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Opened 6 weeks ago

Last modified 5 weeks ago

#5238 new defect

Remove or block the support forum for the defunct "Ask Questions" plugin

Reported by: sterndata Owned by:
Milestone: Priority: normal
Component: Support Forums Keywords:
Cc:

Description

See https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/ask-question/?view=all

Apparently, folks search for things like "How do I ask a question for WordPress" and find this plugin's support area.

The plugin has been removed by the plugins team, but the support area remains, and it attracts general WP question.

Can this sub-forum be closed to new messages or just removed?

Change History (13)

This ticket was mentioned in Slack in #forums by sterndata. View the logs.


6 weeks ago

#2 @SergeyBiryukov
6 weeks ago

  • Component changed from General to Support Forums

#3 @sterndata
6 weeks ago

Would it be possible to add a redirect for that URL to

 https://wordpress.org/support/forum/how-to-and-troubleshooting/

#4 @Otto42
6 weeks ago

Can this sub-forum be closed to new messages or just removed?

Not easily, no. Those aren't "sub-forums" or indeed separate things.

The plugin and themes support areas are just views into the (hidden) plugins and themes forums. So, all the plugin posts go into the plugins forum, for example, and that support section is just a view of that forum, using the plugin taxonomy to only see the posts about that particular plugin.

So, no, "closing" it isn't like just flipping a switch. Specific code would need to be added to the site to remove or hide it.

#5 @sterndata
6 weeks ago

Given that the plugin hadn't been updated in over 10 years, can the whole plugin just be removed? There's no valuable content in those old messages.

#6 @dd32
6 weeks ago

While removing the plugin and/or disabling this "forum" isn't something I urgently want to do, I think we can work around this in other ways.

1) Let's get this out of the search indexes, We can do that through #5168 and #5231.

2) Can we figure out what search terms people are using to get to such pages, and what terms are not properly returning support documentation that properly directs the question askers (cc @jonoaldersonwp or @joostdevalk) and use that to ensure that we have Support Forum documentation that meets the needs of everyone?

If both of those don't help, we can..
3) Add specific code to disable this forum OR disable new topic creation for plugins/themes ~5 years after their last release.

#7 follow-up: @jonoaldersonwp
6 weeks ago

Unfortunately, this isn't (just) a problem with specific terms/keywords, it's a symptom of the broader lack of content strategy across wp.org sites, the messy overlap between docs and the codex (and the myriad issues with both), and the sheer volume of low quality / dead-end pages in the forums.

It's still essentially pot-luck which page ranks for which term, and all we can do at the moment is improve small things across the board and hope that Google is smart enough to get it wrong less often.

We've tickets and progress gradually chipping away at some of this, but, realistically, we're never going to get to a point where we can tackle this at a keyword level. At least not within the next 5 years or so, at current pace and resourcing. :(

#8 @jonoaldersonwp
6 weeks ago

That said, all the searches are unsurprisingly for variants of 'wordpress ask a question' and 'ask wordpress question'. It's only a few hundred folks per month, but evidently they're eager to open threads!

We could definitely add some new/extra/targeted pages for these kinds of terms as a quick win, but we'd still need to retire / noindex / canonicalise the exist stuff, which brings us back to square one.

Also considering:

So, no, "closing" it isn't like just flipping a switch. Specific code would need to be added to the site to remove or hide it.

Why can't we just add a 301 redirect / noindex / canonical for this URL (and its children)? That should be trivially simple, no?

And, if it's not, given that we keep running into these types of issues, perhaps we could zoom out a little and scope some basic capabilities to facilitate this kind of thing in the future?

#9 in reply to: ↑ 7 ; follow-up: @dd32
6 weeks ago

Replying to jonoaldersonwp:

It's still essentially pot-luck which page ranks for which term, and all we can do at the moment is improve small things across the board and hope that Google is smart enough to get it wrong less often.

While that's fair, my question was really "Is there any insight into the search terms that direct users to this page?"
While we can dump this page and hope that something more useful ranks into it's place, it begs the question as to what that will be, but more specifically, if there is anything at present which will (Because I suspect there isn't any content for it).

Answers to questions like that will help the Support / Docs teams to improve the content they are producing, as right now, there is no overall direction available as they don't have the data to direct it.

#10 in reply to: ↑ 9 @carike
5 weeks ago

Replying to dd32:

While that's fair, my question was really "Is there any insight into the search terms that direct users to this page?"
While we can dump this page and hope that something more useful ranks into it's place, it begs the question as to what that will be, but more specifically, if there is anything at present which will (Because I suspect there isn't any content for it).

Answers to questions like that will help the Support / Docs teams to improve the content they are producing, as right now, there is no overall direction available as they don't have the data to direct it.

@joyously suggested that the forums home page should have an optimized phrase like "Ask A Question About WordPress" (which is a pretty decent idea), but it has was not included when design did a mockup for the new forums homepage.
This is highly unfortunate, since the forums are exactly the place where people who search Google for this want to land up... They have little interest in documentation - they want to detail their specific circumstances.

This ticket was mentioned in Slack in #meta by joyously. View the logs.


5 weeks ago

#12 @Ipstenu
5 weeks ago

Real quick, a solid plan of attack here sounds like....

  1. @jonoaldersonwp can you get the data Dion asked about?
  2. Using that, can we come up with docs that should be written to address the major terms and get 'better' SEO juice for them
  3. Redirect whomever is left to the 'best' place
  4. Possibly move all the tickets from the last 3 months to more appropriate forums (script it if possible, or buy someone a nice dinner to do it manually)

Is that fair?

#13 @jonoaldersonwp
5 weeks ago

All of the clicks from Google to that page are from variants of 'wordpress ask a question' and 'ask wordpress question'. There's no magic insight here, I'm afraid.

Also worth noting that https://wordpress.org/support/topic/wp-admin-login-5/ got ~76,000 clicks from Google in the last month. for variants of 'wordpress login', 'wp login', 'wp-admin login' and similar.

Last edited 5 weeks ago by jonoaldersonwp (previous) (diff)
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