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Enhancing WordPress User Deletion: A Comprehensive Guide

WordPress is a versatile platform, but it can struggle with performance issues during the user deletion process, especially with large user lists. This guide provides a solution that enhances the user deletion process, addressing these performance issues and providing a mechanism for reassigning comments of deleted users.

The Problem

When deleting a user in WordPress, especially in instances with a large number of users, the platform can experience significant performance issues. This problem has been reported in the WordPress core tickets #19867 and #58906. The issue arises from the dropdown list in the user deletion interface, which can become unwieldy with a large user base.

Additionally, WordPress does not provide an option to reassign the comments of the deleted user to another user. This omission can lead to orphaned comments that are no longer associated with any user, causing potential confusion and data loss.

The Solution

We’ve developed a solution that addresses these issues. Our solution involves using a Select2 version of the select for performance, and a combination of filters and hooks to check and reassign comments. This solution is class-oriented and uses PHP and JavaScript.

Setting Up the Solution

Setting up this solution involves three main steps: adding the hooks, adding the methods, and adding the JavaScript.

1. Adding the Hooks

The first step is to add the hooks. Hooks allow you to “hook” your own custom functionality into WordPress. In this case, we’re adding three hooks: wp_ajax_ajax_get_users, delete_user, and users_have_additional_content. These hooks are added using the add_action and add_filter functions of WordPress. Here’s the code:

add_action( 'wp_ajax_ajax_get_users', 'ajax_get_users' );
add_action( 'delete_user', 'on_delete_user', 10, 2 );
add_filter( 'users_have_additional_content', 'to_delete_users_content', 10, 2 );

Note that the wp_ajax_ajax_get_users hook is a special hook composed of wp_ajax_ and the name of your actual function or method you will be hooking to it: ajax_get_users in this case.

2. Adding the Methods

The next step is to add the methods. These methods define what happens when the hooks are triggered. We’re adding three methods: ajax_get_users, on_delete_user, and to_delete_users_content. The ajax_get_users method is used to populate the Select2 in the User Delete User admin area when typing a username into the Select2 instance, on_delete_user method reassigns comments when a user is deleted, and to_delete_users_content checks if a user has more content (in this case, comments) when they are deleted. You can find the full code for these methods in the GitHub Gist.

3. Adding the JavaScript

The final step is to add the JavaScript. This script uses jQuery and Select2 to create a new dropdown for user selection, and updates the value of the existing dropdown when a user is selected. This script is enqueued only on the specific page using the wp_enqueue_script method. You can find the full code for this script in the GitHub Gist. Do not forget to enqueue Select2 CSS and JS as well, along with your custom script.


With this solution, you can significantly improve the user deletion process in WordPress. It addresses the performance issues when dealing with large user lists. Additionally, it provides a mechanism to reassign comments of deleted users to another user, an enhancement that fills a feature gap in the current WordPress system.

Whether you’re a seasoned WordPress developer or a beginner, this guide provides a comprehensive solution to these specific WordPress challenges. We hope it helps you understand and implement this improvement in your WordPress projects.