Should WordPress.org Support Threads Auto-Close After a Year?
WordPress.org’s support forums are a crucial resource for users and developers alike. They provide assistance for users who encounter issues while supporting their own sites or extending the software. However, there is an ongoing discussion about whether WordPress.org should remove the auto-closure feature from support forum threads.
Currently, support threads on WordPress.org automatically close after a year, unless manually closed sooner. However, a ticket on Meta trac proposes replacing this auto-closure feature with a warning that the thread is old. This change would allow users to continue receiving support on older threads if necessary.
Amber Hinds, a plugin author and CEO of Equalize Digital, supports this proposal and highlights two scenarios where responding to old threads is necessary. First, as a plugin developer, it’s possible to miss support threads if not subscribed to a plugin’s forum. By removing auto-closure, developers can provide assistance on these threads even if they discover them months later. Second, if a user requests a feature that is not currently available and the developer releases it later, it would be helpful to update the support request and inform the user.
Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, also supports removing auto-closure and replacing it with a warning. He suggests that instead of automatically closing threads, users should be notified that they are replying to an old thread.
However, not all participants in the discussion agree with leaving support tickets open indefinitely. Some contributors argue that this approach can lead to unproductive replies piling up or unrelated issues being discussed in the same thread. This can make it challenging for developers to solve the original request. Yui, a WordPress support forums moderator, believes that old topics mostly attract spam and random replies. They suggest leaving such topics closed unless there are compelling reasons to reopen them.
Joe Dolson, a WordPress accessibility contributor, proposes giving plugin authors the ability to close threads themselves. While this modification addresses some of the issues, Dolson acknowledges that managing thousands of open support threads could still be burdensome. He believes there should be a better way to handle closed support threads, as auto-closed threads cannot be reopened without closing again.
Changing the thread closure policy could also impact the metric displayed on plugins, indicating how many issues have been resolved in the last two months. Allowing more people to participate in open threads may affect the accuracy and meaningfulness of this metric.
Amber Hinds suggests a hybrid approach that combines auto-close with the ability for plugin contributors to reopen threads. This would restart the auto-closure timer and allow contributors to provide further assistance. Another option could be to auto-close threads but include a button that allows them to be reopened by plugin contributors, setting a new timeline for auto-closure.
It’s important to remember that not everyone has access to a vast network of WordPress professionals who can answer their questions on platforms like Twitter. For many users, the support forums are their primary source of help. The decision about whether to leave threads open for longer is still under discussion, and the conversation on changing the auto-close policy continues on Meta trac.
In conclusion, the debate about whether WordPress.org should remove the auto-closure feature from support forum threads is ongoing. While some argue for leaving threads open indefinitely, others express concerns about unproductive replies and unrelated discussions. A hybrid approach that combines auto-close with the ability for plugin contributors to reopen threads seems to be a potential solution. Ultimately, the goal is to provide users with a successful support experience and ensure that their WordPress journeys continue smoothly.