If you want to get your visitors engaged and coming back to your site, a vibrant comments section will go a long way towards achieving your goal. But to create engaging, back-and-forth discussions, you’ll likely need the help of some WordPress comments plugins.
In this post, I’ll discuss two ways in which you can improve the WordPress comments section with plugins. First, I’ll show you how to enhance the default comments section with some helpful WordPress comments plugins. Then, I’ll show you some cool third-party solutions which can completely replace the default WordPress commenting system.
Use WordPress comments plugins to improve native comments
Native WordPress comments are the default commenting system that comes with any fresh install of WordPress. Unless you’ve installed a new comments plugin, your site is currently using native WordPress comments.
The default WordPress comments system is adequate, but doesn’t offer much in the way of added functionality. The following plugins change that by adding some cool new features to your WordPress comments section.
Let readers comment via email with Postmatic
One of the major hurdles you’ll encounter with comments sections is engagement. Readers may leave one comment after they finish a post, but they’re unlikely to come back and check that comments section at a later date. That means creating an ongoing discussion is an uphill battle.
By using the Postmatic plugin, you can let readers subscribe to comments via email.
Current Version: 2.2.3
Last Updated: November 12, 2017
And here’s the unique part – readers can respond to comments directly from their email inbox. No need to force them to come back to your site.
Your readers can also get notifications when you publish new posts and similarly comment on fresh posts directly from their email.
In short, Postmatic is a great way to boost engagement by making it easier for your readers to actually comment on your posts.
Allow readers to edit their comments with Simple Comment Editing
Everyone makes mistakes. And that’s especially true when it comes to informal comments sections.
Help your readers out by allowing them to edit their comments…for a limited time. The Simple Comment Editing plugin lets anonymous readers edit their comments for up to five minutes after publishing.
Five minutes is a good number because it allows readers time to catch mistakes, but doesn’t let them change the context of the comment after other commenters have already responded.
Just be aware that if you’re using a theme which changes WordPress comment hooks (like Enfold or Thesis), the plugin might not work. It should be fine for most WordPress themes, though.
Send first time commenters to a thank you page with Yoast Comment Hacks
This is one of my favorite tweaks for boosting engagement and one of my top WordPress comments plugins. Whenever a reader leaves their first comment, you can redirect them to a custom thank you page using the Yoast Comment Hacks plugin.
All you need to do is select any page on your WordPress site from a dropdown in the plugin’s settings:
This allows you to generate leads, boost your social followers, push readers to check out more posts, or anything else you want to accomplish.
As an added bonus, the plugin also allows you to set a minimum length for comments in order to avoid low effort comments.
Enable image uploads to comments with Comment Images Reloaded
First, a caveat – use this feature carefully. It’s definitely possible for this feature to be abused. But allowing image uploads can be a fun way to add some multimedia to your comments.
It’s especially helpful if you’re running a contest which requires visual submissions.
Comment Images Reloaded allows you to enable image uploads. The plugin will automatically resize images to your chosen max dimensions – so don’t worry about breaking your layout. It also adds a new Comment Image column to the comment moderation tab, so that you can moderate images before they display on your live site:
Add Reddit-like upvotes with Comment Popularity
If your site is already getting a high number of comments, you need a way to separate high quality comments from…not so helpful comments.
Thankfully, Reddit has already figured out a great way to do that: upvotes.
You can bring similar functionality to your WordPress comments section by using the Comment Popularity plugin.
It adds upvote and downvote buttons next to each comment. Comments with higher scores (more upvotes than downvotes) will be displayed at the top of the comments section.
All you need to do is install the plugin and it will start working. If you want, you can also configure a few basic settings regarding default scores for “expert commenters”:
Let people post using their social information with Social Commenting
If you want an easy way to authenticate users, you can let them fill in their comment information via their social profiles. Postmatic’s Social Commenting plugin lets users click on their social network of choice to automatically authenticate their comment.
It’s lightweight and doesn’t require creating actual WordPress accounts – all it does is place a cookie on the commenter to remember them.
Use a third-party WordPress comment system
If you want to completely overhaul your WordPress comments section (instead of using WordPress comments plugins), you can turn to a third-party solution. There’s a number of them out there, but I’ll stick with the two most popular options. Check out CodeinWP for a more detailed discussion of third-party WordPress comment systems.
If you’ve ever left a comment here (might I suggest that you break the ice by leaving one on this post!), you know that Disqus is what we use here on the ThemeIsle blog.
Disqus offers a new interface, threaded comments and replies, social mentions, and optional features to expose your site to the broader Disqus network if you want to expand your reach.
Like I said, if you want to see Disqus in action, just scroll down to our comments section. You can leave a comment and play around with Disqus to see everything it offers.
It’s never a bad idea to piggyback off what’s popular. And boy is Facebook popular. We’ve already discussed some general ways to integrate Facebook with WordPress, but using Facebook for your comments section is another great way to connect the two.
Using the Facebook Comments plugin offers several advantages:
- Users who are already signed into Facebook can immediately comment.
- Comments are threaded to easily differentiate between comment chains.
- No anonymous comments – can improve quality by removing anonymity.
- Comments are sorted by number of likes.
Just be aware that you are requiring all of your commenters to have Facebook accounts. If your audience isn’t the type to be active on Facebook, this might be something you want to consider.
Wrapping things up
If you like the native commenting system, you can use some of the WordPress comments plugins in the first section to add fresh functionality. All of the plugins are easy to install and won’t take much time to set up.
If you want to completely change things up and shift away from native WordPress comments, then Disqus or Facebook Comments are definitely the two most popular options. Disqus is a good general purpose commenting system, while Facebook Comments is great if you have a Facebook-savvy audience.
How do you handle comments on your WordPress site? Using any other WordPress comments plugins?