I'm trying to create a function that allows me to delete an article when the date of the day is equal or superior than a date filled in a custom ACF field.

I wrote the function below that I placed in my single.php in order to test it. It works, except that you must be reading the article in question for this function to execute (pretty logical actually).

What I want is that this function runs itself on all the articles, automatically, without having to go to the articles. This is where It's difficult for me, I often use plugins to do things like that.

Could you show me some ways to achieve the desired result? I'm really looking for improve my back-end skills using Wordpress, so I'm not asking particulary for a ready-made solution but ways to guide my work.

Here's the function :

 * Draft after expiration

function draft_the_post(){
    $expire_date = get_field( "field_5cef86384e5f2" );
    $actual_date = date("d-m-Y");
    $postid = $post->ID;

    if ($expire_date <= $actual_date) {
            'ID'    =>  $postid,
            'post_status'   =>  'draft'
    } else {
        echo "Not same date or inferior than today";

Oh and, excuse my english I'm French :-)

I thank you in advance, willwoody.


The correct way is to use WordPress Cron and schedule your event. Also you should consider adding real cron job as outlined here for better precision.

1.) I modified your draft_the_post function to support parameter. So now we can specify which post and also i updated the portion that checking the time.

2.) dg_cron_schedule_delete_posts will schedule the hook if it's not scheduled when init hook is fired. I set it to hourly for better precision but you can also set it to daily. Note: If you are doing this with plugin it's better to use the activation hook and schedule it here.

3.) dg_delete_posts_handler is where the deletion is handled. It goes through all the posts and calls the function maybe_draft_the_post on each. Note: This queries all the posts so depending of how big is your data this may cause performance issues. I suggest implementing some kind of queue but this should be a good starting point.

 * Function that will draft specific post on specific conditions
 * @param \WP_Post $_post
function maybe_draft_the_post( $_post ) {
    $expire_date = get_field( "your_field_name" );
    // Bail if no expire date set.
    if ( ! $expire_date ) {
    $expire_date = strtotime( $expire_date );
    $actual_date = time();
    if ( $expire_date <= $actual_date ) {
        wp_update_post( array(
            'ID'          => $_post->ID,
            'post_status' => 'draft'
        ) );

 * Register cron event on init action
function dg_cron_schedule_delete_posts() {
    $timestamp = wp_next_scheduled( 'dg_delete_posts' );
    if ( $timestamp == false ) {
        wp_schedule_event( time(), 'hourly', 'dg_delete_posts' );
add_action( 'init', 'dg_cron_schedule_delete_posts' );

 * Handle deletion of posts periodically.
 * - Loop through the posts and call the draft_the_post function.
function dg_delete_posts_handler() {
    $posts = get_posts( array(
        'posts_per_page' => - 1,
        'post_type'      => 'post',
        'post_status'    => 'publish',
    ) );
    foreach ( $posts as $_post ) {
        maybe_draft_the_post( $_post );
add_action( 'dg_delete_posts', 'dg_delete_posts_handler' );

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