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:
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.
“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?