The Block Editor Is Coming to WordPress’ Support Forums

The block editor was introduced to WordPress in 2018 and has matured into a more user-friendly tool for expression over the past four years. WordPress.org’s Meta Team is now experimenting with how they can bring the block editor into the support forums. That they are even considering this is a testament to how far the block editor has come, as the support forums provide a critical lifeline for WordPress users who are struggling with their websites and wouldn’t benefit from adopting a buggy editor.

“The support forums have a long history in WordPress,” Automattic-sponsored contributor Alvaro Gómez said. “So much so that the current forum editor predates TinyMCE. By introducing blocks, the support forum will make use of the modern WordPress editor to improve user experience. Users will be able to easily insert links, share code or embed screenshots. Using Blocks will also enable new possibilities, such as using patterns for common responses to allow for faster answers.”

Due to the technical difficulty of how the forums currently work, the block editor would need to be rolled out to all users on all forums, precluding the possibility of rolling it out on a per-user, per-language, or per-forum basis.

In a ticket opened six days ago, Meta contributors discussed bringing the block editor to the support forums using the Blocks Everywhere plugin by Automattic. This plugin switches the default WordPress editor for comments, bbPress, BuddyPress, and admin moderation to use Gutenberg, giving users access to blocks. Instead of bundling Gutenberg, it side-loads the editor from WordPress.

The Meta and Support teams intend to start with just four blocks available to forum users: paragraph, list, quote, and code.

Gómez shared a few GIFs from a test site, demonstrating a user responding on a thread using the block editor:

Another item on the roadmap is creating an “add via URL” image block that would allow users to embed from various image hosting services.

A live testing site is available at https://test.wordpress.org/support/ and anyone who wants to join in the testing can leave a comment on the announcement post. Bugs can be filed on the meta trac ticket for the improvement to the forums. The Meta and Support teams are looking for feedback before Monday, December 12.

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26 responses to “The Block Editor Is Coming to WordPress’ Support Forums”

  1. Not a good idea. If I am coming for help, I don’t want anything but a box in which to type a question and the quickest possible answer. Introducing the blue plus sign and related arrows, etc., just leaves me confused. “Type /” is not what I want to do, it is just to start typing. I just realized; I played with replies, not starting a topic; would I want extra features? I doubt it, but then I am a low-level user.

    • You can just start typing. It has been like that since the beginning. Just click the box, and then type the question.

      I honestly do not understand this objection. If you want to type, just type. You don’t have to hit the plus button first or anything. It’s been like that for nearly six years.

      • Yeah, sort of—I just went to the test site, hit reply, and was faced with the row of icons (blue plus, etc.), and the box below with “Type /”. It took me a couple of seconds, then I clicked in the big box and it changed to a ¶ block so I could type. My point is that if I am going there already with a problem, why do I need those couple of seconds of confusion?

        IDK; maybe as most people use the block editor (are we there yet?), that is what they will expect, and not seeing that would be confusing. I just posted my instant reaction.

        • So you’re arguing that the empty box that doesn’t ask you to type is better than a box that asks you to type?

          They’re both empty square boxes on the screen. One of them has a row of icons above it. The current one has a row of buttons above it that just contain text icons. Other than the “Type / or…” they basically work exactly the same.

          I mean, compare like to like. The existing box that’s there now really isn’t that different. There are still some obvious problems with various things, like pasting and such, and those are being sorted out, which is why the editor is not live yet. And your feedback is appreciated, but it is also somewhat nonsensical. What was your confusion, exactly? Clicking in the box to type? Kinda have to do that with the existing editor too.

          • Fair point, I guess—maybe it is that the row of icons is so familiar I don’t see them, whereas the block editor icons—especially the blue box with a +—stands out. Saying “Type / or ]”, rather than just being the blank box it always has been or, maybe better, “Type here.”

            Question about the problems with pasting, etc., are those new problems? Did they work before on the support forum? If so, why are we spending time on a not-ready-for-prime-time support forum when we could be working on issues such as improving accessibility in core? Not as much fun? (Sorry, that sounds snarky and is not really intended to be, but this does seem like something that is more for the insiders who know how to use all the bells and whistles than the average user.)

            • Question about the problems with pasting, etc., are those new problems? Did they work before on the support forum?

              Largely, no. The support forum is full of quirks and hacks and workarounds over the years that make it work, mostly, but really don’t solve the problem. The goal here is to solve those problems in a sane and better way.

      • I’ve tested the block editor on the test forums site. Not impressed. Slowed adding a comment way down. Way too many options and gizmos for moving blocks around. Essentials like ordered and unordered list nowhere in site.

        Why not just add a hidden parser for external image services to put a thumbnail in the post which opens into a lightbox?

        Adding the block editor to WordPress support forums is a yet another solution in desperate search of a problem.

        • Thanks, glad to know that it is not just me. Some things should be really simple; a support forum is one of those. Remember, some folks who go there are new to WordPress, and are not familiar with all the ins and outs as the professionals are. Just because all the tools can be installed for a really cool experience does not mean they should be; the purpose of a support forum is to communicate efficiently and simply. The interface should not get in the way of basic conversation.

        • Essentials like ordered and unordered list nowhere in site.

          The list block is the second block in the list of blocks to add. You can also just type asterisk and space, and it will create an unordered list, as you type.

          • I believe you are still missing the point Sally G and Alec are making. A new user to WordPress wouldn’t know the keyboard shortcuts or possibly even to look under the blue plus to find a list block. I agree that the support forum does not need the block editor. As said above, this is definitely a solution in need of a problem. A support forum should be a simple way to ask a question and get an answer. You don’t need a bunch of fancy, necessary formatting. I feel like in places, WordPress really needs to KISS.

            • And yet we’ve needed nice, fancy ways of doing formatting for years. Simple things such as pasting code is a problem. These are not easily solved by having a “dumb” editor. Making the editor smarter and making it produce the output you want is really the only solution.

        • “Adding the block editor to WordPress support forums is a yet another solution in desperate search of a problem.”
          You’re absolutely right!

  2. It’s really awesome. I’ve been testing this on the test environment and it’s really good. Hotkeys are finally getting in, which I’m looking forward too.

  3. Editors are just buttons and adding autocomplete is fun, directing folks to making selections.
    I don’t use the Gutenberg block at all, width: 100%, height:auto lol lol lol

  4. To me, the most frustrating thing about the block editor, no matter where it’s implemented, is that it conflates content entry with design. I like to be able to just dump all of my content (if it’s prewritten), or type the content in, and only THEN start marking it up for styling. The block editor discourages this and almost forces a block by block entry approach. When I’m entering content I want that to be sole focus. Once the content has been entered then it’s time to style. Doing both simultaneously makes no sense to me.

    • I agree; if I am typing, I don’t want to stop and define a heading, or worse decide that this paragraph has to live in a block that contains image and text; I want to write everything and then drop in the photos where I want them. However, I must say that I prefer the Gutenberg block editor to Elementor, which seems to have the worst of both words.

    • I like to be able to just dump all of my content (if it’s prewritten), or type the content in, and only THEN start marking it up for styling.

      I absolutely 100% agree with this. And it’s exactly why I prefer the block editor.

      When I’m typing in content, I don’t have to worry about formatting or styling, or anything like that, because the block editor handles it for me. Maybe it’s a way of thought but, I don’t care what the block editor does when I’m typing. It’s making blocks, formatting them, etc.. None of that affects me until I am done typing and go back and do the editing phase. That’s when I look and see what it has created, and use the block tools to adjust the styling and all that.

      For basic text, such as this, I find the block editor is really good at doing the formatting for me. And that’s what I see as the benefit of having it very simple, in in this circumstance. If somebody is leaving a forum post, then the editor simply gets out of the way and does its job. You’ve got the tools to adjust it later if you want. But most people don’t need to. And we get better formatted responses because of that.

      • I come from a print background, and want to adjust a lot. For my Web sites, I do appreciate the newer controls for that—but I haven’t figured out, for instance, how to wrap text around an image, especially if the text is multiple paragraphs. I can use a media/text block to put 1 paragraph opposite 1 image, but if the text is longer than the height of the photograph, it will not wrap underneath. If the photo is taller, taking part of the next paragraph to wrap becomes a challenge. IDK—there may be features for this of which I am unaware, but in regard to the support forum, it is not important—I can include a screenshot or link to my issue, I don’t need to recreate it in the support forum, where I basically want simple discussion and references.

        • but I haven’t figured out, for instance, how to wrap text around an image, especially if the text is multiple paragraphs

          I made this video like 4 years ago, but the principle is still the same.

  5. I find this a welcome update, adding WordPress editor support to the WordPress support site 🙌🏻

    The ability to utilize the same block editor as used elsewhere in my daily WordPress work is a big win. The net effect is less friction when hopping between sites.

  6. Not sure how it would affect the forums, but I must say the addition of the block editor to WP was a great choice. It may make other people reconsider when selecting between popular website builders that have already been using a similar solution and WordPress.

    • I am appreciating a number of features of the block editor in working on my Web sites—one was created with Elementor, and all my new pages are block editor. I don’t know that it is needed for the support forum, but if, as someone here pointed out, there are issues there that the block editor will help to address, then O.K.

  7. OMG, it was already a bad year without this “wonderful idea”. Now my every second post is published as a gibberish. Why they are “fixing” what was not broken instead of fixing what was broken?
    Also it seems there’s literally no place on WordPress forums to discuss these changes, there’s literally no forum about WordPress forums (please point out if there’s one).

    • The primary place to discuss the forums is the #forums channel on Slack. However, if you have anything to point out, the “Requests and Feedback Forum” is usually the place.

  8. Not a fan of it. Trying it out, I ended up with a 502 error and then a message stating I already posted my post. Unless I missed it, was there any actual testing of it for the public and to get their feedback with a “block” editor on the front-end, especially with the importance of user support?

    • A 502 error would have been due to excessive server load, not any particular problem with the editor. The editor is primarily javascript based. It really doesn’t change anything that strongly on the backend.

      The testing of it by the public started this weekend. The block editor was enabled on two of the nine forums, as well as the plugins, themes, and reviews sections. Various problems have been solved since then and it was enabled on two more forums this morning.

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