11

A few months ago, a Discord server was created for a site that didn't have its own livechat, but a lot of the members wanted one.

So this one girl creates a Discord server, and invites a bunch of us into it. There were about 25 members within the first couple weeks, and it has since grown to ~50 members, almost all between the ages of 15 and 21.

I was appointed as a moderator by the creator of the server within the first week, as I had experience moderating online communities before, which... nobody else seemed to have. (Later, she offered me the position of "head moderator", but I declined.)

Since that time, though, the creator has done stuff such as: a.) splitting the server into a lot of sub-channels for small subsets of the topic that the site is about, which results in fragmenting discussion b.) created a whole system of "admin", "head moderator", "moderator", etc, as well as a whole "application" system involving Google Forms...
There are others, but these two are good examples.

It feels like she's taking things too quickly and not allowing the server to develop normally; she's making things way more formal than necessary, especially considering the age of the participants, as well as fragmenting the server into too many side-channels, making it that starting a conversation in any of those small channels is very difficult. #general-chat is by far the most active - but even that isn't the most active.

How would I go about raising this issue to the creator? I'd like to ask her to maybe cut down on the formalizing a bit, and get to realize that just because she has all these cool abilities, that doesn't mean that she has to use them all immediately.

We do have a moderator channel that regular users can't see. She also has her own channel within the server (as does one of the other admins).

  • 1
    Is there a reason you can’t just tell her exactly what you’ve told us? Have you tried? If so how’d she react? If not, what are you worried will go wrong? – scohe001 Oct 23 '18 at 20:33
  • @scohe001 - I haven't tried yet; I'm concerned that since I'm saying that she's essentially being... slightly overbearing, she might get offended. I want to avoid offending her. – Arwen Undómiel Oct 23 '18 at 20:34
  • The discord server was created because a lot of members wanted it. That's understandable, but has the creator explained WHY she is formalising everything and making lots of sub-channels? Do the other users share your concerns? – user8671 Oct 24 '18 at 7:13
  • is that 25-50 active users or just members of the server? – spiral succulent Oct 25 '18 at 22:57
  • @spiralsucculent - members of the server, not necessarily active. – Arwen Undómiel Oct 26 '18 at 5:33
7

I feel like this is a similar situation to a lot of group projects in school where you may think a group member is making decisions that could be harming the project. For myself in these situations I direct my concerns specifically about the project, or in this case the channel, and avoid mentioning who made the decision.
This becomes an even easier conversation when there are more members as well as you can pose the question to the group as a poll to try and get backup for your concerns.

Ex message to the mods/admin members

Hey guys, I'm not so sure it was the best time to split the channel into so many subtopics and channels since we only have a few members so far and there isn't a ton of activity yet. Do you think we could reduce the number of subtopics and see if that helps boost activity?

You can see in this example that there is no blame or even mention of who made the decision to split up the topics and focuses on just getting input for whether the other mods and admins agree. This approach of avoiding pointing fingers works as well in a one on one conversation as well but when appropriate to include the team can further reduce the risk of offense to anyone.

  • Is it specifically part of your suggestion to make this interaction between the moderators instead of 1 to 1 OP to admin? – spiral succulent Oct 24 '18 at 1:36
  • @spiralsucculent yes, while I think posing his concerns in this way works whether its posed to the group or one on one, including the group has the lowest the risk of offense to the creator, will edit my answer to clarify that – BKlassen Oct 24 '18 at 15:31
1

How would I go about raising this issue to the creator? I'd like to ask her to maybe cut down on the formalizing a bit, and get to realize that just because she has all these cool abilities, that doesn't mean that she has to use them all immediately.

You are identifying the root cause of your admin's behavior the same way I am. Whenever people get powers, they want to test them out. This discord server is probably the most important/active community that she has been an admin of. A certain amount of over-administration is expected. Unfortunately, I have seen, as I'm sure you have by your concern, communities fractured and broken by well meaning admins trying to make 'improvements' all the time.

I'm generally a proponent of one-on-one interaction where you are trying to address behavior of one person. If the admin is not the only one driving these over-formalizations and there are others involved from the mod team, then addressing the group seems better. People are often much more defensive in a group setting as opposed to one on one if they feel their authority is being questioned in front of the group. While challenging authority is not your goal, it is a possible interpretation by the admin when you try to approach them and so I recommend one-on-one to minimize defensiveness.

Another strategy for avoiding the impression that you're telling the person what to do is to ask them if they are open to hear some advice/constructive criticism/personal concern from you. The exact words to frame the message as each of these types is slightly different. When delivering, avoid statements structured as "You are doing X which is wrong", instead focusing on the action and leverage I statements.

I am concerned that creating more text channels might fragment communication in our budding community

You can even share responsibility for previous over-formalizations as a member of the mod team.

Maybe we can cull back some of the topical text channels that we have created, but don't seem to get a lot of traffic, those topics don't seem to have enough volume to overwhelm #general

Which approach you choose is based on personal preference and what you perceive would work best based on your usual interactions with the admin. Additionally, you mentioned that you are the only one with previous moderation experience in this community, and that has been acknowledged. This allows you to bring your advice and concerns from a place of personal experience rather than simple worry.

I think the main concern you have that you want to get across is that all this structure is being added up front and the rigidity and fragmentation might stifle the community meant to grow into the structure. I always like analogies and find them to be an effective communication tool. My analogy for this issue is farming vine tomatoes (or grapes). A big healthy vine is supported by a trellis the farmer builds to help support it, allowing it to grow heavier tomatoes without collapsing under its own weight. Channel topic structures and mod recruitment processes are like the supporting trellis to a big healthy Discord community. The farmer doesn't attach a baby tomato vine to a trellis though. The plant has to do some growing on its own before it is ready to be attached to the trellis. The best community structures grow as the community needs them.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.