ShouId I allow comments on my WordPress website?

It’s an ageless question. Leave comments turned on in every page of my website, only leave them on the blog posts, or turn them off everywhere?

There are pluses and minuses to all varieties of answers, but on today’s episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast we talk about should you leave them on, how you can protect yourself if you do, and how to remove them if you don’t.

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Some Things To Consider About Comments

In short, WP comments is feedback, positive or negative, left by visitors to your website. Usually they are at the bottom of the page and while they can many time require some data provided by the commentor, it doesn’t always provide a way to communicate with the person making the comments outside the page.

On the plus side, comments are a great way for your visitors, customers and readers to leave a message about the content. That usually involves something positive or negative, a response back to a current comment, or a general comment about the site or author. These comments can serve as a “social proof” to other visitors that you have an engaged community and might prompt a newsletter signup, frequent visits, or even a sale.

However, the negative side of comments are distracting at best, and damaging at worst. Un-monitored  commenters can be aggressive, even threatening, at times. Comments can be very negative about the content, the author or the company hosting the page. SPAM commenters can come in and offer their services or products in the comment thread to supplement or replace the products offered on the page. Images and language can be used in the comments that could potentially be abusive, even illegal, if not monitored or combated.

So, you can see while comments can be a valuable way to increase reader engagement, sometimes they really should be turned off for the protection of the website owner, and the consumers of the content.

How Can I Protect My Comment Stream?

There are several things you can do to protect your website from malicious comments.

  • Require an account with verifiable email addresses before commenting : This will sort out the low hanging fruit of people who do not want to be found after making negative comments. These folks don’t have “burner” email accounts and fake names, so supplying actual names and contact info can sometimes be enough deterrent.
  • Put a comment filter in place like Akismet : Akismet will look for obvious signs of spamming and put these comments in a held state waiting for approval. Then the admin (or you) can go in and either approve or reject. If rejected, you will have the option to block all from this user/IP.
    Version:4.1.3
    Requires:4.0 or higher
    Compatible up to:5.3
    Released:20 October 2005
    Downloads:149327239
    Last Updated:13 November 2019
    Ratings:
    4.7
    (4.7 star out of 5)
  • Use a comment system like Disqus : Moving away from the standard WordPress commenting system and use a system like Disqus will allow users to use the same information across several websites. So just logging into the Disqus system and making comments speeds up the process.

    Version:3.0.17
    Requires:4.4 or higher
    Compatible up to:5.1.3
    Released:28 August 2008
    Downloads:3642695
    Last Updated:04 March 2019
    Ratings:
    2.8
    (2.8 star out of 5)

  • Employ monitors or admins : No one has time to monitor website comments if the site is large and doing well. For smaller, less visited sites you can see every comment, respond and remove as necessary. But if the site grows, you will have to employ or recruit some people to help out. Often these are frequent commenters who volunteer or can be trusted, but occasionally you will have to pay for professional help.

How Can I Turn Comments Off?

I’m a fan of turning comments off. I simply don’t have the time, or the desire, to look through every post, comment, article and page to look for valuable or damaging content. So I turn them off with a plugin for my website, and my client’s websites.

  • WordPress settings has a toggle to turn off “future” comments : This works great if you’re building a new site and don’t have any comments. But if you do, the old comments will remain
  • Disable Comments Plugin : simply my go-to comment killer plugin. This be installed and activated, then configured to turn off all, none, or some of the comments on the site. Want comments only on blog posts, not pages? Easy. Want to kill all of them? Even easier.
    Version:1.10.2
    Requires:5.0 or higher
    Compatible up to:5.3
    Released:27 May 2011
    Downloads:7347989
    Last Updated:21 July 2019
    Ratings:
    4.9
    (4.9 star out of 5)
  • Disable Comments and Delete Comments Plugin : A fairly new plugin that does the same thing more or less as the earlier disable comments plugin. Quite simply, it just deletes and disables all comments.
    Version:1.0.7
    Requires:3.0.1 or higher
    Compatible up to:5.2.4
    Released:28 September 2018
    Downloads:13701
    Last Updated:06 June 2019
    Ratings:
    4.8
    (4.8 star out of 5)

Comments can be a great way to measure engagement, have visitors promote or provide critical analysis of your content, and even allow pingbacks and other shares of the content. But they can also be a drain on resources, especially time, and even be distracting or abusive to your other readers. Use them with caution, put failsafes in place, and if it gets unmanageable, turn them off before they become damaging to your and your website.

Have any questions or suggestions on website comments? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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