How to Moderate WordPress Comments
When we finish reading a blog post or an article on a subject we’re interested in, sometimes we feel like dropping a comment to the author. Whether we want to share our insightful two cents on a particular matter or discuss how much we like or dislike the content (be it written or visual), it’s nice to stumble upon an open comments section. What matters is to stay respectful at all times and not spread unnecessary hate.
Any kind of content creation is usually a two-way street. When you post your work online, people are going to read it, view it, analyze it. And if they decide to comment on it, it’s only polite to send them a reply. In WordPress, comments are enabled by default. If you opt to keep things that way, it’ll be of use to learn how to moderate WordPress comments. It’s important to control them, in order to keep away spam, as well as anything abusive or insulting to others.
How to Moderate WordPress Comments
To start moderating comments in WordPress, go to your admin dashboard, and from the menu select Comments.
Next you’ll see the total number of comments on your website, as well as how many of them there are in each of these categories – Mine, Pending, Approved, and Spam. Once you delete a comment, it’ll appear in the Trash tab. As you hover over a comment, options for moderating it appear: Approve, Reply, Quick Edit, Spam, and Trash.
When a comment is acceptable, you can Approve it, so it becomes visible on your website.
To respond to the author, click on Reply.
If there’s a typo in the comment or some other small mistake, you can make appropriate changes by selecting the Quick Edit option.
In order to moderate the comment some more, such as add the author’s details and alter the text a bit if needed, press Edit.
In case there are Spam comments, simply mark them as such. Check if the comment contains multiple links, if the email address is genuine or if the email address even exists. There are websites, such as the email checker, where you can enter an email address to verify its validity. And if you’re uncertain how to tell organic comments from spam, this article can be of help in that regard.
Deleting spam is necessary, unless you want to risk having your website removed from Google’s search results. To control it better, you could add an anti-spam plugin to your website. Luckily, WordPress comes with Akismet installed. This plugin does a decent job of keeping spam at bay. When you flag a comment as spam, Akismet learns from it, so the next time a similar comment shows up, it’ll automatically move it to the spam folder. To start using it, you first need to activate it from your admin dashboard.
Upon activation, sign up for an Akismet account using your WordPress credentials.
You can choose one of the three plans available, depending on the type of your website. As you choose a plan, you’ll be transferred to a checkout to confirm the purchase (in case you chose one of the two premium packages). You’ll get the API key next. Enter it in the designated field within Akismet settings (from your WordPress dashboard), and connect your website with your Akismet account.
The thing about Akismet that many people dislike is that it removes some legit comments and marks them as spam. Because of that, you should check the spam box on the regular to ensure genuine comments still appear on your website. Mark the comment that Akismet removed as Not Spam, and it’ll show up in the Pending tab.
Another downside of using this plugin is that it can slow down your website. Also, it doesn’t really block spammers. This means that someone can send you hundreds of spam comments a day, so if you don’t check the spam folder often (even with WordPress automatically deleting spam comments after 15 days), you could end up with clogged disk space.
How to Turn Off Comments for Specific Posts
If you wish to disable comments on certain posts and pages, from your admin dashboard go to that post/page. Next, under Discussion make sure to uncheck the Allow Comments box. To find it in Classic Editor, first make sure the Discussion box is ticked. At the top of the screen click on Screen Options to check if the option is enabled.
Then, scroll a bit down the page to find the Discussion section and disable comments.
In Gutenberg, you’ll find this option in a lower right side of the screen.
And if for some reason you wish to disable comments on multiple pages or the entire website, you can do that in WordPress in a few simple steps.
Global Comments Settings Configuration
To modify comment settings on your entire website, from your menu select Settings > Discussion.
Here, you’ll find multiple options that allow you to specify a myriad of comment-related settings. For instance, you can choose if you wish to receive an email whenever someone posts a comment, or to manually approve comments before they are published. Furthermore, you can set the number of links allowed per comment. As we discussed earlier, some spam comments come with a large number of links, so this is also a great way of controlling them. You can also blacklist comments if they contain certain names, URLs, IP addresses, etc.
All comments that are held will await your approval in the Pending comment section.
In this section you can also choose whether you wish to display avatars on your website or not. WordPress uses gravatars by default, but if a user doesn’t have a Gravatar account, you can set a default avatar for them.
Once you’re done with all the settings, don’t forget to Save Changes.
Comments are a great way of maintaining a nice rapport with your audience. By engaging with them, you can significantly increase your chances of building a solid following and get even more comments on your posts. Also, your visitors can perhaps suggest topics they’d like to learn more about, which means new article ideas for you.
Moderating comments can seem like a bothersome and time-consuming activity, but it’s definitely worth it. Legit comments can have a significant impact on your SEO rankings, so take your time to go through what your visitors wrote and adjust the discussion settings the way that works best for you. And to stay spam-free, make sure you install an anti-spam plugin. By following these simple steps, you can turn your comments section into a pleasurable read.