When trying to debug a problem coming in through WordPress.org, you’ll often want to get additional information from the user. Here are some things that you will either want to focus on or avoid asking in a public place.

Don’t: Asking To Contact Via Website Only

The forums exist to provide an easy way for users of your product to get in touch. Ideally, opened issues on WP.org should be closed with either:

  • A solution to the reported problem
  • If the problem can’t / won’t get resolved, give the user a head’s up

If you reply to all your opened threads with: “We only provide support via our website,” you will lose customers – and the moderation team will ask you to stop. Folks with similar issues will find the thread and get frustrated that they cannot find the answer they are looking for.

When you have to redirect to your other means of support, it’s encouraged that you reply to the thread after you find a solution. Anyone looking for the same answer will be thankful you did. You are encouraged to offer support on your free plugins and themes on WordPress.org as much as possible, and only ask to contact you via your website if you get stuck.

Do: Ask For Screenshots

A picture says more than a thousand words. While you can’t upload images to the forums directly, you can use a tool such as Snipboard. It’s a platform that lets anyone upload screenshots, and after uploading, it will return a unique URL. This URL can be included in a forum reply.

Remind users that they do not need to purchase the premium version of Snipboard.io

Screenshots are an ideal way to get a clear picture of what problem your user is describing, get context on the page they’re looking at, and other details that may be important for you.

Keep in mind to remind your user to obfuscate any sensitive information. Think of customer details, credit card numbers, or other details that can get abused. The forums are a public place, and you should stay aware of how users can cause harm to their site. If you see anyone post sensitive information, please inform the moderation team (via the use of modlook or the Report button) immediately.

Don’t: Ask For Login Details

Login credentials fall under the ‘sensitive data’ category I mentioned earlier. They should never get shared in a public forum. Asking for credentials will get you banned from posting replies super fast.

Ask the user to reach out to you via your website if you need access.

Do: Set Expectations

If you only have so much time to spend on ‘free’ support, you can add a sticky post to the top of your forum to inform people of this. The same goes for when you do not use the forums actively (although I highly recommend that you do).

You are allowed to include links to your ticketing system or your paid support product.

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