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

Interesting… Your long-running status as an indie legend could definitely help make things better around here. So raise a glass to your success sir. :beer: :wine_glass: As Epic has been like an absentee landlord in the rundown district for far too long. Personally I’ve maybe chatted with 10-20 Epic reps at length by PM since 2017. The usual response is: we’re trying to convince stakeholders. So hoping this time around Epic management really do want to reboot this channel, and its not just an election year promise in the year of UE5. :stuck_out_tongue: :crossed_fingers: :crossed_fingers:

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It’s a good idea to merge both, The biggest issue right when looking for information especially in C++ is that it goes as follow:

Search on google and find a page on AnswerHub:

  • with someone saying to search in google for the answer.
  • linking to a deprecated page or if lucky an old wiki link.
  • a solution in Blueprint that barely answer the C++ question.

I think no matter what you do, you should enforce the solution being sufficient on itself without the need of any external link.

@AntiGravity - I went through the thread hole you left (see here… click… see here… click…). I must say that I’ve always known that the issue of ignoring the documentation is a big and systemic one, but seeing someone continuously mentioning it, continuously raising such a good points (bad docs, no edge cases, no typical gotchas, broken example pojects, no “big picture”…) over so many years while continuously being ignored… I have no hope of it ever being better.

Even the new and shiny stuff in UE5 is the same. Pretty much everything on Nanite or Lumen is pretty much just a marketing talk, not really an engineering how-to. And no, saying something somewhere in the 2-hour-long livestream isn’t enough. It’s quite the opposite. I mean, do you actually expect people on the answerhub asking questions and other mention “see the documentation at 24:21 on this stream”?

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Great, eh? :rofl: Epic still hire people on the docs team all the time and promise revolutionary improvements to the docs any day now. But what usually happens is, another year rolls on, and its just :cricket: :cricket: :cricket:. That’s why most devs will argue the only way to actually learn UE is to trawl C++ source or build BP test projects. But of course both of these options take a lot of time and come with their own limitations. So when the Community is also quiet as it is now, indies tend to suffer doubly. :rage:

I’ve been lobbying / petitioning Epic for years to give out dev grants to anyone who helps with creating learning projects in Community-Tools. But at senior-level key stakeholders seem to prefer giving dev grants to YouTubers or writing Walls-of-Text no one reads. No doubt Epic have the smartest guys in the room. But they’re also a bit blind to where they’re weak. BTW: Your links are broken. :wink:

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I am not justifying epic by this post. Documentation of unreal bigger than some other engines and I don’t think it is bad as such. I have gone through the documentation of multiple game engines and they too have some of these issues. They too are not complete, even ones without source code. But they option for feedback for each page. This feature existed in a limited form in the documentation pages before, but now its just a links to the forums documentation feedback page.

Documentation is only introduction into the engine. Even the advanced topics that is mentions in documentation are just essential thing that one specializing in that department should know. Documentation will never be able to cover every thing this engine can do. So after studying the documentation the most viable option is to look at the source code/c++ headers, its a common practice in many softwares.

UE is evolving in such a pace that external developers who work in with engine source find it difficult to keep up with the momentum. So for anything as big, changing, and multi platform like unreal Engine it is very hard to keep documentation updated even with a dedicated team.

Because of this for some part of the documentation does not work if instruction are followed to the word. In some places some steps are left out by mistakes, things exactly as mentioned in documentation things will not work. In some advanced c++ sections there are errors.

How and what to improve?

  • Without the some help of community the documentation team will not be able keep documentation in prime condition.
  • All other game engines and even micro.soft are willing to get correction from the community on documentation. Not accepting or ignoring this can might be NIH.
  • Give a voting system like “Is this page helpful?”
  • At the end of each page have a section with links like “Report page Issue” “Feedback” “Help improve this page”
  • The documentation system really need an overhaul like you did for the forum the discourse. Present system is not up to today’s standard.
  • There were hundreds of request to have an offline documentation which was ignored always as not priority at the moment. Users are not asking you to write a new offline documentation, just option to have offline copy of the online documentation. There are many means to give the preset documentation offline. With doc system upgrade this even easier to give.

Here is where we are at - We would like to do following…

Note that we have done a preliminary technical feasibility check on these things and they appear doable, but things may still pop up. Following plan may be altered as we go along and as needed.

Option A or B and Overall Structure

  • We will merge the forums and AH together, but with the possibility to separate them through the UI. Meaning:
  • Both exist in the same Discourse instance, so your all account and post counts/badges/and so forth are entirely shared.
  • The Development Discussion category, and perhaps others too, will support posting a thread as either a discussion, or a question.
  • There is to be a visual difference in the thread overview between what is a question and what is a discussion, and if a question is answered or not.
  • A clearly present UI option is to be present that would only display questions, or only discussions, or both. This should also be possible to set via the URL. In other words, we want to be able to link to just the pure discussion forum, or the Q&A forum (even though both are actually one and the same).

Question Threads

  • Using the plugin mentioned in the OP
  • Investigating if it is possible to have multiple answers - looks pretty uncertain right now
  • Engine Version field added to the form, similar to AH
  • Can we change the current “Like” feature to be more suitable for questions - like Upvote or +1. Mostly a cosmetic thing.

Other Q&A Things

  • Asked Discourse to look into improving the tag searching.
  • Ideally somehow we want to highlight the person who gave the accepted answer. Ideally by featuring their name or avatar on the thread overview. May not be possible technically. Investigating.
  • Asked if we can auto expand nested replies. Investigating.

FAQ

  • Special forum section where we can promote common Q&A threads to.
  • Further discussions are taking place on what else this means or does - Focus is on getting the core experience up first.

SEO/Migration

  • Intention is to migrate all AH data, but it is A LOT. If problems come up, we may need to go for a smaller subset, according to some very wide criteria we defined.
  • For all links (at least of all the posts that will make it over - again preferably that is simply all of it) to remain functional
  • For SEO to remain functional so Google search is not affected

Karma And Statistics

  • We want to migrate all AH karma points over to Discourse.
  • We want to track at minimum how many questions someone answers, and then issue badges for this. Possibly more.
  • However the Karma points on AH were not a simple +1 type calculation. On Discourse we want to go for a much more straight forward system that tracks the actual numbers. We will thus look for a way to mass convert Karma points, recalculate them on the same new criteria, and pass them over to Discourse.

Forum General

  • Taken up the discussion on investigating allowing more personalization in the forum. Be it avatars, be it signatures, be it more clear badges and post counts. Conversation is on-going.

Again things may go wrong, or play out differently, but this is where we are at. We will keep you
posted in this thread.

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Cheers for your hard work so far dude. Overall, this sounds like a duckload of work for someone (glad its not me though tbh) and its not clear how much of it will actually pay off in the end. There’s some tough questions being asked in there with only opaque answers as yet - so perhaps another poll would help Epic / Epic-partners decide where to devote resources? :wink:

For example, would the new forums benefit more from having personalized avatars / signatures back versus all the workload involved in carrying over historical Karma points. Maybe just make the new karma / like / voting-system work well. So that devs are motivated to answer questions going forward. For example, not allowing multiple answers is probably unhelpful / impractical - it could even be a massive turnoff leading to total disinterest. :thinking:

I think it would be nice to just have some more engagement on Epics side for the forums/AH and some useful documentation.

I’m just a hobbyist messing around with stuff learning what I can in my spare time but I find the whole experience quite frustrating sometimes. Read a 1 page rubbish piece of official documentation that gives a real basic overview. Then spend hours trawling through youtube videos by random people to find snippets of info that I need. Some of the official live stream stuff is useful but its painful watching an hour stream to extract the info you are looking for. Also the young lad with the glasses who presents the streams alongside the actual experts is a tad annoying, be better off him not being there. Admittingly I am a miserable old sod and I’m probably just jealous of his youth.

A good example is Niagara, I’ve recently started playing around with that and theres little to no documentation on how to use most of the features, especially scratch pads and more advanced stuff. The examples are pretty rubbish and basic. Always end up having to resort to youtube videos.

I never really feel after I’ve read the official docs that I can now go off and do my own thing. Unlike when I did a c++ Udemy course by the splendid Tom Looman.

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I never really feel after I’ve read the official docs that I can now go off and do my own thing. Unlike when I did a c++ Udemy course by the splendid Tom Looman.

The docs serve a different purpose from tutorial courses. They’re concisely written, more like a reference than anything else. They do, to some extent, assume that the reader knows what they are doing, maybe even having used another 3D game engine before. I seriously doubt that anyone is teaching themselves dot / cross product from the content examples math map.

Unreal Academy is where you have similar content to the course you are referencing, including long-term tutorial series.

Anyway.

More broadly speaking, I’ve seen a lot of questions that are usually way too project-specific (the question isn’t asked in a generic way but rather related to a problem in their project) and also tend to otherwise show that the person asking the question lacks fundamental knowledge. There are a lot of questions that don’t really belong in AnswerHub and just add noise. I don’t know how new users are pushed towards the Unreal Academy and what courses are being suggested but that would be the obvious place to direct them towards to.

I’ve had the impression that Epic’s tutorial materials don’t really try to explain concepts like OOP, interfaces and basic memory management, but on the other hand I feel that if you’re going to try teaching the basics or even more advanced concepts, you kind of can’t get away without trying to explain them, either. If Epic only aimed to train those with at basic proficiency in C++, I could understand that, but some of the content is clearly aimed towards absolute beginners with no prior programming experience.

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Eh? Im not quite sure how anything you wrote there relates to anything I said…

Niagara docs dont even mention scratch pads or how to use them. Thats what docs are for.

Nothing to do with dot products…i wouldnt go to the official docs to learn how maths work.

I was mainly referring to the comparison between documentation and the Looman course, they are intended to serve different purposes. The content examples is a lot closer to a form of “practical documentation” rather than a tutorial as well. The online courses are more closely related to Unreal Academy material rather than the not the docs.

In the case of scratch pads, there is the Niagara Editor UI Reference, and there’s also a rather comprehensive AnswerHub answer and in it also a timestamped link to an Epic livestream.

Thats my problem really summed up in a sentence :slight_smile:

Theres 3 different places to find info when it could just be in 1 place.

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I see my choice is currently the minority, so I don’t expect me sharing ‘‘Why’’ is going to help change the tide, but opinions are free (for now) so, here goes:

1 - Option B (Migrate but keep Q&A and Discussions separate)
2 - I’d prefer to see them separate because they represent two opposing intentions.

2a - People who resort to Q&A are the kind who want a quick answer to a specific problem. They don’t want ‘‘fluff’’. They don’t want to waste time reading through dozens of pointless arguments just to try and get a definitive solution.

2b - People who resort to forums are the kind who want to fire up a conversation. Raise an issue (or list of issues) and have many people chip in and debate them. It’s aimed at people who are willing to invest more time on a topic, not looking for a quick answer.

3 - Even with strong filtering options, yes, I think it would be too noisy, and that’s mostly because some people just don’t know how to frame their issue properly. For instance, some people may ask (what seems to be) a simple question, but hope to see it turn into a discussion, while others may propose a (seemingly) complex issue or example, but are really just hoping for a quick answer. I don’t see how ‘‘filtering options’’ can assist in divining the authors’ intentions.

4 - Q&A must be very clear that it is NOT the same as a forum discussion. It must be presented as something that’s not open-ended but rather is looking for a very specific answer. Indication of ‘‘source’’ (where the information was originally acquired) and ‘‘experience’’ (how long the person answering has been using the software) is far more useful than Voting (where people with higher status in the community would get free votes, even if their answer is worse than the answer of a newbie). This would also encourage people to check multiple answers from credible users, rather than just take the ‘‘most voted’’ answer for granted and ignoring many others that could add important new details.

5 - Depends. If everything is Merged (Option A), then the plugin would be mostly useless as no one would know if the ‘‘solved’’ topic has the best information, or if it’s best to keep looking for other related topics. On a Q&A format, however, the ‘‘solved’’ plugin would obviously lure people who have similar questions, and it would be a time saver, but if the answer doesn’t really apply to the specifics of each user, you may still end up with duplicate questions anyway.

Bottom-line is, I liked how AnswerHub and Forums was separate. The basic concept is sound and it should be improved, not abandoned. Merging them just sounds like people are tired and want to throw everything together to cut corners. Bad look. As others have said above, the software for the Q&A must improve and, if it does, this could become the most useful section for UE5 developers who don’t have time to lose.

Leave the forums to those who want to indulge in more social gatherings and spend bountiful amounts of time in heated discussions.

Thank you.

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Someone help me fix my user name, it’s not “Anonymousxxxx”

Okay so ah is to be merged into this ‘forum’… that is good enough. But meanwhile, why AH is not accessible is beyond my comprehension…

Yeah - and he mentions a timestamp in a youtube video - I was making fun of just that :smiley:

@JoSf I know that your math explanation was a hyperbole, but really, go check unigine docs, just so that you’ll see how good the documentation actually can be. Notice the cleanliness, the ease of use, the tree structure, the topics like “principles of operation”, check the physics section, which explains pretty much everything, check the “video tutorials” which contains their videos with some description, and, finally, note that they actually have ascection even on math :wink: Matrix Transformations - Documentation - Unigine Developer

If they would have Niagara, they would have like 20 pages about its core principles, typical usage, 30 bite sized examples and so on… (again, see their physics for reference).

To add to it, writing docs kinda forces you to think about the API, the end user, the full system interaction and so on, which in the UE feels (to me, the amateur, who cannot spend hundreds of hours to its source code) like a bunch of islands, rather than one solution.

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some really important points here.

Taking time to focus on the docs is going to be a big investment but I think it can pay back because it empowers all those developers who might not be working at a large studio but nonetheless have the potential to become major earners which kicks back to Epic in the long run.

Docs in combination with beginner oriented videos should be so thorough and user friendly it should be almost impossible for people to fail at learning how to make games with the engine.

I can say right now, from the game engines Ive used Unreal does have generally better docs and a strong learn section. Yet still, the primary challenge of game development for me is not figuring out logic or any sort of decision making, it’s just figuring out how I can use the tools to do what I have defined in plain english. Most of energy is spent searching, trying to figure out how the tools work.

Better, more unified and comprehensive docs will mitigate that big challenge.

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Well, Niagara documentation does mention scratch pads and gives them a short definition on what they are. And information obviously is there (since I was interested as they were mentioned) and it is laid out in a pretty convenient way as long as long as you use a search engine. Kind of to the point why I even mentioned the timestamp, because after clicking the link and seeing the guy explain it, I just about had no further questions.

I generally think of documentation as more of “what something is” rather than how-to guides, though for the more basic stuff, the UE documentation definitely has the how-to-guides as well. I think after nuking the wiki, Epic kind of tried to push the Unreal Academy as it’s replacement. I don’t think that’s ideal; first “video-only” content isn’t great for everything, but also the courses feel like they’re isolated from each other rather than part of a greater whole.

Unigine documentation has two obvious great things going for it, first it doesn’t load a new page every time you navigate it, and it uses a dark theme. It has way less content though. Epic does have some nice graphs showcasing stuff like engine initialization order, but the documentation pages tend to be rather scattered around.

Regarding answerhub, or whatever replaces it, I do think that better tutorials would help it significantly - first by reducing the quantity of questions, and secondly by increasing the quality of how those questions are asked.

I voted for migration into separate service because current forum implementation doesn’t fit to stackexchange-like Q&A format

  • there is too much front end magic: weird search, ctrl + f overrides which make it impossible to search in page, dynamic post loading. If all of this is finally cut out and turned into normal forum, then it would be great

  • hierarchical threading is enabled for Q&A and off for forums. If it was the other way around, it would be unusable.

  • voting and sorting by votes

However, what is most important, is migration. It should be lossless and every link should be working. The thing they did with the wiki has broken thousands of answers, which were based upon old wiki page. Doing the same thing with answers would destroy all the learning experience and make it multiple times harder and longer to do for all programmers. Imagine if stackoverflow was shut down when you were making your first steps at your career?

I would leave everything as is, because it works perfectly, everything is already indexed in search engines. This option is definitely the easiest for beginners

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The biggest problem of the whole UE and UE community is that Epic team (developers, marketing, legal and every other department) have absolutely zero participation in it.
As long as there is no way to ask them a question, everything is meaningless.
Users will find a way to communicate with each other regardless of obstacles.

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