Comment-ModerationIt is important to understand how comment moderation works in WordPress. Why is comment moderation necessary and why does WordPress enable you to hold certain comments for moderation on your blog?

I Am Very Busy. Why Do I Need To Moderate Comments?

Most Internet users who read, publish and participate in the world of blogging believe that comments are a vital element of blogging. Blog comments allow a virtual community to form around a blog post – readers can voice their opinions and suggestions, offer corrections and legitimate criticism of the content and engage in debates with other readers.

Beware of Spam

While blog comments are important, it is also very important to understand that there are many individuals and organizations that will deliberately abuse the privilege to post comments to your blog. There are automated programs that scan the Web for blogs in order to post automated spam comments, abusing your blog and your readers by encouraging them to click on a nefarious and often dangerous link. There are also individuals who will post abusive comments, personal attacks, and even inflammatory or libelous content to your blog. These individuals will often target a blog deliberately and intentionally, but sometimes bloggers and other readers are attacked indiscriminately, often for anarchistic and antisocial reasons.

A Balancing Act

So what should a business blogger do about blog comments? All blogging software enables the administrator to disable comments completely, but many blog readers react negatively to the deliberate exclusion of their commentary and participation and will often abandon the blog as a result of this action. The inverse is often equally damaging – many readers will quickly abandon any online forum that is poorly moderated and seemingly condones abusive behavior and spamming. It is important to strike a balance – a blogger should moderate comments in a way that encourages the free flow of constructive commentary and debate while at the same time eliminating and discouraging abusive behavior.

How Do I Moderate Comments In WordPress?

WordPress developers chose to approach comment moderation by encouraging administrators and editors to err on the side of caution. While other blogging platforms often enable strict blacklist filters that automatically block many questionable keywords and domains, WordPress encourages comment moderation, rather than comment blocking – although the ability to blacklist comments by keyword exists as an optional feature. They believe it is more important to review questionable comments rather than block them outright, sight unseen.

You Can Review Every Comment

WordPress allows a blog administrator or editor to moderate every comment for moderation. This is useful for blogs that may attract a higher number of spam or abusive comments. This often includes blogs that specialize in controversial content such as political commentary, mature or sexually-explicit content and other forms of controversial speech. This form of moderation may also be useful if you have a disgruntled party that may choose to disparage you or your business or organization online, such as an unscrupulous competitor, an ex-employee or a deeply dissatisfied customer. It is important to remember that this severe form of moderation may be unnecessary for most blogs and could actually damage your reputation with readers – if comment moderation is too slow and inefficient, you could be restraining your readers from engaging in an active and timely conversation or debate.

How Can I Tell What A Suspicious Comment Reads Like?

The second and more nuanced form of comment moderation includes setting specific rules for determining which comments are potentially suspicious and should be held for moderation. One method of setting rules is automatically checking a blog comment for excessive hyperlinks, or links to other websites. This rule set almost universally applies to automated spam, which often includes a large number of suspicious links. The second method includes specifying a set of moderation keys, which can include spam keywords, profanity, IP addresses and specific names or addresses. WordPress also allows administrators and editors to check past comments against this list of keys.

Important Impartial Moderation

Finally, it is important to remind business bloggers the importance of impartial moderation. Most people don’t appreciate negative criticism, but it is crucial to understand how to recognize legitimate criticism and how to react to it in a proactive way on your blog. It is certainly within your rights as a property owner (and your self-hosted blog is your intellectual property) to refuse to allow others to post content to your blog.

At the same time it is important to realize that simply banning negative but legitimate criticism could allow readers to post their criticisms to another forum that is outside of your control and potentially offers no ability to offer a rebuttal. It may be more beneficial to post the comment in full or in part, followed by a personal rebuttal that addresses the criticisms in proactive ways, including offering a mutually-beneficial solution to the aggrieved party. This approach is usually not appropriate for spam or abusive, illegitimate or libelous comments, which should be deleted outright – there are no relevant or appropriate rebuttals to spam messages and abusive or illegitimate readers have already demonstrated they are unwilling to engage in a civil or professional discourse.