Discord is home to a variety of communities serving a wide array of interests. It’s important to make sure the subject and content of your community serves your target demographic. For some, these communities may focus on maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere, which can be defined as a space that is suitable for all members of a family. In line with Discord’s Terms of Service these communities are meant to be safe for its youngest users at the age of 13. This article will look at server setup and structure considerations when creating family-friendly environments.
Because you are dealing with young people, family-friendly servers may become what many refer to as Home Servers. These are online communities that are perceived to be safe spaces that people come back to time and again, like a home. Thus, such servers may attract users for different purposes than a community meant for college students might, for example. The moderators of family-friendly servers can be viewed as both authoritative figures but also older siblings or friends that may be looked up to by their community in unique parasocial relationships. They will also have the unique experience of seeing many of their young users mature and grow along with the server.
When forming this kind of environment, it’s important to make sure your moderators are naturally empathetic to the unique situations that will arise within member reports as a result of interpersonal relationships amongst younger users.
During the foundational stages of server building make sure to keep ideas such as privacy concerns, text filters, appropriate topics of discussions, and rule continuity at the forefront of your mind. Consider how you will handle users who are above the traditional age range of family-friendly servers who may not wish to abide by these rules.
While privacy concerns exist on any platform, they are something to be especially aware of when moderating family-friendly spaces. Rules that cover privacy and internet safety may be more strictly enforced to protect younger server members from any harmful actors looking to take advantage of less experienced internet users. Oftentimes, these concerns can culminate in a blanket rule stating that sharing any personally identifying information in the server is not allowed. This goes beyond exact locations and can include full names, ages, and even face reveals.
Revealing exact locations and full names are generally frowned upon in most online communities because they can be used to find more information about a potential doxxing target. Forbidding users to share their age is an added level of privacy to protect younger members seeking community on the Internet from being taken advantage of by those with malicious intentions. Younger users may not understand how risky age differences can be to navigate. Face reveals can be reverse-image searched to further learn information about users who aren’t protecting their online privacy, or even be stolen and used in various forms of bullying. As a result, many family-friendly servers find it best to limit all personally identifying information outside of first name and country if users aren’t choosing to utilize an online persona to protect themselves.
As moderators it’s important to help educate young users about how to maintain confidentiality and use discretion when revealing personal information. This starts with recognizing and not clicking malicious links and steers into conversations about reporting things that make them uncomfortable in any way and protecting their private information. Keep an eye out on how others interact with younger users and act accordingly, as a victim may not realize they are a victim in some situations.
Text filter implementation and determining which topics of discussion are appropriate for the server may be more strict than the average community as a result of building a safe space for younger users. There is generally no room for crudeness in any form. This goes beyond using text filters to monitor hate speech, which is against Discord’s Community Guidelines, and going further to include curse words, innuendo, illegal substances and activities, gore, dark humor making light of serious situations, any negative and harmful rhetoric from within the fandom your community supports, and more.
Be sure to adapt your text filters as new situations and filter evasions arise within your community. It is often recommended to keep your blacklist private to avoid exposing harmful terminology to users. Additionally, make sure your text filters mirror the topics of discussion you aren’t allowing in your server and clearly outline those preferences in your server rules by noting that your environment is strictly SFW and any NSFW content is not allowed.
Automoderation can be utilized to mute or ban users who are engaging in problematic discussion around hate speech, and moderators can use their judgment on other blacklisted words as long as your moderation bot is set to log filtered words in moderation channels.
As mentioned in the previous section, rule continuity is a big deal in spaces meant for young people to ensure equal enforcement across everything. If you’re looking to filter certain content, it should also not be allowed to discuss that topic in your server. This goes for both general chatting and for various other forms of server usage, any place where there can be user generated content. One such example is meme or art channels. While it’s a great idea to foster and encourage a healthy and positive artistic environment, content that is NSFW, hate speech or politically motivated, and creations that may lean into age-restricted content like alcohol consumption or gore should be monitored and discouraged. If you have an active music channel setup, it might be worth keeping an eye on playlists to make sure the content being monitored elsewhere doesn’t slip by here.
With the release of server avatars, it is less likely that rule-breaking content can find its way into your server via this route, but consider moderating statuses of active users, user profiles, and profile pictures if it does. It also helps to have your moderators lead by example and follow the same rules in their profiles that you are looking to enforce elsewhere. Continuity is key for equal and unbiased rule enforcement.
While family-friendly environments exist to be safe spaces for young people you may find yourself also having users who are above your target age range. Their presence should not be discouraged, but it’s important to ensure that your rules and welcome messaging clearly defines your space as family-friendly so that they are aware of the expectations for ANY user who joins the server. Most will likely be accepting of the rules you’ve put in place and the space you are trying to cultivate. However, others may naturally challenge certain restrictions that they find childish or assume don’t apply to them. Establishing language around why your community is meant to be family-friendly and the importance of keeping it safe for everyone as a result, will be helpful if these conversations arise. Users who may rebel against rules that they do not agree with should be actioned accordingly.
If you notice a large portion of your userbase seeking out your community but growing frustrated with its family-friendly restrictions, you can consider opening locked channels for mature users that can either opt-in to their existence or show proof of their age. If you decide to do this, make sure you have a separate set of rules in place for these channels, as well as an identification vetting process to make sure that younger users do not get exposed to content you don’t want them to be exposed to. This would require moderation that is different from the rest of your server, so it’s important to consider whether or not your moderation team can handle this locked channel and if you feel it aligns with your servers’ purpose.
Family-friendly communities exist to welcome Discord’s youngest users into safe spaces with the protection of moderation teams. Home Servers are SFW communities that limit topics of discussion more than a generalized server would in order to cultivate that safe environment. As a result, there’s special consideration to be taken around user privacy and educating users about their privacy, expanded text filters, appropriate topics of discussion, and rule continuity when building out the rules and structure of such an environment. Make sure your team is prepared to handle older users who may find these rules constricting by explaining their importance to your community’s purpose.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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