WordPress Support and the WordPress Economy

Leaves & cobwebs.

WordPress users have surely heard the news regarding the recently launched Automattic Support Network. Many were quick to analyze the move, some insinuating lesser quality support for the rest of the WordPress community. But I refuse to agree.

Just as Donncha sees it, this can only be a win–win solution for everyone. It legitimizes the business of other WordPress hackers who have been providing paid support and related services for some time now. The growth of online publishing and personal blogging platforms has fueled the increasing demand for skilled developers ready to provide various services, from theme design to plugin programming and of more importantly, product support.

The WordPress community has always been very accomodating to other users and developers. However, for those who need undivided attention producing prompt solutions, hiring a paid hacker is the way to go. Almost every week, I get an email from fellow WordPress users asking for help on almost all sorts of problems, many not necessarily related to my plugins. Some are simply looking for quick answers from those who know the WP codebase, while others readily inquire about paid solutions to their problems. For more than a year now, WordPress Support has been a viable source of additional income for me. Definitely, there is room for paid support for WordPress and other open source software.

As Automattic provides their service for enterprise users, it opens opportunities for third–party developers within the WordPress community. More people fixing problems and adding functionality can only be a good thing. WordPress economy, anyone?

12 Responses

  1. “It legitimizes the business of other WordPress hackers who have been providing paid support and related services for some time now.” – yes it does, and I’m for a wordpress economy charging the big companies and enterprise folks.

    As for those new to wordpress and doesn’t have a lot of cash to shell out, the community is the best place – you get help and give help to a few people who’ll in turn help other people. Indeed as matt said, the community is good and amazing.

  2. Isn’t it more likely that this’ll take business away from third-party developers? Who’s going to hire some lowly plugin hacker no-one’s heard of when they can pay a little extra and get a hotline to Matt Himself?

  3. The community will always be here to stay, ready to help at any time. Note that Automattic’s support network is geared towards large enterprise users, considering their contracts. The minimum is 2,500 USD for a year, something not within the small budget of home–grown publishers and definitely not “a little extra.”

  4. Hmm, haven’t small enterprises been getting their help for free anyway? Historically the community has been pretty hostile towards anyone daring to suggest that their time and expertise might actually be worth money. I hope you’re right and that will change now.

  5. Wank, most small companies do get free help, but they have to find it for themselves. Sometimes, there are some of them who’d rather focus on their business and let the hackers do it for them. They offer to pay for the service so they can demand on specific requirements and deadlines, something you cannot do on the WordPress support forums. :)

    Hostility towards “paid expertise” is simply wrong. We all eat and have bills to pay, no matter how noble the open source cause is. What we should strive for is a delicate balance between free and paid. Besides, those who offer their service for a fee always makes the arrangement clear, before working on anything.

    If I work for other people, be it WordPress–related or other forms of web design, I tell them right away if what they’re seeking takes much more effort and work. If I can’t help them considering my real–life schedule and workload, I point them to the WP support forums and/or other developers. Offering a paid service is the same as saying: “I have work and things to do, but I can help you with your problem if somehow you can pay for the opportunity cost I’m devoting to you.”

    I’m sure things will progress to everyone’s benefit. :)

  6. Markku, I totally agree about hostility towards paid expertise. Would you happen to have a brief on what services you offer and pricing? Words can’t say how much I like your design abilities.

  7. Rico, I do web design from frontend to backend. :) I’ve been working with WordPress for a few years now and can help you with any customizations you may have in mind. ;) You’re also with m-ph, right?

  8. Hi Markku, sorry for the OT comment but I’m just dropping by to tell you that I’ve sent you an email (to the address you listed in your contact page) re: Un/Focused. =)

  9. Well, I just write reviews for them from time to time. :-) I’m planning to move a self-hosted domain, so I might need your help.

  10. well…… at least this paid wordpress thing would be able to take care of clients who have demanding needs :D

    hmm… parang iba tono ko ano? hehe. seriously though. minsan kasi nakakaloka narin talaga sumagot ng support questions, lalo na pag nasa site mo na yung sagot and tamad lang maghanap :p

  11. Gail, you’re not really required to answer every support question concerning your plugins. ;) Truth is, even if we want to, we just can’t because we have real work to do. Unless the problem affects every user of your theme or plugin, then that would be another matter.

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