User Role

By default, WordPress has five user roles – six, if the website is a multisite (network). The default role for new users is Subscriber. You can change the default role in the Settings → General view in the administration panel, but in most cases, you’re probably not going to want to. If your website membership is set so that anyone can register (also managed in the General settings view), it would be a very bad idea to give new users any control over the content or settings on your site.

The default user roles are described below. You can click on each role to read more about it.

  • Subscriber: Logged in subscribers can edit their own profile, but not create or edit any content. They are generally only used if visitors are required to be logged in for them to comment on content on a site.
  • Contributor: Contributors can create and save drafts of posts, but they can’t publish them on their own. A user with a higher user role must publish the posts. They can’t view or edit content that they themselves haven’t created.
  • Author: Authors can create, edit, publish and delete their own posts and pages. They can’t view or edit content created by others.
  • Editor: Editors can create, edit, publish and delete all types of content of the website, including content created by other users.
  • Administrator: The administrator can make changes to all content and settings on a website, including adding and deleting users. For that reason, the administrator user role should only be used when it’s absolutely necessary. If a user only needs to edit content, the editor role should be used instead.

In addition to these five, multisite installations also have the Super Admin role. The Super Admin has administrator level capabilities on all sites in the network, and they are also the only users that can create and delete sites. On multisites, administrators only have access to sites assigned to them by the super admin. If you want to give a user full control over a couple of sites in a network, but not all of them, it would be a lot better to make that user administrator for those specific sites instead of super admin for the whole network.

Plugins and themes can add more user roles than these ones to your site, and the capabilities of them vary from case to case. If your site has custom user roles, and you’re unsure about which role to assign to a new user, ask the developer of the plugin or theme that includes the user roles for guidance. There are also plugins that let you create your own user role, with tailor-made capabilities. One of the most popular ones is the User Role Editor plugin.

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