Support » Everything else WordPress » Request to moderators: stop publicly shaming plugin authors

  • Resolved andrej.pavlovic

    (@andrejpavlovic)


    Dear moderators,

    After the way you’ve handled yourself on a support topic for a plugin of mine, I’ve lost a lot of trust in these forums. The canned response you use to address concerns about sensitive data sharing is very disrespecful to plugin authors who work hard to help others.

    When a plugin author asks for some sensitive information as part of support by accident or otherwise, there is no need to write a short essay on why this is not a good idea. Pointing them to the forum rules is enough. If you feel the need to write more, then put more of that in the forum rules. Why would you write three paragraphs about how terrible it is what the plugin author did? The support topic itself had only a few paragraphs, but you felt the need to hijack it with almost an entire page of public shaming. We are not all little kids, you don’t have to go on and on about how wrong we are.

    @jdembowski Now for the why: The internet is a wonderful place full of very nice people and a few very bad ones. I’m sure everyone here is very nice however, by giving some ones keys to your house you are trusting they wont steal anything. Likewise the person who takes the keys is now responsible for the house FOREVER.

    If something was to go wrong, then you the author may well legally become liable for damages, which they would not normally have been as their software is provided without warranty.

    Please be aware that repeatedly asking for credentials will result in us asking you to repeatedly stop before escalating up to the plugins team.

    Why is there a need for such a long post? How is this useful for future visitors to the topic? It’s just more useless content to skim over.

    Secondly, when someone disagrees with you, please do not point the user to contact them via private channels. On one hand you want everything to be public, but on the other, you want to keep disagreements with the moderators on the hush hush. @clorith said “We have no manner of direct communication on the forums, and rightfully so.” yet @jdembowski tells me “If you or anyone have any complaints about any moderator reacting to your behavior then please feel free to escalate to otto[at]wordpress.org as he moderates the moderators.

    Thirdly, do not lock topics in order to get in the last word. @clorith could have easily contacted me directly, or opened a separate topic to resolve our disagreements. There was no reason for him to lock the topic where the original poster is now unable to get any support.

    The takeaway here is that what you call “the form letter” is a way to publicly shame plugin authors. Find a better way of getting the message across. No one needs these “form letters” to be peppered through old topics.

    Post in question:
    https://wordpress.org/support/topic/not-working-2679/

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    Hi! I’m Otto. As you probably know, I work on the plugins team as well as help manage these forums.

    Since you posted this here instead of emailing plugins@wordpress.org, it seems that you want this to be public. So, I can roll with that.

    We here at WordPress.org provide you with free hosting, free bandwidth to distribute your plugin to others, free promotion through the directory, and free support forums and review systems on top of that.

    The moderators exist to only to make the community a better place. They don’t have any evil in their hearts. I do, but then I made most of them moderators because they don’t. See, I’d be much worse at that job.

    In this case, they made a very simple ask: don’t ask for access to other people’s sites. This is a pretty basic rule. By even asking, you’re encouraging users to submit to bad practices. Don’t share credentials. Don’t give access to your site to other people that you don’t know. Don’t trust strangers on the internet. These are basic and really, self-obvious, principles that we expect everybody in our community to adhere to.

    Even when I run across weird and unusual problems where I need to “see it for myself”, I always give my public email address, make certain that it’s one which is on this same domain, and tell people that I do not want them to give me access unless they are comfortable doing so, and that they should not trust me. I’m a stranger to them. Never trust strangers. Especially me. I could be totes evil and such.

    In any case, the mods didn’t “public shame you” here, they pointed to the rules, and at the same time, they notified the original author of those same rules and the basic principles of not trusting random people on public forums. That is laudable, and honestly, required. I would fully expect them to call me out for the same thing if I didn’t properly preface my own remarks in asking for such.

    If you feel “shamed” then maybe you should take that as a sign that you need better contact mechanisms. There is nothing wrong with putting an email address in your plugin and asking people to email you for help. Or, in rethinking how you ask for better visibility in the first place. If you really have to log into a site to see the problem to understand it, then maybe your testing mechanism or your development process needs some work. And that is not me shaming you. We’ve all been there. I didn’t understand the vagaries of weird hosting situations until I saw them for myself either. Took years before I figured out that hosts are freakin’ strange sometimes.

    As for locking topics, that’s not for your benefit, but for the asker’s. They might do something silly like posting their credentials in public. It happens. A surprising lot of the time. Ultimately, we have to protect users, and allowing a thread to continue when it’s gone off the rails doesn’t make sense.

    Support can be hard. I don’t judge you for your mistakes. But yes, they were right, you were wrong. Nothing to be done here.

    Thread Starter andrej.pavlovic

    (@andrejpavlovic)

    The problem is that the moderators didn’t just point out the rules. They copied and pasted an entire letter on how horrible it is what the user (or I) did. The whole thing becomes very impersonal and cold. No slap on the wrist, but an entire letter to hit you over the head with.

    I realize that after some time moderators lose patience and cookie cutter approaches are implemented in the forums. However, just because you wack everyone over the head with the letter, doesn’t mean it’s ok to do it. The messaging can definitely be softer and more collaborative instead of “We’re sure you didn’t want to do this, but… you did a terrible thing! What you did is not a good thing for the internet! You are putting the poster at risk! You may be liable! If you do this again we will not only shame you, but possible publish and ban you!”

    Let’s try with an example. Take a look at the difference between this:

    “At this point I’m not sure I can do much until someone gives me temporary access to their site, so I can test the problem for myself.”

    @andrejpavlovic Do not ask for that, do not imply that you need that here. That would get you into real trouble in these forums.

    I’m am 100% sure you mean well but please never ask for credentials on these forums. And do not imply it either.

    ht tps://wordpress.org/support/guidelines/#the-bad-stuff

    Now for the why: The internet is a wonderful place full of very nice people and a few very bad ones. I’m sure everyone here is very nice however, by giving some ones keys to your house you are trusting they wont steal anything. Likewise the person who takes the keys is now responsible for the house FOREVER.

    If something was to go wrong, then you the author may well legally become liable for damages, which they would not normally have been as their software is provided without warranty.

    Please be aware that repeatedly asking for credentials will result in us asking you to repeatedly stop before escalating up to the plugins team.

    and this:

    “At this point I’m not sure I can do much until someone gives me temporary access to their site, so I can test the problem for myself.”

    @andrejpavlovic Please do not request or supply sensitive information. You can read more about the reasons here:

    ht tps://wordpress.org/support/guidelines/#the-bad-stuff

    No need for a one page letter, or put the one page letter in your guidelines, so that the moderators don’t have to do as much copy paste. If the user does it again, then you can start with the long form and the shaming.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    The whole thing becomes very impersonal and cold.

    So, you broke the rules, and you want somebody to give you a customized and warm response? Do you want cookies and milk too?

    The mod had every right and reason to ban your account and kick you off the forums. He didn’t, he gave you a warning.

    If all you have to complain about is the form that the warning took, then that’s not really a valid complaint, in my eyes. The simple fact that they need to have these sort of copy paste responses shows that you’re not the only one to not read the rules, so, my advice would be to read the rules, take the warning as given, and don’t do the bad thing again.

    Thread Starter andrej.pavlovic

    (@andrejpavlovic)

    You said how you provide a number of free services, so do we, plugin authors. We also provide free plugins, support, etc. For that I think you, me, and everyone should get milk and cookies, but unfortunately it won’t happen. All we have left is to be courteous to each other and that is all I’m asking for here.

    If you think the mod had a right to ban my account, I think you are starting to grow weary of taking the time to provide supportive guidance to new users. I understand, it gets repetitive after a while.

    The interesting thing is that the moderators here are indeed warm and supportive, so this form letter which I would call nothing less than a display of bureaucratic leadership, paints them in a negative light. They provide very “customized and warm” messages, so why the need to copy/paste same paragraphs every time in order to intimidate and shame the poster? It just makes no sense. As a matter of fact the initial part of the post to me was customized and warm, but then the form letter had to be slapped on in the end.

    I stand by my suggestion to not have moderators cut/paste the form letter, but instead just point out the mistake and link out to wherever the user can get better informed.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    All we have left is to be courteous to each other and that is all I’m asking for here.

    Fair enough. Here’s me being courteous: don’t break the rules, don’t ask users for their credentials in public forums, and don’t do obviously bad things.

    Abide by these simple rules, and you will be welcomed. Break them, and you will not.

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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