Managing your comments correctly has as much to do with directing communication to and from your blog as it does with controlling spam comments. A WordPress blog has built-in features allowing bloggers to do both effectively.
From within your WordPress Dashboard, find the Discussion Settings link under the Settings panel. In reviewing the Discussion Settings area you’ll find that WordPress gives users the options to choose:
– how a blog communicates with other blogs when an article with links is published
– how users are enabled to communicate on their blog
– how their blog communicates information back to them when discussion is pending or occurring
The first three options are the Default article settings. These general settings can be overridden on individual blog posts. Usually checking all three is fine since they can be customized on the fly by selecting the Quick Edit to edit the post item inline. There you have the option to select the Allow Comments and Allow Pings tic boxes. This is handy if you have an article that doesn’t merit a discussion or you would like them to contact you another way as instructed on the post or page.
The next set up options are Other comment settings. The first two indicate what a visitor has to do before he is able to make a comment. Depending on if you are building a community or just want to ensure commenters are real people you can require a user to fill out their name and e-mail or to register and log in. If you are afraid of users not wanting to register it is advisable to make them fill out their name and e-mail while posting.
Here you can also tic if you want to automatically close comments that are so many days old. The default is two weeks. If your blog topic gets a lot of visitors and you don’t have the time to moderate older posts, consider it a safety net to determine how many days a post can be open for discussion. If your topics are evergreen topics (relevant any time) you might not want to tic this. Comments can be closed on any post, individually, at a later date.
The remainder of the Other comment settings involve the look and usability of the comments themselves (if threads will be nested and if new or old will be displayed first on the page etc.).
In the E-mail me whenever options, the blogger decides if and when he will be emailed. If your blog is fairly new it is a good idea to select both boxes to be contacted whenever a comment is made or held for moderation.
The Before a comment appears settings give the blogger the option of system or manual approval of comments. This really isn’t a way to manage spam. It is more a way to monitor your blog’s incoming comments not identified as spam. There are two options, one where the administrator must always approve the comment, and a second to allow comment authors to post without moderation if they’ve been previously approved.
The next two areas are key in stopping comments that might make it through a spam filter plug-in. Comment Moderation and Comment Blacklist. These are additional safety nets if you prefer to not approve comments manually. It is highly recommended to change the system default from 2 or more links to 1 or more links.
In the first text box area you can filter out comments with problem words, or visitors coming from an IP where you want to review the comments before approval. The second text box is the Comment Blacklist which is the same filter utility but it automatically marks the comments as spam instead of holding it.
A decision to allow comments and how to manage and monitor them can depend on personal preference or necessity based on the niche blogged about. Some topics need heavy handed moderation more than others (think politics and religion). Show others you care about your blog by utilizing the Discussion Settings features in WordPress today.