You should check in with your moderation team before large events to ensure they are still on board and understand that they will be experiencing an increased demand for their time and attention. Avoiding burnout should be one of your main goals in evaluating your staffing; if you are already short staffed or your staff members are juggling just as much as they can handle, you need to be aware before you are dealing with thousands of new users. You can read more about avoiding burnout here.
Doing this is equally important for long and short term team health. After an extended period of dealing with the frustrating issues that come up with tons of new users, moderators and other team members may find themselves less engaged with the community and exhausted in the long term, even if they are capable of shouldering the short term stress and increased demand. This can be mitigated by moving some work to auto moderation and bringing in new people for only the short term who can just dip out to take care of themselves when things settle down. Using tools like modmail snippets, and setting up text replacement rules or custom bot commands to send a template response to common questions can save a lot of time and energy.
Times of increased workload can also put on additional strain or exacerbate any existing internal issues. It is important to evaluate whether there are any important issues that you need to address before preparing for the influx of users. If your team does not think that the way you are operating is sustainable for them, that should be handled before any extra stress is added into the mix.
Regardless of the kind of community you’re leading, if you are expecting a huge influx of users, you may want to consider staggering your advertising efforts. If the company behind your verified game server is planning to put your invite into the game, on Twitter, Instagram, email, etc. it may be best to launch all of these announcements at different times so that there is a more manageable trickle of new users coming in. Typically, minimizing disruption and keeping advertising ethical is the name of the game when it comes to moderation, but there are unique instances where it can be used as a marketing tool to create a measured amount of chaos with the purpose of building a feeling of hype and excitement in the server.
If you are gaining an unexpected or potentially unwelcome boost from being mentioned by a famous person or some other extraordinary situation, it may make sense to take down your regular advertising, remove your cross-linking between platforms, disable certain invites, or take any other actions to generally reduce the flow of new users. This may not help if the vast majority of your new users are coming from one source that, for example, posted a vanity invite link that you don’t want to remove and have potentially stolen by another server.
Unless you have a very large team with a lot of free time, it may be necessary to reach out for help outside of your moderation team. You can add moderators or explore adding temporary helpers and junior moderators to allow some people with reduced permissions to assist in handling some of the easy to tackle and high volume issues. They can handle incoming trolls and userbots or help manage any new user onboarding process that the server employs while experienced moderators take care of trickier interpersonal situations. It will also be good to reach out to servers that have experience with similar events to ask them for context specific advice about preparing. This could be done by sharing auto moderation settings and configurations, getting bot recommendations, lending and borrowing staff members, or just sharing any particular concerns you may have. Moderation hubs can be a useful place to solicit help and advice. The same can be said for servers within your network if you have any partnerships or even servers you collaborate with in some capacity.
*Unless you are using the channel description for verification instructions rather than an automatic greeter message.
If you want to use the remove unverified role method, you will need a bot that can automatically assign a role to a user when they join.
Once you decide whether you want to add or remove a role, you need to decide how you want that action to take place. Generally, this is done by typing a bot command in a channel, typing a bot command in a DM, or clicking on a reaction. The differences between these methods are shown below.
In order to use the command in channel method, you will need to instruct your users to remove the Unverified role or to add the Verified role to themselves.
Auto moderation tools can greatly reduce the workload that your moderation team experiences during a stressful period for your server. It can help in a variety of ways including but not limited to:
321: Auto Moderation in Discord has more information about specific auto moderation settings and configurations that can be used to help manage your space. It also includes more in depth information about moderation verification levels, which are touched on in the following section of this article.
It is important to note that some of the scenarios being covered by this article, like being featured on the front page of Server Discovery, will cause a marked increase in the rate of new joins, but will not cause hundreds of people to join your server at once. If you are preparing for a content creator to announce a giveaway in their Discord to thousands of people watching their stream, for example, it may make sense to actually decrease your auto moderation settings to prevent anti-raid bots from being triggered by real people joining to participate in a giveaway. If you can, you should ask people who have experience with similar communities or events exactly how they modify their auto-moderation settings to most effectively manage the situation you are in.
Markdown is also supported in an embed. Here is an image to showcase an example of these properties:
Example image to showcase the elements of an embed
An important thing to note is that embeds also have their limitations, which are set by the API. Here are some of the most important ones you need to know:
An important thing to note is that embeds also have their limitations, which are set by the API. Here are some of the most important ones you need to know:
If you feel like experimenting even further you should take a look at the full list of limitations provided by Discord here.
It’s very important to keep in mind that when you are writing an embed, it should be in JSON format. Some bots even provide an embed visualizer within their dashboards. You can also use this embed visualizer tool which provides visualization for bot and webhook embeds.
If your server does not utilize moderation verification levels or verification gates, it may make sense to temporarily increase your servers security using one or both of these tools. Verification levels can help you prevent some of the lower effort trolls and self bot accounts that are targeting your server from doing any damage. You can access verification levels in the moderation settings of the server.
This page includes descriptions of what each level requires for users to begin interacting. Increasing the verification level can also generally slow down the rate of new users speaking in your server. If you increase the verification level to the highest setting, users who do not have phone verified accounts may just leave the server, and it’s more likely that only high intent users will stick around and wait for the verification level to be lowered.
Verification gates can also slow down joins and put off some of the lowest intent joins that you will get. People may be unwilling to read instructions or take any additional steps to joining, and those are likely not going to be the users that you want to retain the most. You can read more about various types of verification gates in 301: Implementing Verification Gates.
Gates can allow you to more easily pick off bad actors before they can disrupt community members during an already turbulent time. Low friction gates like reaction based or command based verification are probably ideal if you did not have a gate prior to preparing for this event. Other types of gating can require manual responses from moderators and can put a lot of additional time requirements and stress onto a team that is already juggling a lot. If you already have a manual verification gate, especially an interview style verification gate, it may make sense to pull in additional help to manage this system.
The permissions that you give new members have a large effect on how much damage bad actors can do. Limiting certain permissions such as global emoji permissions, media upload permissions, and link embed permissions can prevent users from bringing the nastiest content they could into your server. For a refresher on Discord permissions, see 201: Permissions on Discord.
Depending on how large the influx of new users is, and whether this is a new server or an existing one, it may make sense to restrict the ability to send messages to a select group of users or just restrict those permissions only to staff while you wait for the people joining to acclimate. This can give you time to assess how many people joined, and whether your setup is prepared to handle that kind of growth or if you need to do additional preparation before opening things up. This can also give you time to remove any new users that you already know will not be contributing members of the group (ie. people with hateful profile pictures/usernames) before they can get the chance to integrate themselves into the server.
Even though this comparison is important for better understanding of both bots and webhooks, it does not mean you should limit yourself to only picking one or the other. Sometimes, bots and webhooks work their best when working together. It’s not uncommon for bots to use webhooks for logging purposes or to distinguish notable messages with a custom avatar and name for that message. Both tools are essential for a server to function properly and make for a powerful combination.
*Unconfigurable filters, these will catch all instances of the trigger, regardless of whether they’re spammed or a single instance
**Gaius also offers an additional NSFW filter as well as standard image spam filtering
***YAGPDB offers link verification via google, anything flagged as unsafe can be removed
****Giselle combines Fast Messages and Repeated Text into one filter
Anti-Spam is integral to running a large private server, or a public server. Spam, by definition, is irrelevant or unsolicited messages. This covers a wide base of things on Discord, there are multiple types of spam a user can engage in. The common forms are listed in the table above. The most common forms of spam are also very typical of raids, those being Fast Messages and Repeated Text. The nature of spam can vary greatly but the vast majority of instances involve a user or users sending lots of messages with the same contents with the intent of disrupting your server.
There are subsets of this spam that many anti-spam filters will be able to catch. If any of the following: Mentions, Links, Invites, Emoji, and Newline Text are spammed repeatedly in one message or spammed repeatedly across several messages, they will provoke most Repeated Text and Fast Messages filters appropriately. Subset filters are still a good thing for your anti-spam filter to contain as you may wish to punish more or less harshly depending on the spam. Namely, Emoji and Links may warrant separate punishments. Spamming 10 links in a single message is inherently worse than having 10 emoji in a message.
Anti-spam will only act on these things contextually, usually in an X in Y fashion where if a user sends, for example, 10 links in 5 seconds, they will be punished to some degree. This could be 10 links in one message, or 1 link in 10 messages. In this respect, some anti-spam filters can act simultaneously as Fast Messages and Repeated Text filters.
Sometimes, spam may happen too quickly for a bot to catch up. There are rate limits in place to stop bots from harming servers that can prevent deletion of individual messages if those messages are being sent too quickly. This can often happen in raids. As such, Fast Messages filters should prevent offenders from sending messages; this can be done via a mute, kick or ban. If you want to protect your server from raids, please read on to the Anti-Raid section of this article.
Text filters allow you to control the types of words and/or links that people are allowed to put in your server. Different bots will provide various ways to filter these things, keeping your chat nice and clean.
*Defaults to banning ALL links
**YAGPDB offers link verification via google, anything flagged as unsafe can be removed
***Setting a catch-all filter with carl will prevent link-specific spam detection
A text filter is integral to a well moderated server. It’s strongly, strongly recommended you use a bot that can filter text based on a blacklist. A Banned words filter can catch links and invites provided http:// and https:// are added to the word blacklist (for all links) or specific full site URLs to block individual websites. In addition, discord.gg can be added to a blacklist to block ALL Discord invites.
A Banned Words filter is integral to running a public server, especially if it’s a Partnered, Community or Verified server, as this level of auto moderation is highly recommended for the server to adhere to the additional guidelines attached to it. Before configuring a filter, it’s a good idea to work out what is and isn’t ok to say in your server, regardless of context. For example, racial slurs are generally unacceptable in almost all servers, regardless of context. Banned word filters often won’t account for context, with an explicit blacklist. For this reason, it’s also important a robust filter also contains whitelisting options. For example, if you add the slur ‘nig’ to your filter and someone mentions the country ‘Nigeria’ they could get in trouble for using an otherwise acceptable word.
Filter immunity may also be important to your server, as there may be individuals who need to discuss the use of banned words, namely members of a moderation team. There may also be channels that allow the usage of otherwise banned words. For example, a serious channel dedicated to discussion of real world issues may require discussions about slurs or other demeaning language, in this exception channel based Immunity is integral to allowing those conversations.
Link filtering is important to servers where sharing links in ‘general’ chats isn’t allowed, or where there are specific channels for sharing such things. This can allow a server to remove links with an appropriate reprimand without treating a transgression with the same severity as they would a user sending a racial slur.
Whitelisting/Blacklisting and templates for links are also a good idea to have. While many servers will use catch-all filters to make sure links stay in specific channels, some links will always be malicious. As such, being able to filter specific links is a good feature, with preset filters (Like the google filter provided by YAGPDB) coming in very handy for protecting your user base without intricate setup however, it is recommended you do configure a custom filter to ensure specific slurs, words etc. that break the rules of your server, aren’t being said.
Invite filtering is equally important in large or public servers where users will attempt to raid, scam or otherwise assault your server with links with the intention of manipulating your user base to join or where unsolicited self-promotion is potentially fruitful. Filtering allows these invites to be recognized, and dealt with more harshly. Some bots may also allow by-server white/blacklisting allowing you to control which servers are ok to share invites to, and which aren’t. A good example of invite filtering usage would be something like a partners channel, where invites to other, closely linked, servers are shared. These servers should be added to an invite whitelist to prevent their deletion.
Raids, as defined earlier in this article, are mass-joins of users (often selfbots) with the intent of damaging your server. There are a few methods available to you in order for you to protect your community from this behavior. One method involves gating your server with verification appropriately, as discussed in DMA 301.You can also supplement or supplant the need for verification by using a bot that can detect and/or prevent damage from raids.
*Unconfigurable, triggers raid prevention based on user joins & damage prevention based on humanly impossible user activity. Will not automatically trigger on the free version of the bot.
Raid detection means a bot can detect the large number of users joining that’s typical of a raid, usually in an X in Y format. This feature is usually chained with Raid Prevention or Damage Prevention to prevent the detected raid from being effective, wherein raiding users will typically spam channels with unsavoury messages.
Raid-user detection is a system designed to detect users who are likely to be participating in a raid independently of the quantity of frequency of new user joins. These systems typically look for users that were created recently or have no profile picture, among other triggers depending on how elaborate the system is.
Raid prevention stops a raid from happening, either by Raid detection or Raid-user detection. These countermeasures stop participants of a raid specifically from harming your server by preventing raiding users from accessing your server in the first place, such as through kicks, bans, or mutes of the users that triggered the detection.
Damage prevention stops raiding users from causing any disruption via spam to your server by closing off certain aspects of it either from all new users, or from everyone. These functions usually prevent messages from being sent or read in public channels that new users will have access to. This differs from Raid Prevention as it doesn’t specifically target or remove new users on the server.
Raid anti-spam is an anti spam system robust enough to prevent raiding users’ messages from disrupting channels via the typical spam found in a raid. For an anti-spam system to fit this dynamic, it should be able to prevent Fast Messages and Repeated Text. This is a subset of Damage Prevention.
Raid cleanup commands are typically mass-message removal commands to clean up channels affected by spam as part of a raid, often aliased to ‘Purge’ or ‘Prune’.It should be noted that Discord features built-in raid and user bot detection, which is rather effective at preventing raids as or before they happen. If you are logging member joins and leaves, you can infer that Discord has taken action against shady accounts if the time difference between the join and the leave times is extremely small (such as between 0-5 seconds). However, you shouldn’t rely solely on these systems if you run a large or public server.
Messages aren’t the only way potential evildoers can present unsavoury content to your server. They can also manipulate their Discord username or Nickname to cause trouble. There are a few different ways a username can be abusive and different bots offer different filters to prevent this.
*Gaius can apply same blacklist/whitelist to names as messages or only filter based on items in the blacklist tagged %name
**YAGPDB can use configured word-list filters OR a regex filter
Username filtering is less important than other forms of auto moderation, when choosing which bot(s) to use for your auto moderation needs, this should typically be considered last, since users with unsavory usernames can just be nicknamed in order to hide their actual username.
If your community is seeing an influx of new users who are either new to Discord or joining for a very specific reason like event participation or large scale giveaways, it may make sense to set up a new landing page just for these users. It can get exhausting to explain the same basic information repeatedly no matter how many volunteers you have involved. Having an additional FAQ that covers information that new users will be looking for and trims out excess from your regular FAQ that doesn’t pertain to them can make their integration into the server and understanding of the information they need more straightforward and accessible for everyone involved.
One additional component not included in the table is the effects of implementing a verification gate. The ramifications of a verification gate are difficult to quantify and not easily summarized. Verification gates make it harder for people to join in the conversation of your server, but in exchange help protect your community from trolls, spam bots, those unable to read your server’s language, or other low intent users. This can make administration and moderation of your server much easier. You’ll also see that the percent of people that visit more than 3 channels increases as they explore the server and follow verification instructions, and that percent talked may increase if people need to type a verification command.
However, in exchange you can expect to see server leaves increase. In addition, total engagement on your other channels may grow at a slower pace. User retention will decrease as well. Furthermore, this will complicate the interpretation of your welcome screen metrics, as the welcome screen will need to be used to help people primarily follow the verification process as opposed to visiting many channels in your server. There is also no guarantee that people who send a message after clicking to read the verification instructions successfully verified. In order to measure the efficacy of your verification system, you may need to use a custom solution to measure the proportion of people that pass or fail verification.
In the most extreme of cases, it may make sense for you to set up channels or even a separate server that is linked to your official accounts/pages on other platforms where the low intent users that are on the hype train will get deposited. This will allow you to prevent new joins from disrupting your existing community, but not require you to prevent all of the people who are excited about it from having a space related to your community to be a bit chaotic. If you choose this approach, whether you are upfront about having set your main community to private and setting up a temporary space for hype or not, you should consider explaining it throughout your typical advertising channels as time goes on.
Anything you say during the explosive growth and attention is likely to get drowned out by other information, and you may have more pressing announcements to make. This can help you retain the high intent members who joined because they only heard about you via the news about your group, but are seriously interested in becoming permanent community members while avoiding the entirety of the second server from joining the first. You can advertise your main server in the secondary server, but it's advisable to wait until the immediate interest has waned in the second server. At this point in time, spammers and other trolls have likely gotten bored, and the event that spurred the growth is largely in the past.
It’s important to note that the approach of making an overflow server requires a significant increase in the amount of moderator time required to manage the community. It will likely require an entirely new team to manage the chaos of the overflow server and the associated increase in attention for the uptick in discussion in the main server. This is something you should only consider in truly extraordinary circumstances. The team for the overflow server likely will not need as much training, qualification, or people skills since they will mostly be managing spam/advertising/hate speech over a short but busy period of time. They won’t likely need to talk to users about how to improve their behavior or handle tricky situations like long-term harassment or bullying, but it is still important that they be amicable as they may end up being someone's only interaction with your community or the subject of your community in their life. At the end of the event, the server can either be merged with your main community, or deleted; if it is deleted, members who are particularly interested in your community will likely seek your space out after losing touch.
What is best for your server in times of exponential membership growth is up to you. Luckily, even if you decide not to implement something and later realize that you may need it, it can be relatively easy to implement some changes with short notice or scale back changes if you over prepared and over engineered your system. Better to be over prepared than under prepared!
This article should give you an idea of the main concepts to consider and keep an eye out for while preparing for and working through large increases in your servers membership. These considerations do not all need to be implemented to successfully manage rapid growth, but they should give you a good framework for the types of changes and preparations you may need depending on how extreme the growth you are expecting is. Have fun and good luck taking on this new moderation challenge!
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