Let’s Not Kill WordPress With Attitude

What do you do when you get free reign on a site like this? You could post pictures of your cat (wait, I don’t have one anymore) or weird cat videos, or upload a gallery of unicorn cats with rainbows, or perhaps even actually upload a cat, as in physically. Yes, WordPress is that rad!

OK, maybe not. And I bet that sort of thing would bore you guys, I mean haven’t we had enough of cats? No? OK then!

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, and I forever have ruined any chance of you guys taking me seriously, I’d like to talk about something that’s bothering me. Your tone. And mine, at times I’m sure, you’re not all to blame.

Here’s the thing, open source is all about community and helping out right? Together we shape a better tomorrow, even if it is just a web publishing platform. WordPress is blessed with a pretty awesome community and a huge smörgåsbord (yeah I’m Swedish, I get to spell it right) of plugins and themes. We got that thanks to people devoting their free time to build cool stuff.

And you know what, we should thank them. So let’s do that, let’s say thank you to the WordPress core developers, current and of yore.

Thank you!

And let’s also say thank you to all those guys and gals who’ve been publishing themes and plugins over the years, all for free.

Thank you!

Finally, let’s say thank you to all of us who actually bother to improve the community in some way, be it by posting tutorials on blogs, helping out in the support forums, updating the Codex, reviewing themes or plugins, or in any other way keeps WordPress rolling the way it is.

Thank you, too!

My, aren’t we thankful?

But you know what, we can be kind of assholes as well. Sometimes we forget about things like being nice and thankful, we go into defensive positions and we ignore people, their criticism and ideas. And sometimes we don’t ignore them, we snap at them and act like assholes.

Venkman Thinks You're an Asshole

That’s not fair, but it is common. We can all help improving the tone in the open source community in general, and the WordPress community in particular, by actually being nice. You know the saying that there are no stupid questions, just stupid answers? Well that’s a load of crap, but that doesn’t mean you should answer a stupid question with a stupid answer and be an asshole.

With this in mind, can we please agree on to:

  • not answer a suggestion to our CMS/plugin/theme with “then go do it/build it” – not all people can do it nor build it, and some just want to pitch in and help with their feedback.
  • not answer with “have you tried to google it?” because a lot of people have, they just never learned how to do it right.
  • not ignore each other just because we disagree.
  • not act like we’re worth more just because we are core contributors, plugin developers, theme designers, or even book authors.
  • use a civil tone, and then tell people who aren’t that they’re being jerks and this is not the way to get help in our community.
  • try and remember that most of us contribute to the community on our free time, so if we miss a launch date that’s probably due to actual life hitting us in the head, which is bad enough without someone being snotty about it.
  • just be plain nice and helpful!

I’ll be honest: I can be an asshole. I try not to, but sometimes it is just too hard. However this only happens when someone’s not showing me the proper respect or even common decency. When someone like me get the “well do the plugin then” answer to a suggestion, which is meant to help improve something, it really pisses me off. If I wanted to do the plugin then I would, right? Obviously I don’t, but apparently I have an idea that I think will improve something, and I’m sharing that for free. You don’t have to like it nor agree, but you do have to realize that I’m not kicking you in the nuts here, I’m trying to help.

So let’s just take a moment to consider how we answer our friends in the community. I’m not liking the tone at times, it is negative and completely unnecessary. This is what kills great things.

And you don’t want to be responsible for killing WordPress, do you?

Photo by ssoosay (CC)

Comments (21)

  1. Good article. I despise going to the mysql forums because in just about every thread, some asshole says “it’s right there in the documentation. You could have found your answer in the time it took you to type the question.”

    That’s nowhere near helpful. Some people aren’t as tech savvy as those assholes and need a little direction. Maybe the date formatting options throw them for a loop…or think there’s someone that can pop an answer in there pretty quickly AND add a little advice.

    I’d hate to see the WP forums get as bad as those are.

  2. Couldn’t agree more – in fact doing the opposite to this (trying to be helpful, emailing folk, not being assholes) has been a big focus of how we help people out in the DEV forums and – I hope – contributed a lot to our success!

    I mean sure, we’re being paid to do that rather than doing that for free, but I really don’t see the kicks folk get out of just being nasty to newbies.

  3. James, I love your service and am a frequent user but I have to say that you have a couple of developers on staff that don’t exactly fall in line with TDH’s suggestions. A number of your developers are amazing but there are at least two that I can think of that are, let’s just say, less than forthcoming with the support.

  4. I’m happy to see that the readers here have their hearts in the right place, which is to say that they think people should behave and not be assholes.

    And not one bashed me about the cat video! I’ll like it here, methinks. ;)

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