Comments are a great way to engage your visitors and also bring in additional traffic and page views. The little discussion box in the bottom of your post or page allows users to give a direct feedback to the content on the page. It gives them the platform to talk and help each other out if necessary. So, comments work out great especially for blog sites but they also attract spam. If not taken care of, the area can be filled with useless garbage filled with advertisements and links to malicious websites. Hence, as a web administrator, you have to focus properly on comment management and administration.
The Comment Area
The above is a preview of the commenting area below a blog post in WordPress. As you can see, visitors can leave a message along with their name, email, and website. There’s also a subscription option available thanks to Jetpack. The design looks different according to themes and stylesheets.
The main area to manage comments is present in the administration dashboard. You can access it via the Comments link on the navigation menu there. When you click on it, you will be redirected to a special page which contains all the discussions of your website. Depending on how they are approved, you will see them grouped under the headings—All, Approved, Spam and Trash. You can also directly reply to the messages from this page. Besides comments you can also find pingbacks if you have allowed it.
The way to manage comments in this admin page is self-explanatory. Hover over a message and click on the appropriate link (Approve/Unapprove, Reply, Quick Edit, Edit, History, Spam, and Trash) to perform the action. You can also use the search box to find the exact text. There’s also a bulk action feature to edit multiple messages at once. Try those out and you will be a pro in comment management.
Another way to manage comments in a post or page is from the post or page itself. Browse a post, edit it and you can directly manage the feedback.
It’s placed under the visual and text editor. If you can’t see it, then you must activate it from the Screen Option. From there you can do all the actions that were present in the dedicated administration page.
Settings Related to Comments
Since this one is an important feature, there are additional settings that can configure how commenting works. Access it from Settings > Discussion in the administration panel. There you will find multiple configurations that you can turn on or off. You can change email settings, permissions, required fields, approval criteria, display and other options which are absolutely necessary. Configure them in such a way that it suits your needs and is able to stop spam.
I usually choose an option that says Comment author must have a previously approved comment. It requires you to approve every new comment from new people but saves your site from a lot of spam messages. You can also automatically close discussion on old topics.
On a related note, under the compose and edit page, you can find Discussion options which can enable or disable comments for individual posts and pages.
Stopping Comment Spam
The best way to stop spammers from misusing your discussion area is with the help of the official WordPress plugin: Akismet. It is a powerful and must-have plugin which is very effective due to its evolving nature. You need to install and activate it using a WordPress account. Read more about it here.
Besides the plugin, you also should be vigilant and always keep an eye on your comment area. Users try to get a link back to their website by dumping in common or copied comments. So, watch out for those. You can even disable automatic linking in comments and remove the website field completely to discourage such users.