The ability to view and add comments when viewing a workbook are both permissions that can be edited (by a project leader or above). So, it's not a switch you can flip for an entire server or site, but it's pretty simple to implement at the group/project level. This KB article references setting the permissions at the workbook level, but it can be done at the project level as well.
I like adding global settings like this at the All Users level on each project to avoid turning the standard Viewer, Interactor, Publisher etc. roles (you might have assigned to users/groups for the project) into Custom roles. Custom roles are tricky to tell apart so this isolates your tweaks into a single place per project. Be aware that Guest is a member of All Users (assuming you have it enabled). Explicitly denying everything to Guest on each project also gives you peace of mind if you don't want Guest access for a site. I find it really useful to spot-check the effective permissions for a few users, as it shows where the permission/capability comes from.
I'm on V9.1.
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For each Site adjust your "default" Project permissions for the "All Users" Group to Deny on the specific comment abilities:
...set the permissions to Deny:
This way every Project that is added will have the comment abilities pre-set to Deny, thus one less step for you to adjust.
Thank you very much. I was trying to figure out how this could be done without having to select every work book.
Be even better if it worked - was told it was a bug in 9.2 - but despite making these setting changes all users can see comments in 10.1.4 as well.