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I am using the wp-polls plugin on my website. This plugin relies on using AJAX requests of the form http://www.myfakewebsiteurl.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?action=polls&view=process&poll_id=2&poll_2=8&poll_2_nonce=420d75e659

When I log in, this request works fine: it pulls the poll results from the server, and then displays them on the desired web page.

However, when I log out, this request redirects me to the home page. Thus, instead of the poll results appearing, I get the home page loaded where the poll results are supposed to be.

Why would admin-ajax.php redirect visitors to my Wordpress-powered site who are not logged in to the home page of my website?

3 Answers 3

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It only redirects when accessed directly, as do all files located in wp-admin/. AJAX requests should work fine regardless of authentication status.

Edit: wp-admin/admin-ajax.php should not redirect in any situation. Perhaps a plugin is redirecting all unauthenticated users to the homepage? By default, accessing files inside wp-admin/ when not logged in should redirect to the login page.

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  • Thank you, but I'm not visiting the URL directly in my browser address bar. I'm retrieving the URL via AJAX in jQuery code. That should work, right?
    – David Faux
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 3:36
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    Yes, it should. Perhaps a plugin is redirecting unauthenticated users to the homepage? By default, accessing files inside wp-admin/ when not logged in should redirect to the login page.
    – shea
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 3:38
  • OMG! You're right! I've been debugging this for 5 days, and I never suspected that! Apparently, one of my plugins was redirecting visitors if they were not logged in to the home page. I found this out by performing grep -R 'redirect' . in my plugins folder. I am still confused though. Why would code in another plugin be called? The AJAX request wasn't even relevant to this plugin ...
    – David Faux
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 3:59
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    It depends on how the redirect is handled - if they check for the WP_ADMIN constant or use the is_admin() function, then it will trigger on any AJAX request or any wp-admin page
    – shea
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 4:27
  • Thank you! That makes sense. admin-ajax.php is an admin file.
    – David Faux
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 4:53
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Okay, so here's the deal. Redirect plugins have to do the following to avoid this issue.

if ( !defined( 'DOING_AJAX' ) ) {}

It's that simple. Simple mistake, and easy to fix.

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I just had the same issue and for me the reason wasn't broken plugin code. To find this one, I really needed to debug the wp_redirect code in wp-includes/pluggable.php:1246 and add the following lines at the beginning of the function:

  var_dump($location);
  var_dump($status);
  var_dump(wp_debug_backtrace_summary());
  die;

Usually, you may inject such code via a filter like wp_redirect but that didn't work for me since the error occurred before my theme or plugin code was loaded by WordPress. Now, I observed the response body of my AJAX request in the developer network tools of my browser. You may also use trigger_error(wp_debug_backtrace_summary()) and observe the stacktrace in wp-content/debug.log (if you enable the debug log).

My issue was naming a file in my theme admin.php and importing it with include_once("admin.php");. Strangely, the requirement logic starts looking for a file with that name in the upper parent folder,s and thus, it loada wp-admin/admin.php leading to an authentication error and finally my erroneous redirect.

And here goes the solution to my particular issue:

// Instead of: include_once('admin.php');
include_once(dirname(__FILE__) . 'admin.php');

I guess, there are many ways to have such redirect issues. Hopefully, my problem-solving method helps other people out there with their problems.

Greetings, Thomas

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