Probably the most important thing under General is to set your time zone and date/time format preferences. For most of us, picking Los Angeles or Vancouver under the America section of the drop down will work, although if you are abroad, you’ll want to pick a city close to whichever one you are currently living in.
Probably the only setting you’ll immediately want to check out here is the default post category:
Using this option, you can select the default category most of your posts will go to (unless you change them manually). This is useful if most of your posts fall under, say, Homework Assignments, Research Updates and etc.
In the Reading Settings section, you can affect how and where your posts and pages appear. Probably the most useful setting is the one that allows you to change default display pages:
Using the “static page” option for “Front page,” you can create a Page and then set that as the default view for your website, instead of having the most recent Post be the default view.
This is the spot where you can control requirements and alerts for comments on posts you make–including requiring the comments to be approved by you, altering the maximum level of comment replies, and changing whether or not you will receive updates by email if people comment or comment-related events happen.
This section just allows you to change the default sizes of media when inserting them into posts. Normally, inserting an image as a thumbnail will scale it to 150px x 150px, but using the Media Settings page, you can make that 100px x 100px, or 200px x 200px, etc.
This page is pretty important because it controls whether or not your site is visible to search engines. It also controls who can access the site beyond that, such as only users with a password or only administrators.
You can also set the password that people need to access your site, if you want one, on this page.
Your blog avatar is similar to your user avatar–it’s a little image associated with your site. It will appear next to your blog’s link if it is linked on the main WordPress site or other sites.
This section controls when the bar at the top of your page appears (for instance, when viewing your site but not actively editing it). Checking the two boxes here just makes it easy to get to your dashboard from your site.
Allows you to connect your site with a Google Analytics tracking code. Most people probably won’t use this.
Notify for Review
This section allows you to control the automatic emails that are generated when a Contributor submits a post for review to an Administrator (note: only the Administrator specified on the Settings/General page will get the first automatic email).
This setting is helpful for you as the site owner because it allows you to exercise quality control over the content of your site, either by editing spelling/grammar mistakes or by prohibiting the submission of content you you not wish to display.