Step By Step Tutorial On Getting Help With WordPress Problems

Problems With Blog

Wait Before You Do This!

Did something wrong and now your blog is all messed up?

Do not worry, you can easily get help.

However, when asking for help, you need to keep certain things in mind so that your problem is solved as quickly as possible.

As a troublemaker and troubleshooter, I have learned a lot about common blog and WordPress problems in last 2 years. So, I thought I should share what I have learned about getting help for WordPress problems.

So, here's step by step process for identifying the problem and getting help at right place:

Identify Your Last Action(s)

What was the last thing that you did before the problem happen? Was is a new theme or plugin? Whatever it is, note it down.

Most common causes of blog problems are:

  1. Installing new theme or plugin.
  2. Editing existing theme.
  3. Pasting an article formatted in Microsoft Word.

If your problem is caused by any of the above reasons, it might not be big. Asking at WordPress Support Forums or any other blogging related forum like Bloggeries or SitePoint will solve the problem.

However, if you were sleeping and woke up to see a new problem, this might be tricky. In this case, move on to next step.

Note Down The Error Message

What error message is displayed on your blog. Two most common error types are:

  1. PHP Errors: You can identify these by looking for PHP messages like "wrong syntax in line xxx" and similar error messages.  Usually, these are caused when editing a theme or after installing a plugin on your WordPress blog.
  2. Server Errors: Identify these by looking for codes like "Error 500: Internal Server Error" or "Server could not find the file specified". These are mostly caused by problems with your hosting company.

Decide Where To Ask

Now, you know the error type. Next is to decide who you should ask. Your options are:

  1. Forums: If the problem is not really complicated, you can easily find help in forums. However, forums are mostly hit or miss cases. You will find solution to problems 50% of times but many times, your question might not be answered at all!
  2. Freelancers: Freelancers are quick and since they are experts, they can solve the problems easily. However, they are also a bit expensive. Sometimes, you might end up paying a lot for a small problem. Our venture WordPress Blog Experts can be a good place to start looking for help.
  3. Friends: They are quick and most of them won't. Before going to a freelancer, they are good option for you. Just make sure to not bother them quite frequently.

Prepare The Question

Now that you know everything, your computer will fire a magic spell and all you know will be posted to relevant place automatically in a manner that people can easily understand.

No! Just kidding. That's never going to happen.

Now, you have the most important thing to do: Prepare The Question.

Why is it most important?

Because you might have done previous steps with 100% accuracy but if you do not describe the problem well, even the best coder for wont be able to help you at all.

So, let's start with preparing the question. Your question must have following details:

  1. The Problem: What exactly is the problem? Better if you take a screenshot and highlight it.
  2. The Action: What did you do that caused it? Write with all the details you remember.
  3. The Error Message: What error do you get?

Next step is to:

Clear Private Information

Take a look at the error message. Most PHP messages may include your hosting panel username as they go like "Error at line xx in document.php in /home/yourusername/wp-content...".

Now, exposing this info, especially the username of cPanel can be dangerous. So, better clear the personal data out.

Ask The Question

Now, go on and ask the question. Where? Well, depends upon the size of problem:

  1. My Whole Site Is Down: Ask on support forums. If no replies come within 15 minutes, ask a freelancer or friend or contact your host.
  2. Design Is Broken But Site Is Accessible: Ask on a forum. If there are no replies within 6-12 hours, ask a friend or try undoing your last actions that caused the problem.
  3. Minor Problems, A Widget Or Section Is Broken: Ask on a forum. If  you do not get any replies within 1 day, ask a friend or on another forum. However, these problems are usually solved easily on a forum.

I hope these steps help you to solve the problems with WordPress quickly.

Have any other tips? Do not forget to share in comments. And do bookmark using Delicious or StumbleUpon, who knows when the need arises!

About Ishan Sharma

Hi, I am a young Blogger from India. I am very passionate about blogging and also co-founder of Blogging With Success. I write about general blogging tips and WordPress. You can read other posts by me here.If you need help, feel free to contact anytime!

Comments

  1. WordPress support forum is an amazing and helpful forum for everyone who is blogging with wordpress.

    We just have to be patient and they will help us, though sadly, some questions are not answered.

  2. Hi Ishan

    I came across from Twitter after seeing the topic of your post. I am such a non-techie so thought this may prove helpful for me. Thanks for such an informative post Ishan. Much appreciated.

    Patricia Perth Australia

  3. Hey Ishan, what a great topic to address! I was once playing around with my .htaccess file for my entire hosting account (trying to do 301 redirects) and messed up ALL of my websites! Luckily, I was able to figure out what I did wrong and got everything back. But I definitely would agree with you in your advice to get help from support forums or other sources, since there are a lot of generous and skilled people out there. Also, you can make it worse if you keep playing around with it yourself!

    • Playing around with .htaccess?
      I am sure you like adventures! That one single file can wreck havoc if not handled correctly! Great that you got everything back.
      Yes, forums are a great way to get help because of great community!

  4. When I get an error I always paste it into Google to find the solution. :)

  5. Hey Ishan –

    Great topic here. I've bookmarked this. While my blogging wordpress skills have moved along at a decent rate, I still find myself clueless…and often.

    I've found that google searches are great. I'm typically lead to a blog such as yours or a forum. Both great places. But since I have a friend, in you, I'll shoot you an email and beg for help!!!

    Thanks Ishan!

    • Hi JK,

      Thanks for bookmarking. Google is definitely a great help when looking for common problems. I often paste the error code in Google search and it often results lots of forums discussing this issue.

      And by the way, friends do not beg for help, they shoot a mail and order for help! ;)

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Hi Ishan,

    Very nice post! Everyone who uses wordpress really has to be careful when editting something in the theme. I try not to change anything that is not necessary in my blog. However, sometimes when wordpress updates their version, that causes problems. For example, now that I have update my wordpress, I can't add photos the "normal" way. I upload the photo some where else online, then copy it to my wordpress, which takes a little more time. Thanks for sharing

    • Hi Dia,

      Yes, changes should be careful and only done with proper backup as a single wrong alphabet can easily break whole WordPress blog.

      Regarding your problem, it seems more like a problem with host. If possible, can you mail me the exact problem? I can find a solution for you.

      Thanks.

  7. Ishan,

    I have been there where my site has crashed after updating to new update. It was crazy time, I should have read this post then, as I had come close to this lady in picture!

    Important thing to do is always back up blog posts too, just in case. Btw, I mentioned you my new post as I am quite impressed and new reader to your site!

    • Hi Mike,

      Glad that you like the post. Thanks for mentioning Blogging With Success in your latest post. I just took a look at it and it was great.

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  8. Hi Ishan, I like to modify my template and blog, but at the same point I am not that skilled, so you can imagine how many time I have messed up something:)

    However I am trying to be more careful now, I try to make a research before I do something with my blog and I do backups.

    But if I mess something and do not know what I did the easiest way out for me is to reinstall the template. This technique helped me many times:)

    On the other hand if this did not help I unusually asked for the help on forums, there are always many people who are able to help you relatively in short time and for free.

    • Hi Adam,
      Backups are life savior in most cases. I always have a backup copy of my theme files so that they can be restore in case of anything. Yep, reinstalling the theme is a good options. However, for us, it simply won't work because we have made too many customizations to Thesis theme and making them again will take hours.
      Thanks for commenting.

  9. This makes a lot of sense, Ishan! My problems always stem from copy and pasting to my theme from Microsoft word. I find that it helps if I first paste it into Notepad. I like the way that Bloggeries handles any problems I have, they are helpful. Thanks for the advise here, this is always a headach to figure out!

    • Hi Jasmine, it is best to use an offline editor to avoid Word formatting problems. Bloggeries has good community eager to help friends and it's easy to find help there.

  10. Forums are great places to find answers to wordpress question. First, find a friend with high ranking. Give them something of value then ask them for there advice. Forums are here to help guys. So go help your self.

  11. Awesome post Ishan. Yeah, Iagree with your points. It's always good to know the kind of question you want to ask when you need help because people are too busy this days. Thanks a lot for sharing. Have fun :D

  12. I've also found, when your blog gets bigger, it's always good to stop messing with things :P

    I once did an install of multiple plugins through ftp, and then found that one of them was incompatible with wordpress, and i had to search through the 50 or so plugins that i had installed. Not fun.

    If your using a popular plugin or something, often the question has already been asked, so it's not always necessary to ask the question.

    • Hi Peter,
      I avoid installing multiple plugins in one go and often do it one by one. It's a big headache to find the problematic plugin but to WordPress, it had to be done.
      The new "Works or Not" feature of WordPress Plugin Directory is a big helper for us. Makes it easy to find working plugins.
      Thanks for commenting.

    • I think the best practice is to have a wamp installed on your machine to run an exact local copy of your website, if you can't run wamp on your local machine then create another copy of your site in some other directory of your server as testing environment. Such copies can also work as backups if you take care of both live and backup site.

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