Controlling content access with Membership

Hi Folks,

I have a new site I want to build and would like to use my WPMU tools to do it.

However I'd like to ask opinions and advice to see if this can be done, and if so - how to get started with it.

On this site, there would be two basic types of content.

One is specific content where the user pays for access to it and that access never expires.

The other content would be controlled by subscriptions and when the subscription expires, so does the access.

However there is actually a bit of overlap here with what we want to offer in the subscriptions.

There would be two types of subscriptions:

One is a gold level - which would give full access to all the content on the site (including the first type listed above), but in this case the access to the first content would expire when the subscription ends.

The other is a silver level - which would give the subscriber access to all the content on the site EXCEPT for the first type.

For simplicity - think of it as a web book and "other" content.

Someone who is NOT a subscriber could buy the web book at a higher price and would always have access to it.

However the gold level subscriber could get access to the same web book (plus other site content) as long as they had an active subscription.

The silver subscription could access the other site content, but not the web book - and again only for as long as their subscription is active.

Does this sound like something that I can control with the Membership plugin?

I really want to avoid having to duplicate the web books to accomodate both the outright purchasers of it and those who have access to it via subscription.

Thanks in advance for your help and advice!

  • Brian Purkiss

    This is something that can most definitely be accomplished with the Membership plugin.

    You would set up three acces levels.

    The first one would be the non-logged in access level. This would have negative rules preventing access to the premium pages/content.

    The next one would be the subscription based access level with positive rules for the pages you're granting access to.

    The third would be the lifetime membership with positive rules for all the content.

    You would then set up appropriately priced subscription levels for the two positive ruled access levels.

    For more info, check out the Membership manual.

    I'd also be happy to answer any additional questions.


    Thanks Brian - I've been reading up on this.

    A couple of questions.

    1) Can a person be a subscriber to more than one level?

    As far as the gold and silver level subscriptions, a person will be one or the other.

    But as far as people who buy lifetime access to the other content without being a subscriber to the gold or silver plans, they would need to have the ability to buy lifetime access to more one level (area of content) in some cases.

    2) Related to question #1, there would also be scenarios where a person might buy lifetime access to one level (area) of content and then also be a subscriber to the silver level (which is an annual subscription).

    3) Can an area of content be covered by more than one subscription level? For example a area of content would be available through a lifetime plan, but the same area of content would also be available on the gold (annual) subscription.

    4) I assume that on the signup page, that some items could be labeled as annual subscriptions and others as lifetime access for xxx ( where xxx is the area of content ).

    As always, thanks for your expertise and advice!


    It sounds like the Membership plugin may not do what I need to do then.

    There will definitely be multiple areas of content with lifetime access. This gets added to each year.

    A person not subscribing at the gold level could (and most likely would) purchase the lifetime access to multiple areas of content, then might spring for the silver subscription to get the other parts of the site.

    I don't see any practical way to accomplish this (even with 99 levels) without creating a nightmare of different levels with "upgrade from this to that" type logic that would make the signup page unusuable.

    Is there perhaps another plugin that could be used with Membership to allow me to control (and sell) access to the content that has lifetime access?

    Or do you have any other suggestions?

    If not then it looks like I will have to step outside of WordPress (and these great tools) and build the site with something else.



    After thinking about this, I did have one idea, but I am not sure if it is workable.

    As mentioned before, there are two types of content (one by subscription only and one that can be purchased with lifetime access).

    Since you said that a person can not have multiple subscriptions, how about using multisite?

    Consider this:

    The main site would have two subscription levels, gold and silver.

    Then each type of permanent access content would actually be setup as a subdomain.

    So you have which has the two subscription plans.

    Then you have subdomains like this:

    These are lifetime subscription sites for the individual areas of content.

    So the question then becomes how will this work in multisite?

    I can see where a person could sign up for the lifetime access at one of the subdomain sites and that would give them their one subscription level for that site.

    I can also see where a person could buy one of the lifetime plans, then also buy a silver plan at the main site for limited time access there.

    But would it be possible for a person with the gold level subscription on the main site to have a membership level that would cascade down to all the subdomain sites (if we are using multiplan).

    Also (along this line of thinking), can the same content be included in more than one subscription level?

    If so, then the subdomains might have these levels:

    Lifetime - does not expire
    Gold - one year access

    So someone who buys a Lifetime plan on any of the subdomains would have their permanent access.

    Then someone who buys a Gold plan on the main site, would have that Gold level access cascade to the subdomains (giving them a year access there as well).

    Does that make sense (and would it work)?

    I guess that the other option (if no cascade is possible) is that when someone buys a Gold plan on the main site, that we could have a script that would run and add them to each of the subdomain sites, but that would be a PITA and harder to maintain.

    Anyway, let me know what you think (including if this is a stupid idea<g>:wink:.


  • Brian Purkiss

    That could potentially work...

    Users would have to manage their subscriptions separately across the network though, which would be a pain and would likely cause problems. Although... Since they're lifetime subscriptions, it shouldn't be too much of a pain...

    Wait... Can the gold subscription grant access to everything? If so, that wouldn't work as the membership level on one site can't grant access to other sub sites in the network.

    Have you looked at the Pay Per View plugin? It can also grant lifetime access to specific pages. Maybe that could accomplish what you're looking for.


    Thanks for the idea.

    I looked at PPV, but it doesn't look like that is going to fit the bill either.

    One thing about that plugin - does it store the access in a cookie?

    I did a test run from the PayPal sandbox and it seemed like whenever I closed the browser and went back to the site ( running on localhost ) that the purchased content was there without a login.

    I looks like I would either have to do some serious hacking of the Membership plugin or abandon WordPress and just do this as a database driven site to get what I need.


    Thanks for the confirmation.

    It is looking like I am not going to find a way to do what I need to do with the WPMU tools.

    The cookie thing is fairly useless other than for one-off (quickie) low priced content IMHO. Too much potential for problems if a user wanted to acces it from work and again from home for example.

    If the Membership plugin would allow multiple subscriptions, that might work.

    I think what is needed is a set of rules (and more than one can be added) for determining access to the content.

    Then you could setup ones like:

    1) USERNAME has purchased CONTENT and ACCESS DATE is within range.


    That would allow content to be protected, yet still accessed by more than one method.

    Perhaps even let the developer set the priority (sequence) of the rules.

    Then the checking just rolls down the list, stops checking at the first match or falls out the bottom of the list and denies access then.

    Of course all of this based on the login - not a cookie.

    Just my $.02


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