If your blog comments strip HTML and links when published, you are missing out on a meaningful part of the blog conversation.
I am always getting comments with links in them on my blogs. They direct the readers and myself to similar or related information, often information I need and have requested. I love links such as tips on how to do it better, answers to questions, or instructions on how to fix what’s broken, or links to their post so they can show off what they wrote, inspired by my work.
With HTML turned off or stripped away, all they can do is paste the link as part of the text. Long, unwieldy links that stretch across the comment form box, often breaking your blog’s web design. Long URL addresses can push your design’s containers and columns around, pushing your sidebar down below the content or overlapping the sidebar, making it difficult to read and see. By allowing links to be wrapped inside of HTML anchor tags, you can protect your blog’s design and make it look better, too.
When you strip out the HTML, you are hurting your commenters and wasting everyone’s time, in more ways than just removing HTML anchor links.
Restricting Links on Your Blog Comments
Since we know for a fact that comment spammers thrill in getting as many links stuffed into their evil comments as possible, why not put a restriction on the number of comments that can be included in your blog’s comments?
WordPress allows you to set the maximum number of links permitted, and any comments exceeding that number are automatically put into moderation, where you can verify the comment’s legitimacy.
On the WordPress Administration Panels, go to Options > Discussion and scroll down to Comment Moderation. In the box, set the number of links you will permit before automatic moderation kicks in. I’ve chosen 4 on Lorelle on WordPress but 2 on Taking Your Camera on the Road, as each blog attracts different types of comments and I set them accordingly.
When a comment is set in moderation, it still appears in your Comments Panel and recent versions of WordPress allow you to approve the comment directly from there, without accessing your Moderation Panel.
Losing The Ability to Add Personality to Your Comments
Typing words into blog comments doesn’t always convey the full meaning, and smilies are not always a good option. Using Bold/Strong and Italic/EM helps add emphasis to the comment’s words so their intention is clear, even if the words don’t reflect it.
By default, WordPress blogs do not strip all HTML code from comments, only selected code like lists – something I’ve never understood. I hate that WordPress strips
OL lists out of comments. I’m often asked for a list of articles, tips, or step-by-step instructions and I want to leave a list in the comments. Knowing that, I’m stuck with using numbers or asterisks instead. Not much punch and no indentation.
When leaving a comment and then finding the links are all stripped after the page reloads, or getting an error that tells me that my comment won’t work, then going back to find I have to totally rewrite the comment again – it makes me not want to come back.
When writing a comment is too much work, I’m gone. If the comment form process asks me repeatedly for CAPTCHAs or torture tests, I’m gone. If it’s too much hassle to comment, I won’t comment, and I probably won’t come back.
Links, especially, are critical to web communication, as are the ability to add HTML emphasis within our comment content. If your blog is stripping HTML from within your blog comments, you may be missing out on helping your readers add more to the blog conversation.
Author: Lorelle VanFossen
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.