The meaning of a “healthy” community differs widely from server to server, and even from person to person. What’s healthy for one server may not actually be healthy for another! For example, it wouldn’t be the best idea to run a wholesome Animal Crossing fan group the same way as a Doom Eternal server.
Despite this, there are still many things that all healthy communities share. Most notably, they foster meaningful conversations through a positive, welcoming environment, all while maintaining a balance between fun and safety.
Many people assume that a community is “healthy” based on how many members it has and how active it is. While that can be a factor, those numbers alone can’t describe the quality of a community. The amount of activity may provide some insight but without looking deeper, there isn’t a way to know for sure. A massive, 500,000 member server might be flooded with multiple messages per second, but this provides little information about the quality or atmosphere of the conversations it contains.
Don’t be discouraged if the server doesn’t have a massive amount of members! Small communities thrive just as well as large ones, and as a bonus, they’re easier to moderate. The goal is to maintain a great place for like-minded people to hang out, not to be the biggest or the most popular.
Many factors that indicate health of a community can’t easily be put into numbers or displayed as data, so they may be difficult to understand without taking the time to really observe your server in an in-depth way.
The very core of a community is based on how people interact with each other. Observing and participating with members frequently - which you should be doing already as a moderator - should give you a good idea of the general atmosphere.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
It is central to make sure that conversations have the potential to go deeper than just “Hi, how are you” and other small talk. Deeper conversations foster more friendships and make the community a comfortable place that people want to come back to.
Discord provides all community servers with 500 or more members with an insights panel, which has tons of valuable stats. The activation, retention, and engagement charts it provides are awesome indicators of how things are going. Note that they are based on percentages, not just raw amounts.
If your server is actively growing, these stats (located in the Growth and Activation tab) will help you understand how new members are interpreting and reacting to the community.
The orange lines crossing both charts indicate benchmarks that communities should strive to surpass. They’re based on data from some of the best servers on Discord, and are usually a good target no matter how many members your community has!
The Engagement tab is filled with stats that show how current members are acting in the community. From there, you can see the average number of messages per active user, how many people muted the server, or even which channels are viewed/used the most. Are people using the server as expected? If they aren’t, some community adjustments might have to be made to change or tailor to their use cases.
Now that you know how to identify community health, it’s important to know how to grow and maintain that health.
People generally notice moderators more easily than other members, especially if they have a different role color that stands out. They will take note of how you act, and since you’re in a place of authority, what you do indirectly affects what they do. This shouldn’t need to be said, but a community cannot be healthy when there are moderators who are disrespectful, break their own rules, or encourage toxicity.
Whether it’s bringing up a cool topic or steering away from a dark one, you have many opportunities to gently guide conversations in meaningful directions. When a subject is becoming sensitive, argumentative, or just downright wrong, try to change the topic. If it continues, you should politely ask the people involved to drop it, or to move to a different channel if one exists for it.
Stomping out useless negativity, rudeness, and other toxicity is one of the most important things moderators must do. This can be easier said than done, especially if someone is being borderline but not quite breaking any rules. Many moderators get confused and wonder what they should do in these kinds of situations, and they may be afraid to do anything, as they think there’s nothing to justify it. The truth is, if someone is knowingly making others uncomfortable, even if they aren’t breaking any rules, it’s still the right thing to take action on them - especially if they’ve already been warned multiple times.
*Unless you are using the channel description for verification instructions rather than an automatic greeter message.
If you want to use the remove unverified role method, you will need a bot that can automatically assign a role to a user when they join.
Once you decide whether you want to add or remove a role, you need to decide how you want that action to take place. Generally, this is done by typing a bot command in a channel, typing a bot command in a DM, or clicking on a reaction. The differences between these methods are shown below.
In order to use the command in channel method, you will need to instruct your users to remove the Unverified role or to add the Verified role to themselves.
Don’t go overboard and just ban sadness, though. Your community members should be able to be themselves (within reason). Let them joke around, have fun, make memes, make friends, support each other, develop inside jokes, etc... without constantly breathing down their neck. Participate with them! While you should always step in as a moderator as needed, that doesn’t mean that you have to alienate yourself from the community.
This balance between being strict and lenient is important. There are many things that must be enforced, but doing so without hurting community health can be difficult. On the other hand, you don’t want to let your server get out of control. You should definitely be strict with the most important boundaries (such as disallowing spam, slurs, etc), but the others, depending on the behavior of the community, are up to you.
Markdown is also supported in an embed. Here is an image to showcase an example of these properties:
Example image to showcase the elements of an embed
An important thing to note is that embeds also have their limitations, which are set by the API. Here are some of the most important ones you need to know:
An important thing to note is that embeds also have their limitations, which are set by the API. Here are some of the most important ones you need to know:
If you feel like experimenting even further you should take a look at the full list of limitations provided by Discord here.
It’s very important to keep in mind that when you are writing an embed, it should be in JSON format. Some bots even provide an embed visualizer within their dashboards. You can also use this embed visualizer tool which provides visualization for bot and webhook embeds.
Occasionally, someone may join the server and constantly attempt to redirect all attention to themselves. They constantly interrupt other conversations with their own, become overly upset if they’re even slightly ignored, or tire everyone out (whether intentionally or not). In some cases, they might frequently tell others that they are depressed. While depression is a real issue, it can be hard to tell whether someone is simply attention-seeking or if they’re genuinely depressed.
The following warning signs can help you identify this behavior:
While receiving support from others is great, this kind of relationship is extremely unhealthy for everyone involved. Consider gently approaching this person and telling them that they’re not in trouble, but they need professional support that a Discord server can’t always provide, like a therapist.
If someone shows signs of being suicidal, please spend time with them, and urge them to contact a hotline. You should also contact Discord, who may be able to send help their way if you can’t.
Community health is a tough thing to get right. It requires a lot of understanding of your server’s members and what they enjoy (or don’t enjoy) about being there. The actions you take can influence so much about the general atmosphere, how welcoming the server is, and whether people want to spend their time there. As a guardian of the community, your job is not only to kick out trolls and toxicity, but also to nurture kindness, listen to feedback, and make sure that everyone is having a good time.
Even though this comparison is important for better understanding of both bots and webhooks, it does not mean you should limit yourself to only picking one or the other. Sometimes, bots and webhooks work their best when working together. It’s not uncommon for bots to use webhooks for logging purposes or to distinguish notable messages with a custom avatar and name for that message. Both tools are essential for a server to function properly and make for a powerful combination.
*Unconfigurable filters, these will catch all instances of the trigger, regardless of whether they’re spammed or a single instance
**Gaius also offers an additional NSFW filter as well as standard image spam filtering
***YAGPDB offers link verification via google, anything flagged as unsafe can be removed
****Giselle combines Fast Messages and Repeated Text into one filter
Anti-Spam is integral to running a large private server, or a public server. Spam, by definition, is irrelevant or unsolicited messages. This covers a wide base of things on Discord, there are multiple types of spam a user can engage in. The common forms are listed in the table above. The most common forms of spam are also very typical of raids, those being Fast Messages and Repeated Text. The nature of spam can vary greatly but the vast majority of instances involve a user or users sending lots of messages with the same contents with the intent of disrupting your server.
There are subsets of this spam that many anti-spam filters will be able to catch. If any of the following: Mentions, Links, Invites, Emoji, and Newline Text are spammed repeatedly in one message or spammed repeatedly across several messages, they will provoke most Repeated Text and Fast Messages filters appropriately. Subset filters are still a good thing for your anti-spam filter to contain as you may wish to punish more or less harshly depending on the spam. Namely, Emoji and Links may warrant separate punishments. Spamming 10 links in a single message is inherently worse than having 10 emoji in a message.
Anti-spam will only act on these things contextually, usually in an X in Y fashion where if a user sends, for example, 10 links in 5 seconds, they will be punished to some degree. This could be 10 links in one message, or 1 link in 10 messages. In this respect, some anti-spam filters can act simultaneously as Fast Messages and Repeated Text filters.
Sometimes, spam may happen too quickly for a bot to catch up. There are rate limits in place to stop bots from harming servers that can prevent deletion of individual messages if those messages are being sent too quickly. This can often happen in raids. As such, Fast Messages filters should prevent offenders from sending messages; this can be done via a mute, kick or ban. If you want to protect your server from raids, please read on to the Anti-Raid section of this article.
Text filters allow you to control the types of words and/or links that people are allowed to put in your server. Different bots will provide various ways to filter these things, keeping your chat nice and clean.
*Defaults to banning ALL links
**YAGPDB offers link verification via google, anything flagged as unsafe can be removed
***Setting a catch-all filter with carl will prevent link-specific spam detection
A text filter is integral to a well moderated server. It’s strongly, strongly recommended you use a bot that can filter text based on a blacklist. A Banned words filter can catch links and invites provided http:// and https:// are added to the word blacklist (for all links) or specific full site URLs to block individual websites. In addition, discord.gg can be added to a blacklist to block ALL Discord invites.
A Banned Words filter is integral to running a public server, especially if it’s a Partnered, Community or Verified server, as this level of auto moderation is highly recommended for the server to adhere to the additional guidelines attached to it. Before configuring a filter, it’s a good idea to work out what is and isn’t ok to say in your server, regardless of context. For example, racial slurs are generally unacceptable in almost all servers, regardless of context. Banned word filters often won’t account for context, with an explicit blacklist. For this reason, it’s also important a robust filter also contains whitelisting options. For example, if you add the slur ‘nig’ to your filter and someone mentions the country ‘Nigeria’ they could get in trouble for using an otherwise acceptable word.
Filter immunity may also be important to your server, as there may be individuals who need to discuss the use of banned words, namely members of a moderation team. There may also be channels that allow the usage of otherwise banned words. For example, a serious channel dedicated to discussion of real world issues may require discussions about slurs or other demeaning language, in this exception channel based Immunity is integral to allowing those conversations.
Link filtering is important to servers where sharing links in ‘general’ chats isn’t allowed, or where there are specific channels for sharing such things. This can allow a server to remove links with an appropriate reprimand without treating a transgression with the same severity as they would a user sending a racial slur.
Whitelisting/Blacklisting and templates for links are also a good idea to have. While many servers will use catch-all filters to make sure links stay in specific channels, some links will always be malicious. As such, being able to filter specific links is a good feature, with preset filters (Like the google filter provided by YAGPDB) coming in very handy for protecting your user base without intricate setup however, it is recommended you do configure a custom filter to ensure specific slurs, words etc. that break the rules of your server, aren’t being said.
Invite filtering is equally important in large or public servers where users will attempt to raid, scam or otherwise assault your server with links with the intention of manipulating your user base to join or where unsolicited self-promotion is potentially fruitful. Filtering allows these invites to be recognized, and dealt with more harshly. Some bots may also allow by-server white/blacklisting allowing you to control which servers are ok to share invites to, and which aren’t. A good example of invite filtering usage would be something like a partners channel, where invites to other, closely linked, servers are shared. These servers should be added to an invite whitelist to prevent their deletion.
Raids, as defined earlier in this article, are mass-joins of users (often selfbots) with the intent of damaging your server. There are a few methods available to you in order for you to protect your community from this behavior. One method involves gating your server with verification appropriately, as discussed in DMA 301.You can also supplement or supplant the need for verification by using a bot that can detect and/or prevent damage from raids.
*Unconfigurable, triggers raid prevention based on user joins & damage prevention based on humanly impossible user activity. Will not automatically trigger on the free version of the bot.
Raid detection means a bot can detect the large number of users joining that’s typical of a raid, usually in an X in Y format. This feature is usually chained with Raid Prevention or Damage Prevention to prevent the detected raid from being effective, wherein raiding users will typically spam channels with unsavoury messages.
Raid-user detection is a system designed to detect users who are likely to be participating in a raid independently of the quantity of frequency of new user joins. These systems typically look for users that were created recently or have no profile picture, among other triggers depending on how elaborate the system is.
Raid prevention stops a raid from happening, either by Raid detection or Raid-user detection. These countermeasures stop participants of a raid specifically from harming your server by preventing raiding users from accessing your server in the first place, such as through kicks, bans, or mutes of the users that triggered the detection.
Damage prevention stops raiding users from causing any disruption via spam to your server by closing off certain aspects of it either from all new users, or from everyone. These functions usually prevent messages from being sent or read in public channels that new users will have access to. This differs from Raid Prevention as it doesn’t specifically target or remove new users on the server.
Raid anti-spam is an anti spam system robust enough to prevent raiding users’ messages from disrupting channels via the typical spam found in a raid. For an anti-spam system to fit this dynamic, it should be able to prevent Fast Messages and Repeated Text. This is a subset of Damage Prevention.
Raid cleanup commands are typically mass-message removal commands to clean up channels affected by spam as part of a raid, often aliased to ‘Purge’ or ‘Prune’.It should be noted that Discord features built-in raid and user bot detection, which is rather effective at preventing raids as or before they happen. If you are logging member joins and leaves, you can infer that Discord has taken action against shady accounts if the time difference between the join and the leave times is extremely small (such as between 0-5 seconds). However, you shouldn’t rely solely on these systems if you run a large or public server.
Messages aren’t the only way potential evildoers can present unsavoury content to your server. They can also manipulate their Discord username or Nickname to cause trouble. There are a few different ways a username can be abusive and different bots offer different filters to prevent this.
*Gaius can apply same blacklist/whitelist to names as messages or only filter based on items in the blacklist tagged %name
**YAGPDB can use configured word-list filters OR a regex filter
Username filtering is less important than other forms of auto moderation, when choosing which bot(s) to use for your auto moderation needs, this should typically be considered last, since users with unsavory usernames can just be nicknamed in order to hide their actual username.
One additional component not included in the table is the effects of implementing a verification gate. The ramifications of a verification gate are difficult to quantify and not easily summarized. Verification gates make it harder for people to join in the conversation of your server, but in exchange help protect your community from trolls, spam bots, those unable to read your server’s language, or other low intent users. This can make administration and moderation of your server much easier. You’ll also see that the percent of people that visit more than 3 channels increases as they explore the server and follow verification instructions, and that percent talked may increase if people need to type a verification command.
However, in exchange you can expect to see server leaves increase. In addition, total engagement on your other channels may grow at a slower pace. User retention will decrease as well. Furthermore, this will complicate the interpretation of your welcome screen metrics, as the welcome screen will need to be used to help people primarily follow the verification process as opposed to visiting many channels in your server. There is also no guarantee that people who send a message after clicking to read the verification instructions successfully verified. In order to measure the efficacy of your verification system, you may need to use a custom solution to measure the proportion of people that pass or fail verification.
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