I’m sure that your “number one flaw” or lacking feature in WordPress might be different from mine, but this is one that really bothers me. I think the solution is simple. So the question is: Why hasn’t something been done to fix this flaw?
The flaw? Comments.
Comments are critical to blogs. They are the number one distinguishing feature that separates them from websites, those static billboards on the web. It is through this interaction that blogs continue the conversation started by the author. Feedback, input, advice, answers to questions, questions needing answers, all enrich the dialog that makes blogs blogs.
In WordPress, while comments recently got a front place offering with their own tab on the Administration Panels, and WordPress.com blogs recently added a paging feature so you could access more than 20 comments, including past comments, it still lacks a lot of control that I think a well-designed blogging program should offer.
Here is the process users currently use to process comments on their WordPress blogs.
- Click the Comments tab on the WordPress Administration Panels.
- At a glance, you can tell how many comments are waiting in Moderation, and, if you are using Akismet comment spam fighting tool, the number of comment spam waiting for your inspection, if you care to inspect them for false positives. You do not have information on how many comments are waiting for you. To see comments on your WordPress blog, click Comments if you are not already on that tab panel.
- The comments are listed chronologically, from most recent to oldest. You have no idea how many are new, so you scroll down the list until you recognize one and know that all above those are new.
The Comment Panel lists the name, email, and URL/Domain each commenter added to your comment form. The IP address from which they posted the comment is also listed. Below the source information is the comment, and the date and time and a series of links offering Edit, Delete, Unapprove, Spam, and View Post, though these links may be different for your WordPress version.
- To determine which post the comment belongs to, hold the mouse over the View Post link and if your browser is so enabled, you will see a balloon tip popup with the URL of the post, and/or the URL in the status bar of your browser. If your blog uses permalinks, the title of the post will be in the link. If not, I hope you know which number equals which post. For those still using older versions, you would see “Edit Post: Post Title” with the title of the post.
- To reply to the comment, click the View Post link and the full post will load in the browser.
- Scroll to the bottom of post, past the comments and trackbacks, to the comment form.
- Enter your comment. Hit the submit button.
- In some WordPress Themes, the page will reload and return you to your comment so you can see what you wrote. In most WordPress Themes, the page will reload and you will be at the top and then have to scroll back down to read your comment.
- To return to the Comment Panel, click the browser’s back button twice, or use the drop down back button menu to go back two windows.
- Repeat process with another comment.
For a blogger who gets one to two comments a day or week, this is a minor burdensome process. But for those who get five or more a day, this is a tedious and inefficient process.
Improving The WordPress Comment System
To make the comment process easier in WordPress would take only a few improvements.
List Number of Comments Waiting: If Comment Moderation and Akismet can tell you how many new comments are awaiting your attention, why shouldn’t the same be offered for comments? The excitement of seeing “Comments (1)” might cause some bloggers to pass out with the thrill.
Make the Post Title Readable: Instead of using “View Post”, go back to the old method of turning that link into the title of the post. With a glance, the user would know which post the comment refers to. If you need clarification for the idiots, have it say “View Post: This is the post title here”.
Allow Reply Without Visiting the Post: How bad is your memory? Most comments come within the first week of a post’s release date. Occasionally, they will appear later. Still, most of us can use a post title to recall the post content and help us respond to the comment. Why should we load the full post in the browser and scroll down to make a comment?
Allow us to reply without visiting the post. With new Ajax features, give us a Reply button so we can enter our reply in a popup or drop down form. We can then click “Send” and it’s posted on the page without having to reload pages and play with back buttons. WordPress.com bloggers have this feature in the Administration Panels Feedback form, so why not add this same technology to comments? Since it should then automatically appear in our Comment Panel, we can skim it for errors or corrections and then edit it accordingly. Big time saving!
If Not, Then Make the View Post Link to the Comment Form: If we have to suffer through a visit to the actual post in order to comment, why not make it easier for us to reply by making the “View Post” link (with title, please) open the post page and jump automatically down to the comment form. This would be a little more complex as some WordPress Themes don’t use a consistent “comment” ID, but let’s find a way to make this easier and faster.
To follow through on this, at least with WordPress.com blogs, add a “Return to Comments” link in the dashboard menu bar at the top of the page to help us get back to the next comment as fast as possible and skip all the back button issues.
Speedy Handling of Comments Vastly Improves WordPress: If these simple changes were made, the process of responding to a comment would be:
- See number of comments waiting for you.
- Shout and do a dance. Somebody cares!
- Reply from the Comment Panel, checking for errors immediately after posting. Or take time to visit the post if you can’t remember it and comment from there.
- Click the Write Tab and start blogging your next post.
Make Comments Easier to Manage and Have Happy Bloggers
As I read through a waiting comment, I am already forming my reply. However, waiting for the post to load, then scrolling through the long article, past trackbacks and comments, I tend to get distracted and lose my train of thought. Don’t you?
The easier comments are to manage and respond to, the happier WordPress bloggers will be, and the better the conversation.
- Do You Care Enough To Keep Your Blog Comment Spam Free?
- I’m Winning the Battle Against Comment Spam
- Editing Your Blog Comments
- Blogging Challenge: Comment on 10 Blogs
- One Year Anniversary Review: Comments on Comment Spam
- One Year Anniversary Review: Comments on Comments
- How NOT to Comment on Comments
- How to Handle Tough Questions (and Comments) from an Audience
- Comments on Comments
- Mean Spirited Comments and Blogging
- You Must Be Logged In To Comment
- Your Comment Has Been Moderated – Stay Tuned for Approval
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network