ROS Resources: Documentation | Support | Discussion Forum | Service Status | Q&A

ROS Answers needs your help

First off, thanks @gavanderhoorn for bringing this up and for all the energy you put into answering questions lately, I’m sure you’ve helped a bunch of people! I’ve been slacking off in answering questions myself, and I’ll try to spend the 15 minutes each day from now on.

I believe it’s best to encourage people to answer questions out of intrinsic motivations instead of paying them to do so (because it will lead to sub-standard answers). When I started answering questions 7 years ago, what motivated me was:

  • Helping people. You really get a good feeling for having helped someone who otherwise wouldn’t have solved their problem, and who perhaps has nobody else to turn to for help.
  • Getting karma. It sounds silly to pursue fake internet points, but the gamification aspect definitely worked for me. Getting karma and earning new badges by answering questions feels like leveling up in a game.
  • When all the easy questions were already gone, I started researching answers to questions that I didn’t immediately know the answer to. After a while, I noticed that this really helped me to gain broad understanding of everything there is in ROS, even though that wasn’t my original intent when answering those questions (I wanted to get karma!). I believe this is really the best way to become a ROS expert.

Would it make sense to let a package maintainer know about those that they can be referenced and (later) added in some FAQ section on the packages wiki page?

I got most answers from you @gavanderhoorn so far. I appreciate your effort very very much! Thx!


I have no real feeling for this outside robot_localization, but I wonder how many questions that get asked have been answered before. I know from personal experience that I’ve answered the same non-trivial question on multiple occasions.

Part of this, I think, comes down to search. For example, I often get asked, “Can I use robot_localization with just a GPS and IMU?” If users search for that on ROS Answers, here’s what they get. None of those initial results are all that relevant to the search. If we search using Google, we get this.

Obviously, part of this is a failure of the package documentation, too, and @fkromer’s idea to reference the questions in their package wikis is a good one. I’m just wondering if there’s anything we can do to make previous answers easier to find.

Regardless, I learned a lot from ROS Answers when I started using ROS, and I think we owe it to new users to give them the same level of help that we received. I’ll try to carve out more time to answer questions, and will encourage my team members to do the same.

This is something we would need to be careful with, I agree. However, we do still have other users and the moderation system. Answers (and questions) can also be downvoted. The idea of this being of course that it’s a self-balancing system (in the end).

My OP was more a call-to-action, as in “we can do better”, but if you feel you’ve been “slacking off” then that sounds like a good motivator :wink:

As I wrote in reply to @lmathieu’s comment, I believe this can be mitigated by the self-correcting nature of the system with up- and down-votes.

I do agree completely that intrinsic motivation is best. For some people money is a good intrinsic motivator though :slight_smile: But perhaps altruism might be a good one too.

I completely agree with this one too. It’s basically what I wrote at the end of my (perhaps too long) OP.

That is a good idea, and would even not be too difficult to implement. It would just take some time.

Perhaps the easiest would be – seeing as not all questions are properly tagged – for someone to browse ROS Answers and collect questions about a certain package which he could then collate and post on the issue tracker of that package / those packages.

Rather low-tech, but perhaps even already enough.

This is definitely true. The number of duplicates or near-duplicates is just about bearable at the moment.

The search is rather sub-par at the moment: I’ve even opened an issue about that: ros-infrastructure/ (which you +1ed).

I always use Google: my search terms

@tfoote: is this an opportunity to revisit ros-infrastructure/

Would this perhaps warrant a post over in the #quality category?

Great, thanks :+1:. And thanks for the support for robot_localization @Tom_Moore.

1 Like

I’m glad someone still celebrates Answer ROS Questions Like A Pirate Day


Just wanted to thank all who’ve responded to my call to action: thanks for the increased interaction on ROS Answers :+1: :beers: :hamburger:

If people are up for it we could reinstitute this.

1 Like

Answer ROS Questions Like A Pirate Day

I’m in. Why wait for Sep 19? :slight_smile:

1 Like

I have mixed emotions here. When I was a newbie, I used ROS answers often, and I contributed, as the answers created solutions to problems. As my expertise (and I use that term loosely) increased, I found out my questions were not being answered, or answered with a sort of implied " go away don’t bother me kid" response. Now I seldom go to ROS answers, preferring to go to the github repositories or known experts, or my friends working in the field. My favorite saying is “ROS has no learning curve, only a learning cliff.” Once you are an experienced cliff diver, you lose interest in telling beginners how to dog paddle.

I think a better set of tutorials like learning ROS with Turtlebot updated for v3, or completely in simulation, would be a better way to answer many of the getting started questions. Perhaps editing and streamlining a FAQ, and segmenting into specialty sections like Vision, Location, Sensors so answers can be found more quickly can help. About 30 years ago I helped develop the first web based ask an expert system. In this system all incoming questions for a single day were routed to a single volunteer ‘expert’ for that day. That person was responsible for either responding directly, or forwarding to another expert.

Personally, I don’t find that growing my own expertise has diminished my enjoyment of helping beginners. But I run frequent tutorials locally for people who are new to some aspect of ROS, so that probably says more about my enjoyment of being a teacher than anything else. :upside_down_face:

OK, I took another look at this. If I ask ROS-Answers to display ‘unanswered’ questions it says 12975 over 40877 are ‘unanswered.’ However looking at them it seems 90% have at least one answer or some comments. So I wonder how many of the questions really are unanswered?

So my question is what is the problem we are trying to solve? Is it to make sure every question gets a personal response?

1 Like

At the high level the goal is to provide a place where people can go to get answers to questions they have about ROS systems. Users should be able to find questions and answers already there from past queries, and if their question hasn’t already been asked they can ask for help.

To be able to make this happen effectively we need to make it easy for the community to know what questions are unresolved and are looking for answers. This is provided by the “Unanswered” filter.

If you are browsing through the site and find an Unanswered question that you know the answer to or can contribute to please take a minute or two to do so.

This is definitely an issue that would be good to improve the site quality. Unfortunately it’s usually brand new users who are not familiar with the format and often don’t know to accept an answer after it’s provided and resolves their issue. Moderators/high Karma users can help with this somewhat, but a lot of it relies on the users and teaching new users how to use the site.

As a rule of thumb:

  • If you have asked a question and your question has been answered, please accept the solution so that others know that your question is resolved and won’t spend time trying to help you again.

  • If you solve a problem that you asked about, please answer your own question so that others who have the same problem will be able to learn from your effort too.

  • If your question turns out to be invalid or otherwise unanswerable, please close it with a comment so that others in the future who might have a similar issue can still benefit, and people volunteering their time don’t spend time trying to answer your resolved question.

The most important thing I think for the site is to improve the quality of the questions. Good questions encapsulate the problem making it easy to help the user. The quality of the question is quite strongly correlated with the speed and completeness of the answer. Many questions that only include partial information for how to reproduce will get comments and requests for more information, or guessed answers but often end up in a limbo land where there’s not enough information to answer the question.

What can also be super valuable is to give advise on how to improve a question so that it can become answerable.

Overall this is a community driven website designed to be self sustaining. We all need to contribute a little bit to make it work. It’s a resource that we all benefit from, please take a few minutes each week to try to answer at least one question. If everyone who visits the site did this this week there’d be no unanswered questions.

1 Like

As an update to this post: I wanted to thank all of you that have responded to my call to action and contributed to ROS Answers in the past few months by answering questions and guiding posters.

Keep up the good work and perhaps see you at ROSCon.


I know this thread is almost exactly a year old, but figured with this year’s answer day announcement I’d revive it by asking @gavanderhoorn: how did things pan out? Are you seeing more action? Where are we needing more help from SMEs?

I’m going to guess from what I see there’s still room to grow as a community and I’d like to use the opportunity to double down and ask again for people to come and help sift!

I can say for one, that a year ago your call to action got me up and thinking & over my morning coffee every day I try to answer as many questions as I can and the habit has sticked. I hope to peer pressure others to join suit!


Yes, I believe we have a few more regular contributors now on ROS Answers than when I posted the OP.

We’ve also lost some people, but I believe there is still a net gain.

I would definitely like to see some more topic experts active on ROS Answers. There are quite a few topics that are already well covered, but only by one or two people. This results in questions sometimes going unanswered for quite some time.

With more topic experts I assume it will both lower the load and result in faster responses.

(I realise it’s all unpaid volunteering, but it’s not good for a community when newcomers – which is still the target-audience of sorts for ROS Answers – wait up to a week to receive a comment or answer)

:slight_smile: thanks, couldn’t agree more.

Watch out, I’ve posted a few answer recently when I hadn’t had my coffee yet … and had to delete them again :coffee: :frowning:


I’ve done that myself a few times… beware answering ROS Answers when you’re only half awake and your memory isn’t working properly!


Something I forgot when answering @smac’s question about the current state: now that we have quite a few posts about ROS 2 on ROS Answers as well, it would be great to increase the number of ROS 2 topic experts as well.

There are already a few, such as @smac and @alsora and of course the OR crew, but I have a feeling we could improve on this.

Quite a few questions are about how to configure DDS (correctly), general network troubleshooting for ROS 2 (multicast troubles), how to create custom messages, why publishers and subscribers can’t find each other (different QoS settings :frowning_face: ), whether certain packages have already been ported to ROS 2, how to design ROS 2 applications, integration with other middlewares/simulators/modeling tools and how to make use of new features in new releases of ROS 2.

So if you drink :coffee: or :tea: in the morning, know a bit about ROS 2 and would like to help a fellow clueless developer out – or maybe not so clueless, as some questions about ROS 2 are really in-depth, then please check ROS Answers once in a while and see whether you can contribute.

Helpful link to just the ROS 2 questions:

Edit: there appear to be only 501 unanswered questions about ROS 2 so far (link), so with a bit of luck, we could achieve a perfect score if we get them all answered.


You can visually see the proportion of ROS1 to ROS2 questions here:


That there is a ridiculously beautiful plot


I super hope all the pre-hydros are floating point/computation errors. 0.55% C-turtle in 2019! All the pre-hydros rival Indigo, which I’m happy to see folks finally completely away from. Very unexpected.