Following on from Sarah’s post yesterday on breaking blogs (and she’s really not as bad as she makes out – I think it’s great that she just gets stuck in), I thought a few tips on what to do when something seems to stop working in your WordPress, or at least to share our experiences and how we worked through them.
On Monday I was working on a freshly moved WordPress blog only to find that I could not do anything in the Widgets page. It was quite odd as everything else seemed to be working just fine. So, after a quick Google of the situation “wordpress widgets not working” I found a similar situation and figured that perhaps there was a limitation at the server side of things. After doing a quick backup of the database, I deactivated the plugins, then reactivated each, one by one. Problem resolved. This kind of thing can happen sometimes, and a simple “reset” like this can do the trick.
Another site we look after sometimes would have some posts disappear, seemingly random – that issue came down to having a – in the title. With the set-up of the page links (permalinks) on that site and with the version of WordPress at that time (improvements are constantly being made), the system was adding (or trying to add) a – in between the dashes it already adds – and the dear thing was getting confused. So – now we avoid dashes, as well as ! ? and other such punctuations in the Post or Page title.
Something I find invaluable for looking at any oddities that appear with a WordPress blog or website is the Inspect Element feature in Chrome and Firefox (I had a quick look for something similar in Explorer but it was not obvious so gave up – sorry about that – I’m sure there must be such an option and hopefully some Explorer fan will share that with us here…). On the page, in Firefox or Chrome, if you right-click your mouse (or equivalent) you will see a number of options, the last of which is Inspect Element. Now this may start getting a bit geeky for you, but just knowing that we can easily look at such things may be useful. From this information we can see what might be causing any issues. For instance, on one blog we look after, the blog post content was showing up with a yellow background whenever my mouse hovered over it! Very odd. The Inspect Element information told me which plugin was causing this, so we deactivated that and now all is well.
Of course the worst thing is when you blog seems to disappear entirely – the dreaded and infamous white/blue/black screen of death, or whatever melodramatic name we want to give it. Most often it will be a plugin that is just not working happily alongside another and we can easily remove the plugins temporarily. If you want to know more on that, do say, but for now I’ll leave it be in case I start to lose your attention (and if you’ve gone already, you won’t see this anyway and I’m chatting to myself). This of course wants a whole blog post of its own, so…
The main thing to keep in mind is to not panic. Someone else will have had exactly the same thing happen (or something close enough to be helpful) and will have shared it online to help others. So do a search on your problem – and if your first search does not result in anything helpful, rephrase your question.
You know we’re here and are happy to give a hand, however small, if you need us. Or if you have an issue that you want to ask, just to – pop an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.
Just remember – Don’t Panic!