Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up your site for discussions (comments), part of WordPress 4 Essential Training.
- One of the many reasons why blogs have become so popular and so powerful is that the visitor is allowed to take part in the conversation on blogs in the form of comment. Any time you create a new post on a blog, you automatically get a common section where you can read other people's comments and you can also enter your own. In WordPress, all the comment's settings are found under settings and discussion. These settings control how comments are displayed on your site, when comments are displayed on your site and how and when users can interact with those comments and leave their own comments.
These are important settings so let's go through them in detail. From the top we have the default article settings and we start off with attempt to notifying any blog linked from the article and also allow link notifications from other blogs so pingbacks and trackbacks on new articles. These are legacy features that used to be really important on the web. Whenever you wrote an article and you linked to a different post on a different blog, you wanted that blog to be linked to yours so you sent was known as a pingback or a trackback to tie the two together.
However, in the last couple of years, hackers have figured out how to exploit this feature so my recommendation is actually to turn them both off. They're not valuable in terms of SEO anymore and they don't really give you much so there's no real point in leaving them on. You can choose to leave this second one on if you want to, to allow notifications to come in to your site but I would never turn on this attempt to notify blogs of links from your article. The last of the three settings here is allow people to post comments on new articles. Now this is the closest thing you'll currently get to a global on, off switch for comments.
If you uncheck this, all your future articles will not have a commenting section, however, this is not retroactive so it doesn't impact all the older posts. That means if you have a bunch of post on your site and you want to prevent people from commenting in the future, you have to first toggle this off and then I had to go into posts and then bulk edit all your post to turn comments off or set up the other settings, we'll get to later, in such a way that no one can actually leave a comment. The next section is other comment settings.
Here we can choose if a comment author must fill out their name and e-mail to comment. I strongly recommend leaving this on. You can choose if users must be registered and logged in to comment. You'll remember in some previous chapters we've talked about how you can have people register to your site to gain the ability to comment. Well this is where you've toggled that feature on and off. You can automatically close comments on articles older than a certain number of days, so this would be to prevent people from commenting on old content. You can enable nested comments meaning they'll show up as nested items so a response to a comment will show up indented underneath that comment and you can set the number of levels.
I would never recommend setting this above five and if you leave it activated, I recommend you check what this looks like on a cellphone because in some cases on smartphones when you have nested comments, your theme will make that look really strange. So make sure that this looks decent before you activate it. You can also choose to break comments into pages. Now if you have a site that gets a lot of comments, I highly recommend doing this because otherwise, you might get hundreds of comments listed on a single page and it will be impossible to scroll through. If you check this option, you get page mentioned on the bottom of the page meaning people will scroll to the bottom and get a read more comments link that will load up the page again with newer comments.
And in that vein you can also choose to display your comments as either chronological meaning the oldest first and then newer further down or reverse chronological meaning the newest first and then older all the way down. Now chances are when people comment on your site, they will be responding to other comments so it's in my opinion it's a good idea to leave this at older. Scrolling down we have the e-mail settings for comments. By default it's setup to e-mail you any time anyone pulls a comment and also any time any comment is hold for moderation.
Now, as you start getting more comments, you'll find that this first option gets really annoying because you get tons and tons of e-mails every time a comment comes in. So I recommend turning this first one off but leave a comment held for moderation on so you know when WordPress has stopped the comment and you need to go check it to make sure it works. Next, you can set some conditions for commenting. By default, this setting is set to only automatically approved comments if the comment author has already had a previously comment approved. That means they've used their e-mail address in the past to get a comment approved and once that happens, their next comment will automatically appear.
You can also choose to check comment must be manually approved and then you have to go on and manually approve every single comment. Now depending on how you setup your site, it might be a good idea to turn this off or might be a good idea to turn them both on or just the second one. What you'll find if you have this default setting triggered is people will comment on your site and they don't see the comment show up and then they're likely going to e-mail you or hit you up on Twitter or something and ask you to approve their comment and that can become annoying. However, if you turn both of them off, you will get inundated with comment spam and some of that can be handled by Akismet but there's always comment spam that will leak through where actual people leave spam comments in your site.
So it's important to moderate this very carefully and you may have to change these settings a couple of times to get the settings exactly right. Speaking of comment spam, you have two sections where you can fine tune what comments are allowed or not allowed on your site and what happens when you want to hold comments for moderation. By default any comment that contains more than two lengths is automatically held for moderation. You can change that by changing this number up here. In addition, you can provide further information about specific comments that are held for moderation in all cases.
That can be a URL, a name, a specific word or sentence they are scanning for, an e-mail address, an IP address or anything else. You'll leave one word or one IP per line and WordPress will automatically place these comments in the moderation queue and you have to manually approve them on your site. You can do the same with a blacklist so if you have someone or something that you don't want to comment on your site ever, you can list their name, a word, a URL, an e-mail address, an IP address or anything else on the comment blacklist and those comments will automatically be discarded.
So in my comment blacklist I have a very long list of IP addresses and domains that are never allowed to comment on my site and in the comment moderation queue I also have a long list. I've also taken the preventive action of adding in all the four letter and swear words I could think of in the comments moderation queue to ensure that my comments are not full of profanity. That way when someone leaves a comment with profanity, I can go in to the moderation queue and edit their comment to take out the profanity before it goes live. Of course I do so and notify the use of that I have edited their comment but I don't want profanity on my site and this is an easy way of avoiding it.
At the very bottom of the page, you can choose the display of avatars next to your comment. Now you'll remember when I showed you my own comment here that there's an avatar that displays next to the comment by default and that avatar is tied to the Gravatar service. In the discussion settings you can choose whether or not you want to show the avatars. If you choose to show the avatars, you can set the maximum rating for the avatar so I would recommend setting this at G and then you can also choose the default avatar that's displayed anytime someone doesn't have a Gravatar. By default, it's set to this mystery person where you can also change it to blank or Gravatar or any of these other ones that to be honest looks pretty strange.
So I would leave it at mystery person and just leave the settings as they are. Any time you make a change to discussion settings, click save changes and remember that the discussion settings are a bit of a work in progress. You need to fine tune this on your site and figure out what works best for your specific circumstance and the types of comments you want. I find I go and mess around with these settings maybe once every three months on my own site to get everything exactly right and that especially is true for the comment moderation queue and the blacklist queue which constantly has to be updated.
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.
- Creating posts and pages
- Formatting text
- Publishing and scheduling posts
- Adding images, audio, and video
- Bulk editing posts and pages
- Customizing themes and menus
- Using widgets
- Extending WordPress with plugins
- Editing users profiles
- Configuring settings
- Getting new readers
- Keeping WordPress up to date and secure