While there are certain “best practices” when it comes to moderation transparency, there is no single system that is right for everyone. The amount of transparency you need for your moderation system ultimately depends on your server rules, culture, and vision. This article will explain the pros and cons of transparency and ways that you can apply transparency to your moderation system.
Though the idea of moderation transparency is generally considered to be a good thing, it is important to understand that there are both pros and cons to transparency in moderation. Some of these pros and cons are described below.
To help you understand how the pros and cons apply to transparency, consider an example in which a moderator publicly warns another user not to call someone a “retard” because it violates an existing “No Slurs Allowed” rule.
Now that you are aware of some of the pros and cons of transparency in moderation, you must next understand the components of the moderation system so that you can consider ways in which these components can be made more or less transparent. Broadly speaking, a moderation system can be split into the following components:
Transparency and communication go hand-in-hand. The more you communicate these components to relevant users and the server as a whole, the more transparent your moderation system is.
There are several ways to implement transparency in each of these components, each with their own pros and cons. Each section here will establish ways in which a component can be made more or less transparent and a recommendation of the appropriate level of transparency for each. However, please keep in mind that every server’s needs are different and some of the pros and cons discussed may not apply to your server. It is always important to consider your specific community when it comes to implementing transparency.
Your server rules are the backbone of your moderation system. They describe how your members should conduct themselves and what happens if they don’t meet those expectations. In general though, your rules should be specific enough to ensure comprehension and compliance without being overly wordy or attempting to provide an exhaustive description of prohibited behaviors.
For example, giving a couple of examples of NSFW content for a “no NSFW content rule” may help people understand what you interpret as being NSFW, compared to other servers or Discord itself. However, too many examples may make the list seem fully comprehensive, and people will assume that items not on the list are fair game. Disclaiming that examples of rule-breaking content are non-exhaustive and that the moderators have the final say in interpreting if someone is breaking the rules can help to address users that are interested in testing the limits of the rules or being rules lawyers to escape punishment on a technicality.
Developing moderator guidelines is another important part of your moderation system. Similar to your rules guiding the conduct of your server members, your moderator guidelines help guide the conduct of your moderators.
Keeping your moderator guidelines visible to the rest of the server will encourage compliance from members, and enable them to defuse incidents without moderator intervention. Furthermore, providing basic standards of moderator conduct will help users know when it’s appropriate to report moderators to the server owner for misconduct and hold them accountable. However, you should avoid putting too much of your moderator guidelines out in the public in order to avoid rules lawyers deliberately misinterpreting the spirit of the guidelines to their advantage. After developing your moderator guidelines, balancing these pros and cons will help you determine how much of your guidelines you should present to the public.
Logging user infractions is key to ensuring that the entire moderation team has the same understanding of how often a user has broken the rules. Transparency between the mod team and the user in question is important for the user to understand when they have received a warning that brings them closer to being banned from the server. Informing the user of which moderator warned them is important for holding moderators accountable to the warnings they issue, but may leave moderators open to harassment by warned users. Having a procedure to deal with harassment that stems from this, is one way to achieve accountability while still protecting your moderators from bad actors in your server.
Although the communication of infractions is vital to ensure understanding among your server members, it may be prudent to withhold information about exactly how close a user is to being banned so that they do not attempt to toe the line by staying just under the threshold for being banned. Furthermore, even though a public infraction log may be a good way to promote cohesion and transparency by showing examples of unacceptable behavior to the rest of the server and fostering discussion between the mod team and community, others may think that such a log infringes on user privacy or that these logs may constitute a “witch hunt.” It may also leave mods and users open to harassment over warnings given or received.
If you want to encourage a sense of community and understanding without taking away user privacy or inadvertently encouraging harassment, a better option may be to encourage users to bring up criticisms of rules or enforcement in a feedback channel if they wish to. Provided that the mod team ensures these conversations remain constructive and civil, creating a public medium for these conversations will help others understand how the mod team operates and allow them to provide feedback on how the server is run.
Everyone makes mistakes, and moderators are no exception. It is important to have a process for users to appeal their warnings and punishments if they feel that they were issued unfairly. If you decide to have a public infractions log, you may receive appeals on behalf of warned users from people who were uninvolved in the situation if they feel the warning was issued unfairly. While this can help with accountability if a user is too nervous to try to appeal their warning, it can also waste the time of your mod team by involving someone that does not have a complete understanding of the situation. In general, it is better to keep the appeal process private between the moderation team and the punished user, primarily via mediums such as direct messages with an administrator or through a mod mail bot. During the appeal process, it is best to ensure that you clearly and calmly walk through the situation with the appealing user to help them better understand the rules while maintaining moderator accountability.
*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.
In the end, there is not a single “correct” way to manage transparency in your moderation system. The appropriate level of transparency will vary based on the size of the server and the rules that you implement. However, walking through the steps of your moderation system one by one and considering the various pros and cons of transparency will help you determine for yourself how to incorporate transparency into your moderation system. This will help you build trust between moderators and non-moderators while preventing abuse on both ends of the system.
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.
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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