Managing Settings: Discussion

Learn how to configure the WordPress Discussion Settings to modify visitor access to comments. This walkthrough will allow you to personalize your settings to help reduce spam comments on your site.

This workshop is based on the lesson plan: Settings.

Learning outcomes

  1. Personalize default post settings, other comments settings, comment email notifications, comment moderation, and avatar settings.

Comprehension questions

  1. Where do you enable or disable commenting for posts globally?
  2. What is one way to moderate spam comments from the Discussion Settings?
  3. What is one benefit to allowing nested comment threads?


Other workshops: Managing Comments and Managing Spam on your Website


Are you tired of moderating spam comments on your website? Let’s explore the discussion settings so that you can personalize your site and make comment moderation even easier. I’ll be navigating around my food blog, but feel free to pull up your own site and make changes there as we go.

To start, we’ll hover over Settings on the left navigation bar, and then click on Discussion. The first thing you see here is default post settings. I’m going to check that first option which allows WordPress to notify linked sites if I mentioned them in my posts. I also want to be notified if another blog links to my post, so I’m going to check the second box down also. That allows for notifications of trackbacks or pingbacks.

The third box is pretty important in my opinion. This is where I can enable or disable comments as a whole. I’ll include a link to a workshop in the resources below this video that discusses the pros and cons of enabling comments. But in my case, or for my food blog, I love a good conversation. So I’m going to allow comments by checking this box. Now in my food blog, if I enable comments, you’ll see them right below the post. And if I disable comments, you’ll see that there’s no place to leave one. You can also make these changes on a post by post basis. Just scroll down to the discussion meta box and enable or disable comments right from there.

Other comments settings determine how WordPress will handle comments when they’re posted. The first option requires each commenter to leave a name and email address with each comment. The second option requires that commenter to be logged in. The benefit of checking these boxes is that you’re adding in some extra friction when someone leaves a comment, but the limitation is that you might actually turn away some visitors from commenting. For my food blog, I’m going to check the first box but also let unregistered visitors comment too. Since I don’t receive an unmanageable number of comments on my blog, I’m not going to check that third box which would turn comments off after a certain number of days. However, if moderating comments is too time consuming for your site, you can encourage that conversation only for a specific number of days. And if you have a popular topic, you can always just turn comments back on in the post like we saw before.

The fourth option gives the Comment author the option to opt in for cookies. I’m a big fan of transparency. So I’m going to check that fourth box. You can see here what it looks like on the commenter side. The next option allows other commenters to respond to a visitor. I love this idea because it allows your visitors to have a conversation with each other. The default is a nest of five comments deep. When I activate this feature, now on my food blog different visitors can continue the conversation and reply to each other. You can change that number to be less or more depending on if you think it’ll help with moderation or add to the conversation. And if you have a ton of comments on a post, you can use these options to moderate how many show up at a time and the order.

If we move on to email me whenever you’ll see you have two options: to get an email notification if someone posts a comment and to get an email notification if a comment is held for moderation. Feel free to check either one of those if you would like to be notified via email.

Next, you’ll see before a comment appears. This allows you to moderate or approve comments before they even appear on your website. You can also choose to automatically approve comments from authors who you’ve already previously approved. To help reduce spam comments, and since I don’t receive a ton to begin with, I’m going to choose to manually approve my comments. I can always change this if it becomes too time consuming or delays the conversation in the comments.

Comment moderation and comment blacklist allows you to target specific words, terms and links in comments. When these targeted items are found in a comment, you can set that to be forced moderation or to be blacklisted. This can help identify and control spam. So for instance, I can block certain words that often show up like “sale” or even “try this” or certain IP addresses. I can later check my spam comments to make sure a real comment didn’t get filtered out.

And on to the last part of discussion settings are avatars. You can select whether or not to show a commenter’s avatar when they comment on a post. If you choose to display avatars, you can also control what type of Avatar is displayed. That includes the rating to make sure that it could be suitable for all audiences or even more mature and then also what the avatar looks like. I’m going to go ahead and pick that retro option because that’s my favorite. And now you can see what that retro avatar looks like when visitors leave a comment on my blog. Okay, that looks great. So I’m going to make sure I go back and hit save changes.

You’ve now gone through and personalized all of your discussion settings. Be sure to check out our other workshops on how to personalize your settings at See you there!

Workshop Details


Roxy Kohilakis

I’m an instructional designer and audiologist. I’m sponsored by Automattic to contribute to the WordPress open-source project and Training Team.