You write posts for the audience to read and get vital information about what they are searching for. The post can be in form of Traditional Content, Images, Infographics, Illustrations, videos, and lots more. For each of this content type, you can allow your site visitors to give their comment about what they just read on your blog or website.
What are Comments?
Comments are feedbacks your site audience leave behind to tell you about their thoughts on your blog post or content. They can add their input to a specific article that you had written, ask questions, and provide feedback. But they don’t just drop their thoughts for you alone, other readers on your blog can be the comments, reply to them and hence a community might be birthed out of these audiences if properly maintained by you either by replying to their comments or by always posting relevant content for your audience, this way, you build trust and create for yourself a digital brand.
Moderating Comments in WordPress
You can see the whole of your comments on your WordPress website by clicking on the comments menu tab in the WordPress Dashboard admin.
On the comments page, you will see four different tabs which are: all comments, pending, approved, spam and trash. Comments needing your approval will appear when you click the Pending tab.
To approve comments, hover your mouse over to the comment, you will see actionable links appearing below the comment that needs approval. Click on Approve Link in other to make a comment publicly visible on your blog for your audience or visitor. You can also reply to a comment by using the reply link. When you reply to a comment without first approving the comment, you automatically approve the comment as well.
If you see a comment that looks or feel spammy, then you can mark it as Spam. You’re probably wondering what does a spam comment look like?
Well, there are few different indicators that you can use to tell if a comment is a spam:
- Comments with a bunch of links, keywords, and strange characters
- Comment with a Fake Name
- Generic Comments
WordPress comes by default with Akismet (an anti-spam comment plugin that helps protect your blog from spam) installed, but you need to activate the plugin and also signup for this anti-spam service for it to help you reduce spam.
Once you mark a comment as spam, Akismet will learn to catch similar comments in the future. Askimet works like an artificial intelligence, the more you use it and the more it stays on your site, the more it learns more about your site and attacking spam. Every comment you marked as spam will always appear under the spam tab. You will not need to visit this tab that often.
Click on the check for spam button will trigger a spam check on existing comments on your website and Akismet will move spam comments from Pending to Spam. This is handy if you are seeing too much of spam comments in the pending tab
You can also use the Empty Spam button to delete all spam comments at a go. Spam comments will be automatically deleted by WordPress after 15 days but note that deleting thousands of spam comments at once can slow down your site somehow. The Trash button link will delete a spam without marking it as a spam
Viewing Comments for A Single Post in WordPress Admin Area
You can view all approved and pending comments for a post by opening it in the post editor. Simply go to Posts » All Posts and click on the Edit link below the post you want to open. On the post editor screen scroll down to the bottom, and you will see all comments made for the post.
You can edit, delete, reply and moderate comments directly from here. In case you don’t see the comments under the post editor, then click on Screen Options button at the top right corner of the screen. This will bring a fly down menu where you need to check the box next to Comments. After that simply scroll down, and you will see comments for that post under the post editor.
Turn Comments On/Off for Specific Posts in WordPress
There are sometimes when you don’t want comments to be enabled on some posts. WordPress allows you to turn comments off for single posts or pages. Simply edit a post and on the post editor screen scroll down to the Discussion meta box. There you can uncheck the box next to ‘Allow comments’ option.
If you can’t find the discussion meta box on the post editing screen, then you need to click on the Screen Options button at the top-right corner of the screen. This will bring a fly down menu where you need to check the box next to discussion. After that scroll down and you will see the discussion meta box under the post editor.
Comment Settings Configuration
WordPress allows you to change comment configuration for your entire site. The comments settings page is located under Settings » Discussion. There are different sections on the discussion settings page, and we will walk you through each option on the page.
The top section on the discussion settings screen controls the default article settings. The first option in this section allows your blog to notify other blogs when you link to them in an article. The second option allows similar notifications from other blogs to be accepted on your site. These are called pingbacks and trackbacks, and we recommend you to uncheck both these options. The first option can slow down your entire site and the second option would bring you a lot of spam comments.
The third option on the article settings screen is ‘Allow people to post comments on new articles’. It enables comments for all new articles you write on your WordPress site. It is important to note, that you can turn comments on and off for individual articles as we showed you earlier in this article.
Under the other comment settings section, you will notice the first option as ‘Comment author must fill out name and email’. This option makes it mandatory for comment authors to provide a name and email address with their comments. You need to check this option unless you want to allow anonymous commenting on your website.
There is also an option to require users to register to your site before leaving a comment however in our opinion it’s not necessary for most sites.
You will also see the option of closing comments on older articles. Some website owners use this to prevent spam, but it’s completely a personal preference.
WordPress allows users to reply to comments. Those replies will appear nested under the original comment only if you check the box next to ‘Enable threaded (nested) comments’. You can specify how deep these nested comments can go. The appearance of these nested comments is handled by your WordPress theme. Having too many levels can distort the readability of comments. The default setting of 5 levels is good enough for most WordPress themes.
If one of your articles becomes popular and starts getting too many comments, then you will notice that the comment section will become too long. Users will have to scroll a lot to read the latest comments on the article. To address this problem, you can check the option to break comments into pages. By default this option allows 50 top-level comments, you can increase or decrease this. Choosing this option will also show the last page of comments first.
By default, WordPress shows the newest comment at the bottom. You can reverse this to show older comments at the top.
The next section allows you to receive emails whenever a user leaves comments on your site or whenever a comment is held for moderation. This option is only exciting for the first few days of your website. As you get more comments, these emails become annoying, so we recommend turning it off.
Under ‘Before a comment appears’ section, the first option is to manually approve each comment. Make sure this box is checked so that no comment can appear on your site without your approval.
Below this, you will see the option ‘Comment author must have a previously approved comment’. If this option is checked, comments from authors that have a previously approved comment will appear without explicit approval. Uncheck this option to make sure that all comments are manually approved.
You can read our WordPress Ultimate Guide to Security
A very common trait among automated spam comments is that they contain a lot of links. Since you have already set your comments to be manually approved, all your comments will go to the moderation queue regardless of how many links they have.
You will see a larger text area where you can enter words, IP and email addresses, or URLs that you want to watch out for. Any comment matching things you enter here will be sent to the moderation queue. There is no need for you to enter anything here since you have already set all comments to be manually approved, and they are all going to the moderation queue anyways.
The last section on the comments settings screen is for Avatars. These are the images that appear next to comment author’s name on your website. WordPress uses Gravatar, which is a free service that allows users to have the same avatar on all the blogs they visit. When a comment author doesn’t have a Gravatar image associated with their email address, WordPress uses Mystery Man as the default gravatar. You can change this, by selecting a default avatar from the list or even add your own custom default gravatar in WordPress.
That’s all, you have configured your comment settings. Don’t forget to click on the Save Changes button to store your settings.
Over the years, several third-party commenting platforms have been introduced for WordPress. Each platform comes with their own moderation interface and technology. On CMSFolks, we are using the Disqus commenting system