Restrict functionality with Membership

Gah, I had written a long entry, then clicked outside the comment box by mistake and everything was gone.

OK, once again, short version this time. I'm trying to configure my Multisite network with Membership so that subscribers have access to some features provided by plugins, while non-paying users don't.

I added a plugin to the negative area of the Visitor/Stranger access level. The user still has full access, the setting did nothing. Not what I expected as Part VIII of the documentation says I can set permissions to access "features".

Then, section 8.20 says that Negative means that "users cannot install plugins when selected". Install? In Multisite, no user except the super admin can install plugins. I don't need to restrict what is not possible anyway.

Is content the only thing I'm able to control, or am I missing something?

  • mort3n

    Hi anders,

    When setting up an Access level, then adding a plugin from the Administration box as you describe will control access to that plugin. It is not intended to turn off the plugin functionality on the front end.

    On multisite each subsite can have an admin different from the superadmin that may control plugins for that subsite if the plugins are not network activated.

    Plugins provide very different types of functionality. What type of feature are you trying to restrict?

    E.g. if the plugin output to a particular page, then restrict the page. Similar for other types of outpu.


  • Anders

    Hi mort3n,

    Controlling access is just what I'm after. But site admins don't have any control over the plugin or its settings, in fact there is not even a Plugins menu. They have a menu or submenu or other functionality that the plugin enables when I network activate it as the Superadmin.

    I don't understand what you mean by turning it off "at the front end"? I want non-subscribers to not have access at all, and that means not having the menus and controls in the dashboard. What I found is that they still do. Adding the plugin to the Negative area did nothing at all. Every user has the same access, exactly as before.

    If I do not network activate the plugin, but activate it for individual sites, a site admin still wouldn't have access to the Plugins menu. No site admin ever does. They only get the functionality.

    What I want is to allow only subscribers to get the features a plugin provides. For regular users it's like I never installed it.

    For example, I want to enable CSS editing for subscribers. Subscribers get a sub-menu under Appearance, enabled by the plugin, where they can modify their design. Others do not.

    Nothing to do with content in pages and posts.

    My network is a public blogging service with open registration enabled. Users who pay can have an image widget, set extended privacy settings, display related posts, etc. That's what I'm aiming for, and it's all done by plugins.

    The question is, does Membership support this or is it just about content.

  • mort3n

    Hi anders,

    Plugin administration

    I think the instructions are referring to the situation where subsite admins can activate plugins on a site by site basis.

    Please refer to the WP Codex

    Site Specific Plugins: WordPress Plugins to be activated or deactivated by an individual site admin are stored in the plugins directory. You need to enable the Plugins page for individual site administrators from the Network Admin's Settings -> Network Settings menu. Specific site administrators can then toggle optional plugin activation.


    Membership gives you various ways to restrict access to content (output from plugin functionality). You need to be a bit more specific about what you try to achieve for others to be able to provide more specific help than the plugin instructions.


  • PC


    It's a nice discussion and I can't praise Mort3n enough to be on top of things :slight_smile:

    If I had to restrict the plugin usage on the subsites in my Multisite Environment, I would certainly choose Pro Sites over Membership plugin. That is what its made for.

    So with Membership you can control whether the user will have access to Q&A questions on the front end, and with Pro Sites you can control if the member will have backend access to create questions and configure the plugin settings on the sub site.

    Please advise so that we can discuss it more deeply.

    Cheers, PC

  • Anders

    OK, so the instructions saying 'users cannot install plugins' really means they cannot access the menu item in the Plugins menu. That may be.

    However, 1. it doesn't help - I gave several specific examples of plugin functionality, one was CSS editing, which adds a menu under Appearance. It is this menu I want to hide, not what may be in the Plugins menu. And 2. my site admins do not have the Plugins menu. I disabled it as I don't want them messing with plugins, they only have the menus that plugins put in the dashboard.

    Still, I suppose I could open up Plugins to individual users to let them activate plugin X so they get premium functionality X. I.e. restrict it for normal users. Not elegant but may work.

    I just realized that Main Menu/Sub Menu rules to enable access may be the way to go, not Plugins. A first test was unsuccessful, the visitor user still has access to menus that I put in the negative area. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

    Hey Pranaya,
    You mentioned Pro Sites. You're right, that's what I should be using for my purposes. The problem is that Pro Sites is additive by design - Level 1 users get what Level 0 users have plus something, Level 2 get all that plus something else, etc. Not what I'm looking for. I want discrete packages, kind of like, one for extra upload space, one for themes, one for premium function (plugins).

    It has been said that Pro Sites and Membership can be combined to acheive this. But how, seeing as this plugin only deals with output/content? Any insight appreciated.

  • Anders

    Following up on my previous entry, I need to ask a specific question. Membership is Network activated. Still I only see users of the main site (blog ID=1) as members, no other users on the network. And as stated, when I restrict a menu there is no effect on other sites.

    If you define 'users' as site admins on a network, how should Membership be configured? Do I need to modify wp-config.php?


  • PC


    Basically what I'm asking is, is there a way to create premium packages like at Pro Sites only gives you cumulative levels. I'm interested in any solution that is not manual. works the same way as Premium features are offered to premium members.

    Any of the subsite admins are not allowed to install plugins on their sites. For that you will have to give them a different solution which would be a custom site and will be separate from others.

    If you can elaborate on premium v/s cumulative, I can explain it more.

    Cheers, PC

  • Anders

    Hey PC,

    Thanks for getting back to me. Yes, customization is just what I'm after. And upselling.

    By "premium" I mean features that are available only for paying customers. offers packages that are distinct from one another - you can get extra storage space for a price, the CSS upgrade for another price etc. They even sell their themes individually. Then there is the Pro bundle, but that's the only interdependence between packages.

    My problem with Pro Sites is that you can only create Levels. These are cumulative (additive) - level 1 has A, level 2 has A and B, level 3 has A, B, and C. There is no way a user can get A and C separately. Someone may need a space upgrade but has no interest in premium themes. Whatever you include in your basic premium level has to be of value to every single customer, and the problem only escalates with the price at higher levels.

    I'd like to use Pro Sites, and avoid manual processes, as far as possible. Any solutions are appreciated.

    *Update: I plan to have advertising on all blogs, so removing ads would be Level 1. This is the basic form of financing. Then I could add premium themes as Level 2, I know many will want that, and Pro Sites does that really well. Then it gets tricky because there is all the Premium Plugin goodness that I really want to offer individually, without keeping track of hundreds of sites in a spreadsheet and handle a myriad PayPal transactions.

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