Hi again! I mentioned in my last post (Preparing My Post about My Application) how I have started volunteering on the Japanese WordPress.com forum, too. The experience is definitely different to the English forum, so I thought I would take some time to share what I have found so far.
Difference in Post Numbers
As one can easily imagine, the English forum gets way more posts than the Japanese forum does. The English forum has active staff members not only moderating but also answering enquiries people bring to the forum. Volunteers do their best answering questions, but sometimes the addressed issue is beyond our jurisdiction, so to speak. There was this one post I replied to the other day, saying I would add the “modlook” tag to it so they would get staff attention. As it turns out, two other people also replied to the post at the exact same moment as I did. We gave what advice we could, but the question was too technical and definitely needed staff help. (You can check out the question here: Newbie. Security Related Issue)
On the other hand, the Japanese forum is not really an officially staff-supported forum. It is designed for volunteers to help the community out and if you do get the occasional staff assistance, then you are actually lucky.
Just to give you an idea of how much turnover is done on each forum… The very bottom post on the English forum wight now is dated as having been last posted 15 minutes ago. The very bottom post on the Japanese forum was last replied to 6 days ago.
Difference in Volunteer Numbers
I have no idea how many volunteers are actively answering enquiries on the English forum. I get the impression there are about 3 to 5 staff members there continually and maybe a dozen volunteers?
The Japanese forum, on the other hand, I have a very VERY good idea of how many volunteers are there at any one time… one. That’s it. Actually, this same guy has been answering almost every question that has been posted there for almost two years now. That is a lot of dedication! His bio says he has always used the free services of WordPress.com and has never paid a penny to them over the last 11 years he has been a registered member. So, he has decided to help out on their forum as a means to pay back what he feels he owes them. Sounds very Japanese, doesn’t it?
Difference in Assistance Quality
The downside of having a limited number of volunteers is that the advice that is given can be incomplete. In the English forum, volunteers generally only answer the questions they are comfortable with. There is the safety knowing staff will answer anything too difficult.
On the Japanese forum, though, this one guy practically answers every single question posted there! I am impressed at the extent of his knowledge. But there are also a few things I have been able to search in the English forums for and give a more informative answer to. Hopefully my helping out will assist the Japanese WordPress.com community, not because I am more knowledgeable necessarily, but because I can search the net in English for answers, too, and provide another perspective on matters.
So, those are a few differences I have found. However, there is one canny similarity I have found, too, which I wanted to point out. And that is…
People Get WP.org and WP.com Confused Just As Much
Well, I don’t really blame anyone. I myself had trouble understanding the difference of the two when I started out. Actually, most newbies probably don’t even realise there are two separate things running out there until they make an enquiry or stumble upon someone else’s forum post about it. Although the number of posts on the Japanese forum as a whole is much less, I think the percentage of enquiries that get the two services muddled are about the same.
(And just in case you didn’t realise there were two different WordPress services out there, I will live a link to a page describing the differences ??)
Thanks for reading!