WordPress contributor is a user role type in WordPress. Users assigned to this role can create, read, and edit their own writing, but they cannot publish posts.
A common case where this type of role comes in handy is when you hire outside writers to contribute to your blog. By assigning them to the contributor role, they can write and edit their own work on the blog without getting full access to your site’s core functionality.
Keep on reading as I will explore the capabilities of WordPress user roles, including the differences between an author and a contributor. I will also uncover several user role plugins that can help you modify them without accessing the site’s database.
What is the Difference Between an Author and a Contributor?
Despite seeming similar on the surface, the WordPress contributor and author role have different permissions. Here are the abilities that differentiate the contributor role from the author:
- Posts — both user roles can read all posts as well as create, delete, and edit their own unpublished posts. However, contributors cannot publish posts they made.
- Media files — only authors can upload media files.
- Reusable Blocks — authors can create, edit, delete, and read reusable blocks of the WordPress Gutenberg editor. Meanwhile, contributors can only read them.
Considering their capabilities, authors occupy a higher position than contributors in the WordPress user role hierarchy.
WordPress User Roles
When you create a WordPress website, the system automatically assigns you to the administrator role. As your site grows, you’re bound to need more people helping you manage it.
WordPress user roles let you assign specific permissions to each user based on their authority on the site. Each role has different abilities meant to enhance users’ performance in doing certain tasks.
This system also helps you protect certain parts and data of the site from users who don’t have the authority to access them.
Here are six default WordPress user roles you should know about.
Sitting at the bottom of the user role hierarchy, subscribers have the least capabilities on a website. They can only read published posts and manage their own profiles.
Since anyone can read all posts without being assigned to this role, some sites do not use this option. Instead, it is useful for membership sites that only allow certain people to access their content.
As mentioned earlier, contributors can read all posts as well as write, edit, and delete unpublished posts they made. The right to publish them belongs to editors and administrators.
Contributors can add an existing taxonomy to their posts, but can’t upload files. They also have access to pending comments, but they don’t have the permission to approve or delete them.
Due to their limited permissions, the contributor role is ideal for new content creators and freelance writers.
Besides having all the abilities of contributors, authors have authorization to publish their own posts and upload files.
Focusing on creating content, authors have no administrative capabilities. They don’t have the permission to change or delete other users’ posts and website pages as well as create a new taxonomy.
Since authors can update and delete their published posts, make sure to create their backup to prevent data loss in case they depart from the team.
Editors are responsible for supervising the work of authors and contributors. With a high level of access, they can create, edit, and delete any posts, including those created by other users.
Besides managing posts, editors also have permission to moderate comments and manage the site’s taxonomy.
Despite this, editors don’t have the authority to change the site’s settings — including installing plugins, themes, and updates as well as adding new users.
Unless you’re running a WordPress multisite, this role reserves the top position of the hierarchy. Besides having all the capabilities of the previous user roles, administrators also have access to all administrative functions of the site.
Administrators have permission to manage all posts, pages, plugins, themes, and user accounts. They can also modify the site’s code to perform advanced customization.
Considering the role’s broad authority over the site’s backend and frontend, you should only assign it to trusted users.
In a multisite network, super administrators’ authority precedes administrators’. While super administrators have all the abilities of administrators, they can also make network-level changes like adding or deleting sites and managing all users within the network.
Users with this role can also manage each site’s administrative functions without sporting any role in it.
4 Plugins to Fine Tune Role’s Capabilities
As WordPress sets the capabilities of each user role by default, you need to access your site’s database to change them. The following are four user role plugins you can use to streamline this process.
If you want to change the capabilities of the default WordPress user roles, then this open-source plugin is an excellent choice for the job.
With this plugin, you can create, edit, duplicate, and delete user roles and capabilities with ease and cost-free. It also lets you limit content, monitor login history, and set customized feed for subscribers using built-in shortcodes.
Besides allowing you to deny users from using specific abilities, this plugin can work on a multisite installation as well.
PublishPress Capabilities plugin gives you ease to manage all user permissions on your WordPress site. Not only that, but it also allows you to create, duplicate, and delete roles.
With this plugin, you can control permissions for different types of content and taxonomies — including, but not limited to, categories and tags. The backup and restore feature lets you save all the permissions made and reset them back if needed.
While the lite version provides more than enough tools to manage your WordPress user roles, you can upgrade to the Pro plan to get access to other PublishPress plugins. The prices for the Pro plans start from $59/year.
With over 600,000 active installations, the User Role Editor is one of the most popular user role plugins on the web. By using this plugin, you’re able to add any abilities to a selected role hassle-free.
Similar to the previous plugins, the User Role Editor allows you to assign core capabilities to specific users despite their assigned role and modify new user’s default permissions.
One of its highlighted features is the ability to hide selected frontend menu elements for users with or without specific roles.
User Role Editor is available in free and Pro versions — prices start from $29/year.
This plugin is simple to use yet powerful at the same time. It offers an easy way to manage your existing user roles as well as create new ones.
What makes it different from the previous plugins is its login redirect feature. It allows you to redirect users to a specific web page based on their assigned role after login or logout.
Thanks to the migrate users feature, you can migrate multiple users from one role to another simultaneously. It also lets you assign secondary roles on top of their primary one.
You can use this plugin for free. To access all its features, consider buying the Pro version for $29.99 onwards.
WordPress Contributors have minimal privileges over a website. They can only read posts as well as write, edit, and edit their own unpublished posts.
Besides the contributor, there are five more WordPress default user roles — subscriber, author, editor, administrator, and super administrator. Each role comes with a different set of capabilities, allowing users to perform specific tasks based on their assigned parts.
With the help of a user role editor plugin, you can manage users’ capabilities without accessing your WordPress site database. Here are my recommendations:
- User Role Editor by Members — can clone roles and set the website private to certain people.
- PublishPress Capabilities — equipped with a backup and restore feature and a taxonomy control.
- User Role Editor — allows you to give specific permissions to users despite their assigned role.
- WPFront User Role Editor — migrate users to another role at once.
I hope this article answers everything you want to know about the WordPress contributor role. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.