In one of the more surprising announcements I’ve heard in some time comes news that Alex King of Crowd Favorite is shutting down the WordPress Help Center.
WordPress HelpCenter will be ceasing operations on February 28th. Between now and then we will be working with existing customers to wrap up all of our committed projects, but we will not be taking on any new projects.
Started in 2009 the WordPress Help Center sought to provide users with an alternative source of support. The idea itself was a good one.
As a member of the WordPress Support Forum, although I haven’t been very active as of late, I can attest to the fact that another avenue of support was needed. The problem with the official .ORG forum is the huge number of people seeking support and the limited number of those providing it. It’s a simple numbers game. The WPHC sought to alleviate that by providing paid support at a reasonable price.
“commercial support for free plugins and themes just wasn’t something they were willing to pay for”
The WPHC created a list of commonly asked for items with every item on the standard price list coming in at under $20. Support was handled over the telephone which meant solutions were found nearly instantly. Plugin authors who didn’t have the time to provide free support could refer users to the WPHC.
So why the announcement? It seems to be a combination of factors including lack of support from developers and the general reluctance of many users to pay for support.
Unfortunately we were not able to get the traction with developers that I was hoping for. Part of that may have been due to the $1 payout amount, so we were planning to increase that to 10% and created a set of tools to make it really easy for developers to include in their plugins. We never made this change or released these tools because their readiness coincided with the culmination of feedback from the community that commercial support for free plugins and themes just wasn’t something they were willing to pay for.
Alex also cited difficulty in maintaining support staff a contributing factor.
Hiring for WPHC was extremely difficult. We needed generalists that knew WordPress very well, that were also personable and comfortable talking with customers. It’s a hard combination to find, and harder still to find at a salary range that the WPHC projects could support. Ultimately many of them left, tired of dealing with the fraction of our customers that were rude and unpleasant.