A pingback is very similar to a wombat. Both are tiny and mostly harmless. And should you run across one, you may not know what to do with it. Same thing with blog comments. Unless your blog is wildly popular, you may not get even one comment in a month of posts. If you’re getting started blogging, you should know the basics of comment (and pingback) moderation for when you do see one in the wild. Here’s a quick primer on these two related kinds of blog post feedback.

Pingbacks and Blog Comments Explained

Pingbacks and comments are similar in principle. They’re a way for blog authors to know what others have to say about their post. When an author writes about your post and links to it from their own content, you’ll automatically get a pingback to let you know who wrote it and where you can read what they said. The WordPress Introduction to Blogging describes pingbacks as “remote comments.”

Think about pingbacks as a way to let you know when your ears should be burning. If someone else is talking about your content, you want to know, right? This might be an opportunity to network with a new contact. Or you might need to respond to someone’s criticism. When you approve a pingback, it appears in your comment section as a link to their content. We’ll talk about guidelines for moderation and approval later on. You might also get trackbacks; with a few differences, they’re the same as pingbacks, just an older technology.

The comment section displays below your blog posts. This is where users can leave messages to discuss your blog post. Anyone can leave a comment directly on your post under any name or alias and anyone can read the comments displayed there. It’s sort of like having a Letters to the Editor section on each of your blog posts. Depending on your blog’s settings, these comments may be left without needing to be approved. So whole discussions about your content can go on without your approval. However, most blogging systems give you the option to remove and delete comments.

One Way to Handle Your Comment Section

You might consider disabling comments and removing this section from your blog completely. There’s a risk involved in letting other people talk. They’ll praise you, agree with you and shoot you down all at once. People might say nasty things about you on your own blog. And your goals for the blog simply might not be served by hosting those discussions.

However, I’ve found that most comments on my posts for Roundpeg are from friends and people in the same industry. We allow all comments to appear instantly and rarely remove anyone’s comment. Instead, we try to respond to every comment on recent posts. The risk is worth the reward of building relationships with other people, whether they go and share your post with their friends, remember you when they need help later or just share a laugh in the moment.

You’re Going to Get Spammed

Just like comments, pingbacks can provide opportunities to network for your blog. However, both are susceptible to spam. Hosting spam in your comment section looks bad and can be dangerous for you and your readers. Use a tool like Akismet to zap most of that spam before it gets to you. Then just check out your blog system’s comment moderation to trash anything else that looks spammy. You’ll also get pingbacks from yourself if you link to content from a post on the same blog. Keep those in your comments if you want, but it’s ok to delete them.

Comments and pingbacks are a valuable way to enrich your blog with real relationships and lively discussions about topics that matter to you and your readers. With spam protection and some basic knowledge about these tools, you can avoid the pitfalls and enjoy one of the chief pleasures of blogging: the discussion afterwards.