WordPress.org, the site that helps users worldwide to craft their websites in a user-friendly way offers a highly hassle-free and rewarding support experience to its users. Quite often, people don’t continue using a service, primarily because of its lack of adequate support assistance. However, in the case of WordPress, there’s an extremely great experience felt by its members when it comes to tackling support issues.
Its highly engaging community and forums invite requests and queries from members who mostly reach out when they are stuck with some issues. They might relate to finding hints to fix some errors, understanding the meaning of some warning/error messages, migrating sites, debugging issues, or technical errors they might be facing in self-hosting.
At present, WordPress support operates such that the threads are auto-closed after six months unless they are manually closed before that.
Read on to delve into the different opinions that users, CEOs, and others hold with regard to the auto-closure of threads.
The Different Perspectives – A Glimpse
While some are in favor of auto-closure after six months, others share some different views. For example, a support ticket opened on Meta Trac a couple of weeks back mentions that WordPress.org must remove the auto-closure of threads feature and instead use a warning message to indicate older threads.
Yet another case refers to Amber Hinds, CEO of Equalize Digital who mentions that in certain situations, there could be a need to update users on their requests post six-months, in which case the auto-closure doesn’t work. An example that Hinds speaks about is the case where a user asks for a new feature in the support request.
This feature is released after several months; it would be great to inform the user through their request had the auto-closure not been there.
Hinds referred to a conversation on Slack where Matt Mullenweg suggests the removal of the auto-closure and using a warning message instead.
“Let’s move away from auto-closing to just having a warning that you’re replying to an old thread”
On the contrary, some are opposed to this viewpoint. Some users think that support tickets if left open for long could result in too many irrelevant replies getting piled up or several users may join the thread and start discussions on some unrelated issues and so on. Many attorneys, such as Milwaukee personal injury attorneys, are concerned at how this could impact their sites.
WordPress moderator Yui opines, “Old topics mostly attract spam, me-too-pigeons, and random replies, it’s very rare when an actual reply is needed to something that has no activity for six months. Current policy is to leave such topics closed, however, making an exclusion and manually reopen it at request can be made possible when the reasons for it are compelling (It can be discussed on the Support team weekly chat if needed).”
Yet another opinion from WordPress’s accessibility contributor, Joe Dolson is that plugin authors must be given the ability to close a thread. Dolson adds that the problem gets severe when you have thousands of threads to handle. He hopes that there should be some better way to handle and close threads because auto-closure of threads even if re-opened will auto-close again.
However, Dolson still emphasizes that at least auto-closing must be accompanied by some privilege for the plugin authors to close the threads as otherwise managing them could become extremely difficult.
In addition, if there are changes made to the thread closure policy, that would invariably impact the metrics displayed on the plugins. For instance, the number of support tickets resolved in the previous three months could show an incorrect value. That said, if more people use the threads when open, the metrics on the resolved threads may be adversely impacted, invalidating its entire purpose.
About this, Hinds proposes to adopt a hybrid approach wherein the auto-close feature would remain intact while letting the plugin authors re-open the threads. This would simultaneously restart the clock for auto-closure.
Hinds says, “I discovered 12 support tickets yesterday on a plugin I had not realized we were not subscribed to, which I want to at least comment on to see if they still need help. “I can’t do this. It’s a frustrating experience for me and a poor user experience for the original poster or anyone else who encounters that thread with a similar problem.
“Another option might be to auto-close them but add a button that allows them to be reopened by plugin contributors that sets another six-month (or maybe a shorter time period) timeline before auto-close.”
While there are various WordPress professionals on multiple networks like Twitter to respond to queries, the forums remain an indispensable part of the user’s WordPress journey. The decision on whether the auto-closure of threads feature would offer a better user experience is still pending with the discussions on changing the auto-close policy.