Making a server internationally available is a big step for a community. What are things to consider? How does one approach it? What will change in the server dynamics and will it be worth the effort? Here is a step by step guide on how to deal with the internationalization of a community in one Discord server.
Which languages to choose entirely depend on the type of server you run. For a community server, it is recommended to adjust it to the community’s needs. Usually, the most commonly featured languages outside of English are German, French, Spanish, Turkish and Russian. You can determine your featured language by community analysis, server insights (if your server has them), and demand. What nationalities are represented the most in your server? Which users struggle the most with English upon joining the server and if they’re struggling, what language do they usually communicate in? In addition to that, you can consider starting a survey every time you and your staff feel ready to expand into a new language.
On the other hand, if you make a server for a brand or company, it is recommended to go by your target audience. Introducing features like internationalization needs carefully planned, but steady steps.
If your server was originally English only, it’s not recommended to expand into too many languages at once for a variety of reasons. Agree on one language (preferably the most popular one in your server) and slowly add on from there, if the need presents itself. Once you figure out a pattern and a stable structure on how to approach the expansion, you can add more sections for different languages.
As your server grows, so does Discord. It is vital to keep in mind that your server can get a lot of incoming users who have never really used Discord before- so make sure your server’s design is user-friendly, easily accessible, and has a clear structure. Also, remember that the more languages you feature on your server, the more text-and voice channels will appear for your staff.
It is recommended to hoist the most important text-channels at the top of your server. That may include announcements, server-info, rules, optionally giveaways and more. To ensure global accessibility, translate important parts like the rules and server information in every language you feature alongside your main language.
Additionally, you can add a server guide for easier coordination. Both new users and your staff will benefit from that. It should cover a list of accessible text and voice channels as well as a short but detailed description of each.
Furthermore, try to integrate every additional language in a way that utilizes it to its utmost potential. You can do so in the form of a feedback and suggestion channel in each language’s category. This lets you hear directly from the users that would benefit from that additional language chat the most. Consider having staff that are dedicated to interacting with each section instead of focusing all their attention on the global chat. Having these additional language chats makes it so that your international users don’t feel less validated only because they don’t want to or can’t communicate in the global chat.
You can implement that same line of thinking when organizing server events. Consider alternating between server-wide and international events as demand allows. For the latter, analyze your server’s activity for each region and host it at the time with the most community engagement for those users for the best results. You can apply the same system to the voice channels by creating a few global voice chats and then adding language specific channels. Your staff should only allow one common language to be spoken in the global chats and redirect every other language into their appropriate voice channels.
If you want to feature multiple languages with equal amounts, you can effectively combine multiple Discord servers in one. For the first half, it will be the same as before: Have at least one international general-chat before you split the server into each language. That way every user is able to communicate with the entirety of the server instead of just their language-specific section. Let users choose their language via a reaction or verification with the option to opt-out and change regions. You can summarise the most important aspects in a common text-channel, the text being translated into every featured language.
The simplest way to manage the split server is by having the same channels and categories, but in different languages. This will heavily depend on the type of server you moderate, but recommended channels for every section are the ones you would usually include in a monolingual server. These channels should include things like rules, announcements, general-chat, bot-commands, media, optionally a looking-for-game channel, and more. Take care to ensure you have appropriate translation for each channel.
Moreover, community events can be a lot more diverse. You can host a variety of events for each language as well as let all of them participate in shared events. Take the time to analyze each nation’s activity and also take holidays or national days into account.
Internationalizing your server may mean that your moderation team grows to be larger than expected, so to make it easy for users to contact the appropriate staff you can separate moderators by nicknames, colors, or role hoist.
Nicknames: If you want to have the moderation team equally displayed throughout the server, you can arrange the moderators by nicknames. Simply add the language they moderate at the beginning of their nickname so they are alphabetically sorted below each other. Users will have an easier time recognizing the appropriate moderators, but with a large staff, this might end up looking a little busy. Some moderators tend to change their nicknames frequently and may not be big fans of having the tag in front of their name, either.
Colors: It is advised to have the colors of each moderator role in the same shade with a slight but still visible difference. This helps to differentiate moderators and regular users will be able to tell the difference immediately. Remember that newer users might not check each role and just contact the first seemingly online moderator they see.
Role hoist: If you display only the accompanying moderator role for each language, ensure that you have a common, not displayed role for all moderators so one team is not less validated than the other. Users should definitely be able to contact the appropriate staff and ping the correct moderators to help them out with issues in chat. but, when displaying a lot of teams with many members each, some of them might be pushed off the screen. You run the risk that some moderators that are displayed below the other teams seem less “important and validated” to the community, but the shared staff role should fix that problem easily.
While moderating a multilingual server it is crucial to have moderators that are native speakers or at least fluent in each language that you decide to expand to. Having moderators that are native speakers makes it so that they not only understand the textbook definitions of what is being said but understand the cultural contexts that may come with international chats. However, these moderators should also be accomplished and capable with the other responsibilities of being a mod that lie outside of just being fluent.
While community moderators should follow the basic tasks (moderate the chat, be accessible for questions, guide users), things in multilingual servers can be a bit more advanced. Moderators need to identify and address inappropriate behavior towards other cultures in an authoritative, but instructive way. Furthermore, they need to free the chat from toxic behavior and control discussions about sensitive topics.
In addition to that, they have to be open for cultural questions of users who chose a language they are not fluent in yet. Both the user and staff need to work their way around language barriers together. They’ll be required to help users, as well as resolve disputes, often at the same time. For that, they’ll have to rely on their communication skills in order to succeed in resolving both situations and any other issue that may require it. Without good communication skills, users won't understand what you're trying to convey to them, which should be assertive but tolerant.
Moderators can under no circumstances be discriminating towards users of other cultures or beliefs. It is their responsibility to create a civil, welcoming and comfortable environment for all users. While you are always entitled to your own opinion, make sure to keep a neutral output in the public part of the server and try not to let it cloud your judgement.
Managing several moderators from all around the world can turn out to be quite tricky. Organizing meetings and waiting for everyone’s approval for one date may be a real challenge to deal with. Getting the majority of the team on board could take days, especially with the difference in time zones.
One simple solution is to delegate some captains or representative moderators for each team. They will gather feedback, opinions and suggestions from the rest of the staff team and discuss them with the rest of staff during the meeting. That way it’s easier to organize staff meetings, but they can also directly inform the rest of their team who could not make it due to time conflicts. Depending on the size of the staff teams, you can appoint more than one moderator for that position.
When creating more than one staff role, make sure that everyone is comfortable with their position and their responsibilities. Misalignment can lead to misunderstanding later on, and it might create needless tension amongst the staff. Consider appointing one representative in each region that your server is branching out to. That will open the possibility to have regional staff meetings where language and culture specific issues and suggestions can be discussed without the need for an international meeting with the whole team.
While not every moderator will get the chance to get to know every other moderator from different regions in these larger moderation rosters, it is important that the team feels united regardless. Don’t leave it up to one team to tackle an issue- let them know that they can always ask for help from the rest of the staff.
Global Accessibility: Make sure that you have the bots available for every part of your server. That could either mean that you include them in the global section of your server, or you translate the commands and definitions in every language featured.
Moderation: Since not all moderators will be able to understand every single language, using bots turn out to be very helpful for auto-moderation. Inform your fellow moderators about inappropriate words or phrases and ensure that you added them into the bot filter for easier moderation. Banned or filtered words should contain common slurs in not only English, but also in commonly banned words for every language that you offer.
Language Barriers: It may occur that users message the ModMail in poor English or in their native language. Find out the user's nationality and reply with a message in their native language that lets them know their request is being routed to the appropriately fluent mod. To save these messages, simply create an extra text-channel in the ModMail server and let moderators translate important phrases that might come in handy.
It's easy for people to underestimate the impact cultural differences can have. Culture influences values, rules, thought patterns, and perception.
That means that events happening in other countries may be viewed differently in each nation. News and social media don't always portray the truth which lets misinformation spread easily. Make sure to have your staff updated about the current situations so they have it easier to deal with discussions about sensitive topics and trolls. Communication is key and the users of the server will massively benefit from it. While people are entitled to have their own opinion and ask for further information, make sure to let it happen in a calm and civil atmosphere under a moderator’s watch. If you as a moderator find that you’re ill equipped to talk about the topic, you should refrain from publicly voicing your opinion until you’re better informed. Conversely, you may want to refrain from allowing contentious topics like current events or politics to occur in your server at all, which is something you should decide with your moderation team as a whole.
Making a server internationally available is a great idea and can be a boon to your community’s retention. It can be utilized for both communities and companies alike. But you have to be careful with your approach- Internationalization is a deliberate and complicated process and it should be treated as such. If it’s gone about in the wrong way, left uncompleted or rushed, these international spaces could backfire. It may result in negative feedback, a disappointed community and staff or deserted channels.
Make sure to inform your staff and community about every step you’re about to take, and give them a chance to voice their input. Feedback and suggestions from both your mods and your community will be essential to making sure this is the right fit for your server. Internationalization requires a lot of effort and prioritization in order to properly take care of many factors simultaneously, but if done right, it’s an unparalleled way to enrich your community.