Improve the user experience for comments

This past weekend I spent a considerable amount of time reworking the way WP-Members™ handles comments. That led to an exhaustive Internet search during which I learned a lot more about the various WordPress comment functions.  My research included reviewing how some other plugins hook into the comment system. That process uncovered a number of plugins I’d like to take a further look at simply for enhancing the user experience here on this site. 

CommentLuv

If you are inclined to go the plugin route, you owe it to yourself to take a look at CommentLuv, a WordPress plugin from Andy Bailey.  One of the things I like about this plugin is the dofollow option.  I think this encourages what blog comments should be – a network of users linking to each other.  I also like that it includes a link to the commenter’s most recent blog post.  That’s an incentive to build links.

Kristi Hines at kikolani.com has a fantastic writeup about CommentLuv that has led me to give using this plugin some serious consideration.

Styling Comments

I really like the ideas from Darren Hoyt in this post on styling comments.  He presents some very nice and simple CSS ideas for adding some pizzazz to your comments.  The article includes three examples with source files – including PSDs!  Not bad for the price. (which is free, if you missed the joke, BTW.)

Automatically Close Comments

As most of my readers know, I’m a fan of Darren Rowse, who recommends closing comments on older posts.  I’m also a big fan of using the functions.php file instead of a full blown plugin, so I like this little function on automatically closing comments after X days.

Separate Trackbacks

One thing that bugs me about stock off-the-shelf themes like Twenty Ten is that comments and trackbacks are mixed together.  That doesn’t really make for easy reading, and, in my opinion, makes the comments section pretty much useless.  So how can you separate them?  Glad you asked.  Read this easy to follow tutorial at WPBeginner.com and you too will have nicely formatted separate sections for comments and trackbacks (no programming knowledge required – it’s simple, AND compatible with the current WP commenting system).

Finding More

I got some good ideas from an article on instantshift.com titled 30 Most Wanted WordPress Comments Page Hacks. While some of it is a little dated (some listed articles go back to 2006), there are some good ideas to get you thinking of what is possible.  If you do get some ideas from this article, you may need to do what I did and check if the method is compatible with the newer commenting system of WordPress.  In WP 2.7, some significant changes were made to the way that comments are handled, so while a specific idea is most likely do-able (like applying a different style to the author’s comments), the method may be slightly different (and probably easier).

  • http://atomiku.com/ atomiku

    Hey, thanks for the great post. I need to modify my theme to allow Replies to comments, it seems the original template creator didn’t factor it in..