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  • Jan Dembowski 2:59 am on August 19, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Team chat agenda for week #34 

    For any items that you may want discussed in this week’s #wordpress-sfd meetup please reply in the comments below.

    • WordPress 4.0 beta 4 and preparing for all hands on deck for RC1 and the not that far away release.

    I’ll be unable to attend this week’s meetup (insert Griswold Vacation joke HERE). If someone can write up the notes for make/update and make/support I would be very grateful. Yes, I’m looking at @MacManX, @Ipstenu and especially @Clorith. ;)

  • Jan Dembowski 12:20 pm on August 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Support Team Update for August 7th 

    Items discussed at this week’s #wordpress-sfd support:

    WordPress security release

    Update. Do it now. I’ll wait.

    Versions 4.0 beta 3, 3.9.2, 3.8.4, 3.7.4 were updated and co-released with the Drupal security team. That’s pretty impressive with all those versions and coordination with another platform.

    Please be aware that releases prior to the latest (3.9.2) are not supported and everyone should be encouraged to upgrade.

    WordPress 4.0 beta ongoing testing

    This portion of the meetup was very interactive. @Clorith, @Ipstenu and @MacManX talked about and confirmed a big with the current beta. You can see the whole conversation via this link and Mika raised a new ticket for that issue right on the spot.

    It was like watching the alpha/beta sub-forum being worked on but live. A very cool conversation to watch.

    Contributions to the Troubleshooting Handbook

    At WCNYC’s contributor day there were some new people joining and they could write! That was a great thing and you can see some of that in this page.

    That handbook still needs love and attention but progress is being made. It was great meeting new people who jumped right in and started contributing like that. All Mika and I had to do was ask and provide some input. ;)

    The transcript for this week’s 4 minute early meetup can be read at this link.

  • Jan Dembowski 10:30 am on July 18, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Support Team Update for July 17th 

    Items discussed at the #wordpress-sfd meetup:

    Status of the handbooks (not just the Troubleshooting one)

    @samuelsidler (sams) asked about the difference between the handbooks and the organization of them. He was at WCKC and there was some confusion when trying to locate items in the handbooks.

    The Support Handbook really is for moderators and people providing support in that role. For example many of the pre-defined replies in that handbook deal with managing topics. That’s for solving forum problems. It’s written for moderators.

    The Troubleshooting Handbook in development is for people who want to assist others with WordPress problems. It’s a different audience and is definitely needed.

    This item neatly segued into the next topic of

    The Troubleshooting Handbook status

    It’s looking good and parts of the new handbook are fleshed out. It still needs content but as @Ipstenu reminded me release and iterate also applies to documentation too. Contributions don’t have to be perfect but they have to be started or things will never get done.

    That last sentence was more of a note to myself but all contributions to the handbook are welcomed. ;) If you want to contribute but don’t have access then contact me via the comments and we’ll figure something out.

    There was discussion of how and what belongs on the new handbook and the consensus was to keep it basic and inviting to new users.

    Portions of the new Troubleshooting Handbook that do a deep dive into setting up things like WAMP, LAMP, MAMP, VVV, etc. will be directed to other more technical resources. Their will be technical details there (see the break/fix examples) but the goal is to get users started and invite them to provide support.

    We all want to get more people helping and keeping it basic may get that started.

    Section topic titles

    The sections and examples were obtained from @Ipstenu‘s Break/Fix site. The titles work with the content of the article but some of them may be unclear when people are looking around. Those titles are fun though and when you get into the examples you’ll understand Mika’s gift for titles. ;)

    If you have a suggestion for modifying a title in the handbook please ping the gang here.


    I couldn’t figure out a good way to type that title with a Kirk “KHHAANNN!!!” effect.

    The WordPress 4.0 beta1 is out and please test and beat up. There are some nice enchantments (the media library made me yell “Oh that’s cool!”) and feed back is needed and bugs should be reported to the Alpha/Beta sub-forum. For a good status or progress on the beta consider subscribing to make/core.

    When you see topics in the Alpha/Beta sub-forum that have a ticket assigned and posted in that topic please mark that topic resolved. Don’t close the topic unless it becomes a run-away train or off topic in a bad way. Then the usual applies and that topic can be closed.

    The transcript for this meetup can be read at this link.

  • Jan Dembowski 1:37 am on June 20, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Support Team Update for June 19th 

    I was unable to attend today’s #wordpress-sfd meetup but there was good representation and a lot was covered. Mika wrote a really good amount of material and sent it to the wp-forums list. I also wanted to thank @Ipstenu for driving the meetup but it’s really more than that.

    Mika? You’re fantastic and inspiring. Some days volunteer work (any work) can be a drag so if that happens just read this: Thank you for everything you do. It’s really appreciated. ;)

    The Troubleshooting Handbook

    Much of the Break/Fix site is now imported into the Troubleshooting Hanbdbook


    This is a work in progress please feel free to volunteer content. This remains a great idea.

    Sock Puppetry

    Sock Puppetry is when one person (or company) makes duplicate accounts to either troll others or bump their own plugin or theme. It’s not cool and those new accounts get blocked when found and their posts deleted.

    When a moderator comes across that and it’s related to a plugin author then please notify the plugin team at plugin [at] wordpress.org with the details. If a theme author is doing that then I think you can ping the theme reviewers list.

    I don’t think I’ve come across a theme author engaging in sock puppetry myself. You can always notify the wp-forums list if you’re not sure.

    How to Pick Moderators and some Handbook Cleanup

    Mika wrote a good and lengthy email to the wp-forums list and I’m going to include that here in today’s update.

    Since this DOES get asked now and then, we banged around an idea to not so much formalize the process, but explain what’s going on.

    That said, before I get to the new thing I’d like to add, I’ve fixed the structure of the handbook so we have forum moderation under the ‘Contributing to the WP Forums’ section. I also cleaned up a lot of the stuff that was in the “I …” format, since that was from my emails ages ago, and needed updating. I also consolidated some pages and added a couple new ones.





    Added: Rule 6: You’re here to help people, not preach about right and wrong.


    Added: We have guidelines, not rules, for a reason: guidelines should be followed, rules <em>must</em> be followed. Never let the literalness of the guideline override your common sense. After all, we’re here to help people, not build a wall to keep people out.


    Added a reminder: We don’t like to call it bozing in public (even on this list) becuase it’s 99.99999% of the time taken the worst way possible. Try to call it b-tagging, and never ever EVER tell them they were bozo’d, tell them their account was set to require moderator approval on posts.



    Forum Moderator:

    If you’re interested in being a forum moderator, that’s awesome! We don’t have a formalized process for getting new mods, but here’s how we handle it:

    We’re a team. We pick people we feel will work well with the current members, uphold the high level of support and friendliness of the forums, contribute with no adverse ulterior motive, and be a polite member of the forums in the face of raging anger.

    What do we mean by ‘adverse ulterior motive’? It’s actually pretty simple.

    • Contributing to the forums to help people while learning more about WordPress is good.
    • Posting replies only to get people to use your plugin/service/product is NOT good.
    • Using your moderator powers to determine a poster is hosted by your company, and asking them to contact you/your company is good.
    • Using your moderator powers to get a poster’s email address to contact THEM about your product/service is NOT good.
    • Asking to be a mod because you’ve been tagging posts for spam cleanup, email/personal information/passwords removal, and make sticky posts for major issues is good.
    • Asking to be a mod because it will make you contribute more is NOT good.

    If you can’t tell, the idea here is to do good for the sake of doing good. It’s not that we’re looking for people who have no higher aspirations, it’s that the aspiration we’re looking for is very self evident when it exists. And certainly you don’t have to be altruistic about WordPress to be a moderator. Some of us are encouraged by our companies to volunteer, in order to help the community. But that’s really the point. We’re looking for people whose goal matches ours: Make WordPress better for everyone.

    Not being asked doesn’t mean you lack those qualities, however, nor does it mean we feel you’re a bad person. There is no magical combination of actions to be picked as a mod, and many people, even those who ask about being one, are surprised the day that they’re asked if they’d like to be one. The reason is that the absolute best moderators are the ones who are just going to do what they do, regardless of formal recognition. They see something that needs doing, and they do it.

    And THAT is what we look for.

    Mika A Epstein (aka Ipstenu)

    The transcript of today’s #wordpress-sfd meetup can be read at this link.

  • Jen Mylo 5:04 pm on June 19, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: ,   

    WCSF/Team Meetup 

    Howdy again, folks. We’re working on making sure we have enough room blocks to make sure all the contributors who are coming in October can get a decent rate (or have a room provided by us if needed). Some of you replied to my post from last week and filled in the survey so I’d know you were planning to come, but some haven’t. I just want to make sure we count everyone. For example, @jdembowski, @podz, @clorith, and @jerrysarcastic didn’t fill in the survey. Maybe you guys don’t plan to attend due to timing conflicts or other reasons, or maybe you do but didn’t fill in the survey. Help me help you! :)

    Hit the survey if you are an active member of this team so we can count you and see if you’d be able to stay for the whole time etc while we are creating room blocks. If you are not going to attend at all, please leave a comment on this post saying that and I won’t bug you anymore. If you would come but are concerned about the cost, hit the survey to be counted, and then go fill in the application for travel assistance. We have a budget for this, so let’s not allow money to prevent active contributors from attending.

    If you didn’t read the post before, the plan is:
    Sat/Sun — WCSF conference
    Monday — community summit
    Tues/Wed — team meetups (i.e. the support team being together in a place to talk issues, make plans, work together, etc)

    • Jen Mylo 5:21 pm on June 19, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Also: In that survey, a lot of people say they’re active with the support team, but I don’t necessarily see recent activity from them, so I wonder if they checked the box just meaning they’d done support at some point vs being an active part of the team now. One of these days we’ll get around to making team pages for all the teams, but in the meantime, could you folks (esp @jdembowski and @ipstenu) tell me who on this list is actually active in support? It’s not to deny anyone a place at the event, it’s to coordinate our rooms blocks since we’re going to be spread among 3-4 hotels, and if I can I want to put teams in the same hotel to make it easier for them to connect. Some people are or have been active with more than one team, so this is step 1 of figuring out who to put where.

      People who identified themselves as “actively involved with the support team, including forums, irc, etc”:
      Cousett Hoover, Paul Clark,John Jacoby, Chris Olbekson, Drew Jaynes, Asif Chowdhury, Keith Messinger, Scott Wyden, Kivowitz, Valent Mustamin, Christine Rondeau, Jose Castaneda, Mika Epstein, Ed Caissie, Sergey Biryukov, Ayman Al Zarrad, Russell Fair, Otto.

      • Sergey Biryukov 6:43 pm on June 19, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        To be clear, I checked the support box mainly because of my activity on ru.forums.wordpress.org. I also monitor the Alpha/Beta forum, but my main focus is core.

        • Jen Mylo 5:31 pm on June 20, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Cool. I already have you grouped with core on my plan, I just didn’t want to edit the response lists in case there was something I was missing. :)

      • Christine Rondeau 11:07 pm on June 23, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I’ve been active’ish now and again, but not as much as I used to. I’m coming to SF for sure, but I’ll be staying at a friends place.

    • Scott Wyden Kivowitz 12:11 pm on June 20, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I work for Photocrati, so I’m involved with support for NextGEN Gallery.

    • Siobhan Bamber (siobhyb) 9:23 pm on July 19, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hi @jenmylo: I held back on applying to the Community Summit as I haven’t contributed actively to the Open Source project in the past couple of months, however, this was only due to some personal commitments taking my time rather than not being interested in contributing any more. I’ve filled in the survey to hopefully attend the Summit, I’d be able to fund my own travel and accommodation.

  • Jan Dembowski 10:18 am on June 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Team chat agenda for week #25 

    For any items that you may want discussed in this week’s #wordpress-sfd meetup please reply in the comments below.

    • Ping @jerrysarcastic about You Know What™ ;) (specifically about importing content from @Ipstenu‘s Break/Fix site)

    I’ll be most likely unable to attend this weeks meetup (What did Mika say? Oh yeah, end of school year “life thing”) but I will post the summary of the meetup online.

  • Jan Dembowski 10:12 am on June 13, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Support Team Update for June 12th 

    Items discussed at the #wordpress-sfd meetup:

    The Troubleshooting Handbook

    The discussion was about organizing the ToC and getting the content from @ipstenu‘s Break/Fix site into that new handbook.

    Markr (@podz) had put together a spreadsheet and shared it online that divides the new handbook into section. We agreed that those sections made sense. It’s not set in stone but it’s a good start.

    Once there is content in the new handbook I will add a link to that handbook in the make/support sidebar.

    Contributors wanted!

    Too bad there’s not a “Uncle WordPress wants YOU” graphic lying around. I think grumpy cat is more the support team’s mascot. ;)

    The Troubleshooting Handbook will need content. The posts that @ipstenu has in her break/fix site will be migrated/copied to the new site by @jerrysarcastic and I’m itching to write a post for the “Giving Support” section.

    But there are many examples in the support forums and in IRC that can and should be used in the new handbook. If you’ve seen or contributed a post for plugin or theme support that struck you as a particularly good answer (and I’m looking at @josh401, @jnhghy and @emg as a blatant and not so subtle attempt on my part to get content) then that can be used.

    If you’ve wanted to contribute or have a post for consideration please share it in the comments. Even a link to a support topic or IRC conversations can get the

    The transcript of the meetup can be read at this link.

  • Jan Dembowski 2:35 am on May 30, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Support Team Update for May 29th 

    Item discussed in today’s #wordpress-sfd support meetup: @jerrysarcastic‘s idea. Jerry’s been very popular these last few meetups. ;)

    It was a fun conversation and mostly it revolved around what his idea is and where to put it for now.

    The What Part

    The current support handbook’s audience really is people who want guidance for being a forum moderator. As @Ipstenu said the support handbook is “How to make more Jans and Mikas.”

    Jerry’s idea is for producing a handbook that can be used for people who want to help others outside of a moderator role. Some of those forum members may be web developers not familiar with WordPress coding standards. Or non-coders who want to help and look for guidance as to how to best do that.

    The Where Part

    The where part was quickly settled at least temporarily. The stub is located at http://make.wordpress.org/support/trouble/ and the first step will be to create a TOC. Once that’s filled out then posts and examples can begin to be populated.

    You do want to contribute, right?

    Have you ever read a forum reply and thought “That was really a good answer!” (that’s happened to me) or even “That reply is missing a step”? This handbook can be a place to document and share those answers and solutions.

    Visit Mika’s Break/Fix WordPress site and poke around. There are some great posts there and that’s really along the lines of what this idea is about.

    Read again Jerry’s post and reply back there. What do you think should go into the table of contents, how should it be organized? Got any ideas for a topic or post? I myself want to write something about how plugins can be modified without editing just by using actions and filters in another small plugin.

    There can be a lot of ideas for that handbook; please chime in make suggestions. Any offers to contribute will be appreciated.

    The transcript of today’s meetup can be found at this link.

  • Jerry Bates (jerrysarcastic) 5:15 pm on May 23, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment

    Troubleshooting Support: Adding troubleshooting to the Support Handbook 

    Hi everyone. @jdembowski suggested at the last meeting that it would be a good thing to post some info about the idea I brought up, so more people can add their feedback. So, here’s my idea…

    The Support Handbook is full of information about how to do the job of being a forum moderator—how to deal with spam, abuse, bozos, etc.—but there is not really anything to represent the other half of the equation: How to troubleshoot common issues once they get here.

    While there is a page in the Codex that helps solve a lot of common issues that face users, there is still really nothing like it that is aimed squarely at troubleshooting from the perspective of a support giver, rather than a WordPress user.

    Why we need a troubleshooting section

    Naturally if you’re already a WordPress pro, you know how to do this stuff or can piece it together for yourself with an internet search. However, contributors arrive at the forums from a broad range of backgrounds, from power users to developers. The art of troubleshooting may not be second nature to them at all.

    For experienced coder who is new to the finer points of WordPress, or perhaps a non-coder who has a strong desire to learn and help others (or anyone in-between really) adding a troubleshooting section to the Support Handbook can only help.

    So where does this come from, thin air?

    Not exactly. One place we could borrow content from to get us started is http://breakfix.elftest.net/ which is a site full of WordPress troubleshooting exercises that are hosted under @ipstenu‘s care, with many awesome peeps contributing to the content. The exercises themselves were developed to provide lesson materials for two workshops in 2013, which were well received, though the content not been developed since, nor any workshops taken place.

    Something I like about the approach of the break/fix site (and related workshops) is that there are full downloads and example problems to work through. So it is an interactive way to learn troubleshooting by breaking—and then fixing—a test site, along with useful reference material on common tools and approaches for troubleshooting.

    As far as other content that may work, there may also be relevant Codex content that can be pulled in and adapted, and I am sure new content/lessons could be added as well. So plenty of ways we could go here, though starting with a port of break/fix gets us off the ground quickly.

    Sound crazy? Could it be better? Want to help out?

    So this is just my idea for how we could expand the usefulness of the Support Handbook, and one that will benefit from as many viewpoints as possible. With that in mind, I’m really more curious to hear your thoughts on what would be the ideal way to approach adding troubleshooting info.

    Please let me know in the comments. And if you want to help, *definitely* say something in the comments. :)

    • Josh Pollock 5:25 pm on May 23, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I think this is a good idea and would love to help out. I am the community manager for Pods, which involves a lot of troubleshooting so I would be happy to help write up troubleshooting steps.

      One thing I think might be useful for this is a list of steps for describing an issue in a trac ticket that I created based on a discussion lead by Andrew Nacin and Mark Jaqutih at WordCamp Orlando 2013 contributor day:


      • jerrysarcastic 7:19 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Hi Josh, that is a pretty good (and comprehensive) troubleshooting list and similar in many ways to how I approach user issues as well.

        I could see several of those expanded into a “Support Tools” section that talks about how to do things like use WP_DEBUG in a support context (this Codex page is written very much from a developer point of view, for example) or how you would go about talking a user how to find javascript errors and report them back.

    • Mark (podz) 12:34 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I posted this earlier to the wp-forums mailing list. Worth adding into the project in some way?

      Thinking about ways to help new contributors, help those searching and also highlight excellent answers I wondered if it would be useful to start tagging such replies.

      For instance, someone posts a problem and Bill replies with a model answer. That answer is great for the user, great if you read it but otherwise lost? Tagging it gives a new contributor a way to read and gain more knowledge to help, it means as WP develops such replies can find their way to a handbook or other resource and maybe if search changes they could be flagged up as possible answers.

      Another example. Someone posts but their problem is not well defined. The replies they get help define the issue, do not confuse the user and the result is a solved issue. Teasing out what the problem is can also be an issue and doing it well is a valuable skill.

      Is this worth doing?

      If you think so I am happy to compile a list of those tagged each week to post here. Could even make a weekly Information post to the forums also to raise the level of awareness of it.

      • jerrysarcastic 7:08 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Tagging it gives a new contributor a way to read and gain more knowledge to help, it means as WP develops such replies can find their way to a handbook or other resource and maybe if search changes they could be flagged up as possible answers.

        I think a way to tag these is a good place to start, as examples of *support done well* is a great way to learn. Would these tags be visible to users, as well as forum mods? How would they best be implemented you think?

        • Mark (podz) 1:33 pm on June 2, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          I think tags should be visible to everyone. That way we can indicate to potential new helpers that these tags are good ones to subscribe to.

          However – from experience we then need to emphasize that it is crucial to actually read the ticket. I have in the past seen answers of mine and others pasted by someone trying to be helpful but the answer is not the right one for their issue. So the OP gets poor information and we have to then advise the replier that they did not read/understand the question fully.

        • Mark (podz) 1:35 pm on June 2, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Also, might it be useful to have a tag which asks for more help?

          I say this because if there is a thread you have helped with then it will not be in No-replies, others might glance at it and assume that as you are replying that all will be good. But what if you hit a dead end with your knowledge? How do we flag that up to get more eyes on it?

    • Jan Dembowski 1:37 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I really like the idea of incorporating examples like the ones in http://breakfix.elftest.net/ as well as highlighting great answers in the Support Handbook.

      They’d be two separate sections so break fix would cover “Here is how it broke, how to determine that and here’s how you fix it” while Mark’s idea would be “This is why this is a great answer, kudos to Bill (insert link to answer)”.

      Would it be a good idea to start examples of both in make/support and assign each a category? Later on as the sections in the handbook develop they can be inserted into those areas.

    • Ipstenu (Mika Epstein) 2:35 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      We could write fake questions that are common?

      “I have this cool theme and I need to change the background color!”

      Bad Answer: Just edit style.css!

      Better Answer: You’ll want to edit the CSS.

      Best Answer: You need to edit the CSS, and you can do this in two ways. Either use a plugin that lets you override the CSS (like the CSS editor in Jetpack) or create a child theme…

      • Jan Dembowski 4:19 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Fake questions are good especially as an example. That one happens all the time but occasionally there are questions about modifying a plugin’s output.

        If the plugin uses actions or filters (my favorite WordPress feature) then the answer could be good too as an example how the actions and filter queuing works.

        I really like the idea of documenting those examples…

      • Josh (WP Edit) 5:29 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        +1 Mika. Your solution seems to bring the best of both worlds.

      • jerrysarcastic 7:35 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        We could write fake questions that are common?

        I like how this is also an example of how to answer with WordPress coding standards in mind.

        Beyond just example questions, is it worth having a section in the Handbook about “How we do things the WordPress way” as a reference for anyone helping out who is an experienced coder but may not really be aware of some of the long-held standards we have in the community?

      • Mark (podz) 1:38 pm on June 2, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Love this idea.

        What about kicking it off with a post to the forums mailing list asking for those fake questions and the start of a worst / best reply? Then hone those and link them up within the handbook?

        • Jan Dembowski 2:29 pm on June 2, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          I don’t think that would be a bad idea (a post in the forums) but the forums tend to have items like that scroll by and get lost.

          We could make it a sticky post but perhaps a post somewhere that gets visibility on the WordPress dashboard?

          *Jan makes loud coughing noises in the direction of @jeffr0 and @pollyplummer in a totally non-discrete way*

          Edit: Reading is fundamental on my part (meaning I almost never read correctly). An email to the wp-forums list is a good idea, ;)

  • Jan Dembowski 10:41 am on May 20, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Team chat agenda for week #21 

    For any items that you may want discussed in this week’s #wordpress-sfd meetup please reply below.

    So far the only item I have is a follow up is to ping @jerrysarcastic and see if he has an update for the support handbook re that site of @ipstenu‘s. ;)

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