Lessons I Learned Moderating Comments in WordPress

In the past 4-5 weeks, I’ve moderated every comment submitted to WP Tavern. Not only was it an experiment to see what would happen but a new way for me to use WordPress. The experiment introduced me to several drawbacks in WordPress’ comment moderation system.

Lack of Context

Comments that are pending moderation in the WordPress backend that are in response to another comment are hard to moderate. Take the following screenshot for example. This comment is in response to a comment submitted by Norcross. Unless I open Norcross’ comment in a new browser tab or window, I have no idea what the context of the conversation is. Pending notifications in the WordPress mobile app also don’t show text from the parent comment.

WordPress 4.3 Comment Content Area
WordPress 4.3 Comment Content Area

I propose that WordPress core adds the text from parent comments to replies in the backend so I know what people are responding too. This also helps when replying to comments from the backend as I’ll know the context of the conversation.

Lack of Notifications That a Comment in Moderation is Approved

WordPress does not send an email notification when a comment is approved from moderation. However, there are a lot of people working to add this feature to WordPress 4.4.

A Whitelisting System for Anonymous Comments

The biggest drawback to comment moderation is that not every comment needs to be moderated. A whitelisting system can lessen the burden of having to moderate each comment.

WordPress provides the ability to blacklist comments. You can also configure a set of parameters to determine when a comment goes into the moderation queue such as, number of links, content within the comment, and if the comment author has a previously approved comment. None of these configurations are useful if WordPress is configured to send every comment to moderation.

WP Tavern does not have open registration and allows comments from anonymous people. This makes whitelisting difficult since the IP address, name, URL, and email address of a commenter can easily change or be imitated. The whitelisting component of WordPress becomes more useful if you can tie it to a registered user account.

I’m unsure if WordPress can improve this area of the moderation system or if it’s an assumed risk administrators take when accepting anonymous comments.

A Major Time Suck

Moderating every comment is a pain and sucks up time that can be spent doing something else. During my vacation last week, I continued to moderate comments from the WordPress mobile app because if I didn’t, the conversation stopped. I’ve concluded that by accepting anonymous comments, there needs to be a way for the audience to help moderate instead of doing it on my own.

In a future post, I’m going to list a few WordPress plugins I’ve discovered that takes the commenting system to the next level. Many of the plugins solve one or most of the problems listed above.

WordPress Tavern

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