13 Comments


  1. Great advice Michael, I wish more people would do their research before asking for help, or at least be more thorough when asking questions.

    As a support volunteer, I think this would be great instructions to follow when seeking help from anyone, not just a theme or plugin developer.


  2. If you’re not paying me money, #9 and #10 usually gets you the quickest reply. But, it probably won’t be helpful, and it definitely won’t be pretty. ;)

    Just to add to number 10: The issue with this isn’t necessarily the “!@#$” words but how the sentence is phrased. You should almost never tell a developer that there’s a problem with the theme/plugin. It’s always best to talk in terms of “I” in this regard.

    While running an actual support forum, I find the most common problem is that users don’t give me enough information to help them. Many times, my first reply to a user is a list of several questions I need answered before proceeding.


  3. Michael nailed it. I go through this all the time with clients and other support forums that I provide support on.

    It can be extremely frustrating to play “20 questions” with someone when trying to provide answers to their problems. What should have taken only 2-3 responses ends up at 10+ (and several hours/days) before the real problem is found and a resolution provided.


  4. #7 Should only be done if you know and trust the developer. Even then I don’t recommend it unless it is absolutely necessary. I gave Alex Rabe admin access to my WP install once to help figure out a totally bizarre problem I had with his NextGen plugin, but there is no way I would have done that for a random plugin developer who wasn’t ‘known’ in the community.

    #10 Only applies for those who allow free questions via email. I never answer freebie questions by email as the replies are of no help to anyone else since they’re hidden in my email archives. By forcing people to use my support forum it makes the advice available to everyone. Plus it makes it easier for me to separate paid work from non-paid work and doesn’t clog up my inbox if I go on holiday for a week.


  5. Very nice list. As Andrea_R said, it should be a sticky everywhere. If people asking for help in support forums would follow your instructions, they’d have their problems fixed in half the time.


  6. Thank you for great advices. Could i translate in Turkish & publish them on my own blog with your orginal post link above it?

    Sincerely.

    Taylan


  7. great tips. i dont usually ask for help though cause i never get a response. so i just figure it out myself.


  8. This is a great set of tips. Number one, mein gott, number one… If half the people who had questions tried google before ripping off an email or phone call, then perhaps we wouldn’t need this site:
    http://tinyurl.com/r4ubdb

    Seriously though, I would strongly caution against leaving a phpinfo() page out there for any length of time. The info from phpinfo can give a malicious person information that makes your server an easy target. And even if you don’t care about your project so much, if you have shared hosting (most do) you are also exposing your server-neighbors.


  9. Michael,

    Thanks for writing this up. It will prove helpful for the many WordPress enthusiasts like myself who introduce people to the joy of it all the time. Often my challenge comes in the fact that people are unwilling, or afraid to take that first step and get into the support forums – or even google for the answers. Any tips on meeting that challenge? :-)

    I also agree with Kim, playing 20 questions gets really old… especially when you get to email 65. Internally I have a ‘refuse to answer’ response if there are three or more repeated posts/emails with a rising sense of panic or threat. Who has time to loose over that. Take a deep breath and try to articulate the problem with clarity, detail and describe what has already been tried. A person who can’t do this probably shouldn’t be on WordPress? ;-0

    Time and again I have found WP developers to be some of the most helpful people I’ve run into. You Michael are definitely in that category. Keep up the good work!

    Tim’s last blog post..All Things Good | Best of WordPress



  10. Great article Michael!

    I have one to add…
    13. If you are a user/member of a Support Forum, post your question/problem in the forum. Don’t do a form of #10 by sending repeated Private Messages. That is why they created a support forum in the first place, to better handle the volume of support they provide.

    @Kim … I feel your pain. I just treat everyone as a newbie, until I know them well enough, thru repeated interactions, to change the types of questions & responses to a more advanced level.


  11. Here’s my #1 and only rule regarding support.

    1) If you are visiting the StudioPress contact page and can’t (or don’t bother to) read this paragraph:

    If you are looking for theme support, please use the support forums. This is the quickest way to receive support, so please do not send any support question in the form below.

    You will not receive a reply back from me.

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