If you ever had a question about WordPress.com, chances are you’ve visited our Community Support Forums. Forums are a great place to search for solutions and get answers to your questions. One cool thing about the forums is that while Happiness Engineers help out there, WordPress.com enthusiasts — people who have a strong interest in WordPress.com and helping other people — provide the majority of answers.
Sergio Ortega (airodyssey) is a prolific forum contributor. We asked him a bit about himself, how he got involved in the forums, and his tips for getting and providing great support.
You’ve been blogging about your passion — aviation — since 1998, and moved your website to WordPress.com in 2010. Tell us about your site and how you decided to move to WordPress.com.
I had always wanted to write about aviation and share my passion with the world, but could not find a way to do it until I discovered the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s. At first, the website was simply called Sergio Ortega’s Hangar and was structured more or less like a magazine with feature articles, except that it was online. A few months later, I renamed it airOdyssey, and airodyssey.net in 2001. Some features, such as the quizzes, have been there from the very beginning. Others, such as the monthly Guess The Airline challenge, have been suggested by visitors. I actually made a few friends through the site over the years! I moved to WordPress.com in 2010 primarily for financial reasons. Domain mapping through WordPress.com costs me a fraction of what I used to pay for hosting alone. Then I discovered how easy it was to use and what a nice community it has. Sure, I had to give up a few comforts, such as placing advertisements and running my own scripts, but it was worth it.
You started contributing to the Community Support Forums about two years ago, about the same time that you joined WordPress.com. How did you get involved, and what made you stay?
I discovered the forums a couple of months after joining and realized that it was made of users like me. At the time, I watched a few regular volunteers (timethief, thesacredpath, justpi, auxclass, raincoaster, to name a few) and noticed that hey, I could do that too. After all, in my previous jobs, I’ve often been a “go-to person” for technical questions because I like to read support documents. And that’s exactly what I did prior to transferring my site to WordPress.com. So, with what I had learned so far, I started answering easy questions, then moved on to more challenging ones. I continued because of the friendly atmosphere among fellow volunteers and because I felt that what I was doing made a difference.
In the past two years, you’ve posted over 15,000 replies in four languages: English, French, Spanish, and German. That’s pretty impressive! How do you keep up with the different forums, and where do you like to hang out most?
Over 15,000 replies? Really? Wow. I used to post only on the English forums. Nowadays, I spend most of my time in the French forum, where I’m the only moderator, followed by the Spanish one, where I share moderating duties with another user (galois). I peruse the German forum every blue moon in order to not get too rusty with that language. Unfortunately, my life is pretty busy nowadays, so I don’t have much time for the English forums anymore.
What kind of questions do you like helping users with, and what do you find the most rewarding about contributing to the forums?
I like answering questions that involve more research than usual. In other words, cases where the user appears to have done all of their homework (has read the support documents, searched previous threads, etc.). What I find the most rewarding is to feel useful and to get compliments about my level of knowledge. If only they knew that I was a beginner too before. . . . I also learned tons of things by answering questions and by reading answers from other volunteers. That kind of knowledge personally helped me build my website.
What’s the one thing you wish users knew before they posted to the forums?
The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved with the support forums?
Don’t be afraid to answer a question for which you know the answer. Just because there is a set of regular volunteers doesn’t mean you can’t pop in and help too! But if you don’t know the answer or if you’re not sure, you might want to wait and see how a more experienced volunteer answers the question later on. Then you’ll know what to say if that question comes up next time. This way, you’ll also avoid misleading or confusing anyone and you’ll earn the respect of your fellow volunteers.
Thank you, Sergio, for everything you’ve been doing for the WordPress.com community and for the time you took to answer our questions.
Remember, forums are there for the community — this means you. If you have a question, search the forums to find the answer. If you’re knowledgeable about WordPress.com, find an unreplied thread — maybe you’ll be able to help a fellow user.
Jan 14th at 6:13 pm
I second the previous comment: you volunteers have been a wonderful help whenever I had problems.
Jan 14th at 7:03 pm
Did you consume a pint at the famous brewery where the photo was taken?
Jan 14th at 7:09 pm
Thanks Jenia, for this inspiring post about Sergio and the generous WordPress community. You have introduced us to some very nice people. World-hug, anyone?
Jan 14th at 8:03 pm
Your dedication and passion are inspirational. Not only to myself as a novice blogger, but to many others as well. Congratulations on your interview. It is both gratifying as well as heartwarming, to see you receive the praise and acknowledgement your ongoing efforts deserve. I am honored to be among such a gifted group of writers. May I too, prove myself worthy of any notice taken by my fellow bloggers. We all have our stories to tell within this forum. Katheryn
Jan 14th at 8:04 pm
Jan 14th at 9:46 pm
I appreciate getting information about all the wonderful people to allow us to make wordpress such a good site. Thank you
Jan 14th at 9:54 pm
Greetings from the German support forums, Sergio! You do a great job, like the other volunteers.
Jan 14th at 9:59 pm
This was very interesting. I always like to know something about the people we never get to see.
Jan 14th at 11:12 pm
Thumbs up for recognizing Sergio’s contribution to the WordPress.com community.
Jan 14th at 11:20 pm
Thank you Sergio, for being such a selfless person. Enjoyed the interview, and your outlook in life. Great post. Muchas gracias, Merci, Vielen danke, and thank you. Adios, adieu, auf wieder sehen, ciao. Blessings
Jan 14th at 11:37 pm
Thanks very much to all the Forum volunteers for your technical help and most importantly, for your PATIENCE! Keep up the good work! Cheers!
Jan 14th at 11:47 pm
Thank you Sergio for your interest and desire to help.
Jan 15th at 2:38 am
Thank you Sergio for your help. Merci !
Jan 15th at 3:48 am
Well, sounds y/r doing a great job, I’ll probably need your assist. in setting up my forum. mg
Jan 15th at 3:56 am
@second chance, @recis and @pit: Yeah, thanks to all of the other great volunteers too
@sparkyfizz: That’s so nice of you to say At the moment, I’m working full-time for a company in Montreal. If I ever decide to change careers, who knows, I might consider applying for a position at Automattic in the future.
@colmhumphries: So you recognized it, eh? Yeah, I took a sip of Guinness.
@vagiantes: Awwww, sweet
@katheryn: Thank you
@pasangiklanblog: Thanks to you too.
@Torsten: Danke! You’re doing a great job too in the German forums.
@timethief: And thank you for everything you do on the forums!
@parrilaturi and @ian: Thank you too!
Jan 15th at 4:02 am
Really like your interview and thank you so much for doing this job.:)
Jan 15th at 7:56 am
We all know Sergio: he’s the one who never, ever runs out of patience!
Jan 15th at 5:27 pm
Really like your interview and thank you so much for doing this job.
Jan 16th at 12:04 pm
This is called a team work and the right appreciation. It was wonderful reading the so friendly interview. I picked up many a things and stand informed. Thank you WordPress. Thank you Sergio Ortega. We love you both.
Jan 17th at 4:57 am
@elisabeth, @marlyn5413, @jesi, @shaik and @neeraj: Thank you for the kind words!
@raincoaster: I’m only human. I can get impatient sometimes
Jan 17th at 11:21 pm
Thanks for all your efforts, Sergio! It’s volunteers like you and all the others that make WordPress a community, not just software or a hosting platform. You rock!
Jan 20th at 1:12 pm
A great and very friendly volunteer! Um abraço, Sergio!
Jan 24th at 1:00 am
i am proud of you sergio, what purposeful volunteer u are!