Why you need to be on the WordPress Support forums

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? 🙂

5 comments

  1. “you know com­puters, right?” – lol, tooo often mate, tooo often!

    I know what you mean mate, tons of questions and so very few answers, regardless of the level of difficulty and it’s most often the easy questions where someone has simply dropped a link to the codex, which is really annoying!

    I try to help out where I can and think after this post I’ll do so more often, because I like to ask questions there too.

    1. Hey Chris,
      Thanks for your comment man. Yeah, the whole “you know computers, right?” thing seems like an unwritten rule amongst non-computing types (if you meet someone in computers, they’ll know the exact answer to your blue screen/spinning wheel of doom issue). 😛

      Yeah man, the Codex is a great starting point for theme and plugin developers alike. The code sections aren’t necessarily the kind of resource that WordPress users who don’t code can really get into and find solutions in though. Often, the solution is required as soon as possible and the user doesn’t have the time to a) learn the code and b) find the solution in that code. As great a resource as it is, as you said, pasting the link isn’t always the solution.

      P.S Nice to see my RSS feed is working. 😉

  2. “you know computers, right?” – why also does knowing about computers mean that I am some how qualified to tell you what the “best” computer to buy right now is? Do you get that as well? 🙂

    Also, thanks for bringing to my attention this really good point. I feel a certain amount of responsibility to give back to a community that gives so freely (for the most part). I will definitely try and help out a few folks at the support forum as a result of this.

    1. Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I get that “what computer is the best at the moment” question at times as well. My answer, over the last few months, has become “I work on a Mac”, at which point people tend to stop talking (because hey, it’s a Mac). 😛

      Glad to hear you’ll be popping over to the support forums. See you over there. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Matty.

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