Within your WordPress dashboard is a Settings link located in the right sidebar. You can click on that link to reveal a long list of settings which you can modify for your blog. One of the most important is the Discussion Settings sublink, which enables you to better manage blog comments and conversations.
It's essential that you take time to review and change your WordPress blog's discussion settings because they directly affect how people interact with you and with other visitors to your blog. Discussion via comments is a vital part of developing a successful blog, so discussion settings configuration should be a top priority.
If you haven't taken the time to review your WordPress blog discussion settings, then log into your WordPress account and do so as soon as possible. Following are some tips to help you configure the WordPress comment settings for your blog so you're set up for success.
Default Article Settings
The first WordPress comment settings you'll want to configure on your blog are universal, which means they apply to all blog posts published on your blog. Here are recommended default article settings if you want your blog to grow and be successful:
- Attempt to notify any blogs linked to/from the article: Make sure this checkbox is selected to increase the potential exposure of your blog post to bloggers that you link to from your content.
- Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks): Make sure this checkbox is selected, so your audience sees other blogs that are linking to your posts.
- Allow people to post comments on new articles: Ensure this checkbox is selected. You can always override this setting within individual blog posts if you want to.
Other Comment Settings
The Other Comment Settings section of the WordPress Discussion Settings are intended to reduce spam comments and give you greater control over the conversations that happen on your blog posts. Following are recommended configurations for each of these settings for bloggers who want to develop successful blogs:
- Comment author must fill out name and email: This checkbox should be selected in an effort to ensure real people are commenting on your blog posts and to reduce anonymous comments that are often spam or inappropriate.
- Users must be registered and logged in to comment: Do not check this box or you'll severely limit the conversation that happens on your blog.
- Automatically close comments on articles older than X days: Comments published on older posts are often spam. To reduce that spam, select this checkbox and enter the number of days you want visitors to be able to publish comments on new posts. Start with 90 days and work down from there depending on the level of comment spam your blog gets. Read more about whether or not you should close comments on blog posts.
- Enable threaded (nested) comments X levels deep: Select the checkbox here to enable visitors to reply to other visitors' comments on your blog posts. This creates a greater sense of conversation and community on your blog because people can easily read through individual conversations. You can also enter how many levels deep you want to enable comment threading.
- Break comments into pages with X top level comments per page and the X page displayed by default: If your blog gets a lot of comments and you don't want visitors to have to scroll down a very long list of comments, you can break those comments up into separate pages. Just select the checkbox and enter the required information to suit your preferences. Keep in mind, navigating through multiple pages of comments can be even more annoying than scrolling through a long, single page.
- Comments should be displayed with the X comments at the top of each page: Configure this setting so oldest or newest comments appear first depending on your preferences for your blog.
Comment Notification and Moderation Settings
To reduce spam, you could hold all comments for manual moderation before they're published on your live blog. Following are the comment notification and moderation settings available to you as well as recommended settings for bloggers who want to grow their audiences.
First, configure your email notification settings to email you whenever:
- Anyone posts a comment: If you want to know anytime any visitor publishes a comment on any of your blog posts via email, select this checkbox.
- A comment is held for moderation: Select this checkbox to hold all comments in the moderation queue for you to manually review and approve before they are published on your blog.
Next, configure your comment moderation settings to handle what happens before a comment appears:
- An administrator must always approve the comment: Do not select this box, because there are other settings you can configure (discussed below) that can help you reduce comment spam without having to review every comment that is submitted to every post on your blog.
- Comment author must have a previously approved comment: Select this checkbox, so you don't have to hold comments in the moderation queue and manually review them when they're submitted by visitors who have already demonstrated their ability to submit appropriate comments.
- Hold a comment in the queue if it contains more than X links: Comment spam often includes multiple links, so be aggressive with this setting. At a minimum, enter 2 so comments that include two or more links will always be held for moderation.
- When a comment contains any of these words in its content, name, URL, email, or IP, it will be held in the moderation queue: If your blog posts get a lot of spam comments including the same word, name, email address, or IP address, you can enter that information here. Doing so will flag future comments using that content for moderation so they aren't published until you review them.
- Comment Blacklist - When a comment contains any of these words in its content, name, URL, email, or IP, it will be marked as spam: If your blog posts get a lot of spam comments using the same word, name, email address, or IP address, you can enter the information in this area of your Discussion Settings. Future comments using that content will automatically be flagged as spam and sent directly to your spam folder.
Allowing avatars to display with blog comments is a great way to make your blog more personable. Avatars are images that follow you across the web and appear with your comments or content on all sites that have enabled avatars. Following are recommended display settings for the use of avatars on blogs with big growth goals:
- Show avatars: Make sure this checkbox is selected so avatars display with comments on your blog posts.
- Maximum rating: Select the G-Suitable for All Audiences option. This is the safest setting that is least likely to offend any of your visitors. You never know what someone might be using as their custom avatar, so don't take any risks.
- Default avatar for users without a custom avatar of their own: Select the radio button next to the Gravatar Logo option to display visitors' gravatars with their comments. Learn how to create a Gravatar.