Open/Close comments: Master the confusing discussion settings in WordPress

Comment settings in WordPress can be confusing and questions like “How do I open/close comments on one post?”, or “I did change comment settings but it made no difference” are recurring in our forums. This is a comprehensive guide to better understand and master these settings.

1. The global Discussion settings

You will find the global setting under Settings > Discussion from your WordPress admin panel.

This is intuitively where you would go first when you want to control whether comments should be open or closed throughout your blog. But actually, you won’t find all the answers there.


The third option (“Allow people to post comments”) does not open or close comments for all your articles at once, contrary to what you might think at first.

These settings will only be set as default to your new posts. Changing them has no effect on all existing posts.

Also note the remark just below: “These settings may be overridden for individual articles”. This is actually an understatement, because these settings will be overridden for each article, they are simply used as default when a new article is created.

While you are on this page, you might want to take a minute to review other settings, such as who can comment and how comments are moderated (these options are not overridden: they apply to your whole site).

Another one you need to pay close attention to is this:


“Automatically close comments on articles older than X days.”

If checked, this will override all other settings after the set period of time. Comments will be closed for articles older than X days no matter what.

2. Open (or close) comments on one article

Now that you know each article has its own individual settings that override the global settings, it becomes clear that you will find these settings in the article itself.

Edit your article, and if you cannot see the settings, hit “screen options” on the very top right of the editor’s page. As counter-intuitive as it gets, make sure “Discussion” (not “comments”) is checked.

(The “comment” box let you see and manage the actual comments posted in response to your article, but does not offer any settings)


Now scroll down and you will find the Discussion box somewhere below the content editor. This is where you set the individual settings for this article (regardless of global settings).


Quick tip: You can also change this setting from the “Post > All posts” without entering the post editor. Just click “Quick edit” under a post to reveal a few settings including a checkbox to “Allow Comments”. You can do the same for static pages from “Pages > All Pages”.

3. Open (or close) comments for all articles

Global comments are not what you would expect, and you know how to switch the discussion setting for individual articles. But how do you change these settings for multiple articles at once?

Go to “Posts > All posts” (or “Pages > All pages” for static pages), and check the checkboxes for the posts you want to apply changes to. Check the box on the top left to select all.

Quick tip: if you have a lot of posts and the list is paginated, you can hit “Screen options” and change how many posts are displayed per page. This will let you select all of your posts at once instead of repeating this on each page.

Then from the bulk action dropdown, select Edit and click Apply.


On the bulk edit screen, the setting is now called “Comments” (instead of the usual “Discussion”, go figure!) and let you open or close comments for all selected posts at once.


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