Can anyone CLEARLY explain the difference levels...

Between Access levels (also called Membership levels in the documentation) and Subscriptions????

Please do not (a) repeat what is in the manual (b) refer me to the video (c) copy a FAQ response.

Have read/listened several times and cannot clearly distinguish between the two.

Some clear examples would be great.

Here's what I can deduce so far (and it may be wrong):

1. access level is really a topic (eg "How to....") or a subject (like Chinese food or webinars, etc). There can be lots of categories of info that you split your info/topics/subjects into.

2. Membership levels allow you to group eg topics a,b,c together and charge for access to that group of topics (say Bronze Membership).

As the membership costs increase, you then add another group of topics (d,e,f) - so Silver Membership comprises access to topics /subjects a,b,c,d,e,f.

Gold Membership adds more (g,h,i,j) so gold members have access to topics (a to j).

Is that correct?

If not, can someone give me an idiot proof example of how it is designed to work. I need to understand the underlying logic so I can use the darn plugin!

Thank you.

  • aristath

    Hello again @Karen,

    Access levels:
    Access levels allow you to set up multiple levels that hold the rules to what users can and can't access on your site.

    Subscriptions:
    Subscriptions are what users actually see. Subscriptions contain access levels and are what users pay for.

    Think of your site like a restaurant...
    Clients walk in and order dishes (subscriptions) from a menu (your membership form).
    Each dish (subscription) holds a food (access level).
    The ingredients of the food is the actual rules you've set-up in the access levels.

    I hope that helps!

    Cheers,
    Ari.

  • Karen

    Aristarchus

    Sadly it doesn't answer my queries...

    Do you mind taking another look at the original question which clearly sets out what I think I need to do...and tell me where my assumptions and/or understanding is wrong. I would appreciate that as the analogy isn't working. See comments/questions below.

    ***********************************************************************************************
    ingredients (=rules)...it is not clear what you need to do with the right hand lists(main, content, buddy press and admin lists... HOW do you use them -examples needed to clarify) if ingredients are apples, you either add apples to a dish or leave them out; you don't add them to a negative list and you can't both add and not add an apple...so the analogy fails at some point (nice try though)
    food(=access levels) (are these the features/topics?)
    dishes (=subscriptions) (what is the difference between "food" and "dishes"...
    menu(=membership options?)

    This appears to mean that you can add any access level to any subscription (=add any ingredient to any dish)

    If you control access to information by grouping them within subscriptions, WHY do you also need to select and add things like categories to the positive or neg or both part of each access level?????

    (Is there a real client eg edublogs that you can use as a case study for mugs like me who struggle to understand this stuff...or the New York Times who appear to "get it" and use it. Thanks.)

    ************************************************************************************************
    What is also not making sense is text in the membership plugin itself which says:

    "Moving thru the levels that are part of this subscription"
    - what? You move thru levels? In what order and why?
    -aren't a bunch of levels just associated with a subscription? ie there is no order.
    -since when is there a hierarchy for the access levels within the subscription? And why?
    -wouldn't you move between subscriptions if you want more/different info?

    "New sign ups after this subscription will start here and automatically pass to the next membership level below."
    -What? What is "automatic" about membership/access levels? Again this implies there is an order which there isn't..or if there is, it isn't obvious to a plugin user!

    It is confusing as the terminology is used very loosely and it seems there are :Membership levels (which are in fact the Access Levels). Terminology should be unique to avoid confusion. Using them interchangeably is not helping clarity.

    ************************************************************************************************
    Can the person who created this plugin PLEEEEEEEEASE explain the underlying logic/rationale for the plug-in, it is missing from the documentation so I am flying blind. It needs a clear explanation -with examples upfront (yes I have seen the videos and read the manual and it is STILL a struggle and I consider myself quite bright (Hons in Science and all that) but this stuff just stumps me because of the vacuum of practical documentation that explains the underlying thinking and just tells you the process to follow.

    It is like telling me how to make a widget and showing me, but when the widget machine that makes the parts breaks down I have no idea how to fix it as there are no instructions and the way the machine works was not explained so I haven't got the faintest idea where to start looking to try and fix it.

    *************************************************************************************************

  • aristath

    @Karen wow, that was a long post...
    I'll have to take it step by step.
    So here we go:

    For starters relax, don't panic and forget about subscriptions. let's deal with access levels first.

    You need to decide EXACTLY what you want your user levels to be like.
    Use case 1: - I want some of my users to have access to ALL my content EXCEPT page A and menu item B
    Use case 2: - I want some of my users to have access to Just pages A,B & C
    Use case 3: - I want some of my users to have access to Just pages A,B, C & D.

    I am using pages and menus as an example here, you can use whatever you want from the right-hand menu of the access levels.

    In use case 1, we want our users to have access to everything except a few items on our site. So we have to add some negative rules in order to deny them access to these items.
    So we select "negative" rules in the tab, and then drag the "pages" from the right hand menu to the place where it says "Drop Here".
    Once we do, we'll be able to select specifically which pages we want to disallow access to.
    The we repeat the same drag-n-drop procedure for the menus item and select the menu that we don't want our users to have access to.
    There we go... Access level 1 is complete.

    Use case 2 requires a different access level. So let's create a new access level. This time, we want them to ONLY have access to the specific items that we want.
    So we'll select positive rules, and using the same drag-n-drop process as before we'll add the pages rule to our access leve and select pages A, B & C.
    That's it! Now save that and we now have 2 access rules.

    Use case 3 is again a different access level. once again it's positive rules, and we'll add access to pages A, B, C & D.

    Now, moving on to the Subscriptions!
    Use case:
    I want my users to be able to choose between 2 subscription plans:

    Plan 1:
    First 15 days they will have access to pages A, B & C and it will be FREE.
    Then I want my users to pay $15 for the next month so that they will be able to access pages A, B & C.
    Then, I want them to pay $10 each month to be able to access pages A, B, C & D.

    Plan 2:
    users will pay $200 one time, and they will have access to everything EXCEPT page A and menu item B

    Let's analyse these subscription plans a bit, and try to build them with our access levels that we created earlier...
    Plan 1 goes like this:
    Access level 2 - 15 days - $0
    Access level 2 - 1 month - $15
    Access level 3 - recurring each month - $10

    Plan 2 goes like this:
    Access level 1 - indefinite, $200.

    After we've thought this through and know what we wqant to achieve, it's time to start building our subscription plans.
    Go to create a new subscription plan. This time, on the right sidebar you should see you have access levels, and on the main area there's a spot where it says DROP HERE.
    So... Building Plan 1:
    Drag the access level 2 from the right to the point where it says "Drop Here".
    Once you place it there, you should see some options.
    Since we want the first 15 days to be free, we'll select these options:
    mode: finite (since we want this to end after 15 days)
    period: 15 days
    price: 0 USD

    Next, we want the following month to be 1 month at $15 on access level 2.
    Drag and drop the access level 2 below the rule we already added, and set its options like this:
    mode: finite (since we want this to end after 1 month)
    period: 1 month
    price: 15 USD

    Next, we want them to pay $10 each month for access level 3.
    Drag and drop the access level 3 below the rule we already added, and set its options like this:
    mode: serial (since we want them to pay EACH month)
    period: 1 month
    price: 10 USD

    That's it... save this, and we now have our subscription plan 1.

    Next one's easier...
    Subscription level 2:
    Drag the access level 1 from the right to the point where it says "Drop Here".
    Once you place it there, you should see some options.
    This time the options will look like this:
    mode: indefinite (since we want this to be forever)
    period: doesn't matter, just leave it as is.
    price: 200 USD

    That's it... subscription level 2 is ready as well.

    I think this covered almost everything...
    I hope that helps cause it took me half an hour to write!

    Cheers,
    Ari.

  • Karen

    Ari

    Thanks for the info above, but I am still struggling with Membership and Buddypress not working together so I haven't been able to put things in place to even get to creating memberships (although I have a few test ones in place - it is still not clear to me how to set it up).

    There is a lot of information that is NOT in the manual.

    Things like:
    1. You have to get FREE members to take out a membership or they are treated as Strangers...

    (Post #202154 one YEAR ago this was posted).
    "Yes, they need to complete the signup for free membership. Otherwise they stay on the Stranger Level if set. If they don't then just like paid membership they don't complete until the transaction is completed (even free)." WTF????

    2. I discovered - when Membership was registering my testers and NO ONE was showing up on the BuddyPress part of the site as a Member or part of a Group - that Membership takes over. Now I find you have to turn things off (NO INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO DO THAT have I been able to find)

    (Post #77277 from 2 YEARS ago)
    "If you are running membership, you really need to switch off wordpress and buddypress registration, create a membership registration page and use that for sign ups. "

    I find you have to do a hell of a lot of investigating and reading posts to pick up little bits and pieces to understand what the heck you are supposed to do. I have mentioned this ad nauseum..but you need to put this information in an UPDATED MANUAL so people can understand.

    What is the point of making people stumble in the dark trying to find basic operational issues and then there are NO instructions???

    Can you tell me HOW to turn off the WordPress AND BuddyPress logins AND - how do people register and show up on BuddyPress????? to use those features once they sign up for a Subsription and get registered using the Membership plugin. I have been searching (unsuccessfully) for this info in all the related posts.

    Thank you.

  • aristath

    1. You have to get FREE members to take out a membership or they are treated as Strangers...

    When you first visit the membership options, these are the first options that you see on your dashboard, and they are clearly explained (see screenshot 1)

    2. I discovered - when Membership was registering my testers and NO ONE was showing up on the BuddyPress part of the site as a Member or part of a Group - that Membership takes over. Now I find you have to turn things off (NO INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO DO THAT have I been able to find)

    When Membership and BuddyPress are both enabled on your site, there are clearly labeled acess rules in your access level settings (see screenshot 2).
    Membership manages access to regions of your site, and there are specific rules for BuddyPress. Since Membership manages access to the areas of your site, it's quite reasonable that you will have to allow access to BuddyPress areas using the BuddyPress-specific rules in your access levels.

    (Post #77277 from 2 YEARS ago)

    In the past 2 years, WordPress, BuddyPress AND Membership have radically changed. There's not a single line of code in all 3 of them that hasn't been rewritten from the ground up!! Looking at posts that are this old is completely counter-productive and has no relation whatsoever to the current status of any of the involved elements. In order for these posts to be true, you will have to use a 2-year old version of WordPress, BuddyPress and Membership.

    What is the point of making people stumble in the dark trying to find basic operational issues and then there are NO instructions???

    There ARE instructions...

    On top of that, we try to solve your every question in these forums.
    I don't see how that is lack of instructions...

    Can you tell me HOW to turn off the WordPress AND BuddyPress logins

    The reason you can't find instructions on how to do this is because you don't have to do it. You did have to... 2 years ago.

    how do people register and show up on BuddyPress?????

    If you enable your users to access BuddyPress areas using the BuddyPress-specific rules that exist in your access levels, then they will have access to BuddyPress. It's that simple...

    I hope that helps!

    Cheers,
    Ari.

  • Karen

    Ari

    Thanks for all that. All information helps, but it is difficult to piece it all together in the absence of a comprehensive manual that meets the users needs (which Membership manual doesn't at present). See below.

    1. I beg to differ that on the Membership General tab it is clear.

    It is NOT clear to a newbie (nor after reading all the documentation AND watching the videos several times each).

    It might be difficult for someone familiar with the site and what the wording means, to understand the glaring gaps for someone trying to come to grips with what it is all about. There are many people (if I read all the posts correctly) who have issues with LACK of clear information....as I've said ad nauseum so far.

    Those pages mean nothing without some context. I have come around in a circle as my understanding - as the answers to the many questions I post,arrive.

    The main trouble is that there is no "conceptual" explanations - what the plug in is meant to do - apart from some overarching general info in your marketing (which is what gets people in as it sounds so good). The trouble is as people have more questions and want to know more, the details are lacking, hence irritation and frustration and people just leave and feel cheated as the product doesn't live up to the marketing hype. (FYI)

    For example, User Registration

    "If you have free user registration enabled on your site, select the subscription they will be assigned to initially.

    If you are using a paid subscription model - it is probably best to set this to "none"."

    To me, FREE user registration, means all those registered get free content. I wanted them to pay so I didn't chose that selection. [...and how do you "enable free registration on your site" if not by using the dropdown underneath - it reads like it is something you preset somewhere else - another area of confusion.]

    So instead I picked a PAID subscription model - I thought this would mean that they would pay for the information they wanted (which I put behind some kind of wall so they paid for access to it). I assumed they would still be able to see and use BuddyPress (in the absence of any information on how the plugins work with each other) as that was a different plugin.

    I recently found out (was told) that Membership OVERRIDES BuddyPress and I HAVE to make BP an Access Level and include it in a Subscription in order for it to be accessible. As I don't want them to pay for BuddyPress access I have to create a FREE subscription.

    So if I want Paid Subscriptions AND to use BuddyPress for free - I need both FREE and PAID Subscriptions and which button do I choose for that????

    This is just one example of how you end up going around in circles.

    Even with what I know now - and what you've said - I am wondering if my understanding of creating a FREE subscription is what I am meant to be doing.

    So, as noted above: What if you want a FREE subscription (because the Membership plugin forces you to allow access to BP as an access level within a subscription which you don't want to charge for) AS WELL AS PAID subscription? How do you do that?

    Can you see the issue?

    2. As I have noted elsewhere, what is the point of have Related Posts when they are so old they are irrelevant? Why not remove them? - and remove the resulting confusion. Newbies don't know they are (a) old - as there are no dates and you have to search to find 2 years ago (and is that two years ago from today or from some other random date???) or (b) they are not relevant as things have moved on. I just can't see the point of leaving them accessible to confuse people hunting for answers.

    Re "Since Membership manages access to the areas of your site, it's quite reasonable that you will have to allow access to BuddyPress areas using the BuddyPress-specific rules in your access levels."

    ...it might be "reasonable to you and WPMU Dev people" but it certainly wasn't something that "sprang out" at me. I had to be told by someone / have it explained. I have a degree in Biochemistry with Honours - I am not stupid. I run companies that people love - I make things easy for them. I write manuals for all the jobs in my business - to make it easy for staff to know their job and to follow. I know what I am talking about.

    ...I am flummoxed and puzzled by WPMU Dev would have such a tortuous process to find basic information on a product they want people to use/buy/sell. I find a lot of frustration on the site and people drop out rather than keep going. Why not put processes in place to remove the things that frustrate, so people can quickly and easily use your company's products?...and then rave about them and bring more people in. I am actually trying to HELP your organisation...but I can't help getting frustrated with the way information is hidden or you have to divine it in some way or waste hours writing questions and waiting for answers.

    I'm sorry but I have read and listened to the videos several times (and provided feedback on them as they loosely used terminology for the SAME item which again confuses the reader). I encounter so many posts where people say they are confused - as I am - AFTER going through ALL the documentation.

    They are simply not clear enough. (They might be if you wrote the software or are so familiar with it that you KNOW what it means...but you are not the target audience. We are / I am....we are the ones who should know if something is clear or not. I am not the only one. I have read hundreds of posts and the overall impression is that people do NOT understand the plugin. (Someone went so far as to say that you come under the ACCC in Australia and that your marketing was false advertising and implied you could be prosecuted for it.)

    Those little bits that come up with the questions marks are so cryptic as to be useless.

    I am sorry, I should not have said there are NO instructions...I should have said the existing ones just make no sense, are not clear enough and there are many gaps. They explain some technical aspects but there is a glaring gap in what things mean ...and the manual doesn't cover how it works with other plugins.

    Please tell me where it explains that BuddyPress should be nominated as an Access level within a Subscription when used with Membership in order for someone to access it and that you'll need to create a FREE level so they can get it (for free) which means that you need to be setting it up for Free Memberships which will also allow you to charge for Paid Memberships. (and if it allows FREE and PAID memberships - if it does - why do I have to choose between them???)

    "On top of that, we try to solve your every question in these forums.
    I don't see how that is lack of instructions..."

    These forums do help - but because people are so frustrated with the lack of (clear) documentation - you and your colleagues end up getting the brunt of it. (Please note: t is not aimed at you personally - it is aimed at getting the information people want to have quickly as many are working for clients who are demanding progress on their websites.

    If it was all clear, the result would be happy people raving about the product and how easy it is to use. The evidence shows that is not the case from what I have read and seen in the 2-3 months I have been using the products.

    ***

    Now that I know to put Buddypress in an Access level I will try that and see how it goes.

    Can you confirm that I should select FREE registration (and in using that, I will ALSO be able to generate PAID subscriptions). Thank you.

    ***

    PS I see a few people have offered to help re-write the manuals for WPMU Dev..They would be good to have reading any updates to any manuals to see if it makes sense to the readers who are the ones using it. People want to help WPMU Dev succeed. Let them by taking their suggestions on board.

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