last person joined: 10 hours ago 

A place for nonprofit WordPress developers and content managers of all skill levels.
The WordPress group is an engaged network of WordPress developers and content managers, for all skill levels, by WordPress users for WordPress users, to encourage the usage of and advocate for WordPress.

Our goal: to support nonprofit organizations using (or interested in using) WordPress. Additionally, this is a safe and friendly place for beginning WordPress developers and users to ask questions and connect to like-minded people.

Short link: http://community.nten.org/wordpress

Subject: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

1.  Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 17, 2017 14:29
Kim HearnHello you wonderful WordPresser you! It's time to get back to building our sites and getting to know the members of our awesome community. This year we're starting off with Kim Hearn. Let's get to know Kim and help her troubleshoot her Gravity Forms problem!

Want to get featured in the coming months so you can brag about your organization? Let me know!


What's your job title and who do you work for?
I’m the Technology Manager for Icing Smiles, an organization that provides celebration cakes to critically ill children. We utilize our network of 8,000 bakers across the U.S. to create one of a kind cakes for medical children and their siblings.

When and how did you get started with WordPress?
Last summer I inherited our old Drupal site which had been created years before by a consultant we no longer had a relationship with; as a result the site hadn’t been updated other than content for years. The site was not mobile optimized and when I was researching options for upgrading I kept finding articles on WordPress. I had discussions with a board member who uses WordPress for a few businesses and he spoke very highly of it. Around this time we also had a WordPress developer join our team.

While we were not initially planning to switch over to WordPress our old Drupal site was hacked and very badly corrupted. Once we realized how badly the Drupal site was corrupted we made a quick decision to switch over to WordPress and created a brand new site within a matter of days. I would love to say that we had a well thought out design with group consensus, but that wasn’t the case. We were in emergency mode and pulled a site together very quickly and have been evolving it since then.

How do you use WordPress these days? What type of WordPress user are you?
I update all the content for our site, manage all the forms, and am learning to use Visual Composer to get a little more creative with pages.

What's your dream feature for a future version of WordPress?
The main priorities for me are having a system that easy to use for non-technical users, is secure, and easily customizable for developers.

Do you have a recent WordPress/website win you could share with us?
I volunteered at WordCamp U.S. in Philadelphia in December. In addition to learning new things I had the opportunity to meet two of our fellow WordPress NTEN members, Yesenia Sotelo and Andy Stitt. 😊

Do you have a recent WordPress problem the group could help you with?
My current challenge is that sometimes our online form for requesting a cake (using Gravity Forms) won’t submit. Neither my web developer nor I have been able to replicate the problem so I’m struggling with where to begin trouble shooting the issue.

Mark Root-Wiley

MRW Web Design / MRWweb.com / @MRWweb
Thoughtful WordPress Website for Nonprofits & Mission-Driven Organizations
Seattle, WA

2.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 17, 2017 14:55
What a great organization!  Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Kim.

I looked at the WHOIS record for your website and see that you are using BlueHost for your hosting.  I've had nothing but trouble with form submissions and their hosting.  I called support once and they said "it's a known issue" but gave no idea on when or if it would ever be fixed.  I tried several different form builders on the two sites I have hosted there, and nothing would submit.  I don't recall the exact nature of the issue, but it was something about submitting to email addresses having the same domain as the website being impossible.

I figured out a work-around a while back.  I set up Gmail addresses for each email that I needed form submissions to go to, and sent the forms there.  Then configured the Gmail accounts to forward to the correct email accounts that should receive the forms (and to automatically archive once forwarded so there's no email account maintenance there).  Using a Gmail email address for form submission worked on both sites.

I no longer use BlueHost for that reason - nearly every site wants forms.  Rather than move your entire site, try the Gmail workaround and see if that doesn't help.  :)


Cindy Leonard, Consulting Team Leader
Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University, 
339 Sixth Ave, Ste 750, Pgh, PA 15222
p 412-397-6007 | f 412-397-6016 | leonard@rmu.edu | www.bcnm-rmu.org

3.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 17, 2017 15:37
Welcome Kim!

I was going to suggest some possible troubleshooting possibilities, but Cindy likely has you covered on both counts. GMail work around is clever. Jumping ship to excellent hosting is likely your longer term solution to allow simple form creation and use. 

You'd think Bluehost would have moved on something as fundamental as forms by now if it's actually a system issue. 

Anyway, love the organization and welcome to the many hued world of non-profit web development.  ;-)

4.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 18, 2017 05:41
Great to hear about what you're doing with WordPress.

For the Gravity Forms problem it depends on the nature of the issue.  Are you getting entries in Forms->Entries in the WordPress Dashboard but no email notifications sent? If so then Cindy's idea about email addresses may be helpful (though what Cindy has described is normally a misunderstood "feature" of hosting, not a problem with it - I'll come back to this).

If people can't submit forms at all, or if they are not appearing in the Entries section of Gravity forms then you have a different issue. Can you please describe in more detail what is happening and maybe post a link to one of the forms that is not working?

Back to the email thing then. If this is what I think it is then it's a feature or option of some servers (in particular cPanel based hosting) that email sent from the website on the domain to an email address on the same domain is not routed externally - it's merely passed internally.

Let's explain with an example. Say your website is on mywebsite.com and you have this on shared cPanel hosting and your email address is on the same domain (e.g. hello@mywebsite.com) and the email for the domain is hosted on the same server as the website. Now, if the website has a forms plugin and that forms plugin tries to email a notification to your email address then the server says "Well, I host email for that domain, so I don't need to send it off the server only for it to come straight back again - I'll just route it internally".

This works and is more efficient.

But now lets say that that email for the domain is hosted elsewhere, say, on Google Apps (or "G Suite" as it's now called) or Office 365.  Well the server MAY be configured to still route the email for the domain internally, in which case you won't receive the email. Note that email to all other domains is routed externally and still works, which is why sending the notifications to a GMail address works.

It's complicated - I hope that made sense to someone.  If this is what is happening, then you need to change a setting in cPanel to instruct the server to route the email externally, after which it will find its way to the proper recipient.  I write this up a little here: https://oikos.digital/2012/01/tech-notes-website-not-sending-emails-to-own-domain/

If that's not the issue - for instance, if you're not even getting the entries in the WordPress Dashboard, then send us a little more detail and we'll see what we can do.


Ross Wintle

5.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 18, 2017 05:43
Having said all of that, I just checked and your email seems to be with Outlook/Office365, so it's probably not the cPanel issue. But maybe that cleared things up for other people having form submission email problems!

Ross Wintle

6.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 18, 2017 10:42
That actually makes a lot of sense! Thank you for the explanation.  

Even so, you have to wonder why hosting companies aren't recognizing that the "feature" has become an issue, making it difficult for form builder plugin users who actually want the notifications via email within the same domain.  You'd think they'd provide some kind of choice or workaround or something, I don't know.  (Or you'd think the form builder plugin creators would think up something - browser notifications or social media notifications, etc.)  I'm just saying, if that many people experience difficulty with a thing, how the thing is done or handled should be reviewed for potential change.

I know, dare to dream.  :D


Cindy Leonard, Consulting Team Leader
Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University, 
339 Sixth Ave, Ste 750, Pgh, PA 15222
p 412-397-6007 | f 412-397-6016 | leonard@rmu.edu | www.bcnm-rmu.org

7.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 18, 2017 15:04
Hi Ross,

We were actually having two different issues. The first is that people occasionally were not able to submit a form; they would receive an error message on the webpage and no entries would come through. Thankfully, one user took a screen shot and the error message was for the reCAPTCHA so I removed this and since then this issue has seemed to go away.

The second issue is that sporadically the notifications are not being sent.  The entries are on our website, but the email notification I have set up is not sent.  Any ideas for this one?

Kim Hearn
Technology Manager
Icing Smiles

8.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 19, 2017 04:45
Hi Kim,

Thats slightly clearer now. If you have entries then the form itself is working and what you have is an email problem.

What's crucial here is to understand if emails are not being SENT or if they are not being RECEIVED.

There are three steps to this really:

1. Is GF running the code to send the email
2. Is the web server sending the email
3. Is the recipient receiving the email

There is a Gravity Forms logging add on that should help you work out if GF is trying to send the email: https://www.gravityhelp.com/documentation/article/logging-add-on/

If that is all fine then for part 2 you'll really need to ask your hosting company if they can see messages being sent in their outbound mail logs. Probably best if you pick a message that you have an entry for but not an email, and ask about that message specifically.

For the third part it's worth asking: are these notifications always to the same address (I.e. Is it an admin notification to you?) or are they to different addresses (I.e. Is it a response to the website visitor).

If you're getting intermittent emails to the same address, then that's very odd.

If you're getting intermittent emails to visitor's email addresses then that's more likely but harder to diagnose. Do you know if this is what's happening?

My suspicion is that your outbound emails are being rejected by some receiving mail servers. This is normally because they are flagged as spam. And this normally happens because you're DNS records aren't configured properly.

In your case you are using Office365 for email and your DNS (your MX, or Mail Exchange record, to be precise) tells the world to send email to that system. Now, under normal conditions if you send an email, it's from Office 365, and so the recipients email system looks up your MX record and the record says that Office 365 handles email for the domain, so that must be genuine.

But an email sender is REALLY easy to spoof. So if an email is sent from somewhere other than Office365 (such as your web server) then the receiving email system gets that email, says "well, this came from Bluehost, but the MX record says that email is handled by Office365, so it must be spoofed. I'll send it to the spam box.

However, you have a special DNS record called an SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record. This can tell the world that other servers on the internet are allowed to send email for your domain.  So someone has attempted to set up SPF to fix this. Or possibly Bluehost just do it for you anyway.

Your SPF record says:

v=spf1 include:spf.protection.outlook.com include:bluehost.com -all

This says:
 - Its SPF version 1
- Outlook is allowed to send emails
- Bluehost is allowed to send emails
- If anything else sends email then it's DEFINITELY NOT allowed

Two bits of this are relevant.  The -all on the end is an instruction to "hard fail".  This means that if none of the rules match then the email should be rejected. Not sent to spam. Totally rejected.

The other bit is the Bluehost rule. The Outlook bit is obviously good, but you're also telling the world that Bluehost can send email for your domain too.

This is PROBABLY good, but I've run your domain through the SPF record tester tool at mxtoolbox.com and it says that there are too many references to other things to follow. In short, it's having to do too much work to make sure that your email is allowed through.

This MAY be what's causing the problem. But it's very hard to say.

What I would do is I would just change your SPF record to be:

v=spf1 a include:spf.protection.outlook.com include:bluehost.com -all

Note that I added an "a" after the "spf1". This is cryptic , but it tells the world that your web server is allowed to send email. And this can be discovered without following lots of references to other things. This MIGHT help.

My other suggestion is that if these emails are mission critical, you could sign up for a transactional email delivery tool like Mailgun or SendGrid.  These are kinda complicated to set up, but provide a proper platform for sending both bulk and one off emails and also have detailed reporting on deliverability of emails. I especially recommend these services for eCommerce sites or sites that send large volumes of email.  You will probably want to consult a professional developer that understands these tools to help get one set up.

I know that was long and complicated, but I hope it helps both you and others in the group that have had email issues.


Ross Wintle

9.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 19, 2017 08:11
Thank you Ross!

That was very instructive. 

10.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 18, 2017 13:42

Hi Cindy and Gordon,

Thank you for the info!  We ran into this exact issue when we first starting using Gravity Forms and as a result switched the from email to be a gmail account, very frustrating indeed!

Since writing the original information someone took a screen shot of their issue and it was with reCAPTCHA.  I removed the reCAPTCHA button from the form which has seemed to help.  Now we just have some notifications that are not being automatically forwarded after forms are submitted.   If anyone has any suggestions for this let me know!

With smiles, 

Kim Hearn

Technology Manager




11.  RE: Member Profile: Kim Hearn

Posted Jan 18, 2017 15:28
The Gravity Forms Notifications Troubleshooting help article is quite good.

Some common problems/solutions:
Frustratingly, usually this is less a Gravity Forms issue and more of a hosting issue.


Regarding reCAPTCHA, I stopped using those a while ago in favor of using the "honey pot" setting for each form. This cleverly hides an extra form field that only bots can see. Therefore, if it's filled out, it's likely spam and it isn't submitted.

Mark Root-Wiley

MRW Web Design / MRWweb.com / @MRWweb
Thoughtful WordPress Website for Nonprofits & Mission-Driven Organizations
Seattle, WA