As a moderator or an owner of a server on Discord, the popular chatting app, you have the ability to control what happens in the server, what people are allowed to do, and who is allowed to join. It creates an interesting environment in which each community is different, and the norms, as well as the hard rules, are different, unlike most social media, this can be controlled, you can create your own private walled-off environment on the platform. Which begs the question is it even social media? However, that’s a debate for another day.

Today I am here to talk about the actions you take when someone has crossed those lines you set, break those rules you created. Depending upon what people do, you have a few options, you can use the traditional, warnings, mutes, kicks, or the new timeout feature I discussed a few posts ago, go check that out, here, if you want to learn more about that, and how it affects the ever-evolving toolbox we have to control our servers. However, when an offense is egregious enough, or there are just too many offenses, many of us will resort to a ban, one of the earliest moderative actions on the platform. It begs the question, when do you ban, why do you ban, what do you ban? They all seem logical until we get to that last question, and I’ll address that later on.

When do you ban?

It’s an important question to answer for every server owner. When do you say enough is enough, and that’s up to you to decide, I (and many of my colleagues) constantly get asked, should I ban for this, should I ban for that? And the beauty of it is, that’s up to you as the server owner, obviously, some things should always be bannable, for example endangering members of the server, using racial slurs, violating the terms of service (and community guidelines of course). I also generally recommend you ban when people are major trouble causers and have a constant history of causing unrest in your community. 

Once you have decided WHEN to ban someone, the next question is how long? Some servers stick to permanent bans only, and there are valid arguments for this if someone is causing so much trouble and so much damage why ever let them back in? Good argument, but at the same time, there is often the argument. However, we began doing temporary bans here at AYS a few months back, and this is what we have learned.

The monster of temporary bans

The second you decide to open up temporary bans, it creates what I like to call a monster, a ton of decisions, such as how long to ban someone for, if it should be different from case to case, how do you decide when an infraction is worth a month vs two months, and so on and so on. This can be challenging for server owners, which is why I recommend a 3 step process.

  1. Decide what should be a temporary ban
  2. Look at all the infractions that are temporary bans, assign a duration to each one based on relative severity
  3. Try it out for a month (or more) and continue to reevaluate and change as necessary

This will make it so in the long run, you have the best possible system set out for temporary bans.

Appeals

Appeals are when a user who has received a moderative action (warn, timeout, mute, kick, ban, temp ban, etc) wishes to dispute the action taken against them. It is essential to have a protocol in place which allows users to appeal actions in an unbiased way. Once again, this leaves multiple choices on multiple fronts. Protocol, and acceptance leniency

You have multiple options for an appeal system, these are the two most common

Appeal Server

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Easy to set up and maintainNeed to distribute the server before or while banning people
Easy to just ban people to make bans unappealableAdded complexity, multiple servers to check, etc
Another serverMore work for you and your mods, you now also have to make sure people are behaving in a second server
Doesn’t make much sense for mutes and warns

Dyno/Google Form

AdvantagesDisadvantages
All in one serverHarder to setup
Ability to set it and forget it, no need to constantly make sure people behavePeople are inevitably going to send random garbage to it
Easy to get all the needed info the first timeNo way to definitively identify who is sending the submissions (however this is starting to change with dyno forms)
Ability to integrate into bots and automatically unban if approved or state the official ban reason and time

Do I really need this and when do I accept them?

Generally, I always recommend a process in case there was a genuine misunderstanding on behalf of the mod team when the action was issued, and sometimes new discoveries and info provided by the offender can result in mods seeing they didn’t see the whole story. You also always have the option to deny them. I frequently see the question, what should I accept and what should I not, I will provide a few common examples, and what I recommend, however as with almost everything, its your server and you can do it however you want!

Some of the most common reasons server owners accept appeals are for things like

  1. Falsely issued punishments
  2. Long time inbetween punishment and appeal
  3. Genuine attempt at the appeal

Some servers only accept falsely issues punishments, while some others will accept just about anything! I generally recommend to accept things with good effort, and with a genuine attempt to resolve the issue that got them banned, as well as false punishments. 

As you can see, just on the topic of bans and appeals, it becomes a very flexible space and most of the decisions are up to you! We can recommend how we would do it, however if you don’t like our recommendations you can choose to do it however you want, which is the beauty of the Discord platform.

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