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I have custom roles in my setup and I want to be able to automatically change a user's role thru a function. Say user A has a SUBSCRIBER role, how do I change it to EDITOR? When adding a role we just:

add_role( $role_name , $role_display_name , array( 'read' =>  true,
                                                   'edit_posts' => false,
                                                   'delete_posts' => false, ));

How about changing a role? Is there something like:

change_role($old_role, $new_role);

UPDATE: I think this one will do:

$wp_user_object = new WP_User($current_user->ID);
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4 Answers 4

up vote 21 down vote accepted

See the WP_User class, you can use this to add and remove roles for a user.

EDIT: I really should of provided more information with this answer initially, so i'm adding more information below.

More specifically, a user's role can be set by creating an instance of the WP_user class, and calling the add_role() or remove_role() methods.


Change a subscribers role to editor

// NOTE: Of course change 3 to the appropriate user ID
$u = new WP_User( 3 );

// Remove role
$u->remove_role( 'subscriber' );

// Add role
$u->add_role( 'editor' );

Hopefully that's more helpful than my initial response, which wasn't necessarily as helpful.

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There's a WordPress function for that!

I think it is best to use WordPress functions, if and when they are available.

You can use the wp_insert_user() function, where one of the arguments that you will need to provide is the $userdata['role']. In this argument you can specify the role that you want to change the user into.

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wp doesn't recognize that function. I got an "undefined function" error. –  Joann Dec 1 '10 at 11:42
By the looks of it, wp_insert_user() seems to do the exact same. When you provide an ID, that ID gets updated. No ID is adding new user. Don't really know what the difference between wp_update_user() and wp_insert_user() is, yet. –  Coen Jacobs Dec 1 '10 at 11:46

you have to include the /wp-includes/registration.php, if you use the code as a stand alone script. Regards Uwe

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To extrapolate on t31os's answer you can slap something like this in your functions file if you want to do this programmatically based on a condition

$blogusers = get_users($blogID.'&role=student');

foreach ($blogusers as $user) {

    $thisYear = date('Y-7');
    $gradYear = date(get_the_author_meta( 'graduation_year', $user->ID ).'-7');

    if($gradYear < $thisYear) {
        $u = new WP_User( $user->ID );
        // Remove role
        $u->remove_role( 'student' );

        // Add role
        $u->add_role( 'adult' );
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I think your usage of $blogID is wrong. get_users() will use the current blog ID per default anyway. –  toscho Oct 29 '12 at 19:27
yep, in my case the paste was just from a multisite example. I didn't define it here either so obviously it would throw an error. –  Adam Munns Nov 26 '12 at 17:46

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