I am currently building out an application that will contain many users, two roles and two groups. Logically we want users to be able to be administrators of other users within the two groups.

User Table

UserID         varchar    PK
Role           int        FK `role`.`RoleID`

DATA [jschmo,Joe Schmo,[email protected],1]

Role Table

RoleID         int        PK     AI
RoleName       varchar

DATA [1=Master,2=Admin,3=User]

Group Table

GroupID        int        PK     AI

DATA [1=Marketing,2=Infrastructure]

A user could potentially be an admin of both groups. I don't see the option to multi-select foreign keys but as I understand it, having a comma-delimited list in a column is a bad idea and I should use multiple records but I don't like the idea of having multiple records for each user.

Q: How would I keep track of which groups a user is an admin of?

  • 1
    Sounds like a question that could be solved by applying Normalization rules. Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 19:36

1 Answer 1


Please, don't store comma-separated lists in a single column. This is just a disaster waiting to happen. If these are separate facts, they should be stored separately.

Table GroupMemberRoles
GroupID  FK
UserID   FK
RoleID   FK
(PK on all three, with perhaps other constraints)

Your queries (say, to find the admins of a certain group) should be of the form:

WHERE RoleID = 1 AND GroupID = @GroupID;

And NOT:

WHERE RoleID = 1 AND ',' + GroupIDList + ',' LIKE ',' + RTRIM(@GroupID) + ','; 

Or to find which groups a user is an admin of should be similarly simple:

WHERE RoleID = 1 AND UserID = @UserID;
  • 1
    As I said - normalization. ;) Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 19:47
  • @JoishiBodio Yes, but one-word answers are not very useful. :-) Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 19:49
  • 1
    Which would be why I put it as a comment. ;) (with hopes that he'd go do some googling and reading) Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 19:50
  • I ended up with a GroupAdmins table with the exact columns you specified here. Thank you both @JoishiBodio and Aaron Bertrand. Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 20:03
  • 2
    @NicholasLAnderson Great, but I really hope you're not going to also have a GroupMasters table and a GroupUsers table (and then add another table when you dream up another role). The whole point of the RoleID column was to not make the data all about a specific role. Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 20:15

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