A healthy community on Discord will continue to grow and attract new members that are interested in the purpose of your community. With growth in membership comes the need to evolve your server to meet your members’ needs. One area that may emerge as your server grows is the need to serve your community’s content creators--users who are creating any form of media relating to the audience of your server. Moderating content related areas will present unique challenges that may not be found in a larger server meant for a game, tv show, or Reddit. Despite these unique challenges, this aspect of fandom still deserves to be celebrated and welcomed! This article will explore what to consider when creating a home for content creators within your server.
Content creation is one of the coolest aspects of a community! Even those that do not create themselves can celebrate the passion and excitement that comes with sharing art. Artists shouldn’t be regulated to just a generalized #media channel where all users are posting photos, and you should consider instead giving them their own designated area in the server. This shows these users that moderators see their contributions to the community and appreciate what they are doing. This area can be a channel dedicated to sharing art and content, or even an entire channel category depending on how your moderation team wishes to interact with your community’s creators and how active this part of your community may be. Listen to their needs and expand and modify this category as necessary.
When building out a content creation realm in a server, it is important to keep in mind that your moderation team may encounter some new situations that don't apply to the rest of the server. Of course, content creators are subject to the same laws of the land in place for the entire community, but there may need to be some of these unique rules of the road to consider including:
Plagiarism. This is the practice of taking someone else’s work and claiming that it is your own. Plagiarizing another content creator should not be tolerated within any creative space. It should be highly discouraged and acted upon with moderator intervention if your community brings an accusation of plagiarism to your moderation team. As moderators, it is important to understand the difference between plagiarism and finding inspiration in someone else’s work. Tracing another creators’ artwork is the most common form of plagiarism, whereas being inspired by an original character to try out a new pose, color scheme, or scene featuring them is inspiration. While creators are often looking out for each other and willing to bring concerns about plagiarism to moderation teams, it is important to be able to look for it yourself by familiarizing yourself with your artists’ styles and reverse image searching images of concern to your team. Be sure to be able to explain to your community why plagiarizing is harmful when these situations arise.
Managing Constructive Criticism vs. Hate. Your content creation channels are going to be accessible to your entire server. This is so that the entire fandom can celebrate together, but also to drive interest from users to support your content creators. This means that the average user can come in and comment on content. There is a line between constructive criticism and hate. Watch out for it as moderators and be prepared to intervene should anything cross the line into attacks or hate-filled commentary that would give content creation an unwelcoming atmosphere. Oftentimes in creative communities it is an unspoken rule that you should not give constructive criticism unless it is specifically asked for. The average user may not realize this and could accidentally offend an artist if they’re not aware of this. As a moderator, it’s important to help artists understand constructive criticism when they ask for it while shielding them from trolls or baseless hate. Sharing content can be intimidating, so it is especially important to ensure that content creation channels remain positive and respectful environments. One way you can mitigate this issue is by making it clear in your rules that unless the artist specifically asks for constructive criticism, that feedback of that nature is not allowed.
Bumping. Art bumping may occur in an art channel where artists feel their content isn’t easily viewed by enough people. This is essentially the act of media getting bumped up in chat from other people sharing their media at the same time or from chatter about other works. An accusation of bumping usually comes up when a creator feels their art isn’t being noticed, or if they believe someone they do not have a good relationship with is intentionally bumping their work. In this case, it’s important to defuse the situation and not allow any forms of bullying by de-escalating the conflict. Maintaining an environment where users respect everyone's work is necessary for the peace of mind of creators and consumers alike. You can also consider building out a channel category instead of a single channel which would allow for a channel dedicated to posting art and a separate one for discussion. You may contemplate a rule of not posting art within a certain time frame of another creator posting, but be cautioned that this can lead to over-moderation by your community.
NSFW content. If your server allows Not Safe for Work content, it is important that you create a specific channel for it that can be marked as an NSFW channel separate from your regular content creation channels. In line with Discord’s policies, this will not allow users under the age of 18 to see this channel without agreeing to a prompt that says they are not a minor. It is also important to consider that the implementation of an NSFW channel disqualifies you from being a Partnered or Verified Discord server. Make sure to keep the expectations around SFW and NSFW content creation in line with that of your entire server, and offer to answer any questions in DMs if a creator thinks a piece may toe the boundaries you enforce.
Advertising Commissions. If you have a blanket ban on advertisement in your community, you may not want to make an exception to the rule here. However, if you decide to allow advertising commissions in your server, you are allowing more commissions to flow to your creators. Do not allow other users to beg for free art or try to guilt creators with open commissions into providing free content to them. It may be the case that your moderation team will have to enforce boundaries if someone who commissions a creator within your community doesn’t pay them or revokes payment. Conversely, if a creator requires payment up front and then does not deliver work and doesn’t refund the commissioner, moderator intervention should occur to no longer allow them to accept commissions from other members.
To be clear, you are not responsible for their financial disputes or business transactions. Ultimately, creators should look into their specific payment provider website for policy information on fraud and filing disputes, both of which are out of your control. Your job as a moderation team is protecting creators from scammers who make themselves known within your community. You’ve created this space to cater to creators and need them to know that users who take advantage of them and creators who take advantage of users are not welcome here.
Low Quality/Low Effort Art. Something your moderation team should consider is whether or not you will be moderating low quality or low effort art. Lower quality art has the ability to potentially create a divide with more experienced artists or diminish the overall quality of your artistic channels. Expectedly, this is a very subjective and divisive topic. Moderating “low quality” or “low effort” art can run the risk of upsetting younger users or creators that are at the very beginning of learning how to create. When considering moderating low quality art, be sure to display empathy and compassion to avoid coming off as inconsiderate or rude. Be honest and realistic in your descriptions and requirements for these art spaces so that users may have a better idea as to what is and isn’t acceptable both content and quality wise. Other ways to healthily promote higher quality artists is via potential role systems, automatic pins, or weekly artist highlights, which will be discussed in further detail below.
Off Topic Art. As a team, think about whether you want your artist channels to be dedicated to the purpose of your server or if you want to also allow off topic content. Once this rule is decided, check that your moderation team is on the same page for enforcement and nudging should you decide not to allow off topic art.
There are several ways to keep your community’s content creators engaged, which helps to showcase how much your moderation team values their contributions to the server. Discord has several native features that can showcase your community’s talent in emojis, stickers, banners, and server icons. While a banner and a server icon are important to be branded and thus rarely changed, generating emojis and stickers (especially from within your community) is a good way to bond, celebrate inside jokes with your community, and show some love for your creators. Oftentimes communities will employ certain yearly opportunities like emoji elections where creators can submit emojis for consideration and allow your community to vote as a whole.
Continued engagement with your content creators is also important. If you are engaging your community with generalized game or server events, examine whether you can engage your content creators in the same way with art events or monthly prompts as this promotes community bonding. If your community has a system to reward winners for their work or participation in events, work to instill the same kind of system for art adjacent events or prompts.
Finally, some communities may want to install a special role for content creators, especially those that are active and constantly contributing quality work. This will showcase artists in the server to the rest of the server. Do keep in mind however, that unique role colors can lead to inadvertent exclusivity and a social hierarchy within the server. This can also have the effect of alienating artists that do not yet have the role, which is why you should be careful when thinking about if you want to introduce this role to your community. If you decide to bring a specialized role into your server, take the step to have clear criteria for users to qualify for it as well as easy rules for moderators to grant it to users. This ensures that your moderation team can avoid accidentally leaving someone out and hurting someone’s feelings. Avoid bringing a role into your server if your server has had problems with role related hierarchies in the past. Listen to your community’s needs and anticipate potential problems!
Content creators are an exciting subset of fandom that should be welcomed to your community! Ensure that they have their own area to share all forms of content in, whether it be a channel or an entire channel category. Be aware that content creation arenas often come with unique rule considerations that you may not have encountered previously in the daily moderation of your server. Talk to your moderation team about everything before launching this channel or category so that you are all on the same wavelength with enforcement before jumping in. Continuously engage your creators and involve them in the artistic aspects of the server, such as emoji and sticker creation. Art can bring people together, and having a healthy artistic space within your community will provide a new way for your community to bond and celebrate your fandom!