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Tips for creating and growing a new Discord server

This guide is kept up-to-date as Discord and available resources change!

Creating and Growing a Discord Server

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Introduction

Hello! I'm jagrosh#4824! I'm writing this guide to try to help new server owners set up and grow their servers, which is a commonly-requested topic. It's very easy to go about this the wrong way, so it's best to be prepared and make smart decisions so that your community can flourish!

Background

You might be wondering: why am I qualified to write this guide? Excellent question! Well, I've created several successful Discord servers, including the Monster Hunter Gathering Hall (70,000+ members, game community), a bot support server (7,500+ members), and two bot community servers (25,000+ members and 20,000+ members). I also help moderate several large servers, and I am a Discord partner. Finally, I am very familiar with the technical aspects of Discord, which are useful for setting up servers and permissions.

Part 1: Should I make a server?

This is an important question. Just because you can make a server doesn't mean you should. When you're making your server, make sure to ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this something that you are passionate about? Don't make a server just for the sake of making one. You should be highly interested in the topic and want to improve the community for that topic. You should also be knowledgible about the topic and able to help newcomers and experienced members alike.
  • Does this server have one specific topic? If your server is a "generic gaming server" or "generic public server" or "random server" or "memes" or any variation, then it is not going to grow. Frankly, no one is interested in joining a server that doesn't have a defined topic. If you take a look at the biggest and most-popular servers on Discord, they all have a specific topic, like "Overwatch" or "World of Warcraft Druids" or "Discord API". If you want your server to become popular, you must pick a specific topic.
  • Do any other servers for this topic exist? Once you've decided on a topic, you need to figure out if a server for that topic already exists. For example, don't make a server about "League of Legends," because one already exists. If a server for your topic already exists, you should join the existing server and contribute to the existing community instead of trying to create a new server for the exact same topic! However, it's possible that there doesn't exist a server for "League of Legends Demacia Lore," so that would be a perfectly-fine topic to create a server for. (If you don't know if a server already exists, see the "Resources" section at the bottom of this document)
  • Does the topic benefit from having a Discord server? For some topics, there is no benefit to having a Discord server. Discord is great for real-time communication via text and voice. Make sure that the topic is one that can be discussed in these ways.
  • Do you need to own the server? This is probably the most important question. Obviously, you're here because you want to set up a server, advertise it, and grow a community. The question is, would you be willing to give ownership and all permissions to someone else if it meant that the community would grow better? If you would not be willing to give ownership to improve the community, you need to stop reading this guide right now and delete the server. Servers aren't things to "show off" because they are popular; they are communities of real people that want to communicate, and you need to care more about that community than about who "owns" the server itself. This is something you must accept if you want to create a community: that if the community would do better without you, you need to be able to give it up to someone who will perform better.

If you've answered these questions according to the guidelines, you're ready to start setting up the server!

Part 2: Setting up the server

This section is still in-progress and should just be used as a basic guide

Channels

The key to good channel structure is keeping important information easy to find, and categorizing everything as appropriate. An example of a structure for a "Minecraft Redstone" server might be:

 ⌵ Information
   # rules
   # announcements
   # contests
 ⌵ General
   # lobby
   # off-topic
   🔊 Voice
 ⌵ Projects
   # survival_redstone
   # creative_redstone
   # command_blocks
   # map_sharing
 ⌵ Mods
   # mod_chat
   # mod_log

Tips:

  • Channel Order - Keep the 'rules' or 'info' channels near the top; remember that when someone first joins the server, they'll see whatever the first visible channel is (unless the invite they join points somewhere else)!
  • Invites - I normally don't give people the 'Create Instant Invite' permission via role, and instead create a manual override allowing it only for the 'rules' channel. This means that if someone wants to invite their friend to the server, the friend will see the rules channel first!
  • NSFW Channels - A good rule of thumb is: don't. There is a reason why you might want to create a NSFW channel, and that reason is if the core topic of the server has a NSFW component. For example, some television shows have scenes that might be not appropriate for underage viewers; a NSFW channel would be useful for discussions about these scenes. Don't make a NSFW channel if it doesn't relate specifically to the server.

Roles

  • "Member" Roles - "Member" roles (or equivalent) can be useful if you want members to agree to a set of rules (usually via a bot command) or if you want to check out people before manually giving them the role and letting them join the server. DO NOT have a bot give every single new member a role right when they join. Why? Giving everyone a role prevents some of Discord's useful features from being possible. The most important is the Verification Level. For large servers, it is important to make sure that all users have verified accounts (linked an e-mail to their account) to avoid spam and raids. However, the server's Verification Level does not apply to anyone with a role, so if you give everyone a role when they join, you are essentially setting your server Verification Level to "None" and leaving yourself wide open to all kinds of attacks. Additionally, the "Prune Members" feature becomes useless as you cannot prune members with roles.
  • Staff/Mod Roles - I often find it useful to have a colorless role that is given to all Staff (regardless of what kind of staff) to keep the sidebar more organized (I make sure the "Display role members separately from online members" is checked for 'Staff' and unchecked for the other roles). Then, each type of staff has a role with a name and color corresponding to the type of staff they are (Moderator, Event Manager, etc).
  • Bot Roles - Never give bots more permissions than they need!! This is extremely important and a mistake that a lot of people make. Remember, if you give a bot a permission, you are effectively giving that permission to anyone with the bot's token. Usually this is just the owner of the bot, but if they are careless and leak their token, it could be anyone. Most bot invite links come with a preset list of permissions, but if you want to add the bot without giving any permissions right away (and giving the permissions manually later), you can remove the &permissions=NUMBERS section of the invite link.

Part 3: Advertising

First of all, I'd like to describe what I mean by advertising. I don't mean trying to get random users to join your server. I know that a lot of people are desparate to increase their member count, but quality is always more important than quantity. You only want people to join if they are actually interested in the server. This will lead to continued success and high-quality discussion. When I discuss advertising, the goal is to make it so that people who are looking for a server about your topic will be able to easily find your server!

  • Listing Sites - Check out the resources at the bottom of this guide; there are a few server listing sites that I highly recommend. These sites have been curated due to their SEO (search-engine optimization) and ability to lead interested users to the right servers for specific topics.
  • External Outreach - Look for subreddits/forums/other resources that share the same topic as your Discord server. Make sure to let users know that you've created a Discord server all about the topic that they enjoy! (Make sure to do this politely though; nobody likes someone spamming links!). Depending on the responses, you might need to make some changes on your server if you want the external communities to support you. Do it! It's very important to get the current communities for the topic involved!
  • Don't spam your invite link on random Discord servers! - This is extremely important. If you just ask random people to join, and they aren't interested in the topic, there is a high chance they will either a) leave or b) troll. You don't want either of these. What you want is for all (or at least most) of your new members to be people that actually care about the topic. Don't be discouraged if it grows slowly at first! It's better to have 10 members that care than 1,000 members that don't.
  • Get Involved with your own server - Don't step out of the community to try to fill an "owner" role. Just be part of the community, because the best and most reliable source of advertising is people telling their friends.

Part 4: Tips

These are just some generic tips that usually correlate with success.

  1. Don't separate the "Owner" in the member sidebar. Usually, a role should only be "displayed separately" or "hoisted" if people need to be able to easily see who is in that role. For example, it's usually good to hoist "Moderators" so that someone can easily ping them if needed. However, hoisting roles like "Owner" just looks narcisistic.
  2. Don't use any kind of "levels" or "exp" system. Don't give points or award roles for chatting. This is the quickest and easiest way to drown out any real conversation. People are much more engaged in a community if every who is talking is talking because they are interested in the server, not just because they want points. If you are having trouble keeping people engaged, hold events that relate to the topic!
  3. Only have as many moderators as the server needs. It might be tempting to start adding a bunch of moderators as soon as there is some activity, or as soon as the first bad thing happens, but don't be too quick. Make sure that you completely and fully trust your moderators before adding them, and don't add too many. Early on, you probably only need one or two mods just to make sure that you have all timezones covered. A decent estimate for moderator counts is 1 mod per 1000 members, and 1 admin per 10 mods. This varies a lot based on the nature of the server of course.
  4. Do not advertise to random people, nor on random servers, nor reward people for inviting friends. Unsolicited advertising breaks Discord's Terms of Service, so if you send random invites, or even have a system that encourages people to do that, you're breaking the ToS and your server and/or account could be shut down! Follow the rules!
  5. Think about why YOU would want to join a server. Don't follow certain practices or add certain things just because you saw someone else do it, do things because they make your server something you want to be a part of! This is something that so many servers mess up; they add bots or certain channels just because they saw another server with them and not because it actually makes the server more enjoyable.

Resources

Server Listing Websites

  • https://invite.gg - This site is great for getting a customized invite link that can easily distinguish your server.
  • https://www.discordservers.com/ - This is likely the most popular listing site, and allows you to provide a small description about your server. This is very useful when people are searching for the topic of your server.
  • https://www.carbonitex.net/discord/servers - Carbonitex is great for keeping various stats about your server, including members, activity, and messages. The list here is also often used to rank servers by member count.

Moderation/Management Bots

  • blargbot - http://blargbot.xyz/ - This bot can be used to customize your server in almost any way you can imagine. It has a strong custom command implementation that lets you make whatever commands your server is going to need. It can log messages and record moderation actions, and even have some basic automoderation if needed.
  • Vortex - https://github.com/jagrosh/Vortex/wiki - This is a basic moderation and auto-moderation bot. It doesn't require any setup for the basic commands (using native Discord permissions for its checks), and it's easy to set up some basic auto-moderation for preventing spam, advertisements, and raids.
  • Auttaja - https://auttaja.io/ - Commonly used for it's 'gatekeeper' functionality, which can help with mitigating problem-users from entering your server in the first place.

Utility/Information Bots

Game Bots

Probably not a good idea. You don't need any game bots. Please don't use bots as a means to increase server activity. These bots can be lots of fun, but they are almost never related to the topic of the server.

Bot Sites

Other Guides

@ghost

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ghost commented Nov 17, 2017

Great Guide!

@cameronjacob

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cameronjacob commented Nov 22, 2017

1 mod per 1000 members?

@SHADOWELITE7

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SHADOWELITE7 commented Dec 4, 2017

nice really like it

@X3I

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X3I commented Dec 11, 2017

Hey, would be really cool if you could add https://discordemoji.com to the resources part of this guide <3

@Slolo-Legend

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Slolo-Legend commented Dec 11, 2017

1.) Is "Debate" a 'specific' topic? At first, I'd think that it isn't, but if I have several categories/channels and I make it simple and easy to find certain debate topics among the channels, then wouldn't it be suitable to have a topic as broad as "Debate"? 2.) You said 1 mod per 1,000 members and 1 admin per 10 mods? You also said that it depends on the server, but if my server has 500 members, then that's 1 mod, and 2 admins (we are co-running it) for all of the channels. I know that I don't want a high mod-to-member ratio, but I also want the mod(s) that I do have to be able to moderate all or most (preferably all) of the server's activity that takes place in multiple channels. Whats the solution?

  • Slolo#5538
@Zytekaron

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Zytekaron commented Jan 1, 2018

  1. Dyno is a great moderation, music, and somewhat custom command bot, I use it in all of my servers and it’s very easy to setup to your specific server usig the online control panel at https://dynobot.net
  2. discordbots.org is the site I use for my own bots and I would recommend adding it to this list, it’s a well-made and very popular site.
@jagrosh

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jagrosh commented Jan 7, 2018

Hey guys! I've had to delete several comments here that contained links to Discord servers or bot advertisements. Please do not advertise here... read the guide! It tells you places you can go to do that!

@graysonr15

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graysonr15 commented Jan 24, 2018

[invite removed by jagrosh]

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SnowLifeFun commented Feb 1, 2018

[invite removed by jagrosh]

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FrankTheMoneyBank commented Feb 1, 2018

[invite removed by jagrosh]

@AugustEymann

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AugustEymann commented Feb 1, 2018

Hi jagrosh on my fork I have added a few things if you want to look at it thank you.

https://gist.github.com/Dawnzx/8e2c286cc2473b4553c2de660a412d41/edit

@NatoBoram

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NatoBoram commented Feb 10, 2018

Please do not promote scam sites here, or you will be blocked from this gist.

Tbh I'd straight out ban people who post advertisement, spam and scam in this gist.

Also, the amount of mods per members should scale down the more member you have. For example, 2 mods at 100 members is great, and I'd even have a third at 200 members.

@jagrosh

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jagrosh commented Feb 10, 2018

@NatoBoram Yeah, that's why I said it varies a lot. One of my servers has 1 mod for every 2000 members, one has 1 mod for every 4000 members, another has a mod for every 500 members

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Micamax commented Feb 24, 2018

[invite removed by jagrosh]

@lilmisspump

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lilmisspump commented Mar 12, 2018

Hey I really liked this gliuld would you please join my server

@Ray-Zay

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Ray-Zay commented Mar 22, 2018

So, I do think the guide is good, but I have a few questions and points;
Where in the dsicord ToS does it say that you can't post unsolicited discord invites in servers and to people?
The listing sites are completely one sided to those who pay a premium fee, therefore I don't really see a point to why you put it in the guide.
You should basic server rules and how to do basic moderation, to help those who need it.

Anyways that's it.
I'm a head admin for a growing server with at the moment 1600ish people, and growing, as the owner is a youtuber with 70,000 subs. Sadly... this guide offered some, but little insight to me 😅 as I've read many articles and have talked to many community managers and had a similar position in the past... But it was a good guide through and through.

@jagrosh

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jagrosh commented Apr 9, 2018

@Ray-Zay Here is the section from the Terms of Service that disallows sending invites to random people:

You agree that your use of the Service will not include sending unsolicited marketing messages

Also, the point of listing sites is not to be noticed by everyone going to the listing site; what's important is to make sure that people searching for the topic of your server will find yours. Trying to be seen by everyone is a bad idea; you'll just get a lot of trolls.

@RinkkVIPKiller

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RinkkVIPKiller commented Apr 12, 2018

this is a really nice guide, but for moderation id prefer dyno, and for advertisement, id add serverhound

@jagrosh

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jagrosh commented Apr 13, 2018

Dyno is also a great moderation bot; it's easy to set up although it does lack some of the configuration and power behind the other bots I've listed. MEE6 is another good general-use bot that can fit the needs of many servers.

I would not ever use ServerHound or any associated services:

  • The developer has been known for shady acts in the past, such as collecting user data without consent and providing fraudulent data values to other listing services
  • The developer has created several services in the past that violate Discord's API Terms of Service in various manners, such as serving up certain forms of end-user data without checks or consent
  • The server list and bot are frequently used by raiders due to the unrestrained nature of serving the data (contrast to something like DiscordServers which prevents serving up reusable invite links and also only provides servers via search for the topic)
  • The ban list is heavily biased, especially considering that the developer and staff both control the list despite being banned themselves from most large and popular servers.
@MyPjPizza

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MyPjPizza commented May 29, 2018

Is it possible to integrate payment option within Discord? I want to run a paid membership service. Automate paid member to participate in paid membership group.

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JakeDutile commented Jun 10, 2018

[invite removed by jagrosh]

@jagrosh

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jagrosh commented Jun 12, 2018

@MyPjPizza there might be some tools out there (or you could make your own) but... there are very few, if any, people that would want to join a paid group when there are myriads of free and friendly groups available.

@TNThacker2015

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TNThacker2015 commented Jun 12, 2018

What if your server's topic is about bots?

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BeetleAlias commented Jun 24, 2018

[invite removed by jagrosh]

@connor83

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connor83 commented Jun 25, 2018

I imagine that if you have a really active server where 500(Give or Take) act poorly or are very active you would want more mods/admins to member ratio to keep eyes on the server and keep people in line. Right?

@jusdepatate

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jusdepatate commented Jul 4, 2018

I think you can add Dyno to the list

@ndr3w221

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ndr3w221 commented Jul 9, 2018

This guide is awesome, but you should add more things to it, or to improve it :)

@getduckt

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getduckt commented Aug 15, 2018

[bot advertisement removed by jagrosh]

@Grace

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Grace commented Sep 1, 2018

Great guide. Don't forget Statbot. https://www.statbot.net/

The website has a better UI and prettier graphs than carbonitex.net. The bot can also provide beautiful graphs in Discord messages with commands. I love it.

@jagrosh

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jagrosh commented Sep 10, 2018

Frankly, I'm hesitant to list any bot that puts a DiscordBots.org badge on their site. That listing site is a for-profit site, and generally bots that back-endorse the site also tend to have similar goals. I'd much rather list bots where I know that the owner of the bot has intentions purely of helping server owners.

@acollierr17

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acollierr17 commented Oct 11, 2018

I don't agree with your point on needing to own the server. Why the fuck would I create dedicate time to create a server if there was a possibility of giving up ownership of it? I don't give a fuck if someone else can do a better job of running it too. It's mine, I'll do whatever I want.

And that's fine. It's your server. But the point jagrosh was making in my perspective is if you're willing to hand over ownership of the server with the means for the direction of the server to ultimately improve in ways you couldn't imagine or couldn't do yourself. A decision like that could be the difference in your server impacting so many more people.

The guide wasn't made to be applied to everyone. It's just a general idea of what one should keep in mind if they want to create and/or grow a Discord server. It's completely okay to pick and choose what you want and leave what you don't want. I don't agree with everything in this guide. But some parts of the guide that I haven't implemented before, I implemented into a new Discord server of mine as well as implemented it into other Discord servers I helped with previously.

@FreddyMarsden

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FreddyMarsden commented Oct 17, 2018

Thanks. Really useful little guide here. I would like to know how you managed to get 2000 people into a bot support server (I am a bot dev!)

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jagrosh commented Oct 17, 2018

The bot community servers in question are Yggdrasil Treehouse (for Yggdrasil, 180k+ servers) and Discord Giveaways (partly for GiveawayBot, 130k+ servers); these community servers have a lot of members simply because the bots are fairly popular.

@jagrosh

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jagrosh commented Oct 17, 2018

I don't agree with your point on needing to own the server. Why the fuck would I create dedicate time to create a server if there was a possibility of giving up ownership of it? I don't give a fuck if someone else can do a better job of running it too. It's mine, I'll do whatever I want.

You're free to do what you want of course, but if this is your attitude, then you are not really trying to benefit the community; you're trying to benefit yourself. As a result, people will be less likely to want to contribute to your server if they know that the owner is being greedy instead of trying to actually improve the community.

@Thrallix

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Thrallix commented Nov 16, 2018

You should add https://discordlink.com/ to your resources.

They are a server list but also offer over 16k emojis and they're mobile friendly with a really nice GUI.

@NightYoshi370

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NightYoshi370 commented Jan 9, 2019

@Thrallix I'd rather not get added to random servers thank you very much

@kcintimidator

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kcintimidator commented Jan 29, 2019

Good article, can I get more info about creating the "manual override" so that discord invitees are sent to the rules channel first? How to set it up please or link to?

Invites - I normally don't give people the 'Create Instant Invite' permission via role, and instead create a manual override allowing it only for the 'rules' channel. This means that if someone wants to invite their friend to the server, the friend will see the rules channel first!

@Panick136

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Panick136 commented Feb 28, 2019

[invite removed by jagrosh]

@JemiloII

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JemiloII commented Mar 13, 2019

Good guild, I'd add discord.me to the server advertiser list. Has been doing quite well finding people for my server. Just a note on the NSFW channel though, while I used to not have one, it was actually the most requested channel. So do at least listen to your community~

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mexdex1 commented Apr 6, 2019

You could also try public discord server lists like discordbee.com/servers

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