The Developers Guide to Supporting Your Themes – A Support Workshop

After WordCamp Europe, the attending support team members were brainstorming how to improve support within the WordPress community, one of those plans were to conduct workshops, hosted by community members with themes or plugins on WordPress.org, and let them present how they approach the support aspect of providing a service to the open source community.

As such, our first workshop is now scheduled!

The workshop

Providing support for your themes offers tremendous opportunities to educate WordPress users, from explaining how to make a child theme to offering simple CSS customisations. It also presents challenges, like figuring out how to help people who aren’t tech-savvy or need support beyond the scope of what you can provide. While many developers dread doing support, with some concrete strategies and techniques in hand, helping users doesn’t have to be a chore – and can even be fun! This session looks at how to make your themes’ users happy while feeling a sense of satisfaction from your own support efforts – a winning combination in the world of theme development.

When is it

Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 16:00 UTC, it will last for an hour and includes Q&A.

A link to the Zoom teleconference will be provided in the #forums Slack channel about 10 minutes before the session begins.

How do I join

The session will be run via videoconference and will be recorded. Please download the free Zoom app ahead of time. You can run Zoom on most desktop and mobile devices.

Who will be hosting it

In her role as Theme Whisperer at Automattic, Kathryn Presner provides support for hundreds of themes. She began helping people as a volunteer in the WordPress.org forums back in 2011 and was immediately hooked.

July 20th Support Team Meeting Summary

General announcements

WordPress 4.8.1-beta1 is out, so please help out by testing it if you have a test setup and are able to do so.

4.8.1-beta includes the the new HTML Widget, and the previous Text Widget (with the TinyMCE editor now) will display a legacy note if you have HTML inside of it, encouraging you as a user to put custom HTML code into the HTML Widget.

The forum master list will have a section dedicated to this to help those users who might be confused by the notice or the distinction between the two widgets.

Support workshops

During WCEU ideas for improving and spreading support best practices throughout the WP community were brainstormed, and one of the ideas that came forth was to do workshops from theme/plugin authors and how they approach various aspects of helping users.

We’ll be leaving it to the presenter to decide the medium they are most comfortable with presenting it on, but that it be available to those who might be interested but unable to attend afterwards in some manner.

We’ll be evaluate how it works out and how to continue the approach after the first session, as there’s a plan but it’ll definitely be refined once we see how things pan out.

Checking with international support liaisons

The Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Hindi, Russian, Portuguese, German and Spanish communities are reporting everything to be running smoothly.

The locked Portuguese forums issue from last week have also been resolved.

The new forum welcome has been adopted by more rosetta sites and translated for their communities!

There are still some rosetta sites on the old bbPress version, but it’s an ongoing rollout process and they will eventually all be running the new version.

Open floor

@sterndata brought up that we need to be more lenient with some of the premium theme/plugin support requests, as many shops don’t provide support them selves, and we can easily help with things like CSS and generic WordPress related questions that aren’t related to the premium content being used.

This applies to many of our pre-defined replies, make sure to properly understand the question before sending out stock answers.

Attendance

@abletec, @bcworkz, @bdbrown, @bethannon1, @clorith, @cristianozanca, @denzel_chia, @diddledan, @fierevere, @glorialchemica, @hardeepasrani, @howdy_mcgee, @imazed, @jcastaneda, @jdembowski, @josearcos, @kidsguide, @lasacco, @liamdempsey, @macmanx, @numeeja, @pmfonseca, @stephencottontail, @sterndata, @t-p, @vitormadeira, @zodiac1978 and @zoonini attended.

Read the meeting transcript in the Slack archives. (A Slack account is required)

#weekly-chat

Agenda for July 20th Support Meeting

  • General announcements
  • WordPress 4.8 – Final check that no glaring issues have arisen near 4.8.1
  • Support workshops
  • Checking with international support liaisons

For any other items to discuss please add them in the comments below, or bring them up in the meeting.

The meeting will be Thursday, July 20, 2017, 16:00 UTC in #forums on Slack. (a Slack account is required)

July 13th Support Team Meeting Summary

General announcements

The WordPress 4.8.1 release is tentatively scheduled for August 1st.

User notes

This weeks main event, user notes are finally live!

User notes allows a moderator to attach a note to any user, allowing us to keep tabs on why actions were taken, and historical data if we have repeat offenders and similar.

This information is also shared with the rosetta sites, so they can add notes for behavior we may not observe on the international forums (or vice versa), giving us more control than our previous approach with emails and P2 posts.

The handbook now has a new section about how and when to use user notes, moderators should familiarize them selves with the document, and keep in mind that the handbook is a living document, so remember to check back now and then for any changes.

Forum Welcome and Forum Guidelines

The new forum welcome is now live on the forums, and can freely be adopted by the rosetta sites as well. When translating it keep in mind that you don’t need to make it an exact copy of the international welcome, all languages and countries are different and what works for us might not be a perfect fit for your own locale.

In light of the much better experience a short welcome provides as part of the forums, we’ve migrated the forum guidelines into the forums as well, this ensures a consistent experience for regular forum users who may be put off by the sheer amount of information in the handbook (where the guidelines currently live).

Checkin With International Support Liaisons

The Portugese, Spanish, Italian and Swedish communities are doing well.

They’re looking into an odd issue with a specific Portugese forum being locked, meta is on the case.

Other stuff

It was also brought up that the #forums channel might appear a bit off-putting when you join and you have to go through 13 pages of backscroll with nothing but emoji (my own over-statement for emphasis), which we can understand is less than ideal, so an effort will be made to keep the random outbursts of emoji down. This is not to say we’re going to kill any conversations between volunteers, as we recognize the value in blowing out in a friendly manner now and then, given the nature of support in general. So if you enjoy #forums emoji, don’t be too put off by this, we’ll say if it’s becoming too much.

Attendance

@abletec, @anevins, @bcworkz, @bdbrown, @bethannon1, @clorith, @contentiskey, @denzel_chia, @erricgunawan, @fierevere, @glorialchemica, @hardeepasrani, @jcastaneda, @jdembowski, @josearcos, @keesiemeijer, @kenshino, @kidsguide, @lasacco, @macmanx, @numeeja, @pmfonseca, @stephencottontail, @sterndata, @t-p, @tobifjellner, @vishalmukadam, @vitormadeira, @voldemortensen, @zodiac1978 and @zoonini attended.

Read the meeting transcript in the Slack archives. (A Slack account is required)

#weekly-chat

Agenda for July 13th Support Meeting

  • General announcements
  • User Notes – What they are and how to use them
  • Forum welcome – Now lives on the forums
  • Forum guidelines – Should we move them into the forums as well (and away from the handbook)?
  • Checking with international support liaisons

For any other items to discuss please add them in the comments below, or bring them up in the meeting.

The meeting will be Thursday, July 13, 2017, 16:00 UTC in #forums on Slack. (a Slack account is required)

July 6th Support Team Meeting Summary

When to spam, archive and un-approve

Just a reminder when to change the statuses of topics and replies in the forums.
There are no situations when the un-approve button should be used (perhaps we should hide this one as it’s just there for consistency?)
Please only mark real spam as spam, or else we poison akismet with false data and it just makes things harder on our selves, if something doesn’t belong in the forums, but it’s not actually spam, use the archive feature, this is what it’s for.

The un-approve button has been removed from the UI at this time

WordPress 4.8 – Any new recurring issues

There’s been no reports of new issues in 4.8 beyond what we already have tracked with Trac, if you are comfortable with applying patches please consider testing the new legacy mode for the text widget (See https://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/40951#comment:112 for testing instructions)

Meeting time

There have been no major problems with the current meeting time, as such we’ll be keeping the current time for the foreseeable future.

New Forum Welcome

The new forum welcome has been published, and lives at https://wordpress.org/support/welcome , it can be iterated on as we see fit, but it’s a good start.

We’ve already linked the old forum welcome pages on the forum intro page, and the help text above the new topic form to the new welcome!

Volunteer orientations

@bethannon1 requested input on what a volunteer orientation should contain, and what approach to take, a lot of great input was brought forth to help get people started, and there was agreement that we want to keep the orientations generic and non-moderator focused so that they’ll be accessible to all, they will focus on how to give good support and how to use the support resources available to all.

Checking in with International Support Liaisons

The Russian, Italian and Swedish support communities are doing good.

The Portugese community has shared their post on bringing support in from social media, and over to the .org platform.

Attendance

@abletec, @anevins, @bdbrown, @bethannon1, @contentiskey, @cristianozanca, @numeeja, @danhgilmore, @denzel_chia, @erricgunawan, @geoffreyshilling, @glorialchemica, @jcastaneda, @lasacco, @macmanx, @stephencottontail, @sterndata, @t-p, @tobifjellner and @vitormadeira attended.

Read the meeting transcript in the Slack archives. (A Slack account is required)

#weekly-chat

Agenda for July 6th Support Meeting

  • General Announcements
  • WordPress 4.8 – Any new recurring issues?
  • Meeting time – Is it still at an OK time for the majority of attendees
  • New Forum Welcome – Release and iterate
  • Volunteer Orientations
  • Checking in with International Support Liaisons

For any other items to discuss please add them in the comments below, or bring them up in the meeting.

The meeting will be Thursday, July 6, 2017, 16:00 UTC in #forums on Slack. (a Slack account is required)

June 29th Support Team Meeting Summary

Announcements

There’s a Gutenberg call for testing, please give the post a read and test. The post outlines how to provide feedback and input on the new editor experience.

WordPress 4.8

No new large issues have shown up for the 4.8 release in the past week.

New Forum Welcome

The old Forum Welcome has been moved to the new Forum Guidelines section of the handbook, if you need to reference this in posts, please use that page and not the current forum welcome.

Input and the current iteration of the new forum welcome can be seen in the call for input post, the main post will contain the edited iteration at any given time, my hopes is to have the first iteration of it up by the end of the week and it can then be iterated on from there to help maintain the momentum we’ve got going.

Moving topics

Ideally, we shouldn’t be moving/splitting topics due to #meta- 1955, but when we do, we should not edit the content of the topic, it may be confusing to users then a post starts with `[mod note …]`, if you do move a topic and want to leave a paper trail of it, use the `Reason for editing` field that’s present on all edit screens and put it in there, this keeps it out of the main post body and reduces confusion.

Meeting time

The major consensus from the participants of the meeting was that the current meeting time is pretty ideal, there was a request to move it one hour earlier, but nothing has been decided in this regard. Since it’s the summer time, and not everyone was able to attend, please feel free to leave a comment on this summary post with feedback on the meeting times if they’re not good for you.

Checking with non-English support liaisons

The Russian, Italian, Swedish and German support communities are doing well, we also had participation from the Spanish community!

Open floor / Other events

We’ve gathered more names for the manual support badges, they’ll be assigned when we do our next manual update of badges (Progress on the automation of this task can be viewed in #meta-2214).

A suggestion for adding forum icons in some way to individual subforums (and help in discoverability) was mentioned, a meta ticket will be created to see if this is possible, and if it would be overall beneficial.

Next weeks agenda will primarily focus on input for the contributor orientations that @bethannon1 requested, as we did not get time for it this week, and it’s a rather large topic.

Attendance

@abletec, @alchymyth, @anevins, @geost, @bcworkz, @bdbrown, @clorith, @contentiskey, @cristianozanca, @numeeja, @dartiss, @denzel_chia, @erricgunawan, @fernandot, @glorialchemica, @jcastaneda, @lasacco, @macmanx, @sergeybiryukov, @solybarr, @sterndata, @t-p, @tobifjellner, @wido, @zodiac1978 and @zoonini attended.

Read the meeting transcript in the Slack archives. (A Slack account is required)

#weekly-chat

Agenda for June 29th Support Meeting

  • General Announcements
  • WordPress 4.8 – Any recurring issues?
  • New Forum Welcome
  • Call for testing: Gutenberg – The new editor experience coming to WordPress
  • Meeting time – Is it still at an OK time for the majority of attendees
  • Checking in with International Support Liaisons

For any other items to discuss please add them in the comments below, or bring them up in the meeting.

The meeting will be Thursday, June 29, 2017, 16:00 UTC in #forums on Slack. (a Slack account is required)

Rewriting the forum welcome

As we talked about at the Community Summit, rewriting the forum welcome and creating a dedicated forum rules page is something we should do.

There are some caveats, I’ve already created a Forum Rules page, it’s a copy of the current welcome page, but with the first line removed so far, and I’ve come up with a starting point (not the absolute text, feedback is definitely needed on this) for the new welcome page.

One thing to take note of, the current links we’ve used to link to the rules in the handbook will stop working, that’s why the start of the welcome page should link to the rules in some way (I talked with Otto, and replacing all existing links isn’t a simple task), this is also why I created the new rules page early, so that we can start linking to it when referencing things in posts.

Now, on to the suggestion for the forum welcome starting point:


Welcome to the WordPress.org support forums!

Please make sure you read the forum guidelines before contributing to WordPress support, both when asking for and giving support, this helps maintain a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for all involved.

Asking for support

Before posting, make sure it’s about a self hosted WordPress.org site and not a WordPress.com site (See WordPress.com vs WordPress.org to be sure).

Post your question in the appropriate forum, but don’t worry if you’re unsure about which one to use, we’ll help you regardless, and may even move it to the right forum for you if there’s a better place for it. Feel free to make a new topic, even though your issue might appear similar to other topics, most sites are unique and it’s rarely the same issue.

Remember to check the box for receiving email notifications from replies, this way you know when someone has answered your question, or might be requesting more information.

If you don’t feel entirely comfortable posting in the international forums, we’ve created a list of localized forums where you may also get help.

Once you’ve tried some solutions from someone helping you, it’s always a good idea to return to the topic and let people know what worked and what didn’t work, this can also help others in the future who might be searching having the same question you had.

Providing support

Find an area that interests you and look at what topics have gone unanswered. The list of unanswered topics from across the forums is a great starting point if you’re not quite sure where to start.

If a problem interests you, but you don’t already know the answer, view it as a great opportunity to learn along with the user asking, you can share how you research it and help each other learn and grow!

Remember to check the box for receiving email notifications when someone posts to a topic you participate in. This way you know if the one seeking help has provided feedback (did the issue get resolved, did something else happen and they have new information and so forth).