Help Me Add Comment Approval Notifications to WordPress

Since enabling comment moderation on the Tavern, I’ve discovered that WordPress does not notify commenters when their comments are approved.

On the Tavern, I’m using the Comment Approved plugin by Niels van Renselaar. It allows me to create a custom notification message that is sent when a comment is approved. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s working. Please let me know if you’ve received any comment approval emails from the Tavern.

I strongly believe this feature should be in core. I’ve started the process by creating a feature request ticket on WordPress trac. Let’s discuss the pros and cons or why you think it shouldn’t be in core. Please give me your feedback in the comments or within the ticket.

49 Comments


  1. The plugin is not working for you because you’re using the Jetpack comment form.

    The Comment Approved plugin adds a checkbox to the normal comment form, which says “Notify me by email when my comment gets approved”. This checkbox does not appear on the Jetpack form, because the Jetpack form replaces the normal comment form. So, that setting is never checked for anybody, so nobody gets a notification.

    You can use Jetpack comments, or plugins that expect you to be using normal comments. Not both.

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      1. If a plugin (or core) simply notified the user without asking for the opt-in, it’d work. In this case, everything would work fine except the lack of meta to indicate that you should notify that particular commenter.

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      2. I suppose that is something worth discussing, whether the commenter should opt-in to receive a notification or whether it should happen automatically.

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      3. @Armin Grewe And if any of those countries had any form of legal jurisdiction over Jeff and his blog, then that would be a point to be concerned about. However, since this is unlikely to be the case, then I think it’s really rather a moral question as opposed to a legal one.

        The opt-in checkbox is certainly worth considering, however, it’s also worth looking at the data itself. I comment here using my WordPress.com account. Does the email field even get filled in properly on my comments, Jeff? Or does it fill it in with some wp.com data? Will emails even work directly?

        In the long run, I’d ditch the Jetpack comments system. Mainly because it’s a source of too many problems, but also because, well, I kinda sorta hate it. It’s annoying and interferes with too many things. It’s fine for WordPress.com blogs, but on .org ones, it’s intrusive and difficult to work with. Not their fault, I see why they did it the way it has been done, but it’s still annoying and painful.

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      4. @Otto,

        “And if any of those countries had any form of legal jurisdiction over Jeff and his blog, then that would be a point to be concerned about.”

        Actually, they do. You might think that’s silly but, to use your own words, your view is “really rather a moral question as opposed to a legal one.”

        Of course, those countries are extremely unlikely to try to enforce that power, but that’s a whole different thing from saying they don’t have jurisdiction.

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      5. If we tried to obey the laws of every country a website “operated in”, we could end up in a seriously messy, or even impossible to solve, scenario.

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      6. @Samuel “Otto” Wood – Try using anything but double opt-in in Canada and see where that lands you with CASL.

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      7. @Ryan Hellyer,

        “If we tried to obey the laws of every country a website “operated in”, we could end up in a seriously messy, or even impossible to solve, scenario.”

        In many circumstances, true. But thinking that there are no such legal implications is just the online equivalent of burying your head in the sand.

        I wonder, for example, if Jeff realizes the implications just within the US of deciding to moderate comments so actively.

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      8. @Danny Brown

        CASL wouldn’t apply in the case of comment approval notification, as it doesn’t fit the criteria of a Commercial Electronic Message. And in any case, CASL certainly doesn’t require double opt-in. Single opt-in is enough to count as “express consent” and keep you free of trouble.

        That being said, it’s always best practice to let users know what you plan on doing with their email address, and give them control over the communication that you send them.

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      9. It depends if you’re then using the commenter email for marketing (which, let’s face it, many blog posts fall into).

        I work for an org with 18,000 employees, and we’ve had to have numerous discussions over the last 18 months re. CASL, and what constitutes CEM.

        Blog comments (based on the option of further marketing from them) is part of the ongoing discussion.

        Fun times! ;-)

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      10. That’s a fair point. From everything I’ve been able to read, it seems rather targeted at messages that are directly marketing or promoting specific services/products/etc. But I am now curious how broadly the CRTC would interpret the actual wording. Does visiting a monetized blog constitute “commercial activity?” Does an activity notification constitute “encouraging to participate?”

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      11. Yeah, agree – sadly, the wording doesn’t really help matters. I long for the day when officialdom just uses plain old English, and verbiage that makes sense while not being as clear as mud. ;-)

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      12. You know me, man. Hit me up via email and I’ll create something for you for this. Should not be hard. ;)

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    1. That’s to notify people when a post is published. What I want is entirely different and relates to comments.

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  2. Interesting idea, Jeff. We hadn’t thought of this for Postmatic. It may very well show up in 1.5 later this month.

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    1. Postmatic notifies once a comment is approved though, unless I’m missing something? :)

      I’ve commented on a few Postmatic-powered blogs that moderate comments, and each time – once the comment is live – I get the subscription confirmation and other comments. Works perfectly. :)

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      1. The experience isn’t all it could be for the user leaving the comment. You do get a subscription confirmation message *after* your comment has been approved…. but it doesn’t tell you that you are getting it because it has been approved.

        We could make the whole flow a lot nicer like this:
        – The user leaves a comment (via the web in this case)
        – If the user chose to subscribe to comments and their comment is held for moderation… we shoot them an email letting them know they are being moderated.
        – When the comment is approved, they get the subscription confirmation email along with a thumbs up that their comment went live. They can pick up the conversation from there.

        That’s probably what we’ll shoot for.

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  3. I do not receive any notification everytime my comment is approved but that is not important as far as I am concerned for as long as I am notified of new blog post via the jetpack plugin/wordpress.com.

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      1. When one posts a comment there is no indication if the comment has been submitted or lost. There should be a message for users to know that the comment has been submitted.

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      2. I hope things are getting better. We just released the new version of Epoch which makes it hecka easy.

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      3. Moderating EVERY comment is stupid, Can’t you do it so after one, two maybe three approved comments the user gets auto approved? Put certain ppl that gained your trust on that auto-approval list. I’d put you, Otto, She’d Balhki on that list. It would save you a lot of time.

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  4. Jeff, send me a message :). I’m happy to help you out to get it working. I’m not sure how the Jetpack comments are working but will be happy to figure it out!

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  5. I’ve not got a strong opinion on this one, but here’s something else you can’t do in core that strikes me as something that ought to be there: the ability to lock a user’s account so that they can’t login.

    With vanilla core, you can delete an account, but that requires you to either delete or re-assign content (both of which can be problematic – what if you want content to remain and be credited to the real author?). But, you can’t keep an account and prevent login without a snippet or plugin.

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    1. It is actually very simple, change both email address and password.

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      1. Even simpler change their role to subscriber which by default doesn’t let you do anything extra but view private pages as far as I know.

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  6. All good issues mentioned above (i.e user must consent to receive emails from you). This could be done with an auto-checked box, but that opens another caveat.

    WordPress by default allows you to moderate the first comment, but then auto-approve the later ones unless it catches a filter (i.e too many links or word blacklist etc).

    So do you keep showing the checkbox to those users? Or do you setup some kind of cookie for tracking purposes? (ok that will open a new set of problems which can be discussed in a ticket itself).

    Let’s say that you do get this in core, the other big problem is that most hosting environments aren’t suitable for “reliable” email delivery. It’s too often that user registration emails / password reset emails go in spam folder unless you use a SMTP plugin and run emails through Google Apps or Mandrill.

    TBH: I think the WP comment system in general could use some love :)

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  7. I was searching for the same functionality for my own website, and I ended up using this plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/comment-email-reply/ I had to change the code a bit for my own use, but it works like a charm!

    It sends an email when you manually approve it, that’s all. You can change the text of the email by adding a translation file.

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  8. If you are going to extend some code to fix this – how about adding a checkbox for the admin to send a notice that says something like “you comment was not approved – in fact it was derezzed with extreme prejudice due to violations of our new comment content policy” –
    (not doing emoji – please read that with a joking laughing voice, then switch to one of those movie quotes with a military tone for the extreme prejudice part, then back to totally kidding voice)

    would also be nice to be able to forward to the text of the comment back to the commenters – if they spent 50 minutes writing something, it might be nice to give them their text back – giving an option to review it, and consider changing a word or two that may have been considered too controversial – thus giving an option to still post important info and keeping the comment in line with whatever policy said site may have… extra cool if possible to highlight the words that causing the concern..

    so a third checkbox option under “Notify me of new comments via email” –
    notify me if my comment is approved for public display or disapproved by the moderation team”

    I know it’s a pain, with some comments on one of my sites I edit things when personally identifiable info or something similar is included.. and I add ** edited by admin to remove blah blah ** – it’s fun when you moderate every comment that comes through, would love to see more options / better tools for comment admins.

    * especially if those tools were not hooked into jetpack or other third party services that we’d never use :))

    Wish I could help with this – I’m now 20% through my course on php – maybe one day.

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  9. This is just one of the very many reasons I use Postmatic, and why WordPress needs a better default set-up.

    I’ve found Jetpack to be useless lately when it comes to notifications, and I then forget to go back and check if there’s a reply or not. Also, depending on how the blogger sets up notifications, some of the comment reply plugins are underused too.

    At least with Postmatic I know everyone that subscribes to the conversation can actually continue to take part in it…

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    1. Yea. When I see conversations such as this one all I can do is bite my tongue and think to myself *Postmatic is free. It’s GPL and uses native comments. It’s in the repo and takes 2 minutes to install. And it solves all of these problems and more… it’s kind of a no brainer*.

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      1. And here I came back to check if there any replies, and I see Postmatic and Epoch in use – happy days!! :)

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  10. When you post a comment through Jetpack, and you have a WordPress.com blog, then it shows in the dashboard ‘Home’ in the ‘Your Stuff’ column whether or not the comment has been approved.

    That works for me. :-) Personally I’m not waiting for yet another e-mail.

    That doesn’t account for people who have a WordPress (Gravatar) account, but not a blog (.com or .org)?

    “I moderate every comment!”
    ~ Jeff Chandler

    Considering your work load, is it an idea to reach out to people with a disability that are looking for work experience/ volunteer work (something like that), to off load your work load at some points on the WP Tavern blog, this could allow people to learn job experience. Win win. Just thinking out loud, so it may not be a good idea.

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  11. Just wanted to say great to see you’re trying out Epoch and Postmatic, Jeff – looking forward to seeing how it goes for both you, and the WP Tavern community. :)

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    1. Looking forward to seeing how this combination works on the Tavern and whether readers find it more convenient and easier to use than the Jetpack Comments or Native WordPress comments.

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      1. I hear you, mate. I’ve been using since Postmatic since February, and Epoch since the first beta (very different from this version!).

        I found once people get into the mindset of comments by email, it becomes so second nature you wonder why you’ve put up with web commenting for so long. :)

        And the “throttle” option is a nice way to keep control of your Inbox when conversations are as lively as this one.

        By the way, nice job on the styling – is that a plugin you’re using for “b”, “i”, “link” and “quote”, or hard coding?

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      2. It’s called Basic Comment Quicktags https://wptavern.com/basic-comment-quicktags-plugin I’m making an edit to shorten the grey bar as it doesn’t match up with the reply button. Instead of presenting a bunch of HTML quicktags people can use, these buttons are much easier. You can configure which ones you want but these 4 are the most used I think.

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      3. Awesome – cheers, Jeff, may have to check that out, it reminds me a little of Livefyre without all the clunky bells and whistles. :)

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      4. Very cool, Jeff. Development on Epoch & Postmatic is rapid… so let’s hope the current feature set is a good match for Tavern users.

        Also, Epoch and Postmatic are native comments. They just fix a lot of issues and pain points.

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