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I used a plugin called "User Role Editor" to allow contributors to add categories, but it also lets them delete categories.

Any suggestions?

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You could try the Members Plugin Seems to always do the job for me wordpress.org/extend/plugins/members – BandonRandon Apr 6 '11 at 9:01
This is probably a followup to How would I increase the Author Role to be able to add a new category? – Jan Fabry Apr 8 '11 at 13:38

Since the category widget on the post page only lets you create categories and not delete them, you could just hide access to the main category editor page for this user type, and allow them to still create categories within the post editor.

You could do this with CSS or javascript, something like

$('ul.wp-submenu a[href="edit-tags.php?taxonomy=category"]').hide();

You could target this to a specific user group by passing the user capabilities to javascript using script localisation.

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