What support system would be useful for plugin and theme developers?

Over the last few weeks we’ve had several talks with plugin and theme developers. The question was originally “What would make WP Questions more useful as a support platform for you?”

2 issues were raised:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Ownership

The first issue has to do with the possibility of stupid, ignorant answers being given. One developer asked us “What if I send people to your site for premium handling of questions about my plugin, but they get a lot of ignorant answers? How are they suppose to know which answers are best?”

One thought we had here was allowing plugin/theme developers to mark some users on this site as being “certified” to represent that plugin or theme. If the question was about the Pods plugin, perhaps the word “Certified Pods Plugin Expert” would appear next to their name when they post an answer. The plugin/theme developer could mark themselves as certified, and could mark anyone else certified, if they saw fit to do so. Or not.

The other concern was about the risk of lost income – what if a developer sends their premium customers to WP Questions, but then someone else answers the question? Is there a way the plugin/theme developer can “own” the question, at least for a while.

Michael Fields wrote to us with some suggestions (quoted with permission):

“Partnership Program” – This may not be easy to implement, but I think that it has great potential. This would appear to work the same as the affiliate program the difference being that the questions are not public – they can only be answered by the “Partner”. I think that the “Partner” should have a time limit of say 24 hours to claim the question before it goes public. The Partner could also have the option to manually set the question to public if he doesn’t have time to answer. This would allow people to monetize their support without the risk of losing customers to other experts.

We felt this was a great idea, but we had some reservations. First of all, we need to balance the concerns of the plugin/theme developers with the concerns of the customer, and the customer has a right to a fast answer – that is the whole point of the site, after all. Second of all, how would we know when a developer “owned” a question.

Michael wrote:

“Fast answers” would be the only deterrent in my mind as well. But on the other hand, I’ve been studying up on business models revolving around WordPress – you know, the ones that embrace the GPL and profit from support alone… it seems like support is the main money maker in these models. If this is true, I don’t think that “Partners” would be slacking on the job.

I think that ownership is rather easy to determine – at least in my head:

A question would belong to a developer if the question was referred to wpQuestions via their “Partner Link” -> much like an affiliate link. Then – and only then – should the question ‘belong’ to the developer.

These are valid concerns. We are still thinking about implementation details. We are looking for additional feedback from the community. Are there other concerns we should be aware of? Any suggestions about implementation details?

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7 Responses to What support system would be useful for plugin and theme developers?

  1. scribu says:

    Related to the ownership issue, rather than relying on the referrer link, how about letting users add optional tags to each question, similar to the support forums on wordpress.org?

    Of course, that leaves the issue of verifying which expert owns what tag.

  2. lawrence says:


    users can already add tags to their questions when they create a question.

    Verification is a major issue. As much as possible, we’d like to find a system that works automatically.

  3. In the end, it should be up to the user leaving the question.

    Here’s my suggestion:
    1. Allow the plugin/theme developer to register their product with your site.
    2. Allow existing experts to request to be “certified” for the product by the original plugin/theme developer.
    3. When leaving a question, a user is presented with a text box (which is optional) that allows the user to select the product they need support from. This text box would ideally have auto-complete capabilities and/or real-time search so users can easily select the product.
    4. If the product is found, the user is presented two radio boxes. One would say, “I need my question answered as quickly as possible (public immediately).” The other would say, “I’d like to give the original developer time to respond (public after 24 hours).”
    5. If the user selects option #2, the developer and certified experts are notified via e-mail when the question has been posted.
    6. Allow the developer to make the question public if he/she doesn’t know the answer.
    7. Allow the user to make the question public at any time should he select option #2.

    The above suggestion eliminates the ownership problem, and also gives the user the choice of allowing the original developer to respond exclusively.

  4. I’m inclined to HEAVILY agree with Ronald. These are in line with ideas I’ve conveyed to Lawrence and crew and I’d say that if what you have explained here was built, I’d be 100% sure many developers would use WP Questions for opening their support to the community.

  5. lawrence says:

    Thanks, all.

    Ronald, your ideas are similar to what Scott had suggested to us in some email last week. I think we will combine the best ideas here and the result will be our partnership program.

    My sincerest thanks to everyone.

  6. seo viet nam says:

    woa, perfect. it seemly good for apply

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