What do you do with wordpress accounts of former staff?
November 8, 2016 5:31 AM   Subscribe

I work at a library with a self-hosted Wordpress website. We've had some staff turnover recently, which has left us with a bunch of blog posts on our website authored by now-former staff who have been replaced in their positions. What is the best way to handle the accounts of former staff - delete them and merge all their posts into their replacement, or just leave them alone?

One concern I've heard is that if we leave those names on our website, people will still think they work here - and leaving inactive accounts increases the possibility of getting hacked.

On the otherhand, people understand that staff come and go, and some posts, if reattributed to a different author, wouldn't make any sense at all. And if we start doing this now, I can see in the future having a brand new staff person getting three generations of former staff's posts all attributed to them.

Or is there a handy plugin that salves all my problems? Thanks.

posted by herzogbr to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We reassign content to "News Team" when someone leaves. We also refresh existing content periodically to ensure the info is still good, & content that gets a rewrite might get re-attributed to another author.

We do have one author who writes in first person due to her celebrity. If she were to leave, we wouldn't be able to do that so easily. She also does most of our video content so that would all have to be redone.
posted by headnsouth at 5:36 AM on November 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

looks like this plugin lets you disable users so that they can't login.
posted by noloveforned at 5:44 AM on November 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

You should be able to go in and edit the names of the user who made those posts to the name of the position instead of the person's name or something generic like "XYZ Staff". There's nothing intrinsic about leaving an inactive account that makes it a risk for hacking, but yeah there are plugins that can close them up.

I do think that this may be a setting expectations thing though. Those people did work at your library and they do not now. Managing people who get confused (i.e. maybe calling and saying "Can I talk to soandso?") is just part of dealing with having a website with timely content.

I know in the library world people have a lot of anxiety about these things sometimes--on the VLA website we have people who want us to remove old job postings, not just mark them as filled--so I'd suggest that whatever you do, you move forward doing it with confidence and say "This is what we're going to do because of good reasons" and talk people through managing edge cases.
posted by jessamyn at 5:49 AM on November 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

They did actually author that content - I think if you're going to hang on to it, it should stay with their names. (Librarians! Disappointed!) They could have been guest bloggers, for all anyone knows, but sure, at this point in history, everyone definitely understands that people come and go. An up-to-date staff list/directory would be authoritative to most people, I should think. Just disable their accounts, if that's possible.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:12 AM on November 8, 2016 [11 favorites]

I'd vote for leaving their names, as a matter of record. If it appears lots of people get confused (not likely) you could change their handles to something like Firstname Lastname (former staff member) or Firstname Lastname (retired) as the case may be.

In the newspaper biz we just leave bylines on old stories in the archives, whether the person's still with us, or not, without trying to indicate their status.
posted by beagle at 7:17 AM on November 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Leaving inactive accounts does not increase your hacking potential. Just go in and edit the user account and give a super-strong password.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:24 AM on November 8, 2016

You should absolutely not change the credit to someone else. One reason that's not been touched on so far is that the former employees might be using it as a writing sample for applying for other jobs - if a potential employer checks it out and it's credited to someone else, it could cost the former employee the opportunity.

One concern I've heard is that if we leave those names on our website, people will still think they work here

How often is that realistically going to happen and what is the worst case scenario if they do?
posted by Candleman at 10:11 AM on November 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Lots of ways to approach this, many good ideas already. Here's another: Change Author, a plugin:
Since WordPress cannot override the author with a non-author by default, this plugin overrides the Author meta-box with a meta box that can select any user.

So whenever you want to place an article that was written by someone else, you just create a user with subscriber role (if he/she hasn't already) and assign the article to that user!
So in this case it would be the reverse, take those users and downgrade them to subscriber then set the authorship to those users.
posted by artlung at 10:58 AM on November 8, 2016

Thanks everyone. We've already got Change Author installed, so downgrading the account and hardening the password sounds like a good combination. Adding "(former staff)" to their name is an interesting idea too. Thanks again for all the suggestions.
posted by herzogbr at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2016

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