My short-lived membership at WPMU Dev led me to request fairly simple customizations of their themes…and basically, I asked for code that would do X. Things like rollover graphics in their Nav, which while possible for me to figure out on my own…when you’re looking at complex themes…it’s just faster when someone who knows their way around the theme shares functional code.
My first 4 posts at WPMU Dev:
I used topic oriented technical writing principles, which means that I divided two similar topics into two posts. They would have 2 separate “answers,” and if someone were to follow, they would appreciate a unique title to find their solution.
Anyway, Tammie over there told me that I was talking about one thing, she wrote that I was confusing, and she told me to make one post out of 2. I said “can you share the code I’m looking for?” I also questioned the reasoning behind making a third post that consolidated my first two.
Basically, I was then told: “do as we tell you, or we will remove you from our community.” I was stunned…wow!
I made a fifth post and copied and pasted the topics from post 1 and 2 into it. Tammie felt better and started answering some questions.
Then I made a longer post, all with one theme, and Tammie said “please break this up into multiple posts.” And I was kind of like: first I’m supposed to consolidate the posts, now I have to create separate posts, could we concentrate on the tech solution I’m looking for…could you all just share functional code snippets with me that help me move forward?
Anyway, during live chat sessions, I had a GREAT experience with Aaron. Basically, instead of constant renegotiation of what I’m supposed to do, where I’m supposed to do it, how many posts a question is supposed to be, etc., he simply shared his expertise and code. With his help, I was able to create a version of taoofyouth.com that looked like this:
Anyway, the slideshow options don’t work in the theme, the widget area to the right of the slideshow is hard-coded (so they are “theme options” that are tough to disable), etc., and well…I’m a professional looking to release a professional and more than awesome, over the top cool, absolutely functional business-driving website that can be expanded into a thriving community.
So, stuff needs to work, I want answers fast, and I made it clear that I was willing to pay $2/minute for live hands-on code-sharing support.
Just for fun, I created http://www.microsoftesque.com using WPMU’s Studio theme. Again, I was testing things out, seeing what the support at WPMU DEV is actually like.
Here are a few shots of what I was able to accomplish using background images and the support at WPMU…however…again, WPMU threatened to remove me from their community, if I did not do as I was told. It was very strange. I was asking for code. I also said that I’m happy to make videos and share with others how I got the results I’d achieved…and well…I think WPMU would certainly get more customers, if people knew that BuddyPress install could look like microsoftesque.com, and if they knew that the procedure for how to modify studio was available in their member area.
In a healthy, happy and friendly community, where I am supported…I am more than happy to make and share such videos and give virtual high-fives to people who create awesome sites and communities and functionality.
Here are the screenshots of my microsoftesque.com test site:
…cool huh? Not necessarily what I made, but the fact that such a background graphic could be created that is seamless…that the Our Community Panel slides down like that…I mean…with real business graphics this set up could fuel sign-ups, sales, etc.
Well, again I was able to get that result because Aaron shared code during a live chat session.
During the next chat session with Tammie, there were two people there. Person 1 left after 30 min. The chat sessions are 60 minutes long.
this was my list
1. hover graphic
2. try out centering the menu items
3. remove the community item (pageMash?)
4. change the down arrow to dots (I can just change one graphic right?)
5. Activity stream under Latest News
…but at that point I only had 4 points.
1) hover graphic, was an attempt to make the menu of taoofyouth.com look a little “cooler” cohesive background image…and menu items that slightly dim the graphic and the text would brighten.
Tammie chatted that she would not cover that with me.
OK, I moved to #2, which was remove the Community menu item (at that time, my list was different). She said she had no idea what PageMash was.
I chatted this
OK, #1, you are not willing to cover it, and #2 you have no idea…
She wrote “please be civil.”
I wrote: “I’m just summarizing what you wrote”
I mean, she had literally just chatted that she would not cover #1, and that she had “no idea what PageMash” was.
I asked, are there points on my list that you’d be willing to cover?
…and it was pretty much a whirlwind for 30 minutes with no code sharing, and frankly, no business or technical support.
So, folks, BE VERY AFRAID of working with WPMU DEV. Very very afraid.
I went through my emails and saw that I had missed one from WPMU, and well…I felt kind of safe, because as unpleasant as my correspondence with Tammie was, Aaron seemed really cool and good at his job, and masonjames removed the first threatening post he made in the forums early on…and that was replaced by a much more professional post made by James.
So, I figured…well, maybe there are some people at WPMU that have a hard time working with professional needs, but at least the organization as a whole is functional.
James wrote me an email saying that I needed to stop “behaving inappropriately” or my membership would be terminated and my money would be refunded.
The thing is, if I’m asking for code, I’m asking for code, why is that inappropriate. If they say “hire someone to do X,” then that’s what they say, I don’t have any issues with that…however…when I’m told to reformat my posts, change multiple posts into a single post, then change a single post into multiple posts, then told not to do this, not to do that…I pointed out their sales copy, and well…receiving code snippets is pretty reasonable when their copy says “like having your own personal developer.”
I’ve worked with a good number of developers before, and it’s really fun…especially when they amicably and happily contribute code.
Anyway, to James I replied:
Please confirm that a refund is available to me, I’d like to think about your request.
Last night, as I slept, I figured…eh…maybe I can still work with WPMU somehow…maybe their plugin support is kind, friendly, professional, respectful and upright…and maybe it’s just a situation with their theme support.
But, the reply I received from James was:
Like I said on the forums, that was the last opportunity you had to
stop behaving inappropriately.
So, taking some time to think about “my behavior” is not allowed at WPMU, and asking for code is “bad behavior,” and if you so much as peep that you’d like them to be clear, that they could let me know what they do or don’t support…just so much as a peep from me of “hey, let’s figure out how to make this work for both parties…”
The message is “STOP asking anything of us, we are WPMU DEV and you are OUT!”
James also wrote that he’d issue me a refund, which I do not see on my CC statement, and it’s nice that he issued a refund
proportional to the amount of your membership left
Anyway, I’m off to try the Genesis Framework and will post on my progress.
I do feel, in a sense, that I am also an asset. That having me as a customer fuels your business. That I know how to create profitable web presences, and that if worked with, instead of argued with…I am really nice to have around.
So far so good with Genesis, it looks like they have clear guidelines in their signup process like
Please do not send Brian, Craig or the Moderators an email or private message (PM) asking for support!!! That is why this forum exists and quite frankly, you’ll probably get a quicker response if you post in the forums.
If you contact one of the Recommended Designers via PM, phone, email, or their website, etc expect to be charged for this. The support you purchased is covered in the Forums only!
I mean…at least at first glance, it looks like StudioPress (the creators of Genesis) are setting appropriate guidelines for their service…which I really hope will lead to a good and healthy cooperation.
Also…I mean literally…I was just asking for code snippets. I was asking for normal setup type stuff like “can your subscription widget be integrated with iContact?”
So, we’ll see how things progress…but as a professional community manager…I am issuing a heartfelt warning to anyone working with WPMU that they can and do remove people from their community. Regardless of my “behavior,” I mean…since they were deleting their own posts, and I can’t access them…I cannot guarantee that I actually wrote the posts that are under my name within the WPMU DEV community.
If they left my posts the way they are, you will see normal business requests, stated plainly. You will also see my asking them to clarify their policies and asking questions to figure things out.
Whew…glad that’s over…and I’d like to see that refund come through…
If WPMU wants to comment here, they are welcome to…I’m personally happy to open up my discourse with them to public debate and stand behind everything I’ve written and chatted to them.
I doubt that WPMU will allow me to publish what they actually wrote to me, which is why I am only quoting little snippets.
Business owners…beware of WPMU DEV.