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Theme Support: pondering (31 posts)

  1. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 9 years ago #

    For reasons that do not matter as the time has passed, the outcome of the Themes Contest will - despite some wonderful work - result in some very broken designs. I know, I'm fixing one right now for someone.

    Question is - what do we do ?

    While someone taking the time to put together a design for the contest is all well and good, the amount of that time pales when compared to the time we could spend repeating and repeating the same code fixes.
    Themes are GPL - so anyone can fix them, but will they ?

    I'm wondering whether a "Known broken themes" thread would be in order ? This flags up those themes that can be improved for those that want, and serves also as a list of the "to be avoided" for others. I do not wish to offend those that have contributed though ...

    Bearing in mind the first sentence above, any thoughts ?

  2. Root
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Here is a bit more pondering. If I guy turns up here with some kind of glitch in his theme he has downloaded, is it polite / OK / proper / helpful/ to say : *Consult the author* or do you want folks to grapple with it ?

  3. Jinsan
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I don't think that's a bad idea, and since they are GPL (as was the requirement for the contest) techincally anyone CAN fix them. As you say will they? Or a better question is how to go about it.

    A list with reported broken themes is a good start. Of course then maybe the person who makes the fix wants a credit, and then the author says no way man I designed, and then all your chickens cry out in digust or something.

    At the end of the day, they're GPL so it's anyones to fix - how do you go about managing this? Perhaps you use the theme repository or create some list which states which themes are broken, who fixed and what the fix was in the codex?

    It's a pretty complciated thing, seeing as there are 139 themes, and let's say around 20% are broken pretty badly, 40% require minor fixes, and the reaminder and generally OK unless someone finds something really odd.

    In addition, is it broken if the theme is not designed for a specified function? IF it's not designed for the use of, I dunno, quicktags within comment or gravatars or something of that ilk because of its structure.

    I don't think you can offend anyone really Podz, I mean at the end of the day, a working theme is to the credit of the designer, not to their detriment. Otherwise users would simply avoid the theme, and possibly the author altogether, so it's for their benefit as well as improving distribution for a theme that might be broke, but otherwise sound and just waiting to be fixed.

    @ Root 8/10 the response is usually a solution, the 2/10 is contact the author and they tend to be fairly simple problems. As it is most theme support ends up at WP rather than the auhors, because it's the support site and that's what rings peoples heads.

  4. shadow
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    It's a pretty complciated thing, seeing as there are 139 themes,

    Thing is, there are almost 250 themes now [139 entered for the contest yes, but that doesn't mean they are the only ones.]

    I think that once a designer opens their theme to the public they also open it to criticism, possible breakage and the inevitable alteration and change. The latter will often lead to problems and people will turn to the forums for assistance as many of the designers will not have enough time to deal with support issues.

    I support Podz' idea and believe a new topic area may be the best option.

  5. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I'm talking basic faults, like the theme I just fixed:
    - content div wrongly closed
    - float and absolute position mixed
    - the 'footer' being turned invisible by use of colour yet the page broke still
    - adding (and removing) basic WP php calls

    I don't think we should expect theme designers to create supremely flexible designs, but we really should be expecting higher than the design faults I listed above. (I have commented on the designers blog for them to email me ..)

    I don't think it will be a high number, but in the same way I used to groan when I saw the "Human Condition" style quoted, it'll get old real fast if themes are broken.

  6. Root
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Well the dialogue which podz is opening here (very usefully) has very wide implications. I do not mean to suggest for one minute that any ones themes are likely to be broken. But if they are then is fixing them going to really dominate and occupy the forum. ? I think podz is just asking - what would be the best practice?. And although it is highly desireable to give users a quick fix it is not easy for anybody because there may have been hacking in a lot of files. That could lead to frustration. This is important stuff.

  7. mcmike
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    If you ask me when entering a contest you ALWAYS should AT LEAST test any theme under 1024 (and up) and with IE6 and FireFox (thats what I do) but still my laptop sometimes show GOOD pages and with others it looks badly :(

    Anyway this is a very hard thing, I reckon that the person who accepts the theme should check it out, if its faulty let that person know by email ?

    If you need any help with that I am more then willing to help out :)

    Some people make GREAT themes but forget to test them on multiple resolutions and platforms but the theme is still great ....

    Also if anyone fixes a Theme *with GPL* that person should rename or update the version information from version 1 to version 2 (etc.) and post here... Maybe make a seperate forum for that or something ?

  8. Lorelle is already working on a "Troubleshooting Themes" document for the Codex.

  9. moshu
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    As a novice and one-time theme "designer" I consider we have a kind of responsibility for at least limited support for the theme we put out there for the public. Especially if it doesn't work or has (minor?) bugs out of the box.
    Now, if somebody introduces a lot of changes, tweaking it all the way around - that's already their own customized theme, I don't feel I have to support it.

  10. Jinsan
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Well I've had a few queries on my themes, how to do this, how to do that - I'm more than happy to help in solving a problem or finding a solution if I can - ideally the solution would be author sites are the first place to go. According to 9/10 women, they prefer WordPress Support forums

  11. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Lorelle has done and continues to do fantastic work on Codex, but my thoughts were about someone who posts with "I did a second post and my page looks REAL BAD" - they will be too confused to be decoding things - hence pointing at a list of "Broken Themes" and saying to pick another one that is not on that list could be useful.
    Let's remember that these themes will be new to the person so changing from them should be no big deal.

    @moshu - yes I do think we owe some responsibility, but after how many times of the same questions being repeated do we run from the room screaming ? :)

    We need to learn from the styles contest - for those of you not around at that time, we spent a phenomenal amount of time doing CSS support here. Not WP.

    I am all for calling it like it is:
    Broken Themes List:
    Brief faults:
    Fixed by:

    or something like that, as a thread here. Updating the posts is not a problem, and it's here and available for all.

  12. mcmike
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Yeah I always put in threads and style.css or readme.txt's that people shoudl help me. Nothing is so different than one persons OS / hosting provider then another........
    And people do mail me or ask for my support :) So I reckon thats one thing that should be in the style.css for a new theme.....

    And the people who download a theme that doesnt work should contact the creator about it and or visit their website to check for updates....

  13. Root
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    The presentation manager meta includes urls for themes. If those point directly at useful support / latest download info it will really help.

  14. Marc
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I agree podz, if its broken shout it from the rood top. Make a centralized list that would include possible contact info for the origial author.

    Themes may be free but it's still "buyer beware."

    And I will add the same type list could be made for plugins, go thru these threads and note the large number of questions dealing with plugin support.

  15. NuclearMoose
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Well, here's another wrinkle in this topic; people using a theme and customizing the way they want to suit their own needs. In other words, the theme may well be very good in its original state, but then some moose downloads it and starts to use it as a basis for a new site.

    The folks who visit this site are great in that there are a broad range of skills that are shared. More and more I'm seeing support requests for things that are basically ancilliary to WordPress itself. This makes it tough for those who are having trouble getting WP installed when tons of other threads are basically "I've adapted this theme and now my widget plugin doesn't work."

    I'm not sure what the answers are. I concur with Podz that there needs to be some dialogue around this, and that perhaps some new forum topics need to be introduced. That said, forums for CSS/Theme/Plugin problems will still dominate the Recent Threads activity on the front page.

    Part of the solution, in my opinion, will be in how bbPress evolves as a tool for us all.

  16. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Just want to make a point that this is not a 'finger pointing' exercise - it's about keeping our workload here within sane limits :)

    Customising themes is good, and we should do what we can if we can, but the sort of thing I am talking about is listed above - fundamentally flawed themes.

    NM - I very much agree with all your points.

  17. vkaryl
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I wonder if this might be the time to "break out" a separate Theme & Plugin Problems forum. Set it up as an ancillary forum to this one, with its own "recent posts" list etc. When a topic is begun here dealing with the above subset, refer the poster to the other forum. It would take some redirecting people for a while, and maybe a sticky post at the top of all the sub-fora could be a help.

    I don't know what the actual capabilities of bbPress are, so this may not be a feasible option for that reason alone. And there are no doubt good and sufficient reasons for not doing a breakout otherwise. But it might be a viable option.

    It seems to me that the greatly expanded themes functionality, as well as the growing usability of plugins, is going to eventually demand space "outside" this forum.... Just look at the number of plugins people request on here, that are then written by others!

  18. Joni
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I think it is rude to turn a theme loose on the public and then not offer any support -- or at the very least, fix what is broken straight out of the box.

    I created 9 themese for the competition and they are all housed at my WP15 testbed, with instructions to hit my comment box with any problems or questions you have. I think that is how it should be. I want to know if I've designed something that doesn't work. I need to fix it. (For one thing, if I did something wrong, I need to correct it so I don't make the same mistake again.) But that's just me.

    So the first cry for help should be to the theme's designer, IMHO. Then if there's no response, perhaps the support forum.

  19. I'll have to agree with Joni here. At least both Michael Heilemann (Kubrick) and Khaled (Manji and Rin) offer their own support forums.

  20. NuclearMoose
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Actually, Michael stated on his blog that since Kubrick was rolled into the default template, that support for it would be here.

  21. I know, but he had offered one (and still does offer one) for the WP v1.2.x Kubrick. The structure of the theme has changed so much without him, I wouldn't expect him to support it. But, I was speaking about the idea of each theme developer providing support forums. That isn't hard to do.

  22. NuclearMoose
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I disagree that someone who offers a template should also be expected to offer support, although many of them do. I don't expect plugin developers to support their plugins, either. Most of them do, as well, but I don't expect it.

  23. Joni
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Moose, when you say "offer support," what exactly do you envision that meaning? I have a feeling we are talking about different things here. To me, if I've created a theme that simply doesn't work, then I should be expected to fix it, not someone else. That is, assuming the error is called to my attention.

    What I don't mean by that (and I caution my web design clients about this very thing), is that if you upload my theme and then hack it ten ways from Sunday and THEN blow up your site, well, that's not my problem.

    So the support has to stop and start with what I offered, not what I offered and someone else has changed, even if ever so slightly. And of course, everyone knows that bloggers are notorious tweakers, so what I offer may get munged beyond recognition. Then, as far as I'm concerned, it's no longer my design and therefore no longer my prob.

    Just to clarify!

  24. NuclearMoose
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Gotcha! :)

    However, the issue then moves to the WP support forums. What role should these forums play in supporting something that a person has broken?

  25. moshu
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    NM, you mean a person breaks an otherwise working theme? - In that case, I guess, no support. Send the person back to the html/css school :)

  26. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I think in this case, we should support as far as we can, and I think we are pretty good at drawing the line with some problems.

    My initial point was for 'broke-and-still-in-the-box' stuff. Good authors will always mend, but experience has shown that there are always a few who will not, hence my trying to get us to agree some sort of approach sooner rather than later.

  27. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 9 years ago #

    heh - disagreement :)

    This is cool - but it's an issue which has bugged many of us, so it's very worthy of discussion.

  28. NuclearMoose
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Now that there are 200+ themes available, theme support could very well dominate most of the support questions that get posted. That's simply not fair to those who are having issues with core WordPress functionality.

  29. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 9 years ago #

    True - but how many Gallery posts do we have ? Or "why can't this plugin do this and that" ... tricky.

  30. Well, for that matter, how many "this free software isn't even worth the time to us it!" posts do we get without the user asking for support in the first place?

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