Understanding WordPress Roles And Capabilities

Every content management system (CMS) inherently supports a strong access system for its users. WordPress is no different and have a very powerful and flexible access control system. An average WordPress user never bothers about different levels of access controls applicable to different types of users. Normally, we install WordPress, use the default account and blog on! But in multi-user environment, we have to choose different access level (account) for each user.

Plastic toys

Note: To keep things simple, we're not going to discuss about Super Admin applicable only in case of multi-site installation for a blog network.

If you're running a multi-author blog or run a subscription-based membership site, you must understand different roles and capabilities WordPress has to offer. For each task certain privileges are required, and assigning more than what is required can prove fatal. A user with added privilege can inadvertently modify or edit those settings or content for which he/she has no authorization. To avert this catastrophic situation, the best method is to assign role-based accounts to each user. So let's get started and quickly take a look on different types of accounts WordPress has to offer.
  • Administrator - As the name implies, this role has complete access to all the rights and have complete control over the blog. Whether it's creating and editing content, tweaking theme, doing various system-wide settings or managing users, an administrator enjoys all the rights without any restriction.
  • Editor - Apart from core administrative tasks, an editor enjoys full control over content management and related tasks. An editor not only manages his own content but also have complete control over posts and pages created by all other accounts. He can edit, delete, schedule and publish posts created by any user.
  • Author - This role restricts a user to manage his own content. An author has complete control over the content created by him, but he cannot make any changes to the content created by other accounts. Generally, members of a typical multi-author blog are assigned this role.
  • Contributor - There is a striking difference between an author and a contributor. Both have complete control over their content when it comes to creating and editing the posts and pages, but a contributor cannot publish the post. Generally, new members of a multi-author blog are assigned this role, whose post submissions are reviewed by the editor before pressing the publish button.
  • Subscriber - If you offer premium content or run a coaching program with exclusive content accessible only to members, this role is the best candidate for the members. A subscriber have read-only access to blog's content which is hidden from general visitors.
If you run a multi-user blog, make sure you understand each role and carefully assign these roles to appropriate users. One mistake can lead to disaster that may cost you money and more importantly may lead to long-term repercussions that can hurt your online business. A rule of thumb is to start with least privileged account and to gradually promote the user. To avoid any confusion, you can create an access control matrix where each role capabilities are clearly visible to assist you in taking the right decision.

Image Credit: sbluerock

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About Rajeev Edmonds

MintBlogger author - Rajeev EdmondsRajeev Edmonds has been blogging since 2006 about digital marketing, social media and of course about problogging. He specializes in WordPress installation and Thesis theme customization. He is the founder and editor of MintBlogger where he blogs about new media strategies.

Since April, 2012, he's making his living entirely from his blogging efforts. He holds a post graduate degree in computer applications and loves to dig in CSS/HTML code. Read more →

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