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How To Find Help With WordPress


Description

In this lesson you will learn how using and modifying WordPress can lead to many issues and questions. This lesson will show you how to find help in fixing problems and various resources that will be helpful when you are stuck trying to implement a feature, plugin or theme.  

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Identify websites that provide help for specific types of WordPress issues.
  • Identify effective ways to write support requests and questions.

Prerequisite Skills

You will be better equipped to work through this lesson if you have experience in and familiarity with:

  • Basic knowledge of using search engines
  • Basic Knowledge of navigating and posting in forums

 Screening Questions

They can answer “Yes” to any of these questions:

  • Are you familiar with search engines?
  • Are you familiar with online forums?
  • Are you familiar with Q&A websites?

Hands-on Walkthrough

WordPress can be used in many wonderful ways to create blogs, eCommerce stores, forums, membership websites, educational websites and much more. Though WordPress is awesome and works very well in most cases, things can go wrong. A theme or plugin might conflict with your WordPress installation, you may run into a server error, or sometimes a new user might get confused and have lots of questions about how things work with WordPress.

WordPress.org Support and Forums

Support for self-hosted WordPress installations is available through WordPress.org Support and is handled primarily by the WordPress.org support team and covers the following topics including a dedicated section for Troubleshooting:

WordPress Support page

Rather than clicking through all the topics, you can type in the keywords for what you need help with into the search field.

The Common WordPress Errors page lists the most common errors experienced by WordPress Users and provides a starting point for fixing them.

WordPress.org support forums provide a platform where users and developers can seek help from others who either have WordPress expertise or who have experienced similar problems in the past and resolved them. There are different forums for areas of WordPress, for example, there is a forum for installing WordPress, Accessibility, Local Installs, etc. Though WordPress Support Forums are a fantastic resource with a ton of information, sometimes people have trouble getting help there and they don’t know why. This is usually the result of a communication gap. If you’re struggling to find help using the forums, check out the guidelines to using support forums.

WordPress Support Forum page

Raising an issue on the Support Forum

To raise an issue on the Support Forums, you must be logged in using your WordPress.org account and the question must be related to WordPress.org code.

This is a very public forum, do not share any personal information and any specific information like login or administrator credentials.

Check any debug logs for sensitive info including sales data.

You can link to a temporary code sharing tool, like Pastebin, so that you can delete this information later if you need to.

Volunteer moderators do not generally remove this type of information, as it does not present a direct security risk.

Screenshot: Support forum for the Hello Dolly plugin showing the Create Topic button
Create a new topic

It can be very helpful if you post a link to your website in the “page I need help with” field for those answering support issues. This is not visible to search engines. Links in the post body are visible to search engines. Links are only removed in extreme circumstances. No links will be removed because of search engine rankings.

Screenshot showing the WordPress.org support forum issue form.
Support Forum Create New Issue Field

WordPress Developer Resources

The WordPress Developer Resources is a documentation repository where any developer can access resources that explain:

WordPress Developer Resources page

These are very useful references for developers, but is not always a great place to find help in troubleshooting problems and may include some out of date information.

Learn WordPress

You can use Learn.WordPress.org to help others learn WordPress.

Lessons plans provide you with the resources to people who want to help others learn how to use WordPress at a local meet-up, in the classroom or one a one-to-one basis.

You can watch a video workshop in your own time and then join a Discussion Group where you can ask questions or contribute to the discussion.

WordPress Events

WordCamp Central
WordPress Meetup page

There are two major events that are common in the WordPress Community: Meetups and WordCamps. These events afford you the opportunity to interact with and ask questions of members of the WordPress community.

WordPress Meetups are regularly scheduled (often every month or every other month) face-to-face or online events coordinated by local organizers. Meetups provide a venue for community members of all expertise levels to share their experiences with and knowledge of WordPress. These events are presented in a variety of different formats including presentations, lectures, hackathons, social gatherings, workshops, coworking, genius bars, and contributor sprints/drives.

WordCamps are locally-organized conferences that cover anything related to WordPress. WordCamps come in all different flavors based on the local communities that produce them, but in general, WordCamps include sessions on how to use WordPress more effectively, beginning plugin and theme development, advanced development techniques, security, and other topics.

WordPress.tv

WordPress.tv screenshot
WordPress.tv page

WordPress.tv is the best place to find videos about WordPress including videos of presentations from WordCamps and meetups, tutorials and screencasts, and videos from other community events. If possible, presentation videos also include a link to the slides for the presentation. WordPress.tv is not just a support resource but is also a place to keep up with all the activities and developments in the WordPress Community.

Plugin & Theme Support

Plugins extend the functionality of WordPress and there are thousands of them that can be found through the WordPress Plugin Directory. Plugins are not part of the WordPress core and are installed separately. It is not compulsory for plugin developers to provide support for their plugins, however, many developers answer questions related to their plugins in the Plugins and Hacks section of WordPress.org support forum.

Themes extend the style and layout of WordPress. There are many free themes available through the WordPress Theme Directory. If you have support questions for a theme you’ve found through the directory, you should post your questions in the Themes and Templates section of WordPress forums.

In the forums, many plugins and themes have their own support sections that should always be consulted before exploring other options. You can also navigate to that individual theme or plugin on the Theme or Plugin page and under “Support” click on “View support forum”.

Theme/plugin page view support forum link

If you are considering developing WordPress plugins or themes, the WordPress Developer resources is another place where you’ll find documentation and resources.

WordPress Dashboard Help Tab

Help tab on WordPress dashboard
Dashboard screen

When you are logged into your WordPress dashboard, the dashboard “Help” tab provides a guide on how to navigate the dashboard and is a very handy resource for new users. When you click the “Help” tab it will open up as shown here:

WordPress dashboard help tab
WordPress Dashboard Help screen

Using Search Engines

Search engines allow you to search for resources online that contain content relevant to the keywords entered in the search query. Most of the time, millions of web pages are presented in search results. Search engines can often be used to find help with WordPress and may direct you to the relevant sections of resources we’ve already discussed in this lesson. For example, the first few results for a simple search like “WordPress password recovery” include resources from the WordPress support forums and several blogs.

WordPress.org resources will always have the most up-to-date information. Always try to verify the information if it is not on WordPress.org.

Google Search of WordPress password recovery
Google search results for WordPress password recovery

How to Ask for Help

When seeking help related to a plugin or theme, it is very helpful to include comprehensive details about the plugin or theme including the version you are using, the version of WordPress you are using, what you have done, the result you expected from what you have done, and the result you experienced instead. It is also helpful to include the browser you are using in your message.

When you are using the support forums and have a specific question, it is helpful to do research by searching around the web or reviewing similar posts by other users before posting your query. Any background information or research you can provide will also go a long way in assisting other users in answering your question. The more detailed information you can provide about your question, the easier it will be for a forum contributor to provide a useful response.

Always remember to ask nicely when asking for help. Remember that support forum volunteers and the developers of free plugins and themes are volunteers who are donating their time to help the community. If you are using a premium (paid) plugin or theme, you should look for support through the company that produces the premium product. The WordPress.org support forums are not the place to look for support for premium plugins and themes. The WordPress.org support also provides a guide on how to seek help called “Finding WordPress Help” that may be useful.  

Exercises

  • Ask a question about how to use WordPress and then search the WordPress support forums to identify an answer. If you can’t find of any question, you can use one of the following:
    • What are the requirements for installing WordPress?
    • How can I hide my blog from everyone?
    • How do I import from Blogger?
    • How do I find a good host for my WordPress website?
    • What are the options to ensure my WordPress website’s captcha is available for people with low vision?
  • Use WordPress.tv to search for a video on how to create an image gallery in WordPress.
  • Use Learn.WordPress.org to search for a lesson plan on “Creating a WordPress.org Account

Quiz

You installed a theme and discover errors, who do you contact first?

  1. WordPress support forums
  2. Theme Developer
  3. Post it on WordPress StackExchange page

Answer: 2. Theme Developer

You forgot your password for your self-hosted WordPress site, what should you do first?

  1. Post a question about it on Stack Exchange
  2. Contact WordPress Happiness Engineers
  3. Review previous posts in forums about same topic

Answer: 3. Review previous posts in forums about same topic

Additional Resources

Finding WordPress Help

Learn.WordPress.org