Here is the problem I am having:

  1. I have a custom post type called "weddingguests"
  2. This custom post type "weddingguests" has a custom taxonomy, "friendsof", hierarchic
  3. I want to programmatically insert into this custom taxonomy "friendsof" 2 terms: "Friends of the Bride" and "Friends of the Groom"

Here is the function and the action I am using to insert one term:

// programatically add 2 terms to the taxonomy "FRIENDS OF"
function example_insert_category() {
        'Example Category',
add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'example_insert_category' );

The problem: wp_insert_term doesn't appear to be working with my custom taxonomy

What I have tried:

  1. I have tried switching the taxonomy from hierarchic to non-hierarchic - that didn't work
  2. I have tried using wp_insert_term (the same code) to add terms to the post "category" - that is working
  3. I have tried assigning the custom taxonomy "friendsof" to the posts and then add my term ( I thought there is a problem with the way I am building my custom post types) - that didn't work
  • do you have debugging enabled and have you tried inspecting the data that WordPress returns from wp_insert_term?
    – Milo
    Mar 6, 2014 at 16:18
  • 2
    To insert a term in a taxonomy you must be sure that taxonomy is registered before the code that insert term runs. If you use 'after_setup_theme' to register the taxonomy, you should use a later hook to insert the terms. wp_loaded hook is best choice for such code. However, as @s_ha_dum suggests, you should put that code inside a conditional: if ( ! term_exists( 'example-category', 'friendsof' ) ) and trigger that code (i.e. put the add_action ) on theme switch or on plugin activation.
    – gmazzap
    Mar 6, 2014 at 18:42
  • @gmazzap Thanks for that answer man, saved me a bunch of time.
    – Nathan
    Nov 18, 2015 at 2:24

2 Answers 2


try init instead of after_setup_theme

function example_insert_category() {
        'Example Category',

add_action( 'init', 'example_insert_category' );

While I don't know why and don't have time to investigate right now, the hook you've chosen is too early. Your code works if you use, for example, init instead of after_setup_theme.

In addition, as written, your code runs on every page load which is a bit profligate. There should be a way execute this only on plugin activation or perhaps on a change of theme-- something that reduces the frequency this executes. Perhaps best case is a button in the theme/plugin to "Populate Defaults". Once this runs once it is not needed anymore as the data is in the database.


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