I love using WordPress for my blogs. For the most part, it’s really simple to set up and use, and with the amazing number of plug-ins, you can run a website with almost no programming knowledge.
I’ve had my self-hosted blog for about six years, and it’s been a good experience, although my blog posting has been erratic. I’ve learned enough programming to be dangerous and enough to be frustrated when I can’t figure out what’s wrong. The frustration level surged a couple of weeks ago when a friend (thanks @reedsirinek) told me he couldn’t leave a comment on a recent post.
After hitting the comment submit button, the site returned a page-not-found 404 error. OK, I looked through my WordPress comments settings and didn’t find anything obviously out of place. Next step: put Google to work. Google steered me to a variety of posts in the WordPress.org support forum. Some posts described similar problems, although they pre-dated the current version of WordPress by a year or two.
No help on WordPress support forum
The advice was old, but I tried some of the recommended steps — jiggling permalink and discussion settings and even themes — all to no avail. I even took a look at my .htaccess file to look for glitches. I resolved the 404 error problem, but the commenting function was still broken. After submitting a comment, the site simply returned to the original blog post with no comment added.
I let the problem percolate for a week or so, and finally hunkered down to look into it this weekend. I did a few more Google searches, and even posted my own question about it on the WordPress forum. After a day, I got no response. (That’s not a criticism. Volunteers run that support forum, and they do a great job. I was impatient.)
Finally, the solution came not from looking at code, but by noticing something on a blog site I read occasionally. That blog uses Disqus, a nifty commenting platform that has more features than I’ll ever use. What, I wondered, if there’s a WordPress plug-in for Disqus and I can bypass the built-in WordPress comment functions?
Sure enough, I found the Disqus plug-in, and after a couple of minutes had signed up for a Disqus account. It worked! At least for a moment. The comments showed up, and there was no 404 error. After a couple of test posts, however, I realized the comment counter wasn’t working. A quick jump back to Google uncovered an easy solution — clicking a radio button in the plug-in admin — and I was off to the comment races.
I tested a variety of themes, and the Disqus set-up worked with most — but not all. I’m planning to experiment with some new themes over the next few weeks, so I’ll need to be mindful of how comments are affected.
Lessons? Obviously, there’s more than one way to solve a perplexing problem. It would be cleaner to figure out where the original error is, but I’m satisfied with the creative work-around. Lesson 2: Test my site more often to make sure things are working as they should, at least until I’m getting a steady flow of comments!