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Mailbag: Curbing Comments By Count

I do moderate. And I use tools for it. So can you!

Someone had a rant in my mailbox about my strong stance on comment moderation, which can be distilled to this question:

I noticed you really have strong opinions on comment moderation. Do you use anything other than bad words to flag for moderation or outright block?

Sure do!

I’m very careful about ‘bad words’ since ‘anal’ will also pick up ‘canal’ and I only moderate for for things that are generally only used as a pejorative. Example? Okay, I have ‘dyke’ and ‘kike’ in my mod list. The first one I get called a lot. Still. The second has fallen out of favor. But because people have a remarkable talent to say words with the sole intent to be hurtful, even under the veneer of “I was just being funny, stop being so sensitive!” I have cherry-picked the popular ones on my sites and tossed them into moderation.

The only thing I blacklist are people. People’s emails (and user names sometimes) go into the blacklist. That’s why I wrote Sitewide Comment Control, I’m able to blacklist people from the whole network easily. But I only use this for people. People should be blacklisted when they prove themselves to be untrainable.

That leaves one thing up in the air and that’s moderation. You have three choices with default WordPress: Moderate all, moderate un-approved, moderate none.

I have “moderate un-approved” which means I have to manually approve all first time comments. To add on to that, I use Comment Probation in order to restrict people I’m not entirely sure about.

And finally, I moderate by length.

I month ago, I mentioned on Twitter that I was playing with an idea to have my comments moderated by length. If a comment was over X words long, it should be flagged as needing approval before showing.

Caspar Hübinger, in the time it took me to get a cup of coffee, wrote Comment Moderation by Word Count. I made one, small, patch to it, and I’m using it now.

This simple WordPress plugin will send any comment that would otherwise be approved automatically by WordPress to the moderation queue if it contains more than a given number of words.

The theory I have is this: If your comment is over a certain length, you really may want to consider making it a rebuttal blog post of your own. My limit is currently set to 250 words here, which is half a page of content.

Mod by comment length is a very basic field on your Comment Settings section

My one change was this:

If current_user_can( 'edit_posts' ) then they should be able to leave a comment of any length without moderation.

My theory here was that admins and editors are trusted users.

And now you know!