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Have you ever encountered a situation in WordPress where you diligently set up custom user roles, only to find them mysteriously vanish when you update a user’s profile in the admin panel? This can be frustrating and confusing, but fear not! In this article, we’ll explore why this happens and introduce a practical solution to ensure that your custom roles remain intact even after profile updates.

Understanding the Problem

Let’s begin by understanding why this issue occurs. When you update a user’s profile in WordPress, there’s a piece of code in the background that checks for changes in the user’s role. If a new role is selected, it replaces the existing roles with the new one. Here’s the code snippet responsible for this behavior:

if ( isset( $userdata['role'] ) ) {
    $user->set_role( $userdata['role'] );
} elseif ( ! $update ) {
    $user->set_role( get_option( 'default_role' ) );

This code essentially replaces the user’s roles based on the new selection. However, it doesn’t consider any custom roles you might have created.

The Solution

Reassigning Custom Roles To address this issue and ensure that your custom roles are preserved and reassigned during profile updates, we’ve crafted a handy function called reassign_roles_on_profile_update. Here’s how it works:

 * Preserve and reassign custom roles for a user during profile update.
 * @param int      $user_id       The ID of the user being updated.
 * @param WP_User  $old_user_data The user data before the update.
 * @param WP_User  $userdata      The updated user data.
public function reassign_roles_on_profile_update( $user_id, $old_user_data, $userdata ) {
    // Get the user's existing roles
    $existing_roles = (array) $old_user_data->roles;

    // Reassign custom roles to the user
    foreach ( $existing_roles as $role ) {
        if ( 'editor' === $role ) {
            $user = new WP_User( $user_id );
            $user->add_role( $role );

This function preserves your custom roles by checking the user’s existing roles ($existing_roles) and reassigning them to the user during the profile update process. In the example above, we’ve used the role 'editor' as an illustration. You can tailor this function to suit your specific custom roles.

By implementing the reassign_roles_on_profile_update function in your WordPress site—either in your theme’s functions.php file or a custom plugin—you can ensure that your custom roles remain intact, providing a seamless user experience.


Don’t let the frustration of losing custom roles during profile updates hinder your WordPress experience. With the reassign_roles_on_profile_update function, you can effortlessly preserve and reassign your custom roles, maintaining precise control over user capabilities. Now, you’re equipped to take full control of your WordPress user roles, ensuring they stay intact where they belong.

Remember to back up your site and test any code changes in a staging environment before applying them to your live website.

Preserve your custom roles and keep your WordPress site running smoothly!

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