If you’re like me you get annoyed with yourself when you know what you should be doing but you see yourself slipping. It’s been like that for me with commenters on my blog.
See, if you’ve commented on my blog, I want you to know I really appreciate the effort you’ve gone to, to be part of the conversation. The least I could do is fire off a quick email to you and thank you for your thoughts. But that’s where it all kind of goes pear-shaped for me, because it’s hard. Yes… it’s hard.
See, I have to approve your comment, then I have to copy your email address from the right page in WordPress, then I have to go to Outlook and draft an email, and repeat all that for the next commenter. The heart is there, but the patience is not.
Then earlier today the rather obvious thought occurred to me to see if anyone had created a plugin to automate this just a little… and guess what?!? Someone released just such a plugin, only three weeks ago! Perfect timing.
Enter the Comment Relish plugin by Justin Shattuck. Brilliant!
What this nifty little plugin does is detect the first time someone new comments on your blog. If it’s their first time commenting, it sends them an email that you can format using a bunch of preset variables. You can make the email say pretty much whatever you want. Then the plugin takes care of the rest, sending the email off to the commenter post haste.
Now being a nit-picky kind of guy I made one minor change, to resolve two concerns I have:
- I don’t want the email going directly to the commenter. I want the email sent to me, so I can check the wording, any weirdnesses (like changing the greeting from “Hi Darren Jones” back to just “Hi Darren”), and so I can add my own words to the template if their comment warrants it. Sometimes people also make obvious email address typos and I can check for these, this way.
- I don’t want a comment sent the moment they submit the comment. That’s not natural. By sending me an email, a more organic and natural exchange occurs. It may be hours before I see that email to adjust it and pass it on, but that’s more real to me.
Now these two issues demanded only the most minor change to the plugin… just changing their email address to mine, in the function call that sends the email. Nothing more.
So I’m a pig in mud. I now have my blog sending me nice pre-formatted thank you emails to send on to new commenters on my blog. I get to be friendly and personal, but without the hassles of “manual preparation” I used to have. Yay!
Commenter Joe wanted to know exactly what I changed in the plugin to get it to send to me, instead of the commenter directly. Well, on line
239 (of the current version of the plugin, anyway!) you’ll see the function call that sends the email. It’s the native PHP
mail() function. It takes a number of parameters (separated by commas), and you just need to replace the first one with your email address, making sure to wrap it in inverted commas, like this:
"[email protected]". And that’s all there is to it!