In today’s post, I explain the steps needed to help you manage WordPress comments and why using them can really help your blog.
Allowing people to comment on your WordPress blog is a great way to increase engagement with and amongst your readers.
The comments section in a blog post allows readers to ask questions, talk to each other, provide feedback, and even provide you with ideas for new posts.
I am sure you will want to do this anyway, but always try to reply to comments left on your blog. A personal message from you shows that you value their input, plus each comment you write will increase the overall comment count.
Comments are also good for your Google ranking because it demonstrates reader engagement, something Google loves, so we have a win-win on many fronts!
I prefer to use WordPress comments rather than any other solution, such as Disqus and Facebook, because I like my WordPress sites fast and clean, retaining all the SEO goodness that keeping comments within my site can give. In this post, I will show you how to switch them on, and moderate them.
Before we begin, a word of warning. When you switch on comments, you also invite spammers, but don’t worry, there are simple ways to deal with it, and I have a great post here on how to prevent WordPress spam.
How to switch on WordPress comments
The first step is to specify how your site handles comments on a site-wide basis and when you have done that you can optionally alter the discussion settings for individual posts.
Setting up comments site-wide
When you first create a WordPress site, comments are always turned on, but to check this head over to the Settings tab and then select Discussion. Make sure that Allow people to post comments on new articles is ticked. Note that this setting only applies to new articles, not existing ones.
While you are on the Discussion settings screen, there are some other modifications you can make which are self-explanatory on the whole, but here is what I like to set:
- Tick Comment author must fill out name and e-mail, because it’s nice to know the names of people who comment.
- Tick Show comments cookies opt-in checkbox, allowing comment author cookies to be set, which means people can optionally save their details in a cookie so they don’t have to type them again the next time they comment.
- If you run a very popular blog you might want to close comments after a period of time.
- Tick Enable threaded (nested) comments 5 levels deep, allowing replies to existing comments to be indented, which I think looks neater.
- Tick Break comments into pages with a maximum of 50 top-level comments per page.
- Set newer comments to display at the top, because it’s nice to show the most recent comment first.
Toggle comments on a post by post basis
To toggle comments for an individual post, open it and then scroll down to the Discussion box. If you can’t see the Discussion box, click Screen Options at the top of the screen and make sure that Discussion is ticked. If you are using the block editor as opposed to the classic WordPress editor, you will find the Discussion box in the right-hand sidebar as shown.
Make sure that Allow Comments is ticked. You can also tick Allow Pingbacks and Trackbacks which when enabled creates a special comment with a backlink for each site that links to you.
How to set up moderation
You can find the moderation settings under Settings->Discussion.
My preferred configuration is shown below. I like to be emailed whenever a comment arrives, so I can respond immediately.
Ticking comment author must have a previously approved comment is the best option I think. A person who has a comment approved once is unlikely to try spamming later on, and if they do, the next option (hold a comment in a queue if it contains x or more links) will pick it up for moderation, so we will be covered.
If you are using the Akismet plugin to help with spam then there is no need to complete the comment moderation and comment blacklist boxes.
Once you are happy with your settings, the next step is to moderate comments as they come in and you can do this using the Comments tab.
How to moderate WordPress comments
To view all the submitted comments, click Comments on the left-hand admin menu. For each comment, there is a column for the author, comment excerpt, the name of the post that it applies to, and the date.
You can filter the comments by those that have a status of pending, approved, spam and bin.
As you hover your mouse a handy context menu appears allowing you to swiftly apply an action, such as approve, reply or spam without leaving the screen.
To make actions even quicker you can use shortcut keys.
Before you can use shortcut keys, you need to enable them in your user profile settings.
Click on your name on the top right of the admin screen to open your profile settings. Scroll down to Keyboard Shortcuts then tick Enable keyboard shortcuts for comment moderation.
For a list of available shortcuts see the WordPress documentation for keyboard shortcuts.
You can also moderate straight from your inbox. When a moderation email arrives it will have links against it for approve, spam, or bin. Clicking the links will take you to the relevant admin page. Unfortunately, you can’t simply click the link to perform an action, you have to do it in WordPress.
Enhancing comments with Jetpack
There is an option to enhance the native WordPress comments with the JetPack plugin. The main benefit of this plugin is that it allows people to log in with their social media accounts. For more information on the pros and cons of this plugin and how to use it see my post How to Use Jetpack Comments on Your WordPress Website.
In this post, we have learned how to set up comments on your blog and how to moderate comments that come in.
Not all comments will come from actual people. You will have problems with spam comments and you can stop those types of comments from filling up your database by using the Akismet plugin.