Blogging 119: Managing Multiple Blog Contributors

For many people, blogging is a solo effort; an exercise in self-expression.

But if you’re considering blogging for a business or organization (like our Mayo Clinic News Blog or Podcast Blog, or a global university like SMUG 😉 ) you probably don’t want to have the entire responsibility resting on one person.

You’ll want to get multiple contributors involved.

One way to significantly increase the number of voices represented in your company blog is to, well…capture their voices. And their pictures. Using a video camera. Like the Flip. That’s going to be covered in Blogging 130: Video Blogging.

WordPress (and its hosted service, wordpress.com) is ideally suited to enable lots of people to contribute text for a blog, while still enabling the blog manager (or the management group), to exercise final control.

It does this through its hierarchy of user levels:

  1. Contributors can write posts, but they don’t have authority to hit the “Publish” button. When they are finished, their posts are in the “Pending Review” status, until a higher-level user reviews and approves for publishing. If you were to use WordPress to publish and online newspaper/newsblog, for instance, and wanted to maintain an editorial process that would have articles go through review by an editor, you could have most of your “reporters” be Contributors, so that it would be impossible for one of their posts to be published without that review. Associate Professors at SMUG are in the Contributor role.
  2. Authors have the authority to publish a post and upload files, and can edit their own posts…but not anyone else’s. They can also save their posts as “Pending Review” but if you want to have that two-step process, you should have most users be Contributors. As an author, someone will inevitably hit “Publish” instead of “Save” and have a post published before it has been reviewed. But if you have a blog in which all of the authors are relatively equal and its just a forum for them to publish their thoughts, Author level access is appropriate.
  3. Editors have access to publish, edit or delete any post, page or comment. They can do almost everything an Administrator can do in terms of the day-to-day blog operation, but they can’t add or remove users, for instance.
  4. Administrators have complete control over the blog, including the ability to delete it. When you start your own wordpress.com blog you become its administrator. But you could add me or any other wordpress.com user as a contributor, author or editor. And if you want to become a SMUG Associate Professor, I can add you.

It’s really easy to add new users in different roles. Just click the Users link on the right side of your blog’s dashboard:

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And then, at the bottom, add the email address of someone you want to add as a user:

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If that address already belongs to a WordPress.com user, he or she will be added in the role you specify.
If not, you’ll be prompted to send an invitation for that person to create a wordpress.com account.

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When you click “Invite your Friend” you have an opportunity to tailor the personal message before clicking “Send Invite”

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Be sure to check the “Add user to my blog as a contributor” box, and then when that user joins he or she will be in the Contributor role on your blog. You can always promote to a higher level (Author or Editor) once that’s done

It’s that simple. And on WordPress.com, it’s free. On Typepad, you have to pay at least $149.50 a year for similar functionality.

The WordPress.com FAQ offers some further illumination on user roles.

Assignments:

  1. If you haven’t started your WordPress.com blog, do it today. Then, if you need or want to have multiple contributors, go through the steps above to add them.
  2. If you would like to become a SMUG Associate Professor, leave a comment below, and I will add you as a Contributor.

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of seven, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

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