10 Plugins That Take the Pain Out of Managing WordPress Comments

If you’re using your WordPress site or blog to engage with an audience of readers, there’s a good chance that you’ve got comments activated. After all, without comments, how will your readers give you feedback on your posts, congratulate you for being such a fantastic writer, or ask questions?

Even better, comments are a great place for your readers to talk to each other and start building a community centred on your site.

But as your site becomes more successful, managing comments can get daunting. You can find yourself dealing with more and more spammy comments, receiving comments so regularly that you aren’t getting any work done because you’re always reading and responding to them, and find that the user interface isn’t working as well as it could be for your readers.

There is good news though. A variety of plugins can help you to manage comments on your site and improve the process of commenting for your users. These generally come under four headings, although some of them will do more than one of these jobs:

  • Keeping spam out
  • Letting people comment using third party services
  • Helping you manage and respond to comments
  • Enhancing the commenting interface for users

So let’s take a look at the top 10 plugins that will help you manage comments on your site.

  • Akismet

    Akismet is the Daddy (and Mommy) of comment plugins. It comes preinstalled with every WordPress installation and it will filter out spammy comments without you having to lift a finger. To activate it you need to get yourself an API key from the Akismet website, add it to your settings and you’re good to go.

    If your site or blog is personal and not making money, a free Basic account with Akismet will get you an API key but if you’re running a commercial site or you’re getting over 50,000 comments each month, you’ll need a premium account. You can either sign up using your existing wordpress.com account (if you have one) or create an account with Akismet.

    Activate the plugin and relax in the knowledge that Akismet is dealing with comment spam while you sleep (or work, party, watch TV or go running: whatever you like to do instead of dealing with spammers).

  • Disqus Comments System

    Maybe you’re not happy with the built-in WordPress commenting system, or you want to give your users extra options for interacting with and being updated on comments. Disqus is the web’s biggest dedicated comment management system, and with the Disqus Comments Management System plugin you can replace standard WordPress comments with Disqus commenting.

    The main advantage of Disqus is that if people already have a Disqus account they can use that to comment on your content without creating an account on your site. It also gives your users options for RSS, notifications and email and manages spam for you.

    The downside is that your readers might not always want to create an account with a third party service to interact with your site, and in my experience it can be slower to load than built-in WordPress comments. It also has known conflicts with a few popular themes and frameworks, but there are fixes for many of these.

  • WP Ajax Edit Comments

    Sometimes your readers might post comments that they immediately want to edit or retract. If your posts are engaging and inspire debate, there’ll always be someone who fires off a passionate comment, only to regret being so forceful as soon a they’ve hit ‘Reply’ and wish they could edit what they’ve written.

    With the WP Ajax Edit Comments plugin, your users can do just that. It gives your readers a limited amount of time during which they can edit a comment after posting it.

    It also gives you as site administrator the option to edit and moderate comments in the front end of your site, saving you the hassle of switching to the WordPress admin screens.

  • Subscribe to Comments Reloaded

    Maybe you want to give your readers the option of subscribing to comments on your posts but you don’t want to use a third party commenting system or social media plugin. If you install the Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin, you can give your readers the option of subscribing to comments and replies.

    Users can either sign up for replies to a specific comment (maybe their own comment) or to all new comments on a post. They’ll need to be signed in to your site to do this, as the system needs their email address. If you’re concerned about spamming, you can specify double opt-in so that users have to confirm their subscription by clicikgin on a link in an email the system sends them.

    Interested in Subscribe to Comments Reloaded?

  • Comment Images

    Something I like doing in Facebook is adding images to replies and comments. It can be a fun way of making a point or adding to a conversation. But by default, WordPress doesn’t let you add images to comments.

    Tom McFarlin’s Comment Images plugin changes this, letting your users upload images to their comments. The plugin only accepts the most common image file types, will style the images so they fit into your commenting layout, and lets you see images attached to each comment in the WordPress admin.

    It also adds any uploaded images to the Media Library, so it could be a useful tool for a collaborative site where users can upload images that you’ll later use in the content or elsewhere.

  • Better WordPress Recent Comments

    This plugin is designed to improve on the default ‘Recent Comments’ widget. It gives you an alternative widget for displaying recent comments, with configurable options for trackbacks and pingbacks, gravatars, smilies, AJAX and more.

    It also lets you completely customize what’s output by the widget, by creating your own template for comment output. Add or remove content, reorder elements, include links, add custom text and more. You can also edit the template for grouped comments, such as all the comments on a post.

    If comments are an important part of your site’s content and your users engage with them a lot, this can give you a lot more control over the way they’re displayed and help you engage with your readers more effectively.

    Interested in Better WordPress Recent Comments?

  • Comments Control

    If your users are posting multiple comments quickly, WordPress will display an error message telling them to slow down and not post comments so fast. This is designed to prevent spam but can be a nuisance if you want to generate lively, real time discussion between readers of your site.

    Our own Comments Control plugin lets your readers comment quickly without being told by bossy old WordPress to slow down. If your site has quick, real time conversations going on in the comments, or you’re using comments for a collaboration site, this saves time and a heck of a lot of frustration.

    If you do have a problem with some commenters that you don’t want to posting comments in quick succession, you can edit the plugin settings and block their IP address from this feature: they’ll still be able to comment, but they’ll be told to slow down.

Summary

Comments are an important part of WordPress. If you’re running any kind of site that needs to engage with its readers, they’re a fantastic way of letting visitors leave feedback, make suggestions and interact with you and each other. The plugins I’ve listed here will help you build an active, engaged community of loyal readers of your site. Enjoy!

Do you have any favourite plugins for comments? Leave your thoughts in the comments (no pun intended!) below.

4 Responses

  • New Recruit

    I am revamping my current website, a company entertainment portal build in Joomla! for the past four years while migrating the content toward WordPress, which will out whence we reach our fifth anniversary. One of the first things we added was the bundle packaged from VaultPress and Askimet, as both together becomes cheaper and provides the installation with control over spammers as well as daily backups.

    For over three years I think, we had Disqus running on our site, and while it is a great commenting system of easy implementation, now, we had time o rethink about it. The major issue is that Disqus is a third-party application and not a core feature. Now that we are moving content from Joomla! to WordPress, we keed battling Disqus as you cannot run it on both live and development versions without duplicating the comment links over their dashboard, links which have to be manually re-arranged, so we decided it was best to keep WordPress comment system by default, tuned with Jetpack features. It can be also replaced by a plugin called wpDiscuz, which has almost the same features as Disqus, but unlike it, you don’t need to “jump” between dashboards.

    I am not familiar with the other plugins on your list, but will make sure to evaluate it. A question: there’s any plugin (free or paid) that allows to customize fully the emails sent as notifications to subscribers?

    Thanks for posting this, by the way comes in handy.

  • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    I went searching for other comment spam plugins when Akismet began behaving unsatisfactorily (letting too much spam go to Pending, too many server fails, and never fixing the comment histories buildup).

    For the past year or so, I’ve been using either WP-Spamshield or Zero Spam, or in a few cases, both together, because until recently WP-Spamshield didn’t include protections for Gravity Forms or CF 7, but now that it does I’ve found that it works wonderfully by itself. On occasion I’ve had to manually update it, and in the less than a minute it takes to delete the old version and upload the new, one site of mine will actually pull in about 3-5 comment spams during that void… comments I never see when the plugin is active. It’s stats say it’s blocking 750-800 spams per day from ever reaching my comments queue, and that’s more than Akismet had ever done before I kicked it completely to the curb.

    Zero Spam is still a great plugin, but I found that it was a little too aggressive in annihilating comment spam (though that may be a bonus for some folks!).

    For widget displays, I’ve been using WP Recent Comments with Avatars.

  • New Recruit

    I’ve always stayed away from Disqus because of of terrible user experiences that I’ve had using it on other blogs from mobile devices. At one point, it was essentially un-usuable on mobile devices. Also, it’s brought in via an iframe, which is almost never best practice (also my complaint with Jetpack comments).

    I like to keep my comments within my own database and utilize WordPress’ core comment system, so I use Postmatic to handle subscriptions, and Akismet. I’ve been extremely impressed with Postmatic so far…absolutely the best addition to comments functionality that I’ve seen.

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