Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Managing comments and spam, part of WordPress 4 Essential Training.
- When your site goes live and you start receiving comments it's vitally important to manage those comments properly to control what type of content goes on your site and also make sure the conversation is flowing. Comments moderation is done in the Admin panel under the Comments view. And from here you can see all of the comments that have been listed on your site. Now, I could give you an example by mocking up some comments on my demo site. But instead I've chosen to give you a rare glimpse of my own personal blog, mor10.com, to show you some real comments and how I would handle them.
This is because it's really hard to fake comments. Comments come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and learning how to read them and how to manage them really requires real, authentic content. So let's look at some of the comments in my site and see how you can moderate them. First off when you start receiving comments you have to be really aware that a lot of people will try to leave comments on your site not because they actually want to contribute to the conversation but because they want to get past your test. You'll remember in the discussion settings, the default setting says a comment is only automatically approved if a previous comment has been manually approved.
So what happens is a lot of people who want to leave spam comments on your site will leave an innocuous comment first and then attempt to get through that barrier. And then if you approve that comment then all of a sudden you'll get tons of spam comments as well. But that's not all. When you start receiving comments you may also want to maybe edit the comments or you want to respond to the comments or do something else. Let me show you how all that works. Under the Comments section you can see I currently have 3,097 comments. That's because my site has been live for many, many years and I get a lot of people talking about it.
Here you have an example of a comment that's from Anton. And he's leaving what looks like a real comment, I'd like to chime in to say "Thank you for writing this course," blah blah blah. Obviously this is an actual human being that actually wrote out a proper comment even left a little smiley face there. Now this comment has been automatically approved by a WordPress because of my settings. If I want to I can simply hover over the comment and here I get all the contextual options so I can unapprove the comments. That would just take it offline but I wouldn't actually remove it from my system. I can reply to the comments.
I can click Quick Edits and this opens up the comment so I can quickly edit it. I can click Edits which opens the comment in a separate view where I can edit it further. I can look at the comment history for this specific person so I can see all the comments that have been left by this person in the past. And finally I can either flag the comment as spam or trash it completely and then throw it away. Now it's important to note that the spam feature here is added by the Akismet plugin which comes by default with WordPress but that you have to activate it.
And we'll talk about that later on the course. You'll notice that I also have 341 comments in my spam folder right now. On an average day my site accumulates about 300 spam comments. In the past there was over 2,000 but spam comments have gone down in recent years. If I see a comment and I think I should respond to it I can click on the Reply button and this opens a reply field right inside my comment management. Now Rebecca has noticed that when she changes the caption in alt settings on images that are already uploaded to WordPress and are already in a post then those settings do not change on those already active posts.
Now because you watch this course you already know why that happens but she doesn't so I need to provide an answer to her. So I'll say, "Hi Rebecca," content. Now that I finished my comment I'm going to click Reply, and on the front end this comment will now appear underneath and indented under Rebecca's comment so she can clearly see that this was a response. And when she left a comment she could've chosen to get email updates if someone responded to her comment, so more than likely she will be getting an email saying, "Hey, Morten responded to your comment." Now as with all the other index pages in WordPress you can use the different filtering options up here to filter through your comments and, for instance, find only comments that are pending or approved or from a specific person.
And to make it easier you also have direct links to the most common actions. You have a direct link to pending comments, or just approved comments, one to trash, and also one to spam if Akismet is active. Now speaking of spam let's take a quick look at some spam comments just so you see what kind of content you should be on the lookout for. What you'll often find is comments that make absolutely no sense. That's obviously spam like this free weight loss app comment which says, "Try cutting down on after dinner snacks "and you will visit a marked improvement "in your weight loss," blah blah blah.
This was left to an article about accessibility-ready tag and WordPress themes and obviously has nothing to do with accessibility-ready. So that's clearly spam. The next one is to type a comment I was talking about previously. It says, "Hello there." "I found your blog using MSN. "This is a really well written article. "I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read "more of your useful information. "Thanks for the post. "I will" and then some word I can't read, "return." Now this is what I call vague baiting. This is obviously a comment created to make me approve it and say it's not spam, and once I do that I'll be inundated with spam.
So always be on the lookout for comments that are a little too vague or a little too unspecific because they're usually not from real people. Another clue is that you can see these URLs make absolutely no sense and no human being would be called Homemade Cellulite Treatment with Coffee. But sometimes you'll get a comment that looks like it's from a human being but is in reality a vague bait that's designed to get you to approve it so they can inundate your site with spam. All that said managing comments in WordPress is actually really easy and it can be a lot of fun because you can start some really interesting conversations on your posts.
And if you engage with the people who leave comments on your site you'll create a dynamic community around your content and people will come back and leave more comments and start more conversation. So it is definitely worth the time.
Note: This course covers an older version of WordPress, which features the Classic Editor. Watch this course only if you are using the Classic Editor plugin or using WordPress 4.9 or earlier. Otherwise, watch WordPress 5 Essential Training, which covers the new Block Editor experience.
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