Support » Requests and Feedback » Am I missing something?

  • I’m putting this in Requests & Feedback, if it belongs in Misc or some other category please move it, I apologize.

    What I’m asking here isn’t intended to be inflammatory, but I ask from genuine curiosity. I have been involved with “help forums” for years. From administrator to moderator to member I have seen and been involved in just about every capacity. I watched one forum community evolve over many years from fledgling to so large that it “collapsed” under the weight of the “leech” members who ran off all of the helpful “elder” members. I won’t bore you with all those details, but I want to establish that I am not a “noob” when it comes to understanding the delicate “ecosystem” that develops in forum communities.

    Whenever I enter a new forum I read the FAQ’s, I use the search features, I use Google, etc, etc – and it is only when all else fails that I resort to troubling the community with a question. I do things this way because for years I was the “lead” member of several technical forums, and frankly I did get tired of answering the same question 8 times in one day because a member was too lazy to read 3 posts below their current question. BUT, at the end of the day I still replied, no matter how tired I was of answering the same things over and over – because I realized that 1 or 2 minutes of my time might save this other person HOURS of their own. I won’t lie, I did get burned out with it and I dialed things back a bit, I started my own technical website to answer common questions so that instead of retyping answers over and over I could just provide a link.

    This evolution of my own involvement is what brought me to WordPress, the desire to update and improve my existing site, make my work easier and make my material more accessible. Everything I do is non-profit and it has been for years, I do it because I enjoy it. This attempt to migrate to WordPress is why I’m posting now…

    What does a member have to do to get help? Is the WordPress community already too large? Have greedy and demanding “leech” members already driven out the helpful few? I ask because I haven’t posted much, in fact I didn’t even sign up until a week or so ago. Prior to that I was solving all my own problems, but in the past week I’ve posted a handful of questions – some are theme/style/CSS issues while others are about plugins – and with the exception of 2 or 3 members I have gotten almost no replies or help. When I search I see the exact same thing over and over, open-ended questions left hanging and unanswered.

    Am I wrong to assume that members who become moderators get that way by being involved in the community and helping when other members can’t or won’t? I’m not trying to point a negative finger at moderators, I’m genuinely asking if they have some other job with WP that nets them the title? I ask because a lot of the moderation I’ve seen is closing threads or correcting people for not following the “rules” (admin type duties). I was reprimanded by a moderator for “bumping” a thread, but I see bumped threads throughout the entire forum. If I don’t get an answer to my question how else can I get a reply besides bumping the thread? I asked the moderator who corrected me if it was protocol on this forum to re-post the same question over again since I wasn’t allowed to bump a thread – of course I received no reply.

    Please allow me to reiterate that this isn’t intended to be inflammatory towards anyone here, I’m the “new guy” and I understand what comes with that – I also know that this is, by far, the least helpful “help community” I have ever searched through and been involved with.

    I guess what I’m asking is, am I going about things the wrong way or is this community really just not that helpful? I’ve devoted a large portion of my life to helping people I don’t know by sharing the knowledge I have with them. If I were able to get help from the people here, the kind of help I need to resolve my issues and learn – as well as feel that I am a part of a community – then there is an excellent chance that I would become an established member here and in turn help others. It’s the cycle of “forum life”, if you will.

    I mean, every one of us were “noobs” at some point, right?

    If you’re still reading after all this (sorry, I tend to be long-winded) I appreciate and respect your time reading this and would be grateful for your replies.

Viewing 9 replies - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • The forum isn’t perfect. There’s a heck of a lot of questions, and only so many people able to answer them. Some stuff does drop through cracks. For that same reason though, bumping of threads is discouraged because it simply introduces more “noise” and, in the case of some threads, removes your questions from the “no replies” queue that some folk use to find unanswered topics.

    I’ve had a quick look through your profile, and many of your questions are non-WordPress specific. CSS stuff etc. There are some folk on here with good CSS knowledge, but I think you’re on-balance more likely to get an answer to a WordPress flavoured question.

    Many of the moderation team have a sound WordPress background or can point to other sources of information, but at the same time there’s only a few mods, and they all have to balance their time amongst various things, such as forum admin, answering questions, and dealing with Real Life.

    I appreciate your thoughtful reply, and I cannot agree more that real life and other commitments are certainly important. I believe that is one of the strengths of an online community, hopefully everything doesn’t fall on the shoulders of one person because there are so many involved.

    I was unaware that there is a “no reply” cue for posts that some use when replying, that is good to know, but at the same time I have some posts that are several days old without a single reply. As for my posts being about CSS, I apologize if I’m asking the wrong things. Since there is an entire forum section called “Themes and Templates – XHTML and CSS” I assumed that it was OK to ask those questions. It seems that’s what everyone else is doing in there. I don’t mean that to come across as “smart-alecky”, but please try understand my confusion.

    I apologize if I’m coming across as pushy, demanding or somehow rude – that is sincerely not my intent. Perhaps I am spoiled or maybe I have just had very good luck with all the other forums I’ve been a part of. I just expected that for a forum this large with so many members it would be easier to get help with some of my problems. Not to sound unappreciative of your response here, but if this is how things are then can you or anyone recommend another forum where I might be able to actually get responses to my CSS questions? All my searching so far has only yielded blogs and very small forum communities.

    Thanks again for your reply.

    I’m not sure there are necessarily any simple answers to your questions, this is a very big community with alot of non-techy type users, the ratio of savy vs non-savy users is huge in my opinion, and the volume of questions as i see it, far outweighs the number of people answering them, which can feel like a big burden to those answering.

    Anyone who uses the forum is encouraged where possible to return the help they receive by doing the same and helping where they can, but then again, not everyone wants to help for free (some do, some don’t – some expect something in return).

    Something i mentioned before in another thread(some time ago now, would take me a while to find it for a direct quote), was that although there are handfuls or groups of us that know how to answer questions, we only have so much time, and for me, i’d rather answer 10-15 simple to answer questions then write out 4-5 in-depth responses to more complex questions (depends how i feel though, i’m only human). Furthermore i don’t enjoy my time here when i spent most of my time answering basic questions, i want to learn and evolve and i don’t do that when i answer basic(read the manual) type questions. I have a desire/motive in what drives me or makes me want to participate, if i start comprimising that too often then i’m going to burn out and lose the desire to do it all together(so where would that leave me).

    WordPress is a very easy to use application, it does attract alot of novice users, and yes like you said above, it’s easy to get burnt out when you’re constantly repeating yourself because users fail to search, read the stickies or do a basic google, which can usually answer a good wealth of questions i see on a regular basis.

    Your concerns are similar to those i’ve had, and some i even made note of when i started participating in the community, but like i said above i think this is hugely related to the ratio of savy vs non-savy users, the people that help here are the minority (someone please do prove me wrong), and they/we can only do so much.

    So my question to you now is, how can a minority serve a majority? .. i think this is really at the heart of the issue.

    I apologize if I’m coming across as pushy, demanding or somehow rude

    I have no problems discussing these concerns(in fact i welcome it, if it’s kept civil), because i’ve had them myself, i don’t find anything you’ve said above as being pushy, rude or demanding …

    Slightly wandering away from the above , no replies link:

    I try to use this wherever i can to help those that don’t get answers, but there are cases when i outright ignore some threads. Why? (Numerous reasons) To give you an example, one of my primary pet hates would be poor titles. If a user can’t make the effort to write a proper title, why should i believe they will make an effort to work at a problem? Little things like this do put me off helping some users, but i feel it’s a valid reason. Another, would be virtually no information about a problem, no version, no link to site, no mention of the theme used, a support request formed in such a way you have to ask 4-5 questions just to make a start at helping(and this really is basic stuff i feel shouldn’t need to be asked for).

    You might see the above two example points as picky, and maybe they are, but like all volunteers here, i’m not under any obligation, and it is my time to do with as i choose, if i alienate some users for reasons like the above, that’s certainly my prerogative to do so.

    I hope my honesty and bluntness doesn’t disappoint you in any way, i’m simply saying how i see things, and it in no way implies other moderators/admins feel the same as i do.

    I hope my honesty and bluntness doesn’t disappoint you in any way, i’m simply saying how i see things, and it in no way implies other moderators/admins feel the same as i do.

    FWIW, I agree with most of what you said.

    FWIW, I agree with most of what you said.

    Most? What didn’t you agree with? Please don’t hold back on me now… 😉

    i’d rather answer 10-15 simple to answer questions then write out 4-5 in-depth responses to more complex questions

    +1 on this. Sometimes typing out every step involved in solving a problem would take more time than solving the problem itself. If it’s a matter of helping one individual vs. helping several, the logical thing to do is to help several.

    If someone is having a css problem, the most obvious answer would be to ‘use firebug’ – even if that might seem rude, abrupt and unhelpful .

    As volunteers it’s unfeasible to respond to certain questions – I’ll stick to plugins and themes I’ve used before. I can’t help someone with plugins which I have no experience of.

    If people have a problem with a theme or plugin, the best people to contact are the authors as they have the most knowledge on the issue.

    it’s easy to get burnt out when you’re constantly repeating yourself because users fail to search, read the stickies or do a basic google, which can usually answer a good wealth of questions i see on a regular basis.

    There’s only so many many times you can tell people to copy & paste the same permalink rewrite code into their .htaccess file before you stop replying to those posts.

    90% of the problems posted on these forums could be solved by 3 default answers:
    1)consult the codex
    2) search Google – which will often bring you to the codex
    3)use Firebug

    If there could be a reduction in repetitive queries, it might be possible to help people out with more complex issues. Unfortunately most people register here in order to have their own problems solved, rather than to help others.

    I understand and agree with what you’re all saying, believe me – I know that it’s not the same subject matter, but I deal with motorcycles and I’m quite tired of answering “what is the best oil, tires, etc, for my bike”. Please understand that I really do “get it”.

    I guess perhaps I’m being naive, but I didn’t think that my questions fell under the repetitive problem categories when I was unable to get answers through the codex, google or searching this site. Not to get off-topic, but I have 2 plug-in questions that remain unanswered. When I was unable to get answers in any other way I posted them, tagged them with the plug-in name and when they went unanswered for awhile I tried to contact the authors directly with zero results. I’m not sure who to ask anymore except end-users. I do also have questions about CSS, but I wouldn’t consider them normal or repetitive type questions and they aren’t “how do I color text”. I have a serious site format problem that only exists in IE (big surprise) which is caused by CSS. I have been unable to resolve it, and to my knowledge Firebug isn’t helping me with it since it’s a browser issue, not just a styling thing.

    Back on point, let me thank you all for responding with mature and thoughtful replies which help provide insight on the issue. I’m certainly not disappointed, I honestly almost expected to get flamed as a “noob” for “challenging” the status quo. I guess my frustration stems from a combination of things. Partly because I’ve been “spoiled” by the kind of help I’ve received in the past on other forums and partly because I spend so much time providing help to others that I kinda hoped I could find someone like me to help me. I can understand and relate to the frustration of answering the same things over and over, but I also believe that if I help enough people then eventually some of them (admittedly the minority) will stick around and “pay it forward”. People thank me all the time for what I do on my websites, I always tell them that if they really want to thank me then they should share what they’ve learned with other people.

    I always find it unfortunate when a community like this gets too large. I was a key member of a forum with just under 50,000 members. I was number 60-something to sign up and it was a really great environment. The problem is that when you have a good thing going there are greedy people who want to be a part of it, they want to take and take but never give and as time progresses these people’s poor attitudes run off the helpful members. Eventually you end up with nothing but rude and greedy people and the community begins to die because there is no one left to give.

    I guess my biggest question here has been answered, I genuinely wanted to know if I was going about things in the wrong manner and therefore was not getting help. All of your fairly consistent replies tell me that I’m going about this in the right way, I’m just still not getting answers. Thank you all for your time and your honest replies, as well as listening to me as I blew off a little steam about my current frustrations. Of course, if any of you can help with any of my problems I sure wouldn’t turn down the help. =) I don’t even always need things handed to me, usually if you can just “lead me to water” I can drink on my own.

    PS – if any of you are have motorcycle problems, I’d be happy to return the favor, lol… =)

    I’ve replied to two of your threads, and given you some information to work with, i’ll try to help where i can… 😉

    Thanks again!

Viewing 9 replies - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
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