Do you remember a time when those one or two lines of code just didn’t make sense? When your theme looked different across various internet browsers and you had no idea why? Do you remember when last that happened to you? Those were the times when you more than likely visited a support forum, posting with the final few morsels of energy you had left. Did you find an answer?
Support forums, in general, seem to be notorious for hosting lots of posts about problems, with few posts offering solutions to those problems. I see this on a regular basis on many web development support forums… many queries and few answers.
Why the WordPress Support forums specifically then?
The community behind WordPress is rich and filled with users of all skill levels, modifying and creating themes and plugins, as well as creating many new and innovative offerings for the community to tinker with. As with the reach of the community, there are many users who post on the support forums with what, to some, may seem like “simple” or “basic” questions (for example; “How do I centre a background image in CSS?”). As mentioned previously, these kinds of queries may seem “simple” to some WordPress users… however, this query may be really difficult for the poster. Users at different skill levels encounter different issues and post different queries.
Okay, so what does that have to do with me?
Ah ha. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of this post.
Being in the information and online media industry, I’ve had, on several occasions, a friend or family member who says “you know computers, right?”. I’m certain you’ve experienced this too. The question, followed by your inevitable inward sigh, which is then followed by an equally inward-sigh-worthy question. How about answering the question? 🙂
That friend or family member maybe doesn’t know the answer to the question they’re asking you (although, they probably wouldn’t be asking it if they did, but anyway), so why not give them the answer, if you know it? It’s not going to do any harm to anyone and will ultimately potentially benefit the question-ee (is that a word?).
The same goes for support forums. Why not just help the poster out, if you know the answer to a question? In order to keep the WordPress community as rich and vast as it is, questions at all skill levels with the system should be answered, if a user has the answer. Could you really use the 10 minutes you’ve taken to help a user centre that background image really be put to better use?
To infinity, and beyond!
Right. To end off this post, lets try this. Every other day, pop over to the WordPress Support forums and browse around. If nothing else, you’ll be keeping up to date with what’s going on in a part of the community… and hey, you may just find the answer to an issue you’ve been tackling in your own code (that happened to me a few weeks ago, actually).
This post applies to any and all support forums, in the greater scheme of things. Be it WordPress or any other system or community where support is a factor, why not rather play a role in the community and it’s development?
What do y’all say, hmmm? 🙂