Providing WordPress support is an important but often, thankless job. From support forums to IRC, there’s no shortage of people who need help with WordPress. However, participating in the various support channels is one of the easiest ways to contribute back to WordPress. In particular, if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer on the support forums, there’s a new guide available that walks you through the process.
It’s called the Troubleshooting Handbook. It explains how the forum works and teaches volunteers how to troubleshoot common WordPress issues they’re likely to see in the forum. In the second section of the handbook, there are several items known as Break/Fix lessons. Break/Fix is meant to be a hands-on guide to troubleshooting broken WordPress sites. Each lesson represents a common problem you may come across when helping others in the WordPress.org support forums.
How to Contribute
For the past several months, volunteers have been working hard to get the handbook in tip-top shape. On October 2nd, the project reached a point where it was ready for public viewing. Since it’s still a work in progress, I asked James Huff, a member of the support team, how others can contribute. “At the moment, contributing to the handbook is limited. If you see anything that needs to be changed, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page with the problem.”
The Potential Merge of Handbooks
The Support Handbook is a secondary project used primarily by forum moderators. Since moderators make up a small portion of the people who provide support, the initial plan is to merge the Troubleshooting handbook into the Support Handbook. Then, replace or combine the sections that overlap and relegate the moderator-only resources to a small Moderators Only section. Much of the work is planned to happen at the WordPress Contributor Team Meetup during WordCamp San Francisco 2014.
Solid Foundation For New Support Volunteers
The Troubleshooting Handbook is a welcome addition to both moderators and volunteers. While attending a WordCamp contributor day last year, I along with a few others sat in a group and plowed through several threads on the support forum. Mika Epstein, who contributes a lot of her time to the WordPress support forums, guided us along the way. If it were not for her guidance, we may have ended up causing more problems than solving them.
Providing support on WordPress.org is an intimidating experience. It seems like new threads are created every second. I made a few mistakes by not having a set of canned responses or knowing how to handle certain question in the forums. By having this information in an easy to read format, new volunteers should have an easier time providing support without feeling like they’re doing something wrong.
If you want to contribute back to WordPress by providing support, I encourage you to read through the Troubleshooting Handbook. Not only is it information you can use, it’s also a helpful guide for employees who provide customer support through forums.