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Comments (Discussion) Settings

The comments engine in WordPress is very powerful and capable but it needs the right configuration to begin with. A simple checkbox in the admin Dashboard can completely change the way that the site works for users.

Comment settings are changed in Settings > Discussion, which is a little confusing at first. If you want to turn commenting off for the whole site, make sure “Allow people to post comments on new articles” is unchecked and forget about this page.

A great place to start to understand these settings is, as usual, the Codex. Below are my recommendations:

  1. “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article” is fine to be left on, though it might hang a little when you create or update a new post (your users won’t be affected).
  2. “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” can junk up your comment thread if you get links from other sites but, in general, it’s a nice way to keep track of incoming links and thank people for doing so.
  3. “Allow people to post comments on new articles” is basically the comments on/off switch. Here’s the confusing part for some: this only affects new pages, posts, and custom content pieces. If you had comments turned on for a while and created a few pages, then turned this off, it will not turn off comments for your existing posts. You will need to edit these posts one-by-one or on the main edit screen for each type.
  4. The “Other comment settings” block is fairly self-explanatory. I keep the top one checked to make sure that there is some personality and accountability in my comments thread.
  5. The “E-mail me whenever” settings are also self-explanatory and simply a preference. The notification goes to the “Email address” located in Settings > General
  6. The 2 settings under “Before a comment appears” will help you manage spam on your site. The sad fact is that sites with user-generated content ability get spam, sometimes an incredible amount of spam. Checking both of these boxes ensures sure that (a) you can keep the spam from showing on your site and (b) you can save yourself some time with your regular commenters.
  7. The rest of the settings are explained on the Codex page above/below.

Once you have all of these settings in place, you might want to read my section on controlling WordPress comment spam.