It happened to everyone, at least once: you’re experiencing an issue on your WordPress website. A new plugin you installed that conflicts with your installation, a custom code your wrongly added in the functions.php file. Whatever could go wrong, it did.
At that moment, we find ourself sweating bullets because we think we’ve broken our website (or at least a part of it). Novices to development and WordPress may even freak out a little. Inevitably everyone does what’s best in these case: they look for help.
WordPress has no phone number to call to get help, nor a plugin to install and fix everything instantly. As in many activities, there’s always a bad (poor) and a good (effective) way to do things. And asking for help with WordPress is no exception. Let’s see how.
Think about what you did
Something went wrong, and you’re experiencing some issues. Before looking for help immediately, you should try to understand what caused the problem and try to think backward to what you did right before it occurred. Most common problems can fall under one of these categories:
- WordPress fail update
- Plugin conflicts with other plugins or themes
- Incorrect syntax or missing part of code
Trying to understand why WordPress isn’t properly working sets you in the right perspective to share your current situation more precisely with other WordPress users. Knowledge is power, and when things go wrong is stronger than ever.
Start by deactivating plugins and setting up a default theme
If you recently installed/updated a plugin or a theme and began noticing some unexpected behavior, deactivate all your plugins and activate the latest WordPress default theme (like Twenty Fifteen) to “reset” your website. If the issue goes away, you know now it’s caused either by your theme or one of your plugins. From this point on, start re-activating plugins one at a time and your theme eventually to see which one is causing the problem.
If the problem persists, it could be something about your database, your hosting provider or some customizations gone wrong in your WordPress installation.
Ask for WordPress help on forums
When things don’t go as we wanted, mostly if they affect our online business, we need to fix them in the shortest time we’re able to. The very first place you should start looking for tips on how to address your current issue are WordPress forums. You can quickly browse through them even via Google by using the “site:wordpress.org/support” operator + your keyword.
As for any other online communities, WordPress forums have guidelines to follow:
- Research to see if your issues have already been addressed or posted by someone else
- Choose a good and clear thread title like “Database error creating a new post”
- Provide as many as detailed, relevant information and links you can to others. If you need to post code, keep it enclosed in backticks (`) or publish it on third party services (like Github) and post it as a link in your post
- Be always polite: don’t use capitalization or any expressions like “Please it’s urgent”
Long story short: you should be able to provide clear and relevant details.
Google your issues effectively
Sometimes you don’t know what happened, and you get a wrong message you never saw before. Whether it’s because it’s hard to describe or it’s not enough clear yet, you should get to know more about your issues through online searches. See this example:
Fatal error: main(): Failed opening required
/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/stargateatlantis/
public_html/wp-settings.php on line 67
Even if these strings sounds likes Elvish to you, you still can exploit some of the terms in it and come up with a relevant Google query like “Failed opening required functions.php wp-setting.php”.
Sometimes you might want to add “WordPress” at the beginning/end of your query if you’re not satisfied with the outcome of your search.
How to ask for help for WordPress plugins
One of the greatest thing about WordPress is the abundance of plugins, but sometimes they’re not compatible with our current WordPress set up. So if you already know something has occurred because of a plugin, you should head over its official page on the WordPress.org repository and look for the “FAQ” tab to quickly see if your issue is listed. If not, click on the “Support” tab to enter the plugin’s discussion forum and talk directly with the plugin’s author.
Try to understand that free plugins can be side projects, experiments or just a less powerful version of a premium (paid) plugin. This means developers will likely help you by answering your questions, but they’d hardly be thinking of you first thing in the morning. Just follow the general guidelines WordPress requests and be cool, or just opt for the premium version of that plugin.
Talk with WordPress experts via chat
In order to manage internal communications and contributors, until recently WordPress has relied on IRC (a chat protocol), where they set up several channels based on the topic discussed, one of which is #wordpress:
the [IRC Live Chat #wordpress](https://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_IRC_Live_Help) channel is a WordPress chat room for anyone to visit should they run into a problem or want to talk about WordPress. Not all questions may be answered, if the traffic volume is high, so do repeat a question after about 10 minutes if it has not been answered.
The #wordpress support channel will continue to be active on IRC (server: chat.freenode.net Channel), while Slack will be used for those contributing to the WordPress project (code, design, documentation, etc.)
Look at WordPress TV tutorials (for beginners)
One of the most forgotten places to look for help is the how-to’s section at WordPress TV. In here, you can find tutorials about several WordPress features that would likely help you better understand how things work. They cover basic knowledge so beginners would benefit the most from them.
Active groups for WordPress help
While WordPress provides its own channels to go and look for help, there are plenty of pretty active and useful others you might want to have a look:
Q&A WordPress websites
Facebook WordPress groups
All these groups might look scary at first, mostly because you’d feel you’re not experienced enough, or you might receive harsh answers. But these are exceptions that happen all the times online. So don’t let them prevent you from asking for help and keep remembering: there are no stupid questions yet there are inappropriate and ineffective ways to ask for help.
When you don’t have time to wait
Sometimes getting helped with specific issues takes time and you don’t have any. Or maybe, it just the case you don’t actually know which specific issues your website is experiencing and need them just to be fixed.
In these cases, just post on Codeable what’s troubling you and get a consultation from WordPress experts almost immediately (1 hour top).
How to get better with WordPress help
The best way to get the most out of any help request is to be aware of what your current situation is and provide others with all the detailed information you have. You just don’t shoot some keywords on forums and wait for people to bring up the answer you need. You need to do your part as well.
Try to be a self-aware WordPress user, one who did almost everything he could to better understand the issues he’s experiencing before posting his help request. Funny thing is, the more you ask for help in the right way, the more you’ll realize you’re improving your WordPress knowledge too.
Need help with your WordPress website or project? Post a project on Codeable and get the best experts worldwide take care of it!
Author: Matteo Duò