Last month I talked about managing comments, so I wanted to share some tools and tips specifically for WordPress.
Most people ignore the settings section altogether, but there are a lot of options for commenting available under Discussion. First of all, you’ll probably want to attempt to notify any blogs linked and also allow link notifications — this means that if you link to someone, your link may show up in their comments section, and vice versa. I also like to require users to fill out name and email to help prevent spam. Personally, I don’t have strict comment moderation as my spam plugins filter those out (more on that later), and I haven’t had any trouble with mean-spirited comments. But if you’d like to screen comments before they go live, you can choose to always approve comments or approve the first comment from a new reader and let the rest be automatically approved.
I mentioned this in my last post, but it’s worth mentioning again: activate Akismet (it comes with WordPress) and install FV Antispam for spam control. I’ve tested each alone, and they really just work better together. FV Antispam automatically trashes robot spam, and Akismet takes care of the rest. Akismet can be a bit overzealous, so if you notice a comment in your spam folder, it may actually be a legit comment. These are the only two plugins you need for spam control — they’ll take care of everything, and there’s no need for annoying CAPTCHA or math problems.
Replying to comments
There are a few ways you can manage comments in WordPress:
- Comments have their own section within WordPress, and you can hover over any comment to reply, approve or unapprove, or mark as spam.
- In the Dashboard, under Screen Options you can choose to show a list of recent comments. The Recent Comments box is a condensed version of the comments section, so you can hover over any comment to show the same options. The little pound sign next to the post title links directly to the comment on your site, if you prefer to reply there instead.
- In the post itself, you’ll see a new section for comments once you have them. It’s not as convenient as the other two options, but if you happen to be editing the post anyway, it’s a good option to have.
- I personally prefer to respond directly on my site if I’m responding to a lot of comments at once. The comments section is great for replying to a few comments, but you can’t see the conversation threads.
I also use the Comment Reply Notification plugin to email replies to readers since most readers won’t revisit the post to look for a response.
Commenting on other blogs
Most other platforms have a Name/URL option, and that’s what I always choose if it’s available — I want my name on my comment to link directly to my blog. However, many on the Blogger platform choose not to enable this option. There are a few things you can do:
Add OpenID to your blog
Some blogs have the option to login with OpenID. You can add two lines of code to your WordPress theme to allow you to enter your domain name through OpenID and verify your identity through your Google account:
<link rel="openid2.provider" href="https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/ud?source=profiles" > <link rel="openid2.local_id" href="YOUR GOOGLE PROFILE LINK HERE" >
This code goes above your </head> tag, usually found in a file called header.php under Appearance > Editor. When you comment using OpenID, you’ll enter your blog’s URL, then it will ask you to login to your Google account. Unfortunately, with this method your blog’s URL will be used as your name, but it will link directly back to your blog.
This is the first thing I try when Name/URL isn’t available, but fair warning: it’s an extremely buggy method. I often have to submit the comment a few times before it will go through, and it pretty much never works when CAPTCHA is enabled. And I’ve never been able to get it to work on mobile devices.
Create a Blogger profile
If nothing else, every Blogger blog has the option to login to your Google account to comment. However, this links to your Blogger profile — which is probably empty unless you moved your blog from Blogger to WordPress. To create a Blogger, profile, just visit blogger.com and login to your Google account. You can set how your name displays when commenting (I use Lisa // Elembee so people will see my site name as well), and you can also enter your site URL. However, the really annoying thing is that it puts your link to the side and calls it “My Web Page,” which is less than helpful. I also added my URL to my intro — but you have to put in the code for links to get it to actually link to your site.
Sign up for a Disqus account
Many blogs use Disqus to manage comments, which is easier to use, but unfortunately they eliminated the option to leave your Name/URL and link it to your site. You can login through Facebook, Twitter, or Google, but I’m not really sure what your name links to with those. I just created a Disqus account and edited my profile to include my URL, so that when someone clicks on my name, my profile pops up and my URL is easy to find. The nice thing about having a Disqus account is that it notifies you when you have replies the next time you login.
What tools and tips would you add?