After thorough discussions, and observations over an extended period of time, the support team has decided to amend the guidelines, and add a section relating to links for external resources.
It should be noted that this only applies to topics in plugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party and theme support forums, and not to the general support forums of WordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/, although the spirit behind the guideline should still be adhered to there as well.
The guideline text can be read, and linked to directly, in the Forum Guidelines.
When creating links to other resources
Public links in plugin or theme support topics may only be posted if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- The link is to the plugin or theme authors own website.
- The link is to the plugin or theme authors own support website.
- The link is posted by the plugin or theme author them selves to an external resource related to the topic.
- The link is to documentation on the WordPress.org website
Why is this being enforced?
Links may come and go, websites change, URLs change, this all could mean that someone looking for an answer in the future ends up on a topic that only has links to a website no longer running, or to a site now owned by someone else with different content from what is expected.
Most support related websites have guidelines asking users to post their answers in full, instead of linking to different places, and this is why.
By sharing the information on WordPress.org, you ensure that it is kept available for all WordPress users.
As we like to assume good faith, the reasons for us not wanting content linked externally are outlined in such a fashion, but it should be noted that as part of the decision making process, other uses were also mentioned.
Links to personal sites which promote paid resolutions, and attempting to solicit work after the fact, by not providing complete solutions on the forums, were also a driving force behind this change.
By providing this guideline, we also encourage plugin and theme authors to provide their users with good documentation them selves, either by sourcing it through the community and offering it on their own official channels, or by creating it them selves ahead of time.
Both directions help new and existing users alike, by ensuring they get the best possible experience, which in turn leads to higher user satisfaction.
So what does this mean for you, the user?
Well, first of all, we don’t retroactively punish anyone, so even if you had made links in the past, this won’t come back to haunt you.
It does put higher expectations on posting answers, if the plugin or theme author does not have their own proper documentation. We do hope that this is overcome by an initial set of good replies that the authors can adapt into their own FAQs and user documentation though.
And as a final note; We, the support team, and broader WordPress community, thank you for volunteering your time and helping others!