Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others. ~Danny Thomas

In developing custom themes for WordPress, which is comprises the bulk of my work these days, I regularly run into issues, questions about how to accomplish a client request, and sometimes problems that are just beyond me. Recently, while developing a site using WordPress, I ran into a problem that completely kerflummoxed me. Suddenly, all the pages that had been set up stopped working, and I couldn’t even get to them in the admin panel. Turns out it seems I encountered a goofy bug in WP when I erroneously tried to delete the Uncategorized category. (I know you’re not supposed to delete that one – just checked it by mistake) I tried to fix it multiple ways, but to no avail and was at the end of my options as to what to try next.

What do you do when that happens? Where do you go for help?

1. Online friends and colleagues. Make it a practice as you get to know others online, to understand what they’re experts in and share with others what you do best in case they ever need help. We’re not networking just so there will be people to call on when we run into problems, of course, but it’s a nice side benefit.

2. Google (or other search engine). Almost always the first place I go if I don’t know of someone who can answer my question quickly, because there will usually be someone who has run into the same problem and found a solution that they’ve published so others can benefit.

3. Twitter, or similar social networking tools. Toss out your question to the masses and see what comes back. In my case, several of my friends on Twitter, like kristarella, dereksemmler, and brianyerkes, jumped in with suggestions.

4. Support forums, such as the WordPress support forum. Just as with using a search engine, I find that most of the time, someone has already run into the question or problem I’m having and I don’t even have to start a new thread to get an answer.

5. Other forums, such as Performancing Hive. I’ve been a part of multiple forums in the past, and have found value in all of them, but the Hive is by far the best one for networking, help and collaboration with some of the big-timers in the blog world. This is where I ultimately found the answer. Ryan, Jeff, Hart, Martyn, and Raj jumped in and the problem was solved within a day.

The thing that continues to impress me the longer I work in this online environment, is how extraordinarily helpful my online colleagues are. I regularly encounter people who will go out of their way, taking time out of their busy schedules to help, expecting absolutely nothing in return. Ask anyone who has been around here for long enough and they’ll tell you the same. Why do you think this is? What is it about the type of person who gravitates towards the online world that makes them tend to be selflessly generous and helpful?

Anyway, enough psychoanalysis… I just wanted to say thanks again to those who helped me out last week. I appreciate it!