Does Your Subreddit Need a Discord?

Discord communities are distinct from subreddits and attract different audiences. While there are often overlaps between those audiences, it will not always be the case, and it’s important to determine whether your community will benefit from having a Discord before you attempt to start one. 

Successful Discord communities revolve around human connections and conversations and not just content. For a Reddit community to translate well into a Discord community, it should be centered around a topic its members are passionate about and are highly engaged with. 

To start, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can there be in-depth discussions around the topic of your community that will benefit from a real-time chat setting? For subreddits mainly focused around content without an avenue for discussion, the answer is usually no. Examples could include /r/aww and /r/eyebleach.
  • Does your subreddit have a large amount of retained users that visit it directly on a regular basis? Reaching the members of your Reddit community is often challenging, and requires them to go out of their way and take the first step and move to a different platform. If your community sees very sharp declines in traffic when no trending posts are present, it might indicate that most of your members “follow and forget” - only visit your community when it pops up on their home feed, which often indicates they will not be willing to follow you to Discord. 
  • Are there other benefits relevant to your community that having a Discord could provide? Examples include LFG (helping players find groups) in video game subreddits, the ability to host events such as game nights for community engagement, and topics that include lengthy back-and-forth conversations that are more suited for a real time chat environment rather than threaded long-form conversations (such as providing a space for personalized help around topics like programming, tech support, or mental health). 

If you believe the answers to those questions would be negative about your community, it might be helpful to take a step back and reconsider whether a Discord server would benefit it. 

Moderation Teams 
Starting a Moderator Team

Typically, it’s best to keep the Reddit and Discord moderation teams separate. Your Discord is a separate ecosystem with its own needs - and it’s important to find users from within it that will help you develop and maintain it, and make it flourish. 

When starting off, adding your existing subreddit moderator team usually works. However, it’s important to note that those mods might not always be as dedicated to this new platform as they are to the one that they came from. Looking into the future for your Discord server, things might change and the subreddit mods that helped it in the early days might end up having to take a backseat in favor of users who are brought in from within the server. 

Server Owner and Administrators

The owner of the server should be a dedicated mod from the subreddit who knows both the community and the inner-workings of Discord. Decisions made by the owner will be critical to the development of your server, so take a moment to review all of the potential candidates within your team to choose the best one for the task.

Make sure to bring in at least one user or subreddit mod who is also as knowledgeable with the Discord ecosystem and familiar with your existing community to help with the setup and administration of the server early on.

Reddit and Discord Moderator Teams Coexisting 

You now have a bunch of mods! Mods on your subreddit, mods dedicated to your Discord server, and mods that are both. But what do you do with all these mods, how do you tell them apart, what perms should they have? Communication between your different teams is key to the success of both of your communities.

Outside of the owner, you should ideally have at least two other moderators that are present on both teams. These shared mods will be able to efficiently relay information between the teams, coordinate collaborations between the Reddit and Discord communities, be able to take action in emergency situations, and mediate conflicts if they occur.  

Here are a few best practices:

  • Make a private channel where your subreddit mods will be able to chat privately with your Discord team. It can be used primarily as an off-topic chat, while also being available for use as a liaison for your team to discuss cross-platform issues if and when they arise. 
  • Give the subreddit moderators a special role. This will show the association of your server with the subreddit to your members.
  • Avoid giving subreddit moderators moderation privileges within your server, unless they’re interested in becoming moderators within your Discord as well - and are ready to accept the additional responsibilities and time commitments that come with the role. 
  • As your subreddit moderators are still trusted contributors, you may grant them privileges that might be gated off for regular users by default, such as link embeds and file upload permissions.

It’s important to be upfront to your community about the fact that your subreddit and Discord server are run and moderated by completely separate mod teams after the server starts taking shape. Set up escalation paths for both of your teams to direct issues related to your subreddit to Reddit modmail, and vice-versa, direct users experiencing issues within the server to its team.  

All staff positions (except the owner and lead admins) should be independent of the user’s status on different moderation teams, and you should remind your staff team that it is not a given to be modded elsewhere if you become a mod on either platform. Mods that participate in multiple teams must still uphold your activity requirements, and meet all of your expectations similarly to the rest of your team.

Hosting Events and Cross Promotions

While your communities are linked together, they’re separate entities with different groups of regular visitors and contributors. When considering cross platform promotions, assess their relevance to each of your audiences, and determine whether they will find it helpful. A few best practices around this topic are:

  • Avoid cross-promoting micro events within one of your community’s platforms, such as announcing a specific discussion thread on Reddit to your Discord members, when it does not provide them value that can’t be achieved otherwise. Focus on platform-specific events that your users will be able to participate in locally.
  • For major events that are relevant to all of the sub-communities you operate, try to include a space for participation in each one of them. However, it is also a good idea to provide information or links to the other event pages/channels on every platform. This makes it easy for people to browse the discussions on each platform and easily join in on multiple conversations in different places if they’re willing to.
  • Avoid promoting platform-specific announcements on other platforms. For example, don’t link your moderator application form for Discord on your subreddit, and vice versa. 
Closing notes

Creating a Discord server can be a great way to broaden your subreddit-based community's horizons, giving your users a whole new way to interact with each other. However, it's important to remember that maintaining a Discord community can be a whole lot of work that some of your existing team members might not be interested in taking. Finding the right person to lead your Discord and ensuring your community's new outpost is in good hands early on will ensure a lasting and smooth relationship between your subreddit and Discord, to everyone’s benefit.

 

Ready to test your moderator skills? Take the Discord Moderator Exam!