StackExchange powered Q&A

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StackExchange powered Q&A

Sergey
Administrator
Hi all (and especially the maintainers of the library),

I was wondering if there are any plans to deploy a StackExchange powered Q&A site for PCL-related questions? (Similarly to answers.ros.org.) While this mailing list is nice, it still lacks many minor yet useful features like tags, source highlighting, etc.

If this idea has been already considered and rejected, then what were the arguments?

Cheers,
Sergey

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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Radu B. Rusu
Administrator
Sergey,

Most of us like e-mails as they are accessible from all platforms. That's the only thing that keeps me e-mailing and
replying while on the road 24/7. I don't think web pages are the solution. Accessing web pages via smart phones is still
painful imho.

If the problem is finding the right information, we should address it differently. You can't get better search than
Google these days, so figuring out how to couple that with the information that we provide sounds like a better solution.

Personally, I'd not want to split the information flow into a web page / web forum and a mailing list, as most of us
won't have time to visit both. And even if you get StackExchange-like platforms to send e-mails, it's still a split.
What I would like to see is more simple examples such as the ones David proposed, better documentation, and perhaps a
great FAQ for those questions that get asked over and over again, and people are too lazy to click the search button on
Nabble or Google. ;)

Cheers,
Radu.
--
http://openperception.org

On 07/20/2012 09:40 AM, taketwo wrote:

> Hi all (and especially the maintainers of the library),
>
> I was wondering if there are any plans to deploy a StackExchange powered Q&A
> site for PCL-related questions? (Similarly to answers.ros.org.) While this
> mailing list is nice, it still lacks many minor yet useful features like
> tags, source highlighting, etc.
>
> If this idea has been already considered and rejected, then what were the
> arguments?
>
> Cheers,
> Sergey
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> View this message in context: http://www.pcl-users.org/StackExchange-powered-Q-A-tp4020604.html
> Sent from the Point Cloud Library (PCL) Users mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
> _______________________________________________
> [hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
> http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users
>
_______________________________________________
[hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Sergey
Administrator
Radu,

Radu B. Rusu wrote
What I would like to see is more simple examples such as the ones David proposed, better documentation, and perhaps a
great FAQ for those questions that get asked over and over again, and people are too lazy to click the search button on
Nabble or Google. ;)
No matter how good the documentation is, there always will be tons of questions, no doubt in that! And as both the community and the library itself grow, there will be more and more of them. Even now it takes some time to skim through the new messages to find those for which you have expertise to answer. One of the nice features of stack exchange is the ability to filter questions based on the tags. This way I could get rid of e.g. VisualStudio and Windows questions and save some time for reading/answering other questions. Of course it is possible to emulate this using advanced search... but this is not really convenient.

Radu B. Rusu wrote
Most of us like e-mails as they are accessible from all platforms. That's the only thing that keeps me e-mailing and
replying while on the road 24/7. I don't think web pages are the solution. Accessing web pages via smart phones is still
painful imho.
I understand your motivation and it makes a perfect sense for me. But PCL is becoming mainstream, and it means that there will be more and more "general public" hanging around. This is evident, and this is the motivation behind making video tutorials, for instance. I really doubt that you yourself would ever consider watching a video tutorial to find out how to install a library. But the reality nowadays is that many newcomers will benefit from it better than from written instructions. By the same token, these people are more used to stackoverflow than to mailing lists, i.e. to webpages rather than emails. People would like to have highlighted source code which is easy to read. People would like to have more motivation to answer (reputation, badges!). People would like to easily add comments and mark answers they find useful.

I believe that ROS community has gained from answers.ros.org. And I contemplate that people will immediately and with pleasure move to answers.pointclouds.org as soon as it is introduced.

Cheers,
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

mankoff

I'm torn... I prefer to keep as much as possible in my CLI email
client, but I REALLY like the SX sites. The searching and voting up
answers and tagging and following is just a pleasure.

TakeTwo: If you think this should exist, you can always propose one
in the beta section of SX and see if it takes off. Personally I hope
it would, but am not sure of it. I wouldn't limit it to PCL, but
make one about 3D/LiDAR/etc. a bit more general. There is a GIS SX
site, and it seems like this would be of equal
value/scope/engagement to that.

An alternative that I would REALLY like to see which would address
Radu's main concern is to take the open source AskBot
implementation, and add an email plugin/module. I'm not sure why I
can't opt to get all new questions (or all new questions AND
answers) emailed to me, and why I can't email back my response. That
doesn't seem like it would be much work, and I think all AskBot
sites would be grateful for such a patch or feature in a future
version. With this feature, people could follow and reply and
interact 100% from their email client, or 100% from the web (just
like Google Groups does now).

   -k.


On Fri, 20 Jul 2012, taketwo wrote:

> Radu,
>
>
> Radu B. Rusu wrote
>>
>> What I would like to see is more simple examples such as the ones
>> David proposed, better documentation, and perhaps a great FAQ for
>> those questions that get asked over and over again, and people
>> are too lazy to click the search button on Nabble or Google. ;)
>>
>
> No matter how good the documentation is, there always will be tons
> of questions, no doubt in that! And as both the community and the
> library itself grow, there will be more and more of them. Even now
> it takes some time to skim through the new messages to find those
> for which you have expertise to answer. One of the nice features
> of stack exchange is the ability to filter questions based on the
> tags. This way I could get rid of e.g. VisualStudio and Windows
> questions and save some time for reading/answering other
> questions. Of course it is possible to emulate this using advanced
> search... but this is not really convenient.
>
>
> Radu B. Rusu wrote
>>
>> Most of us like e-mails as they are accessible from all
>> platforms. That's the only thing that keeps me e-mailing and
>> replying while on the road 24/7. I don't think web pages are the
>> solution. Accessing web pages via smart phones is still painful
>> imho.
>>
>
> I understand your motivation and it makes a perfect sense for me.
> But PCL is becoming mainstream, and it means that there will be
> more and more "general public" hanging around. This is evident,
> and this is the motivation behind making video tutorials, for
> instance. I really doubt that you yourself would ever consider
> watching a video tutorial to find out how to install a library.
> But the reality nowadays is that many newcomers will benefit from
> it better than from written instructions. By the same token, these
> people are more used to stackoverflow than to mailing lists, i.e.
> to webpages rather than emails. People would like to have
> highlighted source code which is easy to read. People would like
> to have more motivation to answer (reputation, badges!). People
> would like to easily add comments and mark answers they find
> useful.
>
> I believe that ROS community has gained from answers.ros.org. And
> I contemplate that people will immediately and with pleasure move
> to answers.pointclouds.org as soon as it is introduced.
>
> Cheers,
>
> --
> View this message in context: http://www.pcl-users.org/StackExchange-powered-Q-A-tp4020604p4020611.html
> Sent from the Point Cloud Library (PCL) Users mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
> _______________________________________________
> [hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
> http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users
>

_______________________________________________
[hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Radu B. Rusu
Administrator
I haven't used AskBots but that might sound like a good alternative to SX. I'm personally not a fan of SX web sites, and
every time I land on one is only because of Google not because I went on it and performed a search myself. As I said, if
we need to index the information better, I'm sure there are other ways of doing that. Google has powerful search
mechanisms through keywords like "inurl" or "site", to name a few.

I disagree that people are more used to websites than e-mails. I would argue that it's better to write an iPhone/Android
app than anything else, then e-mail, then websites. In this order. The world is going mobile. Highlighted source is not
a problem. That's easy to fix.

Sergey brought in an interesting alternative motivation though which is... people answer if they get reputation, badges,
etc. Maybe there is something to be said about that too. In a world of "reviews", maybe there's a place for reviewing
answers on open source projects as well ;) I'm not sure how to solve this one, but it's interesting. You can obviously
pull out the number of e-mails that someone wrote in 1 month, and make a top-10 with that, or have people vote every
month for the "top 3 contributors", etc. Any ideas how to emphasize this?

Cheers,
Radu.
--
http://openperception.org

On 07/20/2012 11:11 AM, Ken Mankoff wrote:

>
> I'm torn... I prefer to keep as much as possible in my CLI email client, but I REALLY like the SX sites. The searching
> and voting up answers and tagging and following is just a pleasure.
>
> TakeTwo: If you think this should exist, you can always propose one in the beta section of SX and see if it takes off.
> Personally I hope it would, but am not sure of it. I wouldn't limit it to PCL, but make one about 3D/LiDAR/etc. a bit
> more general. There is a GIS SX site, and it seems like this would be of equal value/scope/engagement to that.
>
> An alternative that I would REALLY like to see which would address Radu's main concern is to take the open source AskBot
> implementation, and add an email plugin/module. I'm not sure why I can't opt to get all new questions (or all new
> questions AND answers) emailed to me, and why I can't email back my response. That doesn't seem like it would be much
> work, and I think all AskBot sites would be grateful for such a patch or feature in a future version. With this feature,
> people could follow and reply and interact 100% from their email client, or 100% from the web (just like Google Groups
> does now).
>
>    -k.
>
>
> On Fri, 20 Jul 2012, taketwo wrote:
>
>> Radu,
>>
>>
>> Radu B. Rusu wrote
>>>
>>> What I would like to see is more simple examples such as the ones David proposed, better documentation, and perhaps a
>>> great FAQ for those questions that get asked over and over again, and people are too lazy to click the search button
>>> on Nabble or Google. ;)
>>>
>>
>> No matter how good the documentation is, there always will be tons of questions, no doubt in that! And as both the
>> community and the library itself grow, there will be more and more of them. Even now it takes some time to skim
>> through the new messages to find those for which you have expertise to answer. One of the nice features of stack
>> exchange is the ability to filter questions based on the tags. This way I could get rid of e.g. VisualStudio and
>> Windows questions and save some time for reading/answering other questions. Of course it is possible to emulate this
>> using advanced search... but this is not really convenient.
>>
>>
>> Radu B. Rusu wrote
>>>
>>> Most of us like e-mails as they are accessible from all platforms. That's the only thing that keeps me e-mailing and
>>> replying while on the road 24/7. I don't think web pages are the solution. Accessing web pages via smart phones is
>>> still painful imho.
>>>
>>
>> I understand your motivation and it makes a perfect sense for me. But PCL is becoming mainstream, and it means that
>> there will be more and more "general public" hanging around. This is evident, and this is the motivation behind making
>> video tutorials, for instance. I really doubt that you yourself would ever consider watching a video tutorial to find
>> out how to install a library. But the reality nowadays is that many newcomers will benefit from it better than from
>> written instructions. By the same token, these people are more used to stackoverflow than to mailing lists, i.e. to
>> webpages rather than emails. People would like to have highlighted source code which is easy to read. People would
>> like to have more motivation to answer (reputation, badges!). People would like to easily add comments and mark
>> answers they find useful.
>>
>> I believe that ROS community has gained from answers.ros.org. And I contemplate that people will immediately and with
>> pleasure move to answers.pointclouds.org as soon as it is introduced.
>>
>> Cheers,
>>
>> --
>> View this message in context: http://www.pcl-users.org/StackExchange-powered-Q-A-tp4020604p4020611.html
>> Sent from the Point Cloud Library (PCL) Users mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
>> _______________________________________________
>> [hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
>> http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users
>>
>
> _______________________________________________
> [hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
> http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users
_______________________________________________
[hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

daviddoria
In reply to this post by mankoff
On Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 2:11 PM, Ken Mankoff <[hidden email]> wrote:

I'm torn... I prefer to keep as much as possible in my CLI email client, but I REALLY like the SX sites. The searching and voting up answers and tagging and following is just a pleasure.

TakeTwo: If you think this should exist, you can always propose one in the beta section of SX and see if it takes off. Personally I hope it would, but am not sure of it. I wouldn't limit it to PCL, but make one about 3D/LiDAR/etc. a bit more general. There is a GIS SX site, and it seems like this would be of equal value/scope/engagement to that.

An alternative that I would REALLY like to see which would address Radu's main concern is to take the open source AskBot implementation, and add an email plugin/module. I'm not sure why I can't opt to get all new questions (or all new questions AND answers) emailed to me, and why I can't email back my response. That doesn't seem like it would be much work, and I think all AskBot sites would be grateful for such a patch or feature in a future version. With this feature, people could follow and reply and interact 100% from their email client, or 100% from the web (just like Google Groups does now).

  -k.

We had the same discussion a few years back for VTK. The short version that I extracted from the conversation was that the people who were actually answering most of the questions preferred a mailing list, so to make them grumpy for forcing them to go to a website was a bad idea :). The idea of the Examples Wiki (http://www.vtk.org/Wiki/VTK/Examples/Cxx) (or in PCL's case currently, the Examples/ directory in the repository) came out of the discussion. The idea is to cherry pick the "widely useful" questions and answers from the mailing list, give them context, clean them up, and "archive" them in an easy to find way (like a FAQ-style page as Radu mentioned). In my opinion, it should be the job of the "asker" to do this once they receive their answer, as a "payment" back to the community, if you will. Matching the format/location of the information to the person who needs it is obviously important, so the mailing list and the website/other form of archiving are actually quite complementary.

In the past I've tried to maintain a workflow like this:

1) John Doe asks a question (via mailing list, because that's where the people that would know the answer can be found)
2) Radu answers it (via mailing list, because that's what he likes)
3a (ideal)) John Doe says thanks, and then goes and makes a small example of what he learned and puts it on the wiki (or in the repository).
3b) Someone else replies to the thread and says "John Doe, I'm glad you got your answer. I haven't seen an example of this in the repository. Please make this into a generally useful example so future users don't run into the same problem"

After a while of doing this, the process becomes (clearly much better and faster) either:

1) John Doe finds the answer to his question on the ever-growing FAQ page

or 

1) John Doe asks a question (via mailing list)
2) Radu points him to a suitable example. This is a massive time saver for all involved.

or of course the original procedure of asking/answer on the mailing list, but the number of these cases should be inversely proportional to the number of FAQ examples.

Doing this sort of archiving has a number of nice effects. 1) People can get started with the library much more quickly because they don't have to wait for a day for a mailing list reply every time they run into a small question, 2) The mailing list becomes more useful, because the volume is decreased so therefore each message gets more attention, 3) It grows the "give and take" spirit of the community. That is, I am much more willing to help someone that I have helped in the past who has generated a nice example from my answer than to help someone who has taken my answer and gone about their business without contributing anything back. 4) The developers can continue developing the core library, and not be burdened with writing hundreds of examples. Getting the most out of a big unpaid team is all about matching people's skill-level and time-availability to the appropriate tasks. At one extreme, "Developers" typically don't like to "waste their time" with something as useless as writing examples (HA!), and at the other extreme new users may not have the experience necessary to contribute to the core library. However, they are more than capable of archiving mailing list answers in the form of examples, and they can actually make a very solid and visible contribution doing so!

Just as a note, it does not seem impossible to demonstrate "everything" via examples. In my experience, there is a finite number of "useful, general questions" for any particular toolkit. For VTK, it seems to be about 700. Of course there is some discretion required in determining whether or not the question is "general" enough to be made into a useful example, but it is usually pretty clear to the more experienced folks. As a rule of thumb, if you can write the question in < 10 words, it is a good candidate.

David

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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

mankoff
David,

Your workflow sounds good, but I think it is Q&A-format agnostic.
The good answers with example code arises both from what you
describe with VTK, but also is a natural product of the newer hybrid
Q&A sites too suggested by TakeTwo.

The critical point from your post seems to be that Radu and the core
contributors prefer email, something that needs to be weighted very
heavily...

I'm also Q&A-format agnostic, and really like/prefer both the new
hybrid sites and email, and am not advocating for either in this
post.

> The idea is to cherry pick the "widely useful" questions and
> answers from the mailing list, give them context, clean them up,
> and "archive" them in an easy to find way (like a FAQ-style page
> as Radu mentioned).

Cherry picking is done automagically on those sites by tracking up
votes, # of visitors, # of answers, votes on answers, etc. to each
question.

> In my opinion, it should be the job of the "asker" to do this once
> they receive their answer, as a "payment" back to the community,
> if you will.

Ideally yes. But there are all types of people, some who lurk, don't
answer, don't ask, but want to edit, tweak, and clean-up others
work. As with Wikipedia who calls these people 'gnomes' I think,
they can be an important part of an ecosystem, and are better
supported by some formats v. others.

   -k.

http://askbot.org/en/question/8199/can-askbot-be-used-via-email/

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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Patrick Mihelich-2
In reply to this post by Radu B. Rusu
We had the same debate in the ROS community before trying the ROS Answers experiment. Some people loved the StackExchange approach, some of us old-timers thought, "What's wrong with the mailing list?"

Well, the mailing list was fine for a while, but it scaled poorly for answering questions. We had a constant stream of new users asking much the same questions. Even if you do search Google and find a thread, it's an awful presentation medium. As a user, you don't want to trace through several possibly-relevant emails to piece together the consensus which may or may not be accurate today. You want a vetted, succinct, nicely formatted response, which can be updated as PCL changes over time.

How did it turn out? ROS Answers has been an enormous success. Thousands of users, thousands of questions answered. It's easily google-able. People love it.

ros-users@ now is used for announcements and open-ended discussions - in other words, what mailing lists are good at. ros-developers@ was retired because we no longer needed a separate list for those discussions. Note that no one is suggesting that pcl-users@ be entirely replaced with some clunky web forum - discuss and announce over email, support through a superior medium.

Admittedly I'm not active on this list, but I see the same scaling problems. PCL is a Major Project with tons of users, and I see lots of similar-sounding threads on this list about build issues, getting demos to work, etc... If you look at the OpenCV mailing list (which, as much as possible, I don't), it's this times 5. Any signal is overwhelmed by the noise of newbie questions. Why not help the new users, and help ourselves?

On Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM, Radu B. Rusu <[hidden email]> wrote:
I haven't used AskBots but that might sound like a good alternative to SX. I'm personally not a fan of SX web sites, and every time I land on one is only because of Google not because I went on it and performed a search myself. As I said, if we need to index the information better, I'm sure there are other ways of doing that. Google has powerful search mechanisms through keywords like "inurl" or "site", to name a few.

ROS Answers uses AskBot. The developer is quite responsive, I know WG was working with him to improve email integration.

I disagree that people are more used to websites than e-mails. I would argue that it's better to write an iPhone/Android app than anything else, then e-mail, then websites. In this order. The world is going mobile. Highlighted source is not a problem. That's easy to fix.

You're only considering your use case here - answering questions via mobile. Not all of us have your travel schedule :). Think about the user too. He's developing with PCL on a desktop/laptop, for him a website is ideal. A good answer will be written once and read many times, so why wouldn't you optimize for the reader?

Sergey brought in an interesting alternative motivation though which is... people answer if they get reputation, badges, etc.

This may be the single biggest benefit! If you look at ROS Answers, most of the top answerers are not core contributors!! They are power users. Writing great answers measurably improves their reputation within the community, and this is a powerful incentive.

Don't look at "PCL Answers" and think, "Crap, now I have to answer all these questions through a new interface." Think, "This will lessen my support load by empowering the community!" As a core ROS developer, ROS Answers made my life easier, not harder.

Cheers,
Patrick

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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

mankoff

On Fri, 20 Jul 2012, Patrick Mihelich wrote:
> ROS Answers uses AskBot. The developer is quite responsive, I know
> WG was working with him to improve email integration.

Sounds like it is almost done, usable in the dev branch:

http://askbot.org/en/question/8199/can-askbot-be-used-via-email/

   -k.
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Radu B. Rusu
Administrator
In reply to this post by Patrick Mihelich-2
Patrick,


All this being said, no one is arguing against other 3rd party ways of integrating information, asking questions, and
receiving answers. I've even seen PCL questions asked on Stack Overflow. Everyone is free to use what they want. If
someone sets this up and wants to use it, and gets traction, we'll link to it, but the standard should always be the
mailing list, as any other open source library/project out there. We won't be able to force people to use a different
communication mechanism and not e-mail questions to the list. And having a list were most of the replies are "please use
answers.pointclouds.org" doesn't necessarily sound like a better idea. If you've taken the time to reply, why not ask
what the problem is or give the answer directly on the list?


That being said, the problem is somewhere else. The debate on having @users + @developers VS @users + stack exchange is
interesting but not crucial in my opinion. If there's too much traffic on -users, people can switch to reading our
online blog, reading news announcements/tweets/facebook posts, and maybe pcl-developers. Yes there are questions here
that are being repeated over and over again, but as David said, that just means we haven't gotten around to index our
information better. Also, we're not talking about thousands of e-mails per day -- and most of them you can skip easily
just by looking at the subject. It takes one 5 minutes per day to read pcl-users, not more, if you do it once every 24h.


Loking at ros.answers there's 1.3k out of 6.2k unanswered questions, and I'm sure from the 4.9k answered ones a lot
repeat themselves. Our percentage on the mailing list is much smaller, and just looking at the 3.3k topics on Nabble I
would argue that the ones that have not been addressed yet are almost always popping up with "This post has NOT been
accepted by the mailing list yet.", which indicates that the poster has not subscribed to the mailing list, thus the
community hasn't seen the post -- or did through Nabble, but decided not to reply. In my opinion, 20% unanswered
questions is not an enormous success, but rather "ok/good", which funny enough is only 1% higher than the rate between
total / unanswered on Stack Overflow, the biggest "stack" of them all :) This means there's something about e-mails
because they are in your inbox, versus going through the extra trouble to go to a web site. Volunteers who want to help
could always copy & paste answers in a FAQ or code a small example. We are a C++ set of libraries project after all, not
an infrastructure project like ROS. The questions about PCL are finite, and at some point they just become general
questions about 2D/3D perception, which are appropriate for a mailing list.


Whether you go to a special folder in your inbox to answer, or to a forum, or to a web page is just a matter of taste. I
would argue that the inbox is better, but that's just me. I could be convinced otherwise.


I myself would rather spend time on mailing lists and e-mails (I'm a dinosaur), and with respect to fixing the Q&A
problem I would like to see more examples and a better FAQ. I think that will truly help. Others like lurking IRC
channels to get their support online, and love using Twitter. We already have thousands of users and thousands of
questions here. ;) Having yet another web page leads to additional fragmentation, and requires extra maintenance and
support.


In the end I think this is a great discussion and initiative but it doesn't convince me that by simply installing
another infrastructure our problems will go away. That being said, if a lot of people do want to step up and truly help
maintain this, we will make it happen, as with everything else that we did so far ;) So maybe we can take this offline
and discuss who are the volunteers pledging their support for keeping this alive for the immediate future? If there
truly are power users that would only help answer if the question is not on the mailing list, then I'll learn something
new. Same as if there are developers that would contribute but only if we switch to GIT ;) 'Right! That'll happen! :)


PS. We've been actively monitoring power users on the list / Dev for the past 1.5 years, and raised their status to
contributors and some to developers. This is not something we advertised to the community, but looking at the 400 people
or so on http://dev, I see a lot of names that started out just by answering questions on the list, and now they have
full SVN commit and bragging rights in the community, participate at PCL related events, and receive those awesome free
t-shirts ;) So we might have increased people's reputation differently, but we did increase it after all.


Cheers,
Radu.
--
http://openperception.org

On 07/20/2012 02:43 PM, Patrick Mihelich wrote:

> We had the same debate in the ROS community before trying the ROS Answers experiment. Some people loved the
> StackExchange approach, some of us old-timers thought, "What's wrong with the mailing list?"
>
> Well, the mailing list was fine for a while, but it scaled poorly for answering questions. We had a constant stream of
> new users asking much the same questions. Even if you do search Google and find a thread, it's an awful presentation
> medium. As a user, you don't want to trace through several possibly-relevant emails to piece together the consensus
> which may or may not be accurate today. You want a vetted, succinct, nicely formatted response, which can be updated as
> PCL changes over time.
>
> How did it turn out? ROS Answers has been an enormous success. Thousands of users, thousands of questions answered. It's
> easily google-able. People love it.
>
> ros-users@ now is used for announcements and open-ended discussions - in other words, what mailing lists are good at.
> ros-developers@ was retired because we no longer needed a separate list for those discussions. Note that no one is
> suggesting that pcl-users@ be entirely replaced with some clunky web forum - discuss and announce over email, support
> through a superior medium.
>
> Admittedly I'm not active on this list, but I see the same scaling problems. PCL is a Major Project with tons of users,
> and I see lots of similar-sounding threads on this list about build issues, getting demos to work, etc... If you look at
> the OpenCV mailing list (which, as much as possible, I don't), it's this times 5. Any signal is overwhelmed by the noise
> of newbie questions. Why not help the new users, and help ourselves?
>
> On Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM, Radu B. Rusu <[hidden email] <mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:
>
>     I haven't used AskBots but that might sound like a good alternative to SX. I'm personally not a fan of SX web sites,
>     and every time I land on one is only because of Google not because I went on it and performed a search myself. As I
>     said, if we need to index the information better, I'm sure there are other ways of doing that. Google has powerful
>     search mechanisms through keywords like "inurl" or "site", to name a few.
>
>
> ROS Answers uses AskBot. The developer is quite responsive, I know WG was working with him to improve email integration.
>
>     I disagree that people are more used to websites than e-mails. I would argue that it's better to write an
>     iPhone/Android app than anything else, then e-mail, then websites. In this order. The world is going mobile.
>     Highlighted source is not a problem. That's easy to fix.
>
>
> You're only considering your use case here - answering questions via mobile. Not all of us have your travel schedule :).
> Think about the user too. He's developing with PCL on a desktop/laptop, for him a website is ideal. A good answer will
> be written once and read many times, so why wouldn't you optimize for the reader?
>
>     Sergey brought in an interesting alternative motivation though which is... people answer if they get reputation,
>     badges, etc.
>
>
> This may be the single biggest benefit! If you look at ROS Answers, most of the top answerers are not core
> contributors!! They are power users. Writing great answers measurably improves their reputation within the community,
> and this is a powerful incentive.
>
> Don't look at "PCL Answers" and think, "Crap, now I have to answer all these questions through a new interface." Think,
> "This will lessen my support load by empowering the community!" As a core ROS developer, ROS Answers made my life
> easier, not harder.
>
> Cheers,
> Patrick
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Sergey
Administrator
In reply to this post by Patrick Mihelich-2
Patrick, thanks for the support. I think it's impossible to resist your arguments!

Patrick Mihelich-2 wrote
Even if you do search Google and find a thread, it's an awful presentation medium. As a user, you don't want to trace through several possibly-relevant emails to piece together the consensus which may or may not be accurate today. You want a vetted, succinct, nicely formatted response, which can be updated as PCL changes over time.
There is a particularly nice feature in AskBot, the ability to edit posts as a wiki. So a resonant question can naturally evolve into a wiki page with lots of useful information that could later go to documentation, a tutorial, or whatever.

Radu B. Rusu wrote
I would argue that it's better to write an iPhone/Android app than anything else, then e-mail, then websites. In this order. The world is going mobile.
Stack Exchange has a nice light-weight mobile version with all (or most) of the functionality of the desktop version.

Regards,
Sergey
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Sergey
Administrator
This post was updated on .
Radu,

Radu B. Rusu wrote
The questions about PCL are finite, and at some point they just become general questions about 2D/3D perception, which are appropriate for a mailing list.
Well if you freeze the library in its current state, then the questions will go out someday (though I am not sure). But provided that new modules and features are introduced at a fast pace, the stream of substantially new questions will never exhaust. As for the general questions... They are as well appropriate for SX style site. In fact, you could find lots of "what-is-the-best-practice" questions on StackOverflow.

Radu B. Rusu wrote
If there truly are power users that would only help answer if the question is not on the mailing list, then I'll learn something
new.
I think you might be missing one of the strongest points that mankoff (and to some extent Patrick and David) have made: there are all types of people (not only core contributors, and even not only power users) who can be an important part of the ecosystem. Just up-voting an answer that has worked is already a small contribution which helps other people. Everyone should have an opportunity to contribute as much as he can (no matter how small this contribution actually is). And I believe that an SX style site quite naturally "provokes" contributions and supports collaboration.

Regards,
Sergey
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Radu B. Rusu
Administrator
Sergey,

This is a good initiative, so let's not rush into it, and digest this a little bit more. In the meantime, maybe it makes
sense to make a list of things that we think are being asked over and over again and see if there are ways of addressing
them. As David said, we're still lacking examples and a better FAQ. David was also working on a voting system as well as
a wish list / roadmap through some Google software I believe?

In my opinion I see a few types of e-mails going on around here:

  * general support "how do I install XXX or XXX doesn't compile" type of things. These are either our fault, in which
case we should address the bugs, or users fault, in which case they should read our documentation.

  * Mac-related problems: see the code sprint. We'll fix them.

  * general discussions about 3D perception: these should definitely be on the list.

  * errors/bug reports/feature requests: these start on the list, and end up on http://dev

  * anything else that I missed?

Cheers,
Radu.
--
http://openperception.org

On 07/20/2012 04:12 PM, taketwo wrote:

> Radu,
>
>
> Radu B. Rusu wrote
>>
>> The questions about PCL are finite, and at some point they just become
>> general questions about 2D/3D perception, which are appropriate for a
>> mailing list.
>>
>
> Well if you freeze the library in its current state, then the questions will
> go out someday (though I am not sure). But provided that new modules and
> features are introduced at a fast pace, the stream of substantially new
> questions will never exhaust. As for the general questions... They are as
> well appropriate for SX style site. In fact, you could find lots of
> "what-is-the-best-practice" questions on StackOverflow.
>
>
> Radu B. Rusu wrote
>>
>> If there truly are power users that would only help answer if the question
>> is not on the mailing list, then I'll learn something
>> new.
>>
>
> I think you might be missing one of the strongest points that mankoff (and
> to some extent Patrick and David) have made: there are all types of people
> (not only core contributors, and even not only power users) who can be an
> important part of the ecosystem. Just up-voting an answer that has worked is
> already a small contribution which help other people. Everyone should have
> an opportunity to contribute as much as he can (no matter how small this
> contribution actually is). And I believe that SX style site supports
> collaboration much better than mailing list.
>
> Regards,
> Sergey
>
>
>
> --
> View this message in context: http://www.pcl-users.org/StackExchange-powered-Q-A-tp4020604p4020630.html
> Sent from the Point Cloud Library (PCL) Users mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
> _______________________________________________
> [hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
> http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users
>
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Sergey
Administrator
* "lack-of-documentation" questions. In many cases such questions could be resolved by simply looking into the source code (and maybe that is the reason why authors don't take effort to clarify these issue in the documentation), but we should not expect people (and especially newcomers) to immediately dive into the sources.
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Jochen Sprickerhof
Administrator
In reply to this post by mankoff
* Ken Mankoff <[hidden email]> [2012-07-20 15:37]:
> The critical point from your post seems to be that Radu and the core
> contributors prefer email, something that needs to be weighted very
> heavily...

+1 (I never got around to register on answers.ros.org, but I read mails
whenever I can)

> Cherry picking is done automagically on those sites by tracking up
> votes, # of visitors, # of answers, votes on answers, etc. to each
> question.

This could be done for an web archive of a mailinglist just as well,
right? So maybe we can have a mailinglist with an editable¹ and voteable
archive? I don't know if this exists though.

¹: I would be ok with someone cleaning up a thread to something like a
Q&A but I don't like it if people can change their posts after they
have published them, because I'm forced to reread (we had this problem
with Nabble already on this list).

Cheers Jochen
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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

koen buys-2

Koen Buys
(send from my phone)
On Jul 21, 2012 5:38 PM, "Jochen Sprickerhof" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> * Ken Mankoff <[hidden email]> [2012-07-20 15:37]:
> > The critical point from your post seems to be that Radu and the core
> > contributors prefer email, something that needs to be weighted very
> > heavily...
>
> +1 (I never got around to register on answers.ros.org, but I read mails
> whenever I can)
>

+1

> > Cherry picking is done automagically on those sites by tracking up
> > votes, # of visitors, # of answers, votes on answers, etc. to each
> > question.
>
> This could be done for an web archive of a mailinglist just as well,
> right? So maybe we can have a mailinglist with an editable¹ and voteable
> archive? I don't know if this exists though.
>
> ¹: I would be ok with someone cleaning up a thread to something like a
> Q&A but I don't like it if people can change their posts after they
> have published them, because I'm forced to reread (we had this problem
> with Nabble already on this list).
>
> Cheers Jochen
> _______________________________________________
> [hidden email] / http://pointclouds.org
> http://pointclouds.org/mailman/listinfo/pcl-users


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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

stfn
It's an old discussion, but maybe some users are still interested in the platform questions. I'm not going to list all the advantages/disadvantages of this platform against the askbot (answers.ros.org, stackexchangeish, etc.), because for me it's obvious that in every single aspect that is important for such a platform, the latter is superior.

So whats holding you back, is that the core contributors rather like to read mails. Well I'm pretty sure it's possible to forward the most recent questions along with a link to the answer form or the possibility to directly respond via mail. You than can just automatically delete all those mails after some time.

I'd appreciate it, when you at least reconsider the option of moving this rather oldschool system to a modern user-friendly and motivating platform.

best,
stfn

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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Marcus Liebhardt
On Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 9:57 AM, stfn <[hidden email]> wrote:
It's an old discussion, but maybe some users are still interested in the
platform questions. I'm not going to list all the advantages/disadvantages
of this platform against the askbot (answers.ros.org, stackexchangeish,
etc.), because for me it's obvious that in every single aspect that is
important for such a platform, the latter is superior.

So whats holding you back, is that the core contributors rather like to read
mails. Well I'm pretty sure it's possible to forward the most recent
questions along with a link to the answer form or the possibility to
directly respond via mail. You than can just automatically delete all those
mails after some time.

I'd appreciate it, when you at least reconsider the option of moving this
rather oldschool system to a modern user-friendly and motivating platform.

+1
 

best,
stfn





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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Kustaa Nyholm
In reply to this post by stfn
On 13/06/2013 03:57, "stfn" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>I'd appreciate it, when you at least reconsider the option of moving this
>rather oldschool system to a modern user-friendly and motivating platform.

-1


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Re: StackExchange powered Q&A

Jochen Sprickerhof
Administrator
In reply to this post by stfn
* stfn <[hidden email]> [2013-06-12 17:57]:
> I'd appreciate it, when you at least reconsider the option of moving this
> rather oldschool system to a modern user-friendly and motivating platform.

No, the arguments from back then are still valid. You are free to ask
PCL related questions wherever you want (and I've seen some on
stackexchange already), but as a matter of fact the core devs are over
here, so if you want the to help you, ask over here.

Cheers Jochen
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