Moderating Comments from the Dashboard

The other way to moderate comments is through the dashboard. The disadvantage
here is that you need to open a browser, visit your site, and log in. The advantage is
that you’ll see all your site’s comments in one place, and you can accept or discard
them en masse.
If you have comments awaiting moderation, you’ll see a black circle-with-a-number
icon in the dashboard menu. This circle looks like the one that notifies you of Word-
Press and plug-in updates (page 81), except that it appears over the Comments menu
and indicates the number of unreviewed comments you have (Figure 8-5). If you go
to the dashboard’s home page (Dashboard→Home), you’ll also see the most recent
comments in the Recent Comments box.

To review comments, click Comments in the dashboard menu. Initially, you see a
list of all the comments left on all the posts and pages of your site, ordered from
newest to oldest. Click the Pending link above the comment list to focus on just the
comments you need to review.

Evaluating Comments

When you review comments, your goal is to separate the
well-meaning ones from the offensive ones (which you may
not want to allow) and to delete spam (which you definitely
don’t want). Be careful, because spammers are often crafty
enough to add a seemingly appropriate comment that actually
links to a spam site. They may identify keywords in your
posts and cobble them together in their comments. They may
report imaginary errors in your blog, claiming links don’t work
or pictures don’t load. Often, they’ll throw in some flattery in
a desperate attempt to get approved.
For example, in Figure 8-6, the last three comments are real
spam comments, received on the actual Magic Tea House
sample site. The second and third comments were posted
together, and they appear to strike up a fictitious conversation.
But the clues abound that something isn’t right. The comments
discuss a product that hasn’t existed in years (Microsoft’s Zune
player) and has nothing to do with the post topic (teas from
Kuala Lumpur). The fourth comment is a more typical example
of spam: vague but effusive praise for the site that always
manages to avoid stating anything specific.
The acid test for spam is to view the commenter’s website. To
do that, click the corresponding link (to the left of the comment
in the comment list). Sometimes just looking at the URL
is enough. In Figure 8-6, a careful examination exposes at least
two of the spam comments as come-ons for X-rated websites.
Once you identify one spam message, you may be able to detect
others sent from the same spammer by using the message’s
IP address (a numeric code that uniquely identifies webconnected
computers). For example, in Figure 8-6 two spam
messages come from the same IP address (204.45.103.70).
WordPress even gives you a shortcut—click the IP address,
and it shows you only the comments that originated from that
address. You can then flag them all as spam in a single bulk
action.

TIP Remember, if you accidentally put a comment you want in the Spam or Trash bin, you can get it out if
you act fast. Click the Spam or Trash link above the comments list to see a list of removed comments, which you
can then restore.

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Moderating Comments from the Dashboard

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