Blog

A Word on Comments and Following

Since I have several new followers, I thought it might be helpful to share how I approach comments and following new blogs.  If other established bloggers have other ideas, I invite you to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

First of all, initially, no comments are posted until I have approved at least one comment from that person. For me, it requires several steps before that happens.

  1. First, I read the comment. Does it make sense in response to the post? If it seems way out in left field, the comment will be deleted.
  2. If the comment makes sense, I then check the website and Gravatar (Globally Recognized Avatar) associated with the user.
  3. If the Gravatar seems authentic (meaning there is a photograph of some sort and a profile or links to a blog or website), then I check the blog or the website. If either is obviously fake (no about, no content, only an aggregator, default WordPress pages and posts), then the comment will likely be deleted. EXCEPTION: I do realize I have followers that do not have blogs or websites, but I generally know them or can tell if the email address is valid.
  4. Once the first comment is approved, further comments will be approved automatically.

What I will do:

  1. Read all comments.
  2. Respond to comments. Some comments that are simple like a smiley face, I may just ‘Like’.
  3. Block commenters, URL’s, and spammers in a heartbeat.
  4. Check out your website or blog. If I find what you write interesting or compelling, I may follow you.

What I will NOT do:

  1. Follow your blog just because you ask me to.
  2. Tolerate any disrespectful comments to me or any of my followers.
  3. Allow spam comments or comments or referrals to spammy websites.
  4. Leave a comment asking any other blogger to follow me.

My advice to new bloggers is to write authentically. If you love animals, write about animals. If you love photography, share your photos and how you approach photography. If you are a mom struggling with life in the pandemic, write about that. If you are a writer, share some of your work. If you love music, share it and tell the world why you love it. Just be yourself. Authenticity comes through in your writing. Engage with bloggers you follow. Leave comments and when the blogger responds, acknowledge them.

This blogging community is a generous one. If you have questions for a blogger you like, ask the question.

Note: If you do not have a Gravatar or understand what they are, start here:  How to Sign Up for an Account

Blog

Managing WordPress Comments

Well, folks, it finally happened. I received my first WordPress comment looking for a wife. It happens to all of us eventually. Bizarre comments from some spam-like email or website. This comment ended up in my “pending” queue thankfully.

It is rare that I see these types of comments, so I thought I would explain a little about how I manage comments on my blog.

WordPress Settings

New bloggers may not understand how to modify the settings that impact their blogs so let us walk through it. The comment settings are contained in Settings/Discussions. I am sharing screen prints of my current settings. Most are self-explanatory.

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The first three settings are the default settings for all your posts. These may be overridden when you compose your posts in most themes.

The second section, Comments, are the guidelines for processing comments left on your blog. I recommend requiring users to use their name and e-mail address. This helps weed out spam and determine if the comments are valid. The e-mail address is not shown on the comment, but is available to you.

I find with the other parameters, you will tweak them as your blog grows based on your personal preference. For example, I used to turn off comments on blogs older than 14 days. But with the search capability on the WordPress reader and the ability for search engines to unearth old blogs, I wanted the ability for people to comment on those blogs.

3D2D65C7-A523-435E-AD44-970BB0C52324.jpegThe next section controls how you choose to handle the comments people leave BEFORE they get posted to your blog post. I do not choose to manually approve every blog post. To me, that is time consuming. Instead, I opt to require a comment author be approved by me once, before their comments can appear without approval.

You do have the ability to hold comments in queue if they contain links. Links are generally used by spammers. I have found that by requiring an approved comment first, this has not been a problem for me. Often times, bloggers I value will leave links to an interesting article or to one of their posts that might be related to what I have written. I would not want to hold those comments back.

The next section is one I use frequently. I scan comments for keywords I know are suspect. There are two keyword lists.

The first holds comments in moderation so you have the opportunity to either approve or disapprove them. The second list is a blacklist. I create this list based on experience and prior comments I have received. Comments in this group will automatically be sent to trash — but even those comments remain until you delete them.

It is important to review your comment queues frequently. WordPress is not without glitches from time to time. I have found important and valued comments in the trash before for no apparent reason. Never fear, though, you can still approve comments that have been placed in the trash.

Now, one of my frustrations with WordPress, especially for new users, is the abbreviated menus and settings displayed unless you login using WP-Admin. There are additional controls there.

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This is where you will find settings for follows, comment box displays, Askimet (spam filter) settings and Avatars. I use the strict filters of Askimet but that is your choice to decide what works for you.

I want to leave you with one last thought although not about comments necessarily. When you review your followers, do not hesitate to delete followers whom you may find offensive or otherwise annoying. This is your blog, your rules.