When WPMods was first launched I released two themes to the WordPress community. I do believe that WordPress users will find many of the articles here useful however since the release of those themes I do not feel that I have directly contributed to the WordPress community. It’s something that I have been thinking about a lot over the last few months.
The WordPress community depends on people to contribute to it. It’s why the platform has flourished. The more I learn about the the script, the more I feel I should be contributing back to the community. WPMods is obviously a great place for me to do that.
Here are the main ways I feel I can give back to the WordPress community:
For a platform as popular as WordPress, the support forums at WordPress.org are not as active as they could be. Developers tend to help users directly via their own blogs using tutorials (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) however I also feel WordPress users don’t do enough to help each other out.
If you look through the support forums you will find a lot of unanswered support queries. The problem is most people go on to find a solution to their problem elsewhere (e.g. tutorial/walk-through etc) but once they have found a solution, they usually don’t go back to their thread and explain what they did. Granted, some users do explain things in detail however the most some people do is reply with something like ‘Don’t worry, fixed it. Thanks’. I can’t criticise people for this as I have done it myself. The majority of people just don’t have the time to walk others through the problems they resolved.
I recognised this early on and thought that the WordPress Forums at WP Mods would be a great place to help others. It hasn’t worked out that way as yet for a number of reasons. Firstly, the bbPress platform is not the best forum solution from a user point of view or an admin point of view. More importantly, I have not devoted my time to helping others through the forum. It can be very time consuming researching, writing and working on my websites that I have very little free time to devote to helping others.
This raises the question: Should I be spending more time supporting others via the WPMods forum or through the official support forums? This is something that I asked myself over and over and changed my opinion more than once. In the end I decided that as much as I do like helping others, I don’t believe a forum is the best platform to do so. It would drain so much of my time and get very little or no return for it. Writing good tutorials to address problems that users are having is a better route to go down.
Perhaps I will change my mind again in the future but going forward, I would prefer to address readers problems via the blog as it’s easy for good content to get lost in a forum. WordPress users who are having a problem should refer to the official support forums first though if it’s something you need resolved urgently I would encourage you to use a paid support forum or a question and answer service such as WP Questions.
I have released several themes to the WordPress community over the last few years, mainly to promote one of my websites. From a marketing/contributing point of view, I’d like to release more in the future, however I am not a designer. I know HTML, PHP and CSS but I have not got an eye for design. I am fairly competent at modifying themes but my inspiration for designing new themes is limited.
Thankfully, this won’t stop me from releasing themes as I can pay good designers to design them and I can support them myself (though this obviously raises the same question about time/support that I discussed earlier).
I am keen on writing guides and WordPress related books for WP Mods readers. There are some fantastic guides out there already however there are still a lot of topics I could cover and feel I can offer something that others can’t. I’m sure even short guides released in the pdf format would be appreciated.
Ever since I bought Vladimir Prelovacs beginner guide to WordPress Plugin Development a year or so ago I have wanted to develop my own plugin. It hasn’t happened, in part because I have still only skimmed through the book and not read it in detail. The book covers up to WordPress 2.8. A lot has changed since then however I feel it will still be a useful starting point (I’m sure the majority of the book is still applicable too).
I’m excited about getting started as it will improve my knowledge of WordPress overall, allow me to walk you through common problems and hopefully release a useful plugin :)
What Can You Do For The WordPress Community?
So what can you do for the WordPress community? If you are not a developer you may feel that there is not much that you can do though that is simply not the case.
Justin Tadlock wrote last month about how they are looking for people to join the WordPress theme review team. The review team is responsible for maintaining quality within the official theme directory. Themes have guidelines to follow so every theme needs to be manually reviewed.
If you would like to get involved with this then please view the ‘How To Join WPTRT‘ information page.
Wherever your strengths lie, I’m sure that there is something that we can all do to give back to the WordPress community. As always, I’d love to hear your view on this subject :)