20

Let's move on

We already had one meta question by Tom J. Nowell asking how we should deal with the questions. It had quite some traction and support.

Now I'm polling if we should update our FAQ and make those questions off topic.


Reasons why to make questions off topic

  1. Tom already cited Adii, the owner of Woo, in his question:

    The stance of Woo itself is rather hostile to this situation, here's the founders stance:

    "So I say, fuck it! I’ve personally stopped helping these users on technical issues (pre-sales questions are fair game obviously) and have also instructed my Support Team to be more ruthless in this regard." - Adii

  2. We currently got ~200 questions tagged with that topic. There's ~30% solved. And solved for WooCommerce questions means answer like the following are the ..."solution".

    "I hate to mention this on Wordpress.Stackexchange, but I would go with using Magento in place of Wordpress."

    "OK, I think I have found an answer to my own question. It appears that the broken admin pages with too many items were a result of my hosting provider (Dreamhost) having "extra web security" checked in the setup of the site."

    "I can confirm this was fixed in WC 1.5.2 :)"

    etc.

  3. Most users in there are drive-by users. They come, ask a question and are gone. Providing help to others is not common under the users active in these tags. At all the only valuable answers I could find were provided by @brasofilo here and here and by @BAinternet.
  4. The question/solution ratio is becoming lower and lower. Just go back in time and look for yourself.
  5. The quality is at a very low level.
  6. And last, but not least, we will never know if some problem is a bug and will stay there, so we would need to monitor all changes inside their products. As far as I can remember the site is called WordPress.StackExchange and not WooCommerce.StackExchange. We're already closing other plugin specific questions as too localized.

Conclusion

For me it's quite clear: Let's go and make it off topic. We don't have enough experts, the users can't and won't help themselves and the responsible company gives a fuck, says that loud and publicly and I don't see a reason why we should put something in our sites way that keeps the "solved questions" ratio low.

What's your opinion? +1 the question if you think we should update our [faq] and dismiss questions as we already did it once.

13

(Oh, look, Woo announces major price increases and removes their forums, and WooCommerce-related questions start flooding WPSE.)

That's one more reason: Woo has the temerity to remove their own community support forums, pawn off community support onto other outlets such as WPSE, and then raise their license fees, which they justify in part a) by claiming that their support costs are rising, and b) by claiming that they should get a piece of their customers' commercial pie.

So, even if WooCommerce questions weren't inherently off-topic for WPSE, I would encourage them still to be considered as out-of-scope. After all: WPSE volunteers aren't getting a piece of the Woo support license fee pie.

  • 2
    Marked as solution now as things changed. Might you want to open a new question that reflects the new situation? – kaiser Aug 7 '13 at 16:16
  • 1
    Well, neither we are getting piece of Automattic's pie. On anyone's really. As I concluded in chat the problem with the Woo issue is that we essentially have no reason to single them out, other than not liking them for whatever decisions they make. Personally I do not feel this is good enough reason to act on it. – Rarst Aug 10 '13 at 19:25
  • 3
    "Well, neither we are getting piece of Automattic's pie." - Note also that wordpress.com questions are also explicitly off-topic. (Beyond that, Automattic has nothing to do with this discussion.) – Chip Bennett Aug 10 '13 at 19:59
  • 2
    My point is there is nothing really in Stack Exchange ethos (that I ever seen at least) about shaping network content in line with "worthiness" of related companies. Woo's business practices are unrelated to knowledge gathering goals of SE. – Rarst Aug 11 '13 at 12:54
  • Its not a win win healthy ecosystem with Woo which is one of the reasons some people don't like them and want to support them however i do think all plugin questions should be treated equally. – Brad Dalton Jan 17 '14 at 23:20
16

I’m against banning questions about a particular plugin.

  1. What happens outside of our side (lack of support from other parties) should not affect our scope. Someone else doesn’t offer support, so we do the same? I don’t get that logic.

  2. Poor answers doesn’t justify declaring a topic as out of scope.

  3. Drive-by users are welcome too.

  4. A low answer rate doesn’t justify declaring a topic as out of scope.

  5. Same as 2. If a question doesn’t match our quality standards it should be improved or closed. No matter what the question is about.

  6. The same is true for all other plugins and themes, and even for WordPress. It is okay when an answer solves a problem for a limited time period.

We cannot treat one plugin differently than others. The same rules must apply to all.

  • 6
    We already do treat them differently. If we find some plugin that we haven't heard off, we often close it as too localized. – kaiser Mar 11 '13 at 23:28
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    WooCommerce code is not WordPress code. As our FAQ clearly states: PHP/CSS/HTML/JS questions are not rendered as on-topic for WPSE merely because they take place in the context of WordPress. WordPress expertise does not inherently translate into WooCommerce expertise, which is likely the main reason that WooCommerce questions wither on the vine. – Chip Bennett Mar 12 '13 at 14:09
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    I find it hard to understand how "Drive-by users are welcome too.". Isn't the very foundation of StackExchange an EXCHANGE? – Gaia May 21 '13 at 12:20
16

I see nothing wrong with the tag, if it can help provide context, or act as a taxonomy for WPSE users who enjoy or have expertise answering questions related to that tag; but by the same token, use of such tags does not automatically cause a question to be appropriate for WPSE.

If I see WooCommerce questions for which the answer is agnostic to WordPress itself, I will continue to close-vote those questions as either off-topic or too localized. I do the same for Genesis questions.

Our FAQ clearly states:

Note that we do not handle questions...not specific to WordPress (even if they happen in its context)

A Plugin is merely PHP code that executes in the context of WordPress. Thus, just because something is packaged as a WordPress Plugin does not cause it to be inherently in-scope for WPSE. Questions about the implementation of the Plugin API or other relevant APIs used by that Plugin are clearly on-topic. Questions about the underlying code itself must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not it is in-scope.

Questions about the functionality of WooCommerce are clearly off-topic per our FAQ.

  • "Questions about the functionality of WooCommerce are clearly off-topic per our FAQ." which hadn't settled into my brain yet. Important sentence and maybe we should combine parts of your answer with some from @brasofilo and update the tag wiki. Opinions? – kaiser Mar 12 '13 at 15:29
  • 1
    Feel free. :) This question gets to the heart of why I'm always trying to define/clarify the boundaries of our site scope. – Chip Bennett Mar 12 '13 at 15:39
9

I would answer more WooCommerce questions too, but I find that point #5 is especially true... the questions I have seen lately regarding WooCommerce are of such poor quality that I cannot hardly tell what is being asked. A lot of WooCommerce questions can be solved with basic WordPress knowledge not even pertaining to WooCommerce, except that you can't tell from the way the question is phrased. Or the questions show absolutely no effort on the asker's part and it is clear they want me/us to do the work for them (often times figuring out what they actually want in the process).

Both I think are pretty clearly linked to point #3 about drive-by users. I wonder if it might help to to require them to do something to get a a few reputation points (5? 10?) before they can ask a question. You have to have a certain rep level to unlock other aspects of the site, why not that one too? Total rookies might not be able to answer too many questions, but what if you could get some easy points for completing your profile, or a quiz on the FAQ or something else similar. Simple things that a rookie could do to show some interest in the site, how it works and how to best get help.

7

This is a tough one because Woocommerce is a custom framework, so the questions do not really involve WordPress but require specified knowledge of how Woo works.

This is similar to how something like genesis works and we have a tag.

So we either remove all outside framework questions or none.

The polite way to say, "we don't really like woocommerce questions" is to not answer them, unfortunately some questions have accepted some very poor answers.

  • I'm with you on this, as much as I ignore the Woo Comm questions for this very fact, we'd have to remove all external frameworks and that could possibly end up including a whole host of commonly used plugins, premium or not. I think we need to keep closing as too localized in cases where the OP is providing insufficient information for us to work with. – userabuser Mar 12 '13 at 4:52
  • +1 Bringing this on the table as well is important. As genesis-theme-framework only has a quarter of the Woo questions, I went below my radar. As I can read, people start having the same problem there. Maybe we need a more general rule for all those questions. – kaiser Mar 12 '13 at 7:16
5

Hard one... It is a free plugin after all and not exactly one that "we haven't heard off".

Of course, the official "fuck it" stance is quite offensive for the free supporters out there. Maybe we should consider hiring a Woo specialist to our staff :P

In WP forums, it seems that most activity and support is between users and the "solving" rate similar to ours:

woo wp forum

Although the indication is that Github is only for bug reporting, looks like there is a large knowledge base built:

woo github

Maybe the effect is negligible, but we could consider adding those links to the tag wiki.


All in all, as poor as our response rate is, I don't see a "legal rationale" to ban the tag.
And I'm really more worried about the zero response that the issue of banning [plugin-recommendation] has received...

  • Ad Plugin recommendations) Well there wasn't zero response. The discussion happened inside the comments, which is a pitty, as @toscho had a pretty good idea. – kaiser Mar 12 '13 at 11:57
  • @kaiser, sorry, bad wording, I meant zero Answers, which I suppose would constitute a full fledged community feedback... – brasofilo Mar 12 '13 at 12:01
  • Well, as a matter of fact, apologies to you, toscho and tf who took the time to weight in. – brasofilo Mar 12 '13 at 12:11
  • Commented there. But we need to push this again. – kaiser Mar 12 '13 at 12:16
3

woo themes have a tendency to have people signup for paid support. I guess that's why they don't take too much of effort to solve issues on free forums (no offense to woo). But we can't just make it off topic because the plugin itself if free to use (which is a very strong point) and only because we don't have expert people to solve the issue here.

3

I have tried to answer some WooCommerce questions in the past week/weeks, and I enjoy doing so. If WooCommerce gets banned, people will go to stackoverflow, I will move with them. To be honest I don't see the problem with hosting these questions (agree with largely Toscho here)

  • 1
    If we now found our first WooCommerce expert: Welcome and feel at home :) – kaiser Mar 25 '13 at 19:07

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