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Ultimate Guide To Comment Moderation In WordPress

Ultimate Guide To Comment Moderation in WordPress

Communication is key to forming lasting, meaningful relationships with your visitors. It is also the first step to converting a random visitor into a paying customer. It is also a form of delivering value to a visitor.

The Reciprocity Rule

When you deliver value to someone – be it a non-paying consumer or a customer, you silently (and sometimes unknowingly) engage them in what psychologists refer to as the reciprocity rule. In short, this rule is something that’s embedded in our DNA, which has evolved over thousands of years and plays a significant role in the formation of society as we know it.

Let’s explain the rule with an example.

Imagine this, you’re new to work, and a colleague hands you a Diet Coke. You may or may not have invited such action. If your colleague does this out of the blue, you’re bound to do something in return for him in the near future – the sooner, the better. You would invariably end up bringing him a coffee or something of equal or higher value – even if your colleague didn’t ask for it! Once you do so, the two of you are on equal terms. You feel a weight had been lifted off your chest.


Reciprocity seeks balance

This invisible force of indebtedness is generated due to the basic “give-and-take” nature of human cognitive behaviour, which is termed as the reciprocity rule.

Leveraging Reciprocity in the Digital Space

Why are we talking about the reciprocity rule in a comment moderation guide, you ask? Well, dear reader, it is because this reciprocity rule can be applied to the digital space as well. You can leverage the unbeatable power of this rule to develop lasting customer relationships. In the long run, these customers ultimately turn into product evangelists – giving you priceless word-of-mouth marketing.

Case Study – ColorLib


Consider this example. ColourLib develops WordPress themes and also runs a blog containing useful WordPress tips, tutorials and resources, etc.

Curating original, high quality content is no easy task and it is surely not inexpensive. However, ColorLib invests resources in terms of money, time and effort in order to create and maintain the quality blog content. What do they get gain in return?

Customer loyalty.

This is where the reciprocity rule comes in. The blog’s readers are deriving value out of ColorLib’s blog material. Subconsciously, this is similar to your new work colleague handing you a can of Diet Coke.


When the blog’s reader actually wants to buy a WordPress theme, he will think of ColorLib first. This is what marketers like to call top-of-the-mind presence. The first name that comes to your mind when you need (or want) a particular item, clearly is the winner.

So, if you are a regular subscriber to the ColorLib blog, chances are the reciprocity rule has already been deeply rooted in your mind – all without you even knowing it existed!

Here’s another crucial point that personally resonates with me and I applaud Agairis for this.

Being a theme company, ColorLib does not defer from creating high-quality WordPress theme lists. Traditional marketers would call this suicide! You are listing your competitor’s products in your own business website? Have you lost it, man?

Here lies the subtle difference. Not all design tastes are alike. It is quite possible that a visitor might like a WordPress theme from a different company. But Aigars is determined to deliver true value to his blog’s visitors. This builds enormous community respect and customer loyalty.

Okay enough psychology-cum-marketing lessons for today. Let us dive into the core of the topic.

Communication is Key


Now that you are familiar with one of the fundamental factors of developing lasting customer relationships, it’s time for us to talk about customer communication.

Listening to your customer is a quintessential marketing task.

When it comes to the online community, communication is a highly diversified and takes place is multiple media – like Facebook likes, comments, tweets, direct email, chat, forums, support tickets (helpdesk software), comments and so on.

In the realm of blogging, comments are the primary means of communication. Firstly, getting people to comment in your blog is not an easy task. It requires epic, intriguing content that strikes a chord with the reader’s curiosity and makes him reflect. Once the reader forms an opinion, chances are likely that he will voice it.

All of this is the job of your copy editor. Crafting compelling copy is the mark of a good copywriter. As a comment moderator, your job starts here.

#1 – Reply to All Comments


First of all you need to realize that the key to building lasting customer relationships is good communication. Comments can take various forms. They can be appreciative, inquisitive, negative, derogatory/abusive (in which case you should delete them altogether) and a mix of other emotions.

No matter the case, you need to respond to each comment with due respect. Even if someone leaves a one word comment – like “Thanks!” – make sure you reply to that comment. Your reader has taken time out of his/her schedule to appreciate your work. As a good marketer, it is your job to acknowledge it. Something as simple as – “Thanks for stopping by {name}, glad you liked the article. {Let me know if you need any help with the tutorial.} (Optional)” goes a long, long way.

#2 – Consider WordPress Comment Plugins

The WordPress default comment system is a marvel in its own set of features (we’ll get to that in a moment). But if you want to make it even easier for the user to leave a comment, you might want to use the following free WordPress plugins:

2.1) Jetpack Comments


The Jetpack Comments Module

One of the most popular plugins in WordPress, Jetpack houses a plethora of features – housed as “modules” – under one plugin. Some of them include free CDN, infinite post scrolling, image galleries and site stats.

Of course that’s not what we’re here about (although you’re welcome to try them). We’re interested in Jetpack’s Comments module. Once activated, the default comment form in WordPress gets replaced with the Jetpack’s comment form.

Here are its unique features:

  • Social Login capabilities – visitors can now leave a comment using their social profiles including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and
  • Email Notifications – Commenters can choose to be notified of new comments and/or new posts via email.

By subscribing to new posts, Jetpack Comments functions like a lead generator (i.e. it captures emails). When a commenter wants to be notified of new comments, this tells you that (a) the conversation is going well and (b) you’ve crafted compelling content. (Kudos!)

2.2) Other WordPress Comment Plugins

These are a dime a dozen, therefore I’m just going to list them here. Choose wisely.

Facebook Comments

02 facebook comments

This plugin goes easy on the features, but gets the job done – it simply adds the Facebook comment form in the default WordPress comment area. You can also embed a Facebook comment form in any post/page via the comment form.

Facebook for WordPress

01 facebook

The official Facebook plugin brings a ton of features at your disposal. Other than integrating Facebook comments, the plugin enables you to include the open graph protocol to optimize content for sharing on Facebook and other social media.

01 facebook settings

Plugin’s settings

You can also derive meaningful analytics with Facebook Insights, generate more traffic through the Recommendations Box and many more.

Subscribe to Comments Reloaded

03 subscribe to comments reloaded

Remember how JetPack allows your commenters to subscribe to a post for subsequent comments on the discussion? This plugin also allows you to do the same – only with an added feature of a double opt-in. Double opt-ins are very useful in engaging subscriber commitment – which is another brilliant marketer’s tool.

03 subscribe to comments reloaded settings 2

Plugin’s settings


04 commentluv

CommentLuv has made it to more “must have plugins list” than any other plugin. Back in the day when I started using WordPress, I saw this plugin in everyone’s blog. After each comment, there was a small link to the author’s latest post, which gave a commenter free exposure for his blog.

04 commentluv in action

CommentLuv plugin in action

Other than being a great comment plugin which incorporates social media, CommentLuv (and its premium version “CommentLuv Pro”) is a full-blown traffic and lead generation machine.


05 postmatic

Postmatic is an another awesome WordPress comment plugin which falls under the “lead generation” category. Like its competitors (Jetpack Comments Module, Subscribe to Comments Reloaded) Postmatic lets your commenters subscribe to a post’s comments.

05 postmatic in action

Directly reply to comments from your inbox

However, the plugin’s USP (unique selling point) lies in the fact that it lets your visitors leave follow-up comments directly via email. As a user, if I am engaged in an interesting discussion, it would be super helpful if I could directly leave a comment via my email app. Not to mention it’s simple, streamlined and works on poor data connections!

Popular Widget

06 popular widget

This is a rather simple, yet brilliantly effective WordPress comment plugin. It creates a widget which lists the most popular posts in your blog, which is measured either by the number of views or comments. The time period can be customized, the default being one year.

06 popular widget options

Widget customization options – you can toggle metrics.

WooDiscuz – WooCommerce Comments

07 woodiscuz

If you’re running an eCommerce store using WooCommerce, this plugin might come in handy – it lets your visitors discuss, vote and share your store’s products! WooDiscuz also integrates with several popular membership options such as BuddyPressUltimate Member and Users Ultra.

07 woodiscuz in action
A typical WooCommerce store powered by WooDiscuz

Yoast Comment Hacks

07 yoast comment hacks

Yoast is no stranger to the WordPress ecosystem – their premier plugin WordPress SEO is the de-facto SEO plugin for WordPress! They also have this awesome comment plugin that gives you certain “power tweaks” to your comment system.

07 yoast comment hacks settings

The plugin’s settings

Options available include cleaner comment notification emails, the ability to disallow comments beneath a certain length (a small but highly useful feature!), and settings to redirect first-time commenters to a special thank-you page.

Comments Evolved for WordPress

08 comments evolved for wp

Formerly known as Google+ Comments for WordPress, this plugin adds multiple tabs in your WordPress comment form. Each tab is dedicated to a social network.

08 comments evolved for wp in action

The plugin in action

In the above screenshot you can see 4 tabs for Google+, Facebook, and Disqus. Pretty neat, right?
On a sidenote, you cannot turn off a social network – which is probably a feature the developer could include.

#3 – Third Party Commenting Solutions


The Disqus Commenting System

If you want to avoid the hassle of styling comment forms, figuring out which social networks to offer and comparing the pros and cons of each comment plugins, I’m with you. Allow me to introduce you to the two best third-party commenting solutions for WordPress – Disqus and Livefyre.

These are cloud based solutions and they play nice with WordPress – meaning the comments are always saved (and synchronized) in your WordPress database. As a result, when you deactivate or delete the plugin, the comments are retained.


The Disqus plugin in action

Both these solutions have specialized mechanisms of combating comment spam and allows users to comment using multiple social accounts. You can also choose how you display the comments, latest one first or last, etc.

Users can keep a track of all the comments they’ve made in any site using Disqus comments. This gives a unique identity to the user (even if he uses multiple social accounts).

One downside of using this service is that it takes time to load, which inadvertently impacts the loads time of the page. However, the core element of the comment form is loaded quickly so that the rest of the WordPress theme components are able to load. Meanwhile, the comment form’s core component asynchronously loads the remaining elements and displays the comments.

#4 – Play Around with WordPress’ Default Comment Settings

discussion settings wordpress

WordPress offers a pretty elaborate set of Discussion Settings

Let us cover each item under “Other comment settings”.

  1. Usually it is a good idea to force the comment author to fill out his name and email. That way you can reach him.
  2. If you plan to build a membership site in the long run (or simply want to collect your reader’s email address) you can force them to register to your site. However, this severely impacts ease with which the user can leave a comment. However, if you’re that confident about your content, I say go for it!
  3. You can close comments on old articles. A lot of spam comments are targeted to pages which are old and rank high in multiple search keywords. For example, Copyblogger only allows comments for 7 days on any new article published.
  4. Nested or threaded comments enables visitors to keep track of communication. Using a very high number might end up much cluttered in low-width devices like smartphone and tablet displays.
  5. Breaking comments into pages is usually a good idea as it helps maintain structure and context. It is also known to improve your website SEO according to WPMU. However, Neil Patel’s sites are full of comments, and he chooses to keep them in one page.
  6. Finally this option allows you to sort comments based on date submitted.

#5 – Combating Spam


One of the most undesirable activities is to combat spam. The moment you start gaining traffic, these unwelcome “call-the-cops” guests flood your WordPress database with meaningless unrelated keywords. Thankfully we have a full article that talks about combating WordPress spam.


This WordPress comment management guide is simply a collection of practical advice picked from a couple of places and a few from personal experience. At the risk of sounding repetitive, please ensure that you respond to the people who spend the time and effort to leave a comment in your blog. It’ll do wonders in the long run.

Have an essential tip for the list? Let us know!

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