Why is not permitted to ask questions about Formidable or 3rd party plugins?

I feel this is the correct place to ask anything related to WordPress and the community can provide answers. The group here is named wordpress.stackexchange.com "WordPress Development". I think this needs to be discussed and possibly become more permissive about topics.

Two examples:

How to get subscription key or id using Woocommerce Subscriptions

How to allow user to select User ID in Formidable Pro form?

migrated from wordpress.stackexchange.com Oct 16 '17 at 11:15

This question came from our site for WordPress developers and administrators.

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    these plugins are created by a few developpers and they know better how work these plugins. then you will have a more efficient answer is you ask them directly instead of creating a question on StackOverflow or StackExchange network. – mmm Oct 16 '17 at 11:36
  • @howdy-mcgee Thanks for the grammar help :) – gfirem Oct 17 '17 at 11:47
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think, at some point, the no-plugins stance needs to be reconsidered.

Plugin makers such as Gravity Forms, Restrict Content Pro etc are phasing out their forums, and expecting users to raise private tickets to get support. This means solutions to problems are private (not found in search) and cannot tap into community knowledge to locate solutions to issues with search. We are relying on 3rd parties to writeup their own solutions, elsewhere, rather than having them in a single place.

The blanket ban also results in the seemingly absurd situation where people will ask (and sometimes get answers to) Wordpress plugin questions on Stack Overflow, but not wordpress.stackexchange - this seems a bit Looney Tunes to me.

If there was a means, using tags or other, to filter out plugin questions so that they don't polute the discussion for purists, but can still potentially attract answers, then perhaps both types of users can be accommodated?

The 'plenty of developers' annocdotal data point in @rarst's answer flies in the face of the broad popularity of wordpress and the wide spectrum of skill levels that it attracts. It serves to exclude a number of legitimate Wordpress developers who leverage the work of others to create their own solutions based on the CMS and others' plugins.

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    I'm with you on this, mostly. I see both sides of the issue, and at this point in the life of WordPress (slower releases, but Gutenberg is coming) and WPSE (engagement down), I think it would be beneficial to reconsider the scope that is covered here. It's often a headache getting support for commercial plugins & themes with restricted help resources. The paywall makes things uncool from a helper's perspective here on WPSE though. Personally, I'd like to explore adding everything available in the official theme and plugin repository to WPSE's scope as a balanced change. – Dave Romsey Mar 26 at 4:58
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    I agree and think it's strange that questions regarding WordPress plugins would be allowed on stackoverflow, but not on wordpress.stackexchange. It seems counter-intuitive. – forsvunnet Jun 29 at 9:56
  • I've discussed this at length in my post here on the meta, but it seems to me, the more I look at it is that this is an issue of moderation, not the questions themselves. Also, I think you're semi-wrong. We shouldn't allow support question. But we should allow dev-related questions from that plugin. E.g, someone asking why their header is not working or how to do certain things is clearly bad, but someone asking how to implement, say, a Woo sidebar filter for products using certain meta isn't - it's a developer, it's a valid WordPress + Woo question. – coolpasta Sep 25 at 2:19

Our help documentation on asking covers standing community consensus on this (following many discussions over years):

Note that we do not handle questions:

...

  • questions concerning third party plugins and themes. As these required detailed knowledge of the workings of those plugins and themes, support is difficult and with thousands of plugins and themes available such knowledge is very specialized. Please consult the appropriate support forum for the plugin or theme in question

https://wordpress.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic

The problem isn’t that choice we restrict these. The problem is that when we allow them no one cares to answer these.

The probability of person with very specific expertise with arbitrary plugin out there seeing question about that specific plugin and providing a good answer is just practically too low.

And before you say "some plugins are a big deal and everyone knows them!" that is very subjective and plenty of developers (like me :) never even touch bulk of "popular" plugins.

  • @rast I like your answer. Then if the topics are closed and i know the answer, can i open it and answer? – gfirem Oct 17 '17 at 11:46
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    No, if it's closed as off topic then offtopic it is. Occasional answer just makes it worse, since people go "Oh, there is one answer on this, so that makes it ok if I ask zillion more of such!" – Rarst Oct 17 '17 at 11:48
  • Limitations of the SO platform itself make setting specific rules a pain. It's like playing an FPS and someone decides they want to make it a melee only round, but this is not enforced by any server rules. This is one of the things I think about as play the game of close voting the never ending barrage of WooCommerce zombies from our review queue. I wish the platform gave us a way to more effectively communicate and automatically enforce our site's rules of what's in scope. – Dave Romsey Mar 26 at 5:09
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    This stance should be reconsidered. Plugins are a central part of the WordPress ecosystem. You can install plugins within the interface, there is a centralised hub on wordpress.org/plugins and plugin use and development is highly encouraged by everyone in the WordPress community. It makes little sense to bar questions regarding plugins when they are a staple in the daily lives of WordPress developers. – forsvunnet Jun 29 at 9:49
  • @forsvunnet plugins are indeed essential - and this community will help you build whatever plugin you can dream of. But this site provides support for the WordPress APIs, and in my mind asking WPSE to support every plugin that was built with them is akin to asking Microsoft to provide support for Photoshop, Google Chrome, and everything else that uses the Windows APIs. I agree that we could use such a community, but I feel this is not the place; I'd like for WPSE to remain a bastion of API Q&A so I don't have to dig through pages of irrelevant plugin-related search results to find the API meat – bosco Sep 19 at 18:05
  • It's more like asking for help for a photoshop plugin on photoshop.stackexchange.com. A lot of the plugin questions revolve around the API. It's usually all based on actions and filters so I don't see why plugin questions are so harmful. Many of the plugin questions also revolve around the API. The questions are often related to hooks, actions and filters. – forsvunnet Sep 20 at 8:10

I'd argue that not accepting questions from "curated" plugins is bad. Half-bad, at least.

ACF, WooCommerce, Visual Composer, Gravity are extremely popular plugins that a lot of developers would like to have a way to ask / answer questions about.

Crap, I've been through so much pain with Elementor that I could answer most Elementor questions all by myself, yet, it's not allowed and as you can see on their github page (which is slow and doesn't tap into the big community we have), there's quite a lot of developer activity there. Imagine if we could absorb all these people to also post here.

There should be a rule that allows only developer questions regarding to these plugins.

An example of bad questions:

"How do I install Woo?", "How do I set a featured product image?"

An example of good questions:

"Why does WC_Product give an error upon call?", "How to retrieve quantity from a WP_Product object?"

I feel as if these could contribute tremendously to the stack as a whole, given the fact that there's absolutely no developer Q&A-like sites for developers to use in regards to these plugins, usually.

My last and perhaps biggest point:

I'm sure you guys get a lot of off-topic questions in regards to 3rd party plugins, which you delete, so it's not like development questions (that we allegedly now think as "accepted") will not be parsed and rejected if they're simply just support questions, so -

Why not allow them?

Check my discussions / questions for Elementor:

https://github.com/pojome/elementor/issues?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=is%3Aissue+author%3Aredlagoon

I'm 100% positive that I, as well as many others could've worded these to fit this community and they'd be of great help to anyone that's serious about developing with that 600k active installs plugin.


In response to what others have written:

"We don't allow them because no one cares to answer there, it requires very specific functionality."

I agree and, in fact, my idea of "allowing only some certain plugins" is definitely flawed in the sense of the corruption that it can breed. How do you pick the plugins that you allow questions for? It's a rigged game from the start, though I really believe that for the most popular plugins, which, let's face it, almost everyone uses (Woo, Elementor, VC, Gravity), there's certainly a number of people out there willing to answer, sooner or later.

Though, this is anectodal, of course. I'm basing this off the fact that I know a few WP developers, at different skill levels and that they'd gladly take questions, based on their SE activity on other sub-sites.

So, it might just be worth a shot, given times have changed and to me, WP feels even more vibrant, but definitely more crowded when it comes to low-skill developers.

Just about 5-6 months ago I was a leech 100%. Now I can answer a good chunk of questions pretty easy, I'd take it, with 7-8 more people like me, we could definitely cover some "plugin areas" so it can give a bit of confidence to other developers to try to share their knowledge.

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