Crippling Developers & Roblox Communities - An Argument for the Reversal of the Blanket Discord Ban


#1

Late last year, Roblox responded to concerns about user safety by blindsiding developers with a blanket ban on all links and mentions of Discord.

This completely crippled the communities of Roblox developers and prevented us from competing with major triple-A titles. It was also completely ineffective at keeping users safe. Let’s break this post down into several major arguments:

Crippling Communities

Let me give you some numbers that should startle you. The Official Fortnite Discord Server (160,659) has just barely twice the members of the Berezaa Games Discord Server (77,156). Jailbreak’s server isn’t far behind with 60,455 members at the time of writing. The unofficial Roblox fan server trails behind at 37,246 members.

Holy crap! These Discord servers are almost on the same league as Fortnite!! The single biggest gaming phenomenon of the year! If these servers are doing so well, what’s the problem?

The problem is that almost all of these members are from before the blanket ban on Discord. This ban happened many months ago and since then my server has barely gained five thousand members. In fact, you can tell by how many online users these servers have that they have been completely crippled by the ban.

Had this ban not been put in place, the largest Roblox Discord servers would be rivaling, if not completely surpassing almost all major triple-A titles. We would have some of the largest organized communities on the entire internet!

Crippling Developers

These days, almost everyone uses Discord to communicate. Developers use it to seek out and hire other developers, and to commission artists, musicians and builders to make their games come to life. The Roblox Developer Relations team even uses it as their primary channel for directly communicating with developers!

As a developer, it is incredibly difficult to reach out to other developers of interest on the Roblox platform. Most have messages disabled, and it is hard to distinguish messages from fans, spam from bots and legitimate offers from other developers. Moreover, the aggressive filter makes it difficult to discuss scripts or numbers on the platform, as almost everything is censored out.

Because of this, Discord has become the primary method of communication between developers. The app makes it incredibly easy to filter incoming messages and it promotes responsive and instant communication.

However, because of the blanket ban it is difficult to come into contact with many of the developers that I would like to work with. It’s much more difficult for up-and-coming developers to reach out and make connections as well.

Finally, the ban against Discord servers hurts small creators the most. Developers with new or niche games need a strong foundation of players to keep their game alive. Discord servers were a great way to organize this, helping these fledgling developers grow their games while also receiving valuable bug reports and feature requests that they otherwise would not have access to.

Safety Concerns

This was the biggest reason for the ban on Discord, and in my opinion also the weakest. Why? Because all of the organized Roblox Discord servers have extensive policy to protect young users and trained moderation teams to enforce this policy.

A community isn’t able to grow in the first place without this foundation! This is why almost every server has a #rules page and a dedicated moderation team to enforce it. Those that don’t are simply unable to thrive!

Developers have it in their best interest to create safe communities for their users, and the very few that don’t can simply be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

"But stuff in Discord servers isn’t publicly accessible, how can Roblox be assured that users are safe?"

This is the main argument against Discord, but the problem is that Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Twitch, which are all expressly allowed by Roblox and can even be added to a developers profile, all have some extensive form of hidden information. Twitter has DM’s, group DM’s and private accounts. Twitter has nudity and gore that isn’t difficult to find. Facebook has private groups, private pages and private messages. YouTube and Twitch both have private messages and Twitch has even recently added private chatrooms to livestreams.

All of these sites require their users to be 13+. User saftey can not be guaranteed on any of these websites. In fact, out of all of them Twitter is probably the most dangerous for its lax policy on child safety and rampant proliferation of vulgar or politically charged content. However all of these sites are allowed by Roblox.

The Solution

Discord is no more dangerous than any of the other social media platforms that are allowed and even expressly promoted by Roblox. With the right tools, organized Roblox Discord Servers are some of the safest places on the internet.

Here’s what Roblox should do:

Display a warning prompt for children and parents warning them that they are leaving Roblox and going to a site that is 13+ and unaffiliated with the company. Warn children to check with their parents before proceeding.

That’s it. Roblox is trying to avoid bad PR by banning a potentially dangerous site. But all they have done is crippled the potential of Roblox communities while not protecting their users one bit.

The Conclusion

When open discussion about Discord is banned, shady and dangerous Discord links will proliferate more than safe, moderated ones will.

It doesn’t take a long hard search to find people getting crafty with ways of overriding the Roblox filter and sharing their communities anyway. The only users who aren’t willing to risk this are the same experienced high-profile developers who have the safest communities. Discord is still being shared, just not by the users you want sharing it.

Roblox communities could be competing with major AAA titles, but we’re not. Roblox is missing out on tons of organic word-of-mouth growth, hamstringing major developers and suppressing new creators from gaining momentum, all while end user safety isn’t improved one bit. Is this really the right way to go?

Thanks for reading my arguments. Feel free to add on or comment with your thoughts down below.


Remove "Discord" from the text filter blacklist
#2

I agree with you! Discord is used to bring people together.


#3

Discord has been nothing but helpful with connecting me with other developers and fans, would be great to see it thriving alongside the platform again.

IMO any “negative” things you could find on Discord you could find in any of the other still acceptable platforms, as well as the negative stuff that flies past Roblox moderation in terms of custom assets and places. The teams of moderation do their utmost to create a safe environment but each one is no different than the other in the end.


#4

Completely agree with you on these. Discord is a great tool for both developers and community members.

In fact, I’m depending on discord for the upcoming launch of my game to keep a thriving community.

By banning discord, Roblox has essentially burned a major bridge which connects developers to their players.


#5

100% Agree. The whole action taken on Discord as well as the continued censorship and filtering of both the developers and players has done nothing but put excessive limits and strike the constant fear of “What if I get banned for uploading this?”

Instead of coming up with legitimate strategies to combat botting, swearing, and other issues (including your solution, which I think is great and I have suggested in the past)… all that has been done is

  1. Remove the forums entirly
  2. Remove all game comments
  3. Remove all player listings (then, do to immense outrage bring it back but not allow us to see names of players in the servers)
  4. Put on such an outdated filtering system that it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to communicate with players
  5. Ban anyone who posts any sort of off-site link, including links to their games dedicated discord severs
  6. Auto-moderate thousands of harmless decals and audio, games, etc daily… we can even see that by how much the ‘Why was my picture of a circle moderated?’ that we see every day on the DevForums… imagine how confusing that is to random and new players trying to build and create.

Essentially instead of resolving issues, we’re just getting more and more rules and censorship which is harming both the players and the developers. It’s 2018, the internet is a dangerous place and no matter how many restrictions are put in place we will continue to have people who find their way around the rules. Instead of restricting every player on the platform we need to find better resolves to these issues.


#6

Why are discord links banned yet I see them on many popular games and groups still. This “ban” isn’t even doing what it’s suppose to. Reporting the links does nothing either you have to personally email Roblox …


#7

I agree, I see alot of games gathering fans in their Discord server to be able to receive proper feedback, share update informations live and just make fans discuss between them.

It is pretty sad to see them getting threatened of a ban if they keep their Discord server link up.


#8

They enforce it, selectively. My game, Miner’s Haven, got completely shut down for containing a Discord link. By only punishing the biggest developers, they are effectively selecting against the safest and most organized servers and indirectly promoting shady and less-moderated servers.


#9

Mind blown


#10

I personally believe the Discord ban was necessary. I feel like Roblox gets treated extremely negatively with regards to moderation actions - Roblox is a game for kids, and with that inherently moderation has to be strict to protect children from negative interactions.

There is no middle ground for a lot of this stuff, Roblox I imagine invests millions of dollars into perfecting its moderation of chat and images. Developers have to be aware of this and be patient with the platform while it works on its system - this game isn’t a social MMO developed for teens, also in my experience any image that was falsy removed by the moderation team, they acted extremely professional and fast to fix the issue.

Perhaps in the future a system that preapproved Discord servers run by developers could be an idea. But to say that all developers ran their discord’s in a way that was safe for kids is completely wrong, I joined some pretty immature and toxic discord communities back when they where allowed.

Until then, I agree with almost all Robloxs moderation actions.


#11

I 100% agree with your arguments. The broken moderation system at Roblox is hurting everyone know the platform, and it’s time Roblox engineers, moderators, and customer support make the changes necessary to take Roblox to the next level.

We would also see more older players and developers on the platform if these issues were resolved. No thirteen year old wants to play games on a platform that moderates things as simple as numbers.


#12

Although my main way of communicating is Twitter, I wholesomely agree that Discord is not in the same league as those other social media sites.

My main concern is that the filter for Twitter is weak. The most common responses to the Roblox Twitter itself is filled with childish replies. It’s incredibly easy to stumble onto a not-so-suitable community, and as soon as you make your account you can be bombarded with quote-tweets from unethical bots.

not saying Roblox should get rid of the ability to link your Twitter though

Most of the players that use Facebook have added their family members (which most, if not cautious of the internet, give vast amounts of information on themselves, said players, pictures, and other things Roblox really encourages players to not show off.)

don’t get me started on YouTube


#13

Completely agree with this. Can’t even begin to imagine where I’d be without discord; it’s where I started learning to script. It’s where I made several friends and found all the developers I’ve had. It’s where I found and talk to my testers. It’s far more useful than any site currently allowed, while barely being any more dangerous


#14

In my experience, Discord has been an irreplaceable tool for organizing community, and it’s really heartbreaking to see Roblox blanket ban the service.

Here are a few things that Discord allowed me to do that are now extremely difficult due to the ban:

  • Build a QA team of 30 dedicated TreeLands testers to ensure quality, bugless updates (Our QA team is now struggling to find new people)
  • Maintain a vibrant community of 40,000 TreeLands players who proudly shared their creations with others on the platform.
  • Create a 24/7 global moderation team of 40 staff that ensured a safe environment for all
  • Promote our TreeLands development streams that peaked at 300 concurrent viewers (Roblox dev Twitch streams rarely break the hundreds of viewers these days)

I really hope Roblox understands the deep rooted ramifications of the ban on community and has a solution in the works. Until then, us creators will be patiently waiting and hoping for a better future.


#15

The Nexus Development Discord is in a kinda dead state right now because of the ban. I had to take down any references ingame to it for the event, and the event was the main chance at reviving the server past what the current owner (TheEmeraldDeveloper) could do. With the forums gone, I don’t have a good communication method between players since Roblox’s forums are gone, the walls are botted, and Twitter has a bot problem. I actually have over 300 accounts blocked on Twitter, with all but 3 being bots. Admittedly, the forums and wall are terrible for communications since there is no notifications or way to reply directly to a post.


#16

To add, as a long time Moderator and manager of quite a few big title’s discord’s (Jailbreak, Vehicle Simulator, Island Royale, Fifteam, etc…) discord is essential to Roblox’s current growth pattern. It is extremely hard to grow servers without being able to spread the word on the Roblox platform. It’s slightly different with Jailbreak, having the two developers each with 100,000+ twitter followers (and asimo with 200,000). We have seen quite a large growth just from twitter advertising but there is soooo much more that could be done. Discord is also a great way for players to be able to access information about updates, codes, post suggestion, etc.
Discord is one of the first places a lot of dev post change logs, codes, etc.

Like you said, it is hard to compete with AAA titles when discord is blanked banned from the platform. I’ve had the opportunity to witness, moderate, and manage numerous large communities and it is by far the best community engagement tool I have seen in a while. Not to toot my own horn but some of the organized community servers moderation staff are somewhat better than Roblox :joy:


#17

While I do feel it’d be great to bring Discord back for usage and freedom in the community, especially as we’re still awaiting the hope that groups get that feature teased in the hack week, I’d say that there would need to be some caution in how they dip into it.

One thing I’d suggest is maybe some social media buttons for groups/games? Similar to what we have on our profiles. The reason for this is to provide the option of not showing these buttons at all to those under 13. They already do this with the social media buttons on your profile.

Second, it’s important to note that they do indeed already have a bit of work in the whole warning before accessing something offsite area. Going on a game with a video while logged out, and I’d imagine while logged into a -13 account, leads to the video not autoplaying, but instead being something you click before being warned that it’s something outside the Roblox website.

Before this post, I would’ve been against Discord for the same safety issues mentioned here. However, considering the fact that you’re right with the point of other sites having the same risks, yet still being allowed, I’d have to say I’d support this. I wanna see those communities grow, and improve our net of communication!


#18

I totally agree Many Developers like myself have used Discord to help kick-start their Roblox Career in a way. I’ve met tons of people and I’ve made many friendships using the Discord Platform, I also use Discord as a way to communicate with Fans and Players to help Inform them about many things such as Game Updates.

Without Discord there is no way for me to quickly send out an everyone notification to everyone alerting them to a new update but with this, I am able to quickly send a flock of players to a new update boosting the Player Count to 100’s maybe even 1,000’s in some Server size cases.

The Ban to Discord came as a shock to me and I could notice the changes in New Users in many of the Discord Servers I am in. Discord is not just beneficial for just Discord but for the Developers on the Roblox Platform and Roblox themselves to help players return and spend more money on the platform thanks to developers advertising the platform, for example, I release a new Gamepass, I advertise this on Discord using the everyone mention tool, the user notices they do not have enough Robux so they go ahead and purchase more Robux. Discord is more effective to get the word out about updates and information than other platforms such as Twitter. Discord feels more real-time and active compared to other methods of communication, and because of this the example I just mentioned comes into play when they see other users in a Discord chat enjoying the new features that Gamepass gives to them again urging the player to make that Robux Sale for Roblox and spending it on that Gamepass.

I can understand that Discord has closed off non-public sections, but like you’ve said @berezaa other Social Media platforms also have closed features such as Private Messaging, Groups and other tools. I don’t see a reason why Discord has been singled out and blocked from the Roblox Platform.


#19

If it weren’t for Discord, there would have been no Egg Hunt 2018.

Twitter requires you to be 13, as does Facebook and Google Plus. All 3 of them are supported by Roblox.

Bring our boy in blurple back.


#20

Discord is amazing for small and large group projects.