How Do You Solve A Problem Like a Plugin


One of the greatest things about WordPress is the huge community of individuals developing and supporting thousands of plugins for free.

I am a plugin junkie, as soon as I notice a new plugin it’s downloaded and installed before you can say “Backup your database“.

A problem I have seen with plugins is the support for them is provided free and on a best endeavours basis. What happens when the support is withdrawn and your plugin stops working.

Plugin Unplugged What Now?

A client of mine was very keen to use a particular plugin, but it was not working as it should have on his blog. The plugin installed and was activated correctly, certains parts of the code worked, but the principal part of the add-on did not work.  I was called in to make the plugin work.

WP Dude to the Rescue, Cape-a-Flapping

I thought this would be a very simple fix, find the root cause, search the developers support forum and apply the fix,  but to my horror, I found that the support site was down, and  it was down in a particularly weird manner, when I accessed the site, it returned a 403 forbidden error.  This means the owner of the site had secured the site so only authorised users could access the information.

I suspected something was amiss with the plugin and the developer had shut down support after an avalanche of support calls.

I could not find out what the problem was, or contact the developer, so how could I fix the problem?

They Owe You Nothing, Nothing At All!

If you are using a free plugin, and have not paid for a support contract, your use of the plugin is “as is”.  You cannot expect support.  Remember the developer has spent many hours developing this solution for free.

Most plugins are released with a GNU license and the plugin in question states:

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301  USA

Search Outside of the Box

The first thing I did was to search on Google for a solution to the problem, there are two possible outcomes to this:

  1. Someone out side of the support site is writing about and documenting solutions to your problem, Bloggers love to witter on about their successes, there is a good chance the solution is out there.
  2. The solution I used to investigate the problem was to view cached pages of the support site inside of Google to review the deveopers forum and lookup a solution to the problem.  Nothing is hidden on the net anymore.

Ask Your Social Network

The majority of bloggers also participate in social networks, why not fire out a question to your social network to see if anyone else has had the problem.

I participate in Twitter and quite happily help people with WordPress problems if they stick a tweet out into the Twittersphere, fire off the question to your social network, you never know what will come back.

Bring In An Expert

Plugins are developed in PHP, a widely understood and used programming language, why not bring in an expert to reverse engineer the plugin and fix the problems you are having, post your problem to the many sites with freelance programmers such as Elance and get your problem solved.

<shocking self promotion>

If you need help with wordpress support problems check out my service page

</shocking self promotion> 🙂

Find an Alternative

As I have mentioned there are thounsands of plugins out there.  A quick search will show that most problems requiring a plugin have been solved more than once.  If you cannot get support for your plugin, ditch it and install the competition.

Am I Still a Junkie?

I’m taking it one day at a time, for example today I delete three unsed plugins, I think I am on the mend, well until I look at the little widget pumping new plugin news into my head.

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