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I'm using Register Plus Redux plugin to augment a registration form with custom metadata fields. These fields display at the bottom of each user record detail page and they can be retrieved with get_the_author_meta.

In addition, I'm able to create columns in the User panel (the list view) and to make these columns sortable. The problem is that, when I click on the custom column heading, the orderby= value in the URL appears to be ignored. Put another way, it appears the query that generates the list view of users does not include the custom meta data (e.g. perhaps it requires a join statement if the metadata is not in the usual place for user data?). It feels like I've missed a step.

Here is my code to create the custom columns:

//add columns to User panel list page
function add_user_columns( $defaults ) {
     $defaults['company'] = __('Company', 'user-column');
     $defaults['title'] = __('Title', 'user-column');
     return $defaults;
function add_custom_user_columns($value, $column_name, $id) {
      if( $column_name == 'company' ) {
        return get_the_author_meta( 'company_name', $id );
      if( $column_name == 'title' ) {
        return get_the_author_meta( 'titlefunction', $id );
add_action('manage_users_custom_column', 'add_custom_user_columns', 15, 3);
add_filter('manage_users_columns', 'add_user_columns', 15, 1);`

And here is my code to make these columns sortable:

function user_sortable_columns( $columns ) {
    $columns['company'] = 'Company';
    return $columns;
add_filter( 'manage_users_sortable_columns', 'user_sortable_columns' );

function user_column_orderby( $vars ) {
    if ( isset( $vars['orderby'] ) && 'company' == $vars['orderby'] ) {
        $vars = array_merge( $vars, array(
            'meta_key' => 'company',
            'orderby' => 'meta_value',
            'order'     => 'asc'
        ) );
    return $vars;
add_filter( 'request', 'user_column_orderby' );`

Any ideas how I can update the query that generates the list of users so that it includes sorting by my custom field(s)? Or, if that's not the problem, how to make the custom column headings sort the list of users when clicked?

Thank you.

share|improve this question

My first answer was completely off-mark and I'm completely rewriting it...

But thanks to Milo's hint, I found the solution here:

After adapting it, this works for me with 'facebook' and 'twitter' author_meta.

function wpse_27518_pre_user_query($user_search) {
    global $wpdb,$current_screen;

    if ( 'users' != $current_screen->id ) 

    $vars = $user_search->query_vars;

    if('facebook' == $vars['orderby']) 
        $user_search->query_from .= " INNER JOIN {$wpdb->usermeta} m1 ON {$wpdb->users}.ID=m1.user_id AND (m1.meta_key='facebook')"; 
        $user_search->query_orderby = ' ORDER BY UPPER(m1.meta_value) '. $vars['order'];

    elseif ('twitter' == $vars['orderby']) 
        $user_search->query_from .= " INNER JOIN {$wpdb->usermeta} m1 ON {$wpdb->users}.ID=m1.user_id AND (m1.meta_key='twitter')"; 
        $user_search->query_orderby = ' ORDER BY UPPER(m1.meta_value) '. $vars['order'];
share|improve this answer

I'm not sure it's possible, maybe by modifying the query via pre_user_query. here's a quick and dirty function to view its contents:

add_action('pre_user_query', 'my_user_query');
function my_user_query($userquery){
share|improve this answer
The pre_user_query output is: WP_User_Query Object ( [results] => [total_users] => 0 [query_fields] => SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS wp_users.ID [query_from] => FROM wp_users [query_where] => WHERE 1=1 [query_orderby] => ORDER BY user_login ASC [query_limit] => LIMIT 20 [query_vars] => Array ( [blog_id] => 1 [role] => [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [meta_compare] => [include] => Array ( ) [exclude] => Array ( ) [search] => [orderby] => Company [order] => ASC [offset] => 0 [number] => 20 [count_total] => 1 [fields] => all_with_meta [who] => ) ). How would I modify this query, e.g. join to a db table? – FredHead Sep 2 '11 at 13:04
@FredHead, If you're going to post a lot of code you might consider using pastebin, snipplr, or something similar. – Jeremy Jared Sep 2 '11 at 14:43
@FredHead - honestly, i don't know. I could try to hack around with it later, or hopefully some more experienced users can shed some light on it. – Milo Sep 2 '11 at 15:15
Sorry, trying to respond but was getting inscrutable comment-related error messages in Chrome, Firefox that prevented submission on Th/Fri. – FredHead Sep 5 '11 at 12:12
Let's try this again: Milo, your answer at least gets me in the ballpark, thank you. Now I need to understand if/how to adapt the userquery. Perhaps someone can help me understand that part of the problem? Jeremy, I find this comment interface difficult to use (press Enter key = submit comment) or I would've moved the output code elsewhere. Sorry. – FredHead Sep 5 '11 at 12:15

I was able to achieve user sorting of a custom column using the code and hooks you've posted, except I did not use the 'request' filter, nor did I need an extra 'orderby' function. Wordpress properly sorts the data in the custom column in my case by the numerical value that I return in the 'manage_users_custom_column' action callback.

share|improve this answer
Cool. Could you post the updated code for me/everyone? Thank you! – FredHead Nov 16 '11 at 12:03

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