206: Best Practices for Reporting Tools

As a community grows, there will be a need to allow members of your community to report bad behavior and violations of the rules to your moderation team. There are a wide range of options to choose from, which will be covered in this article. The list of tools is non-exclusive as you might want to combine multiple reporting options for your users to best suit your needs. 

Importance of Reporting Tools

Every community can benefit from having at least one type of reporting tool in place. This will help you keep your community a better and safe place for your members, encourages involvement from members in your moderation process, and allows for better understanding of the challenges your community is facing in terms of moderation.

 

Having a predefined method for users to contact the moderators will also improve the workflow, ensure better alignment of punishments and a fair process to punish those who violate your community rules.

Benefits and Challenges with Different Reporting Tools

Different reporting options have varying benefits and challenges. You will need to find the right balance between the privacy of users, usability for members and moderators, as well as deciding whether or not you want conversation to be possible between your moderators and the reporters. The best option for your server will depend entirely upon your needs. Not all communities will benefit from having reporting channels and you might not want your moderators to handle issues in direct messages. Down below you will find a list of the most commonly used reporting options available, with their respective benefits and disadvantages.

 

Modmail Bots

Modmail bots can be used for members of your community to report violations to the moderation team as a whole. There are several available options to choose from, all with their own unique viewpoint on support tickets. By using a Modmail bot, you will be able to have conversations with your reporters. Most other reporting tools do not allow you to have private conversations. Furthermore, Modmail bots allow for a lot of customization at the cost of being more time-consuming and difficult to set up. Additional benefits of using such a bot is being able to attach screenshots to a report and maintain privacy for both the mod handling the case and potentially even the user providing feedback, which some of the options do not offer. 

 

Reporting Channels

Some servers utilize a specific channel dedicated to reporting violations of the rules. These can take different shapes depending on the use case. Different approaches include only allowing members to copy and paste message URLs to rule breaking messages or a more open discussion-based channel that provides a public-facing main source of reports. One thing is certain across all implementations of reporting channels: there should be a way to communicate with people that a report has been handled by either removing a message in the channel or reacting to it publicly. Reporting channels are very easy to set up as they use native Discord features. However, these channels can be limiting in functionality. Conversations are barely possible, depending on the permissions members might not be able to upload screenshots, and reports are not private which can deter some people from sharing concerns due to intimidation and fear of retaliation. 

 

Reporting via Direct Messages

Another option is to handle reports via direct messages. In this case, users simply send a message to any available moderator. This method allows for private reports, back-and-forth conversations with a member of the moderation team, and the ability to share screenshots. Using this method, players will have to rely on the availability of a single moderator, as they will be choosing who to report to. Furthermore, it is very hard to track moderator activity and if this is important to you, opting for this method should be avoided. Not all moderators will give a follow up to users and there is limited accountability.

 

Report Commands

Some bots allow members to report others for breaking the rules. Reports often follow the format of tagging the person being reported and providing a reason. This information is then directed to the moderation team via a private channel. While the report is private, members still have to use a command (and ping the person they are reporting) in public channels. It also does not allow conversations to take place and uploading screenshots is not possible.

 

Pinging Moderator Roles

Sometimes you simply want to allow members to ping a moderator role in case of public rule breaking behavior. This will most definitely immediately get the attention of your moderators and is most often the quickest reporting method to use. However, the user being reported will be notified as they can see the ping, and they might be able to remove their messages before a moderator can intervene. A way to help counteract this is to consider utilizing a moderation bot that logs message deletions or edits.

 

Logging and Flagging Messages

While a lot of popular bots offer auto moderation features that include word, spam, and advertisement filters, these can most often also be used to silently inform moderators. Instead of removing the message automatically and giving a punishment based on predefined rules, an option to create a flagging mechanism without automatic action can be utilized. If there’s a certain word or phrase used on a flag-list, the bot can notify moderators to look into it and decide the best course of action instead of automatically acting the way a blacklist would. This method allows your moderators to go through a channel with flagged messages and issue punishments based on the context of flagged messages and removes certain automatic moderation techniques that can lead to over-moderation.

Choosing What Works Best for You

What method, or combination of methods, works best for you, depends a lot on your server size and needs. For smaller servers up to five thousand members being able to ping moderators in case of reports or having a report channel should be easily workable, depending on how big your team is. For large servers of fifty thousand members or more, you should look into using a Modmail bot. You might want a combination of multiple methods as well, depending on what works for you and the capabilities of your team.

 

Consider whether or not moderators should be able to communicate with the reporter about their report, not all methods offer this functionality. Ask yourself if the privacy of someone violating the rules is important to you, as not all methods are private reports. 

 

If you are using a levelling or experience system in the server, you might want to offer different reporting tools to members of a server level. For example, you might want to implement a command that can ping moderators, but only make that available to those of a certain level to prevent being pinged for minor moderation issues or by trolls abusing the pinging power. It is not advised to use a ping-based reporting method in larger servers due to how easily it can be abused.

 

Do you want to track the activity of your moderators? This is not possible for some methods. If your rules forbid advertisement via direct messages and moderators are to take action upon this being made aware of this violation, you should choose a reporting method that allows for screenshots to be shared.

Summary

Every community can benefit from having different reporting tools in place as this will help you keep your community a safe space for your members. Different reporting options have different benefits and challenges and you should take the time to analyze what option may best fit the needs of your community and moderation staff. 

 

There are six distinct reporting methods available via Discord’s native capabilities and bots:

  • Reporting via direct messages
  • Utilization of a Modmail bot
  • Creating a report channel with rules specific to your needs
  • Using a report command that will ping reported members, but be shared privately with a moderation team
  • Pinging a moderation team with an emergency team-wide ping
  • Message flagging via automated mod

 

Your server size will often dictate the best combination of the above options to find what reporting tools will work best for your team from a moderation standpoint, but you should also keep in mind the preferences of your community when it comes to reporting violations as your users also have to be comfortable when it comes to using your chosen report methods.

 

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