Im trying to order by post_count DESC but custom_post_type not working

function post_count_type($role, $number) {
$args = array(
    'post_type'     => array( 'custom_post_type' ),
    'orderby'       => 'post_count',
    'order'         => 'DESC',
    'role'          => $role,
    'number'        => $number
$users = get_users( $args );
$the_query = new WP_Query( $args );
    foreach ($users as $user) {
    echo 'html here...';

My function work for post_type : POST but not for custom post_type. Sorry for my english.

  • 1
    What is post_count? Each post should equate to 1 post, categories would have multiple posts assigned to there where a post_count would make sense. Would you happen to mean the order that you can assign under Page Attributes metabox?
    – Howdy_McGee
    Nov 3, 2019 at 22:16
  • The post_count is for user. I want order user by whoever posted the most article on custom_post_type. Again sorry for my english hope you understand.
    – mems
    Nov 4, 2019 at 7:50

1 Answer 1


You are using wrong approach

You are using the wrong approach for what you are trying to achieve. You are using the same arguments for both WP_Query and WP_User_Query (get_users eventually translates to WP_User_Query). The problem is that WP_Query doesn't support orderby parameter post_count as one post is always equal to one post and WP_User_Query doesn't support post_type as the user doesn't have post type assigned to themselves.

This can't be achieved using standard functions

In WP_User_Query it's hardcoded that for user posts count, it looks only for post_type post. To achieve what you are trying to, you need to write a custom database query.

A custom solution

A standalone function to achieve this might look like this (please note I haven't tested it so there might be a SQL typos or smth).

function get_users_by_post_count( $post_type = 'post' ) {
    global $wpdb;

    $users = $wpdb->get_results(
            "SELECT {$wpdb->users}.ID, p.post_count
            FROM {$wpdb->users}  
            LEFT JOIN (
                SELECT post_author, COUNT(*) AS post_count 
                FROM {$wpdb->posts} WHERE post_type = %s
                GROUP BY post_author
            ) p ON {$wpdb->users}.id = p.post_author 
            ORDER BY p.post_count",

    return $users;

To use it simply call it like:

$users = get_users_by_post_count( 'custom_post_type' );

if ( ! empty( $users ) ) {
   foreach ( $users as $user ) {
       // there you have user ID and post_count
       echo $user->ID . ' has ' . $user->post_count . ' posts';
  • It looks like a core bug (at least from a first look) to have hardcoded get_posts_by_author_sql( 'post' ); when ordering by post_count, since the post type should be adjustable via the has_published_posts (and blog_id non-zero). ps: there seems to be missing return $users; in get_users_by_post_count(). Adding a limit would be recommended for large number of users.
    – birgire
    Nov 4, 2019 at 15:32
  • 2
    Thanks @birgire I've updated the function to return the result. Yes, it's impossible due to hardcoded post type in get_posts_by_author_sql it's an easy fix and I'm going to open a ticket in WP community to get it solved (never did this before, su can't guarantee it will be successful :) ) Nov 4, 2019 at 16:43
  • Sounds good, would be nice to have the ticket # posted here ;-)
    – birgire
    Nov 4, 2019 at 16:51
  • Thank you very much, it helped me. Have a nice day 👌
    – mems
    Nov 4, 2019 at 18:13
  • @birgire long time no see, haha. core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/49418 Feb 12, 2020 at 13:09

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