Add toggle to turn off members feature

In Ghost 3 you could choose whether the members area was activated or not in the Labs section. With Ghost 4 this has been disabled and members are on by default. However, I’d argue most existing Ghost users aren’t using the members feature. If you’re running a portfolio or a corporate website having a membership model doesn’t make sense.

Would it be possible to have a toggle to turn off the members feature? This would remove the extra JavaScript that is being loaded on the site, the revenue features on the dashboard and the member options on the admin panel.

(I’m not in any way diminishing the vast amount of work you’ve done. I’m super happy to use Ghost 4 and the new design is great! My website is just not tied to a membership model).

With members always on, the responsibility to make it easier for users will also fall back to theme developers. They may have to distribute different versions of their themes, or have other ways to customize.

With Ghost 3, it was easier because themes could check for {{#if @labs.members}} and set the templates accordingly.

So apart from the above mentioned changes, I would also suggest that some variable should expose whether members are enabled similar to @labs.members.

Needless to say, I’m also super happy with Ghost and the v4 release, and not trying to diminish the team in any way.


I dont get it.

If you write, you want readers.

If you want readers, you want members : free subscribers to which you send occasionnal newsletters to let them informed of what you’ve recently published, of paid members who received premium content. I can’t imagine any scenario in which an author would’nt want to be connected to his audience. Ghosts offers this natively. Isn’t it nice ?


Hi @Mathieu_Rouault

Yes I want readers. But this does not mean I want members. The content I write can be about very different topics, and I would not want to spam anyone with content they don’t want. I feel that having subscribers restricts me to write about what they would want vs. what I want to write about. The primary way I want people to reach my posts is via Google search, or maybe RSS feeds—not email.

So yes, it’s very nice if Ghost offers members and subscriptions natively. But, I feel that with Ghost 4, it’s no longer an offer—Ghost forces us to use its native members functionality.

Of course, it can still be disabled by editing theme files (although it still loads the portal.js code), but ideally we would want a no-code way to disable members, which is what this feature request is about.


Sorry, but I still dont get it.

“I feel that having subscribers restricts me to write about what they would” :thinking:

Ghost absolutely doesnt “force” you to use this functionnality. BTW, there’s plenty of themes out there (official one, notabily) without any “subscribe” button. Nothing to code.

The new dashboard is just an annoying thing if you’re not using the members functionality.

Even if you want to use the members function, Ghost not being GDPR-compliant means if you’re based in the EU or have Europeans signing up as members you are risking some truly hefty fines and penalties. Apart from breaking the law, that is.

Even if you hack around with the theme and remove buttons the members script is still loaded. Apart from slowing down your site (though quite possibly only marginally), as someone noted on this forum the script running in circles carry a SEO penalty.

I hope this helps you getting it.


Mathieu, some people use Ghost for portfolio websites or corporate blogs (a lot, if you judge by the Ghost homepage). For that type of site the members functionality doesn’t make sense. Having a dashboard with revenue numbers and loading an extra javascript file should be opt-in/out rather than on by default without no way to turn it off. This is how it was in the past too.


@Mathieu_Rouault - you are right. There are themes which don’t have any subscribe functionality. But, even for those themes, the portal.js script is still loaded, and this can cause SEO problems.
There’s a ticket about this here: Seeing HTTP 401 on an XHR request while not using Portal (the portal JavaScript is still being included) · Issue #12793 · TryGhost/Ghost · GitHub. But I’m sure this part will be solved.

Essentially: in Ghost v3, enabling/disabling members was a toggle in ghost admin. With Ghost v4, it looks like this responsibility has been passed down to theme developers to offer variants of their themes with members enabled or disabled.


If I want members, I want them to interact with me, with the article, to express their opinions and Ghost doesn’t have a comment system.

Users have been asking for this for a long time.


I agree, it would be nice to have by default in the portal.js a way to be GPDR compliant, by adding a checkbox and a link to privacy policy. But it’s another question, and I cannot see why someone who doesnt want to use members functionnality would complain about this anyway. Moreover, it is still possible, as you know, to add your own subscribe form, without the use of portal. You can even use a Mailchimp form (with GPDR checkbox activated) and root it to Ghost via Zapier. It’s a workaround, I know.

I was not aware of the SEO penalty you mentioned, but I have no doubt that this would be handled in a next iteration of Ghost.

I think that Ghost has enough real weaknesses (no native search, for instance) to avoid discussing very secondary issues.

Hello @bop ! I may be wrong but I think that even portfolio or corporate blogs owners want to keep their audience informed, occasionnaly or frequently, about the content they published. So I would tend to think that the members functionnality (paid or not) covers a large number of various situations. That’s why, to me, having that by default is a good choice. Because everybody wants a direct link with its audience, paid or not.

BUT you’re right on this point : not everybody wants to have paid members, and that’s why having a dashboard that indicates your revenue can be irrelevant for a lot of people.

Although I think, too, that the Ghost core team has for a long time now clearly shown their intention to be more and more a platform for professionnal publishers, ie.: publishers who want to make money by selling accurate, excellent and unique content to a specific audience.


Hey @Mathieu_Rouault , I just want to add my voice to this convo. I recently spun up a ghost blog purely to use as a portfolio of sorts. I need a central hub where I can link social media accounts/communities together and promote compositions for video game music and show some graphic work. Essentially, it’s a grand central station and shop front for me. I love the blog and toggle-able paid functionality because it gives me the flexibility to go that route and flexibility is soo key for what I am trying to do. I am trying to build a brand.

I’m a spaghetti coder but getting better with CSS and HTML. I use the liebling theme. Upon upgrading to 4.0, I now have this very bright obstructive subscribe button in the middle of my my page… I think I have new unwanted scrolling social icons to address as well … Which, this might sound silly, but it doesn’t match my strategy for building a community. It’s so direct, and while that might be functional and effective for getting return visitors as some percent of viewers click the subscribe button, I feel that this strategy is a detriment to my goal. It doesn’t keep with the whole feeling of the brand I am trying to build which is: join in if you like, but I will never put something in your face even if that means we build more slowly.

I can totally see how these might be welcome QOL updates for some Ghost users but in my situation: my options are 1) Wordpress… which… no way. I want open-source no-fuss functionality, not clunky pre-built black boxy modules; 2) some other proprietary host; 3) a ground-up website; or 4) Ghost Blog.

Now, I must delete some things in the Liebling theme (not a problem, I don’t think?), then I will again update when/if the Liebling theme is updated to address some of the Ghost 4.0 changes, then merge in my personal tweaks again. And I imagine that I may have more fine tuning to do depending on how ghost 4.01 reacts to any official liebling theme updates. It’s like, come on Ghost, give me a clean platform that I can update without too much fuss and extra work; this small thing has made the platform more time consuming and difficult to manage given that don’t want to employ the strategy that it seems ghost is promoting.

At the end of the day, I think Ghost is by far the best option for me. I love it, and it has encouraged me to really start learning html and css. But some of these updates (at my middling experience level with coding) were a little black boxy - can I move the subscribe button around? I don’t understand where it came from since it wasn’t present in 3.x using liebling, maybe I had squashed it earlier?

I don’t mean for any of this to come across as frustrated or angry :slight_smile: , I just want to add my voice and story to the conversation.


…ps. I have been struggling to find the bit of code that controls the dimming filter for the banner/header images (I want to remove it). It’s present in Casper and I would bet it is in the same location in liebling. I created a reddit thread, but haven’t had any luck figuring it out so far. To anyone reading this, I would be grateful for any pointers!


I’ve updated the topic title to better reflect the proposed idea


For completeness here some related topics:


I’m also a great fan of Ghost and I’ve been using Ghost for years by now. I live in a country that Stripe (the only payment method that is available on Ghost) doesn’t support and currently, I do not have the ability to use the most useful feature of Ghost, the membership feature.

Since I could not use my publication to generate any revenue, I did not want to send free newsletters (since Mailgun being the only option for newsletters; I understand we can integrate it with other services like MailChimp but again with Zapier which is a paid service), I have been using Ghost without the membership function so far.

I work as a freelancer for Ghost-related services and as per my experience with the projects I’ve gone through, about 80% of my clients don’t use the membership feature (not even free newsletters).

Before upgrading my live site to the latest version of Ghost, I tested it locally and realized that I cannot turn off the membership function from the site (Yes, I’m aware that I can remove it from the theme, but still the scripts and everything is loaded with every page load) The reason why I love Ghost is, (me being a developer), Ghost has been built with care, the best practices are there. It feels so awesome to go through the code of Ghost.

With that being said, I DO NOT want to hide membership instead of disabling the function and it’s not the right way to do it.

I know the Ghost team is very active even in the forum and, please consider adding a toggle to turn off the membership feature. Otherwise, try to make it more available to people around the world by adding the ability to add other payment methods and newsletter integrations.

Thank you!


I agree with the idea, I like the new updates but there should be a way to disable the members / subscription capabilities without having to resort to hacks: removing the template blocks is a start but the scripts are still included in the HTML document.


I also wish to turn off the subscribe buttons. The toggle under “Look & Feel” turns off the floating one, so why not the ones in the header and footer too?

I am perfectly happy with the default Casper theme and have no wish to change theme simply to get rid of these buttons that were not there previously.

Thanks for listening.



I think it’s too opinionated to enforce the membership feature.

It will be awesome, when we have a toggle for that again.

Best Leif


These are giant assumptions that ignore arguments presented in OP.

Personally, although I want readers for my blog, I can’t imagine wanting to spam them with email, or charge for any of my articles. I don’t see membership as something that will connect me to my audience – I see it as something my audience will view as annoying.

The important thing to note is that, even if it doesn’t make sense to you why somebody would want to turn the feature off, it makes sense to very many of us. There is no upside to depriving us of this choice.


I personally want to use the members feature on my blogs but with the freedom to choose this option rather than it being enforced. However, I do have a friend (whose blog I migrated from WordPress to Ghost a couple of years ago) for whom this feature is not of interest for his blog and he always asked me to disable it. When I updated to 4.0 I hoped that it could still be toggled on/off as before, which is not the case now (but I hope this option will be provided in the near future).