Ramping Down the Support Forum

Over the past several weeks I have been finding it very difficult to provide support for Suffusion. It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to keep up with my day job, theme development, support and most importantly, my life.

With immediate effect I am formally announcing a reduction in the support I provide for the theme. For folks familiar with the forums, there are 3 categories where you can post topics at present: Bug Reports, Support Requests and Translations. From now on, I will only respond to questions where I believe my explicit inputs are required, like a genuine bug report, or some specific support topics.

All questions of the following sort will be generally ignored by me (others might choose to offer solutions, though, and I might occasionally respond to such queries):

  1. How to integrate plugin X with the theme (which file to edit etc.).
  2. Most questions regarding why your layout is broken. I say “most” because there are times when the layout being broken is truly because of a bug, but in 90% of the cases it is due to a user putting in improper HTML.
  3. Any question on adding support for a feature will be ignored. For example, allowing Flash-based headers, ability to load images through the theme options etc.
  4. Questions asking “What will happen if I upgrade the theme? Will I lose my changes?” This question has been answered literally hundreds of times at several places.
  5. Sending me a PM asking for a solution will be ignored. And sending me an email asking for a solution will be ignored too. The forum exists so that people can share information, so sending me a PM or email defeats the purpose of the forum. As things stand today I anyway redirect users to post on the forum if they send me a PM or email, so it is not like you will lose out on any support by this official announcement.

The forum has had several thousand posts in the last one year and a lot of questions have been answered there. But what had been originally set up as a means to genuinely help people out has now become a free-for-all, with a lot of people rushing in to cut corners on development costs by piling on the free support offered here. I am finally taking a stand here – if you need a complex requirement for your site, please hire a developer and get him/her to customize the theme for you.

What you can do to speed up things on your side are the following:

  1. I encourage searching the forum and finding things out for yourself. As mentioned, several thousand posts exist in the forum and a very high likelihood exists that something has been answered.
  2. The software is released as open-source for a reason: so that you can read and modify source code if you really need to do something not offered by the theme.
  3. Without a trace of hubris I will state that the theme is extremely customizable, more than several premium themes. In addition, for people happy about writing code it offers you full support for child themes. Both of these combined let you customize the theme as per your will. Make use of these facts – they will make life a lot easier for you.

At this point I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Connie, Dark_Fox28, Colin and other folks who have been tirelessly volunteering with support issues. If I do happen to meet any of you, lunch/dinner is on me.

I will continue to publish tutorials every now and then on how to maximize your output with Suffusion, and I will continue to put out new releases (albeit at a much slower pace), but please don’t expect anything more than that from me. It is quite depressing to receive 60+ support requests when you are on vacation for 2 days, when you know that you are already handing out software for free that would have taken people thousands of dollars to develop.

27 Responses to “Ramping Down the Support Forum”

  1. Thank you for everything, Sayontan! Enjoy having a real life. You deserve all the best. Your phenomenal theme has made my life (and others’ lives, I’m sure) easier and better. I’ve sent several “cups of coffee” and I hope everyone who has benefited from your kind generosity does the same. Again, my sincere thanks.

  2. I totally support your decision. You have developed something that has a huge value to many people, you should not be expected to keep putting in more of your personal energy to benefit many others. So much of the world expects a free lunch today, from music downloads, cracked software or (my personal bugbear) stolen images.
    I suppose there could be a point where you could commercialize the model, and people would happily pay, but there would be a number who would just then look for the next best ‘free’ one. Maybe you could have an intermediate step, of offering paid support for those who genuinely seek help? I guess this doesn’t stop the issue of your time being eaten in to though.
    Anyway, many thanks, enjoy life 🙂 Bill

  3. It’s easy to ask a question, It’s more challenging to solve it yourself.

    Keep up the good work Sayontan, start enjoying your life! 🙂

  4. Understand your position perfectly, mate.

    How about offering paid support? I’d be quite happy to donate some money when I have a serious issue that might need your input.

    • Paid support might be considered some time in the future. Mind you – I am not pulling the rug from under people’s feet. Even after this post I have continued to offer support, albeit in a much reduced manner.

  5. Thanks a lot for all your hard work. I also wish you a balance between your work and your life. You have one of the finest innovative themes out there, and it would be a shame to let it wither in the vine.

    I noticed that many “free” themes only offer support for paying licenses, which is something I would recommend to whittle down your extensive efforts in answering all.

    We also have invested our time and efforts to make your fine theme work for our businesses and personal sites, and look forward to a continuing relationship.

    Thanks again for all your efforts. Hope you finally have a chance to enjoy those cups of coffee.

    Al Ferreira

    • Al,
      I won’t let the theme wither, that’s for sure. I just want to take time off from supporting and focus on the development of features.

      I might consider a paid support format some time, but I really need to step back and think about it before I embark on it. As I have stated often, this theme is a hobby of mine, and making it paid might change the whole paradigm of how I work.

  6. I also would like to express my appreciation for your diligent support and your great theme. You will be receiving a cup of coffee from me as an expression of gratitude for all your hard work up to this point, and add me to the list of people that would happily pay for support as long as you are updating the theme and keeping it free.


  7. Thanks for your tremendous efforts and totally understood. Enjoy and keep up the great work in every aspect of life. Yours is one of the few freeware projects I’ve donated to. As I wrote here Suffusion is “fantastic: endlessly configurable, bug free, fast, and well designed. I happened upon it by accident when WP 3.0 broke my old theme and I couldn’t be happier.”

  8. Hey Sayontan,
    I have loved the Suffusion Theme and have used it on various blog for a year or so. I want to wish you continued success on your future endeavors. I can only imagine how tough it would be to keep a day job and run the aquoid site. Take a nice vaction….that should make you feel better.

  9. Sayontan, your efforts are nothing short of superhuman when it comes to Suffusion. This theme is literally so powerful that it puts custom themes, paid themes and frameworks to shame. I don’t blame you for ramping down support one bit when everything needed to get the most out of it is easily found in the support forum and in the tutorial posts.

    Take a solid break (sucks that you were bothered by support requests on your vacation) and come back to Suffusion once you come up with features that will leave the rest in the dust again. If I could donate more than what I have already, I would do it in a second.

    Thanks again for all your hard work.

  10. Dear Sayontan, first thank you soooo much for everything you have done. I’d suggest you now develop a more developed and paid version of Suffusion that people would buy to use. I’d be the first (after checking it). Your work is invaluable and all users all grateful for that. Now my question: I understand you want to have more time for yourself and you are so right. Is there any paid support service for Suffusion you are aware of? I have for example a problem I don’t understand and can’t solve, being technically a zero: clicking on the header logo of my site occasionally takes me to Home and OCCASIONALLY TO SOME OTHER, UNRELATED POSTS… Also: I use Suffusion only for a news aggregation site but it seems I don’t know how to tell the system NOT to take the full article but only the title and the summary. Anyway, thanks a lot, and just drop me a note if you know anybody offering paid support. Best regards, Abbas

  11. Dear Sayontan, thanks a lot. Best regards, Abbas

  12. As a developer and designer of many, many years, I do understand.
    I use the theme across several sites and the couple times I’ve needed support, you’ve answered promptly and helpfully.
    On the other hand, I helped build one of the first prototype PCs in 1976 and have been online since 1982. I’m really old. And, as an IT person, try to ask legit questions after trying to solve it myself. In addition, I’ve been teaching advanced technology, media arts and WordPress for 6 years.

    That said, in addition to Connie, DarkFox and Colin, there are those of us who could give back a little more and help the new people through.basic problems without annoying you. And trust me, I’m hugely user oriented and sometimes get very frustrated with questions, but realize we are not born with this knowledge and try to be patient. Unless the questioner is rude. If you are aggressive or rude, forget it.

    So, thank you. Many, many times. I will try to be more attentive and give back.

    • Thanks, Lee – looks like you started work with computers before I was born!

      There are really two points here:
      1. There is a lot of information on the entire Aquoid site, both in the blog and in the forums. However when a large number of users launch into questions without seeing if something has been answered, it gets exasperating beyond a point.

      2. If you go to the forums and check out the posts from the last few weeks, you will see that I have significantly brought down my participation in the “Support Requests” section, but I still have a large number of posts. The one big difference has been that I now support at a much more leisurely rate, unless a bug crops up that needs immediate fixing, or if I perceive that someone has been struggling with a support request that the other volunteers have not been able to resolve. This has really helped me refocus and recharge, so I must be doing some things right.

  13. A hearty “THANK YOU” for your awesome work on this. And cudos for setting limits & focusing on what’s important.

    I appreciate your work and am most grateful.

    Buying u a coffee 🙂

  14. You are correct in all your points. Setting boundaries is quite important and I applaud you for taking that stance. Thanks so much for all your hard work, quick responses, and the vision for such a wonderful theme. Take a little time to enjoy life a little. We do appreciate you and all your hard work.

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