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Like mentioned in the title, i think this is by far one problem Automattic or Wordpress team cannot solve until no matter what version Wordpress will go in future. In this question, i am focusing to the white screen of death that i get whenever i want to activate certain plugins. I am developing a site that requires me to use 30 plugins. Yeah, some will say thats too many plugins for a site, no wonder i will get the white screen. But hey, this is Wordpress, one of the reason that makes Wordpress the most popular blogging platform is because the availability of the plugins that can make you achieve your goal in less time. For those who expert in php+wp development, you guys can say hack the wp is better than using a lot of plugins like what i am doing but hey, majority of wp users are not php guru. Most of them are normal user like me or even just know how to install and use what are available to them.

So far, here the common steps we do when get the white screen of death (WSOD).

  1. Rename the wp-content/plugins folder name such as wp-content/plugins-temp, this will deactivate all plugins
  2. Like me, i prefer rename the individual plugin folder name, such as wp-content/plugins/akismet to wp-content/plugins/akismet-temp
  3. After that, reactivate all the plugins one by one, so we can know which plugin is the culprit
  4. Check for extra empty space at the end of the plugin file, especially after the php closing tag ?> make sure there is no extra space after the tag. Make sure check at the theme functions.php file (if any) or the plugin file.
  5. Increase the memory allocation for wordpress

Usually, your site will be back to normal after that. BUT this will still not solve this problem.

For me, this is very annoying to me, especially the step number 3. How can we know which plugin is the culprit?? At the first place, i thought the step number 3 is really a fact but now i think its a lie. WHY?

Like right now, suddenly after i activate 25 plugins, one of plugin that i cannot reactivate is Akismet. What? Akismet? Yes, the plugin dev by the WP team itself. I know the step number 3 above is a lie because if i activate Akismet first, the Akismet is activated successfully. No problem at all.

So right now the problem is plugins compatibility among the plugins. How can me as a normal user can identify which plugin that is not friendly to what plugin??? If i am using 30 plugins, how many probabilities from one plugin is not compatible to each plugin???? how can i know which plugins should be activated first so the WSOD will not appear?

If there is error, then maybe i can have a clue, but its a plain white screen. I am clueless. This clash of plugins in wordpress is really an unsolved problem that makes me really stress.

Anyone know how to fix this? At least know how to activate the plugins via mysql?

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3 Answers 3

I have had the white screen of death several times. If you have tried disabling your plugins and that doesn't work then move on to your theme. Test with the Twenty Ten Theme. If the problem goes away then your theme is at fault.

Problems to look for in your theme:

Unescaped Characters can cause problems. Change @ for @

Blank Space at the end of functions.php will cause problems.

Failing that I find that downloading the latest version from WP.org and overwriting all files apart from wp-content folder works.

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1  
The extra white space at bottom in functions.php file of the theme was the culprit in my case. Thanks Tracy. –  noobcode Feb 17 '11 at 13:16
    
Trailing white space at the end of files (after the closing ?> tag is a very common problem. Never seen a problem caused by unescaped @ characters before. Where would that be in a file, and what problem would it cause? –  goldenapples Feb 17 '11 at 19:42

White screens are generally due to too small a php memory limit.

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To get WordPress to display errors, edit the wp-config.php file to say

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );

By default, this is set to false and should be towards the bottom of the file. That will allow you to see which errors are being produced.

Also, whitespace at the end of files almost never causes the WSOD; that's what causes the 'Headers already sent' errors in feeds, etc.

Given your description, I can only think of two possibilities for why Akismet is causing errors:

  1. You're over the memory limit
  2. Another plugin might be using a function that Akismet uses, causing a 'Cannot redeclare user-defined function' error

Try turning WP_DEBUG on and come back if you have questions.

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Would have been my suggestion to.. :) –  t31os Dec 10 '10 at 2:00
    
i voted you up- but remember you can be talking to non-php, non-geeks :) - the common users who have to use wordpress up to 30 plugins cuz that is the only solution they got –  mireille raad Dec 10 '10 at 22:58
1  
True. But getting an error means a non-techie can then come here and say "I got error XYZ", which will get them much farther than "I got the WSOD". –  John P Bloch Dec 10 '10 at 23:06
    
WP_DEBUG does not work for syntax errors such as missing semicolons. –  Arlen Beiler Feb 17 '11 at 19:09
    
Sure it does, unless that syntax error happens before WP_DEBUG turns error reporting on (i.e. in wp-config.php). –  John P Bloch Feb 17 '11 at 20:38

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