Meet a Forum Volunteer: Mike Brough

If you’ve 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. While our Happiness Engineers help out in these forums, WordPress.com enthusiasts — people who are passionate about WordPress.com and helping fellow users — provide the majority of answers.

Last month, we interviewed forum volunteer Sergio Ortega (airodyssey). Today, we’re excited to introduce another prolific volunteer: Mike Brough (auxclass, also known as captnmike). We asked him a bit about himself, how he got involved in the forums, and his tips for getting and providing great support.

Mike Brough (auxclass)You’ve been writing about boating safety for over five years. Tell us about your site, how you got started, and why you chose WordPress.com.

My site about boating safety tips, captnmike.com, dates back to August 2008, when the previous owner did not renew the domain name. (Editor’s note: we strongly urge our users to renew their domains in a timely fashion, because once they expire, it can be difficult to regain use of them!) I bought the domain name on a whim, not knowing what I was going to do with it, but it was too good to pass up. I created a very basic HTML site and installed WordPress software because it came free with the hosting account. At the time, I had no idea what a blog was, and I knew nothing about WordPress.

I put some content onto my WordPress install, but only started adding things seriously after I saw that my new post was crawled by Google in just two-and-a-half hours after being published, while a new HTML article hadn’t been crawled in three days. In October 2010, I moved my entire site to WordPress.com and mapped the captnmike.com domain name.

The biggest reason for the move was that on WordPress.com, all the “under the hood” stuff was taken care of. It was a lot easier, and I saved some money, even with the upgrades and keeping my email with my old host. I also like WordPress.com because of its many free features, support forums, solid hosting, ability to handle more traffic, and because I can use it for a site, not just a blog.

How did you first get involved in the WordPress.com forums?

I helped in the WordPress.org forums before moving here (see the modest 600 or so assists from Saildude), so I kept helping, just in a different forum. I used the WordPress.com forums to figure out how to do a few things when I first moved my blog. I found that most of the questions had been asked and answered before, so I learned a lot by reading the previously posted threads. I was able to find answers simply by reading, which was quicker than posting my own question. So I started helping, with no real big plan.

You’ve posted over 12,000 replies in the WordPress.com forums since 2010. We thank you for your awesome support! What kinds of questions do you like answering, and what do you find the most rewarding about contributing to the forums?

Recently, I’ve been answering mostly domain mapping and renewal questions. Many of these questions require some research to figure out what the real problem is: for example, doing a whois lookup to see the domain name’s status, or reviewing the Domain Helper to check on mapping.

What’s been the most rewarding? Finding the two words in a question that everyone else misses and providing a helpful answer. Or deciphering a confusing question and reading between the lines to provide the right answer, even when the person asking the question isn’t sure what help they need.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from volunteering in the forums?

I’ve been doing field service work and engineering support jobs for most of my life, so I’ve already learned to do research when required and to not reply to a question if I don’t have the answer.

In many of the jobs I’ve had, human error could have led to serious injury, so I’ve had lifelong experience in being extra careful about my work. In comparison, messing up the look of a blog is not much pressure, but I still understand the importance of being knowledgable before tackling an issue.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in the support forums?

Read the forums for a while to see how they work. Give complete and accurate answers. Links to the proper support documents help.

If you don’t have the answer, consider not replying and instead seeing how another community member handles the issue. You can learn a lot from reading past threads.

Thank you, Mike, for your WordPress.com community support and for taking the time 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.


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37 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. elliotclaire

    Thank you Captain Mike for helping WordPress become a wonderful community that it is today! Kudos on being featured! :=)

  2. Waywardspirit

    Sexy peek into the proccess by smart quality forum researched answer by design forum volunteer. Makes me want to be this good. Hadn’t ventured to the forums. Been lost at sea. Now? I wan’t to be a part of the answers crew. It’s a good feeling seeing the care and respect my questions will get too. I’ll finally start asking.

  3. Neeraj Bhushan

    Thank you, Mike :)

  4. hsugarmill

    And thanks to Mike and to all you WordPress volunteers. You’ve helped so many of us through some frustrating moments.

    Harriet

  5. Maxim Sense

    This was what I had liked with WordPress.com. It gives all the support necessary and knows how to pamper its users. I am proud to belong to this community.

  6. Tess

    Always gracious, always a gentleman, and of course always most informative.
    Thanks for your work: I’ve learned a lot from you.
    ≥^!^≤

  7. Scott

    This is a great motivator. Thanks.

  8. Christine

    You have broadened my understanding of how forums are supposed to work. Thanks Mike.

  9. Second Chance to Live

    Thank you for helping us Mike. Have a great day Sir.

    Craig

  10. Brandon T. Bailey

    Since I am still new to WordPress.com I want to say thank you for the advice.

  11. PiedType

    Thanks, Mike! I recognize your screen names and you’ve helped me several times in the forums.

  12. timethief

    I’m smiling at Mike who I have learned at a lot form on the support forums. Thanks for this interview.

  13. Heartafire

    Thannk you Mike!

  14. mabel8ble

    Thank you mike. I am a foodie and good cook excel in cheap healthy tasty food, no engineering know nothing about boating. But I really appreciate you folk’s help and the wordpress community. Pls let me know if there’s anything I can be of any help as well. Thank you again

  15. C. A. Ramirez

    It;s good to know there’s people out there willing to help others. Thanks for your time Mike.

  16. mybow03

    You are doing great work . Thanks for doing this.

  17. microjobseka

    Wow…I just knew that there is a community support forum…I found it very helpful :)

  18. Pamela Third

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. If it weren’t for you, and others like you, people like me probably wouldn’t be unable to have blogs.

  19. Ian Gardner

    Good work, Mike!

  20. manninghmorgan

    Being a complete newbie to the blogging community, any and all help posted is very much appreciated. I have to say, once I started to figure out the site, there is a plethora of information on how to properly post and utilize the service. Thanks for all the advice in the support forums!

  21. shanes331945

    Awesome advice. As a hands on person when it comes to fixing things forums are some of the best tools out there to find information that isn’t easy to find. Also a lot of the information posted on forums is from first hand accounts of others, so sometimes if your lucky they will walk you through the problem your having.

  22. Bevypoo

    I am responsible for an large online social gaming community where I have over 55 volunteer moderators. Volunteer moderators are the heart of a community and the face to the customers. Hats off to you Mike! Dedicated passionate volunteers like yourself is what makes an online community ultimately successful.

  23. moorefredena

    I’m new to this so I thank you, Mike, so much to learn.

  24. faisalkhanbbraun

    Thanks a lot mike

  25. afsarnizam

    Thanks mike

  26. Ellen

    Thank you so much, Mike. I so appreciate the kind and generous spirit you employ when responding to those of us who are not expert question formulators! To a lot of us these topics can be very much out of our comfort zone but we do want to learn. Thank you for your patience!

  27. dilmilgaya

    Thankyou mike. I commend your commitment. Good on you !

  28. psicologiafeliz

    Thank you Mike! :)

  29. cboatlady

    I’m still learning and stumbling along as I go. I just wanted to say Thank you Mike for your help!
    I enjoyed reading this article

  30. gabrielle griffin

    Thank you Mike for your sense of community responsibility, & the time & effort you so generously donate. You are much appreciated, all the way down here in Australia :-)

  31. berkelmd

    thank you :)

  32. captnmike

    Thanks everyone for the kind words -

  33. carolynquinn

    It’s so nice that you’ve been such a great volunteer and so much help to so many people – bravo, Mike!

  34. Val

    A great volunteer – polite, too! :)

  35. Nahed Omer

    I appreciated your support

  36. supertek2013

    Thank you for the cool advice. Im new to wordpress and has a lot to learn and i hope that you’re advice pays of. I’ll be doing allot of forum reading in the next few weeks to learn the basics of bloging, hoping to become knowledgeable on the topic and helping other newcomers. Thanks

  37. csrailroad

    thanks Mike. Great help.

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