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Epic looking for your feedback on the direction to take with Answerhub

Hi all,

With Unreal Engine 5 on the horizon, we are focusing on how to empower and support you better, and build resources that will continue to serve you for years to come.

While we are discussing and researching all kinds of things, which we’ll share in due time, right now Amanda and I would love to get your input on AnswerHub.

Below, we’ve outlined all the details to give you some perspective on what we are working with and thinking through. This is a long post, but it is important, so buckle up!


AnswerHub
We launched AnswerHub during the early days of UE4. For UE5, we will be migrating away from the existing platform.

  • There are some technical reasons for this, mostly relating to flexibility behind the scenes, and the degree of support we have access to.
  • We worry about the fragmented channels—we see users post and answer topics across both the forums and AnswerHub, but sometimes struggle to get replies or find the answers they’re seeking. Other things like recognizing and supporting contributions are harder too.

Our plan

  • Migrate the current content from AnswerHub over to a new Q&A section that would run on the same platform as the forums (Discourse).
  • Then, in the future, integrate the Q&A section, as well as the forums, into a larger community experience, bringing together the disparate pieces to make it much easier for everyone to find and share information, projects, and so forth.

We need your input—We see two paths forward:

Option A - Merge Q&A into the forums

With this approach, we’d migrate current AnswerHub content directly into the forums. Users would be able to select whether their post is a “discussion” or “question” upon creation, and allow the OP to accept a reply as the answer. This would leverage Discourse’s Solved Plugin, plus some additional customization for filtering questions and discussions.

Pros

  • One stop for everything. Both AnswerHub and the forums are already used to post questions to and look for info. This solution would streamline pages and make it easier to find information—it’s all in the same place.
  • People are (hopefully) more likely to answer things or participate in discussions since the topics would be altogether and have more visibility.
  • Easier for us to manage (single ecosystem)
  • May help reduce duplicate posts
  • Easier for us and all of you to recognize key contributors in the community

Cons

  • Minimal customization of the actual Q&A experience.
  • Less Q&A-specific functionality (upvoting replaced with likes, use of tags over dropdowns). It would primarily feel like a forum experience.
  • May not feel like a dedicated space to quickly jump in and get answers.
  • Volume of questions may overwhelm topics or dissuade participation.

Option B - Migrate into a new space, but connected at account level

Migrate AnswerHub content to the same platform as we use for the forums (Discourse), leveraging Discourse’s Solved Plugin, but hosted as a separate instance. The two different instances would interconnect on an account level, and through other currently planned future community features.

Pros

  • More flexibility for us to individually shape the forum and Q&A experiences, which could help it feel like a more traditional Q&A experience.
  • Easier for beginners or people just looking for answers to understand where to turn to for finding help.
  • Does not disrupt other activities that happen on the forum such as group discussions, showcases, feedback, and so forth.

Cons

  • Discussion and Q&A would continue to exist in two separate places, leading to potential confusion on where to ask or look for info.
  • More complex behind the scenes.

What we’d like to hear from you

  1. Which of these options sounds most appealing to you?
  2. Do you like the idea of the discussion and Q&A spaces being combined or would you prefer they were separate, and why?
  3. Do you feel like if we combined them it would be too noisy? Would that be okay as long as we have strong filtering options between discussions and questions?
  4. What features do you feel are essential for a Q&A experience? (Tags, filters, voting, threading, etc.)
  5. Do you feel that Discourse’s Solved Plugin would meet your needs?

Thanks so much!

  • Option A - Merge Q&A into the forums
  • Option B - Migrate into a separate space, but connected at account level
  • Something else
  • Don’t know/Either works

0 voters

14 Likes

I agree that the Answerhub must be replaced – too many technical problems.

There is no perfect solution. In one way prefer Option A, mainly because it is nice having a dedicated Q&A section. Then the forums could be more devoted to discussion and less of solving problems that only affect one person.

But, Option B is also good as duplicate posting is a problem.


  1. I would prefer Option A.
  2. I prefer them separate, for reasons stated above.
  3. Yes. I don’t think a filtering system could prevent that.
  4. The base Discourse features, along with tags, voting and down-voting, and a “solved” system are all needed for a ideal Q&A solution. EDIT: Also threaded comments and answers.
  5. I think that leaving these forums as they are (avatars would be nice) and setting up a secondary Q&A Discourse forum with the Solved plugin would work.
1 Like

I usually post a question on Answers first because I try to follow rules, but it seems like more traffic on the forums and sometimes I get an answer there quicker.

So to me it seems like bringing it all to the forums would make sense.

Both the forums and answers have good search and “related questions” functions, so I don’t see a downside.

2 Likes

I don’t mind using separate platform, I just dislike the AnswerHub software and its many problems.

Problem with the AnswerHub:

  1. Pages… load… so… slowly…
  2. Logs you out frequently, which contributes to the former
  3. It’s hard to find questions to answer (compared to the Discorse forums), which makes less people’s questions get answered.
  4. Clunky, somewhat intuitive interface: No Markdown support, people have a hard time finding the “Resolve” button.
  5. The question-askers are less responsive than on the forums.
  6. This is only a few people (including me) – Requires “moderation” of all posted answers and comments, which can take a 1 to 5 days.
  7. Unreliable – Frequent outages & maintenance; sometimes constant 404s that are only solved by erasing cookies.
1 Like

Never understood why Epic separated questions and discussions anyway. It seemed 100% artificial. Some AH threads are long / detailed and more discussion based than forums posts. Equally lots of forums threads are punchy and contain immediate answers. So dividing them makes no sense except maybe to someone whose removed from the process. Coming from UDK, I never used AH except once, as the format was too different and generally a slow PITA way to consume / digest info.

…So I vote for something else

Basically here’s why… Epic keep breaking the Forum LIKES or implied voting system with every forum upgrade (2021 + 2017). So in effect the best or better answers get buried. Its the same problem with going with Option-A. It sounds logical / reasonable, but it will flood the forums, making it even harder to find useful nuggets. Plus what happens to Forum LIKES the very next time Epic does a new forum upgrade?

Right now forum LIKES have all been reset to none. Or worse, merged into a single like from the poster themselves seemingly, even though posters can’t self-upvote. I don’t pretend to have the magic answer here as this isn’t my field. But there must be some interesting solutions for taking two separate but related systems and making them unified into a single searchable knowledge-base. Not feeling discourse is that sadly not even with its voting plugin. Discourse feels like a platform for informal short chats for posters with 10 or less misspelled grammar-fail google-translated posts tbh (sorry). So I vote Epic casts a wider net and looks for a better long-term solution…

…Massive falloff in the Forums…

@Hourences mentions dissuade participation. Epic biggest problem right now is since 2017 they’ve somehow managed to dissuade participation, so most devs who know anything, have deserted both platforms and there’s no killer motivation to return, not even for the production launch of UE5 imho. Amanda asked for suggestions about boosting engagement a couple of years back. But none were acted on sadly. But whatever Epic decides please understand that discussion and answers are not easy to divide. Whereas one of the simple things Epic killed post UDK, was just encouraging posters to prefix threads with SOLVED. So if Epic does opt for Option-A going forward, why not at least prefix threads with discussion / answer tags in the title!

…What’s coming in the future?..

Being vague about this just hurts Epic imo. There’s a bigger challenge here, and I don’t pretend to fully understand it, but I sense its about complexity. From the early days of Hourences flicking switches to get UDK to work, the engine has become super-complex. With UE5 its all about mastering techniques or taming the editor in so many different ways, and the resources Epic offer haven’t managed to keep up. So I say look further out and see how other corps are getting work done. I’ve been a huge fan of Community-Tools and the idea of offering practical projects to help reduce the number of samey How-To posts. But Epic also need to offer a range of FAQs. Like Top-10 Mistakes to avoid in BP. This would help reduce the bloat and volume of samey low-value posts, so its also part of the solution. Plus encouraging people to search first before posting!

8 Likes

We Vote for consolidation into Forums to include Q & A from the Marketplace.

Visit TheGameDevStore.com in the Unreal Marketplace.

3 Likes

Forums have too many duplicate questions and answers. Why not have an option to mark the question as duplicate like in stackexchange.

Add FAQs section here or link somewhere. FAQs should ideally have c++, bp, editor, sections. Allow the community to expand the FAQs with quality answers. A Tips & Tricks section? Users should preferably only ask question if it is not dealt with in those sections

Search features of answer-hub and forums are not the best out there.

2 Likes

Do you feel that [Discourse’s Solved Plugin ] would meet the needs
NO NO NO
for the reasons below

Why Discourse, everyone, group has this. In the middle of a conversation, is a post, “Is this topic on another Discourse channel” is into this.

I find this fashionable and trendy. When I have been on this it’s like social media, “we don’t like the rules about channels, so we won’t follow them”,

Well, I for one won’t be going there. Oh, Microsoft tried that, Discourse, on HoloLens development. Within a year it had collapsed, because the main developer contributor’s answers, did not move and left.

We are NOT all in the 25 to 35 years age group, in fact, this person collects a state pension!, I had and still have been in Computer Science for more than 27 years!.

Whilst you have your own support system you control it, developed over many years. You are in control. In Dis COARSE. Nobody is in control.

1 Like

Just please keep links working and add redirects. It’s a pain to come across links to old QA posts that are just gone now.

7 Likes

Also: one could argue that with better moderation and curation it wouldn’t really matter, which is to say: all of this might be a moot point without fixing the underlying problem of there being a chaotic mass of transient question askers and answerers with no one dedicated to cleaning it all up and making sense of it (and improving the documentation and learning materials).

2 Likes

Yes, we agree! We’re reviewing some routes to add more moderation support within the forums to help keep a more tidy and organized space for you all—remove duplicates, condense threads, archive outdated info, and so forth. Regardless of the path we take with AH, this is on our radar.

5 Likes

@Amanda.Schade @Hourences

Looks like Merging Q&A is winning. :crazy_face: Before AH threads get migrated gotta ask if Epic is still following Discourse bug reports? As clearly there’s more work to do (see example below). If migrating AH breaks more images / links that’s just going to create chaos. How does Epic intend to show / denote best AH answer? Will that info be lost like Forum LIKES?

1 Like

Thanks for all the input so far!
Yeah Merging is winning, but we are conscious of the fact that we are asking this question on the forum. We are also going to put a notice to this thread up on Answerhub today, and Unreal Slackers to see if that brings any change to the current balance in the poll.

The plugin we want to use will allow you to select an answer, and it will then bring that answer into the OP - there is a little preview here Solved | Discourse - Civilized Discussion and existing AH answers should be migrating over. We definitely don’t want to sacrifice that in the migration.

Since Merging is winning at the moment, I am a bit nervous personally that if we merge the two together it is going to possibly come across as a downgrade, a step back, because perception wise it might look as if we’ve ended the support channel we have today. Even though the info would all still be there, and the forum would take on extra functionality, would that not be how this would feel?

Our current thinking is that through the UI we’d make it very clear that the forum is also the place for Q&A, but I am just wondering if the concern is justified?

2 Likes

See what others say, but I’d trust people to understand this change. Most devs have encountered AH cryptic errors trying to log-in / post at some point. Whereas closing the Wiki suddenly, that was different and a scary downgrade imho. But Epic should say more about what’s planned for the future rather than leave it up in the air. Otherwise it sounds like Epic doesn’t have a plan or doesn’t know what to do regarding support on here vs UDN. :wink:

1 Like

Please make sure whatever you do that redirects will be set up! It’s been such a pain to have a million dead Wiki links that are scattered across the web.

10 Likes

Looking at that Solved Plugin, from what I can tell it only allows selecting one answer as the solution, right? IMHO that is reducing what makes StackOverflow and the whole StackExchange experience great to only a very slim part of it.

As I see it, the true advantage of StackExchange is that it involves the community in a really great way, recruiting active community members to be kind of curators and moderators. It is preventing duplicates and unanswered questions by putting the spotlight on similar questions and the unanswered questions, allowing to give bounties for answering them. And many times I did not find the best answer by looking at the one selected as the solution, but in the 2nd answer which sometimes has more votes than the selected answer (or even the 3rd). So my fear here is, that this plugin is too simple for the very complex beast that is Q&A.

I also second the concern that you mentioned about overwhelming the regular forums. I think if the merge is the choice here, there needs to be an effective and simple solution for people to opt-out of the Q&A, like a checkbox “show/hide Q&A” or a separate view.

I voted “Something else” and here is my idea: Why not create an StackExchange site for unreal engine that is part of the official StackExchange network? Yes, this would give up control but this is THE industry standard for anything Q&A.
Integration-wise that would be difficult I guess, but there’s also StackExchange for Teams. Since Epic is pretty big player in the industry, maybe something can be negotiated with the people behind StackExchange here? No need to reinvent the wheel.

Same with the Wiki. Instead of Epic going their own way, there already is a great community wiki. Why not approach these people and join forces to the benefit of all? IMHO the best things happen when companies openly approach their fans and invite them to collaborate, like the engine contributors on GitHub :slight_smile:

“If you love something, set it free.” :grin:

6 Likes

When Microsoft wanted to move documentation to open source they chose GitHub, there are so many tools to convert. As I never worked for Microsoft, but a rival. I used tools and even modified open Source C# code to move my section Universal Windows Programming, based on Windows RT libraries, we external curators and moderators were welcomed at GitHub. Many of MS, more obscure products are now supported by StackExchange

I voted “Something else” and here is my idea: Why not create an StackExchange site for unreal engine that is part of the official StackExchange network? Yes, this would give up control but this is THE industry standard for anything Q&A.

I’d definitely support this direction, an UE specific StackOverflow network.

Personally, I really don’t feel like the forum is able to support a Q&A. Usually, when looking for any programming question, I check out the StackOverflow answers for a post with the most votes, choose whichever I like best, check the comments if there’s any drawback for such solution, and upvote it if it worked. If it was in this forum… I don’t know how I could see the answers, and the answer-specific considerations. If I’d like to understand how events work, I’m not looking for a long discussion… I’m looking for facts. THIS is how events in UE work, THIS is what to pay attention to, and THIS is the place to find more information in this topic. If I’d like to achieve something complicated in BP, I don’t want to read 52 pages of discussion… I’d like to see the 3 options I have, preferably with references, pros/cons, links to learn more - so, like on Stack Overflow.

Of course, I understand that the distribution of information is an issue, but it’s maybe because it’s not well separated. In my understanding, the Forum should be used for all questions, which are project specific, personal, not relevant to the larger ecosystem. Like, “why my code no works ???”, or “How can I put this sword into this characters hand on this test level”. These don’t belong to Q&A, as these are only helpful for the OP; so these are perfect on the forums. However, “How to add a component of a runtime class to an actor in BPs?” is something I’d like to see on Q&A, with multiple different answers, preferably up-to-date ones too which reflect the most recent changes the engine provides to solve the problem better.

This distinction might not always be super-clear, there are always gray areas, but I feel like sticking to a “technical questions useful for the community belongs to Q&A, others to the forum” is less of a burden than moving Q&A to the forums, losing a lot of features which are expected to exist in a Q&A.

What you might also consider is that people like getting things, even if they are virtual. Stack Overflow works, because (besides getting great questions instead of the same ones beginners ask all over again without any way of filtering them out) with great questions / great answers you increase your standing in the community, you get virtual scores with which you look more professional / cool / whatever. It was similar with the old forum - when you saw someone with like 7 badges and 3000 posts, you knew that you’re dealing with someone who knows their sh*t. I have even written to a mod once when I didn’t get my badge automatically, because it simply looked cool to have, it was a great incentive; now, on the forums it is totally gone; my posts look the same as John Doe’s, who just joined yesterday and spreads technical misinformation, I’m just one “K” of the hundreds, so I really don’t care anymore if I get a badge or not, because, simply, nobody’s gonna know about it. I can accept it. But if now, Q&A will have even less “virtual swag” than it had before (the AH scores), I feel like much less professionals will care about answering questions (there is already not enough).

Btw, I really see it positive that you’re getting in touch with the community regarding such issues. However, I do see the “voting” part a bit less useful. It’s like asking a farmer in Chesterfield if the country should leave the EU. “They are stealing my things!”, so of course he’d say yes, but that’s because he is unable to comprehend all the macro-level changes that happens afterwards, because simply that’s not his profession, he cannot see all the interconnected systems of the economy, etc. Similarly, whichever option “wins” at the end, it might seem that “yeah, it’s what people want”, but at the end it might result in much more negative effects that the people who voted didn’t see into / expected.

Of course, it’s just my 2 cents, maybe it’ll turn out just fine, I just wanted to share my thoughts. Thanks again for involving the community in the discussion!

11 Likes