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I'm planning on running a open news site that I want everyone to be able to view the inside of the site without registration. I feel like it should exist a simple check for viewing the WordPress backend but I can't seem to find it. I don't want everyone to be able to create posts or edit things but to view things.

Is this as simple as I think it is or do I have make big changes myself to the codebase?

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Are you talking about the backend or the actual folder contents? Either way, I think this is a bad idea. Pro tip: do not modify the core under any circumstance. Doing so will make it very hard to update the Web site when a new security fix or release comes out. –  Joseph Aug 4 '12 at 19:46
    
@Joseph, the backend. The same admin-panel that a normal author or contributor can view. Would it be possible to do this through a plugin you think? –  Victor Bjelkholm Aug 4 '12 at 19:48
    
Re-read your post and now I see that you want it to be read-only. What do you want the visitor to see? –  Joseph Aug 4 '12 at 19:53
    
@Joseph I want the visitor to see everything, without be able to change anything. Also, thanks for the edit! –  Victor Bjelkholm Aug 4 '12 at 19:58
    
Your welcome. I'm still trying to grasp what you are after. By "everything", you mean the settings, menus, plugins, links, page, posts, etc...? –  Joseph Aug 4 '12 at 20:05
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WordPress like most CMS websites has 2 types of users - unknown users and authenticated (logged in users). In fact pretty much every website or analytics systems tracks users based on this user profile.

Unknown users can only browse the front end and have no access to wp-admin. This is to be expected, otherwise explain why it is it that an unknown, not logged in user needs access to wp-admin and go raise a feature request on wp-trac.

Now ... you could create a Guest account with a password like 'demo' but you want the user to have browse only access to 'all' of the admin section.

Again, this is not possible, and it is the standard for all CMS solutions from WordPress to Drupal. Authenticated users must have either read-only or read/edit user privileges to a system function.

Core Requirement of Web Content Management Systems
What should be simple to avoid for you, is actually a core feature to all web CMS solutions - that is ...
- site visitors are either browsing or logged in; and
- logged-in users have role privileges that limit their access

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I would use WP Multisite and allow users to register a test site. Woo Themes does this with their playground feature.

Then, create a plugin that is network activated that expires test sites after a certain period and restricts certain areas (theme editor, plugins, site settings, etc...).

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Either you didn't read well enough or I'm really poor at describing my problem. I want the visitor to be able to see everything inside the current site, not create a new one. –  Victor Bjelkholm Aug 4 '12 at 19:59
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