WordPress allows you to build multisite networks. This is an awesome feature and enables you to manage many sites from a single WordPress installation.
However, some WordPress features do work differently on a multisite network. If you normally manage a single site, you may have to adjust your thinking. One of these features is permissions.
In this guide, I'll show what to look out for when you're managing users on a multisite network. Click here to see how to modify user permissions on multisite.
Difference #1: The Super Admin role
On a multisite network, there's an extra user role called “Super Admin”. This role does not exist on normal WordPress sites.
By default, only a Super Admin user can access the “Network Admin” area in a multi-site network:
Difference #2. Extra Multi-site permissions
Access to key multisite features is controlled by a set of nine capabilities that don't exist on normal WordPress sites:
Difference #3. The Administrator has less power
On a multisite network, anyone in the Administrator role will have a limited set of capabilities, even on single sites. More than a dozen important capabilities do not apply to the Administrator role in a network:
This list covers a lot of important WordPress features, so it can lead to some confusion. For example, we had this question from a PublishPress user:
“We are finding that, in our Multisite setup, only Network “Super Admins” can edit user accounts. Regular “Administrators” seem to be able to Add and View a list of users, but cannot actually Edit a user's profile.“
Their experience was correct. This is not normal WordPress behavior on a single site, but it is for a multisite network. Users in the Administrator role do not have the manage_network_users capability, so they can't edit user accounts.
And even if the Administrator does have the edit_plugins capability, this is overriden by the fact that they don't have the manage_network_plugins capability. As a result, Administrators can not install plugins on a single site in a multisite network.
Difference #4. Other small changes
There are other small changes on a multisite network:
- Users in the Editor role do not have the unfiltered_html capability.
- Only Super Admins can be given the unfiltered_upload capability.
This is our best attempt at a complete overview of the differences in user capabilities between a single site and a network. If we missed anything, or you have questions, please post in the comments below.
The differences between a single WordPress site and a network are small, but they can be confusing, particularly when you're using the Administrator role.