Quickly and Efficiently Manage Website Comments

Comments on blog posts are a great way to increase engagement on your website, and to encourage interaction with your audience. It’s also linked to increased traffic on your site as well. Some sites get more comments that others by nature of the type of content, but everyone can encourage audience interaction with carefully crafted calls-to-action. Whatever method you choose, eventually you’d have the need to manage the comments submitted on your website. This post will show you how to quickly and efficiently manage website comments in your WordPress powered nonprofit website.

 

Comments in WordPress

WordPress makes it easy to manage website comments. When any visitor leaves a note on a blog post it is registered in the comment section of the admin panel. This is displayed in your admin bar next to a comment quote icon, and also in the admin menu tree on the left side of your site admin screens, under the link named “Comments.”

Depending on how you setup your site, comments can either be automatically approved, or held for moderation. There are many settings for comments on your site. They’re all contained in an area called Discussion Settings. For more info on discussion settings, you can read a guide I wrote on this very topics at WPMU.

When your admin panel indicates that you have a comment, you’ll see the comment icon go bold, and the number of comments will appear next to the icon. The number of comments will also appear next to the comments link in the admin panel.

Clicking on either of those areas will bring you to the comments screen where you can manage website comments.

 

Manage Website Comments

The comments view in WordPress looks much like your other views – posts, pages, events, etc. They’re listed in a table showing the comment author name, the comment text, and the post it was left in response to.

manage website comments with orgspring

Comments that are waiting for approval will be highlighted and have a color border to the left. They will Approved comments will show white, and spam comments will be reduced to just one line.

Underneath the name of each commenter you’ll see the link which the commenter has put into the comment via the URL box on your comment form. This is the link you will be taken to if you click on the commenter’s name on the front-end of the post comment. Spam posters use junk links in comments to get back links on your site. This is the first way to tell if your commenter is a spammer. If the link underneath his or her name looks like a junk website not related to your content at all – the likelihood of it being spam is high. For example, a church website that receives a comment from a person who links their comment to a site about Viagra is probably a spammer just trying to put back links on your site.

Underneath the link is the person’s email address. This is the second way to tell if the commenter is a spammer. Known spam email addresses are usually caught by Akismet, WordPress’ built in spam protection, but sometimes they get through. Email addresses from unusual domains like @web.de are almost always spam.

The best way to manage website comments is to look at the comment itself. Is the comment relevant? Does it relate to the post from which the comment was made?  If not, it’s probably spam.

Here’s an example:

On a website that deals with christian counseling, the following comment was made:

Grieving in Public… or Not? – Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute
Appreciating the commitment you put into your website and detailed information you provide.

It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same
out of date rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to
my Google account.

On it’s surface the comment seems well written and courteous, but when you dig in a little bit you can tell it’s spam. The first line of the post references the title of the post and the SEO title we use on that blog. “Grieving in Public… or Not? – Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute.” No real human would use such language if commenting on a post. That is a dead giveaway that this comment was written by a spam bot copying our SEO title (which doesn’t actually appear anywhere on the site) and using it in the comment.

Looking down further in the comment you’ll notice that it’s too generic. It talks about being a fantastic read, but it doesn’t really relate to anything mentioned in the actual post. This is comment with spam comments. Because they are written to apply to nearly any post they will often take this generic tone.

 

Comment Options

The comment we mentioned above was clearly spam. To mark it as such, you’ll hover over the comment and new option links will appear over the comment:

  • Approve
  • Reply
  • Quick Edit
  • History
  • Spam
  • Trash

comment options in manage website comments

 

Approving Comments

If you determine the comment is valid, click the approve comment link. This will approve the comment and place it publicly on your site attached to the post on which it was originally made. From there, you (or anyone else) can make reply comments on the front-end of the site.

 

Replying to Comments

By clicking the reply link you’ll be able to add a reply comment to the submitted comment. This automatically approves the original comment and places your comment directly underneath it in response. Both comments are then visible on the front-end of the site and available for further comment. Depending on how you have your discussion settings configured, approving one comment from an author may give that author the ability to post comments in the future, with automatic approval.

 

Quick Edit

As administrator for your site you have the ability to manage all its content including comments. You can change or edit any comment. If the commenter uses words that you prefer not to be on the site you can edit those out before approving.

 

History

The history link will show you all the actions taken on that particular comment, the name of the comment, that person’s email address and any url he or she might have included in the comment itself.

 

Spam

If you believe the comment is spam, click this link and it will be marked as such. This tells WordPress not to accept any future comments marked with the same email address. The more you do this, the better your comment management will be.

 

Trash

Trashing the comment removes it from the site but does not mark the commenter as a spammer. That means the commenter can submit future comments. You might want to do this when a commenter submits a comment that has content you don’t want on the site, such as foul language, racial slurs, or anything else you deem inappropriate.

 

Summary

If you follow the steps outlined above you can quickly and efficiently manage website comments. The more often you do it, the quicker the comments will appear on your site. Visitors like to see that their comments are taken seriously – this helps increase engagement and works to make visitors return to your site for future visits.

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Craig Grella

Founder and Executive Director at OrgSpring
Craig is the founder and executive director or OrgSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofits achieve their missions online. Through tips and tutorials, Craig's goal is show nonprofits how to use technology to become more efficient, grow their list of supporters, and increase online donations.