As you publish and promote your blog posts more and more, chances are people are going to start responding to your content. WordPress has a built in system for that, letting people leave comments on your posts, and today we’ll take a look at how to handle comments on your blog.
Turn commenting on or off
Firstly, what if you don’t want to have comments on your site? Maybe you want to have all the conversation about your posts somewhere else, like Facebook or LinkedIn. Or maybe you just don’t need (or want) the comments system on your blog.
Comments are turned on by default, but it’s really easy to turn them off. To turn them off for your whole site, go to Settings > Discussion. Find the third option from the top, ‘Allow people to post comments on new articles’ and uncheck the box. Save your changes and you’re done.
But what if you want comments on most or some of the time, but just not all the time? That’s easy too.
You can override the default settings for each individual blog post, so if you leave the site wide comments settings on you can turn them off on specific posts, and vice versa. When you add or edit a post, find the Discussion section from the Settings panel, and choose to allow comments or not.
And there’s one more option you can play with. Let’s go back to the Settings > Discussion screen for a moment.
There’s a really handy setting so that you can close comments on older posts. That’s really handy if you have time-sensitive posts and only want to receive comments for a certain period of time.
To use it, check the ‘Automatically close comments on articles older than ___ days’ box, and set the number of days you need.
Dealing with comments
If you’ve left comments on, for all or some of your posts, how do you deal with them?
They’ll pretty much fall into 2 categories: legitimate comments that you’ll want to have on your site, and spam comments that you’ll want to get rid of.
You can see all the comments on your site by going to Comments on your WordPress dashboard. You’ll see all the different types of comments on your site:
- Approved comments are publicly visible on the blog post.
- Pending comments aren’t visible yet; you need to either approve them, mark them as spam or just plain delete them.
- Spam comments are filtered out, just like the spam folder on your email account.
For comments to be approved, you can set your site so that they all have to be manually approved, ie you have to check every single one. That’s fine if you have a low volume of comments or you want extra control.
Or you can set it so that someone’s first comment is approved manually and after that their comments are automatically approved, ie they’ve already proved they’re not a spammer. Don’t worry though, you can still manually get rid of comments once they’re approved. That’s a better option if you’re getting lots of comments or are short on time.
Changing a comment’s status
To change a comment’s status, like from Pending to Approved, or Approved to Spam, hover over it. A series of options appears underneath it:
You can Approve/Unapprove, Reply, mark it as Spam, or send it to the Trash folder. Just click the option you need.
Or to change the status of multiple comments, check the box beside each one, then from the Bulk Actions dropdown, choose the option you need.
Make it part of your regular site maintenance
It’s good to check in on your comments regularly. Legitimate comments will need a reply, and it’s a good idea to clear out the Spam and Bin sections too as you don’t need those comments in your site’s database.
To tidy up those sections, click on Spam or Bin at the top of the screen. Then you can deal with those comments individually, or simply click the Empty Spam/Bin button to delete them all.
Make it part of your regular site maintenance. So when you log on to the site each week or month, you back that sucker up, install any updates, and deal with comments too.
You might also like: Keep your site healthy with backups and updates
Getting too much spam?
Stay tuned, as soon we’ll look at ways you can deal with those pesky spammers, without resorting to turning off your comments entirely. To make sure you don’t miss it, be sure to sign up for email updates:
Never miss a post
Enter your details to get my latest content by email, including exclusive tips and offers, just for subscribers.