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I asked this question on WordPress SE 3 years ago and it has recently been flagged as off-topic. I found this puzzling first of all due to the immense belatedness, but most of all for the fact that it is truly a question only relevant in the WordPress domain. Not to mention that I eventually figured out an answer and posted it, which is going to be invaluable to anyone stuck on the same issue in future.

I raised this concern and the response from moderator was along the lines of 30K+ plugins cannot be supported on WordPress SE. On the same page as I was looking at the question, other BuddyPress questions were listed in the right-hand sidebar showing that it is indeed an area of interest to a section of the WordPress world.

The comment by moderator that "we anyway dont have any BuddyPress experts on the site" is a bit short-sighted. Expertise in an area grows if sufficient interest is shown in that area by those asking questions. If all plugin-related questions are closed off then there shall be no expertise grown for plugin questions.

What I find odd about not encouraging plugin questions is that plugins are core to the functioning of WordPress. There's hardly any installation that runs without at least 5 plugins. I do agree that plugin questions do have their own support forums, but that doesn't mean that all plugin discussion should be muted in a forum that is concerned with issues facing WordPress users and enthusiasts.

WordPress itself also does have a support forum and they have found themselves unable to kill all plugin related discussion since as I mentioned before, it is hard to discuss a plugin without discussing WordPress. They are intertwined.

As I understand it, WordPress SE is QA for WordPress experts. Who better than those well versed in WordPress to tackle questions facing other users of the platform?

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    See Summer clean up for the background. – fuxia Aug 8 '14 at 9:46
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    @toscho that still does not address the usefulness of encouraging plugin QA on a platform that's very dependent on plugins. I do realize I missed the boat on the discussion of whether to encourage mention of plugins or not, but having worked with WordPress for quite a while, I fail to see how one can discuss the platform while completely ignoring a core element of it. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 9:54
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    The point is that this site is about WordPress Development as the site title also states. If you're developing a plugin and face a certain technical problem it is valid to ask for help here. But mere shopping questions are off topic. There has already been plenty of dicussion here on WPSE Meta about this. – kraftner Aug 8 '14 at 9:59
  • @kraftner I think the reason I tend to see this particular question differently is that first and foremost I'm a dev and not just a casual WordPress user. Secondly, in order to get the solution to the problem I had to actually write code, which I eventually turned into a plugin. So, yes the question was originally not about development, but it spawned a solution (linked to) that was indeed squarely within WordPress dev. That is very helpful to anyone who might want to see how to interface with WordPress in the creation of a plugin. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 10:06
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    I've been marking many of the buddypress tags off-topic from the Summer / Winter cleanup. Usually my criteria is that if you need to have some sort of knowledge of the plugins functions or hooks it's off-topic. This becomes blatant if the answer has to use plugin specific functions / filters such as your questions answer shows. – Howdy_McGee Aug 8 '14 at 17:00
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Your argument builds on a theory that cultivating a topic about specific extension also builds a pool of experts about it. Unfortunately (truly unfortunately) this has been proven wrong for our stack.

There is less than enough experts on WordPress in general to keep up with volume of questions. Trying to promote extensions in the mix accomplished less than nothing. It hadn't attracted enough experts about them and even worse — started to annoy the core group of experts.

We hadn't just decided to turn extensions away. We tried to do the opposite and it failed. Practice had disproven the theory.

  • Well I guess, then there was some justification for discouraging a broader pool of questions. However, I was pointed to the Summer Cleanup page where I got the impression that the closing of questions is done pretty mechanically. Now I'm not a moderator so I cannot claim to know what the role entails, but I'd like to believe that a question gets some considered reflection before being closed. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 10:14
  • @KalenGi well, why don't you believe it? :) Your specific question was agreed upon as off-topic in line with current rules by three different people (moderator and two users). – Rarst Aug 8 '14 at 10:25
  • It's not impossible, but I actually find it hard to believe that three different WordPress experts would look through the code linked to and decide that the the answer to the question isn't useful for people developing on WordPress. Yes, the question itself isn't directly development, but the solution most certainly is. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 10:31
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    @KalenGi and why do you assume they need (or will) go elsewhere to look through that code to make that decision? Your topic was specific to extension (off-topic as per current rules). Your question format was worded as plugin recommendation (off-topic as per current rules). Your answer format was link only (low quality as per rules). I understand that you see your solution as useful and it is, but not in this context. We are not a forum, the mechanics, rules, and expectations of stack site are different. – Rarst Aug 8 '14 at 10:58
  • Agreed. So would it help to phrase it in a way that's more relevant to WordPress development AND put code in the answer so it's not link-only? – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 11:17
  • @KalenGi precisely. It is helpful when question shows what had you tried and how far you got on your own. Good answers stand on their own, even if they refer to off-site resources (which is perfectly fine, it's just not something to do instead of an actual answer :) – Rarst Aug 8 '14 at 11:29
  • Also, as a mod, wouldn't you wish to put yourself in the place of someone actually seeking a solution? Having been one (solution seeker) myself many times. I frequently follow links in the hope that the answer I seek is in there somewhere. I do prefer the answer to be within the SE, but I always appreciate a link to a location that got me out of a jam. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 11:30
  • Well then, I shall go ahead and update the question (and answer). I do believe in the objective of maintaining high quality QA – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 11:33
  • @KalenGi my questions had been shot down all around the internet longer than this site existed :) – Rarst Aug 8 '14 at 11:35
  • That is a pretty good reason to encourage greater participation in the SE. So community members feel the time they put into contributing was well worth it. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 11:44
  • I have updated the question. Is the new version acceptable? – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 12:39
  • @KalenGi From my understanding of the closed questions (which mods can correct me if I'm mistaken): if this question continues to get consistent views then it won't be deleted and just stay closed. So it's still there and if it is useful to future viewers then really it won't go anywhere. – Howdy_McGee Aug 8 '14 at 17:05
  • @Howdy_McGee This is good enough from my perspective since the question is still accessible. I finally got to understand that the SE was being flooded with questions from frustrated users of poorly supported plugins. I normally do a lot of research before posting questions so this practice had not occurred to me. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 18:21
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We made plugin/theme specific question off-topic a long time ago, because they are executed just in the context of WordPress, but they aren’t really WordPress specific, and most of them were never answered.

Your own answer to your question demonstrates the problem: it is just a link to an external site, not a solution. Exactly the opposite of what we want here.

  • The reason I used a link was because the answer was pretty lengthy with a lot of source code and explanation. I could post it here, but I suspect that may be frowned upon. Check it out and see for yourself whether it doesn't fall under the dev scope. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 10:09
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    There is nothing wrong with long answers, if they include just the necessary code and good explanations. But everything is wrong with link-only answers: links die, sites get hijacked, the content is not searchable here. – fuxia Aug 8 '14 at 10:25
  • In that case I can improve the answer to include the code I used in the solution. I strongly believe that code is useful to people involved in WordPress dev. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 10:38
  • @KalenGi That code is useful to people involved in BuddyPress dev. – Howdy_McGee Aug 8 '14 at 17:02
  • @Howdy_McGee WordPress too! For reference: (Step 4) How to swap a plugin hook function with your own so as to provide functionality that the plugin does not have. (Step 6) how to hook into the attachment upload process and have files saved to a custom location. (Step 8) How to load a javascript file in your functions.php – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 18:15
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Firstly, closed does not equal deleted - but is a way to,

secondly, represent changed rules or stricter enforcement of existing rules.

Last but not least, thirdly, as this is a community driven environment the rules aren't fixed forever, but this is the state they are at now. So this Q&A's right here might possibly be a step towards further discussion and/or changes in the future.

Just my complementary thought on this.

  • I'm in agreement with you on your last point. As a member of the community, albeit not a very high reputation one, I do see the need to encourage plugin discussion. Especially when it leads to better understanding on how to work with the WordPress api. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 10:34
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    Easy, if and when you - or we as community - are able to assemble the needed wo|men power to handle plugin specific questions, then that rule change will happen, until than I personally see no chance for it. @KalenGi – Nicolai Aug 8 '14 at 11:06
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I see this a lot, people have their question closed as off topic and then complain that question XYZ is also about that topic and it wasn't closed, therefore theirs shouldn't either. This happens a lot with WooCommerce questions.

This ignores that:

  • Closing questions is done on a per question basis, and people have to take the time to read the question and close them. There are a limited number of people with a limited amount of time doing this
  • If a buddypress question requires WordPress expertise it may actually be on topic. If it requires buddypress expertise however it is most definitely off topic.
  • These questions weren't always off topic, and not everybody spends their days browsing the archives for historical cases that violate the rules

If you see related questions, the correct course of action is not to use them to justify re-opening a question, it's usually to close vote the related questions.

As a sidenote, a lot of these closed questions are well formed, and indeed useful. But this doesn't make them any more 'on topic', for the same reason general PHP questions are useful, yet they belong elsewhere.

  • Just an idea here... Shouldn't there be a sort of "statute of limitations" on questions? If for example a question was asked 2 years before the rules changed, does it make sense to revisit it and change it's closed/open status? Isn't that a bit too much work for moderators? Now what if the rules change some time in the future to support the opposite case? For example in this case the SE starts accepting plugin questions 2 years from today. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 12:02
  • An interesting proposal, perhaps a new Meta question should be added. There's also a discussion somewhere here on what to do with insanely popular historical questions that are off topic, e.g. best debug plugins etc, and how to deal with them – Tom J Nowell Aug 8 '14 at 12:55
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This is Wordpress Development, not Plugin and Theme Support Group unfortunately. My opinion is just simply, if you write and submit a plugin or a theme for public use, you MUST OFFER YOUR OWN SUPPORT, or other wise, don't distribute it.

Just take woocommerce for a very good example, they are such a huge plugin developer, but their support is up to crap. Everybody with a support issues run to this site because the place that SHOULD offer support is just not up to scratch. It is like we are getting punished because of THEIR lack of support to their own products.

I don't blame you for running to this site for support, but the volume of non related Wordpress Core questions is just to big. The other problem is, maybe one or two of us here have the proper knowledge of the API that is used within that specific theme or plugin.

It would be nice if someday, somehow someone can start a support group for the relevant plugin and theme support issues.

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    Well that sounds like something that might take root. An SE for WordPress Themes and Plugins. However, I bet it will be faced with the same problem of differentiating between questions by true experts and enthusiasts versus questions by frustrated unsupported plugin/theme users. I now understand better the challenge being faced by moderators and experts on this issue and therefore why a useful question ends up being closed. – KalenGi Aug 8 '14 at 13:33

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