FAQ, General

WordPress.com Volunteers

The WordPress.com Forums are a great place to get support for your own site, but did you know that it is also a great place to help others?

The WordPress.com Forums represent an active community of WordPress.com users. While staff members are active in the forums, there are a lot of volunteers ready and willing to help as well.

Many of the Forum volunteers are veteran WordPress.com users, but that shouldn’t scare off a new volunteer. Even if you don’t think you are a WordPress.com “expert,” if you’ve been using WordPress.com for a while, there is a good chance that you know more about the platform than someone who just started.

There are no set criteria for volunteering and helping out in the WordPress.com Forums. Just pitch in where you see fit. However, aside from a willingness to make a difference, it is recommended that you have the following:

  • Familiarity with the basic WordPress.com features
  • An understanding of the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
  • Ability to understand the intent behind the question, not just the question itself. Part of providing great support is trying to figure out what the user is asking, even if they weren’t able to express themselves fully.
  • Patience and grace when dealing with (sometimes frustrated) users
  • Willingness to take the extra step to help solve problems

Here are a few things that might help you in your volunteer journey:

Tools and resources

  • WordPress.com has extensive support documentation written by our Happiness Engineers and product developers. You should be able to find the answers to most questions by searching here.
  • We also have a number of tutorials for users looking to reach a specific goal with their sites.
  • You can get a lot of information on a domain by doing a Whois lookup. It can also help you figure out who the hosting provider is for a site not on WordPress.com.

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Tips, tricks and best practices

Test Sites
Create a couple of private free sites for yourself. These can come in handy when trying to troubleshoot bugs with themes or widgets, or just to try things out to see how they work without messing up your real site.

Links
Be sure to include links to back up your answers. Link to the relevant support document on the question you’re answering, or link to a previous forum thread where someone else answered the same question. (When linking forum threads, make sure to check the date of the thread to avoid giving outdated information.)

Tagging
Remember to tag threads with relevant key words. That way it’s easier for someone searching for answers on a specific topic to find relevant threads. Tagging a thread with the title of the relevant support guide can also be helpful. For example, when a user inquires about making money on their site you would add the tag, monetize your site. Tags are also searchable, like this: https://en.forums.wordpress.com/tags/monetize-your-site

When you come across duplicate posts, please add the tag, duplicate, to all of the duplicate threads and reply to the oldest or most relevant one.

Adding tags to threads will remove them from the topics with no tags view on the Forums page.

Pre-written Answers
Many volunteers use pre-defined replies that they can copy-paste to reply to more users in less time. Be specific: tailor pre-written replies to the question you’re answering. Not all questions will exactly match the answer you’ve prepared, so check if you need to add, remove or change something before posting.

Please don’t use someone else’s pre-defined replies, but feel free to make your own if you find yourself answering the same questions repeatedly.

Self-hosted Sites
WordPress.com is our very own version of the self-hosted WordPress software you can find over on WordPress.org. Make sure you understand the difference, and know how to recognize a self-hosted site. While we can provide limited help with some Jetpack questions, owners of self-hosted sites will be much better served by visiting the WordPress.org forums, or contacting their hosting provider directly.

If you’d like to check whether the site is hosted on WordPress.com, try a whois search using your favorite tool, such as https://whois.net/, to check whether the site’s name servers are set to ns1.wordpress.com, ns2.wordpress.com, ns3.wordpress.com. If they are, the site is most likely hosted on WordPress.com.

For Jetpack issues you can point users to Jetpack Support.

CSS Support

If you work through threads from the front page or unresolved/unreplied filters of the forums, you’ll occasionally open a thread that has been posted in the CSS sub-forum. If you’re not comfortable giving CSS help, it’s best to leave CSS customization threads for staff and expert CSS volunteers to answer. Unreplied threads will be spotted more quickly that way.

It’s not necessary to add modlook to threads in the CSS forum.

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Forums Community Standards

It’s good to remember that as a volunteer, you are also acting as an ambassador for WordPress.com. At times you may wish to remind other users about our Forums Community Standards but you must hold yourself to that standard as well.

In terms of working with other volunteers and staff, please also try to keep the following in mind:

  • Be nice. If someone posts an inaccurate or incorrect answer, help them in the same way you would like to be helped if it were you.
  • Be teachable. WordPress.com changes every day, and no one knows every aspect of the platform. If we all are willing to learn from each other it will only improve the quality of the help we give our users.
  • Attribute. If you quote another volunteer’s answer, mention whose answer you’re using and link it back to the original thread. When quoting a staff reply also please include a link to the original thread for added context.

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When to Call in Staff

You can call any thread to staff’s attention by adding the tag modlook to the thread. Our Happiness Engineers work through all tagged threads every day, replying to oldest threads first.

Before tagging a thread for staff, please make sure to ask the user for relevant info like the URL of the site or the domain with which they need help if they didn’t provide it in the original post.

Some threads should please always be tagged for staff attention:

  • We do not help with Terms of Service issues in the forums. This includes requests for help with suspended sites, reporting sites that are violating our terms, and mature sites. Please point the user to the relevant support doc for the issue, and then tag the thread for staff so we can close it.
  • If someone posts sensitive information. This includes passwords, credit card details, phone numbers, and transaction IDs for upgrades. When this happens also tag it with remove personal info.
  • If a post is clearly spam, tag it with both modlook and spammer. Please don’t reply to the spammer. If you reply to them we cannot mark the thread as spam, only close it, and our spam filter cannot be taught to filter similar threads out automatically.
  • If a user (or another volunteer) is being abusive, please don’t engage with them, but tag the thread for staff instead.
  • With domain and refund-related questions, feel free to answer, but still tag the thread as well so we can double check. If our help is not needed we’ll just remove the tag without a reply.

If you have a specific question or feedback for staff, also feel free to create and tag your own thread. While we won’t always be able to implement your suggestions or give an answer, we value hearing from our volunteers.

Thank you for your willingness to help out in the WordPress.com forums and for giving back to the community.

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