Q&A System Opening & Feedback


#1

I’m part of the team that develops the software that powers the FRC Question and Answer System (https://frc-qa.firstinspires.org/) .

With the opening of the Q&A today I thought it would be a great time to query the FIRST Community about their experience using the Q&A system.

We look forward to reading your thoughts and suggestions.


#2

I can’t get more than 1 page worth of answers to show. Firefox, most current version.

I can literally click any page link (2, 3, 4, 5, Next) and I’ll be on Page 1 again. Regardless of what search filter is up, I can only see the first 10 results.


#3

Hey Eric,

I just deployed a fix for that. There is now a “Load More” button at the bottom of the page which will load the next page work of Q&A.


#4

Thanks for the quick fix, I was having the same issue earlier as well.


#5

Works now, thanks a lot!


#6

Thanks for soliciting feedback. I have a bunch! I hope it comes across in the constructive spirit in which it is intended.

My biggest challenge is that it’s hard to see what new answers have been posted since my last visit. Every time I go to the site, I need to switch the Sort to “Newest Answers”, then go through the pages to find the last question that I remember seeing answered, and then read back through the pages to “catch up” to all current responses. Is there a better way? If it’s like past years, it gets even harder when GDC revises an answer, as I don’t know if the answer always gets a new timestamp. Probably I should fiddle around with the RSS feed or something (as I don’t currently use an RSS reader regularly), but I like to just read all the answers, but I know on occasion last year I missed some, and it just feels a lot harder than it ought to. I’m also not sure if I can “trust” the RSS feed to tell me every new update, particularly for things like when answers get revised.

The “All answers on one page” link hidden at the bottom (which might help mitigate that somewhat) currently only seems to show through Q19, although as of this writing Q30 is the most recent answer and Q32 is the most recent question that has an answer.

Earlier today the links to the manual from Q&A responses went to the Power Up manual. While it seems to be fixed by now, it just gives me a feeling that the opening of Q&A for the year somehow took somebody by surprise.

It seems a little weird to me that the whole of Q&A just resets each year, actually. Sometimes I’m looking at an old Chief Delphi post, and it includes a link to the Q&A response, but of course that response is no longer there. And sometimes it can be handy to refer to past year’s questions since wording of rules is often similar (and though it certainly isn’t binding on this year, one may want to ask a similar question). It would be really great if the site could have the year in the URL and remain as an archive of past responses, similar to how https://frc-events.firstinspires.org/ defaults to the current season but you can switch to see past years.

And if you’re looking for pie-in-the-sky ideas, it might be neat if rather than just a link from Q&A to the manual, one could view a manual that linked back to any relevant Q&As. So you ended up with a bit of an annotated manual that included any clarifications from Q&A. That would probably require adding rule references within questions, though, and an easy process that somebody would need to use to recategorize any questions that were asked in the wrong section. Usually any major clarifications get included in a Team Update, but sometimes seeing all the related Q&A is useful.

And thanks for providing this system to FIRST!


#7

Consider this another upvote for displaying all answers on one page - perhaps make that option more prominent? Having them in numerical order on that page (rather than the order in which they were answered) is an added bonus that I appreciate.


#8

Oh yes, you certainly need an all-on-one-page-in-numerical-order export. But it might be useful to export in other formats as well (sorting by answer date, or answered within a particular date range, or whatever). It might even be nice to expose some sort of API so that other sites could archive or query or whatever. The export-on-one-page could probably also include the date of the answer (it may be particularly useful to know how the dates relate to the team updates).


#9

You can always find old Q&A answers archived on FIRST’s site here. They have all Q&A’s going back to 2012, as well as 2010 and 2008. Not sure why they skipped 2011 and 2009, but those are old enough now that they probably aren’t worthwhile.

While we’re going through requests… I would want an iOS/Android app for the Q&A with some advanced search features. Being able to export to a PDF is great for having it available on site, but it can be difficult to search for something specific from a phone or tablet.


#10

Can we please get something like this for FTC? You probably aren’t in a position to change the FTC Q&A, but it’s pretty bad.

To give those of you a quick summary into how FTC Q&A works, it’s a series of Forum threads for each topic. The upside is that you can look at related questions at the same time, but the downside is that you have to look into multiple threads to see if a new question has been answered.

I think the FRC Q&A is much better. The ability to “star” a question lets the GDC know what questions are the most important to the community. Having the ability to look at the most recently answered questions makes looking for updates so much easier than FTC.

I doubt it will happen, but I would love to see the FRC Q&A mirrored for FTC.


#11

Hmm. Thanks, I hadn’t realized that FIRST archived the Q&A along with everything else. But a PDF archive isn’t as nice as having links to specific questions that were posted in prior years continuing to work indefinitely. Cool URLs don’t change, but “https://frc-qa.firstinspires.org/qa/1” meant something different when posted here a couple years ago than it does when posted this year, which I find a bit weird. But it may just be me being overly pedantic, and I do understand that looking at old questions isn’t something that comes up too often.


#12

This is actually a really cool idea that I would love to see development on, it would likely take a lot of effort but it may be something that could be looked into; even if it were simply a stripped down version of the manual with only rules and blue boxes I think this would be incredibly useful.


#13

I use the RSS feed to read through all the answered questions, it’s fantastic, and makes it trivial to read from my phone’s RSS reader or on my computer.

That said, I do have a bug to report. In Q69, there’s a literal < in the question, which isn’t escaped in the RSS feed, breaking that post.


#14

Questions that will be answered by a future Rules Update will often stay unanswered until the Update comes out as normally scheduled (typically Tuesdays and Fridays). At this point in the season, I love to scan through the oldest unanswered questions, because it often gives some insight about how the rules of the game will evolve next. It would be cool if this was a search filter.

For example, the current oldest answered questions are about rolling HATCH PANELS across the carpet at speed, clearing yourself of a G4 penalty for having a stuck 2nd game piece in your robot, and whether a >30" extension is inherently illegal even if it never deploys that far during a match (the familiar action vs ability question). The mere fact that these remain unanswered is way more interesting than most of the answers already on the books! :slight_smile:


#15

I have also wondered on occasion if the GDC’s interface to Q&A lets them easily see this. There was some point, either last year or the year before, where there was a question that was unanswered for several weeks, and I at least wasn’t sure if it just somehow fell off the GDC’s screens and they weren’t aware that they hadn’t yet answered it.

On an unrelated note, the link to “E12” in Q122 seems to go to the general “Event Experience” page, and not to the new separate “Event Manual”.


#16

If I click a link in the Q&A, and then click the Back button on browser to get back where I was, it doesn’t work correctly – it reloads a raw version of the page (selection set to “relevant” and scrollbar at top). If the page can’t remember its settings, then could you make the links automatically open in a new tab?