories and channels here on ROS Discourse will remain active, including Chat #Memes

It is a great move.

I sometimes come across repeated or previously asked questions at ROS Answers. I am sure Stack Exchange can find it automatically for us by doing a better job.

On the other hand, should we create a fresh new account in Robotics Stack Exchange, or can our current ROS Answer account be used at Robotics Stack Exchange?

Thank you very much.

This is really a great initiative. Appreciate it! :clap:

Is there a way to mark ROS questions on other stack sites for migration to the robotics stack now- or maybe wait until after the import?

Probably a large number of them are duplicates that were already better answered on answers.ros.org (though as pointed out elsewhere duplicate questions are valuable if they use different words and phrases than the original question, they can be marked as duplicate and the earlier answer pointed to, and they still deserve upvotes because of that)- but maybe some aren’t.

Hey @tfoote, great initiative. I would like to know how you guys plan on structuring the site though. Let’s consider that I am an embedded developer having a problem (which I kind of am), with some super specific actuator that I plan to integrate with micro-ros. Now, if this is more of a question on embedded S/W or H/W, do you propose that I post my question in Electronics SE, and link to a question on Robotics SE, or do I simply post it on Robotics SE and hope that the embedded people find the post?

This is just to know how I should organise my barrage of questions in the future, hahah :grinning:

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