there is no doubt or disagreement that DFK’s discord is the first experience of a new investor (player) considering getting into DFK. We’ve been asked countless times on DFK AMAs to “look our best” when the team is on an expedition (conferences), to create a welcoming and positive environment for the new users onboarding.
I would now like to draw your attention to the problems of DFK’s Discord and how it is anything but a welcoming or positive experience for new, current or past members.
DFK’s Discord is practically abandoned unmoderated and fast declining. Let’s see why.
Discord servers are a living, breathing thing. They develop around the community’s needs and reflect the community’s sentiment: how the community evolves, how it grows, and where the moderators (DFK Team) want to drive the community. Things are tried out, and tested, what works is reinforced, and what doesn’t work is discarded. That is how actively moderated discord servers operate, they are on top of the pulse of the community.
That is what would be expected from any successful community on discord, and DFK is no exception
However, what is happening with DFK’s discord is quite the opposite. Channel structure has remained stale, and working or not working channels are still there. To say it another way, no significant change has happened on DFK’s Discord since February of 2022.
In addition, look at the User Count as are available on the “Server Stats” of DFK’s Discord:
- Total Members: 86.1k
- Online Members: 14.3k
Those, 70k odd users that are “not online”, haven’t gone for a drink or a walk. They are bots that have been banned by discord, never to come back. Yet, no one from DFK’s Discord leadership has bothered figuring out one of the many ways to clean those “dead bots” out of DFK’s server.
I’ve spent an average of 16 hours a day, for a period of 4 to 5 months on DFK’s discord. It was to my surprise and disappointment that I concluded that DFK’s Discord is effectively unmoderated.
Let’s start with the fact that there is no code of conduct (CoC). There are rules, which naturally have the boilerplate “respect each other”, but that is a completely different thing.
Rules dictate the general framework that users need to comply with, in the server, a CoC lays out the exact way users should engage with each other.
The biggest problem is that even the rules that do exist are never actually enforced. There is a small minority of users that persistently breaks those rules in all sorts of ways, with moderators present, and no action at all is taken.
I will analyze the 3 biggest and most popular channels on DFK Discord: #general, #price-discussion, and #hero-discussion, and walk through each one of them and the problems they have from lack of moderation.
“I’ve left #general since early this year”, was a quote I heard a fellow old-time player say when I brought up the subject of the situation on the #general channel. And that, we will see, is the general trend across all three major channels of DFK.
Lack of moderation pushes the moderates and non-confrontational people away from DFK’s Discord. But what happens on #general that is so bad?
Well, #general is now meme-central. It is a place where a certain, large group of players congregate to have fun, pass their time and enjoy worshiping their one true devotion: Kirby Feet:
The users that frequent there, including several moderators, have reached such a high degree of comradery, that it is impossible to catch their tune or be able to meaningfully participate. If such a thing exists, when everything that happens is a continuous stream of gifs and memes.
To the uninitiated, #general is an incomprehensible stream of non-sensical text and animated pictures, scrolling with extreme speed regardless of the high slow-mode enforced on the channel.
This isn’t a recent development. These kinds of behaviors were cultivated by moderators who run all sorts of games, jewel drops (rains), and molded #general to the form it is today. The stream of non-sensical text and memes was even worst at the high times of DeFi Kingdoms when even a 10-minute slow-mode wouldn’t deter the phenomenon.
Please don’t get me wrong here, I enjoy, applaud, and am happy for the kind of relationships that have been developed. It is a wonderful thing and very much fun for many users as well as a good pastime and community exercise.
However, I am worried, that this might not be the right kind of image we want to display to new users. Both from the fact that it’s incomprehensible to the uninitiated and more importantly, that a new user is at a loss when encountering #general.
When new users come in #general and ask valid, newbie, gameplay questions, it is more likely than not that those questions get lost in the mindless stream of kirby feet.
What makes a bad situation even worse, is that you get to have the top DFK executives, like Frisky, Bolon, Hubert, or designers, dropping alpha and holding impromptu AMAs on #general. This means, that now a player that needs to stay on top of DFK alpha and information has to also monitor #general.
Have we considered these problems?
Is that what we want new users to experience for their first time on DFK’s Discord?
Are we helping new users onboard and feel welcomed?
Before jumping into answering those questions, here is a suggestion: Each one of us, grab a new user that we’ve seen joined the server, and ask them. It is their opinion we care about after all.
We see on a nearly daily basis, that certain users pick fights with any other random user for completely insignificant reasons or simply because they have a difference of opinion. We see threats being made toward other users. We see them make disparaging comments about other players or groups of players, completely unprovoked and unprompted. We see the same users then acting as moderators, warning other users to behave. Not only that is not their place, but they do not do it respectfully and mindfully. Which would allow the other party to understand their mistake. What happens instead, is that most of the time, they trigger a reaction that feeds back to the vicious cycle these users thrive on.
And the most ironic of all circumstances, we see those same troublemaking users call on moderators to solve the quarrels that they have created. And here’s the saddest part of things: “drive-by moderators” respond to the ping, and never bother to see, ask for, or investigate the context under which they were called. They’ll just use their blunt “warning” or “timeout” tools so they can get a quick resolution and continue on their merry way with whatever they were busy with before getting pinged.
These users have completely consumed and dominated HD, thwarting any sensible or moderate voice from that channel. The kind of tragic-comic situation that is going on in HD, has become the biggest joke amongst the DFK community at large.
So much so that if you watch close enough, you will even see a rivalry between #hero-discussion and #price-discussion (PD). The PD folks joke about the situation on HD, while the HD folks are hating on the PD folks. Here are some relevant quotes, from HD folks, to get a better understanding of what I mean:
PD is bad, but better for that stuff; nuanced but important distinction
Yet, interestingly, no one ever says what a nice place PD is
There is so much PD misunderstands or misrepresents, one can’t even begin to address it all
As many times as these issues have been raised throughout the entire chain of command of moderators, no significant outcomes or improvement has happened. The entire body of the DFK Team is at this point well informed about the situation, down to a very detailed degree. So, at this point, after all this time, one can safely conclude that moderators, knights, and the DFK Team have become completely numb to acts of disparagement, sexism, hate speech, and even bigotry.
Contrary to common belief, #price-discussion has been fairing better than the other two counterparts. Yes, it can become rough sometimes, but ever since moderators got authorized to use force at their discretion against FUDers, the order is kept and one can get to view or participate in meaningful conversations and respectful debates.
As a matter of fact, PD, is now considered by most that frequent that channel “the new general”. Where sensible discourse happens and everyone treats each other with respect and appreciation. And based on what I have experienced there in the past many weeks, I agree with that sentiment.
Price discussion had its dark days, especially during the coordinated FUD campaign of April 2022. So the current state of PD, can largely be attributed to that event and the decisions that were made at the time to clamp down on FUDers and allocate permanent moderating resources to this channel. I will expand a bit more on this a bit further down.
At this point, however, I have to commend the work of Moderator @Kujo, who is the only moderator that actively performs the duties of a moderator in the full sense. Not just doing drive-by moderation, but engaging with the users, making an effort to understand the nuances and context behind each case and always applying the appropriate amount of direction to remedy the situation, and only in extreme circumstances resort to using the right amount of force.
As mentioned above, the coordinated FUD attack was a catalyst for the improvement of PD, and the reason was that for the first time, Moderators were authorized to ban users.
This authorization, however, happened only after 2 days of continuous “attacks” against DFK that were going on in PD. Delivered by new users joining (most likely alternative accounts of the bad actors) who spread baseless accusations, fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the project. During those 2 agonizing days, DFK lost 56% of its market cap.
It took 2 days for the DFK Team to realize the damage that was happening. The fact that part of the FUD campaign was happening on their very own discord, and finally to decide to allow moderators to ban the instigators.
Based on these events and in combination with what is happening on the three biggest channels, we can safely draw a few conclusions:
- Moderators are not empowered to take their own initiative when it comes to moderation.
- There is a “stand-down” policy that does not allow Moderators to effectively moderate.
- There are no “moderation or community policies” that moderators have to reinforce and steer the community to.
- DFK Team has a very centralized, top-down chain of command.
- Consequently, trust is eroded or non-existent in the relationships between DFK Admin and Moderators (i.e. “I do not trust you to do the right thing”).
As moderators get pinged on a channel or are DMed to pay attention to an evolving situation, they go into the channel and with full force, attempt to dissolve the situation. The term “full-force” is used not to mean “excessive force”, but rather to mean they attempt to remedy the situation on the spot, at that time, and be done with it. That is what is euphemistically called “drive-by moderation”.
The problem with “drive-by” moderation is that most of the time, resident users are involved, so they try to employ diplomatic means to dissolve the situation. Which is fine and that’s what should be done.
Except, the majority of these calls, happen on a particular channel (HD) and with the same particular group of troublemaking users. Who are continuously given leeway and leniency at the expense of the counterparties that are in a frustrated state trying to defend themselves and stand their ground against the aggressors? And these words were very deliberately chosen, as in all these situations where the common denominator is the same troublemaking users, again and again, it is they who are the aggressors against users who were simply minding their own business and were verbally attacked without provocation.
One time a user posted their model of ranking heroes, another time another user asked a question that was the topic of intense debate, and a third time a user stated their own opinion on a matter related to leveling up heroes. All these were causes for quarrels and personal attacks by the same group of users. They’ve even asked moderators to ban the users that expressed a difference of opinion with the excuse that “they spread misinformation”.
These are all well-documented and recorded events, and in all instances, moderators were involved. One last of those instances left me dumbfounded by the fact that the Community Director himself, went out of his way in supporting those troublemaking users, to create an ad-hoc, impromptu new rule, that he pinned on HD:
You might wonder what’s new with this particular rule? The “threat element” states that a “Second time will be banned from the server”. This happened not two weeks ago, in a “drive-by moderation” where Bolon was pinged by the same group of troublemaking heroes that complained about “advertisement”. Advertisement of “third-party services” that were related to DFK. It is out of the scope of this post to further comment on how non-sensical and comic this whole set of interactions was. You can find ample in-depth analysis of how the DFK Team is hostile against builders, guilds, and sensible users in the following posts:
- No interactions from DFK Team on feedback.
- Community Feedback to DFK Team.
- Request for a safe, non-hostile and non-threatening environment for DFK Guilds.
- Our recommendations on the Grants Program.
What merits mentioning though are a few things. First, the patronizing, demeaning and unprofessional way Bolon conducted himself. That tone isn’t fitting to be used on your colleagues, let alone on your investors, whom in this context, you have unquestionable, absolute power over.
Second, this angered, all bold, all caps, impromptu new rule, couldn’t and hasn’t lasted for more than a couple of days. After those two days, everyone, including the troublemaking users, is posting links to third-party websites. And it is only natural to share a useful resource when asked by a user or want to share your content as a content creator or a builder. You cannot go against that, it is human nature.
And finally, third, sharing of third-party DFK resources always happened on DFK’s discord, even by those troublemaking users. The difference was that the troublemaking members now decided that they didn’t like what they saw, so they created an environment of urgency and “self-righteousness” where those “advertising” need to be suppressed. And moderators were numerous times to “clean up” what they deemed “inappropriate”.
We have established how Moderators not only will not enforce any rule of decency, or mutual respect and create a safe space for everyone. Even when they attempt to remedy a situation, they will do it in a partial way employing double standards as to what is ok or not ok to do.
As I brought these issues to many moderators and knights I got treated with indifference, contempt, and in some cases offense. I eventually had to confront them with the reasons why the state of things is the way it is on DFK’s Discord.
The response I received from Bolon, the Director of Community was (sic):
I don’t control how members engage with one another and have never made the attempt to, beyond a base level.
So, if it’s not on the Director of Community’s job description to “control how members engage with one another”, it does make a whole lot of sense why DFK’s discord is the way it is: A free-for-all, fend-for-yourself, toxic environment.
And naturally, in this kind of environment, only a very certain kind of people can survive Those with thick skins and the actual toxic people who thrive in it.
Most DFK Moderators and Knights are very, very well aware of this problem. As they themselves, are members, and actively participate, in private discords where the most sensible and moderate users have fled, so they won’t have to deal with this kind of environment.
Now compound all the above the fact that moderators are no longer being paid to perform their duties, and you can easily draw your conclusions as to the declining state of DFK’s discord.
The fact that DFK’s discord needs to uphold the very high ethical standards that DFK Administration holds itself as stated multiple times, is not a topic of debate or under question.
So at this point, it is worth assessing the situation. Take inventory, perform a retrospective and employ performance reviews:
- What is the state of DFK’s Discord?
- Is there any merit to what has been said in this post?
- How did we get to this point?
- Are DFK’s employees assigned to correct posts, according to their skill set, experience, and personality traits?
- Have moderators trained adequately?
- Do we know what training moderators mean?
- What is the community management track record of the people responsible for community management?
- How do we envision DFK Discord to be?
These are a few agenda items to get the conversation started on the next internal “Community meeting”.
This discourse forum comes with what we call in the industry “batteries included”. What this means is that you get to install the discourse open-source package, configure it a bit and you’re ready to go.
Part of the package is that you get sensible “community guidelines”, (guidelines is another nice way of saying CoC basically). This is a good starting place to put the flag-down for DFK’s discord Community Guidelines.
Next, you need to make sure those guidelines are enforced. You have to train your moderators to understand the direction, attitude, and tone you want to have. Train them to apply these without “drive-by”, forceful means, warnings, and threats, but rather with meaningful engagement and participation. Equip them with what they need to perform their duties, either that be better bots or less work-load outside of moderation (i.e. support & product QA).
Be active and close to the pulse of the discord community, reinforce what works and discard what doesn’t work. Make Discord a living organism, not a stale server that hasn’t seen any meaningful update since February of 2022.
While all these sound like “common sense” and I am at risk of sounding pedantic, there is art and experience behind every successful community. You can’t just “wing it” by acting bipolar, and then forcing everyone to be violently happy because we are all a happy family.
We are not a family and we are not all the same. We come from different walks of life and there are cultural barriers, language barriers, minorities, and all sorts of other differences between people that have to be embraced and welcomed.
Just because we cannot understand someone, that doesn’t mean they are nasty, malicious, or benevolent. They are just different.
It hurts me to have to ask that DFK Team needs to be impartial, fair, and trustworthy so they can create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.