The WordPress Support Conundrum
Conundrum, it’s a great word isn’t it. Here is the definition “A confusing and difficult problem or question.” Here’s the WordPress Support conundrum as I see it.
Free Software => No Formal Support
WordPress is free to download and install on your server or hosting, but there is no formal support arrangement in place. All support is from volunteers in the forums at http://wordpress.org/support/. You take your chances with WordPress, if you get a problem, you may or may not get a reply. There is no guarantee you will.
I am not attacking the great folk who provide support in the forums in their own time and for no reward. This is not a WordPress issue, it’s an open source issue. All open source platforms supply the software as is. Some have a paid option, others such as WordPress do not.
Premium Software & Support
When I was working in the corporate world, it was not uncommon to pay huge annual maintenance fees just so the company had access to software support. Support that was fairly similar to the support forums at WordPress.com (just saying IBM), the difference is that there is a guarantee that someone will investigate your issue and elevation and service level agreements on how your problem will be addressed.
This is a huge stumbling block to many companies thinking about adopting open source software, there is no-one to go to (read there is no one to blame and ass-cover) if something goes wrong,
The support available for WordPress is from an army of volunteers, people who monitor the forums and give their advice. They do this for the love of the platform, to display their expertise and to raise their profile in the community.
There isno service level agreement, no 24 hours to reply and start working on the problem. There is no guarantee that you will get a reply (but you probably will). It is not some bodies day job to answer your support queries. There is no formal support. When I have gone to the forums myself I usually get support but it can take a couple of days to get a reply.
It Goes Two Ways
I see users of WordPress and free plugins lambasting the developers if a solution is not forthcoming within three minutes of them placing a support request. They seem to think that they are owed support for using someone’s free software. They are not.
Plugins, free themes and WordPress are provided as is with no support implied, but the majority of people writing WordPress core and plugins and themes provide very good support to people using the software they have developed. BUT it is not their day job, they are not getting paid, this is a labour of love.
A Certain Level of Expertise Is Expected
This is not a WordPress only problem but many open source projects support sections are “staffed” by people who assume you need a certain level of expertise to be allowed the privilege to use the software. If you are not up to speed with the jargon beware.
I see many support requests starting “I’m a newbie be nice to me ..” or other such phrases, people are aware of the sometimes harsh replies people get if they are not up to speed with the technicalities of WP. This annoys me, we were all newbies once and expecting everyone who uses the software to be a php developer and to understand a MYSQL database is wrong.
I would estimate that 80% of all WordPress functions can be done by noobs, it’s the last 20% that is complex and requires technical skills, so why not accommodate the 80% in the forums without ridicule.
The Rise Of The Premium Aspect
The reason why we have seen a rise in premium themes and plugins is to offset the conundrum. People are more invested in supporting and helping people if they can make it a priority by charging for a product and creating a customer support function.
This means that you CAN expect support if things go pop,
This Is Why The WP Owners Club Was Created
I created the WP Owners Club to solve this problem. By creating a premium solution to the training and support conundrum, I can provide my expertise and experience to members whilst paying my bills.
What Is The WP Owners Club?
It’s a members only training and support community where you can learn WordPress and request support from me amongst a community of like minded site owners.
Would you like to know more?
I’m running a webinar to explain more about the WP Owners Club, if you would like to join this free event click on the link below
The webinar is on Thursday 2nd June at 11am-12pm Pacific, 2pm-3pm Eastern and 7pm-8pm UK Time.
Seats are limited so book your slot now by clicking on the link below.
I look forward to seeing you on the webinar.