I have recently discovered how difficult it is to temporarily remove all comments site wide, without deleting these comments forever.
This website receives a massive number of comments; a huge number that are spam, a large number that are real (but do not add to the conversation, or the article as a whole), and a small number that are generally insightful and create conversation. The management of these comments take up a large number of man hours, and I am simply unsure whether my time is justified.
I know that this website is a blog, and should therefore invite feedback and conversation so I am loathed to make a decision on this overnight, but instead would like to trial the removal of the comment functionality, without permanently deleting the thousands of past comments received on articles over the years.
I therefore simply turned off the comments by heading to Settings > Discussion in the WordPress administration panel. However once disabling the comment fields I needed to (preventing new comments being submitted) I realized that the website would still be displaying all the previous comments that I had approved.
Luckily I found a plugin that would allow me to temporarily disable both past and future comment functionality in a way that was 100% retrievable.
Disable Comments WordPress Plugin
I have found that the easiest way to turn off comment functionality without deleting all your past comments is the “Disable Comments” WordPress plugin which can be downloaded for free.
Once you have installed the plugin you can easily disable comments everywhere (ie. sitewide) or alternatively select certain post types to be included. By disabling the plugin all your past comments will be returned to your website.
While the plugin is active you will be unable to access your comments section within your dashboard.
Deleting Comments Permanently
In the above example I have decided that I would like to keep the comments that have been made on my website in case I wish to revert back to accepting comments (which I still may do), but if you were looking to delete all the comments remaining in the database you could easily disable the “Disable Comments” WordPress plugin and install the “Delete Comments By Status” plugin.
This plugin is especially great if your website has been inundated by a huge number of spam comments that you would like to delete permanently.
Simply enable the plugin and go to “Settings > Delete Comments”.