What makes WordPress a powerful platform is that not only can you create a dynamic website, but you can also allow dynamic discussions about the content with your visitors. Having said that, the Discussion part of the site needs to be managed. Comments, the bread and butter of the discussion, can add to the overhead of your website management. You have to keep up with responses to your commenters or they will think your aren't paying attention. Comments also can come, unfortunately, in the form of Spam. We will give you some additional information about dealing with Spam in another section. For now, let's have an overview of the Discussion Settings for a WordPress site.
Start at the Dashboard.
Navigate to Settings > Discussion.
The two main forms of discussion on a website have red arrows pointing to them - “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” and “Allow people to post comments on new articles”.
Comments are self-explanatory. People come to your website, read an article, and as long as you allow comments, people can write whatever is on their mind. Commenters must leave their name and email address (if you leave that setting checked). You can also require users to be registered to your site to comment. They would then need to be logged in to submit any comments. By default you will get an email sent to the admin account of the WordPress site when someone posts a comment, or when a comment is held in moderation. You can uncheck those boxes if you do not wish to receive those emails.
A comment will appear on the article (post or page) only after you approve it. If you have approved a comment author once, they will be automatically approved the next time they leave a comment on your site. Unless you uncheck the box labeled “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”. The all comment will appear automatically. We don't recommend this setting.
You also have some control over comment moderation regarding how many links a comment contains (spammers like to put links in their “comments”). You also can filter out words, URLs, email addresses, to hold them in moderation. You can then approve them, spam them, or trash them.
There are also forms of discussion called link notifications. Spammers like these too. Here's an article on the [What, Why, and How-To’s of Trackbacks and Pingbacks in WordPress](http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/what-why-and-how-tos-of-trackbacks-and-pingbacks-in-wordpress/).
Sometimes it's nice to have visual representations of the people who are commenting on your blog. For this, we have the Avatars feature.
Avatars are visual representations, pictures, graphics, etc., of users of the web. A common universal system that is used is called [Gravatars](http://gravatar.com/) (Globally Recognized Avatars). The system requires you to sign up with your email address. You can upload a graphical representation of yourself (again a picture or other graphic). From then on you are identified with your Gravatar on any blog that you use that email address with.
In the WordPress Discussion Settings, you have a few options. Whether to show Avatars at all, the “rating” allowed to be shown, and what the default Avatar will be if a user does not have a Gravatar.
One excellent way of keeping students engaged in a blog-driven class is to have them comment on each other's blogs. Keeping track of comments, on the other hand, can become a perilous endeavor. Luckily, you have a few options to minimize your time searching for everything.
Like posts, comments can be aggregated via RSS. By default, Wordpress sites have a link to “Subscribe to comments,” and you can set up a feed reader with a folder entitled comments. You can use this URL (the comments RSS URL) to subscribe. If your students are all posting on the class website, you can also click on “Comments” in Wordpress to see them all laid out.