100: An Intro to the DMA

The backbone of Discord can be found in its infinite communities. Communities are created by people (like you!) and bring people together over their shared interests, a pursuit of knowledge, or even those simply searching for a space to hang out. On Discord, there are communities for just about everything -- if there’s a group of people that care about something, there’s probably a place where people talk about it on Discord and find new friends.

 

Before we dive in too deep, though, let’s start at the top. What is a community?

Defining a Community

A community on Discord is an environment (usually in the form of a Discord server, but it can be larger, like a network of affiliated servers) where a group of people come together over a shared interest or passion. This shared interest is the inspiration behind your community and it could be anything: a game, a content creator, a movie, a book series, or even something more niche like a fan club for a secondary character from a beloved TV show. You can build a community around anything, really, and find people all over the world who want to talk about that passion with you. And maybe sometimes similar communities already exist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build your own space. More communities mean more space to experiment, learn, and grow.

 

Once you’ve identified the interest or a passion you want your server to focus on, the next step in defining your community is to identify its purpose. Imagine a community centered around an author — people might want to join to talk about the author, or participate in a read along, find similar authors, talk about future books, or more. Maybe all of this belongs in one community, but maybe there can be multiple communities each focused on a specific case.

 

For your community, you’ll want to determine what people will get out of it and how it will appeal to current and future members. Members may come to a community seeking information, camaraderie, or support (or all of the above!), and it’s important to understand what you and your members want your community to be.

 

To help institute a purpose, remember to think about your community from the perspective of a new member. Ask yourself some questions. What is this community for? What’s the coolest part about it? Why do I want to stick around? Identifying your community’s purpose as clearly as possible will help you to answer these questions and make your community interesting and distinct.

 

Now that you’ve identified an interest and a purpose, share this with the members of your community! You should share your server guidelines and expectations publicly, usually in a welcome channel and in a server ruleset that users are expected to abide by. 

 

One last note — remember that the purpose of your community may shift as your user base ages and grows. Be flexible and grow with your community’s needs to successfully foster a healthy environment. Revisiting your founding mission and adapting it as necessary will allow your community to thrive as it goes from a hundred to a thousand to, maybe, a million people.

How do I keep my community safe?

After defining your community’s purpose, the next most important element of running an online community is moderation

 

There’s more to moderating a community than just understanding how to use Discord’s moderation tools. Think of it this way- building a community is like building a city, and moderators are responsible for several facets of constructing that space including:

  • Building Infrastructure. Building the foundations and the roads and bridges of a community. Creating new roles, channels, and updating rules as necessary to maintain a healthy environment. This may also include moderation bot wrangling and programming.
  • User Safety. Keeping the peace and removing immediate threats. Enforcing your community’s punishment scale to ensure all your users are safe. Handling punishment appeals is another important aspect of user safety.
  • Event Running. Bringing people together and introducing and integrating newcomers. Many communities will run events to help introduce server members and to bring the community closer. 
  • Direction. Setting a tone for the future of the server. Firm but fair moderation establishes the direction of your community and gives the moderation team respect and credibility.
  • Community Leadership. Being the mayor! Active communication and transparency will inspire others to see you as a leader. As a community leader, moderators act as the guiding force of the community and set the standard for how to behave for others to follow.

 

At its heart, moderation is about building a healthy society- not just clicking the ban button. It  can be quite complex and, at times, not entirely opaque as to what you should be doing.

Fortunately, the Discord Moderator Academy (DMA) is designed to serve as a comprehensive guidebook to understanding the many layers of moderation, written by expert community moderators who delve into its practices daily. The DMA serves both as a reference for the technical aspects of Discord community moderation and also as an exploration of the interpersonal skills needed to develop a welcoming and engaging community.

 

Before you begin to dive into all the DMA has to offer, it is important to remember that you’re never alone in this path. Remember to grow your moderation team as your community grows so that you can ensure your server is always well cared for, even without your constant presence. It’s true what they say--teamwork really does make the dream work. Establishing a healthy, professional, and respected moderation team is essential to creating a space that users feel safe in. Not only does a moderation team distribute workload, but it allows for new ideas and perspectives — maybe you’re not as technical, and bringing in a bot expert allows for automating some manual chores. Or maybe you could use an events expert to really get people to know each other on a more regular basis! Managing different philosophies is integral to understanding the many interests that may emerge in your growing community over time, and having a good moderation team means that it’ll better reflect in your server as a whole.

What’s Next?

Now that you know what a community is and the expectations that come with being a moderator, it is time for you to begin your journey. Discord wants to help you build the best community you can - and that is exactly why the Discord Moderator Academy was created. Through our many articles, you can learn how to set up your community with moderation tools, run amazing events, grow and expand a wonderful moderation team, establish good rules, become a community leader, understand conflict resolution, and so much more.

 

Moderation can be challenging, but it is one of the most rewarding adventures you can embark on. As you grow your community from one person to a thousand, as you meet new friends and create memories for the rest of your life, as you sing in late night voice calls and take hours thinking about how to write new rules, we’ll be here with you, every step of the way.

 

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