First blog recovered from backup

One of our most popular school web sites, the Pencaitland Blog, has had to be recovered from backup.

What seems to have caused the problem was deleting a user record via the Site Admin / Users menu, when that user was the author of a large number of posts on the blog. Perhaps in an attempt to remove all trace of the user, those posts were also removed. Examination of the wp_<blog no.>_posts table in the WordPress database showed they had gone, and weren’t hanging around in some authorless limbo land.

I don’t know if a warning was issued. Maybe that’s something to try out one day when I’ve some time to spare…

This is the first time that we’ve needed to recover a blog from backup in a year of operation, and is the first time we’ve had occasion to think hard about whether or not it makes sense to entrust sufficiently experienced school staff with Site Admin rights.

We’ve been developing a network of people who know how to use the Site Admin functions, with the aim of having around one in every school. The benefits of this have included:

  • ability to set up large numbers of user accounts quickly without needing to use the sign-up / email route
  • ability to set up user accounts for students who do not yet have email addresses (using dummy email addresses)
  • ability to create new blogs quickly, especially when doing class sets
  • ability to go to the back-end of other blogs to see how things have been done, promoting knowledge sharing
  • ability to reset forgotten passwords, find forgotten user names etc

There is of course an element of risk, in that anyone with Site Admin rights can make changes to someone else’s site.

We’ve been reviewing this policy in the light of this experience. So far, it looks like we maybe need to fine-tune it a bit, but not go back on the basic policy. Perfect security would be nice to have, but not at the expense of such useful benefits.