Wordpress and Customer Service
April 8, 2012 3:07 AM   Subscribe

Wordpress users: is the customer service still as shit as it used to be circa 2006-2007?

So the main reason I hate Wordpress with a passion and shudder when anyone recommends it to me is because I used to be on WP.com from 2006 to 2009 and encountered some of the worst customer service ever. Any suggestions would be met with derision by Matt who would snarl "go get your own server then", even if it's stuff that affected accessibility (such as printouts of WP.com blogs not coming out right). There was once a Wordpress Wank blog and I remembered being chewed out on there by Matt in the comments claiming I was "rude" and belligerent because I dared make a suggestion.

I have had to use Wordpress (the self-hosted version) for other people's projects and I haven't really been fond of it either - I found some tasks, such as embedding video links, much harder than it should be. But as I try to get my web presence back up and running I find that other options elude me. I still haven't found a working Tumblr clone (I got chased off Tumblr by its rabid toxicity and if I return I'll certainly be spotted again) and while I love Textpattern the design options for it aren't great and I don't have the chops to come up with my own design or hire someone to do it for me. (I tried Posterous for a while but it was super buggy.)

I feel like I have to go back on Wordpress simply because more people develop for me, but I really don't want to be subjected to rubbish customer service again. Is there hope? Are there other options?
posted by divabat to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Could you clarify exactly what you're asking about? You start out talking about the customer service from wordpress.com (I can't address that, never having used it), but then switch to talking about using the self-hosted version, which doesn't even have customer service, per se.

I've personally found the officual WordPress forum less than useful overall, and even a bit hostile, but there are other communities like the WP StackExchange site that have been very helpful.

As far as the video comment, if it's coming from the more popular services, it can now be as easy as just adding a plain URL to the video in your content, rather than even dealing with embed code at all. There are plugins that also take other approaches to simplifying, which may be an entirely separate question based on your particular desires, but short version is it doesn't need to be that difficult(anymore).
posted by Su at 4:02 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use Theme Hybrid as my main WordPress theme. Support there is great. It is forum based, and membership is only $25/year. I don't really need the support so much anymore, but I consider it s donation to Justin and like to help out in the forums when I can. He also writes a number of excellent plugins.

The biggest change between then and now is that there are n times as many sites devoted to WordPress, so you are bound to find help online somewhere! or find a plugin that solves your problem.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:15 AM on April 8, 2012

If you want 'proper' support pay for it. Wordpress is free, you are not a customer, it is community supported, same with Tumblr. The quality of people's experience with community support is dependant on their attitude, expect others to do all your work for you and you will be treated with disdain or ignored. Exude an air of entitlement and people will dismiss you out of hand.
posted by epo at 4:35 AM on April 8, 2012 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Su: When using Wordpress.com Matt (who I gather built WP.com and .org) was VERY disdainful towards suggestions (not unlike epo's comment, incidentally). And too many Wordpress developers I've seen tended to be very condescending about wed development and CMSes - when I was scouting for design help back when I was still on Tumblr and wanted to stay, despite my requests *not* to pitch any other CMS on me, Wordpress-based people still went "But Wordpress is THE BESSSSSTTTT WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUUU". Gah.
posted by divabat at 4:38 AM on April 8, 2012

Mod note: Divabat, this seems to be straying into general ranty chatty stuff, which we don't do here. To clarify, you are asking a) if Wordpress.com support is better or the same since 2009, and b) what alternative CMS options people would suggest, is that correct?
posted by taz (staff) at 4:51 AM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I doubt that epo meant to be disdainful—the point, which isn't unreasonable, is that when you use free sites/software, the trade-off is usually less (or no, or community-driven) customer support. Paid services, on the other hand, should provide excellent support (or else you should probably stop giving them money). Some people are willing to make that trade-off, and others aren't; I don't think there's a right or a wrong choice there, but if a lack of support is a big problem for you, you might want to look into alternative solutions.

In any case, I have no experience with Wordpress from the period you're talking about, but I've been using Wordpress.com for a little over a year now (at first for one, now for three separate blogs), and I've been pleased. Only once—just the other day—have I run into any problems, and my issue was resolved fairly quickly. I'm happy enough so far that I plan to move to a self-hosted blog (Wordpress.org) later this/early next year.
posted by divisjm at 4:51 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

a) is Wordpress.com support is better or the same since 2009
I have been using Wordpress (both .com and self-hosted) for around 5 years. I haven't had much interaction with their "customer service", but the times I have I have been satisfied with their response. Wordpress doesn't seem to have any better or worse customer service than any other free web software.

b) what alternative CMS options people would suggest
It sounds like it might be a good idea for you to pay somebody for tech support of your blog. You could also post a want ad here with your specific needs. You will likely find that there are few recommendations other than wordpress as it is so ubiquitous and really is the swiss army knife of blogging/web design at this point.
posted by davey_darling at 5:28 AM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

You could give SquareSpace a try too. Not sure what support is like, but it is a paid service, so chances are its decent.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:42 AM on April 8, 2012

I can't speak to WP's customer service, as I've only ever used the free self-hosted version.

There are several alternatives to Wordpress, though none of them have its ubiquity.

Typepad is a very long running hosted blogging service. It's not free, but it's very solid AFAIK.
Blogger is free and run by Google. I don't think there'll be a great amount of customer service here, but it's an alternative.
SquareSpace is also not free, but appears to be very fully featured. I haven't used it myself, but I've heard good things about it.
Drupal Gardens has a limited free option. It's more of a general website platform than specifically a blogging service.
Weebly is a webpage/blogging service. I have literally no experience with it, but I know a couple of fans.


Note: You won't find "good support" with any of the open-source & free options here.

Drupal is an excellent and very widely used CMS. It might be overkill for your needs, depending on what they are.
Joomla is another very popular open-source CMS. I've never taken to it, but I'm sure it's very capable.
Movable Type was the first (?) widely used blogging platform, and is still used to power many popular blogs.
Expression Engine is not free. I haven't used it extensively, but when I did, I found it very easy to work with, and the customer service to be very good.
Perch is also not free, but is very inexpensive. I found their customer service to be excellent.

There are tons of other options here, but hopefully this will be a good starting point for you.
posted by Magnakai at 5:58 AM on April 8, 2012

I would gently suggest the problem here may be you and not Wordpress. Epo was not being disdainful; he was being explanatory and factual. Wordpress is free; it comes with no support. It is used by literally millions of people, and the economics of providing support for those people would scale just about as far as you would expect free to take you.

Answering your "is the support that is available better?" question is difficult as you are not being clear if you are referring to the hosted or self-hosted version. However, in your scenario of "printouts of WP.com blogs not coming out right" this is how it works:

1) On Wordpress.com, you file this as a bug report. It will get low priority because it isn't a core issue. Security patches take priority. If other people are able to duplicate the bug and it's verified, it will get fixed in a few versions. It will not be customised or patched according to your personal preferences or priorities because, again: millions of users.

2) If this is a deal-breaker for you, you do have the option of doing your own install and repairing the print style sheet yourself. This is the beauty of open source. If you are not able to take advantage of that, you're stuck with the version attributes and deficits as they exist.

3) As backwards guitar points out, you have the option of using a Wordpress framework like Theme Hybrid, Pagelines or a couple of others where support is available. There will be a cost for these.

4) You can also pay someone to patch / tweak / whatever your themes for you.

5) Whatever issues you encounter are unlikely to be new, and with the vastness of the community, someone has likely solved it. Your video issue is solved with Viper's Quick Tags. There are also multiple print formatting plugins.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:41 AM on April 8, 2012 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: I was under the impression that both versions of Wordpress were developed by the same guy?
posted by divabat at 4:05 PM on April 8, 2012

WP was originally developed by Matt Mullenweg. It's now developed by the community and by Automattic, which is a huge fuckin' company at this point. Matt is one of more than a dozen developers now. For self-installs, the primary support base is Wordpress.org Support. For hosted WP, it's here.

If you're asking if you'll ever have to deal with Matt, the answer is no, never. There are dedicated support staff and I don't think Matt has been seen dealing with a user question in the forum in years. And FWIW, I would challenge you to produce a post where Matt said "fuck off, get your own server" but regardless - here is the current state of the Wordpress.com Requests and Feedback forum, and the WP.com Ideas forum.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:38 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Do not turn this question into an anti-Matt rant. Period, end of discussion. Not okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:31 AM on April 9, 2012

The WordPress Stack Exchange is pretty good for questions. It's not 100% clear to me what you're hoping for - it sounds to me like none of these services meet your needs in the way you would hope, and if so, you may want to look at what you can do to try even more services. I hear excellent things about Expression Engine - find a good developer and hosted solution and be prepared to pay them more than the average WP developer, but at least this will save you from the frustration of the free or cheaper services.

I love WordPress (self-hosted) but I'm also very technical. I'd never had good luck with forums on WP.org but I never expected much from them anyway. Forums are terrible for answering technical questions. The WP SE site I mentioned has been a boon to clear answers that improve with time.

If you're going back to Wordpress.com (though it sounds like you'd be asking for more of the same, probably) you might have better luck from http://webapps.stackexchange.com/ for questions about limitations of the site.

As for questions about printing a wordpress.com - I'd say that's not so much a WP issue as an individual theme author issue.

If you want a great and beautiful and useful site either you need to learn to DIY or you're going to need to come up with money to get someone else to. I'm afraid that's going to apply no matter what CMS technology you use. I'm sorry your experience has been so negative, it sounds very frustrating.
posted by artlung at 10:47 AM on April 9, 2012

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