We spend enough time on the blog content and then tend to forget about the comments part. Comments are the way to get people involved – build up a blog’s readership etc etc. A few, sensible, comments trickling in will freshen up a page’s content and make it not seem completely dead in the water to passing search engine crawlers…
And the good news, there’s plenty of comment-related plugins available to get the job done.
First up, though, before anything else – make sure your WP theme and wordpress version are capable of handling threaded- (definitely) and paged- (probably) comments.
Added Value for Comments
By default, WordPress slaps a nofollow attribute on any comment author’s web site link displayed – if you’re not sure what nofollow is, more info here. DoFollow removes this attribute from web site links in comments so search engines can follow them – offering an incentive for people to leave a sensible, or otherwise, comment as they pass by. Which is clearly going to attract spammers as well – always use together with comment moderation.
An elaboration of the first – more incentives to leave a comment by displaying info about the commentator’s site, with links, such as a selection of their latest blog posts, tweets or diggs.
Subscribe to Comments
Enables commentators to sign up for email notification of subsequent comments – so they can keep in the flow of the discussion.
One operating annoyance with this setup – not the fault of the plugin – involves the dicks who comment using an email address they’ve slapped a spam authentication filter on – so that the poor old WP webmaster gets an email demand for authentication for every subsequent comment until they get round to deleting the offender – a little knowledge being a dangerous thing etc.
Displays, as an alternative to Automattic’s gravatar, the comentator’s Twitter avatar – if existent…
GD Star Rating
Does depend on the context of your blog, as to whether a comments rating system has value – might be overkill for the average blog…
Adds a checkbox to the comment form for users who don’t have a Gravatar, giving the option to then go on and sign up for one. Prevents the march of grey men down blog comments…
Easy Comment Uploads
Allows a commentator to upload images or other files, togehter with adding their comment – with lightbox display for all added images. It’s obviously wise to be conservative about which file-types you let visitors upload – especially for non-image types.
Ajax Comment Preview
Runs the comment text through the WordPress filters to show a preview – can be useful if commentators are likely to be adding code snippets etc.
Not “comments” plugins as such, but… There are lots of ways of displaying and defining “Popular Posts” – simplest is to go for the posts with the most comments, for example:-
Most Commented Widget
Adds a sidebar widget displaying an ordered list of the posts/pages with the most comments – shows where the action is.
Top Commentators Widget
Appeal to their vanity… and gain spammers.
Anti-Spam Comment Plugins
There’s always Akismet, but there’s also:
Attempts to filter out bots by analyzing HTTP requests. Does seem to make a significant difference in server load, monthly bandwidth, for well-established blogs.
Asks commentators to sign in before commenting, using their OpenID.
(Update: doesn’t seem 100% functional at the time of writing…)
One small warning – quite a lot of the plugins offered in the WordPress plugin repository are broken or obsolete, due to the arrival of threaded and paged comments. They (probably) won’t break the whole install if you run them, but don’t be too surprised if they don’t do what they’re supposed to…