Each server has to decide for themselves what the most effective training method looks like. This article will present and explain some recommended methods that can simplify moderation training.
The “Buddy System” approach describes working in pairs or groups, in which two or more “buddies” work together on one task. Requiring newer moderators to work with each other or even an assigned team member allows you to better monitor progress and for aid to come when required.
It promotes active communication and trust between moderators and also allows them to keep an objective view on everything. Having multiple opinions about certain matters and receiving assistance from a reliable source prevents moderators from feeling pressured with moderation tasks and can even open your eyes to new viewpoints. Additionally, it allows its members to effectively share their moderation skills with each other. It also aids in terms of personal safety: if a moderator feels personally attacked by a user, they get immediate support from their “buddies” without feeling the need to tackle the issue alone.
Using this system allows less experienced moderators to quickly and effectively catch up to the moderation standards as they learn how to deal with specific matters first hand. It is important to remind the more experienced moderators on your team to allow new moderators to learn instead of wanting to quickly handle every task themselves. With time, certain actions will also become second nature for newer moderators, too!
This approach is most commonly used when onboarding new moderators. Here experienced moderators or the head of staff introduce each new member of the team personally and guide them through the most important aspects.
The difference between this system and the “Buddy System” is that each new moderator will be acquainted with the moderation tasks and responsibilities by a higher up, and usually only once. After the walkthrough most recruits are expected to manage certain moderation duties on their own while being supervised. It is crucial to support and reassure them so they are able to grow confident in their actions. Recruits can display and appropriately train their soft skills and be informed about moderation standards in a controlled environment without fear or causing too much irreparable damage.
Another method of efficiently training both experienced and inexperienced moderators is by letting them regularly test their knowledge. This involves designing exemplary situations of some everyday issues happening within your Discord server to let the trial moderators explain how they would handle them. Such instances can include how to handle issues in audio channels, user disputes, DM Discord invitations, off topic discussion in the incorrect channel, and potential issues that may be encountered with bots. At the end you should provide some sort of “model” or “example” answer to let the recruits know where they need to improve.
One negative effect of this system could be the fear of failure that some inexperienced moderators might be exposed to. Reassure them that making mistakes is okay as long as you take responsibility for your actions and are willing to learn from them. Moderation is an ever-shifting and learned art, and mistakes are not to be punished when they happen every once in a while.
It may be tempting to conduct these regular exercises incognito (aka acting up on an alt to see how they do) or test them without warning- while this may yield more “everyday” unbiased results, it has a high probability of backfiring. Blindsiding your moderation team with tests and exercises has the potential to do more harm than good, especially in terms of team trust and morale. It’s recommended that you don’t do this and instead, practice transparency when conducting regular exercises in order to avoid a potentially inequitable situation.
Another form of training is to demonstrate how situations or scenarios are handled in your community via presentation or an actual demonstrative walk-through with moderation alt accounts. This is very useful for training where moderators have to use a wide range of commands, such as explaining moderation and Modmail bots. Ideally, this should take place in an audio channel or group call where you can share your screen. Not everyone is able or comfortable joining a voice chat and unmuting themselves, which is something to be considered beforehand.
An essential part of onboarding new moderators is to have an easily accessible document outlining the basic responsibilities and details on moderator tasks and different moderation teams. Such documents need to be designed for each server individually, but they usually contain general rules for staff, conduct expectations, and a punishment outline to set a standard and unity for moderation actions.
Recommended additions to such a moderation handbook are:
Be sure to recognize anything that is prevalent in your moderation culture or community that is also worth mentioning here! The more thorough the guidelines, the easier the document is to refer back to for any questions. For example, gaming servers should have a brief description of the featured gaming company’s Terms of Service and discussion about how to handle cheaters or users mentioning account sharing/selling in accordance with those rules. Another example would be for bot support servers where a brief description of commonly encountered issues and how to solve them as well as an FAQ section to help users with simpler answers.
Another important topic new moderators should have easy access to are commands for moderation bots. Having a simple guide in a separate text channel with a quick guide of the bots’ prefix and format (command, user-id, [time], reason) will aid moderators in quickly responding to ongoing issues on the server. It lets them react fast without having to pause to look up the necessary command. Try to use the same prefix for the mainly used moderation bot to not cause unnecessary confusion, particularly for users who are new to moderating.
Each server uses a differently designed service to assist moderators with helping out users. Bigger servers tend to rely on a ticket or Modmail system, so properly introducing them with sample conversations or problematic matters is essential for both the recruit and the future user. Confident moderators are more willing to aid users in need than those who are still unsure of how the system works.
This kind of training should include commonly used commands and procedures. There should be conversation about how to redirect users to higher staff and closing tickets appropriately so they don’t stack up and cause confusion. As long as a ticket system remains organization and those guidelines or organizations are established across the full team this will prove to be an easy to use communication system that is much less daunting than it may seem!
No user should ever feel unsafe or threatened on a Discord server. Staff members are often exposed to harmful or disrespectful messages, some of them targeted at some moderators directly.
An important aspect of onboarding moderators therefore is to make them aware of how to react in such situations. They need to be able to create an environment in which it is comfortable for them to work in and not be afraid to ask for help if they feel threatened by users or, in extreme cases, other staff members. Staff members supporting each other and being able to communicate in such moments is crucial for an effectively working team.
*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.
Effective management promotes a feeling of professionalism and simplifies the process of training new moderators by a lot. Important aspects that should always be covered when creating a training program are time management, deciding on which staff are involved in training and why, effective communication, detailed content, and flexibility.
Choosing an appropriate approach. How do you want to introduce new members? What system did you conclude will work best for your server and staff team? Never be afraid to evolve an already existing plan into something that suits better for your current situation.
Deciding what topics to cover. What topics do you prioritize over others and think require more time investment than others? How are you moderators handling the learning process? Might there be anything in need of adjustment?
Selecting voluntary participants. Having a reliable team behind you to assist you in training is of most importance. Everyone involved should be aware of what exactly they need to teach and how to approach the training within a reasonable time frame.
Developing a timetable. Find common ground between everyone involved, including both the mentors and trainees, and settle on when to teach what topic. Recommend tools to easily manage bigger teams are Google Docs and similar, but bots and self made timetables will suffice, too. Try to keep it simple and easily accessible for everyone involved.
Communication. Who responds to whom? Decide on how and when mentors report to the head of staff or other higher ups. Documenting helps with ensuring everyone is aware of their part and planning how to proceed further.
Flexibility. No matter how carefully you plan everything out, it can always happen that something doesn’t work according to plan. In such situations you need to be able to react spontaneously and be flexible, such as pitching in for someone who is unable to attend due to a last minute shift in schedule.
How to Deliver Effective Training
Before conducting training, you should evaluate what can make your training most effective. Below you will find some best practices to set up a training program and be able to “train the trainers”.
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.
When you are giving a training, it is important to properly plan your training. What are the most important topics to cover? What do you want new moderators to know after conducting the training? How much time are you planning to spend on training? Some people struggle to focus for a longer period of time, so if your training takes over two hours, you should consider breaking your training up into multiple sessions of shorter duration. Make sure to accommodate for any accessibility issues or notes for those who were unable to be present.
Each training should have objectives. You can create an outline of your training where you write down the topics you will cover and the objective of that topic. For example, if you are training moderators to use Modmail, your objective is that new moderators are able to handle Modmail tickets and use the commands available to them. For each topic, also write down how you want to give this training: are you going to give a demonstration? Will you use illustrations? Will you offer new moderators to practice during your training and get hands-on experience? Publicly sharing this with trainees can help keep you on topic and allow them to come prepared with questions.
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.
After creating your training, make sure to practice it at least once. First, go through the entire training yourself to see if everything is covered that you think is important. You can then give your training to someone on your team, in case you missed something important and to check whether or not your estimated time is accurate. If it is possible, go through the material with someone who is unfamiliar with moderation. Adjust your training appropriately and you are good to go!
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.
For every training session, it is very important to have interaction with your trainees. People lose their attention after 15-30 minutes, so your training should include a discussion, practice, or some sort of interaction. Some of these interactive sessions are covered down below. Interaction with your trainees is also important because it acts as a way for you to verify whether or not your objectives are properly conveyed.
Make sure there is a break once every one to two hours so trainees can focus on your training without feeling overwhelmed.
Every training can consist of a combination of different training methods. These include, but are not limited to, lectures, quick exercises, group discussions, practice runs, quizzes, videos, demonstrations, and more. When planning your training, you can write down what method would work best to convey the objectives to your trainees. A group discussion will be better applicable to discuss moderation cases, where a demonstration and practice would work better to demonstrate how Modmail bots work.
Try mixing up multiple methods within a training to keep it fresh and keep people from losing their attention.
Preparation is key when you are giving any sort of training. Have quick notes ready with keywords that you are going to use during your training, so you do not lose track of where you are and what objective you are trying to convey. If you need any material such as a presentation, paper and pencil, example cases and such, prepare them beforehand so you do not lose time during your training setting these up. If you use any material, test them beforehand.
Don’t forget to clear your schedule beforehand and have some water ready if your training is mostly conducted over a voice chat or call. It is important to sleep well the night before and feel confident. This will let you remain focused and have an uninterrupted training session.
Make sure you are ready at least five minutes before the training starts to welcome arriving trainees and as a final check whether or not everything is ready and good to go. If your training takes place in a voice chat or call, test your microphone and if you have a wireless headset, make sure it is charged up beforehand!
When your training is done, finish with an exercise, group discussion, or something else that is interactive and fun to do. Ideally, this should summarize the entire training. Have some room at the end to answer any questions your trainees might have. Don’t forget to thank everyone who participated for their active contributions!
After each training, write down what went well and what could be improved. You can ask your trainees after they have had some experience as a moderator, what they missed during training that they think should be covered next time, as well as asking what information they did not find useful. You can then adjust your training for next time!
Having a training or onboarding process in place is very important to have new moderators get accustomed with moderation culture, using bot commands, the server rules, and your moderation guidelines. There are several training methods that include buddy or mentor systems as well as exercises and demonstrations. A training document should outline the most important information new moderators need, but prevent them from being overwhelmed with information they are unable to comprehend.
To have efficient training in place, there are some very important aspects to consider, such as your preparation, goals, how you will carry out the training of your new moderators, and planning. Considering all of these things when creating your training process will make onboarding as informational and effective as possible for you and your new recruits!
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