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Beginner’s Guide on How to Moderate Comments in WordPress

Do you want moderate comments on your WordPress site but don’t know where to get started?

WordPress comes with a built-in comment system that allows for community interaction around your content.

In this beginner’s guide, we will show you how to moderate comments in WordPress, deal with comment spam, and everything related to comments.

How to Moderate Comments in WordPress

What Are Comments in WordPress?

Comments allow your website visitors to communicate with you and other readers. They can add their input on a specific article that you had written, ask questions, and provide feedback.

On most WordPress sites, anyone with a valid name and email can leave a comment without verifying their identity.

By default, comments are turned on. There will be a comment form displayed at the bottom of any blog post or page, though it may look different or not appear depending on the WordPress theme you’re using.

Comment form in WordPress

Once someone submits a comment, they will see a preview of their comment and a message saying that the comment is awaiting moderation.

Before the comment appears for other visitors, it will be held for moderation for you to approve or delete. This allows you to control what appears on your website.

Comment moderation message

That said, let’s look at how you can moderate comments on your website.

Moderating Comments in WordPress

You can see all comments on your WordPress website by clicking on the ‘Comments’ menu in the WordPress dashboard.

Comments section in WordPress

On the comments page, you will see 5 different tabs, including all comments, mine, pending, approved, spam and trash. Comments that need your approval will appear under the Pending tab.

To approve a comment, take your mouse over to the comment, and you will see action links appear below it. Click on the ‘Approve’ button to make a comment publicly visible on your website.

You can also reply to a comment by clicking on the reply link. Replying to comment automatically approves the comment as well.

If you see a comment that looks or feels spammy, then you can mark it as Spam. You’re probably wondering, what does a spam comment look like?

Well, there are a few different indicators that you can use to tell if a comment is a spam:

  • Comments with a bunch of links, keywords, and strange characters – This is the most obvious type of spam comment. They could also contain inappropriate content in the comment.
  • Comment with a Fake Name – If you see a comment that’s being left by a person named “Best Mortgage Rates” or “Cheap Printer Ink”, then you can clearly tell it’s a marketer trying to spam your site for a backlink.
  • Generic Comments – Often spammers rely on generic comments to bypass your spam filter. These generic comments are “Thank You”, “Really Nice Article”, or insert the title of your post and make a generic statement (example: I agree beginners guide to comment moderation is essential).

Filter Spam Comments using Akismet

To filter spam comments from your WordPress website, you can use Akismet. It’s a spam filtering WordPress plugin and is developed by Automattic.

Once you mark a comment as spam, Akismet will learn to catch similar comments in the future.

Edit Akismet settings

For more details, you check out our guide on what is Akismet and why you should use it.

All comments marked as spam will appear under the spam tab. You will not need to visit this tab that often. However, if a user complains that their comments are not appearing on your website, then this is the first place you should look.

If you find a comment that is wrongly caught by Akismet as spam, then simply click on the ‘Not Spam’ link to move it from spam to pending.

Click not spam button

You can also click on the ‘Empty Spam’ button to delete all spam comments at once. Even if you don’t, spam comments will be automatically deleted by WordPress after 15 days.

Remember that deleting thousands of spam comments at once can slow down your site a bit. If you are trying to delete thousands of spam comments, then you can perform a bulk action. You can check out our guide on how to quickly batch delete spam comments in WordPress.

If for some reason you accidentally got hundreds of spam comments appearing in the ‘Pending’ tab, then simply click on the ‘Check for spam’ button.

This will trigger a spam check on existing comments on your website, and Akismet will move spam comments from Pending to Spam.

Check for spam button

If you want to remove a comment without marking it as spam, then simply click on the ‘Trash’ link below the comment.

Comments deleted by you will be sent to the trash and will live there for the next 30 days. After this time, WordPress will automatically delete them forever.

If you accidentally deleted a comment, then simply visit the trash tab and click on the ‘Restore’ link below the comment.

Restore comment from trash

The comment moderation area shows comments for all posts and pages. However, you can individually view the comments left on a particular post by either visiting that post on your site or through your admin area.

Turn Comments On/Off for Specific Posts in WordPress

There are some times when you don’t want comments to be enabled on certain posts. WordPress allows you to turn comments off for single posts or pages.

Simply edit a post and on the WordPress editor screen, open the ‘Discussion’ box from the settings menu on your right. Next, you can uncheck the box for the ‘Allow comments’ option.

Allow comments in discussion box

You can also go to Posts » All Posts from your WordPress dashboard and click the ‘Quick Edit’ button for any blog post. After that, simply uncheck the ‘Allow Comments’ option.

Allow comments in WordPress

Allow Blog Users to Moderate Comments in WordPress

If you have lots of articles and get many comments every day, then it can be a challenge to moderate all the WordPress comments.

A simple solution to this issue is having a dedicated comment moderator on your website. You can assign a separate comment moderator role to a user that’s an active commenter on your site or a member of your customer support team.

WordPress doesn’t offer a user role that’s dedicated to moderation comments. However, you can use the Comment Moderation Role plugin.

The plugin is created by our team at WPBeginner, and it allows you to give users access to only see the comment moderation screen in WordPress. You can assign the role to existing and new users.

Change user role to comment moderator

For more details, please see our guide on how to allow blog users to moderate comments in WordPress.

Comment Settings Configuration

Finally, WordPress allows you to change comment configuration for your entire site.

The comments settings page is located under Settings » Discussion. There are different sections on the discussion settings page, and we will walk you through each option on the page.

Discussion settings

Default post settings

The top section on the discussion settings screen controls the Default post settings.

The first option in this section allows your blog to notify other blogs when you link to them in an article. The second option allows similar notifications from other blogs to be accepted on your site.

These are called pingbacks and trackbacks, and we recommend you to uncheck both these options. The first option can slow down your entire site, and the second option would bring you a lot of spam comments.

The third option on the article settings screen is ‘Allow people to post comments on new posts,’ enabling comments for all new articles you write on your WordPress site. It is important to note that you can turn comments on and off for individual articles like we showed you earlier in this article.

Other comment settings

Under the other comment settings section, you will notice the first option as ‘Comment author must fill out name and email.’ This option makes it mandatory for comment authors to provide a name and email address with their comments.

You need to check this option unless you want to allow anonymous commenting on your website.

Other comment settings

There is also an option to require users to register to your site before leaving a comment however, in our opinion, it’s not necessary for most sites.

You will also see the option for closing comments on older articles. Some website owners use this to prevent spam, but it’s completely a personal preference.

WordPress allows users to reply to comments. Those replies will appear nested under the original comment only if you check the box next to ‘Enable threaded (nested) comments’ and you can specify how deep these nested comments can go.

Having too many levels can distort the readability of comments. The default setting of 5 levels is good enough for most WordPress themes.

If one of your articles becomes popular and starts getting too many comments, then you will notice that the comment section will become too long. Users will have to scroll a lot to read the latest comments on the article.

To address this problem, you can check the option to break comments into pages. By default, this option allows 50 top-level comments, you can increase or decrease this. Choosing this option will also show the last page of comments first.

Another option is to show your most recent comments first.

Email me whenever and Before a comment appears settings

Email me whenever setting

The next section allows you to receive emails whenever a user leaves comments on your site or whenever a comment is held for moderation. This option is only exciting for the first few days of your website. As you get more comments, these emails become annoying, so we recommend turning them off.

Under the ‘Before a comment appear’ section, the first option is to approve each comment manually. Make sure this box is checked so that no comment can appear on your site without your approval.

Below this, you will see the ‘Comment author must have a previously approved comment’ option.

If this option is checked, comments from authors with a previously approved comment will appear without explicit approval. Simply uncheck this option to make sure that all comments are manually approved.

Comment Moderation settings

Comment moderation setting

A very common trait among automated spam comments is that they contain a lot of links. Since you have already set your comments to be manually approved, all your comments will go to the moderation queue regardless of how many links they have.

You will see a larger text area where you can enter words, IP and email addresses, or URLs that you want to watch out for. Any comment matching things you enter here will be sent to the moderation queue.

There is no need for you to enter anything here since you have already set all comments to be manually approved, and they are all going to the moderation queue anyways.

Avatars settings

Avatars settings

The last section on the comments settings screen is for Avatars. These are the images that appear next to the comment author’s name on your website.

WordPress uses Gravatar, which is a free service that allows users to have the same avatar on all the blogs they visit (see our guide on what is Gravatar).

WordPress uses Mystery Person as the default gravatar when a comment author doesn’t have a Gravatar image associated with their email address. You can change this by selecting a default avatar from the list or even add your own custom default gravatar in WordPress.

That’s all! You have configured your comment settings. Don’t forget to click on the Save Changes button to store your settings.

We hope this article helped you learn how to moderate comments in WordPress. You may also want to check out our guide on how to start an online store and best WooCommerce plugins.

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Reader Interactions

47 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Great tutorial. What do I do if I approve spam comment accidentally and don’t find it on my notification history?

  2. In the article you say “By default, WordPress shows the newest comment at the bottom. You can reverse this to show older comments at the top.”. These are the same thing. I think you mean “You can reverse this to show newer comments at the top.”.

  3. I’m on my school’s WP blogging platform. Under my profile, the Personal tab shows me all my posts and approved comments I’ve made on other users’ posts, but apparently not comments I’ve made on others’ posts that they have not yet approved. Is there a way of finding/viewing my unapproved comments?

    • It would depend on how the system is set up but normally the admin of the site would have access to the pending comments and not the comment creator.

      Admin

  4. On the post editor screen I scroll down to the bottom, and there I see the 10 last comments made for the post. That’s ok. But then when I click “More comments…”, the system keeps repeating these 10 last comments instead of loading the next 10. Is that a known bug? Or something that only happens in my configuration?

    • That sounds like you’re running into a theme or plugin conflict for your specific site.

      Admin

  5. When I receive an email notification that a comment is waiting for moderations, I have the following options with links:

    Approve It: link
    Trash It: link
    Spam It: link

    However, when I click approve, it makes me sign into the website, and then it shows me the comment and makes me click approve again.

    Is this how it is supposed to work? Can I simply click the Approve It link in the email and then the comment will be approved?

    • The links should normally send you to your site but if your cookies have you as logged in, it should approve the comment as you visit the page.

      Admin

  6. People must write a comment if they want to be notified of future posts. Yet some want to be notified but don’t want to comment of have their comments published. If I don’t approve their comment does that mean they won’t be notified? Is there a way for people to receive email notifications of future posts without commenting?

  7. I cannot figure out how to have my name show up instead of “Admin” whenever I reply to a comment on my site. I have the article set with me as the author and not admin, but I have to manually go and edit the comment every time to fix it.

  8. Here I’m deep into creating content, and I skipped over learning about how comments work. I learned today that I can reply to commenters from inside WordPress. Thanks for that.

  9. I have a real person trying to comment on my blog post, but my website is treating them like a bot. How can I fix this problem?

  10. Hi,

    Nice article. I’ve one question

    Should I approve the comments on my blog which are not related to my blog niche?

  11. Hello,

    Hoping to get some help with a problem I’ve encountered on my WordPress site.

    When I try to respond to an approved comment, it won’t let me respond, and the following message appears:

    You Lose! Good Day Sir!

    I don’t know what the problem is. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    • Hey Kevin,

      This error appears when you are falsely identified as a spam bot. Try disabling all your plugins and then reply to a comment. If it works then activate each plugin and reply to a comment. Do this until you find the culprit.

      Admin

  12. We are helping support a school website where there is one specific member login for all parents to use. When they leave a blog comment it is defaulting to the member login name and is not giving an option to identify the commenter. Is there a way to link the comments to a specific person even using a generic login for all all users when they are logged in? Hope that makes sense….

  13. I want comments to appear automatically, and so I’ve unchecked the box “comment must be manually approved”. However, I keep getting notified everyone leaves a comment and have to manually approve it. How do I get it to appear without my approval?

    • Hi Mike,

      You probably have checked another option ‘Comment author must have a previously approved comment’. Go to Settings > Discussion page in admin area to uncheck this option.

      Admin

      • That box (author must have a previously approved comment) is also unchecked. Are there any other places that setting might live / other boxes I haven’t found? Could my theme also have checkboxes I need to take care of?

        (if all else fails, I’ll check the box “author must have a previously approved comment” so at the very least, once someone’s approved they can post other ones later).

        • Same issue for me. I’ve unchecked the moderation and previously approved comment boxes. Still requires me to approve. I’m guessing it’s a plugin but I cannot figure out which one.

  14. I have a blog website. And i am getting comments in other languages. What to do? should i approve or not?

  15. I recently started a website and I am getting comments, which is supposed to be a good thing. But all of them are being blocked as spam comment by Akismet. I don’t know what to do. Any feedback will be helpful

    • Hi Shahrukh,

      Are you sure that those comments are not spam? Akismet is very good at detecting spam comments. However, if you are certain that those comments are not spam, then you can mark them not spam. Akismet learns when you mark a comment as not spam.

      Admin

  16. I am in the process of making my website. I have not launched it yet but I have already received some spam comments in another language. How can this be if I have not launched my website yet? Should I be worried? I can’t seem to find any information on this situation. Please Help

  17. What do I do if I approve spam comment accidentally and don’t find it on my notification history?

  18. I got two sites and I have been struggling with spam.

    That´s why I am thinking about canceling comments… but I know comments also have good impact.

    I really apreciate your tips… have a great day!

  19. This is a great article. I’m setting up a website now, and am in the process of linking my blogs to Facebook so they automatically post from the website to Facebook. My question is, if in the process of linking to Facebook I check the box “Make this connection available to all users of this blog” (meaning when another user creates a post it will also publicize to the Facebook page), do I still have control over which comments get posted to Facebook?

    I’m thinking that if I check the box, comments someone leaves on the blog will get posted on Facebook Is this correct?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

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