Make WordPress Core

Opened 4 years ago

Closed 3 years ago

#40599 closed enhancement (wontfix)

Rename Subscriber Role

Reported by: macmanx Owned by:
Milestone: Priority: normal
Severity: normal Version:
Component: Role/Capability Keywords: needs-patch
Focuses: administration Cc:


Subscriber is the lowest role in WordPress, and the default role for new registrations. Without being expanded by plugins, Subscribers can only edit their own profile and comment (if comments are restricted to registered users). Those capabilities don't really match with what the average person assumes "Subscriber" to mean.

WordPress has never sent its own subscription content, and while in the past WordPress's users system was heavily used by subscription plugins, they all seem to have moved on to either their own external system or their own custom roles (disclaimer, I have not checked commercial subscription plugins).

This can lead to a lot of confusion for a new user. "Why aren't my subscribers receiving my posts?" Well, because that's not what the Subscriber role is for.

Since it would appear that subscription plugins have moved on from the Subscriber role, and that WordPress will likely never send its own Subscription content, perhaps it's time for WordPress to move to a name better suited to what the role is capable of.

Joomla uses "Registered" for their lowest role, and that seems appropriate in this situation. You're not a Contributor, an Author, an Editor, nor an Administrator, you are simply registered.

Other options to consider could be "None," "Restricted," "Limited," "Commenter," "Member," "Basic," "User," etc. There are lots of potential labels that are more applicable to the Subscriber role as-is than Subscriber.

Change History (14)

This ticket was mentioned in Slack in #forums by macmanx. View the logs.

4 years ago

#2 @tobifjellner
4 years ago

Or Participant?

#3 @zoonini
4 years ago

Totally agree that "Subscriber" is confusing and can be improved.

My vote would be for "Registered" as the word makes the role capability fairly self-evident.

I also like "Participant," but you can participate in (most) sites without being a registered user, so I think "Registered" is more precise.

"Member" is also descriptive, except (as discussed a bit in Slack) it could be confused for being a member on a site with a membership plugin, so that ambiguity should probably be avoided.

#4 @Presskopp
4 years ago

+1 for 'registered'

In General Settings:

Membership [] Anyone can register

could be changed to

Registration [] Anyone can register

#5 @kraftbj
4 years ago

I like "Registered", but in any case, agree it needs to be renamed.

#6 @dd32
4 years ago

I agree with "Registered" as a better suited name.
Likewise, renaming the Membership option to Registration by itself could go a long way in clarifying that that option actually means.

#7 @dd32
4 years ago

  • Keywords needs-patch good-first-bug added

Should be noted that under the hood, the role name shouldn't be changed as it's saved in the database (and a migration routine wouldn't be possible for larger sites) but it's textual display could be changed without harm.

#8 @johnjamesjacoby
4 years ago

I don't like "Registered" because all users need to register.

bbPress already uses "Participant", so it would be confusing to use that in WordPress also.

We can't use "None" (without complications) because "No role for this site" is already a possible condition in Multisite.

This recommendation overlaps with WordPress.com, which eliminated the "Subscriber" role entirely. That doesn't make sense for single-site though, especially when open registration is turned on.

We could maybe try "Unassigned" (like we use "Uncategorized" with posts) or fix the various bugs with how users having "no role" on a site (even on single-site) works weird.

A useful exercise is to consider what other roles are out there. Banned; Blocked; Pending; Spammer; Moderator; Keymaster; Buyer; Seller; Customer; etc…

There's also a problem of WordPress roles currently only being blog centric. An "Editor" of the blog shouldn't be assumed to also be able to edit items for sale in my WooCommerce store. Currently, most plugins don't embrace the multiple-roles per-user idea, but it becomes necessary once your WordPress isn't just a blog anymore.

We could go with "Member" to try and convey "this user has activated their account and has generic level access" but that might not look right next to some membership plugins.

This also has backwards compatibility implications, as roles are saved per-site in the database, keyed by ID like subscriber. So we can't easily rename roles on existing sites, and we can't be confident that plugins haven't made assumptions about the subscriber role existing.

TL;DR - it's almost easier to build a subscription feature than it is to remove/rename the Subscriber role itself.

#9 @johnjamesjacoby
4 years ago

In addition, "Registered" is more of a status than a role, since you can't have a role until you already have registered.

I have a plugin that adds "Pending", "Active", "Inactive", and "Blocked" secondary roles on top of the 5 core ones, to assist with registration, invites, and accepting/rejecting them.

But none of that is possible until an account exists via having registered or been created in the first place.

I am also fearful to introduce a visual name change when the code cannot ever match. We know how painful this is with Blog/Site/Network and multisite, so purposefully changing one and not the other seems like it would be a decision we'd regret later, potentially causing more harm than good.

#10 @subrataemfluence
4 years ago

How about 'General'?

#11 @palmiak
3 years ago

I like "member" - becuse you are the member (part of small community) of the site and... that's it :) It's much beter then subscriber.

#12 @jorbin
3 years ago

I'm going to suggest that this be closed as wontfix. As pointed out above by @dd32, this would likely just be a textual change. The text and the code diverging creates an unneeded complication and makes it harder for people to understand what is going on. When something like that happens, we have to consider the benefits. The benefits, while worthwhile, seem minor to me.

#13 @welcher
3 years ago

  • Keywords good-first-bug removed

This might be a fairly straightforward thing to change in the code but given the far-reaching nature of it and potential issues. I don't think this should be tagged as good-first-bug

#14 @johnbillion
3 years ago

  • Milestone Awaiting Review deleted
  • Resolution set to wontfix
  • Status changed from new to closed

I think the potential confusion and effort involved in updating documentation, explaining the change, etc, outweighs the benefit here.

Feel free to reopen if there's a really solid argument in favour of this.

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