About the EBF Discord

Hey guys, I’ve got a lot of thoughts about the EBF Discord that I’d like to share.

For those of you who don’t know, the EBF Discord is a bunch of chatrooms where you can talk about EBF, gaming, fanart, and almost anything else. I set it up 2 years ago, and since then the number of members has gradually increased to over 11,000. Only a small portion of those users are regularly active, but it’s still a lot of users, and the server is experiencing some growing pains lately.

The server is moderated by volunteers from regular users. They’re people who already spend a lot of time on the server, and I trust them to help keep it clean.

Originally I wanted to have quite relaxed rules: Keep it PG13. You can swear, but not too much. You can poke fun at people, but not too much. You can talk in all caps, but not too much. Etc. Bans would mainly be reserved for obvious trolls and spam bots. Minor offences would be sorted out by the community without mods getting involved. Common sense would prevail, I hoped. And this worked fine while the server was quite small and managable. But enforcing those sort of loose rules became near impossible as the server grew – it’s unfeasible for mods to keep track of which users are breaking a “reasonable” amount of rules, and which ones are going too far.

Context matters, but it’s also a pain to take into account. In normal interactions, friends can trash talk each other without any ill will. They can call each other rude names, and it’s harmless. However, that’s nearly impossible to moderate in a busy chatroom, unless you read a few walls of text of history between the users. So gradually we’ve had to get stricter and cut down on the banter. You can’t trashtalk other users anymore – even mildly – because it’s impossible to tell at a glance if it’s harmless, or if it’s part of a long series of bullying comments.

Additionally, there’s a lot of trouble makers intentionally trying to see how far they can push the rules, which really forces me and the mods to think about where we should draw different lines. And I don’t like drawing lines, because real social interactions don’t work like that. But I guess when you’re managing a large group of people you really have to keep the rules as simple as possible and you can’t leave any grey areas.

One tough question we have is: Questioning the mods’ decisions should be allowed, but how pushy can you be about it before it’s not allowed anymore? When do reasonable disagreements turn into feuds? Into arguments? And it makes things even harder when you consider that different mods have different levels of sensitivity to arguments, and may be stricter on some days than others. Stricter on more annoying users than on well behaved ones. It’s really hard to keep things fair.

I don’t like that Discord currently has no “temporary ban” feature. All bans are permanent unless manually reversed. I believe that temporary bans would be a convenient solution to these “grey area” offences. A user would know they went to far, but also know that they’re still welcome back in a month or so.

At the moment we have some general-purpose channels on the server, where you can talk about just about anything. These obviously cause a lot of problems – because everyone has a different opinion about everything, and some people always have to be right! Keeping the server strictly to discussions about my games would keep things simpler. There would be much less disagreement – if you’re on the server you obviously share that hobby with everyone! But it would be quite restrictive, which is a bit of a shame. And a “you can talk about other things, but not for too long” rule would be really hard to enforce.

The server previously had a “spam” channel, where you could post whatever low quality content you wanted, images included, as long as it’s still PG13. A lot of users liked that, and so did I. But moderating it was too difficult – it moved incredibly fast, and deciding which images should be allowed was a nightmare. Is a dead rat too far? Is flag burning allowed? Can Hitler make an appearance? The spam channel had to go. That amount of fun was a step too far.

I’m a big advocate for freedom of speech online and all that. I grew up on Newgrounds and 4chan. But it’s much easier to avoid things you don’t like on forums and image boards. Everyone’s practically anonymous, and nothing is personal. There’s many different discussion threads to choose from.

A chatroom feels so much more claustrophobic. Everyone is trapped closer together – for months and maybe years! You can’t have a conversation while simply ignoring the people you don’t like. Users get to know each other, and some of them just can’t get along. Personalities clash. And every time they do we have to make the rules stricter to stop it from happening again.

I just can’t figure out a good balance between fun and safety.
It really sucks.

But so that we don’t end on a downer, I’d like to say that the EBF Discord has been great for me interacting with fans and getting feedback on my work. The regular users really appreciate the community, and a lot of cool fan projects have came out of it, such as game mods, translation fixes, and fan art. I guess it’s got those things going for it.

So here’s some questions for you, dear readers:
If you’ve visited the EBF server, what did you think of the level of moderation?
Should we even bother with general-purpose channels, or just keep the server strictly EBF related?
What should a ban review process for lesser offences look like? When should banned users be allowed back?
If you’re part of other Discord servers, what features do they have that you like?

Please discuss.

22 thoughts on “About the EBF Discord

  1. Shadow The Worm

    Oh, I see it now, mate. You are smarter than I thought, This reasonless pernament ban is so mean, even for a Worm like me. I don’t blame you, it could be MY FAULT, but I blame Discord, they have such unfairness. Matt, I am very, very sorry. This ban on me is perhaps my fault from your perspective, but it is NOT MY FAULT FROM DISCORD’S PERSPECTIVE, JUST STRAIGHT BAN CHEATING. Let the Concrete Donkey and Godcat bless you! :scared: :smirk:

  2. Eddiegames

    I’ve found that all of the directly EBF related channels have been pretty good, at least while I was around. I can’t speak for how the general channels are, but I’ve felt like moderating as it has been done seems to be pretty good overall.


    I haven’t been on the EBF discord for months. Last I was there, there wasn’t even a general chat! I probably had complained about that at the time, because not having a good general chat made general communications with the people you talked with in other topic channels hard. You could only discuss a very specific subset of topics before moderators would step in and deem your discussion off-topic, and often moving discussions would kill them regardless of the moderator’s intent. It just felt formal and discouraging, and the other people discussing often wouldn’t put up with it even if I or someone else was brave enough to go ahead and take it elsewhere.

    While I complained about not having a general chat, I can also see it being a problem. It’s a big server, there’s a bunch of kids (at least that’s what it felt like when I was around), so you know… there’s going to be intense friction. Regardless, any server with a personable community worth a grain of salt at least has a general chat to establish regulars, and to give people some place they can go without getting styled on by moderators for being off-topic, or ‘not adding anything to discussions’ or other subjective judgments.

    With the young demographic, highly active moderation is perhaps extremely justified, bu~t it very much makes the place feel like it’s not my scene. The only real purpose the discord served for me was sometimes giving idea feedback on your blog posts, but amidst the other opinions and such it just felt like I might as well not bother.

    I probably really shouldn’t have bothered with the place to begin with, but I really enjoyed your games and wanted to talk about them. Overall it’s just really not an experience that was worth much to me. I’m pretty sure I left about when you put up some kinda Lego creation channel, and I was being a stinker and putting up ROBLOX videos in it before anyone really posted in it and probably annoying you. You gave me a little kick, and I came back and was probably somewhere between “haha wow I did it” and also just like, “you know every one of us here is a lemming who pretty much means nothing”. That was about the point where I realized I didn’t like talking to anyone there, the moderation felt like it had to corral children, and by virtue of talking actively and being on the user list, this included me. I didn’t come to feel like I was back in High School.

    It also taught me an important lesson about how big chatrooms are pretty much always cancer. If theoretically, a server that I happened to own ever got to the scale of this one, I’d probably have exclusionary tiers of discussion so that separate communities of smaller headcounts could thrive. Such is something only really possible among a growing server; as your server is, I doubt more than ten percent of the user base is engaged at any one time. Which is typical, but as more very active, perhaps younger posters leap into the fray, another poster is sifted into inactivity when they realize the futility in bothering.

    In reference to a server I have to admit I own for the sake of this discussion: it has a currently small headcount, and it feels really good. I would absolutely loathe operating a big server, and I feel like I can sympathize with you.

    Especially if there were a ton of kids! There’s just something about me and kids. One-on-one, we can get along okay, but when they do dumb stuff amidst older generations, and I really care a lot more about talking with said older generations, it is incredibly hard not to scoff and shake my head. Such is why my server had tiered discussion pools that, while exclusionary to a demographic, kept the gears turning smoothly, and let me talk with the people I actually was interested in talking with, rather than pulling my hair out over discussions I’d rather not so much as see. It also didn’t outright banish those who I didn’t like or who disrupted discussion.

    In a little more detail, but still kept brief: they couldn’t talk in certain high-concentration discussion channels, but they got their own general chat that really was open to everyone. This allows people who didn’t want to participate in the discussions often dominated by just them to so simply avoid them. They can keep doing what they’re doing without punishment, everyone else can keep doing what they’re doing. Gears turn smoothly.

    Each individual only has so much attention and care to allocate as well. While my ‘mini chatroom terminus separated by tiers’ idea might seek to strongly retain certain individuals, that’s not entirely conducive to the sort of idea that every individual has their own interests and priorities, and discussion and investment in a server can be a less-than-small process. So, while it’s highly formal and quick to sift users- i.e. moving them based on off-topicness, shutting down discussion for the sake of organization and outward presentability of the server- this reveals just how mechanical and managerial the process is. Participating becomes formal, and thereby not worth a significant amount of people’s time.

    Perhaps my perception of acceptable formality is skewered. Personally, if I wanted to engage in tolerable formality and contextless obedience, I’d go to work, or do my homework!

    Another thing that stuck out to me was how discussions could proceed with a natural flow, if only the moderators would shut up and let it happen- no offense. Sometimes, while a conversation would deviate from the channel’s topic, it would flow smoothly, and in theory eventually reach an ending point in a timely manner. Why must they then pray that the moderator isn’t online to rain on their parade? It’s a sign of problems when users can very easily roll their eyes at the “””stupid moderator””” who came in and, without social awareness, conversational sense or tact, end a discussion because rules are rules. Very cool discourse. If I wanted to be shut down all the time, I’d go into politics.

    I say this without offense to your moderation team, of course. Still, I couldn’t help but point out what it felt like for myself, and what impression other users often gave off.

    When the conversation proceeded without the moderator present, then got back on track, as it turns out, there were no crying shames nor disastrous outcomes. Why then must the moderator intervene? Is it really worth it for them to manhandle discussion like that?

    What really made me sneer was something I’d heard about keeping the Discord presentable, by keeping the topics clean of even the slightest deviation, and keeping at-length conversation to a minimum if none, so that everyone may potentially begin a smaller conversation. I may have been around for when general chat was instated, because this memory wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

    And, I asked myself, “presentable to who? Why? Must the presentation really take precedence over the utility and function? Well, they can keep their nice-looking Discord, then; I don’t wanna be part of their headcount!”

    Such is why in every server but the one based on my own projects, I remain a devout lurker. Maybe it’s just that I’m a huge introvert.

    But, I’ll probably stop by again just to see your progress and stuff. I have far worse and uglier servers on my hotbar anyway. :smirk:

  4. KingSnail

    This is a long-winded post but understand that these are some pent-up thoughts I’ve had about the server for quite some time now, because while I had an unpleasant experience part of me would *really* like to talk amongst others about my shared gaming hobby that is EBF again.

    Thoughts on Moderation:
    I frequented the Discord for a short while in… I think it was mid-2017? Maybe early 2018? Anyway, what made me really not want to bother going there was the day I witnessed another user get cursed/silenced by Omega because they said “Welcome to #gaming!” to a newbie in the gaming channel. Just an isolated, friendly welcome (to the specific channel) and they were punished because it was “not the channel for greetings”.
    I recall a brief dispute about it in #general where some people said Omega was doing a good job. When I mentioned how another large server I’m in had some more relaxed rules where things like this didn’t happen, at least 1 person with a Scholar role said the mods in that server must be really shitty people/mods. Needless to say the situation was overall extremely unwelcoming and drove me away from further being an active participant in the server.
    A mod (I think they had Raven or something in their name) said I could message you specifically to complain about the dispute which is exactly what I did.

    I still check the server about once a week to see what’s going on in devblog, but pretty much every time I look at the server now I am reminded of that experience. It may perhaps have been the worst/harshest moderation decision I’ve ever seen, and definitely one of the worst online experiences I’ve ever had. I can’t feel comfortable knowing I could be punished over something so minor so the desire to actively participate is just not there. I would even say looking at a channel outside of devblog or devblog discussion makes me feel physically anxious, which is a feeling I’ve never felt in any other online chatroom/server over the last 10 years.

    Moving on…
    Getting Mods: I see a lot of bigger servers either a) have people (usually the current modteam, or the owners themselves) look at regulars who are generally well-liked in the channels they frequent, and then invite them to the modteam if need be, or b) host a vote (usually on a Google Form) where users can cast a vote for someone they feel deserves to be a mod. Voters must submit their own Discord ID (name#1234), and then vote on anyone – literally anyone – they feel deserves the spot. Personally I feel option b works better.

    Channels: General discussion channels are almost always an essential part of servers, because a lot of people will get to know eachother better and just want to chat about non-specific things. Ya know, build friendships and all that.

    Ban Reviews: Most places I see either a) hand out warnings for certain offences (usually 1 or 2) before handing out a punishment (silence/restriction). Then beyond that a kick. Then a ban. Of course severe offenses (posting obscene material in sfw channels, raiding, image spamming) make this process go by faster.
    Or b) have a point system where offense a) is 1 point, offense b is 2 points etc., where once a certain amount of points are reached, a moderator action is taken on the user. I know the Madness Combat server does this.
    Both methods are fine, but obviously take some kind of maintenance or record-keeping to be useful. They are, however, efficient.
    As for ban reviews themselves – usually if someone gets banned and they want to dispute it, the best way to go about it is to wait for said user to contact a mod. Regardless of how they present themselves the mod should then inform the others mods (in a hidden moderation channel). If most of the mods believe said person has explained themselves reasonably then they may be brought back. Some cases are irreversible (if said user was banned for posting something they definitely shouldn’t have, or if they were banned due to a mass of complaints).

    Finally, Other Servers: The only thing I can think of is that, in a server I moderate (5,000+ members), we have a system where we keep track of: whoever did something bad, what it was, when it was, what the next course of action will be (silence, kick, ban, etc.), and when they will be de-escalated. All easily kept in a doc. It works wonders. We even have a bot in the works that will let us automate almost all of that with one mod-only bot command.

    Anyway if you read all of this, sorry for the very long post. I just have had some strong feelings about the server for some time, and figured this was a good time to both express those thoughts, as well as offer ideas and solutions that I have seen work rather well in action over the course of my many years on Discord. Cheers.

    1. Raven

      KingSnail i happen to very well know about the situation you describe and here a few keythings you misrepresent: The user you claim was cursed for freeting in the gaming channel? He was never cursed for that. He had around the same time accrued warnings for breaking the rules in a different channel and this was shown to you in your discussion. You never acknowledged this here which paints a false picture.

      1. KingSnail

        I do recall some kind of event that was going on in #spam at the time now that you mention it, so you may be right there. Even then I still recall someone being genuinely warned specifically for the ‘greeting in gaming’ thing. Maybe just because at that point they caused mods to be on edge?
        I still recall it as a very unpleasant experience. I think the real kick in the pants was just that one guy telling me other mods/friends of mine were ‘shitty mods’ because they didn’t handle situations the same way.
        I should also point out that my complaint is well contained in the past, and that most of my post is based on 2018 or earlier. Maybe overall the place has still improved since then? I might work up the courage to drop by more often again if that’s the case.

  5. durian god

    i’ve just recently joined the server and overall it’s,,, alright. the mods are just doing what they need to do but sometimes people take the warnings personally. which i dont really know whats going on between the mods and some members, but in my opinion i think that’s mainly the cause of arguements. and the fact that the argument continues until it enlarges,,,

  6. Ivan319

    Yeah about the moderation in that discord server, I’m not really a fan of it! I got banned months ago by Phyrna just because I had “!” in front of my username
    (it basically sets you on the top of the users list, but many people were using that anyway), others kept it however and didn’t get punished for that… she told me I was “gaming” the user’s list, I disagreed with her about that matter which led to her assuming I was disrespecting and kind of annoying her since she has the “royalty” role and the fact that there’s a rule about that, I found this rather unfair to be honest and wish if I could get unbanned as I didn’t do anything that serious, I believe a permanent ban wasn’t that necessary at all for a mediocre reason this is rather abusive. other than that the moderation there was alright, I gotta admit however some staff members are rather toxic and antipathetic as well. other than that I actually liked the server had some few nice people on it! I’m currently requesting an unban on the server.
    I can apologize to Phyrna if necessary (I tried to but couldn’t get in contact with her) so please take this request into consideration, I’m one of your many fans after all!

    1. Ivan319

      This is my discord tag: (♠♥Adrian♦♣#2117), for some reasons it didn’t show up on the previous comment.

    2. Matt Roszak Post author

      I agree. If that’s really all you did, you shouldn’t have been banned.

      1. Ivan319

        Yes, it is indeed all I have done so far, people have witnessed it but I doubt they’d remember. I’d really like to be unbanned please! and be able to rejoin the community again as it was beneficent for me since there were lots of helpful lads out there giving away battle strategies, and also fun people to talk to. and I’m deeply sorry if by any chance I’m bothering you right now as I’m aware you’re still working on improving EBF5, but the moment I saw this article concerning the discord server I had the urge to inform you about my situation, thank you for taking my problem into consideration! :yay:

    3. adfdsasdfasdsdfda

      Phyrnna told us she’s only renaming those with !s, not banning them. Yet more lies from mods?

      1. Ivan319

        Well she must have done so after I got banned from the server maybe, because I can assure you I wasn’t aware of this at all! that time many users had “!” on their names, when I noticed my name changing, I proceeded to put the “!” back each time I didn’t know it Phyrnna who was changing it till I got called out by her, I tried to explain to her that I didn’t know at all and I somewhat told her that I did nothing wrong since this wasn’t on the rules, she thought I was playing dumb… she simply told me I was annoying her then proceeded to permanently ban me. and I need to let you know that I’m not accusing any mod of lying, this whole situation was a misunderstanding. and if it’s true she did tell you about this name change then why not make an announcement about that?! it wouldn’t have me get banned in the first place. and may I know who are you?

  7. Lucent

    I would recommend using Dynobot for moderating; it has a number of moderation features that reduce the difficulty of managing large servers. One particularly notable feature is a ?modlog [user] function that stores all previous moderations a user has. Paired with a ?warn [reason] command to warn a user to stop their current behavior, you can quickly check what actions past moderators have had to warn, mute, or temporary ban users for. Easily one of my favorite bots.

  8. Goldtear

    One thing I feel I should say is that lines absolutely have to be drawn, lines being pushed is entirely fine imo as long as they aren’t crossed/broken. Having the line be a vague thing that just says “don’t be too naughty” means that it’s entirely up to the mods discretion on how to handle things which can lead to a lot of icky stuff.
    Personally, I only ever use the server to keep up to date on things about the game and I never really talked with anyone. I did frequent the spam channel just to steal some memes but I never saw anything that looked like it would break the rules in there, only “pushing the lines”, so I feel like ending spam entirely was a bit to far.
    There have been plenty of servers that have managed to do well with a small amount of moderators by setting clear rules and enforcing them to the same standards. If someone is causing trouble and being confrontational with the mods then slap them on the wrist till they learn their lesson, don’t put the whole class in detention.
    But hey what do I know, I’m just a nobody who’ll probably get memed on the server lmao (pls no bulli this is just my opinion).

  9. HOTS

    I used the Discord for a couple months a while ago, it was set up pretty nicely, especially for fanart and your game dev.
    I’m surprised users aren’t allowed to argue with each other now; whoever came up with that must like the extra workload since more censorship requires more moderation.
    If you have general channels and people have made friends in them, then deleting the channels would leave the users stranded. There’s really no right answer.

  10. MaxdamageAF

    Personally speaking, i exclusively use EBF discord to look at some fanart not featured on the blog, or news…
    if i were to stop using it, things wouldn’t exactly change, since this blog already covers all of it!
    i never send messages (almost never) past the initial week (or after beating the game) of joining a game’s discord, and im sure when EBF gets a content patch of when the ~next game~ eventually comes out, i’ll have more to talk about.

    however, i don’t know anyone on the server, nor do i break rules or see them be broken
    all in all, this comment is pretty useless, but still i wanted to voice my view on the server

    it does its job for me atleast…

  11. NatTorpedia

    I’d say general channels are important, they make the server seem more friendly and communal, and
    a lot of the discussions in them are positive, or thoughtful conversations. Everyone wishing each other ‘good morning’ is small but makes a huge impact on how welcoming the server feels. Every server I’m on has a general chat place, and the community spirit of each server is one of the reasons I love discord.
    Ideas from other servers are :
    1) one server I’m on has the mods voted for by the servers members. Each candidate fills out a form of various questions, basically a mod cv, then gets put in. This means that there’s practically no shade thrown at the moderators, however, I highly doubt that it’d work on a server of your size, as the one in question is ~400, and with numbers of 11000 the process may be chaotic or exploited somehow. Interesting to keep in mind though.
    2) Mini mods: a slightly larger team than the mods, with less perms and authority to just warn people who are getting out of line, and remind them of the rules.

  12. Star Scorpia

    One of the servers i am on uses a temporary mute of around 2 hours when rules are broken by accident or if it was a minor rule breaking.
    It would lock you out of writing in any chat except an appeal channel the mods had access too and you could write there but not see the messages of others to try and defend your rule breaking or just wait out the temporary mute, it used a bot whose name i can’t remember now.

  13. Velvet♤

    Though there is no official temporary ban feature in Discord you could probably use a moderation bot like MEE6 or Dyno to do it, however some bots have a lot of unnecessary features you should probably turn off. I know MEE6 has a warn, modlog, message clear, ban, and tempban with listable reasons and times as I use it to moderate a server with 80k+ users.

    1. Matt Roszak Post author

      We’re using the Auttaja (?) bot at the moment, and it helps with some things – I’ll see if it has temp bans or if we should maybe get those other bots.


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