Shopp is growing faster than ever and we’re once again tweaking our approach to the support we provide. Shopp’s growth is currently outpacing our capacity to bring new experts on board our support team. It’s a good problem to have to be sure, but it’s still a problem. Especially since we want to provide the best support experience possible.
So, once again we’re regrouping and retooling our support systems in an effort to deliver help to those who have a stake in supporting the project.
Due to the historically open registration (now closed) on our forums, there are many forum accounts that have been created by people that have not directly purchased a Shopp update key. In some cases it is consultants who have been hired by a Shopp-key owner to do some development work that setup a forum account to ask questions to the community. Others are people that may have obtained the plugin from another source and are seeking help getting it working (no problem, Shopp is an Open Source project). However, when we choose to use our scarce and finite resources to extend help to our users, we want to be sure that we aren’t making people who are supporting the project wait in line behind someone who has invested nothing in its success.
Before continuing, its important to review our current interactive support offerings. Interactive support is made available through two channels: the public “community forums” and the official “Help Desk“. The Help Desk is intended to provide support for customer service issues (problems related to downloading purchases from the Shopp Store, or update key problems) and technical problems (such as installation issues, or broken features “bugs”). The community forum is best used as an interactive “missing manual” for all the tips, tricks, how-tos, workarounds and fixes to common problems not covered in the official documentation, or by the Help Desk.
For Ingenesis Limited, we’ve hit (long ago) a point where we need to make some tough decisions. As a company, we need and desire to do whatever is necessary to make sure that our customers are able to interact with us to the best of our capability, in particular to our number 1 obligation of customer service (as opposed to technical support).
Single-Site and Developer purchases enable us to make and deliver continuous improvements to the Shopp platform, but update keys aren’t priced with the intent of building a scaled support organization capable of providing highly interactive and open-ended free (as in “gratis”) technical support to an ever increasing community of users.
We are currently working out the strategy, business model, and infrastructure necessary to solve the growing need for a scaleable support organization, while still balancing our desire to maintain a company ethic of providing some level of help regardless of circumstance (when possible) to our growing community. As an initial measure to ration our resources, and provide rewards to those who support the project, we are now adopting a new policy. When free official support is extended to our users, it will only be provided to verified customers.
When using the Shopp community forums, you will notice post authors now include a tag listing “Verified” and “Unverified” users. These tags help identify forum users that may be utilizing Shopp through indirect channels. This is of particular importance when contacting the Help Desk for technical support. The support team will no longer answer any requests for technical support from unverified accounts. When logging into the forums, check your profile and if you notice your account is flagged as “Unverified” you will need to verify your account before requesting technical assistance. For details, read about how to get your account verified.
One more time so that we are absolutely clear… Your account must be verified in order to get a response for technical support issues through the Help Desk. You can still ask in the community forums, but your “unverified” flag will still show. Getting the answers you’re looking for will be at the mercy, compassion and charity of the Shopp community.
Thanks to all of you who have supported the project and helped make it among the most popular e-commerce solutions for WordPress. Development announcements are right around the corner as we continue to work on the next release. We’ve got some juicy news bits in that department that we think are going to get a lot of people very excited. Stay tuned!