When you first install WordPress, it enables comments for all posts on your site. Most of the time, that’s totally fine...but sometimes, you’ll run into situations where you need to disable comments on your WordPress site.
And for those situations, I’m here to help. I’m going to show you a variety of different methods you can employ to turn off commenting on your WordPress site. I’ll start with the most drastic:
Completely disabling comments either manually or with a plugin.
Then, I’ll move down to some more targeted methods like disabling comments for specific WordPress posts or closing comments after a certain number of days.
You can accomplish most of these tweaks with core WordPress settings, but I will also recommend one free plugin that can make things a little bit easier.
Let’s dig in...
How to Manually Disable WordPress Comments For All New Posts
The easiest way to completely disable WordPress comments is to use the settings included in the core WordPress software.
To turn off comments, all you need to do is go to Settings → Discussion and uncheck the Allow people to post comments on new articles box:
Now, any new posts you publish will automatically have comments turned off.
This method is simple, but there are two major caveats:
- It only affects new posts. Any old posts with comments enabled won’t be affected.
- Authors can override the setting on the individual post page. If you’re the only author on your site, that’s totally fine. But for multi-author sites, you might want something a bit more restrictive.
If you don’t like those caveats, keep reading for some solutions that can solve them.
How to Manually Disable WordPress Comments on Existing Posts
Ok, so the method above handles new posts. But what if you want to disable comments on all of your existing posts? One way is to use the plugin that I’ll show you in the next section. But another is to just take advantage of the core WordPress Bulk Actions functionality.
To get started, head to Posts → All Posts to see the list of all of your existing posts. If you have hundreds of posts, you can go to Screen Options and change the Number of items per page to make the process go quicker:
Then, check all the posts for which you want to disable comments and select Edit from the Bulk Actions drop-down and hit Apply:
You should see a new menu - just select Do Not Allow from the Comments drop-down and click Update:
And that’s it! No more new comments on any of those posts. But again...one caveat:
It doesn’t affect existing comments. The new comment form will be gone, but any existing comments from before will still be visible.
To delete those comments, you could run a similar Bulk Edit operation on all of your existing comments.
How to Completely Turn Off WordPress Comments With a Free Plugin
If you want to completely nuke comments for an entire post type, there’s a free plugin called Disable Comments that’s a great option.
This plugin is not a good solution if you just want to disable comments on specific posts. But if you want to knock everything out globally, it’s perfect.
Once you install and activate the plugin, you can configure it by going to Settings → Disable Comments.
You can choose to either disable comments:
- Everywhere - on every single post type and custom post type
- On certain post types - only disables comments for the post types that you check
What’s nice about this plugin is that it also hides comments options from other menus - so no one can manually enable comments on individual posts. Additionally, it will hide comments on old posts as well.
Basically, the second that you enable the plugin, existing comments on your selected custom post types will disappear from your site and no one can add new comments.
While comments are disabled on the front-end, they’re still stored in your database. So if you ever disable the plugin, any existing comments will display again.
If you want to completely delete the existing comments from your database, the plugin also includes a tool to help you delete all existing comments. You can access this by going to Tools → Delete Comments:
Just be aware - any comments that you delete via this tool are permanently gone unless you restore from a working backup.
How to Disable WordPress Comments on a Multisite Network
I created a unique section for how to disable comments on WordPress Multisite to catch your eye...but it’s not really needed.
See, the plugin I showed you above also works perfectly with WordPress Multisite.
So if you want to completely disable comments across your entire network (and prohibit individual site admins from manually enabling them), you can just use the same Disable Comments plugin that I detailed above.
How to Disable Comments on Individual Posts or Pages
Sometimes you don’t want to completely disable comments. In those situations, WordPress makes it easy to go in and only turn off comments on a specific post. And you don’t even need a plugin!
Just go to the post for which you want to disable comments. Then click on Screen Options in the top right corner:
In the options that appear, make sure that the Discussion box is checked:
Then, you should see a Discussion meta box somewhere under the WordPress Editor. All you need to do is make sure that both boxes are unchecked:
How to Close Comments After a Certain Time Period
Finally, if you don’t want to completely disable comments, you can reach a happy medium by closing comments after a certain amount of time.
Most of the best discussion on a post will happen soon after it’s published. So if your comments section dies off after the first few weeks, it might make sense to just go ahead and close the comments after a certain time period.
That’s actually how we do things on WP Lift and it seems to work quite well.
Like most of the other methods, this functionality is actually baked into the WordPress core. To set it up, you just need to go to Settings → Discussion and find the Automatically close comments on articles older than X days box:
All you need to do is enter your desired time period and save your changes. New posts will start with comments enabled and then automatically turn off comments once the time limit is reached.
Wrapping Things Up
Whether you need to completely disable comments or just turn off comments on a single WordPress post, one of the above methods should work for you.
Most of the time, you can stick with core WordPress functions. But if you need to disable comments for Multisite or multi-author blogs, you’re probably better off going with the Disable Comments plugin.
And if you’re planning to leave some of your comments sections enabled, why not go ahead and learn about some helpful WordPress comments section plugins to build a better comments section?