How can forum users be encouraged to become active at UnityAnswers?

UnityAnswers has been growing at a steady pace and has already become one of the best Unity knowledge bases around. More than 80% of new questions get answered within 24 hours! And better yet, all those helpful answers are easy to find again thanks to the powerful search, tagging, and voting features.

Yet many questions that would fit perfectly here are asked on the Unity forums instead. That is not a problem in itself, but the helpful answers there tend to easier get lost and forgotten after a few weeks or months, and in long threads the best answers often end up being buried on page 7 or such, where they are hard to find. As a result, the same questions tend to get asked again and again, and sadly it's often easier to just answer them repeatedly than to dig out the older posts where they were already answered. That is waste of community effort.

How can we as a community make forum users better aware of how efficiently questions are answered here at UnityAnswers, and encourage them to become active participants and contributors here?

How about some kind of large sign on the page which the user sees after they click "New Topic" (on - or just before - the page where they compose a new message) - since it's the users who create new question topics who are the main target of "the switchover".

The message could describe clearly that the forums are for "discussions, chatter, showcase, opinion", and UnityAnswers is for "concrete questions and answers"

Perhaps even some kind of large visual aid, like a "fork-in-the-road" signpost, which prompts the user to make a choice before allowing them to make a post?

//     FORUM             ANSWERS
//     discussions       concrete
//     chatter           factual
//     showcase          knowledge base
//     opinion           answerable questions
//            ._       _.
//            |\       /|
//              \     /
//               \   /
//                \ /
//                 |
//                 |
//              Choose

I think, first, it is lack of awareness that UnityAnswers even exists. Yes there is an announcement topic, but it doesn't especially stand out if you don't look at it.

And second, is the account-creation process for Answers. It isn't clear that you can use your Forum account, rather than creating a new account. The Login screen brings you to an OpenId choice.

I just learned that the Unity OpenId allows you to use your Forum login, but the only notification was a tooltip over the Unity icon (which I didn't do the first time). The admins could make it more clear with a separate header, informing users that their Forum account was good for login.

Alternately - could the Forums registration process be changed to send an email to newly-registered people? Pointing out Answers to them? (And maybe the FAQ :)

I am also considering a suggestion to send out a one-time email to registered Forum users informing them about Answers - not quite spam, and if you worded it right, I think the people who already use it, wouldn't mind. :)

Basically, if they don't know it's there, they won't use it. And, according to Don't Make Me Think, people don't read most of a web page. Which includes a tiny FAQ button, a search button, announcements...

You need to make UnityAnswers as friendly for communication as the forum is. You can't attach anything here, including images. It's still possible to share them by other means, but those means are wastes of time, when you just want to get through some barrier quickly. Hosting your own files, the cleanest solution for others to download, is also bad over time. I don't want to keep stuff on my server after I've gotten an answer from the forum, but somebody down the line might want the relevant file, and the it won't be available to them.

The Unity forum isn't much to look at, and it doesn't have a lot of features, but it's still superior to this site in terms of creating posts, or responding to others, when you want more than just plain text.

Get rid of Gravatar! Are you even vaguely sure that this is a good idea? Relying on an outside website to provide images for your website's answering solution? I'm not joining another site with another login to do something here. That's ludicrous. Feels tacked on, careless and lazy.

Don't worry, I know, I know, you're trying to foster a community that's part of the larger internet community, incorporate openID etc, plus trapped in what this system was made to do by someone else etc etc... but take a quick look at your stats to see how many have clicked on the "change your picture", gone to gravatar and comeback without changing their picture or joining gravatar... I'm sure it's a disproportionate number relative to those that would simply upload a mugshot if they could do it in here.

It's off putting to be sent somewhere else to add a picture here. Very off putting. Just transfer the forums id across to here, complete with avatar, possible?

Another thing... improve the login procedure between the two. Both Forums and Answers are on the same domain, yet I just did my first post in the forums and was asked, via email, to confirm my identity, create a password and set an avatar etc. So from that I gather those coming from the Forum need to do the same thing here.

which leads me to OpenID. Get rid of it. Just use your forum/website/user logins. There's no need for this to have some connection to the outside world. It's an internal community and should be respected as such.

Your question is wrong. Assuming your working for Unity, your question should be: "How can we best serve our community of customers?"

And the strongest correct answer is DRAMATICALLY improve your documentation, manual and reference facilities. Thereby cutting down on much of the need for UnityAnswers to be a resource for methodology of using your software. Freeing it to be more theoretical and intriguing.

As it stands, both the forum and Answers are functioning as a stop gap for the appalling quality of your documentation, manual, tutorials and reference facilities.

Strong words? Yes. For one simple reason, you're asking me to pay $5000 for a full suite of your software. That's for me. Assuming I'm the head of my team, have a programmer, a modeler/animator, lighting/materials/design guy and a level designer working with me... things get much worse. They're all in need of fully licensed versions to do their work since you've built in constant license checking to your software and retarded the free version well below useful for semi-pro development.

That's 5 x $4.5k +$500 for Asset Server, or $23,000 of my hard earned money before we make anything.

And I'm reliant on your forum and Answers for just about anything beyond an outline of what your software does. But not only me, the entire team is reliant on these mechanisms for information about the different aspects of the program they'll be using. Which means they'll often be waiting and hoping for an answer rather than working.

You might think the search facilities are great, you might think having a community actively engaged in doing your work for you is great, but I can assure you it's an entirely different proposition when I'm looking at the bank account and time spent searching/reading fruitlessly, not to mention waiting for answers that may or may not be write (sic) +++ PLUS needing to take time on learning just right to express/frame a question in a manner that can lead to a fruitful answer.

For contrast, take a look at the documentation you get when buying a copy of 3ds Max. About the same money, and I'm sure you've got a few copies around the office. The first time I bought a full version of their software I considered their literature worth the asking price BEFORE I used the program commercially. It's THAT good. Arguably Autodesk 3ds Max tutorials are no better than yours, but their literature is in an ENTIRELY different league.

I'm just past two weeks into my 30 day trial. Just scratching the surface of what your tool can do. And having serious reservations about Unity because of the ever increasing difficulties faced in coming to terms with every nuance of the program. Unity has MANY unique approaches to aspects of design and implementation that your customers deserve significant introduction and explanations of. Let us into the thinking of the creators! PLEASE!!!!

It's VERY hard for me not to think it worth my time and energy to steer towards the other UT, because if we're going to spend this much time learning how to use something, it might as well be a full blown toolset... and I could always spend the spare $23k on faster computers, other production software, training and flights. And wine.

As to your question, how to encourage your forum users to use Answers more? I'd say you've got a perfect chance to develop skills in developing a manual, tutorial and resources to Autodesk standards in a microcosm. Check out how many threads there are on Answers asking about features in Answers??? That's from people already here!!! Think about it! And you're asking the question in here??? Baffling. Those still using the forums likely have the best answers to your question. I'd suggest asking over there...

But for those new to your world/software, you have a unique opportunity to answer your question with regards guiding them from their natural inclination to use the forum to Answers. Answers is a new platform, from what I can gather... made by someone else, for something else, and you've reshaped it in your interests.


Provide knowledge of the features of Answers in a VERY clear, very thorough manner, with very good links, explanations of the methodology and REASONS for its structure, mechanisms and approach so people know WHAT it is, HOW it works, WHY it is the way it is... and then people will likely flock on over. If you put it where they can see it. Don't be tempted to think here is the right place. It should be front and center on your main website ::: "WE HAVE ANSWERS"... and then explain what it is, because at this stage we all know, ANYONE coming to your program/world is going to NEED Answers. Lots of them.

But most important. PAY the guys doing your work for you by answering all the questions. Money doesn't make the world go round. But it surely makes jets go round the world. There's guys in here that have resold your software over and over again because of the deficiencies in your companies belligerent approach to customer service and documentation. Treat them well or your best sales tools will take care of themselves when others find their energy.