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30 Days in the WordPress Forum

30 Days in the WordPress Support Forum: Here are 9 things I learned

Having been blogging on and off for the past couple years and maintaining blogs during the school-year for my classes, I thought I might spend some time this summer in the WordPress Support Forums.

I’ve spent about 30 days in the support forum and learned some interesting lessons and insights:

1. People are really confused between and The confusion stems from which kind of posting goes where: support forum is mostly for blogs that end in whereas forum is for blogs that are self-hosted.

Star Trek FacepalmStar trek wtf

2. Lots of issues can be solved by updating browsers (An updated Browser is a Happy Browser!) and clearing it’s cache. Which seems to be the digital equivalent of your cable companies instructions to “unplug and restart your modem”.

3.  People consider their blog as an extension of themselves. Much like a child is to a mother, so is a blog to a blogger. Bloggers get really upset and frustrated when their blog has issues. Especially, if that is a person’s livelihood. According to a somewhat dated Wall Street Journal Article, at least 2-million people make money from blogging.

4. People do not take the time to figure out a solution for themselves (either by choice or level of technical skill). They also expect an answer right-away. Which is probably the downside to having an open forum where anyone can post something and get an answer (from some outstanding community volunteers) within a pizza delivery time-frame.

5. It can be challenging to troubleshoot WordPress problems in a context free environment, which makes asking the right questions all the more important. However, I am not sure which way of troubleshooting is better:

Method of Troubleshooting               PRO           CON     ASSUMPTIONS
Give all possible answers up-front Individual can work on problems at own pace Feels clinical and not personalized Moderate-to-high level of technical skill
Give answers in a linear fashion Feels personalized; Easy to develop rapport May take a lots of time Low-level of technical skill

6. The support forums are very much like a noisy classroom! However, it is the kind of good “noise” that indicates productivity, problem-solving, and collaboration.

7. People seeking help are often unaware that their responses are given by volunteers (most of the time, dependent on how much the WP staff is tied-up) not staff.

8. Similar to the learning curve it took for shoppers to get used to self-checkout lanes, people seeking help are sometimes at a loss as to how to get it. Automattic has no phone number to call and relies either on users filling out forms to get a response or posting in the support forum.

9. Some threads are pretty bizarre.