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Need Help – Ask Nicely

Timethief, an active volunteer on the forums offers this well-written guide for requesting help on the Support Forum:

As this is a support forum it doesn’t make much sense to post a support request with a title like
(1) can anyone help;
(2) help me;
(3) or any other titles on the same pathetic plea line.

To secure help on a specific issue it makes sense that you supply specific, and descriptive topical titles for your support request posts for at least six reasons.

(1) All questions are answered by volunteers with varying degrees of experience and different blogging habits – most are inclined to skim the list of threads and answer questions about topics they deal with frequently themselves. By not including a descriptive title you are ensuring that your request will be skimmed over more than once before someone actually opens and reads it.

(2) Once answers are provided and issues are resolved the forum search box can be used to retrieve these specific title threads when the same problems present in the future. A thread with a helpless plea title will not be of future use to anyone.

(3) The overall delivery of support services is improved when new bloggers can lighten the load by using specific terms in the forum search box to get answers to their own questions more quickly than by asking on the forum.

(4) Using descriptive and specific topic titles leads to speedy information location and consequently those who have used the 3 basic resources (a) the pink sticky topics at the head of the forum (b) the FAQs blog (c)and the forum search box will enjoy a shorter waiting time for answers.

(5) As the support system works more effectively and quickly the satisfaction level with it also increases.

(6) Human beings always experience pride when they can do for themselves. Likewise they experience pride when they work together to improve a support system that they all use. The tradition of self improvement and service delivery improvement is what the WordPress community has been built on. And striving to achieve excellence is an attitude that affirms your place in the WordPress family of bloggers.

Remember, over 98% of all the volunteers on the WordPress and Support Forums are volunteer. They are not paid nor receive any training. They offer their help out of the kindness of their own hearts and experience with WordPress and

These instructions apply with everything in life: ASK SPECIFIC QUESTIONS.

The more specific your question, the more specific our answer and the faster you get the help you want and need. Ask for help the way you would like to be asked for help.

And all of us volunteers with WordPress have one request to make of you and we expect you to follow it:


The odds are close to 100% that your question has been asked before. We’ve a couple of years under our belts answering all your WordPress questions and rarely does a new one come along. Search first for an answer, using as many keywords as you can to track down how to find the help you need, and then, if you are really stuck and can’t find the answer, ask. We’ll be ready for you then.

The volunteers have had so many problems with vague and redundant requests for help, they wrote a “Guide to Using the WordPress Support Forums” to help you understand how they work and how best to use them.

For more information on how to find help, support, and information about working with all versions of WordPress, search through , and check the following official resources and guides:

Thanks, Timethief, for the reminder!

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network


  1. Posted August 23, 2006 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    “Remember, over 98% of all the volunteers on the WordPress and Support Forums are volunteer.”

    Erm, I suspect that’s a typo….. (a funny one, though!)

    You make a number of excellent points about requesting technical help from any person or group, in fact. Courtesy and concision go a long way, regardless of your personal frustration level.

    (I thoroughly enjoy your blog, although I will confess to being too pressed for time to take the blogging challenge.)

  2. Posted August 23, 2006 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    No typo. I believe there are one (or is it two? That’s why I put 98% not 99) paid staff now handling issues in the forums. And they were volunteers for a long time before becoming staff. They also have other tasks, so some of their time on the forum is their own, too. For instance, Podz is paid to help with, but he still volunteers on’s Support Forum.

    There are now paid staff who work with WordPress and Automattic, and the number is growing. But currently, the majority of all technical and “customer service” support is FREE by FREELY working volunteers. We get nothing but your rare appreciation for what we do. We do it for the doing, not the reward.

  3. Posted August 24, 2006 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    I am one of the moderators of LinuxQuestions (no link – that’d be crass :)), and we have exactly the same problem. On any forum, people will always think that “help plz” or “problem” are suitable titles and then will get mad because their question gets ignored.

    In the end all we can do, as long standing members, is to educate them and hope they get it eventually.

    Or ban them 😉

  4. timethief
    Posted August 25, 2006 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for publishing this Lorelle. I have other tips I will submit to you when I have an opportunity to write them down.

  5. Posted August 25, 2006 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    You are welcome, timethief. You do know you can write them on your own blog and if you trackback or point me to them, I’ll do you a favor and point them out when I can. 😉 Don’t forget that you’ve become quite the expert on things, too.

  6. Posted August 29, 2006 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    When I write a post it goes directly to the bottom of the page. I modified the sidebar and index files so I could have some amazon ads and what not. I tried uploading the old ones but its not really working. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thx!

  7. Posted August 29, 2006 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Did you ask for help in the forums or check out the list of support options above? There you would find your answer.

    In a nutshell, the content area is wider than the area alloted it. When you widen the sidebar, without narrowing the content area, they overlap. Depending upon your design layout, they will overlap or shove each other around. You lost in a shoving contest. Poke around at the structure to change the dimensions to make room for the content area.

  8. Barbara
    Posted June 7, 2008 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, I am completely new to blogging and am struggling to get up to speed fast enough to get our church site online. I have chosen to go down the WordPress road because of its interactivity. However, I need the time to get used to it and work out how it all works.Consequently, I have decided to do a mix and match version – with a traditional website as the main site and a blog in there for the comments bit. The problem is simple: when I link to the page that I have set up, I get a page that has that page and also ‘HOME’ page on the navbar. How do I get rid of ‘HOME’ page to just keep the one showing that I want and also, how can people get back to the parent website? I apologise if all this is not as clear as it should be but look forward to any help. Many thanks, Barbara

  9. Posted June 7, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    @ Barbara:

    I’m trying to figure out what you are asking, and don’t forget that the WordPress Support Forums and WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, are the ideal places for you to find the answers you need.

    Home is a web standard link to get to the front page of a site (a blog is a website). Why would you want to get rid of it since it is expected to be there. That is the way to get back to the parent page of the site. You can replace the front page of a WordPress blog with a “static” Page by designating the front page in Settings > Reading > Front Page Displays if you want the traditional chronological view of the front page to be a specific Page on your blog.

    If you are on, that is the limit to the controls you have over the WordPress Theme. If you want more control over the design and content elements, you may want to get a self-hosted WordPress blog. Does that answer your question?

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Fast forward again to 2006 and Lorelle has written an article on her blog dealing with much the same things on the forums. So what has changed? Answer: absolutely nothing. Despite technology moving on, despite search engines becoming better and indexing more and more pages, despite there being more and more people providing help to others on the internet, nothing at all has changed. Forum and message board and mailing list members still refuse to search, they still refuse to ask decent questions and give information on the problems they are having, they still blow up at people who are truing to help them and still, despite the fact it’s crap and old hat, they still troll and spam the boards. […]

  2. […] Click here. […]

  3. […] Need Help – Ask Nicely […]

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