Some bloggers moderate comments before posting them. Others (like me) don’t, but manage inappropriate comments once they’ve been posted (and sometimes get accused of censorship because of it). So let’s let’s chat about it!
How to moderate
In “My Sites”, go to “Settings”, then click the “Discussion” tab. Scroll down to “Before a comment appears.” You can then select “Comment must be manually approved.” The other option that’s listed is to moderate comments left by commenters that you haven’t already approved comments from.
Turn off comments on a specific post
If you’re posting something and for whatever reason you don’t feel like you can deal with people’s comments, you can turn off comments for that specific post. Within the editor, go to your post settings, scroll down to the discussion section at the bottom, and uncheck “Allow comments.”
“Censorship” and deleting/spam-flagging comments
Some people will argue that the internet is public territory, and their freedom of speech means that they should be able to comment whatever they want, wherever they want. I call BS. For one, freedom of speech prevents government from restricting speech and doesn’t apply to people’s websites, but also, your blog is like your property. You get to control who’s allowed on it, and what behaviours are allowed. Just because your house has a lawn doesn’t mean people are free to pee in it. If someone feels the need to figuratively pee on your blog, you can and should feel perfectly free to oust them.
How can you do that? When people leave self-promotional comments with links, I mark those as spam, because that’s spammy behaviour. For other problematic comments, I just delete them.
You can also edit comments people have left, but I think that’s kind of creepy. I would rather just delete a comment if I have an issue with it. The only time I’ll edit a comment is to remove a link.
WordPress allows you to blacklist commenters so their comments go straight into your trash. This is useful because it can make it a lot easier to go through your spam folder to find legit comments.
Blacklisting is done under My Sites > Settings > Discussion. You can use someone’s username, email address, URL, or IP address. Be careful, though, because if, you blacklist “press”, for example, then anyone commenting from a wordpress.com address is going straight to trash.
Have a look at some of what’s ended up in your spam folder. Ignore the names associated with the comments; those change each time. Instead, look at the URL. The exact URL will vary, but you’ll probably notice a lot of common domains. I get a ton of comments from various extraproxies.com addresses. I’ve blacklisted extraproxies, so those are no longer clogging up my spam folder.
What do you choose?
I’ve never contemplated moderating. Dealing with unwanted comments after they’ve been published works fine for me, so I don’t see moderation as something that would be beneficial for me. I spend a lot of time on WordPress, so even if someone left a really awful comment, I’d catch it pretty quick. I can think of two occasions when I deliberately disabled comments on that day’s post, and moderation wouldn’t have changed that decision.
When it comes to moderation, I can think of a couple of potential downsides. One is that it creates more work for you, which may or may not be much of an issue. The other is that if it takes you a while to get around to moderating, you could be missing out on the dialogue between commenters that sometimes occurs on posts, since commenters can’t see other people’s comments until you’ve approved them.
A potential upside is that moderating may feel more comfortable deleting a comment that had already appeared. It’s also a potentially useful tool if someone has been harassing you and you’re not able to stay on top of it by blacklisting.
There is no right or wrong approach; you should do what works best for your blog. Have you made deliberate choices around managing comments? What influenced those choices?