WordPress Roles and Capabilities

I bet you log into WordPress as an Administrator, right? Yup, so do I. Nothing wrong with that – after all, most of us run single-user blogs. But did you know that WordPress has built-in support for a wide range of Roles and Capabilities?

WordPress Roles

By default there are five Roles, each of which has progressively more power:

  • Subscriber
  • Contributor
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Administrator

WordPress Capabilities

Capabilities represent the various tasks that you can perform in WordPress, stuff like:

  • publishing, editing and deleting posts and pages
  • moderating comments
  • managing users
  • managing themes and plugins

See the WordPress codex for a full list of capabilities and how these are mapped to the default Roles.

Role Manager Plugin

If the out-the-box functionality doesn’t meet your requirements, you might like to check out Thomas Schneider’s role manager plugin, which allows you to edit the capabilities of existing roles, or even create completely new roles with arbitrary collections of capabilities!

What can you do with Roles and Capabilities?

This feature comes into play on multi-user blogs, when you want to assign greater levels of responsibility to some users than others. Generally you would not want more than one or two Administrators on a site – with great power comes great responsibility and all that.

  • Membership sites

  • Probably the most common use of Roles other than Administrator is when you allow (or require) members of the public to register in order to access content or post comments.

  • Team blogs

  • You may also wish to allow guest bloggers or members of a team to submit posts directly to the site, pending review by an Editor or Administrator before being published.

  • Community sites

  • Or perhaps you want to create a community site where individual users are responsible for their own content, but cannot for example edit others’ posts, or install plugins or change themes.

All these and more are possible by assigning users appropriate Roles and Capabilities. I have a project coming up in the new year where I’ll need to approve content that’s been submitted for review before being published, so this is of particular interest to me right now. I’d be interested to hear from any of you that have experience in this area – please share your expertise in the comments below.

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31 Responses to “WordPress Roles and Capabilities”

  1. Gravatar of Blog for Beginners 1 Blog for Beginners

    Great! This might come in handy for me as I’m trying to invite regular contributors to thoushallblog.com on adsense revenue sharing basis. Thanks for the heads up, Rod.


  2. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 2 Rodney Smith

    Let me know how it works out Yan, OK?

  3. Gravatar of Lia Buch 3 Lia Buch

    Well, I can’t say that I have any experience in a blog with multiple contributers, however, if I did, I can see where that plugin would be useful. This kind of makes me wonder if I can utilize multiple or guest authors now . . .

  4. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 4 Rodney Smith

    Lia: technically it isn’t at all hard. I guess the more difficult part will be finding people willing and able to contribute without breaking the bank.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Gravatar of Myron Tay 5 Myron Tay

    Is there a plugin (or wordpress function) that set a cap on the maximum number of posts for contributors?

  6. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 6 Rodney Smith

    Myron: I’m afraid I don’t know – sorry.

  7. Gravatar of Mitch 7 Mitch

    Because I’m a solo performer, I’ve never paid much attention to that, though I always knew the other roles existed. But the sharing of a blog and allowing others to do stuff is an intriguing concept for a business model I’d thought of in the past, but didn’t follow through on. Thanks; great info.

  8. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 8 Rodney Smith

    Mitch: yeah, me too. I guess the most common application for it will be for guest posters though.

  9. Gravatar of gMoney 9 gMoney

    Good call on highlighting the ‘other’ roles that WP and authors can assign. The only drawback that I’ve experienced with different levels of ownership is when a contributor wants/needs to enter a photo (for example) in a post. If they’re at the bare minimum of administration levels, they’re not allowed to upload anything. So while setting restrictions for varied users is a good idea, and come in quite handy, it also sometimes leads to additional Admin work.

  10. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 10 Rodney Smith

    gMoney: yes, that’s why I like the role manager plugin, which allows you to specify exactly what permissions a user should have.
    You sound like you have some experience with multi-user installations – have you ever run into any trouble having multiple users?

  11. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 11 Dennis Edell

    Hey Rodney, I just wanted to say thanks for dropping by and commenting and I hope to see you more often.

    Great post here btw, I’ve wondered about the roles myself, but like most I suppose, I too am solo…with guest posters of course.

    I’ve subscribed. ;)

  12. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 12 Rodney Smith

    Dennis: Welcome! Yeah, I’ve seen you commenting around and about, but haven’t made it to your site until today. I subscribed likewise.

  13. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 13 Dennis Edell

    Well thanks Rodney, I appreciate that! You helped put me over 100. ;)

  14. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 14 Rodney Smith

    Aw shucks – you would have made it anyway! Well, here’s to the next 100…

  15. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 15 Dennis Edell

    LOL yea eventually. I was “stuck” at 99 for a week or two…you commented and next time i checked I was at 102! ;)

  16. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 16 Rodney Smith

    I dunno if your subscriber count is anything like mine, Dennis, but I find it fluctuates a lot from day to day. Something to do with the number of people who’ve actually accessed the feed that day, I guess. I’d prefer to know how many people have actually subscribed.

  17. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 17 Dennis Edell

    How do you do that?

  18. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 18 Rodney Smith

    I don’t think you can, unfortunately – not with Feedburner anyway :(
    But if I ever find out, I’ll let you know!

  19. Gravatar of Sire 19 Sire

    I like Mitch have always known they existed and considered opening up the roles to others but decided I’d rather be an omnipotent Admin.

  20. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 20 Dennis Edell

    I just take the highest number…so far 108 even if it says 66 today. LOL

  21. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 21 Rodney Smith

    Yeah, as long as your highest wasn’t 3 months back :)

  22. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 22 Dennis Edell

    No that was just a couple days ago. It’s pretty accurate, it just fluctuates some.

  23. Gravatar of Jesse W. 23 Jesse W.

    WordPress is definitely my personal favorite as I have used it for 3 blogs now.

  24. Gravatar of Tlaga Jaya 24 Tlaga Jaya

    Day by day wordpress will still the best platform for website, i use wp for all my client site from directory site, portal site, news site, search site, music site and much more.. :)

  25. Gravatar of Noni J 25 Noni J

    I am part of a team of bloggers who posts blogs along with other members. Our boss is the administrator but he lets us publish our works right away. This project is still new, just 3 months old but the blog sites are shaping out quite nicely. We receive weekly update and suggestions on improvements. When this project ends, I’d try the things I learned on my own blog site (which I’ve been neglecting lately). I thank you for sharing this page and WordPress to us. :)

  26. Gravatar of Atniz 26 Atniz

    Obviously, I have never used the roles yet as it is still a single user blog (admin) and the visitors. Maybe, I will apply this on my other private blogs.

  27. Gravatar of Matt Helphrey 27 Matt Helphrey

    WordPress is a great platform and what I like most about it is its ease of use. Also love the fact that it is so easy to install if you wanted to start a new blog on a different niche.

  28. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 28 Rodney Smith

    Matt: I couldn’t agree more. And it’s free!

  29. Gravatar of Deanna Keahey 29 Deanna Keahey

    This looks like just what I need. I was trying to set it up so that other people could create a post & submit to me for review, then I could approve & publish it. But the standard roles wouldn’t let them update images either. That meant the workflow had to go through me to add the images to their posts which wasn’t working out. This looks a lot more flexible, so you can be sure I’ll try installing it — as soon as I get that 2.7 upgrade done! Thanks a bunch!

  1. 1 WordPress Blogging Guide – December 2, 2008 « Create A Blog Guides
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