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The Beginners' Guide to WordPress Comment Moderation

updated on Apr 12, 2016
The Beginners' Guide to WordPress Comment Moderation Quality comments can increase the user engagement and add value to your site content, while comment spam lowers users' faith and your site's authority. You cannot control what users post in your comment form, but fortunately, WordPress comes with a comment moderation feature allowing you to decide which comments to be displayed.

It has been a long-term debate whether to moderate comments or not because either option has its pros and cons. Disabling comment moderation saves time and enables your users to participate in communication immediately, while the other choice ensures that the low-quality comments are filtered out.

In our opinion, if you have allowed comments on your site, you'd better enable comment moderation. In below, we will first explain why you should do this, and then offer some tips to make WordPress comment moderation easier.

Why You Should Always Moderate Comments

Generally speaking, proper comment moderation brings the following three benefits to your WordPress site no matter you are running a personal blog or an online store.
  • Prevent spam and increase your website credibility. Without spam filtering and careful moderation, your comment section can be easily flooded with spam. However, moderation enables you to take full control and only display the comments submitted by trusted users, which helps build your users' confidence and your site's authority.
  • Block malicious links. The spam or low-quality comments usually contain links to irrelevant websites or even malicious sites. Such links can harm your users' feelings and faith in you once they are clicked. However, moderation can prevent this problem.
  • Add value to your WordPress site. By displaying quality comments only, you are getting a chance to attract more knowledgeable people to participate in the communication. The comments submitted by such users will help other users and add value to the post.
It is true that moderating comments is time-consuming especially for large sites, but with optimized comment settings and the use of helpful techniques, your life can be much easier. You can learn the details in the following parts.

Optimal WordPress Comment Settings

WordPress has many built-in options which enable you to configure the comment moderation settings. These options can be accessed by visiting Settings > Discussion in WordPress admin area. To guarantee an easier experience and to make the moderations more effective, you can follow the suggestions below.

Enable email notifications for new comments

One of the downsides of comment moderation is that the commenters have to wait before they can see their comments displayed under your post. If they wait for a long time every time a comment is submitted, they will probably not leave comments anymore. However, you can help settle this problem by enabling email notifications.

In the "Email me whenever" section of WordPress comment settings, tick the checkbox of both options so that you will receive an email whenever a comment is submitted and held for moderation.

Enable Email Notifications for New Comments

In this case, you can moderate every comment as soon as it is posted without keeping logged-in all the time. If you have issues receiving emails with WordPress mail function, we suggest sending WordPress emails via an SMTP server.

Email notifications increase the efficiency of dealing with new comments. However, you need to be careful with this feature if your site is popular with hundreds or more new comments per day because those emails add burden to your mail server and mess up your inboxes. A better solution for this situation would be checking the comment section in WordPress dashboard regularly to moderate the new comments in time instead of enabling email notifications.

Require login before posting comments

To prevent comment spam, you can require your users to log in before they can submit a comment. In this way, most of the spam bots can be stopped.

Require Login

The concern of requiring login is that this deed may demotivate some users from commenting because they have to register an account first on your site which is sometimes annoying. Fortunately, there are two alternative solutions to this problem.
  • Enable social login on your site, so that users can log in with their Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn accounts.
  • Only require the user's name and email for comments instead of requiring login for everyone, which can be configured in the "Other comment settings" section.

Moderate the first-time commenters

An easy way for making comment moderation less painful is to bypass the moderation of those comments submitted by users who have already got comments approved before. The automatic approval of such comments not only saves your times, but also guarantees a good commenting experience for those engaged in your posts often. But note that once a user changes the email or name, he/she will need moderation again.

To get this option turned on, do what shown in the screenshot below. Note that you have to leave the manual approval option unchecked, or the automatic approval will not work.

Moderate First-Time Commenters

Close comments after a certain period of time

After a post is published, it usually takes two or three weeks for the post to gain a high ranking in search engines. And when it is ranked high, it becomes a target of comment spam. Therefore, to reduce spam and stay in control, you can disable comments for your posts after a specified period of time.

Usually, 30 days are quite reasonable, but you can also lengthen or shorten the period depending on your own needs. The period of time can be specified and changed with the following setting.

Close Comments

Use a Plugin to Filter Spam Comments

Removing spam comments manually is more than hard if your site is popular. However, some good WordPress plugins can identify and filter most spam automatically so that you do not even see the spam in your comment list. We suggest every WordPress site that allows comments install such a plugin. Below are several good choices.
  • Akismet – As a plugin with over one million active installs, Akismet is easy-to-use, and it checks all comments automatically. However, as some "good" comments can be marked as spam by this plugin mistakenly, you also need to check the spam folder regularly.
  • Antispam Bee – It is a free plugin that blocks spam without CAPTCHAs. Depending on your settings, the spam comment statistics can be displayed in WordPress dashboard.
  • WordPress Zero Spam – This is a highly rated anti-spam plugin that does not require API. As it supports caching plugins, the site performance is not affected.
Filter Spam Comments with a Plugin

Moderate Comments Manually

Even though most of the spam comments are filtered automatically by a plugin, you still need to moderate the rest comments manually with care to make sure only quality comments show up on your site. In terms of manual moderation, you get two choices.

Moderate comments centrally

In the WordPress dashboard, there is a Comments menu in which you can manage all comments including those pending for moderation, approved, trashed and marked as spam.

Opening the "Pending" folder, you will see all the comments that are waiting for moderation. For these comments, you can:
  • Approve the ones with real content.
  • Reply those needing further help from you.
  • Trash the comments appearing like spam.
Moderate Comments

Besides, you should also check the spam folder, browse through the spam comments and approve the ones that are placed in the folder mistakenly.

Moderate the comments of a single post/page

Besides moderating the comments of all posts and pages in a central place, you can also moderate the comments of each post/page separately. When editing a post/page, expand the "Screen Options" and get "Comments" checked. Then you will see all the comments on the bottom of the page. There you can moderate the comments as you usually do.

Moderate the Comments of a Single Post

Allow Your Users to Moderate Comments

If you want manual moderation of comments while being short of time, a good solution is to allow some trusted users to moderate comments for you. Turning some loyal users into comment moderators not only keeps them more engaged, but also saves you from the fussy job. To motivate those users, you can make a reward system and provide them with some benefits like backlinks.

If you are fond of this solution, a plugin named Moderator Role helps. After installing this plugin and activating it, a new user role of "Comments Moderator" is created on your WordPress site, and you can assign it to any user. The users with this role are able to log into the admin area of your WordPress site, but they can only access the comments section and their profiles.

Allow Users to Moderate Comments