Oct 27 2010

Subscribing Made Easy

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 8:46 pm

Whether people come and visit your site to read the latest developments in the world of console comparisons, to catch up with the latest photos of your family and friends, or enjoy checking what complete strangers are up to, it is great when they make the effort and leave comment for everyone else to read and perhaps reply to.
One problem I come up against (as a visitor, rather than site owner) is I tend to leave comments at a wide variety of sites and don’t have time to check for replies in the conventional manner. My Google Reader account is already full of all the RSS feeds I have the time to follow, and keeping bookmarks for a million and one sites just clutters up the browser’s menus, and realistically means you’ll forget to check them very often.
This is why I am very happy when I come across another site that uses the Subscribe To Comments plug-in. The premise is simple – if someone fills in the e-mail field correctly, when leaving a comment, they will be e-mailed by your site should somebody else then leave a new comment on the same post. This means the visitor doesn’t have to actively check whether any replies have been left, and also improves the chances that a visitor who randomly came upon your site will return.
One issue is that the latest versions of the plug-in have had the checkbox to subscribe to comments left unticked as default. This was due to a conversation had between WordPress developers, who decided that to comply with anti-spam legislation (as there is no double opt-in etc.), visitors should have to explicitly indicate that they want to receive further communications. This makes sense (especially legally) if you are a business operating in America with their CAN-SPAM regulations. However, on a personal site like this, I tend to think it is more likely that I’ll have family, friends and random strangers who will not notice, or neglect to tick the box. For this reason, I modified the code to revert its behaviour to the old system of relying on visitors to un-tick the box if they don’t want to be told about new replies. You can either search for Subscribe To Comments on this blog to check my post detailing which lines of code to change, or check the comments section in this plug-in’s post over at txfx.net.
In terms of settings, you can check which addresses have subscribed to the most amount of posts, which posts have the most amount of people subscribed, and also tailor the text that is used when presenting the option to subscribe.

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