The comments section of your site is extremely important for various reasons. It not only offers you feedback from visitors, but it can help spark discussion between visitors and create loyalty. To ensure that your comments section taps its full potential, here is a list of some of the top WordPress plugins for comments.
Akismet is a solid WordPress plugin that can help keep your comments section free of pesky spam. After all, your comments section is meant to provide an avenue for actual feedback and should spark conversation, so you want to keep it as clean as possible. Akismet will add a line of defense for your comments and offer some automated help. The plugin is free for personal blogs and available on a paid basis for commercial use.
Akismet works by checking your site's comments against the Akismet web service. If it finds that the comment is spam, it will mark it as such. To prevent any legitimate comments from going in the trash, you can review the marked spam in your site's “Comments” admin screen to double check. In addition to seeing how the comments were marked by the Akismet web service, you can also view a comment status history to see how any comments were marked by your moderator. To look for any patterns, you have the ability to view comment histories for different users. Akismet will also highlight links placed in any comments for easy identification. In the event that your web host cannot connect to the Akismet's servers, the plugin will automatically reconnect when possible to ensure that your comments are scanned and filtered properly.
The Comment Rating plugin is a great way to let your visitors decide the quality of comments. It's very simple in form, but helps promote a community aura and will encourage commenters to add something of substance to each discussion.
Each comment will have small thumbs up and thumbs down icons. A user can click on the thumbs up icon if they like the comment, or hit the thumbs down if they dislike it. As the ratings pour in, highly-rated comments will be highlighted, while unpopular ones will be hidden. The plugin essentially puts your comments section on autopilot, since it allows your users to vote on the content's quality. No longer will you have to worry about moderating nasty comments or comments of zero substance.
Integrating CAPTCHA into your site is a great way to fight spam. It offers up simple tests to make sure that comments and other items are being submitted by actual people, and not spambots. While CAPTCHA is commonly used to keep a handle on comments, the SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam plugin can place it in various parts of your site. Besides comments, you can have CAPTCHA integration for logins, registration, and lost passwords. Users will only be able to bypass these sections of your site by typing in the proper CAPTCHA code shown in an image.
SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam is free to download. If you have any experience using CAPTCHA, you know that it is sometimes hard to decipher. Do not worry, this plugin allows you to refresh the CAPTCHA for a new one and will also generate an audible reading of the CAPTCHA in the WAV format to help your users submit their answers with ease. Additional user-friendliness comes in the form of an option to hide the CAPTCHA for administrators or users who are already logged in.
Quote Comments is very simple in its form, but it does a great job in helping promote conversation amongst your commenters. Conversations are promoted since the plugin allows you to quote text from a previous comment. One user may have a question about another person's comment, or they may agree or disagree with it. Having the ability to quote exact text makes it much easier to spark and develop conversation than if they had to copy, paste, and add quotation marks themselves. All your users have to do is look at the comment in question, find the small (quote) link, click on it, and the comment will be quoted in their reply.
Quote Comments can be installed and activated on your site in a flash. It's also compatible with the TinyMCEComments plugin.