WordPress Support on Twitter

Last week, I shared my problems with the WordPress plugins repository. Above all else, I’ve really enjoyed the comments that people have shared – it’s full of good ideas, I’ve had my opinions changed a bit from the initial post, and the conversation is generally respectful.

For those who have been following along, you know that all of this is being shared as I’m slowly working towards the process of restructuring how I build, maintain, and support my plugins.

As such, I’m trying to be as open as I possibly can be about what I like, what I dislike, and what I’m planning to do as this particular restructuring comes into fruition.

One of the things that’s becoming common among businesses – especially larger businesses – is to offer support via Twitter. The more I’ve begun thinking about how to offer support, the more I’m deciding against offering WordPress support on Twitter.

On Offering WordPress Support on Twitter

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that when we – as developers, or even those serving to offer customer support – seek to provide support for our users, we should be able to create an environment with the least amount of friction possible.

WordPress Support on Twitter

To me, this says several things:

  • Users should not have to guess how to contact you
  • Users should not have to learn a new tool in order to receive support
  • If possible, users should not have to create yet-another-account to get support

To that end, I’m a big fan of those support systems that offer an administrative backend for those offering support, but integrate with email so that users don’t have to learn anything new.

Where is Twitter in All of This?

If you look at the criteria above, I think it’s a fair assumption that Twitter almost meets that criteria. That is, if you provide a link to a Twitter account, the other two options fall neatly into place.

But here’s the thing: As soon as you introduce more than one way to contact for support, users will do at least one of three things:

  • Spam both outlets – that is, the support forums (or email) and Twitter – which is abuse of the system.
  • Have to guess which outlet is the best for their question, which introduces friction
  • May try to describe their problems in a stream of tweets, which also introduces friction

Speaking from experience, I can honestly say that users will always do at least one – and generally more than one – of the above. But I don’t fault them! We, as developers or support agents, are creating that environment.

On top that, how frustrating must it be on their end to initially take to Twitter only to be told to take the issue into the support forums? That’s akin to contacting a support agent, describing the issue, then being told that they have to transfer you to someone else only to repeat the process.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

One Forum To Rule Them All

WordPress Support on Twitter

One forum to rule them all and in the Internet, bind them.

So as I begin reworking my plugin offerings and how I’m going to support them, I’ve decided against using Twitter as any form of support because it introduces too much potential for frustration on behalf of the user and on behalf of those who are responsible for supporting the work.

Ultimately, I want there to be a clear path to support with as little guessing and frustration as possible. So as far as I’m concerned, having a single path to support is the clearest way to do that.

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Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. this will be the blog post of “duhs”!

    support via twitter? hell is more comfortable.

  2. At Photocrati we handle a lot of questions through Twitter on both our theme and NextGEN Gallery. With NGG, it’s impossible for us to provide support through Twitter, especially with the volume of users. We also don’t have premium support available yet, so we do our best to direct people from Twitter, G+ and Facebook over to the WordPress.org forum for community help. Any tips on what you would say in a situation like that?

    Once we have premium support available, it will obviously be much easier to handle the volume.

    Also, fantastic post Tom!

  3. I don’t think that Twitter is a good place to provide software support. It’s sometimes hard to provide support for WordPress developments both on wordpress.org support threads and GitHub (if you use one)… so offering support on twitter too? No way :) Besides, describing an issue with a limitation of 140 cars will result in a big big mess :D

  4. If I can answer someones question in less characters than it takes to direct them elsewhere for support, I’ll generally handle their question on Twitter. On the whole I’d say Twitter is about the worst way imaginable for providing support though. 140 characters is rather a pitiful for explaining complex questions and scenarios.

  5. One of the very first short URLs I created with YOURLS and one that I use frequently on Twitter when asked for support: http://yourls.org/support :)

  6. One forum or ticket system is the best solution. Key to success: A good search. I see many forums where search does not help but should. This creates more support tickets. Twitter is good for bumping tickets but nothing else.

  7. I was impressed when WP Engine converted one of my tweets into a support ticket. Looks like this is a Zen Desk feature: http://www.zendesk.com/product/features/twitter

  8. My thoughts for an idea support system would be that people would be able to INITIATE a support request on Twitter and an automated task would DM them a link to a web support ticket. I’ve not actually tried to implement this so I’m just hypothesizing at this point.

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