WordPress makes it very easy for your readers to leave a reply to any content that you publish on your blog. However, in order to make the commenting system more efficient to manage, and also make it more inviting for users, there are a number of plugins you can install.
Some of these plugins are designed to simplify the job of the admin when it comes to moderating and approving comments. Others are designed to make commenting a more attractive prospect for your readers. Hopefully, by choosing the right plugins for your site, you can increase the number of comments that are left on your blog.
Disqus Comment System for WordPress
This service replaces the default WordPress comment interface with one hosted by Disqus. It brings advanced commenting functionality to your site including threaded comments and their replies, the ability to reply by email and subscriptions options to name but a few.
This free plugin is a good alternative to Disqus. The plugin adds tabs to the comment area which allows users to comment using their profiles on other sites including Facebook, Google+ and Disqus. It’s a solid plugin that should increase the exposure of your site on the popular social networks.
But is separating the comments according to the social network a reader has chosen conducive to encouraging discussion? While this plugin looks good, this approach might not be the best one to take for your site.
Subscribe to Comments
This simple plugin allows users to subscribe to the comments on a blog post, so that they get a notification when a new comment is published. This is great for fostering discussion as it’s all too easy for a reader to leave a comment and then never come back to respond to any replies that are left.
Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
This is a very simple yet effective plugin that helps reduce the amount of comment spam your blog receives. While Akismet is an essential tool in the fight against comment spam, this plugin aims to prevent automated spam comments from being left in the first place.
The GASP plugin simply adds a check box to the comment form on your site that users have to click to show that they are ‘human’. The comment will only be accepted if the box is checked. This should be enough to prevent automated tools from leaving their ‘comments’ on your site.
The free version of this plugin allows those who comment on your blog to display a link to their blog beneath the comment they leave on your site. This means commenters are rewarded with a link back to their blog, which should hopefully increase the number of visitors to their site.
You will probably have seen this plugin in action. When leaving a comment on a blog with this tool enabled, the plugin will scan your site and give you a list of your recent posts to choose from. A link to the post you choose will be published after the comment, usually prefixed with some text such as ‘Joe recently posted…’.
The premium version, CommentLuv Pro, includes advanced spam protection features, click stats and many more great features.
Thank Me Later
This is a genius free plugin to enhance the WordPress commenting feature. With Thank Me Later installed on your site, you can automatically send the people who leave a comment on your blog an email to thank them. The great part about this plugin is that you can set the interval between when the comment was left and when the thank you email is sent.
This means you can use this plugin to bring users back to your site or interact with them in some other way. You could include a link to your social media profiles at sites like Twitter and Facebook in your email to encourage them to follow you. Alternatively you could attempt to start a conversation with them by asking them if they have any questions about your site and the services you provide.
You can even write email templates for the specific categories, tags or posts on your site to make the emails even more targeted and personal.
WP Ajax Edit Comments
Ever left a comment then wanted to edit it shortly after? If you’ve spotted a typo or said something you shouldn’t have, then you will’ve wished this plugin was installed on that site. By installing this plugin, your readers can edit their comments for a limited time after they’ve submitted them.
Others features include allowing the admin to move comments, blacklist them and edit details about the comment as well as quickly remove links left in comments. This is a simple free plugin but it is one that does help you improve the WordPress commenting system.
WP No External Links
This is another free and easy plugin for working with comments in WordPress. The plugin can be set to remove links for comments that are left by your readers. Often comments will be left on a post that aren’t spam, but do include a non-relevant link. With this plugin links left in comments will be removed. This means you still get the benefit of a comment left on your site, but without the cost of providing free advertising space to other sites.
Greg’s Comment Length Limiter
This free and popular plugin doesn’t offer much surprises and does what its name suggests. By activating this plugin you can set a character limit for your comment field to prevent readers leaving lengthy comments on your posts. The plugin can display a character counter to allow those leaving a comment to plan their reply.
Twitter Mentions as Comments
This plugin monitors Twitter for mentions of your site and then posts those Tweets to your comment section. The plugin fetches the Twitter user’s name and photo and uses them in the comment left on your site. You can blacklist Twitter accounts that you don’t want publish comments from. This is a good way to avoid publishing the tweets you make for your posts as comments on your site.
One of the great things about WordPress and the blogging format is that it makes it very easy for your readers to join the discussion and interact with your content. While the WordPress commenting system does the job, like most aspects of the platform, it can be enhanced greatly with the third party plugins that have been created.
With so many comment enhancement plugins for WordPress, it can be easy to go overboard and install them all. For best results however, it’s a better idea to carefully select a few that will help you meet the goals for your site, rather than installing all of the options that look interesting.