Moderator Etiquette for your Discord Server
Discord Moderators exist on every Discord server in different forms. With the constant growth of Discord as a whole (and as a direct result, servers on Discord), moderators’ roles have grown in importance and necessity in the pursuit of keeping chat flowing and providing users with an enjoyable but safe environment on their server. But what does it really mean to “moderate” a server?
What it means to be a Discord Moderator
A community thrives in a healthy, comfortable and safe environment - and that's where moderation comes into play. Being a moderator means more than just being hoisted at the top of the server and having a fancy color. It is your responsibility to prevent and resolve conflicts between users, ensure the server is safe and free from potential harm, and set an example for the rest of the community to the best of your abilities.
While bigger servers may be less lenient when it comes to second chances, banning people over minor infractions may not always be the best approach. Your responsibility is not just to execute punishments, but also to weigh out the severity of the infraction. Moderating larger or more active communities can be overwhelming at first, so don’t be afraid to ask fellow moderators for help, and take their advice on improving your methods of moderation. While moderating, always be friendly and ready to help users in public. Find a balance between enforcing the rules, while also fostering a healthy relationship with users. “Aggressive” moderators tend to intimidate or scare off new users, which will harm your community.
Behavior In the Servers You Moderate
Having multiple permissions, a special role color meant to differentiate you, and power over users doesn’t mean you are freed from the servers’ rules or can act above them. Instead, you should encourage users to abide by the rules at all times while still being able to enjoy their stay on the server. Showing that you're dedicated to helping the server grow and by being a fair and trustworthy figure for the community goes a lot towards overall server morale. A key part of achieving this is to ensure you don’t do anything that would get normal users in trouble, i.e. flooding emojis or repeatedly writing in capital letters only.
Moderators are seen as role models for the server. That means that you should act maturely and set a good example for the community. That includes but is not limited to, obscene behavior in both your messages and Discord profile: your picture, username, status, and linked socials are globally visible. Running a Discord server will result in members from different nationalities and backgrounds engaging in the community. Furthermore, in case of a dispute happening on the server, focus on the logic of the argument rather than the individuals involved. Fair and equal treatment for everyone should be the standard for moderation actions.
Nobody is perfect and nobody expects you to be perfect. However, when you find yourself in such an influential position, you need to have an open mind and learn how to accept constructive criticism. Making mistakes is understandable as long as you take responsibility for your actions and learn from them.
Engaging with Users
User engagement and activity is one of the essential aspects of running a Discord server successfully. In terms of smoothly conversing with a user, it is recommended to take the following points into account:
Users New to Discord
You should never assume that everyone knows how Discord works, or how your server operates. If there is the case that you come across a user who has multiple, seemingly “ridiculous” questions, don’t immediately assume they are a troll. There are many ways to get confused by things that may seem natural to superusers of the platform. Take your time to explain certain parts or functions of both Discord and the server you're moderating while keeping a friendly and inviting tone.
Online communication cannot accurately convey our usual ways of expression: facial cues, emotions, physical gestures, and your vocal tone. This makes it easy for others to misinterpret your messages, and for you to misunderstand theirs. When reading and analyzing a message without those real-life factors, it often happens that our own emotions fill in those blanks and that misunderstanding encourages us to act in the heat of the moment. Before acting on negative emotions, give the other user the benefit of the doubt and calmly ask them for clarification on parts of their messages that upset you without being accusatory.
When sending messages, there are many ways to convey what you really want to express including emojis or other special symbols such as tonal indicators. Always make sure to read through your messages as a moderator and think “how could that be misunderstood in a way that it upsets someone?”, and adjust based upon that thought process.
Furthermore, you may encounter users whose first language isn’t your servers’ primary language. Even though you may have a rule in your server that asks users to speak in the designated language only, it’s usually not productive to immediately discipline someone for violating that rule, especially if it’s their first post in the server. Instead, consider starting with a verbal warning anda reminder to stick to the server’s language rules.
It may happen that a friend of yours joins the server or you become close friends with fellow members or moderators on the server. Never post personal information about another server user without their explicit permission, even if it is meant in a joking way. Let everyone explore or open up to the server and its community at their own pace. Only after that, with their consent, should you mention them by their name in public.
Teamwork is Key
Teamwork makes the dream work and it is important to maintain a healthy, communicative, and respectful relationship with your moderation team to ensure easy moderation of your community.
When dealing with moderation issues, seeking help from fellow staff members always seems like optimal assistance. Getting another person’s opinion on a topic may help you to see things from a different angle, or reinforce your judgement. Taking everyone’s perspective into account can help you master even the most difficult problems and it takes weight off your shoulders to let other people know about your concern. You are part of a team, and do not have to act alone.
Another consideration when it comes to public appearance is respect for your fellow moderators. A successful staff team flourishes when all of its members work together. It is not expected of you to become the best of friends with every single staff member, but one thing you should never do is talk badly about fellow staff in public or do things you know will cause a bad reaction from their part. If you have any issue regarding them, you should address it in private or get your team’s upper management involved if there are more severe issues going on.
Taking up the moderation mantle can be a very fulfilling duty. Being in such a position means you can help people in ways others cannot, and even the smallest “thank you” or a nice gesture of appreciation can brighten up your day.