Ghost 4.0 - Really Terrible for Personal Blog

Hey @AmbientArtstyles and anyone else interested.

I did indeed remove the subscribe banner but it requires going into the actual template files, fiddling with the .hbs files and removing or deactivating the bits of code below. Now, this changes depending on your template but it should be very similar:

default.hbs, remove the following:

     {{!-- Subscribe and tag -> this will be below the header --}}
     {{#if @labs.members}}
         {{#is "index, home, tag"}}
             {{> "widget/subscribe-and-secondary-menu"}}

partials/header.hbs, remove the following:

            {{#if @labs.members}}
            <div class="button button--success js-m-subscribe-toggle u-hide-before-md">{{t "Subscribe"}} </div>
1 Like

Yep, it removes all the buttons and forms. Note that the examples given are from the Casper 4, you’d need to adapt them for the theme/theme version that you are using.

1 Like

You are right. i also want to move from Ghost.

Just did a test upgrade and found my way here. The Subscribe button is where the RSS link used to be, +1’ing the toggle switch request even though I could probably hack that thing back in there. In the meantime it’s easier to just patch the existing server to the latest v3 and wait for 4 to mature a bit.

I’ve been very happy with Ghost powering my blog/resume site. It’s not a thing I’d ever try to monetize, though. I discovered Ghost looking for a blogging platform that supported Markdown, and the performance vs my old Wordpress site has been fantastic.

1 Like

I appreciate the technical solutions being offered here. Those of us who live in the console and write code for a living can implement this easily.

But that only partially addresses our concerns. If you’re not technical (the target market for Ghost), fiddling with template sources is an absolute non-starter. It needs to be a setting you can enable/disable graphically.

There’s also the larger question about how and why subscriptions got pushed so heavily in v4 in the first place. Helping individual writers is a fantastic initiative, but how was it not thought about that others might not need/want these features? Not to mention those with GDPR concerns.

I might sound overly critical, but it’s only because until now Ghost has absolutely been the best blogging platform and a welcome respite from WordPress. The direction here is worrying (though for some of us who’ve been around the block a few times, perhaps shouldn’t have been surprising).


Ghost has lots of free themes, many without subscribe buttons and without membership focus, these are available now - just as they always have been - on our Marketplace.

Doesn’t make much sense to get upset about a default theme that nobody is forcing you to use. You can even use the original Casper from Ghost v0.3 if you like - some people still do.

Ghost 4.0 added new functionality which is specifically inline with what we have always set out to do: Create platform for professional publishing. This has been our stated use-case since 2013, and has not changed. We have always been working towards adding more features that professional users need.

The vast majority of serious publishers on the web try to grow an audience, and collect email subscribers as a way to do that — which is what members in Ghost enables.

If you want to have a Ghost for a personal blog, that’s fine too - but our product has never been hobby-blogging, and honestly is not the best choice for that use-case anyway. Check out Basecamp’s new Hey World service, which is absolutely perfect for personal usecases:


There is a roadmap for Ghost where we don’t just share what’s being worked on, but you can literally follow every single piece of code being committed in realtime. In fact there were multiple community members tweeting and sharing the features of 4.0 long before we announced them.

But if you put no effort in, you get no results back :)

To be clear: We will continue to grow and focus on subscriptions and professional publishing. If you don’t like those features, you will not like Ghost 5, 6, or 7 — which is ok, there are plenty of other great platforms out there, and there’s never been more options to choose from, so it should be pretty easy to find something that matches what you’re looking for.

We focus, primarily, on feedback from users who do want the things we’re working on - which, as should be pretty easy to see from the response to the 4.0 launch - is a pretty substantial number of people.


Thank you for your detailed answer, but I’m still not sure if we are on the same page.

The problem here is not only the visible bits and pieces (and the unnecessary script, which is loaded from an external source). It’s also that the endpoints are still accessible for malicious visitors. Just add “#/portal” to any Ghost 4 URL and you see what I mean.

That’s not a roadmap, that’s a log. Please consider that not everybody does this full-time and some people don’t have the time to parse your commit messages and tweets to get the idea, where you’re going to. Maybe there is an actual roadmap out there you can point us to.

I really like the Ghost platform and maybe I will come up with a good idea to use the membership feature. But I’m not there yet and when I get there, I would like to load the script from my host and not an external CDN.


Hi @John ,

I absolutely get your focus on professional bloggers. These features are great for them. And there are bloggers (like me) that don’t use all the features.

You had a toggle in Ghost3, which was set to off by default. Instead of setting it to on, the toggle is now completely removed in Ghost4. Reverting that change is, in my opinion, all we (personal bloggers) ask for. The focus will still be on members and we have a way out.


Thanks everyone for the suggestions. These didn’t work for me with the liebling theme, but I did manage to remove the subscribe button. It was defined in index.hbs.


<a href="{{@site.url}}/newsletter" class="m-button filled">{{t "Subscribe"}}</a>

Thanks for the feedback John, but I second @tommy4st 's comment above. Telling users to install a different theme is a mitigation for an unwanted feature, not a fix. It could easily be solved with a toggle switch to enable/disable it.

Ghost 4.0 added new functionality which is specifically inline with what we have always set out to do: Create platform for professional publishing

Both your original blog post talking about WordPress-lite (which I championed for ages!), and your original kickstarter page, make no mention of “professional publishing”. That HEY World recommendation is surreal after you read those pages.

[…] If you want to have a Ghost for a personal blog, that’s fine too - but our product has never been hobby-blogging, and honestly is not the best choice for that use-case anyway.

Unfortunately, that is news to us. Ghost was always billed as “Just a Blogging Platform”. And it happened to be the best one, because of you and your team’s dedication to focus, performance, and usability.

It’s your platform, all we can do is offer suggestions. But v4 is a step backwards for a number of your users. I guess that’s just how software development always goes. Se a vida é!


My website is a semi-portfolio. I’m finishing up grad school and I wanted to build a daily writing habit. I don’t know where my career is headed. Maybe I will pursue writing, maybe I won’t. Ghost has actually been a major influence in this decision–having a professional-looking website has impressed my professors and made me consider it. But I feel like I’m being told to go somewhere else because I haven’t already decided to be a professional writer. I may want memberships in the future. For now, I don’t want to ask people to subscribe when my writing is still immature. I would just like the option.

I checked out HEY World but it doesn’t suit my needs. I’m in Urban Planning, so sometimes I use leaflet maps or other code inserts. The pricing is also a bit out of my grad school budget.


I’m sorry to hear @sarahjohnson-io, that’s disheartening but not surprising given John’s response.

I still think Ghost is the best blog platform out there, and I do want to encourage the Ghost developers to keep adding features that help independent publishers and writers. With some hackery on the backend in nginx/Varnish/etc, you can block and redirect these new features, so I wouldn’t discount the platform yet. I might write a “Ghost-lite” post about it at some point.

What’s frustrating is that something that used to be optional with a checkbox in the lab no longer is. The devs could easily add it back. But it sounds like our use case isn’t a priority anymore.


I beg to differ, Ghost is simple, fast and flexible, and it can be self hosted, the best choice for me as a corporate blogging platform just like DuckDuckGo, Mozilla, Cloudflare, Tinder and many others that thought the same.

I just wish I could turn the membership and newsletter option on and off depending on my needs, that’s really all I ask for.


One can be a “professional blogger” without asking for money and subscriptions. Are you maybe mixing “professional” and “commercial”?
I do disagree with your statement that there are better tools for a personal blog. Your link to HEY implies that you seem to equate “personal blog” with “stupid person without any aspirations and tech competence”. Let me tell you as somebody who was using Joomla for his personal website and blog before ghost, that this is far from the truth. Self-hosting ghost is comparably easy but one still has to jump through some hoops to get it done. Oh, and in my opinion, Ghost is perfect for a personal blog:

  • It’s self-hostable (privacy, data protection!)
  • There’s a docker image available (ease of installation)
  • It gives plenty design flexibility
  • It offers plenty options without flooding the user or tempting to build up useless complexity (like e.g. Joomla)

Just because a blog is “personal” doesn’t mean, I don’t want individual design and I’m ready to throw my money and my data at yet another social media comany, not to mention the GDPR implications. And Hey is nothing but some bonified “Twitter by email”…

I also think, you are making a big mistake with your rigid approach to the feedback (more on that feedback later). YOU (and the team) might not have intended ghost for a certain target audience but obviously, ghost has found its own. The smart way to deal with that would be to be happy about it and to listen to this unintended part of the community. Because the more people are using ghost, the more likely people who ARE your intended target audience will hear about it. As a side note: I found ghost because of a template that came with Portainer and I decided to spin up a test container in my home lab ^^
You might also want to keep in mind that any of the users who gave the feedback about the members options here might run a personal blog on ghost BUT might also be in a position where they can influence or make the choice of platform for a professional or commercial project… Again, rigid reactions, not smart.

Now to the feedback…:
This time not @John but @Everyoneelse…:
I also hated that “after an update” there suddenly were subscribe buttons everywhere… But seriously, before hitting the siren button, please at least go through the menus… Under Settings → Portal → Look & feel there’s a switch “Show portal button”. Click it off and the Subscribe button from the system is gone. As some of the comments have been mentioning hbs variables, I assume, people are capable to modify the templates to remove the subscribe buttons from there - which really isn’t that hard to do!
So that “feedback” was a bit of whining on a high level, IMHO…


Let me add one more point that I forgot.
Quite a few of your reference customers are companies which are using ghost as their corporate blog.
You might have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union. The GDPR makes everything that has to do with personal data - and email addressess fall in that category - a huge hassle for corporate users. So it is VERY unlikely that any company which is not in the publishing business and which does any business in the EU at all will want a subscription function because just having this function means you’re on the hook and you have to jump through a crapload of hoops to comply with the GDPR. In case you weren’t aware - GDPR fines can be as high as 20M Euros or 4% of the worldwide annual turnover - whatever is higher. Running ghost GDPR-compliant is already now somewhat of a challenge but having a subscription function that can’t be turned off would disqualify ghost for pretty much every company whose blog is reachable from the EU…


can anyone tell me what is the latest update about membership can be turn off?


This thread began with an unnecessarily provocative subject line and has ended up as a philosophical discussion about the future of Ghost. All that is really needed is one toggle switch and everyone can be happy.


I completely agree with you @petem64. I was shocked to see that Ghost staff are disagreeing with the way people use the platform despite it being open-source. There seems to be an urgency to drive revenue, whereas encouraging writers to charge for membership (maybe they [ghost] sees an opportunity with disgruntled “Medium” writers who searching for a platform that meets their fiscal goals).

Regardless of the motivation it seems that they have drawn the line in the sand and have abandoned the simplistic model they once believed in. Sadly, it forces the business oriented solution providers to pivot to other platforms (not going back to wordpress though).

Whats more regrettable is that we just finished a custom theme for several clients. In a few months we will need to transition them off the platform to a custom built solution.


I kept reading this thread and holding off from posting, because I know that after releasing a major amazing update to something and being faced with maybe a vocal minority can be quite depressing and upsetting. Pair that with some responses that were probably driven from emotions and things escalate quite quick.

I love Ghost - ever since the Kickstarter and dumping my hobby WordPress blog following version after version and this major version just felt different to me in so many ways.

I like following Ghost from Twitter to GitHub - I learn a lot, but something changed where a lot of work/discussions happen in repos that aren’t public. That is strange to me, because I loved reading the back n forth large discussions of Ember vs Angular, CodeMirror, this vs that, etc. Maybe that is a needed portion as a company grows, but point of asking us to put no effort in - hurts. I put effort in and most of the links I tried and crawl are faced with a 404 in the recent past. (TryGhost/Team)

I’ve noticed this with PRs too. In the past I liked viewing open PRs and reading the approvals/comments/etc to learn about Ghost more. More often than not now, PRs go up and just merged. I assume discussions and reviews are happening behind different doors. Lets take a random PR from last year and one from today. The one from a year ago had many staff members +1 and discussing it. Nearly every merged Ghost PR now is just straight in if build passes. What changed?

Next something happened that was a big pivot or maybe the goal the entire time. I was first slightly upset with a forced dependency (portal.min.js) that loads from a CDN. I don’t really want a CDN - I have a personal choice with themes that decide to use one to inline the script. I have no choice here and even when asked it appears this file is required for Ghost to operate. Why does Ghost depend on code from a 1st party, but 3rd party CDN that is required to operate? Not to mention seeing a constant 401 error is annoying - maybe required to check for auth, but just looks like something is broken with a red line in my console.

I thought I was being crazy at first, because I don’t pay and self-host so I’m not the target. I just started thinking - if you never enable Stripe - then what is the point of showing a MRR graph? If I don’t have click/track enabled - what is the point of open rate? If I don’t have email subscriptions - what is the point of an activity feed? The UI could probably do a little fade out and explain why, but do I really have to look at an MRR of $0 for the remaining history my little hobby blog? Do I have to have toggles for sending emails to paid/free members if I have none?

This reminds me of the whole AMP debate a few years back. One day after a new release I just got a bunch of AMP warnings and I was like - wtf is this. I don’t want AMP, don’t believe in it and a few releases later there was a toggle for it.

I’m not being stubborn to be stubborn, I will try a free based email subscription model - still learning and asking questions, but I don’t think a paid model is in my sights anytime soon.

I’m not going anywhere yet. Sorry for the novel.


I am very disappointed, I have invested a lot in ghost, buying premium themes and more and now I have to trash it :frowning: