Website articles managed by Textpattern CMS can have comments left on them by your website visitors. In my article today I’ll go into some of the basics of the commenting functionality within Textpattern so you can better understand and control the content generated by your website visitors.
Comment functionality is baked into Textpattern, but is turned off by default. Commenting is enabled or disabled using the Admin -> Preferences tab in the administration area. If you choose to enable comments on your site, you can then select the default comment state for new articles to be on or off. It’s absolutely acceptable to have commenting enabled in Textpattern, but have new articles default to commenting disabled. This may sound counter-intuitive in the first instance, but it’s useful if you have only selected articles that you wish to solicit feedback on, rather than all.
Related to this, if commenting is set to on, and new articles default to having comments enabled (i.e., also on), it’s totally OK to toggle comments off for a particular article – ideal for those occasions that you want to have comments enabled for the majority of articles but occasional ones should be essentially read-only to your website visitors. When comments are enabled for an article, you can optionally set a time period for new comments. This window of opportunity ranges from 1 to 6 weeks in weekly increments, should you choose to set it.
If commenting is enabled for an article, and there is no time period preventing a new comment, the user can write their comment, preview it and then submit it. The important thing to note here is the preview part – out of the box, Textpattern requires user leaving their comment to preview it before submitting. Primarily, this is a proven measure to reduce comment spam. There is no CAPTCHA-style approval in Textpattern, though integration is possible if desired.
In addition to this preview-first approach to comments, blocklist checking can also be configured. By default, comments are checked against blocklists at Spamhaus. Additional or alternative services can be polled, too – set these up by going to Admin -> Preferences -> Advanced and enter the new/additional servers into the ‘Spam blocklists (comma-separated)’ entry. In my experience, Textpattern websites receive less comment spam than other, more widely-deployed content management systems. As Textpattern grows in popularity, there will doubtless be people who target it more frequently, but you should know that the spam prevention measures in Textpattern are generally considered to be very effective.
The level of comment moderation is dictated by the site administrator. Typically, a site will either allow all comments as-is, or add them to a pending moderation queue for the authors and/or editors to handle. There is an optional feature to have the author of an article emailed with a comment notification, either as confirmation that the comment has been left or an advisory that it is in the comment queue and needs to be moderated. For completeness, the level of notification can also be tweaked to include or exclude spam comments, depending on the policy chosen by the administrator.
Comments requiring moderation are listed alongside published comments in the administration are of Textpattern. Go to Content -> Comments for the complete list. From there, comments can be approved, rejected, marked as spam and edited where appropriate (e.g., a glitchy character entered in the comment that looks wrong, or to fix typos).