The limits of external application support

Performance Foundry Managed WordPress Hosting is designed to take website tech work off your shoulders. As well as hosting your site on our secure servers, we’ll manage the technical side of your site for you. This includes running security updates; backups; and plugin, theme and core updates for you, as well as giving you access to our helpdesk for WordPress questions and small fixes.

However, sometimes we are limited as to how much we can help if there is an issue with an external application. These include plugins and widgets that interact with third-party APIs (application programming interfaces). 

Here is a list of features that fall into that category:

  • Social sharing buttons (especially if they include a sharing count). 
  • Facebook, Twitter and Instagram widgets or badges.
  • Facebook comments.
  • Embeds inside posts, such Youtube videos, Tweets, Google maps, etc.
  • On E-commerce sites, Stripe and Paypal integrations.
  • Mailchimp subscription forms.
  • Ads from ad networks, including Adsense.
  • Feedburner feeds.
  • Google Analytics stats.

This is not a complete list, and new integrations are born every day. 

What's the problem with external elements?

The main problem is that we don't have access to the code that these elements are built with -- we can only interact with their data using their official APIs. We will do our best to solve any issues with these external elements, but it's a big challenge if the problem is in code we can't access!

Take sharing counts for example. Every time we upgrade a site to HTTPS, we need to manipulate their APIs in order to keep the sharing count on each page.  This is because social sites see the http and https versions of websites as two different things entirely. So we install plugins that will request both counts, add them together and show the total.

You are not supposed to this with their APIs. In fact, Social Warfare (one of the plugins we use to achieve this) shared the following recently:

“We’ve noticed recently that many social networks (including Facebook) are changing their APIs to make recovery more difficult. From their point of view, maintaining old count numbers creates unnecessary workload for the API and it’s much easier to only calculate shares for current/accessible URLs. Obviously this is very distressing for us since recovery is a large part of our plugin’s appeal."

And the same logic applies to all of the external elements listed above. If a feature changes or their code breaks (affecting your site), we are limited regarding what we can do because we don't have access to their code. Of course, we'll do what we can to help, but sometimes the best course of action is to try to get in touch with the company that controls the API and can make changes to the code. Service levels and response time will vary depending on who this is -- and unfortunately, sometimes no support is provided, which means that there is little we can do. 

We're always keen to find ways to improve your site and solve problems that come up -- it's frustrating for us too when we can't fix issues due to not having access to the code that's causing them! Thanks for your understanding in these situations. 

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