Dealing with Angry Users – Video and Slides

WordPress.com Happiness Engineer Mindy Postoff joined us today to share techniques for providing great support – while dealing with angry users. The presentation recording, slides, and transcript are all available below.

This workshop was the third fourth in a series that evolved from the 2017 Community Summit, with the aim to share best practices for WordPress support. All past sessions can be can be viewed here.

If you have suggestions for other support-related subjects or speakers you’d like to see in the future, feel free to comment here – we’re open to ideas.

Video (34 min.)

Slides

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1bKjCBLRXIGlI_FKVkP3ItkGZXKWllikv86SlPB4FetY/

Transcript

We all have something in common: we’re selling something. And whatever that something is, whether it’s a product or a service, whether it’s something we own or something our bosses own, we work to sell it so that we can earn a paycheck.

But selling is a two-way street. In order for the equation to work, there needs to be buyers. These buyers are your users, and sometimes, they can be quite angry.

Although it can be difficult to deal with these users in the moment, they can actually be a tremendous benefit to you and your company.  Their screaming actually comes with a silver lining, so be sure to listen carefully to what they’re saying.

Angry and frustrated users are perfect for giving you feedback on how you or your business can improve its product and/or service. But that’s not the only reason to engage with your angry customers quickly and help them. In today’s world of social media, our personal soapboxes can reach a massive audience, and negativity spreads like wildfire online.

American Express conducted a survey in 2014 and they found that while 46% of American consumers will always tell people about their good service experiences, 60% said that they always share the bad ones. And not only will more people talk, but they’ll tell 3 times as many people.

So, before these angry customers reach for their social media megaphones and you’re battling a viral inferno, let’s put the fire out while it’s still just burning in one person.

When people are yelling and swearing at you, they’re mad, they’re stressed, they’re frustrated. They’re caught in…

Emotion Mind, and it’s next to impossible for them to think calmly, rationally and logically. It’s a state of mind where their thoughts and behaviors are simply a response to what they’re feeling.

Everyone gets into Emotion Mind sometimes. Maybe they’re the exhausted cashier at the supermarket, working their 2nd full-time job trying to make ends meet who sighs heavily at you because you decided you didn’t want that jar of pickles after all. Or maybe they’re the waiter at the restaurant, stressed because it’s their first day and the kitchen is backed up with orders, and they really have no idea how long it will take for your meal to be ready. Or maybe it’s the driver who cuts you off, because they just got word that their father had a heart attack.

You might run into those people when you’re not at work, when you don’t have to help them. And in those situations, you may decide to respond like this…

But what if they are your users? What if they’re this angry with your products or services? It’s your job to try and help them, so what can you do?

I’m going to present a scenario that might seem familiar to some people here in the WordPress community. I call it: The Angry Customer. Scene 1 – Emotion Mind.

Customer: After updating your stupid plugin, no one can pay for their orders! I’m losing thousands of dollars each day and it’s your fault! This is URGENT!

Me: First of all, it’s not my plugin that’s the problem. It works for everyone else, so it’s not my fault. If you want my help, though, you’ll need to calm down.

Customer: Calm down?! My website was running great until your plugin broke it. This is the worst customer service ever!

Yikes! Fighting fire with fire can lead to an extremely heated situation. In this scene, did you see how quickly I got defensive? It’s absolutely fine that I stand behind my plugin, and it’s absolutely understandable to be offended when someone has attacked it. However, when I got wrapped up in my own Emotion Mind, things spiraled out of control. At this point, I’ve probably lost this user forever, and I shouldn’t be surprised if I see a negative review appear for it. Most likely, they now believe that not only is my plugin at fault, but I’m completely useless at supporting it.

We’ve all been caught in Emotion Mind, and most likely, we didn’t make the best decisions. Understanding that, without judgment, is the first step in being able to help people who are temporarily stuck there.

Opposite to Emotion Mind,  is Logic Mind. This is the space where rational, intellectual and fact-based thinking happens. Emotions simply aren’t part of the equation. In Logic Mind, we remain calm, devise our strategies and respond to the problem.

Maybe you’re in a technical support role like me, or maybe you’re a developer creating plugins or themes. In these positions, much of our work revolves around solving problems. Therefore, it’s fair to assume that we spend a considerable amount of time in Logic Mind.

So, let’s take another look  at The Angry Customer, and this time, it might seem a bit more familiar. Scene 2 – Logic Mind.

Customer: After updating your stupid plugin, no one can pay for their orders! I’m losing thousands of dollars each day and it’s your fault! This is URGENT!

Me: Can you explain the exact issue? Is there an error message?

Customer: The issue is that people can’t complete their orders! You need to fix this!

Me: I can’t recreate the problem on my test site. In order to troubleshoot this, please try disabling all plugins except mine. Let me know if that fixes the trouble.

Customer: Are you kidding me? This is a live site! I can’t turn off all my plugins!

Ok, so in this scene, I certainly didn’t escalate the problem, but by remaining in Logic Mind, I never addressed the customer’s feelings. High intensity emotions – like anger and frustration – need to be defused and can’t be ignored. Otherwise the situation can still get out of hand.

Has anyone ever tried to help someone, a user or not, and they just seemed to get angrier?  Maybe they even yelled back at you, or texted back in all-caps, “You’re not listening to me!” It’s certainly happened to me… probably at least twice. It’s noble to try and help solve the problem, but if I reply logically when they’re caught up in their emotions, they won’t understand what I say. Instead, it will feel like I didn’t listen to them. What they really wanted, at least at first, was to be heard.

So, what can we do to ensure that our users know that we’ve heard them? What can we do to ensure that our customers feel acknowledged? Well, while we’re thinking logically about this, let’s look at a Venn diagram.

On one side, we’ve got Emotion Mind, and on the other side, we’ve got Logic Mind. That coveted middle ground that connects the two sides, which otherwise can’t communicate with each other, is… Wise Mind.

Wise Mind is a Buddhist concept, which leads to a balance of both logic and emotion. When we’re in this state, we make better decisions because both our reason and our feelings are reassured. It’s feeling sympathy for people having trouble, as well as proposing solutions to help them.

I imagine Wise Mind looking like this…

Our challenge, when working with angry users, is two-fold. First, we need to get into and stay in Wise Mind. Second, we need to pull the customer out of their Emotion Mind and have them join us in Wise Mind.

When trying to get into Wise Mind, I think of the metaphor of flight safety instructions. You need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you’re able to assist others. If you’re not already in Wise Mind, it’ll be impossible to help others get there.

So, you may be thinking, “Gee, Mindy. Sounds great, theoretically. But how can I practically get into Wise Mind?” Well, what I do is observe and describe.

First, you can observe yourself. Think of this as a quick, 10-second meditation session. It will give your brain a chance to weigh in so that your emotions aren’t dictating what you say, write or do in response. Use this as an opportunity to take a deep breath, and “watch” as the air passes from your nostrils to your lungs. You can also imagine that you’re tiny and in your fingertips, as they rest gently on the keyboard. Or, if you’re not actually face-to-face with your user, maybe you take step back and stretch your arms as wide or as high as they’ll go.

The next step is to describe what’s going on physically with your body. This keeps your brain engaged. Try closing your eyes and describe what you’re experiencing. For example:

  • “I can feel my heart beating quickly in my chest.”
  • “My shoulder muscles feel quite tense.”
  • “My hands are shaking a bit.”

Getting into Wise Mind, and staying there, can be very difficult. It takes practice and dedication, especially when you’re getting yelled at. It’s really easy to get pulled into Emotion Mind when someone insults you, or they attack or offend your product or your company.

You need to know how to get your brain involved, with all of its logic and reason, and balance the scales so that your heart isn’t making all the decisions. Likewise, if you’re only in Logic Mind, you’ll need to be able to tap into your feelings a bit so that your sentences are understood to the user who’s caught up in their emotions.

Our second challenge when working with frustrated customers is to help them get into Wise Mind, too. Don’t worry – it doesn’t involve any hypnosis or magical spells.  All you need is genuine and sincere validation.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the verb, validate, as follows: “Recognize or affirm the validity or worth of a person or their feelings or opinions; cause a person to feel valued or worthwhile.”

Just reading that feels good. Of course we all want to be valued, that our thoughts and opinions matter and that our feelings are valid. It feels great when someone actually takes the time to listen.

Validation works beautifully, because it acknowledges high intensity emotions. If it’s done well, validation works on a subconscious level, so that the person being validated simply feels like they’ve been listened to. If we’re caught up in our emotions, having someone validate how we’re feeling can have an immediate, soothing effect. Our shoulders drop, our heart rate slows and we can take a deep breath. Being heard feels good. That fiery emotion has been addressed, so it can now be moved aside to make room for logic.

Sometimes, when speaking with our users, what they say can be pretty harsh. But how we respond can make a world of difference.  The trick to validating well, is to have a keen sense of empathy. You have to not only see what emotion a user is feeling, but you also have to understand what that emotion feels like. I’d like to show a short video, which is great for explaining what empathy is…

Empathy is a skill, and as such, our ability to perform it can be improved upon with practice. This practice happens when you yourself feel uncomfortable, upset, or vulnerable. I’ve lived in countries where English is not widely spoken, so I know what it’s like to have to try and survive in a non-native language. This helps me communicate better with users, when I know English is a foreign language for them. I’ve also had one of my websites hacked, so I know the frustration of that and can use that to build trust with a user going through the same thing. And I know what it’s like to be stressed about a fast-approaching deadline and depending on others for help, so I know how good it feels to get answers quickly.

You can improve your ability to be empathetic, and in doing so, be able to communicate better with your users, by intentionally stepping out of your comfort zone. Learn a musical instrument, or a new coding language. Travel to a different country. Do something that scares you. Building upon your life experiences will make it easier for you to understand how others feel in similar situations.

So, now that you know how to tap into your empathy, you’ll be better equipped to genuinely and sincerely validate others. When you understand how they’re feeling, you’ll be able to echo their emotions using words. For example, the phrase “I know that this is very frustrating.” can be an extremely powerful antidote to someone who’s really frustrated. If you can truly empathize with them, you could also share a similar experience like, “I’ve had my site crash before, too, so I know how stressful this is.” Keep in mind, however, that if you’re not able to empathize personally, keep the validation more general. It can be detrimental to attempt to validate in a specific, yet insincere, way, as the person who’s upset may see it as patronizing.

Knowing more about empathy and the power of validation, let’s run through another scene of The Angry Customer. Scene 3 – Wise Mind.

Customer: After updating your stupid plugin, no one can pay for their orders! I’m losing thousands of dollars each day and it’s your fault! This is URGENT!

Me: I completely understand how vital it is to have your store accepting orders. Let’s figure this out quickly and get things working again! Are you able to send me your login credentials, so I can take a look?

Customer: Thank you! A customer emailed me about the trouble, and it seems like the loading icon in the checkout just spins and spins. Here’s my login info.

Me: It sounds like there’s a plugin conflict somewhere. Let’s run through some troubleshooting steps…

Ahhh.  That’s the exchange we’re looking for. Once the user trusts that I’m on their side, we can solve the problem together. Let me dissect this exchange and I’ll explain why things went so well:

First, I imagined myself in the user’s shoes – the skill of empathy – and thought about how I would feel.  “I completely understand…” Those words told them that I know what it’s like to be in their position, and that can help them feel less alone in their struggle.

Next, I made them feel listened to by echoing their words using a synonym.  They used urgent, so I used vital. I could have also said critical or crucial. I just made sure to match their level of emotion in my choice of language.

Finally, I reiterated that we’re on the same team by using the word  “Let’s”. The word builds trust and affirms to the user that we need each other to help resolve the problem. That is, after all, what we both want.

Welcome, everyone, to Wise Mind. Now that we’re all here, it makes us more open to hearing possibilities for solutions. This is because our logical brains are no longer getting blocked our emotional hearts.

As I explained earlier, solving problems requires heavy use of Logic Mind. So, once you’ve met the user in Wise Mind, both of you will be able to travel to Logic Mind together. And it’s there that you’ll be able to communicate more effectively, and find a solution.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but at no point during this presentation did I mention anything about apologizing to the user. In the same way that making an insincere attempt at validation will likely lead to more user frustration, a disingenuous apology can also fuel more anger. I’m a strong believer that the word “sorry” should only be used in a couple of circumstances:

  1. When you actually feel bad for what the user is going through. In this case, you can even combine your apology with a dash of empathy. For example, “I’m sorry that our documentation is so confusing. I hadn’t noticed that before, so I’m going to work on making things more clear.”
  2. If you, your product or your company is actually to blame for the trouble that the user is dealing with. Taking responsibility for a mistake can be refreshing and validating for them. It’s nice to hear that you’re willing to own up to the problem, and it opens the door for you to restore their trust. For example, “I’m so sorry that this bug in our latest update caused such trouble with your site. Once we get it fixed, I’ll extend your license for another year.”

So, as I wrap up here, I’d like to remind you of some of the big takeaways from today:

  • Be mindful of your state of mind. When communicating with your users, how often are you in Wise Mind?
  • Practice getting into Wise Mind, and then practice staying there. People caught in emotion mind are all around you in real life, so the opportunities to practice this skill are everywhere.
  • Use empathy to help validate how others are feeling. Remember that you can improve your ability to empathize by intentionally putting yourself in positions where you’re uncomfortable or vulnerable.
  • Apologize only when necessary, when you’re truly sorry or if blame falls on you or your company somehow.

 

#support, #support-workshop

Scaling Support: Dip the Data Bucket Every Day – Video and Slides

On January 22, 2018, we welcomed Matt Cromwell, Head of Support and Community Outreach at GiveWP.com and WordImpress.com. In his session titled “Scaling Support: Dip the Data Bucket Every Day” Matt outlined how he measures, tracks, and predicts his plugin’s support needs, to better project staffing levels and ultimately ensure that his users get timely help. The presentation recording and slides are available below.

This workshop was the third in a series that evolved from the 2017 Community Summit, with the aim to share best practices for WordPress support. All past sessions can be can be viewed here.

If you have suggestions for other support-related subjects or speakers you’d like to see in the future, feel free to comment here – we’re open to ideas.

Video (44 min.)

Slides

http://slides.com/mattcromwell/wporg-scaling-support#/

#support, #support-workshop

Why Solving the Problem Isn’t Enough: Video and Slides

“Be human first… then solve the problem.”
– Taco V.

On October 3, 2017, Community Manager Taco Verdonschot from Yoast shared his support expertise with a group of international participants, from his base in the Netherlands. He passed along insights about the importance of using empathy – not just solving issues – to deliver outstanding support to WordPress users.

The workshop was the second in a series that evolved from the 2017 Community Summit, with the aim to share best practices for WordPress support. The first session covered theme support, and the recap can be viewed here.

If you have suggestions for other support-related subjects you’d like to see in the future, feel free to comment here – we’re open to ideas.

Video (53 min.)

Slides

Links From Slides

12 – http://www.lifehack.org/465044/7-intricate-differences-between-empathy-and-sympathy
13 – http://www.lifehack.org/465044/7-intricate-differences-between-empathy-and-sympathy
14 – https://yoa.st/empathy
18 – https://yoa.st/sw-taco-example1
19 – https://yoa.st/sw-taco-example2

#support, #support-workshop

The Developer’s Guide to Supporting Your Themes – Video and Slides

Thank you to everyone who joined me yesterday for a remote workshop, in which I shared tips for supporting WordPress themes. Participants attended from around the world, and folks asked some great questions afterwards. The presentation was recorded, and the video, slides, and notes are below.

This session was the first in a planned series born at the 2017 Community Summit, with the goal to share best practices for support across the WordPress world. Stay tuned for updates on future workshops.

Video (38 min.)

Slides

Notes

1 – Welcome to The Developer’s Guide to Supporting Your Themes

2 – I’m Kathryn Presner, and I’m a Happiness Engineer on the Theme Team at Automattic. I help people with theme questions on both WordPress.com and self-hosted sites – troubleshooting when there’s a problem, reproducing and reporting bugs, and customizing their sites to look and work how they want, whether through custom CSS or a child theme.

3 – I support over 100 themes on WordPress.org and over 300 free and premium themes on WordPress.com.

Do any of you enjoy doing theme support? Do you think of it as a necessary evil? I’ll give you tips on how to handle support so it’s less stressful, more enjoyable and satisfying.

4 – Be nice, empathetic, human, professional – If you show you’re human and care, you will help users realize you’re a real person just like they are.

Example – https://wordpress.org/support/topic/how-to-make-the-date-and-title-permanently-show-up

5 – A few nice words about a user’s site are always an added bonus, help to humanize you.

6 – Acknowledge when people are uncomfortable with your instructions, offer reassurance and explain how things can be undone.

7 – Be patient, even with thread-hijackers.

8 & 9 – This is a user who jumped into the middle of a thread where I was helping someone with a theme – asking about a completely unrelated problem. I could see that they were frustrated, and also a new user, having jumped into a couple of other threads and started a few of their own. Instead of chastising and telling them to start a new thread, I tried to find someone to help with their other thread. I ended up jumping in to help them there.

Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/running-motif-theme-on-org

10 – Gauge Skill Level: beginner, expert, in between – Ever heard “talk to me like I’m in kindergarten” or “I’m a total novice”? Try to adjust your explanations for the user’s level. Avoid jargony technical explanations, especially if the user is a beginner. Read between the lines if you’re not sure.

11 – Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/adding-banner-ads-above-header

12 – Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/newbie-social-icons-and-widgits

13 – Remember, folks are often frustrated at own their beginner skills!

14 – Think outside the theme: plugins, other themes – sometimes what a user wants to accomplish is much simpler or more logical with a plugin or even by switching to a different theme. Think about which route makes most sense.

15 – This user is halfway there. They’ve installed a plugin to add custom CSS, but they need help with calling in a Google font. Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/changing-the-font-type-in-sidebar-widgets

16 – I’ll often think of things later and add them as a p.s. and I think that’s fine!

17 – In hindsight I could have also given them a direct link to the font they were looking for on Google fonts.

18 – http://macmanx.com/2014/06/04/custom-fonts-without-plugins-for-wordpress-themes/

19 – Offer resources: Codex, tutorials, hire someone – What if something is “out of scope” for the kind of support you’re able to offer? What about that user who completely wants to change their theme, and refuses to consider a different one that might be better suited? Try to always give them somewhere to go, even if you can’t directly solve their issue, point them in the right direction, whether it’s a tutorial, Codex function, or even sending them to jobs.wordpress.net where they can hire someone for a custom job.

20 – Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/motif-theme-display-on-ie8

21 – Foster community: let volunteers help, acknowledge – If you give support in an open venue the WP.org forums, leave space for volunteers, especially if a question is simple. Don’t necessarily answer every thread immediately. Praise community members when they give a great answer. It’s motivating and encourages them to come back and keep helping others.

22 – Example – “Ernest, thanks for the input about the Jetpack CSS interference.”

23 – Provide theme docs, FAQ, screenshots, screencasts – The most common thing users have confusion with is how to set up their site to look like your demo, so be sure your documentation explains how to do that step-by-step. Don’t forget screenshots, screencasts, even animated GIFs can be helpful!

24 – List steps & point to documentation. Don’t skip steps or assume anything.

Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/featured-content-slider-3

25 – Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/archive-list-4

26 – Be realistic: enhancements, bugs, older browsers, uncommon devices – Be honest about bugfixes or enhancement requests, if something isn’t likely to change, say so. Set realistic user expectations. If a new feature is unlikely to be added, don’t lie, encourage to look for alternatives. If a bug is minor or doesn’t affect a lot of people and is unlikely to be fixed in the immediate future, don’t say it will.

27-29 Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/adding-new-widget-area

30 – Limit channel-wwitching different thread/forum/venue – What if someone asks you a simple CSS question…. for a theme that’s not yours? If you can help, help – let them know where to go next time. Frustrating to have conversation cut off before it’s begun. Always imagine it’s someone’s first time in the forums

31 – Help someone even if it’s not your theme? If bit’s a simple question and you can, why not?

Example: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/how-to-change-navigation-bar-and-box-color-on-hemingway-rewritten-1

32 – Refer out if better expertise lies elsewhere – Kind of the opposite of what I just said about channel-switching, but… sometimes it turns out that the issue isn’t with something WP-related. Try to point them in the right direction.

33 – Example: Referring a user to an AdSense forum.

34 – Best Practices: child themes, custom CSS editor – Don’t assume users realize they shouldn’t edit the original theme files or risk losing all their changes when they update the theme. For CSS-only changes, suggest using the built-in custom CSS editor – if user needs theme-file change, explain how to make child theme.

35 – You can have a template answer – TextExpander is an amazing app for Mac. Example: Guiding a user in making a child theme so they don’t lose their changes every update.

36 – Screenshot of a pluggable function – Best practices goes both ways: wrap functions in an function_exists conditional so it can be redeclared it in a child theme

37 – Happy Users = Happy You!

38 – Screenshot of a user happy they were able to make a change. “Fabulous. I also figured out how to resize it, etc. I never thought I was going to be able to do this!!! Very happy.”

39 – What About You? What are your biggest challenges? What do you want to get better at?

40 – Where to find Presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/zoonini/the-developers-guide-to-supporting-your-themes

+make.wordpress.org/themes

#support, #support-workshop, #themes

Support Team Summary for January 22nd

This week focussed on tools, specifically what we have and what we want.

What we Have

We already have a lot of tools, so we took the liberty of adding all of them to the now ever-evolving Helpful Tools handbook page.

What we Want

We would all love to have what’s described under Meta Ticket #716.

We would all love to have a way to move threads from the general forum into their perspective plugin or theme forum, though this does not appear to be possible under the current forum architecture.

We would all love to have a tag blacklist, so people will stop tagging threads as “WordPress” and “HELP” and such.

Read the transcript of today’s meetup.

#support

Support Team summary for January 15th

For today’s meetup the support team welcomed @karmatosed from the Theme team and @joedolson from the Accessibility team and the agenda was “How can support assist those two teams?”

This resulted in the following points being discussed.

  • There are always themes that need reviewing and any help offered there will be greatly appreciated.
  • Cross team training for support to learn more about themes would be good.
  • Tammie introduced us to the idea of learnups.
  • What constitutes an accessibility support topic?
  • Tagging topics correctly to make it easier to find or monitor via email or RSS.

Learnups

Everyone got excited at this idea and one example was summed up like so:

“Pick your favorite theme and answer 4 questions. At least one is outside your ‘normal wheelhouse’.”
So like if you’re the bee’s knees for css, try editing functions.

Theme team learnups have happened on Google Hangouts to be recorded and on Slack. A Support Challenge learnup can be scheduled or even an afternoon sprint to reply to support topics.

This is a great idea and will be explored further. Think of it as an online mini contributor day for support.

What make a topic about accessibility?

Joe had some questions about how does the support team work, are there any requirements or training involved etc. Most of the support team started by getting involved in the forums or IRC. Except for having some PHP and CSS experience and remaining calm there really is not much to do to get started in support.

A legitimate accessibility topic is anything that impacts people using assistive technology or with a disability that doesn’t impact people in other environments.

Using good tags on topics

For accessibility support a real problem is finding topics. This lead to a conversation on how to tag topics and Mika wrote up a good post on that subject. Joe’s forum account was upgraded to moderator to permit him to use some of the search in the backend as well as remove tags from topics that are incorrectly tagged “a11y”.

This meetup ran a little on the long side (over 1 hour) but it was good and inviting people from other teams was really useful. It resulted in some good conversations and there will be more of these meetings as well as possibly scheduling a learnup session.

Read the transcript of today’s meetup.

#support

How to Properly Use Tags

This came up in this week’s slack chat. Using tags can be a fine art, and we may end up doing a tag-scrub some day soon, to get more people into helping triage posts in the forums.

Tags usually aren’t used properly, and it’s OKAY that the masses don’t. This is actually a great job for someone who wants to get involved in support. By reading a post and determining it needs specific attention, you can improve the chances of someone getting help promptly.

When you see a post, look at what the poster is asking and try to use a tag that makes logical sense for the issue. To help you get started, we have some standard tags that we use and encourage their appropriate use.

Team Tags

The following tags are used by the various make/teams on WordPress.org to track posts that need their attention.

  • Accessibility – a11y
  • Questions about the theme review process – thememod
  • Questions about the plugin review process – pluginmod
  • Moderator please come fix this – modlook
  • Not Safe For Work – nsfw
  • WordPress.com theme not in the .org repo – wpcom-theme

Proper Use of Modlook

Don’t use it if you are a moderator. This should go without saying.

Be very careful with ‘modlook’ – Abuse of that tag will get your posting rights revoked. It should be used to flag moderator attention for things like duplicate posts, spam, abuse, harassment, etc. It is not to be used for getting help faster. That just gets you negative attention.

When you use ‘modlook’ try to use it in conjunction with another tag. For example, if the issue is a spammer, use ‘modlook’ and ‘spam’ tags. If the issue is the post has personal information (like passwords) use ‘modlook’ and ‘private info’ – Basically try to make sure if a moderator is reading the post, they’ll see why the post needs attention. This is especially important when we’re talking about duplicate posts 🙂 If you’re tagging spam and think it may not be obvious who is the spammer (things like ‘buy viagra!’ are pretty obvious), put the username of the spammer as another tag. Just in case. The mods will delete the tags once it’s handled.

It’s also a great idea to actually reply to the legit posts. Telling someone “I’m alerting the moderators to this post. Never post your passwords in public!” is totally awesome!

Keep in mind, we do not remove URLs from posts unless there’s a good reason. And by good reason we mean abuse, harassment, or legal reasons. Asking a URL be removed, or a post deleted, because someone is upset that Google picked up their URL in it’s search is not a good reason. If you don’t want something to be searched by google, don’t post it in a public forum.

Plugin/Theme Tags

This one is simple. Tag a post to match the slug of the plugin or theme that’s having the problem.

For example. If someone is having a problem with Akismet, tag the post akismet. If it’s Hello Dolly, tag it hello-dolly.

Pay careful attention to that plugin slug! Complicated plugins like https://wordpress.org/plugins/joes-awesome-twitter-widget may have the name “Joe’s Totally Wicked Cool Twitter Widget Plugin!” on the plugin page, but that slug of joes-awesome-twitter-widget is what you want to use for the tag.

If the theme is one downloaded from WordPress.com, use the tag wpcom-theme

Company Tags

If someone specifically mentions a hosting company, make sure that company is tagged. Many hosts keep people on payroll in order to monitor posts tagged for them. The same goes for things like theme and plugin shops. It’s helpful to them to have, for example, GoDaddy or StudioPress tagged.

When in doubt …

Don’t tag 🙂 Come on over to the #forums room in Slack and ask us for help. Someone’s almost always around.

#support

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

Week One Of My WordPress Internship…

So many posts! Where to start!? The sheer amount of unanswered posts in the Support forums was a bit daunting at first. My first week as a WordPress Support intern was all about getting myself accustomed to the forums:

On my first day, I spent three and a half hours racking my brain and creating all manner of complex JavaScript to eventually solve an error in a user’s jQuery. It turned out that it was a very simple fix (the user was calling the wrong selector) – it shouldn’t have taken me nearly as long as it did to spot this.

I fell into this trap of spending too long on one problem several times throughout the week. I’ve soon realised not to leave it so long before reaching out for help or moving on from a post.

At the end of my first week, I feel as though I am a little quicker at spotting bugs in other people’s code and better at identifying the forum posts that I’m able to answer.

Week two: I’m going to continue with forum support and will also be contributing to the Codex.  Any advice/tips would be much appreciated. 🙂

P.S: I missed the weekly IRC Support chat on Thursday (sorry!) but will make sure I’m at the next one. Look forward to speaking with some of you then.

#forums, #gnome, #internship, #opw, #support

Support Internship: Introduction

Hey everyone.

I’m Siobhan. I’ll be interning at WordPress this summer as part of the Gnome OPW. My internship will be centred around support (forums, training, documentation) and my mentors are Mika Epstein and Hanni Ross, with Jen Mylo and Andrea Middleton acting as program administrators.

A little about me: I’m from Barry, South Wales and studied Computer Science at the University of Reading. Last year, I was lucky enough to spend a few months working as a developer at a digital agency in Florence, Italy – it was here that I started learning more about and getting involved in Free and Open-Source Software. I have since gone on to work on various WordPress projects on a freelance basis.

I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to get involved with and give back to the WordPress community.

I’ll be posting updates on my internship here every Monday for the next three months, and you’ll also be able to find me lingering on the #wordpress, #wordpress-sfd, and #wordpress-gsoc IRC channels.

As a final note: I’d like to wish the other seven WordPress GSoC/Gnome OPW interns a great summer. Good luck everyone!

#gnome, #internship, #opw, #support