Utilizing Role Colors
Role colors can serve a variety of purposes including but not limited to being a fun way to liven up your chat and make your server more colorful, acting as an integral part of your server currency system, or even as a tool to differentiate between different types of members in chat. While the average user may not be aware of the thought processes behind instituting server role colors, it is important to recognize role colors as a potentially important tool in your server depending upon how you choose to use them. Whether your role colors are for an aesthetic or to distinguish certain users, careful consideration needs to be put into the color scheme of your servers’ roles.
Types of Color Role Systems
Giving moderators a uniquely colored role can help them stand out in chat so that users are aware of when they are receiving an official verbal warning or direction. This can be very helpful in any server, but some structures that this system are most helpful in may include:
- Large, busy servers where individual messages do not really stand out in a faster moving chat
- Family friend spaces or servers targeted at younger users who may not oblige with requests from moderation and instead try to argue
- Smaller servers with a more horizontal leadership structure where it is likely that members will be self-moderating to a degree
- Reddit servers where you are trying to differentiate between Reddit moderation teams and Discord moderation teams
The words and actions of moderators hold more weight and urgency when geared towards problematic behavior and a colored role differentiation in addition to a hoisted position on the sidebar draws attention to their existence.
Having a separate color for moderators can also lead to some unfortunate social effects since moderators are not always moderating, but their unique role coloration exists to make them stand out in the server. This means if they’re just trying to converse with fellow users, eyes are more quickly drawn to their color for when they need to dispense advice. In heavily active servers, users may be more likely to see most of what a moderator posts since their messages stand out from everything else, but a moderator is unlikely to see most of what any individual user posts; this can lead to a parasocial relationship where users think that they know or are friends with the servers moderators. It can also lead to users paying undue attention to moderators when they are just around to chat, potentially ignoring other users, or drawing attention to the fact that a moderator has entered chat, effectively killing prior conversation topics. In certain servers, this can also be cause for concern if it is attracting the wrong kind of people to moderation based positions who are seeking hoisted roles or incorrect perceived perks of moderation positions. Overall, having a color for moderators is important in communities that are seeking to differentiate who is and isn’t a moderator in chat, but it can also lead to certain situations that may degrade a moderator’s ability to use the server normally as a member.
When utilizing such a role, It is important to keep an eye out for responses that do not treat moderators as respected members of the server and respond appropriately. Moderators are members first, and should be able to use the server in much the same way they did before becoming moderators, in addition to carrying out their moderation related duties.
If you are running any sort of support server, whether for a bot, a coding language, a game, or some other external service, it may be important to differentiate between regular users and developers or trusted experts. It will be a lot easier to tell if you are getting credible advice if there is a colored role that indicates that users with this color know what they are talking about. This type of system is useful for proficient users and developers. Such role usage can help prevent issues where misguided or confused users mistake a developer's explanation of their own code for incorrect advice.
An important thing to note about this system is that there are some pitfalls. It can inadvertently lead to a distrust of other users who do not have the proficient helper/developer support role color because they know they can get correct advice from a different source. They might dismiss others trying to help them with the knowledge that they can eventually get a developer’s attention, which can lead to a sense of entitlement to that direct advice. Of course, this can happen without role colors, but the addition of role colors make developer interaction more obvious and place them on a support pedestal that is often desired by those seeking advice.
Giving patrons, server boosters, or any other sort of member who has made financial contributions to the server a separate color from the rest of the server can be a good way to incentivize or reward the people who are helping keep your server, bot, service, or giveaways afloat. However, it can also contribute to a sense of elitism within the server. This inadvertent hierarchy can be misinterpreted as users being entitled to special treatment above the rules in exchange for their financial support of the server. Thankfully, both of these negative viewpoints are relatively easy to identify and combat, especially if you define what each of these kinds of roles get you clearly in your server rules so there is less assumption and personal interpretation of nonexistent hierarchical perks.
Level/Server Currency Colors
If your server has some sort of activity based leveling system, or a server currency system, it may be fun to include colored roles as rewards or shop items that can be purchased with the server currency. These systems can help you reward your most active members, and if your server currency has an attendance incentive it can even be used for event participation. It is important to note that these systems are abusable, and can contribute to low-effort contributions that are effectively just spamming for levels or points, or in extreme cases, even self-botting (automating actions on a non-bot, regular user account) and other forms of cheating. They can also contribute to toxic competitive environments and chats that can be unpleasant for users who do not care about the server levels or currency to try to break into. If utilizing such a system, it is important to think of ways to combat spam before implementation. Additionally, remember that self-bots are against Discord’s Terms of Service and should be reported and dealt with accordingly upon discovery.
Ideally, you want a level or server currency system to be something that is a fun background mechanic in the server, but not people's main reason for participating. These issues are not unique to colored roles, but anything that makes these systems more prominent and visible in chat will draw more attention to them. Level roles in particular can also contribute to the previously discussed accidental hierarchy built within the community by clearly establishing active long-term users from newer users. Climbing a level ladder can be intimidating, after all.
Color roles can be used to signal information depending upon the type of community you run. Some examples include pronoun roles, what games a user plays, the age range they fit into, where they are from, and any other information your community may deem relevant for your users to know. This type of system is beneficial for sharing and collecting info about others. However, users may choose roles that they do not actually align with because they want the chat color associated with it, which is a detriment to more elaborate informational color systems. If you decide to utilize an informational color system it’s important to remember that Discord only shows the color that is highest on the role list and roles should be ordered with this in mind.
The final type of role color discussed in this article is those decided by the server staff for aesthetic, but have no perks attached to them. Seasonally themed roles require a bit more work on the part of whoever is in charge of selecting the colors and naming the color roles, but can be a fun way to mark the passage of time, important events like winter holidays, or just change things up in the appearance of the server every once in a while with minimal effort.
Self-assignable colors have no downside other than increasing the number of roles your server has. They are a way to let users have a bit more control over their profile and how they appear to others, and change things up when they want to. Self-assignable colors are a fun and inclusive way to engage users, especially when part of a serverwide aesthetic.
When choosing role colors, you should keep accessibility in mind. A role color the same as the Discord background may seem like an entertaining color choice, but it can prove to be unreadable to many, for example. It is most important to remember that role colors need to be legible across all Discord themes including dark, light, and AMOLED themes. Many users may also have a form of color blindness, which should be considered when generating a color theme that is accessible for everyone.
It is important to ensure that role colors have sufficient contrast against the variety of background colors that Discord provides. There are many tools out there that can help you compare role colors, mimic the effects of various forms of color blindness, and see how much contrast they have so that you can see whether role colors will appear too similar or be difficult to read for some users. The Dragory Discord Preview Tool is specifically made for Discord and can easily be used to visualize everything you need to make sure you are choosing appropriate role colors all in one place.
Moderation colors should easily stand-out amongst server users to draw attention to them. If your server mostly uses cool colors, make them something warm. If you’re dominated by pastels, go for something with more saturation. Make it so that eyes are drawn to them if you use this system.
This article reviewed the many possible role color systems that you can utilize in your server by walking you through the benefits and drawbacks of each. These systems can also all be combined with each other in order to create a system that you believe serves your community best through experimentation. Luckily, the stakes for changing role color systems are pretty low. While role colors can have an impact on the way people interact with your server and with certain members, it will not make or break your server to try out a new seasonal theme and/or return to a previous theme if it is necessary. As long as you understand the risks associated with each kind of setup, keep an eye out for unwanted responses to your color scheme, and remember to utilize accessible colors, you can use whatever kind of system you want. There is no wrong answer here--just have fun with finding your server aesthetic!