Network Admin Sites

Previously on the CogitActive Saga:
Moving down the navigation menu (on the left side of the Network Admin), the other menus are Sites, Users, Themes, Plugins and Settings.

WordPress Multisite

In keeping with my tour of the Network Admin (see Network Settings), there is a better place than Right Now – the dashboard widget – to review your sites.

You have 2 sites and 1 user.

Indeed, there is a dedicated screen where you can review and manage the various sites that are part of your network. Clicking the Sites link on the left side of the Network Admin takes you to the Network Admin Sites screen (Sites > All Sites). Surprisingly, the WordPress codex1 does not provide much explanation on this screen despite its manifest importance.

The Network Admin Sites Screen allows you to add a new site and control existing sites on your network.The WordPress codex

All Sites

The so-called Table of Sites lists all sites on the network and displays the following information about each site:

URL: the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) or the path of the sites for domain-based or path-based networks, respectively.

Last Updated: the date when the site was last updated or published to.

Registered: the date when the site was registered in your network.

Users: the number of users associated with that site.

You can also customize this table via the Screen Option button by defining which information to display and the number of items per page. Likewise, you can switch from “list” to “excerpt” mode via the two icons on the top right of the table – the latter bringing few extra info.

If you hover your pointer over the FQDN of a site, you will see a list of links2:

  • Edit
  • Dashboard
  • Deactivate
  • Archive
  • Spam
  • Delete
  • Visit

Each item might be self-explanatory; still, I would have appreciated more explanation from the codex. In particular the distinction between Deactivate and Archive requires more clarification than just stating that Archive is the same as Deactivate, effectively1. There is actually a ticket on that matter. Granted, both remove the site from public view. However, when you archive a site, it remains accessible to the Super Admin – not the case when you deactivate it, apparently. In addition, you can reactivate (via an Activate link) a site that was previously deactivated. However, the codex does not mention an Unarchive link3.

Now, the Edit link deserves particular attention as it opens the Site Options4 or the Edit Sites screen that was briefly mentioned at the end of the previous post.

It’s home to many customizations that you can make quickly and easily all from a single page.Jenni McKinnon

Edit Sites

From this screen, you can access four tabs – Info, Users, Themes, and Settings – and can configure many aspects of each site in your Network. However, it is better – as in safer – to use this screen only when the settings are unavailable on the Dashboard of that particular site3.

Be cautious, if you do make any changes, whatever you enter gets re-written in your files and database4. Yes, you read it right; you can make significant changes to your site easily – without editing your files and database on the server. Now, with great power comes…

It is strongly suggested you not edit these fields unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing.The WordPress codex


The Info tab is the first screen displayed with basic site information:

  • Site Address (URL)
  • Registered
  • Last Updated
  • Attributes

Importantly, the Site Address (URL) field is grayed out for the main site. Although this field can be modified for sub-sites, it is better not to do so because there are other instances of your site’s URL in the database that would not be changed accordingly.

The site URL is rarely edited as this can cause the site to not work properly.

The last item – Attributesshould control the visibility of your site, but that’s currently not the case4. The available attributes are Public, Archived, Spam, Deleted and Mature5. As already pointed out, Archived, Spam and Deleted are not offered for the main site.

Network admins can mark a site as archived, spam, deleted and mature, to remove from public listings or disable.


Even though this tab displays a similar screen as the Users menu (on the left side of the Network Admin) there is some differences. Specifically, the table shows only the users associated with the specific site. Using the different links, you can also easily change their role or remove them from the site.

Removing the user from the site does not remove the user from the network.

On the other hand, you can also Add Existing User (i.e. a user on your network already) by providing his/her username and defining his/her role. Likewise, you can Add New User – as with the aforementioned Users menu – except that in addition to providing his/her username and e-mail, you can also directly define his/her role.


In this tab, you can see all the themes that are not enabled across the network.

Enabling a theme in this menu makes it accessible to this site. It does not activate the theme, but allows it to show in the site’s Appearance menu.

There, you can enable themes on a per-site basis. A functionality particularly useful when you have different child-themes for each site, as I will show in future posts.


This tab is where the bulk of the powerful changes you can make are housed4. As the Super Admin, you rarely need to edit these settings, though. Indeed, you have access to each site’s dashboard and can make any changes there – the recommended way. Nevertheless, if a setting is unavailable on the dashboard of that particular site, it will most certainly be here.

Even though WordPress creates most settings, others are added by plugins you activate. Going through all the settings is beyond the scope of this post, yet, if you are interested, you may consider reading Option Reference from the codex, together with the article by Jenni McKinnon4.

It is worth mentioning that not all settings can be edited, as previously exemplified with the Site Address (URL) field for the main site, and will simply be grayed out. Likewise, others are stored in the database in a way that makes [them] uneditable4 – their field will be populated with the words SERIALIZED DATA.

In keeping with these cautionary measures, I would like to conclude with this sound advice:

All site settings are stored in this table. Do not edit anything here unless you know what you’re doing.The WordPress codex

1 See Network Admin Sites Screen. ^
2 The individual site-management options will differ for the main site. Specifically, the only links available are Edit, Dashboard and Visit. Given the central role of the main site, it makes sense that the other moderation links are not offered since they will effectively remove the site. ^
3 Lisa Sabin-Wilson (2017) WordPress All-in-One For Dummies – Third Edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ^
4 Jenni McKinnon (2015) The Complete Guide to the Site Options for WordPress Multisite Networks. wpmudev. ^
5 Naïvely, I thought that “mature” referred to maturity and that once my site would have reached the most advanced stage in a process – to quote the Oxford Dictionary of English – I should mark it as “mature”. Clearly, I was wrong! A site marked as “mature” is intended for a mature audience. ^

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