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! 🍻