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

As of right now, the existence of all these places can be confusing. Especially with all the third party run communities that offer different types of support. So I do agree with the idea of unifying the experience provided by Epic. It feels very split and separate even though provided through the same login / framework. Visible through duplicate submissions.

But I’m not sure if forums are the right way to go. Forums have a very specific user experience and appeal to a very specific kind of user. From the user perspective they are rather high maintenance. Something that’s been bothering me with the Answerhub as well. Either I accept basically spam emails or have to go out of my way to visit the page and dedicate time exclusively to support others.
The forums are slightly different as there is a proper community that exists and that one can become a part of which can be a secondary motivation to visit and participate… however, it poses a similarly high barrier of entry and really requires high activity to really get something out of.

Just as food for thought, not that this would solve the actual problem.

To answer the actual questions:

  1. Which of these options sounds most appealing to you?
    As a gut feeling option B.

  2. Do you like the idea of the discussion and Q&A spaces being combined or would you prefer they were separate, and why?
    Separate. I believe the clarity in purpose would help both the forum and the QA space. Assuming both spaces are properly moderated. Taking QA out of the forums and discussions out of the QA area. A strong separation in some way, especially for searching, would be important either way though. To not find open ended discussions when searching for solutions.

  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?
    I believe more people would be stepping by a single or a handful of times. This would definitely impact the existence and development of the forum community. This could be a boost to activity or a deterrent for people expecting a more traditional forum community. So, more noisy yes. Whether that’s too noisy is a hard judgement call.

  4. What features do you feel are essential for a Q&A experience? (Tags, filters, voting, threading, etc.)
    Comment threads are important. It should really be possible to have two ongoing conversations without introducing a lot of noise. Which is helpful for both receiving help as well as the usability when searching for solutions online. These may also go in significantly different directions which is heavily disincentivized in single thread environments.
    Voting is similarly important. Up and down. Misunderstandings and poor advice should be moved down whereas the most helpful should move up. Especially disregarding the date of submission.
    Tagging and filtering is generally a challenge. It’s a lot of effort to keep tags accurate and searchable. As far as it might help with online searches it can be very useful. But for the actual, in the moment user experience it doesn’t sound terribly important.
    Which really is the most important property. How searchable the section is. Accurately searchable. That is what makes reddit or discord poor resources. You can not properly search them. At best you randomly stumble over a reddit thread. And you probably don’t even think about searching a discord history. Which means a lot of knowledge and information is lost and buried over time. Whatever the solution, exactly that property should be in the front and center. Even with just the answerhub I’ve had a few occasions where “past me” helped me out with something I forgot. Discoverability is the vital thing.

  5. Do you feel that Discourse’s Solved Plugin would meet your needs?
    As far as I’m aware it lacks threads, which makes it a suboptimal replacement to stack exchange as mentioned above. I’m also not sure how much it would help with discoverability. Stumbling over forum threads has not been very common and has been more miss than hit. Whether that is because it’s not as commonly used to ask questions with the answerhub existing or inherent to the format is hard to tell though.

Edit 1&2. Clarified two points.

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Thanks for all the detailed and thoughtful input!

Redirects, including SEO redirects, will be vital. We know that most traffic comes from Google, because everyone is googling for solutions. It would be crazy to lose that.

I hear you all, and yes the risk with the plugin is that it is a simplified experience. It remains a forum experience. That is very much so on our minds, and it does personally worry me a bit.

We did talk with Stack, but the issue is that it would merge into the general StackExchange (can’t run your own public instance of it), which means that for one we would not be able to integrate our account system, or have dev contributions done at SE flow back or be recognized by us/within our community.
Also, the idea with bringing things together is also about stimulating and motivating people to more actively help each other through the increased visibility people would have into things, and the increased site traffic. If we’d use SE , it would again be in an entirely different location, and we fear that would work against this goal.
And worse, and this was the real deal breaker for us, migrating AH data to SE was apparently not a possibility. That means sacrificing everything that has been posted for 7 years. So…

KristofMorva:
We recognize they like getting things. The virtual recognition is important, and an area where we can do more I feel. It is an important part of this discussion for us.
AH may have its karma system, but at the end of the day the issue is that the karma points stand entirely on its own on the isolated channel that AH is today. What you’d want to have I think is a way that contributions and recognitions on one of our channels carries over to other parts. That someone who has a forum badge, or answers many posts, or has stuff on the marketplace, or has completed tutorials on UOL, or whatever else, all comes together and forms your online bling bling to put it that way, and then does what you describe.

We are aware that the forum at the moment did remove some of this, but rest assured that we are aware, and that for us putting effort into ensuring that both we at Epic, and you all between each other in the community, can better recognize those of you who stand out through activity, seniority, contributions, and so forth. I have been there myself too, when we migrate from the UDK forums to the UE4 one, I felt very let down that my post count or join date and other things got stripped for example.
To bring, or otherwise sync up, the forums and AH together is a first step to connecting the dots to allow us to do so better. In the future, within such a larger interconnected system, the ability to create such an online and personal presence resonates a lot for me, given my own background.

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Recognition WAS important, however that feels all played out now tbh. in much the same way as social media likes are past their sell-by-date. Why don’t Epic offer some real tangible benefits instead? I fear Epic have left it too late without doing anything real, and too many talented devs have deserted the ship to other competing channels. So why should devs return? Offer real incentives. Badges / post counts don’t cut it anymore imho.

I voted to merge. Answerhub always seemed like a ghost town to me, even in its earlier days when things were more active. I think because of the fact that it was separate from the official forums and was plagued with login issues it caused people to use it less.

I myself would generally find myself answering questions here more so than on Answerhub simply because of ease of access. I can make my rounds to my usual topics and then check on new threads to see what people are posting or having questions on and respond accordingly.

Then you have the communal aspect of it. On a separate site that’s strictly focused on Q&A, it feels a bit more singular in focus whereas incorporating it into the wider community discussion channel I feel it might encourage people to participate more.

Another somewhat related thing that would contribute towards learning and solutions is signatures. Or better yet the information they contained. While there are parts of the forum that are hubs for information, many users used to be able to point to their signature for links to tutorials, documentations, videos, or other useful information. In other cases forum users could simply happen upon something useful by chance and get it from there. I’m not sure where you guys are in regards to getting signatures back up and running, but if you plan to go according to how this poll is trending and blend the two experiences, I’d strongly recommend getting that feature incorporated again as it helps significantly in disseminating useful information.

That’s just my 2 cents on the matter anyways. =)

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I almost feel like you’re fighting against yourself on another tangent though. Because the amount of participation feels somewhat detached from the format.

Obviously there’s some relation but the community is in this weird space where it’s too large to be a tight knit group but too small to live off of pure volume. Which has one primary flaw: Quality of responses. As soon as you ask slightly advanced questions the amount and accuracy of responses goes completely down the gutter. To a point where I’ve mostly given up and instead rely pretty much exclusively on my personal or local network.

I feel like this naturally leads to relatively high turnover rates. People join, people ask questions, receive help, pay it back and forward. But that relationship, sooner than later, becomes very one sided. Where you’re just giving, giving, giving.

So either you gotta dive in even deeper and start to really grow into the community and use it as networking opportunity. Or you’ll just move away over time.

That was my experience at least. Being very active in the early years. 14, 15, 16. But dropping off quite sharply as I had other things to do and couldn’t justify the amount of time necessary to participate in such a way.

Edit: Not having access to UDN I’m not entirely sure how it works. But I seem to have heard it’s more than just a ticket system but also including a forum. Going by that assumption, I can absolutely understand the purpose and value. But if you’re syphoning off the truly experienced people into a walled garden, the rest of the community will develop it’s own dynamic that’s gonna be really hard to readjust and improve.

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I’m just happy to see that AnswerHub, forums, and etc, are not forgotten by the Epic team.
Some people will always duplicate posts, that’s a fact I think. :wink:

I voted for forums only, but only because answer hub feels abandoned for years now. Your main issue is abysmal documentation and lack of actual involvement in the questions.

When I want to use this or that, instead of documentation, I go through the code and search for random forum posts or videos ( including yours). Then I try ro use it and find 1001 issues (currently fighting with the physical asset).

I don’t know where to ask (have more success on reddit or discord), if its something stupid no-one can just point me in the right direction (see the documentation issue) and if its more specific, the right people won’t ever see it…

To add to it, I can also find dead wiki links - so about half a year ago. someone has pointed me to a save system in unreal (cpp side) which was really simple to use but that documentation was on some backup of said wiki… I didn’t find anything official about it anywhere… how is this fine with you is beyond me.

When I was frustrated, i’ve tried Godot and Unigine - especially the second one was poetry. Nice, clean, modern documentation and their staff is active on forums. I was able to take their engine and “just make” a hackaton entry only because of this.

Your involvement - with constant update of the documentation based on questions in the forums is what’s needed, not a new platform.

PS: StackExchange rulez and your reasons don’t affect “us”, they feel “egoistical”, so to speak. Its also a great concept that isn’t that hard to implement on your own, if you actually tried.

PPS: Just read this post of mine here: https://www.reddit.com/r/unrealengine/comments/k7agol/any_tips_for_good_referecne_resources_books/ I truly am frustrated with it…

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My suggestion, if it is possible, would be option b with the addition of one major change.
If you could add something to the forum that lets you pick if your post is a question, and if it is, then it automatically migrates you to the qna site, and also copies your question over too (if you’re being fancy).

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I don’t even have filenames. Just a bunch of images gone without any trace, both from forum threads as well as private messages.

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My main issue with AH is that most of the answers are really low quality. It seems like no one from unreal actually answers questions on there. I have asked questions in Polycount, Unreal Forums, Ue4 answerhub and on Reddit and AH is consistently the worst place to go for advice. The unreal forums were the best, as the format there facilitates an ongoing discussion and people seem more likely to check back in on a thread after replying. Polycount was also very good. The format on answerhub is designed around a more stackoverflow style one-question, one-correct-answer format and I don’t think that format is appropriate for something that often needs several layers of clarification.

The answerhub is also looking tired and old and appears to be based on an older version of the stack overflow codebase. The newer versions of stackoverflow have more gamification features and things like Triage that allow the community to improve the quality of questions and answers over time. Most of the answers on answerhub read like a post from FPSBanana, where short attention spans and poor grammar rule supreme.

I voted option A - get rid of answerhub entirely it’s really hard work to use it.

But while we’re here, the documentation needs to be updated as a result of people asking questions. In an ideal world, every question anyone asks would be answered by linking to a page in the docs. The reason people are asking is because the documentation is not answering.

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I agree redirects/migration is crucial.
I think threaded comments is a big part of what makes AnswerHub/StackExchange appealing and readable. Also echoing @zaha’s comment: I think these are important for reasons others have explained: a.) voting and b.) putting the spotlight on unanswered questions and similar questions.
Some sort of incentivization program would be nice too.

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I agree.

Multiple solutions with voting are critical. Up-votes are more important than being able to mark a question as solved, since the questioner may actually choose a low quality answer as the solution, and then everyone else who comes along with the same question sees that answer first.

Second to voting is moderation (de-duplicate questions, improve poorly written questions, etc). Stack Overflow manages this with an army of volunteer moderators who are gradually granted moderation privileges through participation.

While the current AH is slow and signs me out all the time, it supports voting.

I disagree. The new wiki contains low quality off topic posts (e.g., https://www.ue4community.wiki/page/revision/fa2ce9e7-f103-4b04-96e0-35b88cf1aa4a), pages filled with TODOs, style changes that frequently broke contributions, basic features broken for a long time (image thumbnails), and a zealous individual who tried to brow beat others to follow their personal vision of what the wiki should be in spite of their own stunning ignorance. Epic should have maintained their own official wiki instead of blessing an official unofficial wiki.

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As for the bug reporting part of AnswerHub. I would encourage implementing discussions for https://issues.unrealengine.com/

I really like how open JetBrain’s https://youtrack.jetbrains.com/issues/RSCPP is. I understand it is not possible to achieve same level, however atleast having discussions would significantly improve bugs discussion which were usually happening on the AnswerHub. I believe even Epic would benefit from these as users could add more repro cases, add aditional info or workarounds. It would not need to be synced back to JIRA, it could be just source for additional information for Epic devs.

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I am for a merge, becuse i never understood the separation of those two places, or why i have to go to another (seemingly abandoned) place to get an answer to the same question, that i wrote in the forum.
For me, forum always has been everything, problem solving AND discussion in one place, so i never understood (and still don´t ^.^) why there was another place required.

From that background coming, It was also discouraging to write in the forum, if you see those Epic videos with rankings, who was the most helpful, because of course, it seems to recognize Answerhub only, completely ignoring every great answer written in the forum. And there are plenty of great answers here in the forum.
It would just need a system to mark somethign as an answer, that can be linked to, if someone else writes a similar/identical question, because he could not find the older question+solution.

I ended up on Slackers because even though I like the idea of AnswerHub, it’s deserted. Discord is the opposite: horrible format for Q&A and knowledge retention but it has all the engagement so you’re actually getting answers.

The AnswerHub/Issues divide is also bad: We have broken conversations like this Latent method resumes in an infinite loop - UE4 AnswerHub with still no real answer (and the engine bug is still there) since 2016.

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To me, answerhub always felt like dead wasteland, so I will be happy to see it finally gone and the community stop being fractured between two websites.

Whenever I came to answerhub, I often saw some ancient relics of conversations where actual Epic employees answered with very valuable information. Occasionally even Tim himself. But that ended around 2015 when the popularity of UE4 exploded and Epic staff simply did not have enough time and resources to contribute anymore.

After that, it’s just became mostly depressing corner of either high quality questions with no answers, or low quality questions with low quality answers. The fact that the website is ultra slow, and that the layout is chaotic and clunky by today’s standards doesn’t really help it much either.

“A” all day. Put it in one space. Do not lose the old answers though (this is very important).

I sincerely hope that there will be some kind of proper redirect in place because all wiki links now going to the same “it’s dead lol” forum post instead of directly to their community wiki counterparts is disappointing.

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90% of the UE4 questions I googled today redirected me to dead answerhub links… w-what is going on here?

volvo pls fix.

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All the existing answerhub are now giving me “License expired”, like this

(UE4 Answerhub "Your License Has Expired" error)

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