WordPress Threaded Comments the Easy Way

August 23rd, 2009
WordPress Discussions, WordPress Tips

Comments are the incentives you get for writing a post and if you write good ones you are bound to get 100s and 1000s of comments on your posts.

But wait not every comment on your blog is directly related to the post itself, there are times when commentators respond to other commentators, in short we call that a discussion.

Flashback to WordPress 2.7, there was a new introduction in the form of threaded comments, this was done so that people on your blog can comment and respond to each other and communicate and discuss.

Coming back to future, it has been so long and many users still do not have threaded comments on their blogs.

Reason 1: Most of the WordPress users are not programmers and use themes created by others, so unless they use a theme that has support for threaded comments they don’t make use of that feature.

Reason 2: Many users have knowledge to program and edit but are just plain lazy (example me) and do not update their themes to add threaded comments support.

Now how does one implement threaded comments in WordPress when we fall into the above two categories? Pretty simple, by using the power that WordPress itself provides users with, in the form of extensibility, in short with a WordPress plugin.

WordPress Thread Comment is a excellent choice for adding threaded comments to your blog without having to have any coding skills, once you install the plugin it does everything for you, you do not even have to edit your themes to add threaded comment support on your blog.

Another option is to use Brian’s Threaded Comments which was actually the first one to add threaded comments to WordPress blog, however it still requires users to do a bit of theme changes.

Of course there are other options available in the form of third party services, like, take for instance Automattic’s own Intense Debate and Disqus, these services make commenting and discussion more easier.

Now do you have an excuse for not having threaded comments on your blog? BTW do you use threaded comments? If not why, if yes how? Don’t stop short of just reading this we have threaded comments enabled so discuss as much you wish :-).

I would be thankful if you take part in this small poll with regards to threaded comments.

You can find more options for threaded comments by visiting this search on WordPress extend.




  1. Chip Bennett (63 comments.) says:

    There is a third, legitimate reason for not using the built-in comment threading: your current theme has a custom comment layout that would be lost if converting to wp_list_comments, and the theme author isn’t comfortable with using a filter to replace the core comment layout.

    As good as wp_list_comments is, it has taken away a *lot* of the flexibility with respect to comment layout.

    • Keith Dsouza (82 comments.) says:

      @Chip I agree with that too, my laziness was partly because I did not have time to figure out a way to separate comments from pingbacks and trackbacks like I do right now.

      • sk (3 comments.) says:

        it’s actually quite easy to separate them.

        for just comments use:

        for trackbacks and pingbacks

        i preferred not showing the trackbacks/pingbacks in the same format as the comments so do this:

        use this for trackbacks and pingbacks

        and in functions.php

        <div id="comment-“> ()

    • Benedict Eastaugh (17 comments.) says:

      That’s not really accurate. You can customise the layout to your heart’s content by passing a custom walker class to wp_list_comments. Here’s an example comment walker, and here’s how to call it.

    • Otto (215 comments.) says:

      You can do it quite easily by simply making a custom callback function. The callback simply displays one post in the way you want it displayed, and has to follow a few minor conventions, but it gives you complete control over the HTML.

      Although I stand by my assertion that except in highly exceptional cases, having “full control” over the HTML is going to cause a theme developer to make a major mistake and screw up his own SEO. There’s something to be said for consistent code styles across sites, and theme developers too often focus on how the theme “looks”, and modify the HTML to change that, to their own detriment.

    • Iva (1 comments.) says:

      …and that is exactly what happened to me when 2.7 came out. I was using a combo of Brian’s threaded comments and another plugin to get paged and threaded comments and it just plain stopped working on old posts.

  2. Michael Punzenberger (1 comments.) says:

    On our WordPress blog we use threaded comments since two months with a selfmade theme. As we use the Qtranslate plugin to make the blog available in a second language, we got a problem with displaying the time, when the comment was written. Therefore it was very difficult to find any documentation about the new comment function in WordPress. We made a tricky but unsatisfying solution still waiting for a complete instruction. Has anyone found one?

    • Consciência Planetária (7 comments.) says:

      That’s one of the things that I most hate on WP, lack of official documentation.

      It depends on the community, and not on original developer, to produce documentation. Then somebody must uproot thru the code to understand what each function does, and if he still has time after doing so he must share his learnings with the community so that it becoms easier to understand.

  3. sk (3 comments.) says:

    The main issue I have on my wordpress install is pagination with threaded comments. It’s buggy when separating out pings from comments.

    if the core functions separated those out, that would be great. secondly, if there was a good ajax paged comment plugin out there. that would make things a lot easier for articles with large amounts of posts!

  4. Rick Beckman (15 comments.) says:

    I would have voted “No, threaded comments are teh lame,” but it wasn’t an option. They aren’t conducive at all to users being able to easily see which comments are new, and they can additionally cause a post’s comments syndication feed to appear nonsensical as each new post shows up as a new RSS entry, regardless of who was being replied to or of how much context the comment itself will provide.

    Better to just make use of blockquotes and take the time to address whoever you’re replying to by name.

  5. Clement (8 comments.) says:

    I have been looking for this kind of plugin for a long time. After installing and activating it, I have, however, landed into a problem. When I click [Reply] for a particular comment, I get the following message:

    Can’t find the ‘commentformid’ div.

    This plugin has not been tested for WordPress 2.8.4. Any tips on how I can solve this problem?

    • Clement (8 comments.) says:

      I have now sorted it out. I just put the comment form in my comments.php in the ‘commentformid’ div.i.e.


      I also editted the “Comment Form ID” in my WP Thread Comment settings to “commentformid”.

      I am not sure if it is the best way of doing it. But I am glad it worked and I am loving it.

    • bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

      which plugin are you talking about? he listed 3 different ones in that post, which one you talking about?

  6. Justin Tadlock (51 comments.) says:

    I’ll have to disagree about there being a need for threaded comments. I use them on some blogs. On others, I don’t. For example, one of my blogs can easily get 100s of comments with an interesting post. Following the conversation actually gets trickier for me if someone is replying to something like the first comment but is actually writing the 100th comment.

    Plus, I like to reply to several people at once and just link to their previous comment.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually love the threaded comments feature. It comes in handy for other sites I have, especially if they have fewer comments.

    • Hikari (79 comments.) says:

      Well for me it is the oposite, it is damn hard to understand discussion flow if there is a lot of comments and they are not threaded.

      Normally visitors don’t read all comments, for this kind of ppl their structure doesn’t matter at all. But if somebody decides to read all comments, it’s easier if they are threaded and each reply is just below the comment it is replying.

      It also helps if post author wants to reply to everybody. With threads, each reply is “attached” to each comment. If not, he will flood his own post making a lot of comments together (of course he can just reply a bunch of comments with only 1 comment, but anyway).

      Now, if somebody wants to follow new comments, there is a lot of ways for doing so. He can subscribe on post comment RSS or subscribe to be notified by email. On both cases he receives each comment text and link to it in case he wants to reply.

  7. Li-An (13 comments.) says:

    I agree with Rick Beckman. If threaded comments can be useful when there is a discussion about a precise point (like a technical help for a plugin), it’s not very comfortable for traditionnal comments. Visitors just take a look at the last comments and won’t visit all comments so they can miss the very last ones.

  8. Walter (1 comments.) says:

    WordPress Thread Comment isn’t working, if you use Yawasp.

  9. Consciência Planetária (7 comments.) says:

    I started using Intense Debate, but it is not good for SEO and all of a sudden comments started disappeared.

    Then I came back to WP built-in comment system and used WordPress Threaded Comment to implement threads, and copied all comments from ID to WP.

    Now I’d like to adapt my themes to support WP built-in threads, but I need to learn how to do it first.

    My concert is about current WordPress Threaded Comment structure. Will it remain after the plugin is disabled and threads start being run by WP? Or will I need to use some kind of port? I don’t feel secure yet to change it…

    • Consciência Planetária (7 comments.) says:

      Update, I’ve taken a look on comments table structure.

      comment_post_ID points to the post where the comment apprears, if we change it we can move a comment to any other post we want.

      comment_parent is the field that does the trick with WordPress Threaded Comment. If 2 posts have the same comment_post_ID and 1 of them has comment_parent pointing to the other, it is presented nested to its parent.

      I tried to move a parent comment to another post without moving its child, and both of them were shown without glitch, the plugin just ignores comment_parent data if it is unable to find the comment parent where it was supposed to be nested to.

      With this information, we can just edit comments directly on database to port/fix them. I just don’t know if WP built-in system also works with comment_parent field. If at least it uses something equivalent, we could build a SQL to copy WTC data to WP built-in.

      Of course a plugin can be developed to do all the trick too.

  10. Espreson (1 comments.) says:

    Using Intense Debate or Disqus adds more life to commenting system…

  11. Babs (37 comments.) says:

    After several years on LiveJournal I became spoiled with their threaded comments. Needless to say, I jumped for joy when they became available via WordPress.

    I will admit, however, that using the “Subscribe to Comments” plugin (and, most likely the comment feed) does make reading threaded comments a pain in the arse. But if LJ can figure out how to notify users of new comments, and tell them who commented and to whom, I don’t see why a plugin can’t be created (or an old one modified) to do the same.

  12. bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

    I’m lucky if I get 1 or 2 people responding to posts on my blog. I’ve been publishing for years, and I only get maybe 1-2 comments per post I make, or sometimes no comments at all *gasps*

    so therefore, threaded comments isn’t of much use to me.

    What would be handy for me though, would be something like an ajax edit comment plugin. That way, users could edit their comments *on the fly* within a certain time frame, like you can with most forum software.

    but since I am blind now, and can no longer see with my eyes to edit or create my own theme, I use a pre-built theme, and because of that, I can’t add a whole lot of that kind of functionality. In other words, I am in the Reason 1 category. I’m having enough trouble adding gravatar support to the current theme I use. I’ve tried to edit the theme before to add support for gravatars, but they don’t show up, so adding this kind of stuff to the theme I’m using has been a struggle for me.

  13. Ajay (72 comments.) says:

    I just prefer the threaded comments that WP comes inbuilt with. It still has a few bugs, but it’s good enough for me.

  14. Milan (17 comments.) says:

    I haven’t tried threaded comments because I am afraid it would be a one-way switch. If I ever decided to turn them off, it seems like it would make conversations that involved them completely confusing to read.

  15. kovshenin (13 comments.) says:

    Keith is actually right. Some people don’t like threaded comments just because they’re too lazy to get them. I personally think that comments are not just “hey thanks great post”, but more of a conversation, right guys?. Well in a conversation you direct your response to somebody in particular, not always the post author. The author should also be able to respond to those comments. Threaded comments clearly show which message is that particular response refering to, it’s kinda more structured.

    I like to use the wordpress inbuilt threaded comments and I also wrote an article about it back in february:

    ~ @kovshenin

  16. pauleco (1 comments.) says:

    We made our theme work with threaded comments this time round. Don’t think we quite have the UA right yet though, as lots of people just hit reply to the post and the conversational flow is broken. I really need to be able to move child comments to the right parent. Does anyone know if there is a way to do this without me having to get our developer involved…? ;-)


  17. Infographiste (1 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the tuto and the help comments guys, it works well now, have a nice week!

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