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

honestly AnswerHub only ever felt like a support channel at the beginning when Epic staff was involved. but with AH being community-driven I don’t really feel it like a support channel, it’s just another place to ask questions with a few strengths and some more weaknesses compared to the forums

I can’t find any difference between the forums and the answer hub
Except doing things in the answer hub is UX hell.
If epic has paid answerhub money they should consider reporting them for scam.
I never understood to separate two things that do exactly the same thing just by the option of marking something as solved when many times the solved one is not worth it and you have to keep scrolling to get the correct answer.

@Hourences
In the forum, we can search so take the search “Virtual shadow maps”. Which is quite a technical search. I had to look up documentation what is a “Virtual shadow map”.

The results were “50+ results for Virtual shadow maps”
Now if the forum had sorted into a Topic Category called “Virtual shadow Maps”, by the person entering the Question or Answer.

These categories of posts could be adjusted by Topic Category Moderators, just users/posters would be persons interested in herding the posts into the relevant groups.

Category Moderators would have the ability to create new “Topic Categories” as time goes on, so we only have Categories that are important, not empty categories.

The Categories in Advanced Search are so overwhelmingly large and cover hundreds of topics

This is how the Windows 10 Feedback app worked. The main processing was done automatically, and the rest by Category Moderators.

So Windows Engineering was very interested in the “Blue Screen of Death” category, cynical I know, but it got results!

Honestly, I will be really happy, if there is exactly one platform to go to find help. I always got confused why there is a forum AND a answer hub and I never understood why this is the case and where to find help. For me, this even keeps me from learning unreal engine efficiently, so I’d appreciate if there is only one forum and the answerhub is merged into it.

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You do realize it will take Google and other search engines forever to re-index all those pages, so they should keep AnswerHub up for awhile after they do their merger etc.

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Why do you think I mentioned it. Epic’s solution for the Wiki was no solution. :stuck_out_tongue:
That said, I don’t think ‘learning game dev from Google’ really works anyway.
Not when the Community is so fragmented, with so many different channels.
The risk is Google returns perfectly relevant posts with no actual solutions!!!

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-AnswerHub has a lot of questions that turn into long, nested discussions that I find quite difficult to read at times.
-Has no dark theme and burns my retinas. Most of my development is done at night.
-It’s a tad slower to load, and rarely does not load at all.

I picked option A. I’m not involved enough to answer, but is that really the best that could be done?

Forums might get cluttered, and redirects are an absolute must. Such a pain to click an old wiki link just to be brought to the “We have a new wiki!” post, then having to manually go to the wiki legacy page.

Forgot to mention that the forum is loaded with duplicates, usually less than half have an answer with many dying after the usual “Post your logs/have you tried this, this, and this?” posts.

To be honest, I think the current forums are a step backwards. They just feel more clunky and with less overview then before. Also scrolling even this thread is annoying because the time slider is not a scrollbar and the browser scrollbar cant “see” the end of a thread because of lazy loading more posts.

I also fear that, same as the old wiki, answers get lost etc. links do not work.

Also, I do not like the discourse solved plugin. I hate to double-read answers and still have to scroll because there is a 50/50 chance that the mentioned answer is either not correct or not what I am looking for and it is hard to see when something got posted, depending on the sorting. (by date, by “correctness”? etc)

That is why I am not around AH and forums most of the time anymore. Too cluttered, feels like less support over the years from official accounts etc.

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I would prefer the Answerhub to be in the forums, so that everything is centralized in one place.

Right now, it is weird when you google a specific issue you might find stuff in the forums, Answerhub, but it doesnt always show up, or images are missing etc.

But, and thats important!
The answerhub should stay online as “read only”, since even today… some of the things that were initially written for 4.1 are still valid for 5.0EA or any other 4.X version - this is stuff that shall not get lost under any circumstances. There are so many awkward “UE4-bugs” that you can only figure out through this.

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Thanks so much for all the input! We read through all of it, and we are summarizing and discussing the way forward at the moment, after which we will need to check the technical feasibility.

We will get back to you all, in hopefully a few days, with a brief overview of what we think we’d like to do.

Regarding the downtime of AH earlier this weekend, just to clear that topic up - That downtime was unrelated to this discussion. And yes we did take care of the license and payment. But an error was made at the side of the service provider that hosts AH. The problem was resolved within hours on Saturday.

@UnrealEnterprise, as well as everyone at large - I got sucked into this topic because I could go and build demos any time, but it would not help to make a difference on the grand scale. I have seen the community develop all the way from UE1 to where we are today, and what it has meant to everyone who ever was part of our community, and is today. Personally I recognize and agree on a lot of the points many of you have brought up.
Our group at Epic, including Amanda and myself, are hard at work behind the scenes on how to build the tools and systems for the community at large to prosper in the UE5 era. A few months ago we have done some shuffling around internally in order to make this a reality and a focus.
We will have our limitations and we will face complications, and many considerations to take into account, and we won’t always be able to address everything, but we are fully invested and committed to doing all that we can to create the best possible dev environment for you all.

Please feel free to pm me if anyone wants to ask or discuss things, I am happy to talk openly about things and listen to all input, and when we are ready to share more updates on the different initiatives we are working on, we will start posting them here too.

Meanwhile we will get back to you soon with details on the next steps for AH.

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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.

@UnrealEnterprise - 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.

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.