I am using pre_get_posts hook, however as it is not working as expected, I have discovered that the function is being invoked 4 times, and while the first call is running as expected, subsequent calls will not run correctly. I wonder why my custom hook is being run more than once!

I have found an article that explains why this may happen, but I am confused as in my case this shouldn't happen at all....


function exclude_category( $query ) {
    global $acorn_user;
    $tax_query = array();

    if ( $query->is_feed ) {
        /**** Exclude "exclude" category posts from feed ********/
        $query->set('cat', '-617, -618');
        return $query;

    $args = array(
        'category__not_in' => 2 ,
        'category__in' =>  22,
        'posts_per_page' => 7,
        'post_status' => 'publish');

    if (!is_user_logged_in()  /*&& !is_admin()*/) {
        /**** Exclude child categories ********/
        if ($query->is_category(3) || $query->is_category(68) || $query->is_category(69) || $query->is_category(70)) {
            $queried_object = get_queried_object();
            $child_cats = (array)get_term_children($queried_object->term_id, 'category');

            if (!$query->is_admin) {
                //exclude the posts in child categories
                $tax_query[] = array('category__not_in', array(68, 69, 70, 81, 82, 83));
    //exclude search results for parents & teachers & non logged users
    if ( $query->is_search && $query->is_main_query() ) {
        if(empty($acorn_user) || !in_array( 'teacher', (array) $acorn_user->roles )) {
            $tax_query[] = array('post__not_in', array(30140, 30020, 30008, 29998, 29991, 21458,20197,11986,6614));
    if (!empty($tax_query)) {
        $query->set('tax_query', $tax_query);
    return $query;
add_filter( 'pre_get_posts', 'exclude_category' ); 
  • pre_get_posts runs any time posts are queried. This includes the main list of posts as well as menus or widgets. If you only want to affect the main posts list you need to check $query->is_main_query() – Jacob Peattie Nov 9 '18 at 10:46
  • Thanks Jacob, I'd use this as an accepted solution! – Riccardo Nov 9 '18 at 11:28

The pre_get_posts action runs any time posts are queried. This obviously includes the main query for displaying your latest posts or the current page, but it also includes any other time posts are queried. So that would include any use of WP_Query() or get_posts() in a plugin or your templates, any Recent Posts or similar widgets, and menus (menu items are actually a post type, so any menu on your site will involve a posts query).

If you only want to affect the main query (that being the one you loop over with have_posts(), you need to check $query->is_main_query():

function wpse_318765_pre_get_posts_callback( $query ) {
    if ( $query->is_main_query() ) {


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.