Discord introduces a native way for servers to preemptively detect and block malicious messages and spam. The tool, called AutoMod, is available today and allows anyone running one of Discord’s server-based communities to create a custom list of words that the new bot can scan and intercept.
When one of the target words is detected, the bot can automatically block that message so that it never reaches the server, send an alert to a specific channel to notify moderators, or put a user on a “timeout” by temporarily suspending their disable ability to send messages. Discord also provides a pre-built list of words and phrases that are often flagged by mods and can be easily enabled without creating a custom keyword list.
“I think one of the big pain points we’ve heard from a lot of moderators is that they spend a lot of time checking their servers, rather than actually doing the things they want to do, like running events [and] creating culture,” Discord Head of Creator Product Marketing Jesse Wofford told Vidak For Congress.
Unlike existing tools, Discord’s AutoBot can preemptively scan conversations and identify everything with the targeted keywords before it ever appears in the chat. External tools previously didn’t have the necessary permissions to see posts before reaching a server and would instead automatically moderate them a few seconds after that. Discord says it will give its developer community the ability to build on AutoMod’s preemptive detection capabilities now that the new native tool is out in the wild.
“There are a lot of moderation bots on Discord and I think they’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting so far,” Wofford said. “We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from them in terms of what works for them and basically chatting directly with developers and chatting with our admins about what they like.”
Discord is increasingly building some of the features its users have previously incorporated into its core app through external services. Users have long relied on the app’s external ecosystem of plug-in tools to do everything from welcoming new server members and scanning for harassment to spinning music within channels and playing mini-games.
Wofford says Discord wants developers to “go along for the ride” and remain relevant even as the company integrates features that third-party bots previously provided to its community.
In addition to introducing AutoBot, Discord also announced it will expand premium memberships, a Patreon-like way for active community members to pay for perks and additional server access.
Discord first announced a trial program for premium memberships in December. The company started by giving a small cluster of communities access to the feature set, which allows servers to make some or all of their content available only to paying members. The early servers that tested premium memberships included a game tutorial community, The Trans Community Center and Stream Professor, which provides guides for those getting into live streaming.
The idea is to both make the work of maintaining a Discord community more “sustainable” and bring third-party payments users make for premium content on Patreon or elsewhere in Discord itself.
This summer, Discord will start allowing more servers to allow for premium memberships, but the company isn’t making the feature available to anyone just yet. Discord will allow servers in the US with fewer than 500 members to enroll in the program, but will still hand-assess those communities to ensure the rollout goes smoothly and the company learns along the way.
“We want to make sure we’re very attentive to people coming in,” Wofford said. “We think we’re creating a whole new paradigm for career monetization when it comes to the idea that a community is something of value that you can make money from. And I think we’re playing the long game here.”
Discord also introduces two new resources for mods and admins who manage communities: a community center with educational information to help get servers up and running, and a dedicated hub where community admins can interact with Discord’s staff, get news, and participate in events.