WPMU DEV's Blog - Everything WordPress » Community - WPMU.org http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog The WPMU DEV WordPress blog provides tutorials, tips, resources and reviews to help out any WP user Fri, 28 Nov 2014 15:30:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Five for the Future: How to Help Out in the WordPress Support Forums http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/help-wordpress-support-forums/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/help-wordpress-support-forums/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=134419 You probably remember the hullabaloo a few months ago around Matt Mullenweg’s rally to the greater WordPress community to create a more sustainable vision for the future of the open source project.

Automattic’s founder suggested that businesses revolving around WordPress (either webhosts, developers, designers, etc.) contribute 5 percent of their workforce to helping WordPress core. While some in the WordPress community criticized his sentiments, others embraced the call to action, including us to the point we’re currently trialling and training seven new support staff members, two of whom will be assigned to work full-time in the WordPress Support Forums.

For freelancers – engineers, designers, webmasters, and copywriters whose careers rely on the advancement of WordPress – there’s no better way to sharpen your skills and get to know the WordPress community than to get into the thick of it. If a regular 40-hour work week is assumed, that’s two hours a week you can spend helping others out of technical jams, learning new skills and networking, all while supporting the open source project.

So today we’re inviting you to join us in our Five for the Future. I’m going to share with you how you can spend your 5 percent – your two hours a week – hanging out in the support forums to make the software that makes your living possible even better.

WordPress Support Forums.
WordPress Support Forums.

Just in case you’ve never had reason to visit, the support forums at WordPress.org get thousands of posts every day on a vast variety of subjects. Users have a range of understanding, too, from complete beginner to developer-level. Sometimes they just need a quick CSS fix. Sometimes their site’s been compromised or they’re dealing with a critical error. The support team is all volunteer, and hop on to any question they can help with, as quickly as they can.

Getting started as a support volunteer is as simple as logging in with your WordPress.org username and password, finding a thread you can answer, and offering your genuine assistance. But before you dive in, here are some helpful tips and useful resources you’ll want in your WordPress toolbox.

When in Doubt, Consult the Handbook

The Documentation team have put together a great Support Handbook that covers the nitty gritty of being a support volunteer. In addition to having a basic familiarity with WordPress, support volunteers are expected to treat community members with respect and compassion. Forum members offering support, after all, become representative of the greater WordPress community for the users they’re helping.

No replies.
Support queries in the WordPress forums that haven’t received replies.

Searching for support requests in need of a response is as simple as making use of the forum filtering options. For quick reference, posts with no responses are found here and unresolved posts can be found here.

Spend some time on the forums, and you’ll soon start to notice that it’s the quick and easy fixes that are typically resolved first, so when you find yourself with a few extra minutes to spare, pick your favorite forum and look through the older posts to see if someone has been waiting for help with a more complex issue. It may take more brainpower and eat up more of your time to assist with these more complicated problems, but again it’s a good way to make a big impact with your volunteer contribution. If you come across a problem you think you can help with, by all means, add your two cents.

Be Thoughtful About Your Communications

Many people posting problems on the support forums are frustrated and confused at best, under deadline and losing money at worst. They may be writing in a panicked tone (or as panicked a tone as can convey across a text format), but that doesn’t mean you need to respond in-kind. In fact, you should respond with kindness instead. Show some understanding and compassion. Not only will you be putting your best foot forward on behalf of the WordPress community, you may actually help diffuse another person’s anxiety. Begin by acknowledging the problem and expressing some empathy. It’s as simple as, “Hi there! I’m sorry you’re having a hard time with this slider. Have you tried…”

When You Offer Assistance, Show and Tell

If you show a user how to resolve their problem and take the time to explain WHY this fix works, you’ll not only help in the moment, but you’re expanding the knowledge base of the original poster and anyone else who searches the forums with the same issue.

If you offer code snippets, make sure you cite any sources you used and explain why this is would work. If you find additional tutorials, tricks, or hacks the poster should know about, make sure you include those links. Reference the Codex or the Developer Resource hub if possible.

Follow Up and Make Sure the Issue is Resolved

After you’ve offered your input, don’t just vanish from the thread. Circle around on your posts to make sure everything worked out alright. This may seem like a small gesture, but it goes a long way in establishing rapport, and just because you’re offering free support, doesn’t mean it should or has to be quick and dirty or cold and impersonal. Make sure you check the option for update notification on posts you reply to or check your profile to see new activity on threads you’ve posted in.

support1
Creating a new comment in a thread.

Be Open to the Experience and Be Willing to Jump in and Try

If you’ve never worked in technical or customer support, the notion that you are even capable of pitching in may be foreign. Or perhaps you’re intimidated by more advanced users on the forums. This is a common experience. Tim Bowers, head of support here at WPMU DEV, explains:

“I remember the feeling I had on the first ticket I went to handle. I’d done this a thousand times before at WPMU DEV; in fact, more than a thousand. I’d also worked for many years on other systems and given support there, too, but yet I still felt nervous. I worried I wouldn’t be good enough. There are some pretty big names in the WordPress community and to work in their shadow can be scary regardless of your origins. But that insecurity may be exactly what keeps many bright and budding developers and enthusiasts from getting involved in the community.”

While some people may relate to Tim’s early experiences, he advises our support team tackling the WordPress forums that, “You’re going to get things wrong, but that’s important. The people you’re helping in the forums are not the only ones there to learn and grow – you are ,too.”

Other Ways to Help on the Forums

In addition to offering per case support for WordPress questions, you could spend some time perusing posts about third-party commercial themes and plugins, and kindly directing the user to the appropriate support channels.

For example, if you notice someone in the WordPress.org forums asking about a WPMU DEV plugin, you might respond that commercial plugins aren’t supported here, but they can find all the help they need by contacting our support team instead.

Flagging posts #modlook that are blatantly spammy, hostile, or otherwise inappropriate for the mods is another way you can contribute. You don’t need to respond to a post to tag it, and it helps forum moderators do their job with greater efficiency.

I’m Not a Developer. Can I Still be Helpful?

Yes, absolutely. If there is a particular plugin, theme, or topic you’re especially knowledgeable about, you can search for that tag in the forums. CSS ninjas this way and HTML 5 to the left. Do you happen to know a lot about SEO? Your skills could be useful here.

The Support Handbook also offers canned responses to common issues, as well as Break/Fix lessons that volunteers can go through in order to learn how certain common problems present and how to fix them, step by step. These in of themselves are a great learning tool for rookie developers and dabblers. If you’re relatively new to the WordPress world, there’s no better way to familiarize yourself with the product than to take it apart and put it back together.

And if helping in the forums is not at all your cup of tea, there are a ton of other ways you can get involved, including helping out with documentation and tutorials.

What NOT to Do On the Forums

Don’t be snarky. Don’t be sarcastic. Don’t be mean or belittle other users. Don’t use it as a forum for self-promotion. At all. Any of that stuff will likely get your post flagged, and the mods do a top-notch job of keeping the culture of the forums as positive as possible.

Join Us – Help Out in the WordPress Support Forums

Is is worth helping out in the forums? For the experience alone, for building WordPress community and furthering the open source agenda, my humble opinion is that yes, it is.

In terms of learning and expanding your WordPress skillset, helping on the forums will give you the experience of looking at other sites and debugging their problems.

If you can spare 5 percent of your time, your contribution should both strengthen your knowledge and advance the overarching WordPress community.

By the way, if you have a WPMU DEV membership, our support stars are happy to answer any of your questions in our forums as well, whether it’s about our plugins or themes or some other.

Are you on the WordPress Support Forums? Do you have any tips for helping out?

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Our 5% – Join WPMU DEV to Support WordPress.org http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/our-5-join-wpmu-dev-to-support-wordpress-org/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/our-5-join-wpmu-dev-to-support-wordpress-org/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 05:05:48 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133538 About a month back, Matt Mullenweg proposed that companies directly involved in WordPress should contribute “Five for the Future,” specifically that they:

…Should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with core — be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress mission forward.

Well, for once, I find myself in total agreement, and here’s how we’d like to make that commitment.

This needs to be your idea of Nirvana
This needs to be your idea of Nirvana

Supporting the WordPress.org Support Forums

We already have core contributors (in terms of code) on board, and have employed plenty in the past, but that’s only a tiny portion in terms of time, and also I think that what we bring to our members is so much more than code.

We at WPMU DEV try to be “Your WordPress Team,” and that’s a 24/7/365 commitment to be there to help you with anything to do with WordPress. That’s not just our own products – we aim to support every aspect of WordPress and every plugin, theme, tweak and component you can think of.

So, as a company of roughly 50 full-time staff, we want to contribute 2.5 full-time, dedicated support people to the WordPress.org Support Forums to help with absolutely anything under the sun.

And we’d like to invite you to apply for those positions :)

Here’s what the job entails:

  • Hanging out on the WordPress.org Support Forums all day, 40 hours minimum per week, helping people out.

That’s all!

We’ll provide you with training and support, a great team to back you up, send you to WordCamps and, naturally, pay you, too.

All we ask you to do is to complete a short training task as part of the usual WPMU DEV support star application process and let us know some stuff about you. We can then chat more, negotiate terms and generally get this show on the road.

Sound like fun? Hell yeh! Apply here!.

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This Week in WordPress: Rate and Review a Plugin Day and LoopConf http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/this-week-in-wordpress-2/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/this-week-in-wordpress-2/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:30:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133148 This week’s round-up of WordPress news, views and reviews summarized in our daily email newsletter, The WhiP.

Subscribe to The Whip daily for lashings of WordPress goodness.

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The WhiP Newsletter #104 – Monday, October 13

The Right Place at the Right Time

The first PodsCamp was held earlier this month. WP Tavern’s Jeff Chandler talks to organizer Scott Kingsley Clark about the event. If you don’t know what Pods is, it’s a framework that allows users to easily create and extend custom post types, content types, taxonomies, users, media, or comments.

If you’re tired of web hosting reviewed littered with affiliate links, check out HostingReviews.io, a website that documents what people say about their webhosting provider on social media sites such as Twitter.

WooCommerce has launched WooCommerce Recommendations by Graphflow, a plugin that allows you to show “the right products to the right people at the right time” on your eCommerce website.

A Story Worth Telling

Our very own Chris Knowles puts Storyform, a long-form storytelling platform for WordPress, through its paces.

Automattic’s Toni Schneider shares his thoughts on the future of work and distributed companies.

Crowd Favorite’s Chris Lema compares a bunch of page builders, including Beaver Builder, VelocityPage and Page Builder by SiteOrigin. Check out how he ranked them in terms of ease of Use, speed, WordPress integration / WordPress way, design and code left behind.

Episode 165 of WPWeekly focuses on contributing to WordPress.

Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for the Envato Market Blog about multilingual support and eventually gets to the point – the post is about how WPML’s Go-Global Program helps make WordPress sites multilingual.

Drop It Like It’s Hot

WP Explorer runs through how to use the Visual Form Builder plugin to create advanced forms.

WP Beginner checks out eight Dropbox plugins for WordPress.

50 free portfolio themes on blogger Kevin Muldoon’s website.

30 small business themes for WordPress over at Webdesigner Depot.

Protect Yourself

How to get notifications when users edit a WordPress post on the WPMU DEV Blog.

How to protect email addresses on your WordPress website on the WPMU Blog.

How to set up the checkout, shopping and accounts settings in WooCommerceat Tuts+.

How to add a feedback form to WordPress on the Elegant Themes blog.

How to manage teams using WordPress on the Elegant Themes blog.

And what you need to know about RSS and duplicate content.

The Science Behind It All

Writer Josh Pollock explains how to use the Pods plugin and Elegant Themes’ theme Divi to transform WordPress into a customizable content management system.

At Tuts+, developer Tom McFarlin continues his series on creating maintainable WordPress meta boxes, while writer Agbonghama Collins continues his own series on WordPress error handling with WP_Error Class II.

Jordi Cabot looks at the science behind A/B split testing at Torque in a post that’s especially helpful if you haven’t done it before.

Autocorrect

The story behind tilde.club: or how a guy had a couple drinks and woke up with 1000 nerds.

Can we autocorrect humanity? (Interestingly, this video has been produced using technology despite its anti-tech sentiment).

Europol’s boss says there are only “around 100” cybercriminal kingpins worldwide.

All the best for an inspiring and thought-filled Monday.


The WhiP Newsletter #105 – Tuesday, October 14

Push It

“With the relaunch, NewYorker.com runs on WordPress, a more robust, user-friendly CMS. `We’re looking at almost total upside there,’ Thompson tells me. Because the tools are no longer getting in the way of producers doing their job, NewYorker.com is now able to publish a greater volume of stories every day. The site used to top out at 10 or 12 stories each day: now, it publishes around 20 per day.” The New Yorker shares a few lessons learned since relaunching with WordPress in July.

Tracy Levesque, co-owner of design and development firm Yikes, talks on the Matt Report about how she fine tunes the WordPress dashboard to “give comfort and ownership” to her client.

“Each platform has their pros and cons, but at the end of the day, WordPress seems the most logical choice; however, Blogger can still be the right choice — it all depends on you.” Ariel Rule compares and contrasts WordPress and Blogger for Elegant Themes. Of course, WordPress wins every time.

“Brand stories, although part of your marketing, are not ads or sales pitches. They’re a summary of your business’s history, values, and persona, all told in your brand’s unique voice.” What’s your company’s story? Brenda Barron writes for the WooThemes blog about how to create a compelling brand story for your online store.

What Works For You

iThemes have released a new security summary dashboard widget in iThemes Security.

Torque runs you through how to choose a great free theme that works for you.

And 15 news and magazine style themes at WP Explorer.

Stop the Press

How to create a development schedule for your WordPress website at WP Kube.

How to build a content-heavy news site with WordPress and NewsCore at WP Lift.

How to password protect posts at WP Beginner.

How to customize the WordPress backend for clients on the Envato Market Blog.

Do It Like A Pro

How do you set up a fresh WordPress install? We show you how the pros do it on the WPMU DEV Blog.

The Conductor blog has an awesome tutorial on how to add UI buttons to the previewer window within the WordPress customizer.

The guys at Tuts+ look at options for WordPress eCommerce (WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads – the usual suspects), and how to use shortcodes and custom fields for footnotes.

Hackers

“The original hacker ethic was based on commendable, forward thinking values like sharing and openness. Inclusiveness needs to be added to that list.” Automattic’s Toni Schneider writes about nerd culture – the good and the bad.

While we’re on the topic of inclusiveness, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai is encouraging girls to join Code.org’s Hour of Code.

And I’ll leave you with this happy dance party on a train.

All the best for a a productive and meaningful Tuesday.


The WhiP Newsletter #106 – Wednesday, October 15

What Gets Your Goat

This coming Friday is the first “Rate and Review a WordPress Plugin Day”(catchy name!), according to WP Tavern. Users are encouraged to say something nice (or not nice) about their favorite plugins (or least favorite plugins).

troubleshooting handbook is now available for WordPress Support Forum volunteers. The guide explains how the forum works and teaches volunteers how to troubleshoot common WordPress issues they’re likely to see in the forum.

LoopConf, “the greatest conference ever created for WordPress developers,” will be held in Las Vegas next May. Unlike WordCamps, this event is an independent WordPress conference and is not associated with the WordPress foundation.

Twenty Fifteen, the next default WordPress theme, is in the process of being added to WordPress core. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s a blogging theme.

Everything at iThemes is on sale through October 31.

Crowd Favorite’s Chris Lema wants to know what gets your goat? It’s the comments below the post that are enlightening.

WordPress 4.1 release lead John Blackbourn has announced weekly bug scrubs on Fridays are back. If you’re interested in contributing to core, here’s your chance to get involved in cleaning up Trac.

Tally-ho

WP Tally is a tool that displays the total download count for plugins attached to a WordPress.org username (brought to you by the Easy Digital Downloads team).

If you love Comic Sans, you’ll love Comic Sans Roulette, a new addition to the WordPress Plugin Repository. When activated, you’ll have a one in ten chance of having all the fonts on your site replaced with Comic Sans.

35 Google Adsense optimized themes for business websites at WP Kube.

Elegant Themes has an in-depth and very comprehensive guide on how to use the NextGen Gallery plugin.

And eight plugins for editing WordPress (EditFlow, Post Forking, Public Post Review…)

Rock Your World

We’ve got an awesome guide on how to rock your WordPress forms with Gravity Forms conditional logic on the WPMU DEV Blog.

beginner’s guide to moderating comments at – you guessed it – WP Beginner.

WP Lift has a step-by-step guide on how to move your WordPress site to Microsoft Azure.

If you love being organized, check out WP Mayor’s article on scheduling post and social media with the CoSchedule plugin.

How do you approach creating multiple meta boxes outside of the object-oriented context? Developer Tom McFarlin offers a few rules of thumb.

Tuts+ continues its series on configuring W3 Total Cache, and has also posted onhow to publish an eBook from your WordPress site.

Self-awareness

Are you unintentionally sexist? Automattic code wrangle Kat Hagan has put together a mammoth list of ways men are sexist towards women, even if they don’t mean to be.

All the best for a happy hump day.


The WhiP Newsletter #107 – Thursday, October 16

Short and Sweet

If you didn’t make it to WordCamp Europe, WordPress.tv has posted a Q&A with WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg’s and tech writer Om Malik, and also a video of core lead developer Andrew Nacin discussing the philosophy of WordPress development and the course it should take to keep growing.

Speaking of camps, topic submissions are still open for the upcoming WordPress Community Summit, which will be held in conjunction with WordCamp San Francisco. If you want to have your say, post your submission before the forum closes on Sunday.

Thinking about using AJAX on your site? Developer Tom McFarlin muses over when to use AJAX, and other mysteries of the web.

Snippety Snip

Do you save your snippets? We’ve got a great post on the WPMU DEV Blog about creating a WordPress custom functions bible. We’ve even thrown in a few snippets to get you started.

How to improve your website navigation with mega menus at Torque.

Should you use www or not? WP Beginner explains what’s best for SEO.

WP Lift says audit logs are an important part of your security strategy.

Finally, WP Beginner again with a guide on how to improve your site’s structure and permalinks.

Bait and Tackle

Take your WordPress sites to the next level, whatever that may be, with custom post types.

Even more from Tuts+ on creating maintainable meta boxes, this time on finishing the front-end.

And blogger Josh Pollock tackles working with taxonomies using the JSON REST API at Torque.

Join the Good Fight

Help fight WordPress theme bloat (an oldie but a goodie).

All the best for a terrific Thursday.


The WhiP Newsletter #108 – Friday, October 17

Taking the Leap

This week’s WPWeekly episode features Frankie Jarrett, the project lead at development agency XWP. It’s the company behind Stream, a plugin/service that allows you to track content changes happening to your WordPress site.

And another podcast: the DradCast guys talk to the talented Carrie Dils, a freelance web developer based in Texas.

On the Envato Market Blog, developer Alex Parker offers some advice on how to make the leap from creating themes to becoming a professional developer.

Clean and Tidy

Postmatic is a new plugin that allows you to subscribe to comments and posts by email, and also includes reply by email functionality. Post Status’ Brian Krogsgard talks to Jason Lemieux, one of Postmatic’s co-founders.

Have you tried out CleanTalk? Oliver Dale from WP Lift thinks it could be better than Akismet at fighting spam.

WP Kube has rounded up the 10 most expensive themes and why they cost so much.

Lastly, WP Explorer checks out 20 useful WooCommerce plugins.

Woolly Mammoth

Your WordPress database stores all of your website’s content, so what do you do to take care of it? We look at everything you need to know to keep you database in tip-top shape in a mammoth guide on the WPMU DEV Blog.

WP Beginner has a simple 101 guide on building an email list in WordPress.

Meanwhile, Crowd Favorite’s Chris Lema shows you how to hide menu items on your WordPress membership site.

And Elegant Themes has a brilliant article on how to better leverage social proof on your WordPress site.

Programmed to Love

Programmatically deactivate WordPress widgets with developer Tom McFarlin’s latest snippet.

Smashing Magazine has a cool CSS-only solution for UI tracking.

The folks at WebDevStudios have put together a great overview of the JSON REST API.

If you sell premium plugins (maybe you’re selling one on Code Canyon or through your own site?), check out WP Mayor’s guide to protecting your premium content from unauthorized reselling.

On the Flipside

Love pancakes and The Walking Dead? Why not combine the two.

All the best for a fun and relaxing weekend.


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Where to Find a WordPress Developer When You Need Custom Work http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/where-to-find-a-wordpress-developer/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/where-to-find-a-wordpress-developer/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=132118 It takes no time at all to get a WordPress website up and running, but when you set up a theme, what you see on the front-end isn’t always what you actually want. Often, the theme you’ve chosen looks completely different from how you originally envisaged your site would look like.

It’s easy to make small customizations, even add a few plugins for greater functionality. But if you’ve pushed your tweaking skills as far as they will go and you’re still not satisfied with how your site looks, you may want to consider employing the services of a WordPress pro.

Likewise, if you want someone else to do all the work for you so you don’t even so much as have to look at the WordPress backend, there are WordPress pros who can do that, too.

Fortunately, there are many sites you can access that provide skilled WordPress developers and designs itching to improve or create your website.

In today’s post, we’ll look at the the many WordPress-specific job boards available.

WPMU DEV Jobs and Pros

wpmu-dev-jobs-and-pros

Let’s kick off this list with our very own Jobs and Pros. This section of the site was relaunched in March and allows you to find pros to complete projects or post your own job ad to attract work.

It’s easy to search for a pro with the skills you need. If you know the name of the person you want to hire, you can search for their name. Or you can simply browse our directory of pros to find the person who best matches your requirements.

A neat thing about Jobs and Pros is that all pros are given a community rank so you can see straight up how involved they are in the WPMU DEV forums. You can also click on recent posts so you can suss out a pro before you contact them with a job offer.

Jobs WordPress

jobs-wordpress

This is the official WordPress jobs directory, hosted on the WordPress.org domain.

You can post job ads for free, with all ads displayed for 21 days unless you request to have it removed earlier.

There are a bunch of different position types you can post under, including design, development, migration and theme customization.

Envato Studio

envato-studio

If you’re fussy and want to ensure your customizations are completed with care, you may want to check out Envato Studios.

The site, which is run by the company behind the ever popular ThemeForest, features a typical jobs board featuring dozens of providers. The only difference is that all providers – designers, developers, and marketers – are thoroughly reviewed by a team of Envato reviewers to ensure quality over quantity.

The dedicated WordPress category allows you to search for experts and read through their bio and portfolio, compare prices, check out community recommendations. When you’ve found an expert you like, simply supply your brief. You can can share files and feedback with Envato Studios’ inbuilt messaging and job management tools.

WPhired

wp-hired

New jobs are posted daily to WPhired, a free WordPress jobs boards. The site published freelance, full-time, internship, part-time and temporary positions. It’s easy – and free – to post a job. You will need to create an account, which takes no time at all.

The site was created by self-proclaimed WordPress fanatic Jerome Degl’innocenti.

WordPress Jobs

jobs-com

Developer Mehmet Emin Coskun started WordPress Jobs as an independent initiative where people can publish WordPress employment announcements and help the community find the best jobs available.

The site is clean, easy to browse and, noticeably, ad-free.

It’s free to publish a job ad for a week and after that it’s $19 a month.

Tuts+ Jobs

tuts-plus

Tuts+ Jobs advertises full-time, part-time and casual employment opportunities from all over the world.

Jobs are filtered by location and skills, so you can quickly find people who match your requirements. Currently, you can search “WordPress” and “Front-end WordPress Developer.”

It’s free to post a job, unlike the site’s previous incarnation, FreelanceSwitch Jobs.

Freelancer

freelancer

The Freelancer.com site boasts it is the world’s largest freelancing, outsourcing and crowdsourcing marketplace by number of users and projects, and connects with more than 13 million employers and freelancers from over 247 countries, regions and territories.

Freelancer has a dedicated WordPress page where you can search for WordPress experts in a categories such as customization, design and mobile.

Listing a job isn’t free. Freelancer charges a fixed 3% or your project cost or US$3 fee, whichever is greater.

Elance

elance

Like Freelancer.com, Elance also has a dedicated WordPress page.

Elance is free to join. There are no charges to post jobs, submit proposals or to work, but the site does deduct an 8.75% service fee from all invoices submitted by freelancers on the site.

Elance merged with another popular freelancing website, oDesk, last year. Together, the sites server 8 million freelancers and 2 million businesses.

Where to Find the Best WordPress Experts

Tracking down a decent WordPress pro to complete your project depends entirely on your project’s requirements.

Before searching for pro, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you need completed. It’s also important to think about your budget and how much you are willing to pay someone to work on our website.

When you are ready to find someone, think about the complexity of your project. Do you need someone to carry out a simple tweak to your site, such as adjusting your header, or do you need someone to completely redesign your web presence? The complexity of your project will determine the skill level needed for your job. If it’s a simple tweak, there’s no point paying loads of money to someone with 10 years of experience when you can hire someone with a basic skill set. Likewise, you wouldn’t hire a developer with little experience to carry out a complete overhaul of your site.

The best places to start if you’re looking for someone specializing in WordPress development are WPMU DEV Jobs and Pros, Jobs WordPress and Envato Studios. Each of these sites caters specifically to WordPress developers and is regularly browsed by WordPress experts. Best of all, these sites are free so any pros you hire will receive 100% of their payment and won’t have to fork out a cut of their profits.

The neat thing about WPMU DEV Jobs and Pros is that you can view each pros comments in our forums so you can vet them before deciding whether you want to hire them. Envato Studios also offers a quality service, with all pros reviewed before being allowed to feature on the site.

Have you used a jobs board to customize your site? Or have you used one to advertise your service? Let us know in the comments below how the experience went.

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WordPress Comments: A Comprehensive Guide to Styling and Moderating Discussion http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/guide-blog-commenting-wordpress/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/guide-blog-commenting-wordpress/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=132026 Receiving comments on your blog is one of the most rewarding parts of blogging. It allows you to interact with your readers and gives you an opportunity to hear their thoughts and ideas on the topics you cover and the points you raise.

The opposite is also true. If you have ever put your heart and soul into writing a high quality article, you know how disheartening it is if no one takes the time to leave a comment.

From a marketing perspective, a high number of comments raises the profile of your blog and shows everyone that your blog is popular. The discussions that arise from your articles also enhance the original article. This is particularly true for articles that have received dozens or hundreds of great comments.

For example, one of my blog posts has received over 250 comments. The quality of those comments are arguably more useful than my original article and have allowed the discussion to extend beyond what I originally wrote.

Let us take a closer look at commenting on WordPress websites. We will look at how to style comments in WordPress, how you can encourage visitors to publish comments, and how to manage comments effectively. Third party commenting solutions will also be reviewed. Enjoy! :)

How to Style Comments in WordPress

The look and feel of your comment area will influence whether someone contributes a comment to your blog. It is therefore in your interest to style your comment area and make it appealing to visitors.

Check that there is a link to your comment area at the top of your blog posts and in your blog index and archives. Stating the current number of comments with this link helps visitors see what blog posts have comments.

If your current WordPress theme does not have a link to your comment area, you can add one to your design using the comments_popup_link WordPress function.

The Comment Link
Visitors can go directly to your comment area by clicking on the comment link.

The WordPress comments template is named comments.php (though if a developer desired, they could name it something else). It is loaded from other theme templates, such as your post and page templates, using the function comments_template.

The comments template contains the structure and layout of your comments area. You can style your comments area by modifying this template and its corresponding CSS code in your theme stylesheet (i.e. style.css). The classes for styling your comment area should be grouped together and clearly marked in your stylesheet, but do not be concerned if it is not. All you have to do is take a note of the CSS classes that are linked from your comments template and then do a search for them in your theme stylesheet.

Please note that there is no agreed upon naming policy for comment CSS classes. For example, in the past default WordPress themes such as Twenty Twelve would use commentlist in reference to comment list items; however from Twenty Thirteen, WordPress has used comment-list instead. Some theme designers ensure their WordPress themes use the same naming standards as default WordPress themes, though many do not. Therefore, to be sure, refer to the classes used in your comments template.

Improving the look of your existing comment area is not as difficult as you would imagine. It is amazing how simple changes such as colored backgrounds and colorful borders can bring the comment area to life.

One of the most common enhancements to the comment area is to highlight author comments. This simple modification will distinguish comments published by the blog post author from comments left by general visitors.

You can use the CSS class bypostauthor to style author comments. Our resident WordPress guru Raelene Wilson wrote a fantastic tutorial on how to do this earlier this year entitled Improving the Look and Feel of Your Author Comments.

You should also check out the plugin Featured Comments. The plugin adds two new classes to your website: featured and buried. This allows you to mark great comments that add value to the discussion.

Author Comments
The bypostauthor CSS class can be used to make author comments stand out.

If your blog posts are receiving a lot of comments, you may want to consider splitting comments into pages. Thankfully, this is very simple to do as comment pagination functionality is built into the core version of WordPress.

All you have to do is visit the discussion settings area in your WordPress admin area (i.e. http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin/options-discussion.php) and enable “Break comments into pages.” You can define the break off point that comments are paginated. You can also state whether the first page of comments shows the first comments published or the last; and whether the latest comments are displayed at the top of pages.

Pagination is useful if your blog posts are receiving hundreds of comments as it makes pages loader quicker. It can also improve your website SEO.

Break Comments Into Pages
Pagination can be enabled through the WordPress discussion settings page.

Enhance the Comment Area

Improving the commenting experience for readers is not solely about styling. It is also about functionality.

Commenting can be enhanced by offering social logins. By allowing visitors the option of publishing comments through their favorite social media service, you can make the process of publishing comments on your website quicker as the visitor does not need to enter their name and email address.

A popular commenting solution is Jetpack Comments. The Jetpack comments module allows visitors to continue to log in by completing the name, email, and website fields. However, it also allows people to publish comments using Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

The module allows visitors to receive email notifications of new comments and your latest blog posts. This encourages commenters to return to the discussion when new comments have been published.

Jetpack Comments
Jetpack Comments allows visitors to publish comments through their social media service. It also lets commenters get email notifications on future comments.

Two other useful WordPress plugins to consider that offer social media commenting are Social and Social Comments.

Social allows commenting via Facebook and Twitter and allows tweets and replies to be pulled into the discussion. Social Comments is one of the best commenting plugins available to WordPress users as it allows visitors to publish comments via the default WordPress form, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or the third party commenting solution Disqus.

Another commenting plugin to consider is CommentLuv. It features anti-spam controls and helps you build a community by allowing visitors to share their latest tweets and blog posts with their comments.

Third Party Commenting Solutions

Do not despair if you are not comfortable styling your comments area. There are a number of third-party commenting solutions that will enhance the look and functionality of commenting on your website.

Two of the best solutions are Disqus and Livefyre. These services will completely replace your default WordPress form with their own unique comment form. All comments published through their forms are synced back to your website so that a copy is stored in your WordPress database. This lets you easily switch back to the default WordPress commenting system at any time.

Disqus and Livefyre offer support for all major social media services and boast community features such as threaded comments, top comments, and email notifications. They also offer analytics and moderation tools such as blacklists and spam controls.

Livefyre
Livefyre replaces your comments area with “Real-Time” conversations.

Facebook is another popular third-party commenting solution. Facebook comments can be added into your website using HTML5 code or an iframe. Facebook have also released an official Facebook WordPress plugin to help you integrate Facebook comments into your WordPress website; though other Facebook plugin solutions are available too, such as Facebook Comments.

If you have a large following on Facebook, you may want to consider adding Facebook comments to your website as Facebook users tend to stay logged in to the service at all times. Therefore, Facebook users will be more inclined to publish comments.

The downside to using Facebook is that all comments are stored on Facebook’s servers, not yours. Additionally, if you only offer Facebook comments to visitors, those who do not use the service will be unable to publish comments.

Thankfully, Facebook comments do not replace the existing WordPress comment system. You can therefore integrate Facebook comments into your website and display it together with the default WordPress comment form.

Facebook Comments
Facebook users usually stay logged into their Facebook account at all times. Therefore, they do not need to sign in to publish a comment.

In April 2013, Google introduced Google+ Comments to Blogger users. A few WordPress plugins were released around this time, such as Google+ Comments and Comments Evolved, that allowed WordPress users to integrate Google+ into their website. However, these plugins have not been updated in over a year, therefore I would not recommend using them.

Encouraging Visitors to Comment

As a blogger, your aim should be to “convert” your visitors. You want to convert every visitor into an newsletter subscriber, an RSS subscriber, a social media follower, or a commenter. Ideally, you will make them subscribe and comment.

Many bloggers fail to realise the connection between commenting and subscription. In my experience, taking the time to give an intelligent response to a visitor’s comment goes a long way to converting commenters into loyal long term readers.

“This is a clear indication that the person respects you, enjoys your blog, and wants to receive updates on your future blog posts.”

I frequently have conversations with visitors in my comment area and then notice that they have liked my Facebook page or followed me on Twitter. This is a clear indication that the person respects you, enjoys your blog, and wants to receive updates on your future blog posts.

There is obviously value in receiving comments from visitors that are not subscribers. I frequently receive great comments from people who do not follow me online. Therefore, do not be dismayed if your commenters do not follow you or subscribe to your blog; as their comments are still valuable.

The question that many bloggers ask is: How do you turn a visitor into a commenter?

There are many ways to help encourage visitors to publish a comment; however I think the key is to make people want to comment. If you publish poorly written generic articles, few people are going to take the time to leave a comment. However, high quality well-written articles will can generate a lot of comments.

  • Technical tutorials and walkthroughs will receive comments from people you helped and people who have questions about your guide.
  • News related blog posts will receive comments from those that want to give their view on a particular event or topic.
  • Opinion posts will receive comments from those who agree with you, and those who do not.

Another key factor is the writing style in which you write. Technical and business writing styles are ok for news posts and tutorials, but I believe that a relaxed conversational style of writing will encourage more people to comment.

This is because writing in the way you talk is generally more welcoming to people and draw people into the discussion. Just be careful not to use too much slang or you may alienate a lot of your audience (I’m more than happy to start using Scottish slang in my articles if you don’t believe me!).

Author Bio
Author bios establish credibility and make blog posts appear more personal.

You need not be shy about the fact you want more comments. Be bold and ask for comments directly from visitors. I frequently ask my readers at the end of my blog posts to leave a comment and give me their view on an issue. Many bloggers place a request for comments directly into their website design.

When people do take the time to leave a comment, make a point of responding. This kind of interaction is key. Other people will be more inclined to publish comments on a blog when they see that the author is approachable and takes the time to respond to comments. It shows that the author cares about his/her blog and the community that surrounds it.

Another way I interact with commenters is to expand upon the points they raise in comments in a new blog post. For example, if a reader asks a question or raises an interesting point in their comment, rather than respond with a large blog comment, I may write a whole new article about the issue and refer to the commenter in my article.

Please also remember that the ease at which a person can publish comments on your website will influence how many comments you receive:

  • Make it easier for visitors to leave comments by allowing people to login using their preferred social media service to publish a comment.
  • Allow commenters to get updates of new comments on your post using plugins such as Subscribe to Comments Reloaded or the subscription feature in Jetpack Comments.
  • Be aware that forcing people to create an account in order to publish comments usually results in fewer comments being submitted.

Ultimately, the goal is to develop a great blog with high quality articles and create a community around it.

Managing Comments Effectively

The way that you handle comments has a large effect on the quality and quantity of comments that are published on your blog. Without doubt, a blog that had no moderation controls in place and no filters for spam, would receive a large amount of spam comments, trolling comments, and abusive comments.

However, you do not have to spend a lot of time managing your comments. The key is to set up everything correctly from the start so that most things are automated.

Take spam for example. You could review every comment that is submitted to your blog to ensure that no spam comment ever sneaks through. However, it is more practical to set up your WordPress discussion settings so that commenters with approved comments can publish new comments without moderation. Anti-spam WordPress plugins will also block 99.9% of all automated spam.

I recently published an article here on WPMU DEV that explains how to stop spam comments on your WordPress website. I encourage you to follow the recommendations set out in the article.

Once you have configured your website to tackle spam, you can focus on responding to legitimate comments that are published on your blog.

To ensure that you are always notified of new comments on my blog, you may want to consider enabling the “Anyone posts a comment” checkbox in the WordPress discussion settings area. This allows you to be notified whenever someone publishes a comment on your blog.

Email Settings for Comments
You can be notified by WordPress whenever new comments are submitted or held for moderation.

Do not be scared of people who disagree with you. Debate is healthy and can generate interesting discussions between you and your readers.

Unfortunately, not everyone who publishes comments on your blog will be polite and respectful. As a blogger, you also need to deal with trolls who simply want to get a rise from you. You also need to deal with the occasional problem commenter who publishes abusive comments.

Internet trolls are not always as transparent as you would expect. They will frequently try and disguise their intentions as honest, while trying to get you and other commenters to take the bait. As the old saying goes: “Do not feed the trolls”.

“The best way to deal with trolls is to simply ignore them.”

From time to time you will also receive abusive comments from unsavoury characters. As a rule, I never entertain people like that. If someone posts a comment on my blog that is racist, bigoted, or attacks myself or another commenter on a personal level; I simply delete their comment or mark their comment as spam. And if they persist on leaving abusive comments, I will ban their IP address and email address.

I believe a zero tolerance policy is the best way to handle abuse. If you would rather not delete the abusive comment, you could respond to the comment with a message that stresses that abusive messages will not be tolerated. You can then ban the commenter’s IP address so that they can not respond. However, I have found that to be a tremendous waste of time and energy. It is better to simply delete the comment and move on.

To help encourage high quality comments, I recommend adding a note to your comment area that spam and comments of an abusive nature will not be tolerated. You can also create a blog comment policy on a dedicated page and link to it from the comment area.

Final Thoughts

Blogging grew in popularity because it allowed readers to join the discussion. It transformed content from being a one way street into a medium that allowed visitors to participate.

Managing comments on your blog does not have to be too time consuming. You can eliminate the vast majority of problems in advance by configuring your discussion settings correctly and installing a good anti-spam plugin. A blog comment policy can also help inform visitors what is allowed in the comment area, and what is not.

You do, however, need to put some energy into commenting. If you want to increase comments, you need to interact with your readers and show them that their contributions are valued. Do not assume that readers will continue to comment if you do not take the time to respond. You need to participate.

What are your views on blog commenting? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment area below. Additionally, please feel free to share the WordPress plugins you use on your website to manage and enhance comments.

Image credit: Flickr.

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WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: A Definitive Guide For 2014 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/wordpress-org-vs-wordpress-com-a-definitive-guide-for-2014/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/wordpress-org-vs-wordpress-com-a-definitive-guide-for-2014/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130330 WordPress.org or WordPress.com? If you’re new to WordPress, it’s a common question and often one that needs a little explanation since the two get confused.

In this post we’ll compare the two and look at their pros and cons. We’ll explore:

  • The differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
  • Compare each of their:
    • Costs
    • Freedoms and limitations
    • Maintenance and development
  • How to decide between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org
The WordPress.org website.

WordPress is open source blogging/CMS software that powers 22 per cent of the web, including this one.

The software is a community-driven project and WordPress.org is where you can download the WordPress installation files, and search for and download free themes and plugins.

The site also contains WordPress news, documentation and community support forums. It’s also the place to go if you want to get involved in the WordPress and contribute to the core code, mobile apps, translation and accessibility.

What is WordPress.com?

The WordPress.com website.
The WordPress.com website.

WordPress.com is a commercial website where you can host a free site with some limitations or pay a yearly fee to remove the restrictions.

The site runs on the WordPress software offered at WordPress.org

Matt Mullenweg, who co-created the WordPress software, also founded Automattic, the company that operates WordPress.com.

Since WordPress.com is a hosted service, it means you don’t have to worry about finding a web host or downloading and installing the WordPress software. The service does all that for you.

Comparing WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Now let’s compare three of the most important considerations when deciding between WordPress.org and WordPress.com: cost, freedoms and limitations, and maintenance and development.

Cost Comparison

WordPress.org

If you’re new to WordPress, it’s important to note that even though WordPress is free, open source software, hosting your own WordPress is not free.

You will hosting and a domain to run WordPress. Hosting with popular web hosts like Go Daddy and Bluehost is pretty cheap (as outlined in the image below). Domains usually cost around $10+ a year.

Once you’ve got your site set up, then you need to think about themes and plugins. There are many free themes available at WordPress.org, but these usually lack the advanced features and functionality need for, say, an online store or a business/corporate site. There are many premium theme stores around, like Elegant Themes or WooThemes, and the Themeforest marketplace offers more choice than you can poke a stick up.

WordPress.com

On the other hand, WordPress.com offers plans and upgrades.

The plans include:

  • Basic – Free – Includes free blog, WordPress.com address, basic customization, no premium themes included, no eCommerce, no video storage, 3 GB of space, may show ads, community support.
  • Premium – $99 – free blog, a custom domain, advanced customization, no premium themes included, no eCommerce, store dozens of videos, 13 GB of space, no ads, direct email support.
  • Business – $299 – free blog, a custom domain, advanced customization, 50+ premium themes included, eCommerce, store unlimited videos, unlimited space, no ads, live chat support.

Here’s a quick visual breakdown comparing costs for WordPress.org and WordPress.com:

WordPress cost comparison

There are some other WordPress.com upgrades, too:

  • Custom design – $30 per blog, per year
  • Guided transfer to a self-hosted WordPress.org site – $129 per blog
  • Premium themes – One-off $20 fee, or $120 per year for unlimited themes
  • Site redirect – $13 per blog, per year
  • VideoPress – $60 per blog, per year

A free Basic WordPress.com plan is the least expensive option, particularly if you don’t want a custom domain name and don’t mind using their free themes with no modifications.

If you want a fully-featured site with your own domain name, unlimited storage for your videos and images, and no advertising, WordPress.com can become quite expensive.

If cost is your most important consideration, then downloading WordPress from WordPress.org will be your most affordable option.

Freedoms and Limitations

WordPress.org

Limitations
Limitations or no limitations?

When you set up a site using WordPress on your own server, you have the freedom to do whatever you want with it.

You can:

  • Use any free or premium plugin
  • Use any free or premium theme
  • Add and edit files via FTP, cPanel or whatever method your web host allows
  • Tweak WordPress files and server settings to improve performance
  • Full control of your content – no ads

WordPress.com

In comparison, WordPress.com comes with limitations. The folks at WordPress.com are running a business. They provide the convenience of a WordPress environment all ready for you to use. They maintain the software so that you never have to touch code or worry about security or other such concerns.

In return, you must pay for any upgrades, from simply removing advertising to activating a different theme.

Limitations include:

  • Limited to WordPress.com themes – you can’t upload your own
  • No custom plugins
  • Limited storage space
  • Limited control of your content, i.e. you must pay to remove ads
  • No FTP access to your files

It’s also important to note that with WordPress.com you can’t use third-party advertising solutions, such as Google AdSense. You also can’t track your stats with Google Analytics.

If having freedom and full control over your WordPress site is an important factor for you, consider setting up your own site with software from WordPress.org

Maintenance and Development

WordPress.org

Having full control over your site also comes with great responsibility. You will need to be prepared to regularly maintain and update your site. You will also need to make sure your site is secure and less vulnerable to hacking. Spam is also a likely problem you will need to deal with.

On top of that, if you have any problems with your server you will need to sort it our yourself with your web host.

Pagely
There are managed hosting services such as Pagely and WP Engine that can take care of the maintenance of your site for you.

Maintaining a site can take up a lot of your site unless you want to hire someone else to take care of it for you.

You may want to consider using a managed WordPress hosting solution, such as Pagely or WP Engine. These services look after all the backend maintenance for you, but, of course, it comes with an increased cost.

WordPress.com

The folks at WordPress will take care of all maintenance and development for you. You won’t have to worry about plugins breaking after an upgrade or your site suddenly going down because of a problem with your host.

You won’t have to keep up-to-date with WordPress news and upgrade your site each time a major version of the software is released.

The decision on whether or not to maintain and develop your site yourself depends entirely on your skills ability, and also how much time and effort you want to put into looking after your site.

If you would rather not deal with anything technical and don’t have the time to commit to ongoing maintenance and development, then WordPress.com would be the best option for you.

So… WordPress.org or WordPress.com?

Choosing between the two comes down to choosing the best option that will support the type of site you want to create.

If you are a casual blogger, don’t want to worry about maintenance and security, and don’t want or need a custom domain, then WordPress.com is ideal for you.

Howevever, if you want full control over your site, want to upload themes and plugins, or want to create an eCommerce or business site, then you may want to go with WordPress.org

WordPress comparison

If you’re still not sure, check out this handy video we created comparing WordPress.org and WordPress.com

This video offers a quick overview of everything you will want to consider when deciding between the two options:

Our Recommendation: WordPress.org

When it comes down to cost, freedoms and limitations, and maintenance and development considerations, WordPress.org wins hands down.

It may take more time and effort to set up a WordPress site, but you will have full control over the look and feel of your site. You will be able to use custom themes and customize their look, and also upload custom plugins to add more functionality to your site.

If you plan to grow your site and increase traffic, then downloading WordPress from WordPress.org is our recommendation.

What is your experience of using WordPress.org and WordPress.com? Let us know in the comments below.

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Help! How to Get Awesome WordPress Support – Dos and Don’ts http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/get-awesome-wordpress-support/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/get-awesome-wordpress-support/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 15:30:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130489 WordPress is fantastic software, but there are days when you try everything to fix your site and nothing seems to work. Have you ever stared at a header that doesn’t look quite right or code and thought, “WTF is going on?!”

Feeling confused about WordPress is nothing new. We’ve all been there! Luckily, one of the best things about WordPress is there are lots of places to seek out help and even more people willing to help answer your questions.

With the help of Tim Bowers, our Head of Support, I’ve put together this guide to finding great support and getting your questions answered.

In this post we’ll cover:

  • Conflict testing
  • How to ask for support
  • Where to find support

Where do you go for support? Can you recommend a great place we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.

How to ask for support
Our Head of Support Tim Bowers is available to answer your questions. Here he is helping our Head of Security.

Troubleshoot Before Asking for Support

Search Google

If you’ve stumbled across a problem, chances are someone else has, too. If you have an error message, copy it into Google search to see if someone else has found a solution to your error.

Searching Google can be a quick and easy way to find a fix for a problem.

Search Forums

Your question may already have been answered, saving you valuable time.

Check out the round-up of support forums below for places to search.

Read the Documentation

All of our plugins come with comprehensive documentation.
All of our plugins come with comprehensive documentation.

If you’re having trouble with a plugin or theme, read the documentation. While you may be one of those people who doesn’t like to read the manual first, reading the documentation can give you a better insight into how your theme or plugins works – and you may even learn a thing or two you didn’t know about your theme or plugin before!

Update Themes and Plugins

Ensure you have the most recent version of WordPress installed, as well as the most recent version of any themes and plugins. Usually after major releases of WordPress there are minor security releases. This also goes for themes and plugins, so having the latest version of a product can quickly eliminate a problem.

Test on a Sandbox

If you’re planning to upgrade yours or a client’s site, do it on a sandbox install first. You may want to set up WordPress on a local machine for testing purposes or use third-party sandboxes such as PayPal’s sandbox.

If you test a new theme or plugin on a live site, you do so at your own risk.

Conflict Testing

Often an issue can be caused by a conflict with another plugin or theme, so testing for conflicts can save a bunch of time. It can also help pinpoint your issue much more quickly.

You can test for conflicts by:

  • Disabling all plugins, except for the one you want to test
  • Reverting to a default WordPress theme

Once you’ve completed these two steps, test again. If the issue has magically disappeared then there is a conflict. Reactivate each of you plugins one at a time and keep testing, when the issue returns you will then know where the conflict exists. See the flowchart below for more details:

Support process.
Support process flow chart.

Tip: Renaming the /plugins folder will do a soft deactivation on all plugins, this removes the code for testing and, providing you don’t open the admin plugin page, they won’t become deactivated in the database. You can then create a new /plugins folder and either move the plugins across one at a time or in batches while continuously testing.

WordPress also has an option to debug and display any errors produced. You can read more on that in Debugging WordPress: How to Use WP_DEDBUG.

How to Ask for Support

Don’t just fire off a support ticket that says, “I have probs with my theme. Plz fix it?”

What does that tell anyone? More often than not, you’re going to annoy support moderators and other users with a vague and useless question like that.

Here are a few tips to help you get your support tickets answered quickly.

Be Specific

Be clear and concise. Include the steps you’ve taken to try and fix the problem your self, the version number of any plugins or themes you’re having issues with, and whether you’re using a single site or Multisite. If you have any errors, include the errors to help the support staff diagnose your problem.

It also helps to detail how to recreate the issue, as well as where and how it happens.

If you’ve discovered any plugin or theme conflicts, mention this, too.

Lastly, don’t lump several unrelated questions into a single ticket. To keep things focused, on-topic, and to avoid confusion, create separate tickets for each issue or question.

Vague
Don’t ask a vague question. If you want a quick answer, be as specific as possible about your problem.

Include Screenshots

Take screenshots that clearly show the problem you’re having and upload them if the forum you’re using allows it.

It would be awesome if support staff could read minds, but unfortunately they can’t. Screenshots are the next best thing.

Follow Up Your Question

Be pro-active. Ensure you always follow up your question with any new information so you can help support staff find an answer to your question.

If support staff ask you a question, help them as much as you can by providing the information they ask for. Your involvement in this process is crucial.

Be Polite

Don’t be flippant, rude or abusive. This won’t help anyone and often won’t be tolerated.

If you’re asking questions at WordPress.org you’ve got to remember that support volunteers are helping you for free, out of their own generosity. They don’t owe you anything. There is nothing in it for them except the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with solving a problem and making someone happy.

The same goes for plugin and theme developers who release products for free and give his or her time to support it as well. That’s a lot of hours of work, all for free. The more respectful and thankful that you are, the more inclined they will be to help you out.

Since you are possibly saving money using free themes or plugins, you should treat developers, designers and support folks with respect. Don’t abuse them on forums, pester them by email or give them lip because they haven’t had the time to get that (free) update ready for you when you need it.

Be Patient

If you are posting on a support forum, you may find that it takes time for someone to get back to you. Remember, online forums are global and it may be that the people answering your questions are in another timezone and are asleep. Or they’re just busy people with day jobs.

For example, Takayuki Miyoshi who developed Contact Form 7 has had 21 support requests in the past 24 hours (at the time of writing this). Takayuki answers these promptly and for free. He also happens to run Rock Lobster, a web development agency. If he doesn’t answer a question within 5 minutes, there’s no need to get anxious like this person:

Patience
Be patient! The world doesn’t revolve around you so don’t expect your question to be answered at the speed of light.

Also, don’t bump threads. Bumping threads multiple times within a short period of time can delay any response from support staff. WPMU DEV support staff, for example, answer tickets in order of oldest first, so a ticket owner who bumps their questions multiple times is only pushing their original ticket to the bottom of the queue.

Where to Find Support

Finding support for WordPress is easy. There are lots of free sites that offer help, as well as premium options.

If you have a problem with a theme or plugin, it’s best to file a support ticket with the product’s creator. So if you downloaded a free plugin from the WordPress Plugin Repository, your best bet is to ask a question in the plugin’s support area. For example, this is the support area for Contact Form 7:

Contact Form 7
The support section for the hugely popular – and free – Contact Form 7 plugin.

Free themes in the repository usually include an FAQ, so don’t forget to read through this, too, before asking any questions.

The same goes for premium plugins and themes. If you have a problem with Gravity Forms, you wouldn’t ask for help in the WordPress.org Support Forums. It just doesn’t make sense to ask volunteers in a free forum to support a premium product. Always use the appropriate channels of support.

Most commercial products like Gravity Forms come with dedicated support, so it’s always best to ask a plugin/theme developer any questions first before seeking help elsewhere.

It’s also worth mentioned that just because you paid for a product, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nice. Always be nice to support staff! The support crew love helping out members and it can ruin their day when someone is rude or obnoxious. On the other hand, it brightens their day when members are appreciative of their help.

So here are the best places to go for support.

Google

google-search

The first place I look for help is Google. You can plug any question into the search bar and you’ll get a useful answer. Almost any problem you have will have already been encountered by someone else.

WordPress.org Support Forums

wordpress-forums

The support forums are a great place to ask questions, especially for those new to WordPress. There is a large team of volunteers on hand to answer any kind of questions.

Keep in mind that there are many more people asking questions then there are moderators, so don’t expect your question to be answered right away.

WordPress IRC Chat

irc-chat

If you want more of an instant fix you could try out the various IRC chat rooms. To access them you need to download an IRC chat client like mIRC or XChat.

The IRC server is chat.freenode.net and the Channel is #WordPress.

Stack Exchange

stack-exchange

The WordPress Development Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for WordPress developers and administrators. It’s free and registration isn’t required.

Stack Exchange is a great site if you have technical/advanced questions. It’s a great community of developers who can help answer your programming needs.

WPMU DEV

wpmudev-support

This list wouldn’t be complete without WPMU DEV.

Our team of 15+ support staff members are based all over the world as part of a distributed team and are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The team answers hundreds of support requests each day. We provide live chat, Q&A and email support.

We’ve even got Second Level Support – a dedicated team of developers we call on to help with more complicated support requests.

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Announcing Our Video Testimonial Winners! http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/announcing-our-video-testimonial-winners/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/announcing-our-video-testimonial-winners/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130262 After lots of umming and ahhing at WPMU HQ over the awesome video testimonials you guys sent in, we are pleased to announce the winners!

We were originally going to give away a Lifetime Membership, then after your videos started rolling in we revised our prize list and changed it to 1 Lifetime Membership, 3 Yearly memberships and a t-shirt for everyone.

Well, judging your videos was tough! So we revised our prize list one more time: 3 Lifetime Memberships, 5 Yearly Memberships and a t-shirt for everyone!

Thank you
We love our members and want to say “Thank You!”

We received an overwhelming number of videos from members and needed extra time to watch them all. They made us smile and even laugh (check out the video below by Central Internet Agency!).

It was awesome to see how our products and support have helped so many members create their own websites, and even start their own businesses and make a living with WordPress.

Now without further ado, the winners!

Lifetime Membership Winners

It was tough deciding winners for this category, but in the end it came down to who followed the rules (a video of you talking to the camera in 30 seconds or less).

Heather Cate

Jason Verdelli

Jay L.A. Bastien/JAYLA.CO

Yearly Membership Winners

We thought these videos were fantastic and deserved a membership, too.

Michael Kocher

Nicolas Villaume

Central Internet Agency

(Developers, developers, developers!)

Patricia Brun Torre

Wolfy Master Media

Thank You!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who sent in video testimonials. You guys rock!

If you haven’t already received your t-shirt, it’s in the mail.

We’ll be in touch with winners shortly to organize your memberships.

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Meet The WhiP, Our Daily WordPress Email Newsletter http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/meet-the-whip-wordpress-email-newsletter/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/meet-the-whip-wordpress-email-newsletter/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 11:30:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=129544
The WhiP

If you’re serious about WordPress design and development, you’ve got to keep on top of all the latest news and core developments, while also finding the time to, you know, actually make stuff.

Who’s got the time to scroll through Twitter all day or refresh reddit? We don’t, so we launched The WhiP.

Our new daily email newsletter is packed with WordPress news and gossip, must-reads, tutorials and how-tos, as well as other random awesomeness from across the tech world.

Don’t miss another deadline because you got distracted reading Hacker News and stop drowning in RSS updates. The WhiP covers everything you need to know so you can get on with making WordPress awesome.

Sign up for daily lashings of WordPress goodness. Our email newsletter is delivered weekdays at 8.30am US East Coast time or check out our blog each Friday for a weekly round-up.

For archived for copies of the newsletter, look under “The WhiP” tag.

Subscribe to The WhiP

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Meet the WPMU DEV-elopers http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/meet-the-wpmu-dev-elopers/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/meet-the-wpmu-dev-elopers/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 11:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=128699 With more than 140 plugins to maintain and other projects in the works, WPMU DEV’s team of developers have their work cut out for them. But who exactly are these developers working behind the scenes? This is the story behind our CTO and talented development team.

A blog post, much like this one, convinced Aaron Edwards to sign up for a WPMU DEV membership – setting him on a path to becoming our company’s Chief Technology Officer.

Back in 2009, Aaron was working a corporate job by day and at night he managed MissionsPlace, a free Multisite network he had created to help missionaries.

He had toyed with the idea of buying a membership so he could use Pro Sites (at the time called Supporter), but it was a post CEO James Farmer wrote about the success of Edublogs that prompted him to part with his cash.

“After joining I quickly became a very active user in the forums helping out other members and sharing the handful of free WPMU plugins I had written for my own use,” Aaron says.

“James noticed and gave me a free membership due to my helpfulness.”

A few months later when James needed another developer, he asked Aaron if he was interested in completing a trial task for the job. Aaron created A/B Theme Testing, which is still available to download today.

He became one of just three developers at WPMU DEV and his first project, funnily enough, was to completely re-write Pro Sites.

Not long after he joined the team, co-founder Andrew Billets left the company, leaving WPMU DEV without a lead developer.

“James needed someone to take on managing all the technical side of things and offered me the CTO job,” Aaron says.

The WPMU DEV Developer Team

Aaron now heads up a distributed team of more than 20 developers and system admins who live everywhere from the United States to Indonesia, Finland and Iran.

Marko Miljus
Developer Marko Miljus with his deputy Hana.

Our developers have diverse working backgrounds and experience.

American Paul Menard, who works on a huge range of plugins including Chat and Snapshot, developed one of the first online ordering systems back before eCommerce was even called eCommerce.

Serbian Marko Miljus was a lead developer and manager at Themes Kingdom before he joined WPMU DEV to work on an academy we’re developing.

Brazilian Fabio Jun Onishi is one of our newest developers, having worked on software for big companies like Ibope and Delphi in Brazil and Alstom in Greece.

“Communication is the main challenge,” Aaron says of working with a distributed team.

“Part of what helped us in the beginning was the nature of our products. Instead of one big team working on the same application, we have 180 smaller projects that have been mostly assigned individually to our developers.

“We automated processes for support, bug reporting/fixing, and feature requests, so the day-to-day communication was minimal for those. We started using Asana to manage and organize tasks so I could have a view of what’s going on in each plugin/theme.

“The challenge then was to manage consistency with things like code quality, and especially usability when you have devs working on their own unique plugins.”

“More recently as we’ve been growing more and building larger/more complex products we’ve had to manage assigning teams to work on these. We’ve tried a lot of experiments and I think we are finally settling down on what works for us only recently.”

Jumping Through Hoops

New developers are really put through the ringer, or as James says, “Hoops a plenty!”

Development jobs at WPMU DEV usually attract around 300 applications, all of whom are expected to apply with an example of a plugin they’ve built.

Aaron and senior developer Vladislav Bailović assess each application and choose about 30-50 to proceed to the next round where all applicants are asked to build the same plugin.

It’s at this point when many people drop off because the task is too hard or they’re just lazy.

Of about 20-25 people who complete the task, up to 12 (depending on how many developer jobs are available) are asked to complete a paid trial that lasts about four to six weeks.

Aaron and Vladislav score applicants out of 10 and those with the highest scores are offered a job.

“Being a distributed company allows us to hire some of the smartest people in the world at competitive prices, instead of competing against other startups or corporations in Silicon Valley for a limited pool of talent,” Aaron said.

“I’m pretty amazed at the skill level of our current developers, though. I try to only hire developers that are smarter than me, so they always stretch me to learn more.”

Working Without Pants?

After commuting 2.5 hours a day for his previous job and only getting two weeks vacation, Aaron’s only commute now is to his home office and he takes holidays whenever he wants.

Last summer he and his family spent six weeks in Maui and he worked on the beach every other day.

He also spent a week in Guatemala last year on a mission.

Aaron Edwards
CTO Aaron with his wife and kids in Guatamala last year.

“While working for Incsub I’ve been all over the world. Spent a month in India one year, and a month in Thailand with the family the next,” Aaron says.

Other developers also enjoy the freedom of working with a distributed team.

Iranian Sam Naijan says it’s a “great joy and comfort” being able to work from home, though he admits it can be hard sometimes keeping a work/life balance.

“Sometimes I work by the woods in northern Iran near the Caspian Sea,” he says.

Fabio used to commute almost 3.5 hours a day, which he says was stressful and a total waste of time. Since joining WPMU DEV three months ago, he now spends that time surfing and cooking healthy food.

Fabio Jun
Developer Fabio enjoys surfing every morning before work.

Vladislav, who has long dreadlocks, says he would be forced to cut his hair if he was to find another job in his native Serbia.

“Serbia is a conservative place, so I’d definitely had to at the very least cut off the dreadlocks, wear big boy pants and shirts with buttons and/or large brand names prints, proper shoes and act as if that’s not only normal to me, but also delightful and possibly even as if there’s some inherent value to it,” Vladislav says.

“One usually copes with senseless chores by arbitrarily proclaiming inherent values.”

Marko, who has an adorable 17-month-old daughter Hana, says the flexibility to spend time with his family has been really important.

Jeffri Hong, a night owl from Indonesia, enjoys working at WPMU DEV because he has the opportunity to be his “ideal self.”

“We are free to express our creativity on many challenging tasks and make it as good as we can, so we can be proud of our work,” he says.

Say Hello to Our Developers

If you see one of our developers at a WordCamp, go up and say hello – chances are you’ll score a free membership.

Last month Aaron and our product manager Ronnie Burt were at WordCamp Austin. The pair delivered a fantastic presentation on WordPress Multisite dos and don’ts.

In January, Aaron and Joshua Dailey from our video team were at WordCamp Phoenix where they gave out more than 50 memberships and met some of our awesome members.

Aaron Edwards
Aaron Edwards at WordCamp Austin this year.

What’s Next?

From purchasing Pro Sites to completely re-writing the plugin himself, Aaron’s story is somewhat of a fairy tale for developers.

He’s learned much from being part of a true startup from close to the beginning and hopes to learn even more as the company continues to grow.

“It’s been cool building super awesome plugins, services, and websites used by tens of thousands of people. I never would have had that opportunity or exposure in my previous job,” he says.

“I’d like to see us continue to put in place good processes and methods so we can continue to grow, yet still maintain the benefits of a close-knit distributed team.

“Most of all I’m just excited to be a part of all the awesome new products we are launching.”

Of course, he’s talking about all the cool things we’ve got lined up for release this year: our exciting, new theme project, an academy where you you can learn all you need to know to become a developer, new plugins and also big updates to some of our popular products, like MarketPress, Membership and – Aaron’s baby – Pro Sites.

We’re releasing a new post each week to give a little insight into WPMU DEV, who we are, what we’re doing and where we’re taking our members.

Did you miss last week’s post? Check out How an English Lit. Grad. Who Didn’t Know PHP from FTP Bootstrapped a Successful WordPress Company.

See you next week for part thee in our WPMU DEV series.

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