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“Paid” WordPress forums? [EDIT] The correct answer is a resounding NO

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January 19th, 2005
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A WordPress Rant: A frustrated reader points out a “persistent” bug in WordPress. If there is a quick answer, please feel free to point it out to him. But the reason for this post is more of a question for an idea I had while reading the above post. I want to know if a “paid” set of forums for WordPress (where you are gauranteed an answer and a fix) would fly. Every user would be allowed to register, log on and search for free. However, they would be charged ‘x’ amount of dollars to be able to browse the full text of the forums and ‘y’ amount of dollars to submit a new bug/thread/problem and get a timely fix for it. The ‘y’ dollar amount would be determined by the nature of the problem and the propensity of the fix. This venture would need far more than one developer could handle and might be on the fence of GPL validity but I believe that if people pay for support, they somehow feel like they are actually getting something and not being bounced around.

Does anything like this exist? If not, would people be interested in either using it or participating as developers? Would the wonderful people at the present forums (who share the burden of tech support very well, there are too many users with too little help to go around, I know) have a cow if such a venture was started? Would we belittle their efforts and their work (my intent is to prevent ANY offense or lost love)?

To end this post is a disclaimer. This is just an idea. I am just too busy to help with the forums and I know that the forums are extremely busy. The work done on the forums and the help provided is very valuable and they work well. This would be a quicker and more surefire alternative.

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  1. Matt (64 comments.) says:

    I would recommend a Google Answers method where the answers and content are viewable by anyone. GPL only covers modifications to the code being distributed, you should be fine otherwise.

  2. orangeguru (6 comments.) says:

    I think it is a good idea to ‘invent’ as system that:

    a. Lets User put their money on what they want/need.

    b. Give developers a benefit for fixing bugs.

    Overall I like the OpenSource idea – but it should also inlcude the chance to make some OpenMoney?! Still the programs should be free – but developers who contribute important (WANTED) functions or fix annoying bugs would be rewarded. I think this would be EXCELLENT!

    Overall a micro enonomy would befit projects, developers and users alike. And it would make OpenSource much stronger – since people would put more effort into it.

    IMHO most user would like the idea of free software, which you could expand according to your wishes and your pocket.

  3. skippy (7 comments.) says:

    I like the idea, and I’d be tempted to provide the occasional solution; but I think there are several factors against this:
    1) many users want fixed now, and the pool of developers may not be able to work at that speed (especially if they’re each tackling multiple projects in addition to Real Life).
    2) most people aren’t willing to cough up money to fix something which they received for free. I wager that a for-pay support system would see a lot of people waiting for someone else to ask about — and pay for — specific solutions.
    3) the transfer of money-for-service creates an atmosphere of liability. Even if the developer(s) disclaim their work, there may be unforeseen consequences, either from unsatisfied customers or unscrupulous developers.

  4. Podz (11 comments.) says:

    I just lost the first comment posted…. so here’s another.

    This will attract and enrich coders and only coders.
    Do I need to add the rest ?

  5. Mark says:

    I disagree. You (Podz) could personally answer more questions than a LOT of php/wordpress developers that I know!

  6. Paul (1 comments.) says:

    Experts-Exchanged had a somewhat similar model. You are granted a number of “points” for signing up. When you have a question, you offer a certain number of points for the answer. If someone gives you a good answer and solves your problem, you give them the points. You can also buy points if you balance runs low plus you can earn points yourself by answering others’ questions. It’s a pretty good system.

  7. Gary (1 comments.) says:

    Well here’s my proverbial 2 cents.

    I don’t answer too many posts on the forum because I’m coming to them pretty jaded from other forums. Point in particular, I think that post was a load of rubbish. The guy doesn’t know enough to run nightlies then cries because he can’t make it work and people won’t help him right now I’d ignore posts from anyone running nightlies who can’t grasp the basics because everybody advises people not to unless you know what you’re doing…and I’m not as easy going as Podz ;)

    Jeez it’s like somebody complaining that they crashed a car when they hadn’t passed their test. “Well the keys were on the counter….”

    I’d also argue that implementing something like this would be as big a task as getting wordpress builds out of the door. There’s nothing stopping somebody from setting up a site offering WP support for a fee or gratuity, or doing a deal with a guru for a wishlist item or something. But there’s no need to panic about the forum or community when a user get’s out of their depth. My advice would have been “Go back to 1.2.2 and read a few books before you start on nightlies”.

    I wouldn’t think coders would want to get involved in this. The likes of Podz wouldn’t because he does it because he likes/wants to. There’s a gap there for enterprising and knowledgable individuals but I don’t see them in the community right now – probably because it is a community…

  8. Greg (2 comments.) says:

    It’s nice to know my late night rantings may actually have some good come out of it. I spent most of last night and half of today banging my head against a proverbial brick wall and it took a few of the support board people to calm me down and guide me through the pacticular issue which thankfully has been resolvd…

    Anyways, that aside, as a dumb-ass user, I’d be all for a “pay-as-you-go” support system (if only for the most extreme cases or beta support), especially if it went towards the greater WP good… The Experts-Exchanged system probably sounds the best option.

  9. jyoseph (3 comments.) says:

    I just shelled out $70 for Movable Type last week. I paid for the licensed version for 2 reasons, mainly.

    1.) the promise of support
    2.) to support the cause

    I’m not happy with the program and am testing out WordPress as we speak. I am trying to install the Pictorialis for a photoblog. If I get this working you can guarantee that I am going to utilize the 30 day money back guarantee Movable Type offers.

    Guarantee support is a good way to go. It’s more of a tiered support. I can’t afford, in money or in patience, to post a topic on a forum and not hear anything for a week. This is the one and only reason I went with Movable Type. I submitted 3 trouble tickets today and they all got taken care of (they were all minor mistakes on my behalf). The person who answered the ticket provided a link to the help section that is ‘member only’

    If you ended up doing this, I’d be game. But beware that I would not pay per issue. I would pay to be a member which would entitle me to support. Support has it’s limitations though. For instance, MT wouldn’t even entertain the idea of helping me with a plugin, but they did provide a great deal of information during setup.

    Things to think about. . .now. . . .back to my WordPress Installation, wish me luck!

  10. jyoseph (3 comments.) says:

    . . . . In other words a good way to set it up would be.

    Free version = no support (only forums)
    Paid version = support

    Where do I sign?

  11. jyoseph (3 comments.) says:

    . . .some time later . . .

    i am sorry but the directions for pictorialis are a bit vague.

  12. kyramas (1 comments.) says:

    Well paid support sounds like a nice idea. But that probably will result in all the nice people that help us non-coders in the forums right now to turn to help people in the paid forums. Isnt that right ?
    If I was a coder I would probably do that. Help people and get paid.
    I am sure there are people that still want to help for free. Just for supporting the “free” ideal. Lets not tempt them.

  13. craig (19 comments.) says:

    Well, I just wrote a reply rant, and it was lost immediately after I hit the POST button.

    I’m really tired of people who play with BETA versions and then crap all over WordPress and the VOLUNTEERS who do their best to help everyone.

    When they claim that “this is the problem with Open Source” they really show their ignorance. When they state that if BETAs are so unstable, why does WordPress allow access to them, they show their ignorance.

    Mark, I’m surprised and angered that you would even give that rant the courtesy of a link. It’s not related to support issues with WordPress. Many people get help. More often than not, people get their questions answered, but not always quickly. To read how WordPress support has failed is a kick in my stomach. Podz and I, along with many other people, DONATE a lot of time and energy doing everything we can to help WordPress users, and this is how we are recognized for that effort. Why should we or anyone else to continue helping out then? I guess that you are asking or implying that the only good support is paid support.

  14. craig (19 comments.) says:

    Podz hit the nail on the head, Mark. If people will pay for support, they will want to know your qualifications. A list of experience with PHP and MySQL and CSS and XHTML along with all the programming languages known will get paid for while “Long-time forum volunteer and support document writer” won’t cut it with the paying public.

  15. craig (19 comments.) says:

    I’ve borked my trackbacks so here’s a link to a post about this on my site: http://blog.nuclearmoose.com/a.....-the-face/

  16. Mark says:

    Craig and Podz,

    the only good support is paid support

    is exactly what I am NOT saying. However, a lot of people are under that very impression and thats what is hurting the support effort. The reason for this post was to gauge the feelings across the board. I personally DO NOT think that the only good support is paid support (look at support for almost ANY commercial software).

    However, this outcome is inevitable. People already offer “consultancy services” for WordPress blogs. This might formalize those offers and give the people that donate their time to the forums something to smile about and something in return.

  17. craig (11 comments.) says:

    Watching people run to paid support forums because my support isn’t good enough as a volunteer is hardly something to smile about.

  18. the absent student (1 comments.) says:

    While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this idea, in my experience the majority of those who are willing to pay for others’ expertise are using MT anyway. As skippy pointed out, it’s not easy to make money out of a community which is getting its software for free (and in many cases switched precisely because they were averse to paying for stuff). So I wouldn’t anticipate much takeup of any paid support resource.

  19. Podz (11 comments.) says:

    “People already offer “consultancy services””

    Do tell…..got any names ?

  20. James (3 comments.) says:

    Greg, let me make one thing clear. The following quote is true and will always be upheld:

    “WordPress is a state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability.”

    This statement references all STABLE builds of WordPress, ex: 1.2.2. In no way, shape, or form does it ever guarantee that beta releases are held to the same standards. An application’s development has to start somewhere, and with WordPress, it starts in the beta stage. By your standards Microsoft should have stopped after the first beta release of Windows. Why? Because it had bugs. Apple should have stopped after the first release of Mac OS. Why? Because it had bugs. SixApart should have stopped after the first release of MovableType. Why? Because it had bugs.

    Get over yourself. The login bug is an issue, a big one. But unfortunately, it’s only affecting a few people, which makes it very hard to fix. Perhaps you’d like to contribute to the development rather than flame it?

    FYI, here’s a nice troubleshooting resource that features a work-around for your problem:
    http://codex.wordpress.org/Login_Trouble

    By your own standards, you should be grateful and praising a higher power that we were generous enough to post such a thing. But, I suppose you won’t care either way.

    At the very least, the WordPress Support Forums are there to help, but sometimes we get very busy with things like our personal lives. Yes, we volunteer our time.

    “the support forum is failing, and failing big time”

    Am I taking this statement personally? Yes, I am. It would have been nice if you had either searched the forums for solutions (yes, they are there) or asked a second time.

  21. Greg (2 comments.) says:

    I’ll copy and paste what I said at Nuclear Moose’s site

    “Seeing as it was my late night rant that kicked everything off, I feel I must address a few things… Personally I’d be all for paid support, but only under extreme measures, sometimes you just need a quick fix done as soon as possible. But that’s a moot point

    The reason I said that support was failing (not failed) was that many problems and issues people post invariably don’t get answered and they slip off into the ether, leaving the poster pretty bummed out that what seemed like a big deal to them was deemed unworthy of a responce or, even worse, unanswerable… My case in point would be the login issue I had, I made a post in the support forum asking for assistance, an hour slipped by and it was in danger of slipping off the most recent posts therefore I decided that it’s better to shout and be heard than to quietly slip off into the night… I was the one who said that I was appalled, that got a quick responce from [you] Mr Moose. Had I not said that to grab someones attention, who’s to say the question would ever be answered and the situation resolved as fast as it was.

    WordPress support can be most helpful at times, just a minority of times when shit and fan collide, it’s not as speedy as one would like.

    That’s all”

    It was just born out of extreme frustration and if this any other kind of situation, the post would be heavily edited or even deleted the following day, but by that point the damage had been done. Not that I didn’t mean what I said, it just wasn’t the place or time for it or so it seems.

    Now if I offended anyone then I apologise, it wasn’t meant to sound as bad as it came out, I do find WordPress Support helpful 99/100, just that 1 time can lead a man to crazy things…

  22. James (3 comments.) says:

    I understand that your rant may have been born out of frustration, but you could have edited your post. As of now, your horribly misguided statement of “the support forum is failing, and failing big time” remains and is still nothing but a slap in the face to those who volunteer their time in the WordPress Support community. Until you go back and viciously edit or retract your post, we (the WP support community) will all remain offended.

  23. James (3 comments.) says:

    The login issue-in-question has apparently been fixed.

    http://wordpress.org/support/topic.php?id=21378

  24. Carthik (25 comments.) says:

    Greg,

    Please remember that if you do not write your support request in a good fashion, and if goes unanswered, no one is to “blame” and nothing is failing. That is the very nature of free support, and if no one wants to reply to your post, it is courteous to “fade silently into the night” than to call things a failure and create a noise. Being polite, and understated has it’s virtues – so does being patient.

    That said, yes – if you want “professional help” maybe you can mail the hackers mailing list asking for such, where there are lots of pros waiting. i say this only because the wp-pro mailing list seems to be down right now.

  25. ro (3 comments.) says:

    this is a fantastic idea! i will be the first to offer support. if wordpress is screwing up on you, talk to me babe.

  26. Chris (1 comments.) says:

    I would love to see something like this. I’ll tell you why? I have had some bugs in the program and for the life of me, I can not figure out how to fix it. I have posted many times that I am willing to pay someone to help, but so far I have not see anyone that is familar with this program that can fix these problems.

    If anyone can help me out, I am looking to hire someone.

    http://wordpress.org/support/topic.php?id=31200
    http://wordpress.org/support/topic.php?id=31239

    LOOKING FOR A LOGOUT PLUGIN:
    http://wordpress.org/support/topic.php?id=30557

    Can anyone turn the my feed:
    http://www.systemtradingblog.com/wp-rss.php

    into a RSS, ATOM, and XML feed?

    If I was a programmer and could answser all questions pertaining to this nice piece of free software, I would charge a very small amount of money and at least frustrated bloggers could find fast answers to their problems.

    I would love to hear from anyone that can help me.

  27. David Russell (32 comments.) says:

    orangeguru: if your suggestion was followed, then developers would have a financial incentive to put bugs in the code in the first place



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