Don't Read the Comments blocks comments on all sites you visit

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 30, 2015
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Comments left by visitors or the author / webmaster of a website or service can be valuable additions to a page on the website.

Here on Ghacks for instance, comments add lots of value to articles. Some comments may provide additional information about a product or service, others may recommend similar products or raise questions that the author of the article answers.

On other sites, comments may not be that useful. Depending on the site, you may get lists of profanities or abuse, or simply comments that have nothing to do with the page itself.

Most Internet users who read comments before on YouTube for instance would probably agree that it is usually not worth it because of the quality of comments on that site.

While you could try and simply ignore comments on those sites, it is often not that easy as you will still come across them on those sites.

Don't Read the Comments is an add-on for the Firefox browser that handles comments on all sites you visit.

It ships with support for sites such as YouTube, Gawker media sites like Lifehacker, Discus, Livefyre or Facebook and blocks comments on supported sites automatically.

It does so by adding a layer of paint over those comments on those websites to hide them on them. It places a show button next to the comment area which displays them again if you click it.

What makes the extension particularly powerful however is that you can enable it on sites it does not offer rules for by default.

The procedure is a bit technical on the other hand as you need to supply CSS selector information in this case.

Probably the easiest way to do that is hit F12 while you are on the page with the comments and use the Inspector of the Developer Tools of the browser you are using to inspect the comment elements to find those selectors.

Once you have identified the elements, click on the extension icon in the browser's address bar and add them to the section selector or comment selector fields.

It is usually enough to find the selector of the comment section itself and add it to the section selector field to hide all comments on a page.

The options provide additional features of interest. First of all, they list all supported sites sorted by categories which means that you can manage them from there.

comment options

It is for instance possible to edit individual sites, move sites between categories using drag and drop, change if comments are blocked by default on those sites, or delete sites configured there.

This is not all though. The preferences page lists comment system templates and options to add new comment system to it so that you can pick those quickly to block comments on sites using it.

Last but not least, it is possible to configure a severity threshold for comments and bad word lists. Instead of hiding all comments, you could configure the program to only hide comments that contain one or multiple words or phrases you specify.

Import and export options are available for safekeeping or migration to another system running Firefox.


Don't Read the Comments is not really a browser extension for beginners. While it covers some sites and comment systems by default, only users who know their way around CSS or dig in and learn it on the fly can use the customization options it provides.

This is probably the best comment blocker if you know CSS and don't mind going through source code to block comments from appearing on sites that you visit regularly.

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  1. Peter said on April 1, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    If you are using Ad block Plus you can enable the option in preferences to block YouTube comments. While I use ABP I personally don’t have this feature enabled since I like to read the comments to see what others interested in a particular video (or type of video) think. Yes some comments can be completely asinine but many are not (at least on the video channels I tend to subscribe too).

  2. Blue said on March 31, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    I’m not fond of adding specific one task extensions/add-ons to my browsers unless there is no other program to handle it. As of current Ghostery not only blocks annoying ad trackers, it also blocks site widgets and gadgets automatically and provides me either a one time play or permanently block option. Not only are comments (widgets) being blocked, the annoying chat now, live chat, chatter type gadgets embedded into a page are also blocked as well as social media links. I use Ghostery in conjunction with uBlock and the two make an excellent tag-team. With the slight issue of no site specific options, it’s all or nothing.

  3. Saranathan said on March 31, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Very good suggestion, Martin; thanks.Season’s Greeting for “Ghacks”.

  4. john_rik said on March 31, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks! I always don’t liked the uncivilised comments in youtube when i scrolled down. Now, I don’t have to see those awful comments and can still scroll down the page. ;)

  5. Croatoan said on March 31, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    What about a ABP, and Ghostery for blocking comments?

  6. Sven said on March 31, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I usually like to read comments. Not on YouTube or – even worse – sites about politics (semi-educated adults are worse than uneducated kids, sorry) cause they are a waste of time, sometimes good for a laugh at least. But on good tech sites comments are great. I read about 15 to 20 Linux blogs on a regular basis (have subscribed to their feed), and often the comments are more helpful than the posts themselves. Sometimes even the devs or maintainers of some applications pop up and chat with the people, help and give advice. That’s really great. One can learn a lot from that.

    So such extensions might be nice for a few sites but certainly not for all and for the few where it would be nice, you can often do a lot with some CSS in userChrome or Stylish.

    1. Sven said on March 31, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      Just to explain “uneducated kids” (cause it might sound too harsh), I don’t think that they are per se dumb, some might be just like in every group of people but it’s not the majority. When you read comments on YouTube about for example music there are often comments by people not liking it and not even understand what the people are doing. Saying they don’t like it, is certainly okay, that’s a matter of taste. But saying something is bad (like: “LOL, she can’t even sing!”), just because they don’t understand it, is plain wrong and often a sign that people (and most likely they are young looking at their way of writing) lag education in music or often art in general. For sure not every comment by a young person falls into that category but, unfortunately, the uneducated comments often stick out the most.

      The “semi-educated” ones are much worse cause they gain knowledge through bad sources. And on a certain type of sites they are maybe not a majority but least the loudest group.

  7. California Bob said on March 31, 2015 at 4:01 am

    In the last year I’ve switched to the XML/RSS feeds for my news bookmarks in Firefox and Palemoon. No comments included and faster page loading. Sometimes the feed includes full articles, sometimes just a header or the first paragraph. I open the article in another tab if I want to see the comments, just as I did for this article. Probably just my anecdotoal experience, but I’ve noticed that sites with good content serve up good XML, whereas MSM fluff and spam sites have little or none.

  8. jasray said on March 31, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Comments need moderating by the author of the site, and what works best is taking the top ten comments or some such thing. Watch the number of comments read–495 or 2376–people like to think someone is listening them–rarely the case after two or three comments.

  9. Sleeping said on March 31, 2015 at 1:01 am

    I generally liked comments on YouTube, but before they changed it to Google plus. They’re bad organized now (I never understand who answers to whom, for example) and also when a comments point to specific timing of the video, the reference doesn’t work or sometimes opens a new tab. Google plus spoiled everything…

  10. theMike said on March 31, 2015 at 12:58 am

    I read comments up until some pseudo intellect types “that said”

    1. DonGateley said on March 31, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Darn, I use that whenever I want to indicate that I’m giving two contrasting points of view which may otherwise appear contradictory.

  11. Torro said on March 31, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Another reason why i love NoScript, is that it blocks all comments automatically (at least for the sites i frequent that have comments), and if i want to view them, i can just temp/perm allow them.

    Off topic: Martin, have you thought of adding another tab on your bar at the top of your site, for How-To articles? Just a thought.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 31, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Torro no space up there. Some are added to the “best of” link :)

  12. Jim said on March 30, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    I use Shut Up on Chrome, and like it quite a bit. It’s a simple toggle in the toolbar to turn comments on and off.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 31, 2015 at 8:25 am

      Jim thanks for the recommendation.

  13. mac9 said on March 30, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    “On other sites, comments may not be that useful.”

    Understatement of the year!

    Also, you do good work. Glad Ghacks is still alive and kicking. It’s a small thing, but yours is one of the few sites I whitelist in uBlock :)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 31, 2015 at 8:25 am

      Thanks for the comment Mac9 ;)

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