A checklist for how I’d like comments to work in WordPress

I don’t get a lot of comments on this site, and I don’t leave a lot of comments elsewhere, but I like the idea of comments in general and I think I would engage more if I enjoyed the tools more. I think having a good commenting system would be a fun addition to WordPress.

Here’s a list of things that address how I think comments could be handled in WordPress so that they’re more flexible and enjoyable.

It should be possible for comments to be private.

In current WordPress, the only way for a comment to remain private is for it to stay in an “unapproved” status. It would be nice if comments could flow more easily between unapproved, private, and public.

Ideally:

  • When someone leaves a comment, an option is available to submit the comment as private so that only the post author will see it.
  • When a post author moderates a comment, an option is available to make it private.
  • A post author has the ability to privately reply to a public or private comment within the WordPress admin.

Commenters should be notified of their comment interactions.

There is no way in current WordPress for commenters to subscribe to comment threads or status changes via email.

Ideally:

  • Opt-in email notifications should be sent to the commenter when their comment has been approved and published.
  • Opt-in email notifications should be sent to the commenter when a reply has been posted to their comment.

Comments should have full webmention support.

Current WordPress does not have built in support for webmentions, though does have support for pingbacks and trackbacks. It would be nice if WordPress had the capability to be a webmention dashboard of sorts.

Ideally:

  • A commenter should be able to submit a comment via webmention from their own site.
  • An author should be able to send a webmention reply to comments received via webmention.
  • An interface should be available in the admin to send webmention comments to other sites. These webmentions have permalinks that can be used for replies.

Repeat commenters should be recognized

In current WordPress, information about commenters who are not also site authors is stored with each individual comment rather than being tied to the user table or another comment author table. It would be nice if simple passwordless authentication could be used to verify repeat commenters without requiring a full user account on the site.

Ideally:

  • An opt-in email notification is sent to a commenter with a one-time authentication link that, when clicked, “verifies” them on the site.
  • When a comment is left under that same email address in the future, and a cookie is not available in the browser for verification, a new one-time authentication link is sent for verification.

A lot of these items rely quite a bit on: how to ensure a self-hosted WordPress site properly manages email. But I think they’re all very doable and would enhance the overall commenting experience.

Now that I have a list, I’m going to start spending some time poking through it for this site. If you happen to know of helpful prior art, please leave a comment or send a webmention! 🍻

By Jeremy Felt

Open Source student. Creating, solving with @happyprimeweb. Started, now watches, VVV. Committed to WordPress. Previously @WSU, @10up. Enjoys: 🍺☕️🐟🌮📚

Reactions on “A checklist for how I’d like comments to work in WordPress”

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  1. Late to the party, but I thought this might be interesting in terms of notifications:

    https://github.com/humanmade/Falcon

    I not only allows somewhat granular notifications for new posts and comments, but also supports comment-by-email, similar to GitHub issues.

    I use a fork on my blog that additionally enables comment notifications on private posts (which I make accessible for subscribers).

  2. I also too lament the commenter's data being stored with the comments themselves. I'd either open up the users table to support commenters or create a separate table that also links to the regular user table if needed.

  3. My number one desire for improving comments is not on your list.

    I would very much like to see the ability to edit a comment within a short amount of time, say within 10 minutes.

    And I really want it to be in core WordPress as I would like it to be on *other* people's sites where I might comment, because I have an incredibly great ability to recognize my own typos, but only immediately after I click the "Publish Comment" button. :-(

  4. I love this and would be interested in testing it out on my own site (currently migrating from Jekyll back to WordPress after going the other direction in 2015 on a blog I had set up in 2008). Following!

  5. I like your list. And Webmentions, if we’re honest, is long overdue. And notfications.

    In a larger perspective, I think WordPress could embrace the IndieWeb movement a bit more as well. Webmentions is an aspect of that, but embracing a few more mechanisms that are indicators of (social media) activity is nice. I'm using the IndieWeb plugin to show likes from Twitter and comments on Twitter to a tweet containing a URL to one of my posts, for example.

    1. I used to do that too, but I always wondered if that was even legal under GDPR? When people like a tweet, they obviously consent to Twitter displaying that Like etc, but would additional consent be required in order to use their data outside of Twitter for something else than an embedded Tweet? I don’t know, IANAL, and it’s probably another discussion.

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