We just finished archiving and deleting old WPML support threads. We did this to remove old topics with outdated information. Because of this, some old support topics you find in Google may not be available anymore.
Why This Is Necessary
We noticed that there are a lot of really old forum threads that provided information that was out-of-date and misleading. Such threads were often very popular on Google so WPML users would follow them even though there are now better solutions and workflows available.
For example, you could find mentions of the WPML Translation Management plugin in many older threads. However, we merged this plugin into the WPML core plugin in 2021 and all topics mentioning Translation Management are becoming obsolete fast. So, in this example, the new way of cleaning up the old topics will make sure that you and other users don’t get confused by a plugin that is not needed anymore.
In short, most of the old support threads were causing more harm than good.
What We Are Doing
This is how our support forum will manage old topics from now on:
Threads older than 5 years are deleted – these topics are considered completely outdated and we remove them permanently.
Threads older than 2 years are archived – these topics are not available publicly but their author can still access them after logging into their account.
Anyone can request that we un-archive specific threads they think are still relevant from the last 5 years.
To do this, visit the archived thread, click the Request Unarchiving button, and fill out a short form.
We understand this update might be inconvenient for some users at first as search engines reindex our site and update their results. But, we believe it will make it easier to find relevant information to help you in the long run.
We’d appreciate your feedback and thoughts on the subject.
25 Responses to “We Removed Old WPML Support Topics”
While I appreciate and understand your efforts I think it can lead to high frustration when devs are looking for a “quick self-bug-resolution”. Many devs do that by themselves by scanning your forum threads on Google.
My worries is that we will need more often to open a ticket everytime we experience a problem, with hours and hours of wait for a resolution with all the hassle implied (temp admin, duplicator, recreating environments, etc). Isn’t that better to let the user decide what to search for? Maybe logged in users could search the entire history?
Just my 2 cents.
Hi, Marco, thanks for your thoughts on this! That’s the exact problem, we would get a ton of support tickets that were caused by users following existing old tickets. Suddenly, something would stop working, or they were frustrated as to why can’t they translate something. Then, we would conclude that they followed some old out-of-date ticket just because it was one of the first things Google listed when they searched it.
I mean, you have a good point, and we absolutely considered this before doing this. It’s not perfect, but based on the numbers we “crunched” (the numbers that prompted us to do this), after search engines reindex our forum, things should get back to normal and newer tickets will simply float to the top of the search results while the old ones will be removed.
This “solution,” like all similarly indiscriminate actions, sweeps up valid information along with that you consider “obsolete.” It would have been nice if a more focussed approach was used so that the good did not get thrown out with the bad.
I went to try and un-archive a few of my threads, and the button that would apparently achieve this is not present. So maybe that should get looked at, along with (hopefully) re-evaluating heavy-handed and arbitrary decisions as to what *you* think is useful vs what your users think is.
Hi, Mike! As I just replied to Marco, I understand the current inconvenience and what you’re saying. However, as soon as search engines re-index our forum which shouldn’t take long, new(er) threads will surface to the top of the results.
I will share the un-archiving issue you describe with our team asap and share your comment with them for sure.
The problem is that Google can’t re-index THINGS YOU NEVER WROTE in the documentation.
So now we are left with ZERO information.
Hi, again, Mike! I checked the issue you described with the team and they told me it’s possible you’re looking at topics that were deleted, not archived. Could you share the URL of these threads so that we can check them directly? Thank you!
This is a bad move for historical data. Not only is it really bad for SEO (you should be 301’ing those pages to something) but some of that data is still valid for troubleshooting and knowledge. It seems every valid article I find for my search topic has been removed.
Hi, Roger! I understand what you mean but this will go away as search engines re-index the forum.
Also, you have to understand that there are thousands of topics so it’s impossible to use any logic/algorithm to decide which ones are still relevant/helpful and which are not. We based our decision on numbers and didn’t choose the threshold of 5 and 2 years randomly. When researching this issue, we found that the average age when most topics become outdated and problematic is 2 years and by the time they’re 5 years or older they usually become completely outdated and harmful.
Thanks for your help. It was fast and easy to solve the problem.
I think this is one of the worst logic I ever saw.
Let me give you an example :
My question is less than 10 days old. One of your colleague posts a link to a post more than two years old… and I can see it. On Tuesday it was in 404. Could get it because I’m able to search on Google and get the cache version. Now it comes with a button “oh if you think the information could be useful, asks us to unarchive it”.
How the heck can I know if the information is useful without reading it ? What do you think will happen ? You’ll get even more support questions for which the answers are archived. Many things users could solve by themselves will pop up again.
Users don’t ask support question on old threads for fun, but because they look for a solution to their problem. And if you remove old threads, users still have their problems.
The support threads are still in 404 or accessible only for the user who created it. The Google index is not the problem, it’s the information availability. Through which magical operation will Google reindex – or keep in the index – contents it can’t access ? (and I switched my user agent to check, Google DOES NOT have access)
Yes of course. And it’s even more impossible for me or others to judge what should be unarchived.
When I search for a solution, I read several threads, compare the solutions, do some testing. There is usually one solution that is better that the others. So if I do what you want me to do, there are fair chances that I’ll request unarchiving of non relevant topics.
Imho the best solution would be a visually aggressive banner stating “be aware this topic is old and might not be relevant” and offer a list of more recent related topics.
PS : “you” here is not you personnally. It’s WPML.
And I will complete my former comment by a last slap face on the request for unarchving.
So, you ask me why you should unarchive a topice ? What other reasons can I give than “because I hope, without being sure, that it might be relevant for a problem I have”.
And you will review this request ? So you’ll dedicate some time of the support team to judge whether a request is pertinent or not, instead of focusing on answering questions ? And in between, I’m stucked without any answer, and I’ll certainly sumnit a new ticket ?
(again, “you” is WPML, not you).
Hi, Marie-Aude, thank you very much for the feedback. Could you please share with me, what kind of information exactly are you looking for that you cannot find anymore because of our change? I’m asking because there are usually hundreds of tickets about every little thing, plus our documentation. It would be helpful to know what is missing and cannot be found anywhere else but in really old tickets.
can I provide you with the many searches I made over the past 18 months about WPML and got access to information ? No, I can’t no more than you can sort manually the tickets that are worth keeping.
I gave you an example above, linking to one of my last tickets. Did you read it ? Because the answer I got from you support team directed me to another thread … not available anymore. So I had to require an unarchiving, that, of course, did not happen on the spot, because one of your support team member had to review the ticket.
I can give you another example :
(that gave a perfectly relevant answer, as I applied it).
And when I search in the forum with “WP recipe maker” it says “no item found”.
So, personnally, I’m not going to loose more time on this issue. I saved a google cache version for all the forum threads I bookmarked.
Hi, Marie-Aude, thank you for the quick reply and an additional example. I understand that in some cases like yours, this might be inconvenient. For now, this seems to be an exception rather than a rule. However, of course, I will forward all your comments to my team.
Hi, again, Marie-Aude. I just wanted to add one more thing. We now have a policy that if a supporter directs you to an old ticket with the solution to your question, they must make sure that that older ticket is available and if it’s archived, unarchive it (they can do that) before sharing it with you.
In such cases, this should remove the need for you to ask for any unarchiving on your part.
that’s not the point. The point was “example of…”
Have a nice day. I’m done with this.
Now that you have rightly reversed this decision for Toolset, can we expect the same for WPML?
Hi, Mike! There is currently no plan to do the same for WPML. Toolset is a completely different tool with two major workflows: one using the new Gutenberg blocks and the legacy one using shortcodes. So, users that are still using the legacy workflow use the forum to find a lot of specific solutions which are not available in our documentation anymore. On the other hand, in WPML, there is no need for this as there is only one workflow and it’s much simpler. That being said, can you tell me what help do you need right now, which requires looking into old tickets?
This is making my life very difficult. A warning at the top of the pages saying “Beware: This is very old information” would have sufficed. Now there’s basically no resource for WPML, especially concerning interactions with other plugins such as ACF.
Hi, Marc! Besides reviewing all requests for un-archiving, we are also now reviewing all the most popular/requested forum topics that were archived but nobody (yet) requested us to un-archive them. Can you please tell me in more detail, what kind of information are you looking for that is not in newer forum threads or our documentation? You mentioned ACF but our ACF documentation page is quite detailed. Is there anything specific you need and you think we should add?
I am now looking for hreflang issue in Google Search Console and every topic is 404.
The topics throwing a 404 are topics that are being unindexed by google. they are also topics that were 5 years or older and they were at least 90% of the time outdated.
About the HREFLANG issues, i can theorize that a software like SEMRUSH told you about possible issues with HREFLANG. In those situations, we kindly suggest you approach the support of that software first and ask for more information. Then open a support ticket afterwrds and we will glady help you get to the bottom of the matter.
You can also read about what we do with HREFLANG here: https://wpml.org/documentation/support/adding-hreflang-wordpress/ (this can be sent to the software support mentioned above).
I have been hit with a great number of 404’s over the past weeks, because of the archiving action. While I understand your motivation, I want to stress that I have very often managed to resolve the many issues I encountered (I get contracted a lot for WPML troubleshooting) by reading old troubleshoots, which may either provide (part of) the solution, put me on the right track, or make it clear that my idea for a solution would not solve the issue.
All of this wealth of information, because of which I have no need to create a new ticket 99 ouf of a 100 times, is now gone.
Maybe the other way around would be better? If you notice a ticket being created because someone used an outdated troubleshoot / ticket information, archive that ticket. I realize that’s a lot of work, but still, it would benefit your user community.
I totally understand what you say. we unarchived many many tickets because they were useful and documented many of our solutions. A lot of archived tickets remained as such because they were on forum tickets, yeah, but they were also in FAQs or other documentation.
Many tickets were really harmful, with solutions that were deprecated, outdated in general or were not supposed to be used without a specific scenario happening so they ended up causing more harm than good.
We appreciate your patience and we’re closely listening to every comment so we can find a solution that can fit to as many people as possible.
thanks for getting back to me.
I understand, it’s a tough task no matter which way you go about it.