How to Set Up & Manage a Discord Server
Have you created a Discord server and need to know how to manage it? Here is a detailed guide on that!
This article is the second in a series of three on managing a Discord. It follows How to Create a Discord Server.
In this second post, I will cover the aspects necessary for managing its community in a broad sense.
What I’m describing there normally holds for a fairly active server with a few hundred members, so don’t be surprised if you feel like you don’t need everything I say there. In any case, however, you will be ready!
1. Structural management
Who remembers the golden principle? “Need creates community, never the other way around.” Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t add anything just because you’re not asked. Just be careful not to leave anything that is not useful.
To find the right balance, listen. For example, open a suggestion box where members can make suggestions. Surveys are not necessarily the best option because most people who answer them will already be involved in the server. Surround yourself with a staff ready to determine what is worth trying, and feel free to go back in your choices.
Feel free to be a little creative in the roles and channels you create. You can have the role of Moderator, Animator, etc. as long as it advances the server to something and everything has a use.
Another happy medium to be found in the amount of change. Too little and the server will appear frozen (which is not necessarily a bad thing if it suits the community!); too much and members will have difficulty finding their bearings. To fix this, try to group the small changes and make the bigger ones separately.
1.1 Install filters
Depending on your server’s structure, you can imagine different types of “filters” that will prevent raids, for example, or limit access to certain members that you deem undesirable.
To do this, you can demand action on the part of newcomers: take roles, introduce themselves, in short. Take precautions.
2. Some notions of moderation
There is a strong preconceived idea around moderators that I would like to debunk: we often see police officers who will scold us if we do something stupid.
Yet a good moderator should make sure everyone is comfortable as much as possible, and “scolding people” is rarely a good way to do this.
The sanctions are part of an admin or speaking prerogatives, but put it forward, is to neglect his other responsibilities and activities. So let’s start from the beginning and see the basics.
2.1 Establish a settlement
This is super important, even if you are naturally flowing. Why? Because the rules are not so much there to impose restrictions as they are to justify your actions.
It is a kind of contract: the member has signed to respect them, and if he does not do so, he should not be surprised to suffer the consequences.
Respect, politeness, no trolling, and no spam: this is really the basics (unless you agree to it, at your own risk).
You can also more simply prescribe respect for Netiquette.
2.2 Be fair
I know I’m pushing open doors a bit, but it’s not that easy as it looks. In your community, you are naturally going to want everything to suit you.
If people are with you, it is because your management suits them (or they have interest elsewhere, or they like to hurt themselves, and believe me, that can happen). But it has limits.
So you have to make sure that you are acting for the community’s good and not for yourself.
This can mean accepting members that you don’t necessarily like. And yes.
Unless the community feels the same, of course, on the other hand, that doesn’t mean that you have to try to satisfy everyone, because that is guaranteed burnout. Let people find their place.
Also, make sure you know the big picture before you act. You always have to find the context.
To do this, you can impose an end to a debate (even if it means forbidding people to speak), which will give you and your team time to come back to the facts.
For example, inquire by asking the opinion of the people concerned in private. Also, use Discord’s search function to find important items.
A formidable ally of moderation.
2.3 Intervene without humiliating
In my opinion, this is the most important principle.
If you are speaking in public as a moderator, make sure the person doesn’t feel humiliated. Explaining nicely, it often works. Another option is to make fun of it. Public intervention is nonetheless useful because it shows your community that you are taking action for them.
Privilege sanctioning in private when more severe intervention is required. This avoids throwing oil on the fire.
2.4 Adopt the presumption of innocence.
Never assume someone is wrong. If you don’t have proof or testimony, you can take at their word. And even if it does, don’t let it smell! In the event of a dispute, treat all parties equally, regardless of your suspicions. This will prevent you from most of the bias related to your affection and make the investigation easier.
This also brings us to principle 2.4.1:
2.4.1 Assume that everyone is in good faith
Indeed, the best way to deal with trolls is to go in their direction. Thus, you will frustrate the less subtle, making it easier for yourself to reveal the more discreet.
When the infraction becomes sufficiently obvious (or if things go too far), the penalty may drop.
You always have to put an end to tensions, even a little brutally, before they escalate.
2.5 Nothing IRL justifies IVL behavior.
More or less, we tend to use the virtual world as a complement to real life.
Often, on the condition of anonymity, we believe we have the right to relieve ourselves of our worries by being toxic on social networks. It’s not necessarily conscious, but it’s never an excuse.
Whether through negligence or laziness, we often tend not to communicate enough.
When you have access to everything on a server, it is a behavior that quickly becomes commonplace. However, it is important to remember how insecure it can be for a member not to see everything.
Never leave a comment unanswered and don’t take criticism under the rug. Don’t take anything personally if you are being addressed as a staff member. Make people open to you.
(Yes, I know, I still have a lot of work to do on this.)
If someone tells you about a boring thing you’ve heard about a hundred times before and can’t help it, remember that the person isn’t supposed to know that you are being asked a lot about it.
Put yourself in her shoes and value her as much as if she had been the first person to tell you about it. Otherwise, we quickly pass for robots.
2.7 Never give in to your feelings.
Even if you already knew it, it cannot be repeated enough: anger is a bad counselor.
To get angry with a troll is to give it a victory. Let it waste your time, too. Don’t let them have that joy.
Rely on your team before you crack, because remember that you are supposed to “lead by example.”
2.7.1 Promote the “moderator” behavior of non-moderators
Remind your members that they will help you a lot by applying the G principle themselves!
Indeed, if they get angry with a disruptive member, they would like him to be sanctioned. But by doing so, they are doing themselves punishable and doing you a disservice at all.
An assaulted troll will retort that he has been pushed to the limit. Although this is spurious, it can make a case much more difficult to manage. Because to be fair, you will also have to sanction the person the troll has upset (under penalty of receiving comments on your arbitrariness ). It is quite an ironic and delicate situation. Conclusion:
2.8 You are not responsible for how members feel about each other
When we contact you to act, ask people what bothers them and what they would like to see happen to concrete. If you are told, “I don’t like this person, do something,” it is not concrete.
Ask why the member is believed to have broken the rules. If he has not violated them, not being responsible for the members’ relations, you have nothing to do. Call on people to respect each other, or to ignore each other. Your community is not the place to settle scores. If that’s not enough, sanction both parties.
2.9 No one is supposed to know everything about the actions of moderation.
You will sometimes be criticized for not being 100% transparent. It’s okay not to be.
Bans are public by definition, but several notions prevent you from swinging everything, starting with respect for privacy.
Explain that moderation’s principle is to manage and curb aspects of the community that members do not want: harassment, drama, people drunk on vocals, etc.
You can also ask the person who criticizes you if they would agree to have their mistakes displayed in public.
2.10 Face the facts in the face
An active community will inevitably involve you emotionally sooner or later, to a greater or lesser extent. This involvement is bias, and I will talk about it again below.
Of course, you have to know how to take into account what you are feeling and prevent it from negatively influencing your judgment. An offense is the same for a new member or a former one. The difference is the member itself. To help you with that, here’s a metaphor:
2.11 Members are batteries
It’s a good way to take a step back.
The battery metaphor can help you visualize the “credit” you give to members of your community.
When a member joins the server, their trust battery is at 5%. It is up to him to invest the time and effort to gain the community’s trust and put his battery on charge.
If the limb’s intake is positive, its load will gradually increase. A constructive pillar, for example, will approach a 100% load.
The offenses, in turn, lower the battery level. Negative behavior will cause her to fall gradually, while a serious offense can, for example, cause her to lose 20% at once.
What this illustrates is that the former members are privileged. You may be noticed that you show favoritism: answer that it is and that it is normal.
If a member’s first post is a serious offense, their load will drop straight to 0%, and you’ll ban them immediately without shocking anyone. On the other hand, a pillar will get away with it because it will have earned your trust and deserved a “margin.”
It’s a tricky balance. And you, Caligo, how do you deal with the pillars and friends who have bad community behavior?
I love this question. If we asked 100 admins, 99 would answer that they are severe, impartial and that even if they are friends, they will sanction without thinking.
I will just answer that these are the most difficult cases to manage and that it is often complicated to punish someone you’ve known for years or to punish a friend. Indirectly we are going to favor this kind of member.
It is logical, human. There is nothing we can do.
Here, see the penalties as notifications about a member’s battery level. To make a stern remark in private, for example, is to warn him that his load has just dropped.
Conversely, giving members responsibilities means telling them that their work level is very high (a moderator should never fall below a relatively high threshold).
The borderline troll, that is to say, the insidious trolls who are always “at the limit” will have fun in lowering their battery level slowly, to sow chaos without merit warning.
Pay attention to this and tell them to take charge before they have to sanction them too harshly without warning because this is what they are looking for so they can blame you afterward!
There are as many batteries for a person as there are people who know them. A particular member may have a load of 10% in one person and 70% in another.
The most important batteries are those of your team, but you should not ignore those of others either (as long as this does not violate principle H ).
I advise you not to set up a system that materializes your members’ level of a load. No one wants to be compared to a battery. Here it was just a metaphor.
Other things are important, like avoiding nepotism, because it is the toxic drift of favoritism.
There will always be a little since you will favor high batteries, but it’s like everything, it’s good in small doses.
To help you, your team is essential. Because the last principle is:
It is important to know how to delegate, especially if you have the motivation to organize events, for example. If you try to do it all on your own, you will lose efficiency, you may be uncomfortable, and you may be disappointed.
I always tell my staff that, if they are not able to handle a situation, a problem or a friend of theirs is involved, it does not matter, they are not obliged to sanction themselves, they can leave the hand to another member of the staff who will be better able to have a perspective on the people concerned.
3. Your team
How to choose your staff? Here the question arises of who is the right moderator. This is a topic that deserves its article, but I will condense some additional principles, thanks to the list’s miracle. It is a person who:
- has a basic knowledge of the principles I have already mentioned;
- matches your server’s mind and feels good there;
- should be comfortable with representing authority, even just a little if your server is “cool” to the core;
- can respect the rules, but also get out of them a bit when the opportunity arises;
- knows how to take into account his effect but also put it aside for making an objective decision;
- is capable of discussion and questioning.
Caligo points out that being a moderator is a task that one can take to heart regardless of their interest in the community.
It has to be agreed and productive, but it’s true: you can be a moderator just because you can and like it. Conversely, one can be an excellent moderator in a given server and be unable to perform the same functions elsewhere.
As an administrator, you will notice that no one has asked you if you meet these criteria beforehand, so do your best!
Different sanctions can be applied depending on the seriousness of the infringements. Here are the ones I recommend, in increasing order of seriousness.
- Call to public order (kind and derided);
- severe call to order in private;
- temporary transfer of the person;
- temporary ban (1 week to 1 month);
- definitive ban.
I am a big fan of the temporary ban, a serious sanction leaving a lot of room for the second chance while showing the community you are listening to. I recommend.
A new but very useful sanction is to block a writing member on a particular channel. This is done in the configuration panel of a channel.
This is the perfect sanction to prevent a borderline member from speaking in the # debate channel, for example!
I mainly use the ban and the mute, the kick being (for me) especially useful to cut short an argument or a member who does anything. I also sometimes “threaten” a disruptive member to reset their level if there is leveling on the server (this is quite effective).
It is difficult to say when to apply the sanctions. All regulations are flexible, regardless of the server. It is up to the staff to adapt the sanctions and apply them properly after each server has its moderating way!
- Following Discord’s terms of service and the law of your country, you are required to ban (and ideally report) members who are too young ( under 15 in France ) (yes, I know it’s super high) (but in real life, nobody will bother you if you don’t unless you have a VERY serious community);
- the banishment bypass is grounds for banishment!
Consider inviting a moderation bot to your server. Mee6 is a good example: it will allow you to develop your personalized workflow in a very simple and flexible way.
5. Integration of new members
It is always difficult to integrate into a community. People already know each other, and it seems that we have to prove that we have our place.
If you want to put newcomers at ease, then it’s important to take the first step.
This means welcoming, but if you have the patience, it is even better to take an interest in the person. What brings her what she is looking for, etc.
The best way to integrate new people is to speak to them directly when they arrive, not to ignore their discreet little “hello.”
The staff must show that they are involved, attentive, and do not show favoritism for the active.
It also requires that the regulars do not close to new (note this is too recurrent; it is one of the most difficult problems to manage).
To make it easier for you, consider a host robot that sends a quick welcome message with a few instructions (again, Mee6 does the job well).
Just be careful that the robot is not the only one working. If the person needs help, you might as well give it to them in human words!
It is also important to maintain a certain activity because it is done:
By creating links. It is super important the links in a community. It is also necessary to organize some events, to show that the server evolves and does not stagnate, to make a change.
It is almost impossible to keep the same members all the time. In general, it rotates, some come and are active a month, then they disappear while others arrive, some have been there for years and will stay for years to come, etc.
Be close to your community. Organize events, chat in the channels. Always improve the server, even with small updates, so people are interested and come back to see how things are going.
Also, let people help you with the waiter. This might mean getting them on staff or giving them simple responsibilities, like pinning messages. It gives them the feeling of being part of the community.
Indeed, it is up to the person to see if the atmosphere suits him. Because it doesn’t matter if you have the best-run community in the world – it won’t be for everyone. This is something your community needs to understand. And you too.
6. Emotional management
I have already skimmed over it a little: emotional management is an integral part of managing a server.
The two administrators that I contacted and I have experienced difficult episodes in the community.
The more your members come from different backgrounds, the greater the risk of disagreements and dramas.
You should not neglect the impact on you. This is also one of the advantages of bringing together people with common interests.
I experienced a “burn out “Discord because I managed a very large server (8,000 members before closing) for more than two years.
Nothing to do with my Discord, even if many people had fun comparing the two (it’s Giga below).
I saw a lot of problems on this server, difficult times. I have always tried to be as impartial as possible, even if it is very complicated.
I will not go into details, but there were periods of tension that sometimes involved between 10 and 20 people (very difficult to manage, especially when it comes to former members, etc …).
There was harassment, a lot of harassment even.
It’s the worst. I was sometimes so stressed that I couldn’t sleep.
At first, I always thought of the waiter, even when I was going out, but now I feel comfortable because I know my staff can take care of everything.
You will therefore need the help of others, either a co-administrator or a few modes. Keep trustworthy people by your side, so you can consult them or even chat for relief.
Also, keep in mind that this is just a server, not the end of the world or anything, so take some free time.and empty your head outside. Prepare for tough times; sometimes, you will need to be strong. But don’t worry, time fixes everything.
For my part, I almost left my community in the summer of 2019 when things were the most complicated.
When you make a community, you must first know how to accept the problems of everyday life outside of Discord and take a step back from them.
6.1 Let the server evolve
Over the months, your members’ lives will change, as will the atmosphere of the server. These are things that you should not try to control. However, like the rest, you may need to manage it.
The “it was better before”, direct or in disguise, doesn’t just exist on YouTube. Fortunately, if you can’t control the mood, you can influence it: give your community what you want them to give you!
My Discord, for example, began its existence as a cinema and literature server. Depending on the assets, its vocation has evolved. Occasionally, it has become a Philosophy, Leisure, Cinema, Literary Discord, etc. By choosing which of these aspects to keep and eliminate overtime, it “stabilized” as a relaxation server on art and the humanities. But it can still change!
Your server will quickly have its folklore. Of inside jokes, memes, stories, and so many things that will give it its personality, I would say even more: his tone.
Among the unmanageable things are the limits that members place on themselves. On my server, emotional insults, for example, have a very small place compared to other communities where they are part of “folklore.” Conversely, my server’s nature makes it the ideal place for non-taboo debates around sex (don’t make me regret having said that if you join him ).
RunFree sent me a wonderful capture illustrating the folklore of its server. Understand who can.
As you can see, the “tone” plays on the limits that members give themselves in terms of vulgarity, frankness, seriousness, etc. Everyone must accept the contribution of others as far as it is reasonable. For example, you can observe a tendency for poo-poo humor (it’s real life, yes).
This is where it is important to decide the line between “letting it evolve” and “exerting influence.” If you go for the first option, things may get out of hand in the worst case.
With the second option, you have to go slowly, because there will often be nothing punishable: you simply” like “for the atmosphere to take another direction in the case of pee-poo, a more intellectual direction, for example. Here I remind you in principle C.
6.3 Everyone is free
You must make members feel free to their activity and leave the server if they wish.
You can, of course, try to understand why some quit or become less active. However, the best communities are those where everyone can do as they see fit without infringing on others’ freedom.
Over time, you may feel unfair because people may blame you for certain changes (or lack thereof) while you are simply following the community as it evolves.
These people (often pillars) can easily cause drama because of their nostalgia and frustration. Paradoxically, this is sometimes what reveals the best members, because they cared about the world you had created. But for you, it will be a burden.
If you have applied the principles I advocated, you should have nothing to be ashamed of. Then you can explain your point of view to the person. And if the latter ends up leaving the server, it has no (or no longer) its place in the community.
Without it, you are necessarily someone’s fault. So don’t take it too seriously!
If despite all this remains difficult for you to manage, rely on your team, and open up to the community about your intentions as a staff.
6.4 Be yourself
Whether you are a moderator or an administrator, it is important that you also appear as a member. But you have to know how to show a certain detachment not to let yourself be too affected.
Members may feel like you are distant and cold. This is normal as a moderator because it is this distance that allows you to step back and act objectively if necessary. But it can also affect how people perceive you as a member.
Conversely, you mustn’t force yourself into anything. For example, don’t speak just because no one has spoken for six hours.
Also, don’t make changes just to shake things up. You are appearing as a member means showing that you are comfortable as a member.
In short, it can be difficult to be yourself.
Yes, and even more when you’re an admin. Sometimes you have to show another image of yourself, not necessarily by choice. I take the example of a large community where I was an admin.
I did not go a day without behaving differently compared to my other communities. I said to myself that I had to remain as neutral as possible with all the members to be sure I could manage any dispute in this community, and be sure to be listened to by the majority (it was rather worked well, but it also had drawbacks: some moderators were not taken seriously for example).
It is okay to more or less emphasize the limb side or the modo side of you. Likewise, if the community is functioning well, there is no need to enforce the letter’s rules.
If there are any problems, however, it is your right to do so. If that does not suit some members, they are free to leave.
7. And after?
Then put it all into practice, and enjoy! Because you now have your Discord community.
For those who would feel like I overlooked certain aspects, I wrote the third article in this series.
It’s more abstract and builds on some thoughts I’ve made, like the better your community will function, the less strict you will be.
There are major issues about authority hidden below. You might have guessed, managing a Discord quickly becomes politics.