Commenting is built right into WordPress – which is great. But utilizing the default setup is an invitation to a big old mess. Annoyances such as spam and the potential for abuse can make a blogger seriously consider closing off comments altogether. It’s understandable but far from hopeless.
There are several quality plugins out there to help take the pain out of utilizing comments on your WordPress website. Here are 10 worth considering when you’re looking to improve an otherwise unruly situation.
Sure, everybody knows about this one. But if you haven’t used it, you’re missing out. There’s a reason why Akismet is included by default with every WordPress install – it works. Spam is reduced to rubble as the plugin scans incoming comments. You can even choose to automatically discard comments marked as spam – a real timesaver. The plugin is free to use for personal blogs, but commercial use requires a subscription.
The biggest problem when it comes to comment spam is those pesky bots. They hammer away at any post with open comments. Trying to squash it on your own will drive you crazy. Anti-Spam is there to do away with spam that comes from bots. Just install the plugin, and it will start detecting and removing the junk. Their pro version will also help you take care of spam from human sources as well.
Comment settings in WordPress aren’t the most intuitive. No Page Comment aims to provide a very simple, yet powerful way to turn comments and trackbacks on or off for every post type on your site. You can easily change settings with a few simple clicks.
wpDiscuz provides a boost to the native WordPress comment system. It uses Ajax, so everything loads super-fast. You can also create your own custom comment form fields to gather more extensive user info. Plus, it’s compatible with other popular plugins such as Akismet and BuddyPress (commercial add-ons are available for more integrations). Overall, it’s a completely modern facelift for commenting.
So maybe your comments area doesn’t need a total facelift – just some more efficiency. WP Ajaxify Comments will do that in the form of adding in some common-sense Ajax. That means comments will be validated and loaded in without the need to refresh your entire post. It takes some load off of your server and generally makes for a better user experience.
Replyable takes the ability for users to subscribe to comments and adds some intelligent features. For example, it doesn’t just send all comments to subscribers via email. Instead, it uses machine learning to only send ones it finds to be relevant. And it also knows enough to condense mailings down to daily digests on a busy site. Their subscription service even lets subscribers reply to a comment directly via email.
Decent Comments provides a highly-configurable widget, shortcode and API that enables you to display recent comments on your site. Author avatars, excerpts, links and more can be included. Just about every aspect of the plugin is configurable to fit your needs.
There are little tweaks that can make comments much more attractive and easy to follow. WP First Letter Avatar is one of those plugins that does one small thing – and does it well. It adds a colorful letter avatar (using the first letter of the commenter’s name) for users who don’t already have one. But it also enables you to create your own avatar sets or even use the plugin as your site’s only avatar system (disabling Gravatar).
Editing comments can be a pain for both users and administrators. WP Ajax Edit Comments smoothes out the process by allowing users to edit their comments for a specific amount of time (set by you). The good news for admins is that the plugin enables you to completely manage and edit comments from the front end of your site. Everybody wins!
A Few Worthy Comments
A well-managed commenting system can be of great benefit to a WordPress blog. While you can’t necessarily make everyone behave themselves, you certainly can provide readers with a place to voice their opinions and ask questions. Above all, it’s about making a connection.
The tools above can help get you by making the experience more pleasant for everybody.