How to manage your discussion settings in WordPress
Happy New Year SL Blogger Support Readers! The team is working hard behind the scenes to make 2016 a banner year for the group. Stay tuned for several new updates coming your way in the next few weeks.
While I have you, I’ve written a new blog post on my site that may be of interest to all Second Life bloggers. It’s about my evolving view on blog comments. This post lays out a comment policy that aims to protect you (and your readers) from useless comments.
What do I consider “useless” comments? I mean comments that are ugly, unproductive, off-topic, aggressive or spammy. To learn more about what I mean by useless comments, read my article.
You’re welcome to use my short and sweet policy if it suits you. It won’t suit everyone and I discuss this below the graphic.
Below are the Discussion settings I used to reflect my policy. You can access this panel by pointing your browser to Settings > Discussion in your WordPress Dashboard:
What I changed
I’ll point out three specific things that I modified to reflect my new policy. These tips will help you use the discussion settings to reflect your comment policy:
- I checked the box that ensures comment authors fill out name and email. That’s important to ensure you can identify commenters (and blacklist them if necessary). It won’t deter people from writing in fake names and addresses. It can sometimes make people slow down and identify with their comments more. In theory, requiring this information should make them more responsible. At first, I ticked the 2nd checkbox too (“users must be registered and logged in to comment”). That created a long-winded process that made it too difficult to comment, so I unticked it.
- I checked the box that closes comments on articles older than seven days. You can change the number of days to suit you. I’m doing this to defend against comment spam that tends to target older articles. If you’re not getting spam, then I recommend you leave that unchecked.
- I checked two more boxes so that I can manually approve all comments. I think that’s crucial. Checking both of these settings will help reduce spam.
I know many bloggers want to get more comments, not fewer. Though there may come a time when your blog’s popularity invites more useless comments. My post might help anyone who is wondering what to do when that happens. This post will show you how.
Should you follow my policy?
That’s debatable. I think blog comments are an excellent resource for any blogger that is getting started. They’re convenient forms of feedback. They’re a good metric to understand how your audience is responding to what you post. Comments can be an excellent forum in which to build a little community around your blog. Some bloggers even spark friendships with other bloggers through blog comments.
When your blog gets over 100,000 views per year, you may want to rethink your comment policy to protect yourself from useless comments.
You might also want to consider blocking specific commenters if you find they waste your time with useless comments. On the same settings page, you can write in these fields:
You can use the top area to blacklist commenters. You can use the bottom field to put words that spam commenters tend to use (e.g. viagra, download free movies, cheap plastic surgery, etc.) – whatever words tend to be in your comment spam.
To get a commenter’s IP look at your Comments section in your WordPress dashboard and review the information there. I’ve highlighted what one of my comments looks like below:
I’ve highlighted the information you can use to comment blacklist a user. If you wanted to block me from commenting on your site, you could enter my name or email address. I could easily change these when commenting, but my IP isn’t something I can change without masking it through a VPN.
On the same topic, I want to direct you to the bottom of the Discussion Settings page entitled “Avatars”. Registering for a WordPress Avatar will follow you around the WordPress universe (when engaging on blogs or writing your posts). Most people seem to have the hang of it.
For your commenters, you can choose the default avatar, but I prefer selecting the Gravatar. It’s a globally recognized avatar and is an excellent free service that you can sign up for here. The best part is that you can write your bio in one place, and it shows up everywhere.
That’s it for discussion settings!
I wish you a good year of blogging with lots of productive discussion in 2016!