Mika Ariela Epstein is better known as Ipstenu, the Half-Elf Support Rogue. She works at DreamHost where she solves any WordPress problem that comes up, and still finds time to slash unanswered WordPress.org forum threads by night and wrangle plugins by day.
We caught up with Mika to ask her a few questions about her lightning talk at WordCamp Portland.
How’d you get into contributing to the WordPress.org support forums?
Would you believe I had a question? I was having massive issues with Mod Security (I often call it my arch nemesis – I love it, but man I hate it sometimes) and while I was looking for an answer, I ran into someone’s .htaccess question. I had just faced that myself, so I answered. Then I saw all these questions people had and realized I knew some answers, so I kept answering while code was compiling at work. One thing lead to another, and I told my boss I was volunteering in order to beef up my skills at handling weird requests. Which worked out really well for me!
What’s the most memorable interaction you’ve had with someone in the support forums?
The worst one was the guy who threatened to sic 4chan on me for deleting his posts (which I actually didn’t do). I never laughed so hard.
The best one, though I saved it here:
*Forthcoming caps do indicate yelling.
I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS PLUGIN MY WHOLE LIFE. WHERE THE EFF HAS IT BEEN?! I’VE GOOGLED THE JUNK OUT OF THIS MOTHER.
Thank you for improving my quality of life. I hope that you will fall off a cliff, only to be snatched out of the air at the last second by a friendly dragon-thing (like in Avatar), and carried off to a magical land where you can connect your tail with a tentacle tree and commune telepathically with nature, because then you will feel like I do right now.
How can you beat that!?
For those building plugins and themes, what commonly-missed advice can you offer?
Remember to set up email alerts or RSS alerts for your plugin/theme! You can find that at:
You can get email alerts! They rock.
For someone looking for an answer to a problem, how can I increase my likelihood of getting help?
Use a short, descriptive, title, like “When I activate Rickroll, all my videos change to ‘Evolution of Dance’ instead!”
And in the content of the post, be descriptive and list anything you’ve already done. Nothing’s harder to debug than someone saying “It broke!” Remember we can’t see your screen, so saying “My screen is blank white!” is super helpful to us. Saying ‘I tried everything!’ also is less effective than you’d think. What you did was try everything you could think of. I can think of other things you may not have. That’s why you’re asking, right?
Finally, be ready to try things out. You’re now a partner in the debugging process, so you’ll have to get your hands a little dirty. I know Ms. Frizzle would be proud.