I'm working with Ultimate Member plugin and while attempting to work through a modification I accidentally used add_action on a filter hook (not an action hook) and it still worked - as in the call back ran??

Is this a feature of Wordpress I was not aware of? I don't see any documentation about this.

below is the code I ran. N.B no return either.

Here is a link to the UM docs about this filter hook um_set_user_role

I did a global search on all files in the Ultimate Member plugin and it is definitely not called with do_action anywhere.. so how did this work?

add_action( 'um_set_user_role', 'add_user_specific_role', 99, 3 );
function add_user_specific_role( $role, $user_id, $user ) {

    error_log( '============= UM NEW ROLE =================' );
    error_log( '============= UM USER ALL ROLES =================' );
    error_log(print_r($user->roles, true));


1 Answer 1


add_action() and add_filter() are essentially the same thing, hooks, and they both call the same functions under the hood. If you look you'll see WP_Hook::do_action() basically just calls WP_Hook::apply_filters().

An action is essentially just a filter that doesn't return a value. If your callback function was supposed to modify the value of $role then that part wouldn't work, because add_action() won't pass the value through, but the callback will still run, as you've seen.

  • Thanks, I should have looked at the source instead of the notes about it. I've just learnt something new! Incidentally, while you are correct, the core of it is that add_action just calls (or returns) add_filter under the hood, rather than anything do_action does since that isn't called anywhere in this scenario.
    – mike_temby
    Mar 29, 2022 at 5:39

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