This may be a rant or a parting message, but I think it really is a question: Why should I continue to participate in MATLAB answers?
MATLAB answers is owned and controlled by TMW. It is not free as in freedom. Apparently, portions of the guidelines for editors can be interpreted as asking editors to protect TMW and apparently, TMW censors the site removing links to related sites.
If TMW wishes to have the control, I would like to see some benefit from it. There is little to no official input from TMW (e.g., why aren't they answering installation questions here?). Progress on our wish list is extremely slow. In particular, I am frustrated by the lack of a response to (1) the borderline negligent disclosure of hidden email addresses and (2) the continued deletion of questions to which I have answered.
So, why should I stay?
No products are associated with this question.
It is my opinion, that your participation in this forum helps other users to work with Matlab. This is more valuable for the others, but it does not have a lot of benefits for you. But some benefits are possible: While the reputation point are only funny on first sight, you earned some real-world reputation. E.g. when you write an application for employment, mentioning your participation here is a proof of your programming and communication skills and your enthusiasm.
As you I'm missing the consideration of our wish list. I have the impression, that the contributors have spent more time with creating this list and checking, if a specific point has been mentioned already, than TMW to implement the 10 or 30 most useful ideas. The evolution of this forum is really extremly slow and the interaction between the contributors, the forum admins and the Matlab programers is surprisingly weak.
I see some advantages in the "censoring". E.g. I like the more friendly tone compared to CSSM and other forums - although this means that Walter has deleted some of my comments also. Some threats have been removed, some vulgarity, some dozen of spam or commercials, duplicate or meaningless posts, some conflicts with the license conditions and some users have been excluded completely from the forum. Unfortunately discussion about Scilab and Octave seems to be not welcome here for reasons I cannot really comprehend - the direct comparison would not reduce the reputation of Matlab. When I look on it in all, I appreciate the restrictions, because they support the purpose of this forum: a platform for exchanging Matlab knowhow.
What could be done to improve the use and usability of the forum?
Finally I'm sure that the wish list will not stay unused forever - either TMW implements it or another one will consider it for the creation of a new forum. In the later case I think that some strict rules are helpful to ensure a certain level of scientific discussions. In "free as in freedom" forums you can buy drugs and sport shoes, suffer from flame wars and script kids, solve homework and download cracked versions.
I appreciate that you have decided to stay in this forum and spend a lot of time to answer questions. I'm still convinced, that your participation improves the quality of this forum.
And today I can confirm that your question "why should I stay in this forum" is still a good question. My work in this forum is inefficient currently: Less than 1 of 20 of my actions is the posting an accepted answer. A big part of my postings could be avoided, if TMW e.g. decides to include a more obvious description about formatting. This means, that I waste time - my time and the time of a lot of other readers, because I produce noise.
I really want to support the Matlab community, but the usability leaks of this forum collides with my personal way to work. The keyboard latency impedes my posting of messages, the weak description of formatting requires too much work on the postings of beginners, the need to host pictures externally will invalidate the concerning questions in the future, the deleting of threads destroyes the work of the contributors, the search methods to find an already solved problem are weak and not intuitive. Because TMW implements suggested improvements very slowly -years instead of hours-, I'm afraid that this forum will be drowned by noise in the future. The idea of a dense database of answers and problem solutions can obviously not realized by this approach. In fact, the questions dominate this forum, while it was planned to give focus to the Answers.
I'm going to concentrate on other forums and brush up my FEX submissions, because I think, that this is a more efficient contribution for me.
I tend to come and go on this forum depending on how much spare time I have, or available time at lunchtime, I am amazed about the amount of time the top congtributors are on here.
Why do I come back? Every so often I learn a little new snippet which I have used in my own work. And a couple of times I have been intrigued by a problem to study it a bit more detail to find a solution.
The recognition is nice (a way of publically saying thank you you helped me) but not the be all and end all, and I am surprised sometimes what gets recognition and what doesn't...
What makes me think about deleting my account/leaving the forum? When I get personal emails asking for solutions - TMW should stop this.
I always try to steer people asking installation questions to Mathworks Support. I'm guessing that they don't answer such questions here because there often isn't enough detail. That is why you have to fill out a form when you make a support request.
Daniel, there are legal reasons why this resource cannot be "free as in freedom". US lawmakers have been tightening the circumstances under which sites are entitled to the legal protections of "free as in freedom" claims -- and US laws have it that if a site is not entitled to those increasingly-narrow protections, then the company is required to remove certain kinds of materials; and can be sued if it fails to remove other kinds of materials; and can lose legal rights if it fails to remove other kinds yet of materials.
There are lots of good responses here. Thanks everybody! :-)
Just to clarify, we do look at suggestions by the community that are noted in Answers (including "the Wishlist") and things mentioned in cssm. We have updated particular "wishes" when we have implemented a suggestion or fixed a bug. The community conversations and votes do help us to determine priorities of new feature to consider in upcoming releases.
I do apologize for the delay in addressing the email issue. That is on the list of things that we are looking at fixing, as I noted in the initial post.
As always, thanks to everyone for being part of our MATLAB community, and for your continued support of MATLAB products.
@Jan – Opps, I accidentally used my personal account to reply. I have changed that to my work account. Thanks for the heads up.
Thank you also on the birthday wishes! It has been one really great year for MATLAB Answers because of the great participation by our community. A big thank you to everyone especially our team of Answers Editors for making this a great resource.
@Jan and Daniel -
The MATLAB Central team is always thinking about why our members participate in the community. Everybody has a different reason for participating in a community, whether technical or non-technical, web-based or in the local community that you live in. Personal motivation for participating in a community is generally personal to your current situation in life. Others have shared their reasons in this post. Often the reason is to answer a question. Others may be here because they enjoy helping others by answering questions. Some folks just hang out because they are interested in MATLAB and like the community spirit here. It is up to you to decide where you want to hang out. By the way, many from this community participate in discussions in other communities, and that’s fine too!
When we are working on designing applications for our community, we work to balance the needs of the different users types. We do try to include features that differentiate our site from other sites, features that we think serve the needs of our community. That said, this site and applications are always evolving. We frequently add new features to the site. We routinely review feedback from our community, including the Answers Wishlist, as we are setting our next development priorities. So, if you have suggestions for improvements for us to consider, feel free to share them with us. As Jan notes, you can also email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also welcome to contact me directly at Helen.Chen@MathWorks.com.
you don't have to do anything, especially in reaction to what you see as another person's or group's shortcomings. Weight the personal benefit of participating here with what your other priorities are and choose accordingly. Good luck, I'm sure many users have appreciated your participation.