WordPress plugins for user-submitted & user-generated content

Default avatar.
March 21, 2012
It’s 2012, and more and more sites and blogs are looking for ways to further their user’s involvement, many taking example from, perhaps, one of the more polished of these sites, Buzzfeed.com. What makes Buzzfeed different from sites such as Digg.com, which offers users a chance to vote on articles pulled from all over the web (the recent, highest rated articles, being the ones posted on the front page), is that it provides a front-end interface through which users can post their own articles, along with a similar style system to Digg, allowing you to share your ‘reaction’ on other articles. Buzzfeed succeeds in creating a clean user experience for submitting content to their site, and using the examples below, you can learn how to do the same with your WordPress site or blog. There are various methods that can be used, ranging from the built-in system to numerous plugins, enabling various types of user content contribution.

1. Roles and Capabilities

The number one technique for enabling and controlling user-submitted content on WordPress is the built in Roles and Capabilities system, which can be accessed and altered through the General Settings and Users tabs. This system offers 5 (6 if part of a WordPress 3.0 Multisite Network) categories users can be placed into: (In order of importance) Super Admin - This role gives access to the same features as a standard Administrator, but across any different other sites in a network. Administrator - Has access to the full controls of a given site Editor - Can publish and manage posts and pages as well as manage other users' posts Author - Somebody who can publish and manage their own posts Contributor - Somebody who can write and manage their posts but not publish them Subscriber - Somebody who can only manage their profile These provide an adequate range of categories for the average blog, with a default new user role option being available. The most useful application for this method would be for a magazine site, the roles being suited to the hierarchy of such a site, and it means the contributors are part of the site, rather than casual users as with the Buzzfeed model. The reason this method isn’t suited to casual users is because of the WordPress Dashboard interface; because this is used for all administrative tasks, it is effectively a backend solution, however the WordPress login system does allow for greater integration for a network of sites. The issue with this for casual readers, rather than regular visitors, will have to create an account to upload content. This is the main reason plugins are used for this type of user-submitted content, multiple plugins allow for greater control and variety of front-end solutions, so the appeal is evident; the Roles and Capabilities system is useful, then, for integration with the WordPress system, and enables users to login through the proprietary WordPress system, which means administrators can easily control users through the relevant tab.

2. User Submitted Posts

User Submitted Posts is a multi-functional form, which can be embedded anywhere in your WordPress site using a shortcode; it allows you to customize the fields in the form, such as title, or tags. It gives the administrator an number of useful tools to control uploads. On a site with a lot of traffic and—with this plugin—a sizable number of submissions, even several moderators may struggle to approve every single post, so the ‘publish after a number of approved posts’ looks like one of the more useful features of this plugin if you want to moderate your submissions but don’t have the manpower to do so. Another great feature of User Submitted Posts is that it allows the posting of multiple images along with text, making this a strong, customizable, and professional-looking plugin that doesn’t require a WordPress account to use. The ease of use is further implemented in the posts tab, where user-submitted posts appear alongside those posted via the dashboard, and the plugin includes a filter button, to easily see which posts have been user submitted.

3. Wordpress Guest Post Plugin

WordPress Guest Post works much like the User Submitted Posts, and gives you a customizable form for users to submit content from. However, it separates the guest posts into their own tab in the Admin sidebar. It offers a CAPTCHA system for filtering out spam, which you might consider to be an essential feature for your site.

4. NextGEN Public Uploader

Whilst NextGEN Public Uploader is no longer updated, it can still be useful, and is used in conjunction with the NextGEN gallery plugin, and allows user uploaded images to be displayed after Admin approval. The NextGEN gallery is a popular plugin which allows you to implement multiple scrolling galleries anywhere within your site or blog using a shortcode. The NextGEN Public Uploader offers a front end solution for solely images, but unlike User Submitted Posts it allows them to, once approved, be displayed in a gallery.

5. FV Community News

Having lots of regular article updates on your blog can be difficult so FV Community News allows users to submit articles from the web that will be displayed in the Sidebar in the form of a Widget. The plugin is complete with a moderation panel to control the incoming article submissions, and allows you to create a custom page which users can use to submit the articles from. An added bonus is the built in RSS feed it features.

6. Code Your Own

If you prefer to add your own personal touch to your site elements, then you can build your own plugin, either to submit images or text. These two great tutorials at Wptuts+ walk you through building your own plugin, or—if you want to save time—offer you the finished source files to play around with. These tutorials gives a very accessible walk-through of all the code and what it does, and with the estimated completion time being only 30 minutes, it shouldn’t take long to familiarize yourself with the code if you wish to edit it. The text option is a little more advanced, since the tutorial is designed for quotes, but with a little tweaking you can adapt it to suit posting. Remember that these only give you the bare bones of the plugin, expecting you to build your own features on top of it, such as editing, and as such is only really a viable option for advanced, veteran WordPress users and coders. Know of other great plugins for user-generated and user-submitted content in WordPress? Or seen any cool implementations of these kinds of plugins lately? Let us know in the comments!

Dan Rajan

Dan Rajan is a film student, creative content designer, and passionate writer from the UK, follow him on twitter!

Read Next

20 Best New Websites, May 2024

Welcome to May’s compilation of the best sites on the web. This month we’re focused on color for younger humans,…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, May 2024

This year, we’ve seen a wave of groundbreaking apps and tools. AI is reshaping the industry, enhancing productivity,…

Using AI to Predict Design Trends

Design trends evolve at a blistering pace, especially in web design. On multi-month projects, you might work on a…

15 Best New Fonts, April 2024

Just like web design, type design follows trends. And while there’s always room for an exciting outsider, we tend to…

3 Essential Design Trends, May 2024

Integrated navigation elements, interactive typography, and digital overprints are three website design trends making…

How to Write World-Beating Web Content

Writing for the web is different from all other formats. We typically do not read to any real depth on the web; we…

20 Best New Websites, April 2024

Welcome to our sites of the month for April. With some websites, the details make all the difference, while in others,…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, April 2024

Welcome to our April tools collection. There are no practical jokes here, just practical gadgets, services, and apps to…

How Web Designers Can Stay Relevant in the Age of AI

The digital landscape is evolving rapidly. With the advent of AI, every sector is witnessing a revolution, including…

14 Top UX Tools for Designers in 2024

User Experience (UX) is one of the most important fields of design, so it should come as no surprise that there are a…

What Negative Effects Does a Bad Website Design Have On My Business?

Consumer expectations for a responsive, immersive, and visually appealing website experience have never been higher. In…

10+ Best Resources & Tools for Web Designers (2024 update)

Is searching for the best web design tools to suit your needs akin to having a recurring bad dream? Does each…