Changes to the support guidelines for linking to off-site resources

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 and theme support forums, and not to the general support forums of 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!

#guidelines

Discussion: A Better Do and Don’t List

The following are cribbed from another site’s Dos and Don’ts. They should not be considered the be all and end all of guidelines, but they’re a good start. I’m thinking that perhaps a simplified ‘dos and dont’s’ list may help some people who see our massive list of guidelines and panic.

This list is not perfect and I want your help

Please suggest changes and improvements. I don’t want to make it much longer, so if we can consolidate and combine, that would be good. There’s no point in even trying to get through everything, so really I’m trying to spell out the basics of etiquette on the forums.

Good Manners and Respect Dos and Don’ts

  • DON’T use “um,” be snotty to another user, or make the argument personal
  • DO know the difference between differences of opinion and personal attacks
  • DO treat others the way you want to be treated
  • DON’T present your opinions as facts
  • DON’T post the same opinion over and over in the hopes of wearing other people down or “winning” a discussion; just move on
  • DON’T be a gosh-darn dirty spammer
  • DON’T be vulgar; if you’re not sure, don’t say it

Starting New Threads Dos and Don’ts

  • DO search for existing topics before starting new threads
  • DO make a new topic if you find yourself saying “I have the same problem but …”
  • DO link back to a related topic (or closed) when approriate
  • DON’T use all-caps or excessive punctuation in thread titles
  • DON’T treat the support forums as your personal blog
  • DON’T get all meta and use the forums to rant about the forums

Posting Messages Dos and Don’ts

  • DON’T post in a thread until you’ve read the whole thread
  • DON’T post “Me Too!” messages; add something of substance to the conversation
  • DON’T sign your posts
  • DO use proper spelling, capitalization, punctuation, et cetera
  • DON’T post just to pimp your site or product, et cetera
  • DON’T post the same thing in multiple areas; pick a spot and go with it

Warnings, Bans and Trolls Dos and Don’ts

  • DO take any mod warnings you get seriously
  • DON’T bug the mods to remove moderation on your posts
  • DO help us out and report trolls, flame wars, and troublemakers by tagging a post with “modlook”
  • DON’T abuse the modlook tag

#forums, #guidelines, #support