The WordPress Detective Agency: The missing admin mystery

steve-davis-wordpress-detectiveIt was 9.30 on a Monday morning as I arose early to prepare for a day of celebrating WordPress’ 10th birthday, when I get a call from a ‘dame’ in distress [yes, that is not a term I usually use, but I am in 1940s detective mode today – it helps if you read today’s post in your best Sam Spade/Humphrey Bogart voice].

She says she needs help getting into her website but doesn’t know how.

Easy, I say, hand over your login details and I’ll take a look.

That’s when I discovered the smoking gun.

Her previous webmaster had not given her full access to her own site!

How do you know that, she asks.

I tell her that she is locked out of seeing key features like updates, user lists and access to plugins.

The line went quiet for a moment and I knew I had to take the case.

Being locked out of your own website is a business risk

We agreed on my retainer and rang off the call.

My first job was to access her web hosting.

But it turns out the previous webmaster had not made those details clear either, just a trail of platitudes and dead ends.

I think to myself, it’s just like Sam Spade once said, ‘the cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.’

I ring her back and ask her to dig out some files for me but she didn’t know where to turn.

So I contact some old buddies of mine, known as Whois Domain Lookup and and narrow the field.

At first, all we found were red herrings and cold trails, but then we picked up a scent.

She showed me her full list of domain names, it was a sight for sore eyes.

All the evidence pointed to a local company with a base in Adelaide and Melbourne, so we cornered their front man and put some pressure on.

He gave up the access code, and we were in business.

I took the back door to the database, reset the password for the hidden admin account and called the dame [again, excuse the term – it’s the last time I’m using it].

She said, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Lessons learned about managing your WordPress website

When her emotions settled, I laid down the law.

WordPress, I say, is a magnificent tool, and I never do a job without it.

But I tell her, she’s gotta get tougher with the webmasters out there.

First, it is her right to know how to access her site as a fully powered administrator, even if she mainly uses a second account for daily editing.

Second, she’s gotta know where the files are stashed. That means, web hosting company and logins, and domain name registration details and logins.

Third, she’s gotta keep my number handy, because, as Sam Spade said, ‘I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.’

Are your website details handy? If you’re a Baker Marketing client, you’ll have a nice, concise cheat sheet with all the information we had. If not, it’s time to start digging before it’s too late.



1 Comment

  1. Ciaran Whelan

    Seen this too many times… Why developers don’t simply make 2 users for the end client with instruction that 1 is full admin and be cautious of some settings, and a simplified admin.


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