The settings for comments on posts are found in Settings/Discussion.
Default Article Settings
The first setting is “Default article settings. ” Check to allow people to post comments on new articles. The other two items are: “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article” and “Allow link notifications from other blogs.” It was recommended to me to leave these unchecked (but if I checked them, I should check them both as they reciprocate behavior and it would be uncourteous to receive notices but not to give them. I need to do more research on these to see if it is better to check them, but for now, I am leaving them unchecked.
Other Comment Settings
The setting “Other comment settings” controls what people must do in order to comment. Check “Comment author must fill out name and email.” This lets you keep a record of your commenters and lets you get to know them. It also lets you know which commenters you may need to ban.
Don’t check “Users must be registered and logged in to comment.” This causes your commenters to jump through too many hoops and is not necessary. I had this checked originally, and it caused my first potential commenter to abandon her effort. Please come back, Virginia.
It was recommended that you leave commenting open for a year (“Automatically close comments on articles older than”), but you need to eventually close the comments for old posts. So I set this for 365 days.
Set “Enable threaded (nested) comments to no more than 5 levels deep.” More levels than that gets unwieldy.
There is no need to “Break comments into pages” and I think people like to read comments in the order they were written but this up to you. If you like newer first, change the drop down to “newer.”
Comment Approval Settings
Check both settings for “Email me whenever” —because surely like me you will want to know when someone posts a comment. And we are going to set up a way to moderate comments, so we need to know when a comment is being held for moderation.
So you can read and approve every comment by checking in the “Before a comment appears” setting “Comment must be manually approved.” But we are expecting a lot of comments, and it could get tedious and slow to read each comment before posting. It’s important to let people comment on a timely basis, so instead of reading each one, just read the first one to see if the commenter is legitimate. So check “Comment author must have a previously approved comment.” The comment authors must register name and email to comment. And if the commenter appears to be a stable and mentally healthy person without anger issues, we will let them comment henceforth without approval.
Now, as I warned before, the spammers want to get into your comments. They know you are looking at their comments to see if you want to approve them. So they will write a very vague comment just to get you to approve them. Then they start selling that dang printer ink or work-at-home scheme in your comments section. So watch for comments that just say “I thought you would like this article” or “That’s a good point.” Don’t approve those guys. Of course, Akismet is supposed to be working hard to keep all those spammers at bay as well.
Comment Moderation and Blacklist Settings
Another indicator of spammy comments is that links are included in the comments (because they want to grab your readers and send them to their websites and they want incoming links to their websites from other legitimate websites, such as yours). So, as you can see in the “Comment Moderation” setting, “a common characteristic of comment spam is a large number of hyperlinks”). I set my link limit to 1 because commenters do want to link to outside articles sometimes. But only one per comment.
Another help in “Comment Moderation” is to note words that appear in comments that you don’t want to have in your site. The “Comment Moderation” list holds the comments for you to view. The “Comment Blacklist” marks comments with those words as spam without your having to review them.
Avatars and Follow Blog Settings
The next setting lets your users use “avatars” or pictures that go along with their names. I did not allow this as avatars can get kind of wonky (i.e., weird or unsuitable for family viewing). I don’t use an avatar. Maybe when I get hip and start using one, I will come back and check this.
Because I installed the JetPack plug in with my WordPress installation, I have these other two settings for allowing people to follow my blog or the comments section by subscribing to the blog. I thought this put a “Follow Blog” icon on the posts and a “Follow Comments” icon in the comments section—but I don’t see one. I need to look into this further.