A final bit of follow up to my two posts on comments — comment tools you can use.
There are dozens of plugins you can use to make your comments friendlier. A few of them I was already using. Others I found while doing my research. If you search the WordPress plugin repository you will find almost 800 of them. Let me try to break them down in to a few broad categories.
At it’s most basic, a comment box is nothing but a form to collect some information and to input the body of the comment. If a reader wants to add any formatting to the text that plain text box can make the process a bit difficult. There are quite a few plugins developed to allow commenters to add basic formatting such as bold and italic text, and to make creating linked text easier. The one I use is Comment Form Quick Tags. As you can see in the comment form, adding the proper html code is just a click of a button. Other helpers I use related to editing include Live Comment Preview which allows writers to see what their comment looks like before they hit send, and Editable Comments which allows those leaving a comment to go back and edit it for a predetermined period of time.
Control and Analysis
You want to be able to exert some sort of control over the comments, mostly to combat spam. Spam comments are the bane of most bloggers. There are innumerable plugins that deal with just that. Akismet and Spam Karma are two popular and wildly recognized ones. I also use one called Comment Timeout that allows you to close the comments automatically after a configurable length of time. Believe me, a lot of spam comments come in on post I wrote months or years earlier. One feature I like in Comment Timeout is the ability to keep comments open on posts that contain recently approved comments, keeping popular, active posts alive. You may also want to analyze the comments you get. There’s a plugin for that as well. I use Comment Analysis because I like the many pieces of information you can find, and even include in a sidebar widget. If you look in my sidebar you will see most of the things you can track, like the number of comments, the latest and most commented posts, and the busiest commenters. Used correctly, this also gives a little link love to those who take the time to leave comments. One tool I discovered while researching my post is one called CommentLuv. If your commenter has a blog with an RSS feed, CommentLuv will attempt to discover their most recent post and append it to their comment.
I like it when I have the opportunity to be informed when someone replies to a comment that I’ve left somewhere. Subscribe To Comments makes that easy. The comment writer just has to leave a valid email address and check a box to be able to receive notice when someone else has added to the thread.
My question to all of you is, what plugins do you use to enhance your readers commenting experience? I am always looking for new things to try.