Receiving comments on your pages and posts is an efficient way of interacting with your visitors. Comments can increase viewership and build community and loyalty. Meaningful comments add value to the post. Handling comments on your website is not an easy job and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some comments are negative and inappropriate. Many comments are not at all relevant to the subject. Some visitors make comments only to attract a viewership to their own websites. They will include links, trackbacks and website URLs in the comments space and divert traffic away from your website and to their own. Besides, for big websites with wide readership, moderating comments can become a full-time job. Many websites are beginning to close down the comments section due to spam and the time commitment to keep up with moderation. Popular Science was one of the first websites to shut down comments from readers. Since early 2014, many newspapers have stopped accepting comments on their sites. The following sites have all closed their comments sections:
These websites have instead shifted the discussion to social media channels. The links for commenting on social channels and the author details are placed prominently on the website so that readers are encouraged to enter into discussion on the social channels. Most readers were already into commenting on social media anyway. And websites see social media as the arena where all discussion will take place in the future. Social media has the advantage of being self regulatory. Removing comments from websites and starting the conversation on social channels has the advantage of keeping controversy off of the website and allowing it to take place on an offsite forum. Legal issues related to content in comment can also be overcome this way. And with Facebook, Twitter and other forums serving as a platform for discussion, shifting to these forums is a neat way of handling comments.
How to Stop Comments From The Settings Page
Now, you can totally switch off comments on your website by simply checking options on the Settings page. Or you can bring down the number of comments, filter them and retain only relevant comments. There are various methods by which you can do this. Most of them can be accomplished by simply going to the Settings > Discussion page and checking or unchecking boxes. From the Discussions Page you can regulate comments by:
- Not checking the box for enabling comments: This will stop comments completely.
- Unchecking the box for allowing trackbacks and pingbacks: This will stop link notifications from other blogs.
- Requiring the user to register: You could make it so that users will have to register to be able to comment. Now, this will not really stop the comments from coming in, but it will deter many users. It can bring down the volume of comments and potentially weed out spam.
- Approving or moderating comments: This will hold comments in the queue until they are approved to be published. If this option is checked, you get to look at bots and trash them before they appear on your post. Also, spammers who bypass all other barriers can be caught in the moderation queue.
- IP addresses or usernames, email or URL can be blacklisted: Any visitor who has a partial match to the list will also be blocked.
- Approving comment authors: Comment authors can be approved, so that their subsequent comments are allowed easily. This cuts down the time you spend moderating comments.
- Close comments on older articles: You could close comments on older articles. This can be done by checking the box and filling in the number of days after which comments will be stopped. Most spammers target older posts, and closing comments after some time will cut down on unwanted comments.
- Limiting Links: You can also limit the number of links that can accompany a comment. Spammers typically like to leave as many links as they can, and this may clamp them down a bit.
- Track comments: Another step to reducing comments is to keep track of them. You can choose to be notified of comments by email. Once you do this, you need not keep checking the backend for comments. This will help to keep the comments on your radar, and you can act on them swiftly.
- A bit of code: A known malicious IP address can be blocked by adding a few lines of code to .htaccess. The code to accomplish the same is given below,
<Limit GET POST>
deny from xx.xxx.xxx.xxx
allow from all
Replace the ‘xx.xxx.xxx.xxx’ with the actual IP address, and you can add as many as you want. But take care, before you alter anything in this file. A small error can deny you access to your website. So only those users confident of handling code should attempt this, and that too after taking a backup of the file.
Third Party Solutions
Another alternative is to use Third Party Systems like Disqus and Livefyre. This can slow down your WordPress a bit, and genuine comment authors may not want to register with third parties. Small websites need not look at this option. It will be useful for bigger websites which receive a load of spam.
A third option to stop or control comments is to use plugins. There are many plugins that can control comments effectively and a few are discussed here.
Disable Comments is the plugin that will help you if you do not want any comments at all on your website. With a single click, it can disable comments for the entire website, including multisites. If you wish, you can also disable comments according to post type. You can also set it that the no comment setting can be overridden for any individual posts. All comments related elements can be removed from the Dashboard, widgets and Admin menu. It is best to use this plugin only if you want to totally do away with comments on your network.
WP Bruiser was earlier called Goodbye captcha as it does away with the need to stare hard at unreadable letters and figures. It works efficiently in the background to completely do away with all spam. It catches them even before they enter your system. So there is no demand on your server resources and your website is not slowed down. All your login details remain with you, as there is no need to connect to any outside resources.There is no request to external APIs. You can select what you want to protect – forms, comments, sign-up pages, login pages or password pages. It protects against brute force and spam-bots. You can manually whitelist trusted IP addresses, and automatically block malicious ones. The number of characters in the comments field can be limited. Brute force can be detected and blocked automatically. The plugin can be switched to test mode when you want to try out something. Statistics, reports, maps and charts relating to spam can be generated. The plugin is compatible with multisite networks and caching plugins.
Akismet comes preinstalled in WordPress. To activate it, you need to obtain an API key. This is free for personal bloggers, but you will have to pay a small fee for the APl key if you are a business. Akismet scans all comments and filters the ones that appear to be spam. The worst kind of spam is blocked right away. The URLs show up in the body of the comment, so you can catch them easily.
It would be a good idea to try and shift the comments to social media channels. If you want to stop or control comments, at first you should try doing it from the Settings page, without resorting to plugins. Plugins are only a secondary choice and third party solution is apt only if you are a big website that is swamped by comments.