Setup The WordPress Discussion Settings

WordPress Discussion Settings

About This Lesson

With WordPress you have the option to allow people to comment on your content.

Comments allow your readers to interact with you, add their thoughts or ask any questions they have about your content.

This lesson is all about going through the discussion settings, so you can set how you want the comments to function on your site.

By the end of this lesson you’ll know how to,

  • Turn comments off completely (if you want this)
  • Choose individual pages or posts to allow/not allow comments on
  • Set up comment moderation
  • Customize how your comments look

Before we begin though, if you don’t want to allow people to comment on your site, see “Allow people to post comments on new articles” and then you can skip the rest of this lesson!


Before doing this you’ll need to have installed WordPress. You can do this one of two ways,

1) Install WordPress with SiteGround (The Quick & Easy Way)

2) Install WordPress manually

And you’ll need to have,

3) Understood what WordPress is & how it works

4) Learnt how to login to your WordPress site

5) Learnt how to navigate around WordPress

It’s also worth noting this lesson is a part of a series of lessons which show you how to setup WordPress. You can see the other lessons in this series by visiting the links below.

Course Navigation

How To Create A Website Course

This is Step 3 Part 4 – See the full course here!

How To Use WordPress Course

This is Step 3 Part 4 – See the full course here!

Read All About It

First of all, to get to the discussion settings you need to login to the admin area of your WordPress site.

Then on the left hand side hover over the menu item Settings, and click Discussion.

WordPress Discussion Settings

Default article settings

To begin with, let’s cover what the “default article settings” are.

Default Article Settings

Quick Tip: These settings are the default settings across all pages and posts, but may be overridden on individual articles.

Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article

If you write a post and link to another WordPress website, this setting will attempt to notify the site owner that you’ve linked to them.

If that site allows this, your mention of their site will show in the comments section of their site.

Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)

This is the reverse of the above setting.

If another site links to you and they have the above option ticked, you’ll be notified in your comment section that someone has linked to you.

Allow people to post comments on new articles

This is the big switch.

If you want to turn comments on/off, this is the main setting.

This sets it as the default for all pages or posts. But you’ll be able to change this on each individual page or post, see below.

How To Turn Comments On/Off For Individual Articles

First you need to go to the page or post where you want to turn on/off the comments.

You then need to make sure you have the screen option “Discussion” ticked. (By default it’s not).

To do this,

Screen Options

  1. In the top right hand corner, click screen options
  2. Then make sure discussion is ticked

Then you can scroll down until you get to the discussion module. Here you can choose if you want to allow or not allow comments on this individual page or post.

Allow Comments On Individual Articles

Other comment settings

You then have some general comment settings to go through, which will allow you to set how you want comments to run on your site.

Other comment settings

Comment author must fill out name and e-mail

This does exactly what it says.

It means people who are leaving a comment have to fill out a name and email address. (Like in the image below.)

Comment Author Must Fill Out Name

This helps identify who is leaving the comment, plus it’s also a way to try and stop comment spam.

(Side Note: – The email address won’t show on the public version of the site, but you as the site owner will be able to see it.)

I don’t know of a good reason not to have this ticked!

Users must be registered and logged in to comment

If this is ticked, only logged in, registered users will be able to write comments on your site.

Automatically close comments on articles older than X days

Again, this does what it says. It will turn comments off, for articles that are older then what you set here.

Personally I always leave this off, unless I’m having a real problem with comment spam, then I set this to be between 14 and 30 days.

Enable threaded (nested) comments X levels deep

This is a feature so that people can easily have a conversation with other commenters.

So with this feature, if someone chooses to reply to another comment, their comment will go directly below the comment they clicked reply on. (See the image below). So the comments will be “threaded”.

Enable Threaded Comments

So using the above example, Tim left a comment on a post.

Kerry wanted to reply to Tim’s comment, but not the post itself. So rather than leaving a comment at the bottom of the post, where it would be hard for everyone to know Kerry’s comment was a reply to Tim, Kerry replied directly to Tim.

You’ll notice her comment is below Tim’s and slighted indented to the right, this shows everyone else that this is a reply to Tim’s comment.

Larry then decided he wanted to reply to what Kerry said, but not Tim, or the article itself, so he clicked reply on Kerry’s comment, and now his comment is below hers. (Personally I don’t know why Larry’s getting involved, I think he should stay out of it. But you know what Larry’s like…)

You’ll notice his comment is below Kerry’s and slighted indented to the right, this shows everyone else that this is a reply to Kerry’s comment.

So if you want this feature on your comments, you’ll have to make sure this is ticked.

The setting for how many “levels” deep you want to go is up to you, but there does come a point where the replies get too small.

Notice how with each reply, the comment box gets smaller and is indented to the right a little. If you allow too many levels, the comment box will be too small. Larry, in the image above is 3 levels deep.

I normally set it to be between 3 and 5.

Break comments into pages

Break Comments Into Pages

If you get lots of comments on your articles it can end up making your posts/pages really long, i.e. imagine having 250 comments at the end of an article you write.

So you might want to limit the amount of comments that get displayed on one “page”.

This setting lets you break the comments section up into different “pages”, like in the image below, where if I wanted to see the second page of comments I would need to click “newer comments”.

Note: This will break only the comments section into different “pages” and it’ll do it within the post/page. It doesn’t break the main content into pages.

Two Page Comments

With this setting you also need to choose if the pages should be ordered “first comments to last” or “last comments to first”, and within each page whether the oldest, or newest comment should be displayed first.

I normally set this to 50 top level comments, the first page displayed and with the older comments at the top. Which means the very first comment will show first and all the other comments will show in the order of when they were left.

Email me whenever

Email Me Whenever

Anyone posts a comment

With this setting, every single comment that gets left on your site, an email will be sent to you. (This can fill up your inbox if you get a lot of comments.)

Personally I don’t think it’s necessary as you can see comments within WordPress.

The only reason I can think why you would use this, is if you’re not going to be logging into WordPress all that often.

A comment is held for moderation

This option will email you whenever a comment is held for moderation. Again this can be useful if you’re not logging in to WordPress all that often.

Before a comment appears

Comment must be manually approved

This means every time a comment is submitted, an administrator has to approve it.

The negatives of this: – when someone leaves a comment they won’t see their comment “LIVE” until you approve it.

It also means you’ll have to manually approve all comments, which means extra work for you.

The plus of this: – you can stop undesirable comments from appearing on your site.

So the choice is yours.

Comment author must have a previously approved comment

This setting is for if you’ve already approved a comment from a specific author, any future comments they leave will automatically be approved. (This is identified by the email they provided in the comment form.)

This can help cut down the amount of comments you need to moderate, as you only have to moderate first time commentors on your site.

Comment Moderation

These settings are to help you deal with comment spam.

Hold a comment in the queue if it contains X or more links.

This does exactly what it says, it holds a comment for moderation if it contains x number of links.

And like WordPress say, a common characteristic of comment spam is a large number of hyperlinks. So this can be a good setting to use.

I always set this to 1, meaning any time someone puts a single link in the comment box I have to confirm I think it’s not spam before it goes live on my site.

Side Note: This doesn’t delete the comment, it just holds it for moderation, where you can decide if the comment is real or spam.

Comment Moderation Box

Comment Moderation Box

In this text box you add certain “words”, if these words get mentioned in a comment, WordPress will filter the comments out and hold it for your moderation.

So you might include, “work at home”, or $$$, or Xanax (common spam words). Or you might include the names of your competitors if you don’t want them being mentioned on your site.

Note: Each new word needs to be on a new line.

You can also add specific URLs, e-mail addresses, or IP addresses to this list, and WordPress will hold the comment for your moderation.

And like above, this doesn’t delete the comment it just holds it for moderation. You can then decide if you want to include the comment on your site.

Personally I just leave this box blank. But as always, the choice is yours.

Comment Blacklist

This is the same as above, but instead of being held for moderation it’s marked as spam.

You’ll still be able to decide if you want to keep it or delete it, but instead of it being in the “pending” section of your comments, it’ll be in the “spam” section.

Avatar Display

WordPress Discussion Avatars

This is where you can set if you want to have little avatars next to each comment author.

As WordPress say,

An avatar is an image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on avatar enabled sites. Here you can enable the display of avatars for people who comment on your blog.

So for instance, this is how my avatar looks when I leave a comment.

My Avatar

Maximum Rating

When a person registers an avatar they have to set an age rating for their image.

With this setting you can choose the maximum rating you want to allow on your site.

Default Avatar

Default Avatar

This is where you can choose a default avatar which will display for those users who haven’t created an avatar.

And that’s it for the discussion settings of WordPress.

Complete Setting Up WordPress

This lesson is a part of a series of lessons, which show you how to setup WordPress. You can see the other lessons in this series by visiting the links below.

Or if you want to save some time, check out my quick WordPress settings lesson.

Next Steps

When you’ve finished setting up WordPress, the next steps in creating your website and learning how to use WordPress, is to learn how WordPress posts and pages work, so you can then start creating the content that will make up your site!