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Using the Support Forums

The WordPress Support Forums are a fantastic resource with a ton of information, but sometimes people have trouble getting help there and they don't know why. This is usually the result of a communication gap. The WordPress forums have one of the most helpful communities on the web, you just need to help them help you. Note: Please read the Supported Versions information as the the WordPress Support Forums only provide assistance for officially released versions of WordPress.

Read the welcome message

A simplified user guide can be found on the Forum Welcome Codex Page.

Search First

Before you do anything, it's usually a good idea to try searching Google for an answer to your problem.

It's good practice to limit your searches to a specific website. You can structure your Google query to return results from only the Wordpress Support Forum by using the following format:

site:wordpress.org/support/ keyword1 keyword2

Note that there isn't a space after the colon. If this doesn't give you the answer, search the Codex. Alter your Google query to look like this:

site:codex.wordpress.org keyword1 keyword

Remember, the Codex has a specific page for Troubleshooting and a FAQ to solve and answer most common problems/questions.

If you are looking for help on a specific plugin, you can use Google to narrow your search to return only pages of that plugin's support threads using the following query construct,

link:wordpress.org/support/plugin/<the-plugin-slug> site:wordpress.org/support/topic/ keyword1 keyword2

Note: you need to replace <the-plugin-slug> with the actual plugin's slug which you want to search, just browse to the plugin page and copy it from the browser address bar.

More details about Finding WordPress Help using search engines is available, too.

By searching first, you will prevent annoying anyone, and it'll probably help you get an answer faster.

If searching gets you nowhere, it's a good idea to mention that in your forum post so people know it's a novel problem worth tackling. When you make the forum post, list the things you searched for since it'll help others effectively troubleshoot your problem.

Getting Your Questions Answered on the Forum

Search First 
Always use Google to try and find the answer to your question. Attempting to find a solution to your own problem will help you with future issues you run into.
Use the Correct Forum Section 
If your question relates to Installation, then post your topic in the Installation Forum. If your question is about Themes and Template, post it there. Questions placed in the wrong Forum may get overlooked.
Create a Descriptive Topic Title 
A topic title such as "Help!" or "Newbie question" or "What the ****?" is not descriptive! A poor choice of title can slow responses to your questions. Many volunteers look for topic titles matching their area of expertise, and if your title isn't descriptive enough, the volunteer may move on to the next question. For example, "CSS problem in header" will bring CSS-capable help to your post. "Error: Cannot connect to database" will more likely get a response from a volunteer knowledgeable in database problems. Think about your title! It's worth an extra moment to be clear and concise and will help you get your answer sooner. Correctly framing the problem will also help subsequent visitors to the Forums who are encountering the same issue.
Know How to Ask a Question 
Make sure you are posting an effective question in the Forums. Please read How to ask questions the smart way!
Be Courteous 
Politeness counts. Simply using the words "please" and "thank you" are easy things to do, and are always appreciated by those taking the time out of their day to help you.
Give Information 
What version of WordPress are you using? What Theme are you using? Have you recently installed any plugins? Have you customized something recently? If possible, provide a direct link to your site so that Forum volunteers can see the source of your problem. Don't assume that people will "just know" the answer to your problem so provide as much detail as you can.
Post Your URL (website address) 
Volunteers are not psychics. Questions like, "My sidebar looks bad. Why?", without a site address is impossible to answer. In most cases, you must either provide a URL or a detailed 3-5 paragraph description of your problem.
Use Plain and Descriptive Language 
If you are new to WordPress and the Forums, please know volunteers care about understanding your issue. Some volunteers will not be as well versed as you would like in the technical arcana of WordPress, PHP, and CSS so the more plain and descriptive your language, the better your chances for getting solutions. For information on the jargon and terminology of WordPress, see Introduction to Blogging and WordPress Semantics.
Posting Code 
Long sections of code should not be posted on the forum. Please use your own site to do this, or use Pastebin and copy your code there. Then return here and post the link Pastebin gives you to your code. You can also copy your .php file, change the extension to .phps, save it on your site, and then post a direct link to that file. There are many options available, but long bits of code will be deleted from the forum.
Be Patient 
Everyone that answers questions on the Forum is an unpaid volunteer. Please be patient when waiting for an answer. At times frustrations can get the better of people...it happens to everyone, but sometimes you may just have to wait a bit before a question gets answered. Remember that WordPress has a world-wide user base, so you may have to wait for someone in a faraway place to come online to help you out!
Don't Bump 
Bumping is poor etiquette! It's like jumping into the front of the line, which just upsets people. Bumping will not get your question answered faster--volunteers look for threads that only have one (1) post, but if you bump your thread, you immediately increase the post count to two (2) and that makes it harder to find an unanswered thread. Volunteers often use the no-replies list to look for posts without answers. If you bump your post, it will be removed from that list.
One Post - One Question 
If your original question gets answered, don't use the same post to ask a different question. It may not get answered, since your post title won't match what you are currently needing help with. Create a new topic for your new question.
Follow-up with Your Solutions 
If you find a solution to the problem, whether elsewhere or through these Forums, please post the solution so others can benefit from this collective pool of knowledge. There's nothing more disheartening than finding that thread where someone has the same problem you're having but seeing the "Nevermind, I found the solution, thanks."

Forum Fair Use Policy

To ensure the best experience for all WordPress members, we ask that you observe the following guidelines regarding the "fair use" of the WordPress Support Forums.

The forums are not chat rooms 
It is very difficult to hold a 'conversation' in a forum setting and the forums are not the appropriate place for starting topics unrelated to support issues.
Forums are NOT Paid Support 
Volunteers give of their time and expertise to answer your questions. They are not paid or rewarded in any way, except by the occasional thank you. Be nice to them and they will be nice to you. And if you have a good experience and want to share your expertise and time, consider becoming a Support Forum Volunteer yourself.
Spam, Unwanted Links, Advertising, and Inappropriate Items Will Be Deleted 
While the WordPress Support Forum is fairly casual, unwanted and inappropriate material will be deleted immediately.
Signatures are a no-no 
The support forums lend themselves well to quick visual scanning of the content. Signatures interrupt this scanning, and are strongly discouraged. Any signature found may be deleted without notice.
Post Must Be Related to WordPress 
Topics and their discussions must be related to WordPress and providing support for users of WordPress. All other topics are subject to closing or deletion.
Soliciting professional (for pay) assistance 
Please direct all requests for professional assistance to WP Jobs. WordPress users who desire to bid on such work are encouraged to browse that list and respond directly.

Common Problems Asking for Help

When a thread seems to get few responses, it usually has one or more of the following problems:

Bad Thread Titles 
The title or subject of your thread should be short and descriptive. If the title of your thread is "How do I" or "Help me!!", that says nothing to someone who may be skimming the forums looking for a thread they can help out on. Begin the post with the words specific to your problem. "Index.php reports parsing error" will get you farther than "Problem with index.php". Help people help you. Title the thread with keywords relevant to your problem so someone scanning thread titles could tell at a glance what you need help with.
Not Enough Information 
Sometimes threads will go on for a few days just gathering the information required for someone to be able to help you. At a minimum you should let people know:
  • Things you've tried and places you've searched for a solution
  • Steps to recreate the problem
  • A link to your site
  • What version of WordPress you're running
  • What sort of server you're on (If it's relevant)
  • The version of PHP and MySQL you are using (If it's relevant)
Hosting Issues 
Chances are you're paying someone to host your site, and there is a lot they can do for you that we can't. If you're not sure how to create a database or access MySQL, they usually have documentation on that issue or can walk you through it. Start there. While you can't expect them to help you with WordPress itself, the following things are probably well within the realm of your host support:
  • Creating a MySQL database
  • Connecting to a database
  • Making a file writable
  • PHP not working (WordPress showing blank pages or PHP code/errors)

Forum Post or Topic Deletion

We are primarily a community of learners and the solutions to your problems are valuable to everyone here. Therefore, the moderators will only remove your forum posts or whole topics if a valid security or personal safety concern is presented.

Please understand that anything you publish in the support forums is publicly visible and may remain cached indefinitely by search engines, regardless of deletion.

We reserve the right to delete topics or posts that are off-topic or detrimental to the community.

More Resources

If you are having trouble getting help or figuring out how to ask for help, check the following resources.

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