Discord and FIRST YPP Best Practices

Hi y’all,

The Unofficial FRC Discord mod team has created a Discord and FIRST YPP Best Practices document. This document is based off of FIRST’s YPP guidelines and is full of helpful ways to make our online communities safer. We will continuously be working to make our Discord server safer and encourage other servers to journey with us.

Part of this document includes a YPP score chart for Discord servers. This score chart is based on the YPP Discord Moderation guidelines mentioned in the document. Scoring will be done in 2 months to give servers time to move towards better YPP practices. Servers that receive a 9/18 or lower will be considered not YPP safe and removed from the Discord server list.

This document is fluid as Discord changes and new YPP ideas pop up. We want to encourage safe practices amongst all Discord servers. If there is any feedback or comments please let us know! The Unofficial FRC Discord server is not perfect and is continuously being worked on.

Discord and FIRST YPP Best Practices

Unofficial FRC Discord Server
https://discord.gg/frc

Revision from:

  • Mr.N - 1339 Mentor @mrnoble
  • Marshall - 900 Mentor @marshall
  • Bryce - 7525 Mentor + FRC Discord Moderator @BryceHanson
  • Nova - 2714 Mentor + FRC Discord Admin @Veeryuk
  • Boomie - FRC Alumni + FRC Discord Moderator @Boomie
  • Various Discord server mod teams
33 Likes

Since many FIRST teams are school based teams, just having your team number in your server nickname can technically reveal your school address, yet the document says to avoid revealing your school address?

And then in many FIRST servers it’s either required or strongly recommend to have your team number in your nickname for easy ID of people. Don’t these two things come in direct conflict with each other?

16 Likes

Really appreciate the work going into this.

“Avoid using names in nicknames or gamertags” and “no photo in profile picture” are definitely good policies for youth, but I would argue these things should be acceptable for adults (they’re currently listed in the “everyone” section).

“Adults are anyone 18 or over” is true legally, but puts seniors in high school in a difficult position–they may well turn 18 in the middle of the build season.

16 Likes

Just to add. It is explicitly called out as allowed but not required in server rules. (Linked in doc)

I have had students in the past that have needed to avoid team numbers being included because of bullying… And that’s before any YPP stuff.

3 Likes

Having a team number in your name is revealing which is why we no longer require team number in our Discord server. However, we allow people to put team numbers in their name due to the server being about robotics. It is near impossible to be in a FIRST online community without mentioning what team you are on, if actively seeking advice or discussing robots. Below is a screenshot of our rule on this:

3 Likes

I’m going to be very candid here because frankly I’m losing patience with the current state of the community.

I think the best practice would be to shut down any discord and try to find a different platform to utilize. Discord lacks several tools for moderation teams to definitively create a safe space for the community members.

I think anyone that knows me understands I am a huge proponent and supporter of fostering community and I regularly spend hours and hours of my life working to provide resources and build connections, but I cannot support the use of Discord for anything, it is not safe. The lack of ability to shut down any mentor to student communication is scary and as @Andrew_Schreiber has shown in the past, it is virtually impossible to get help and message records if something is deleted and then needs to be reported.

What’s the solution? I’m not sure, but a good first step is removing the massive chucks of liability a large number of people are subjecting themselves too. Discord is too easy for someone with bad intentions to utilize and remain anonymous doing so.

Just my $.02, i’m just some guy, but I’m growing very concerned with the state of things and I feel like we need to be shifting our focus and having more candid conversations with ourselves about this stuff.

42 Likes

I’ve skimmed the document, and I’m going to read it thoroughly later but…

Discord is a bad platform for people in FRC to communicate. It is too easy for adults with bad intent to get into contact with vulnerable children regardless of how you set up the system.

This is the main point that should be in bold, large text at the very top of the document.

33 Likes

Depending on how active you are online and where, I think it’s an “at your own risk” thing for adults. I avoid posting my full name or face online tied to the “bobbysq” identity although I’m not naive enough to think I’m 100% safe. Had I thought further ahead, I probably would have made a better effort to separate personal from professional online identities.

1 Like

Is there a viable alternative platform that can facilitate community conversation to the same effectiveness? I also think that if this particular discord server didn’t exist, someone else would create one. It’s simply not possible to prevent people from creating Discord servers. The platform is clearly popular–the unofficial FRC Discord server right now has nearly 18,000 members with over 4,500 people online. At least the people running this server are doing what they can to make it as safe as possible… the same might not be true if it was shut down and the demand scattered to other servers that might not have the same quality of people running them.

38 Likes

I just don’t like discord in general regardless of whatever the server is for, for several reasons…

But it is probably best to have an unofficial discord that is mostly under control rather than fragmented and completely out of control.

10 Likes

Hi FRC discord squad!

Love the initiative on making things safer for students and want to make that clear.

I was wondering if you had some sort of concrete plan on reaching out to the servers staff that you’ll be going to. As of yet I wouldn’t consider making this CD post sufficient and would instead appreciate/recommend you start to contacting the apparent admin staff on the servers directly. I am assuming this hasn’t been done given I am a moderator on several of the servers and have yet to receive any proper notice - I think you’re likely to find there will be some servers who will miss this message otherwise.

I wish you’d told us directly instead of expecting us to read the post, that’s all.

8 Likes

Greetings friend!

We have reached out to a few of the major servers such as FUN, FTC, and the FIRST LGBTQ servers. We hope to reach out to more over time and make a more comprehensive server announcement for Discord users and other Discord servers. This is simply step one in our YPP journey. :slight_smile:

There are a lot of Discord servers and it is very hard to reach all of them. However, we will be trying to contact more people.

I’m sorry, but it’s not acceptable to say that you hope to reach out to others over time. It is the bare minimum and something you really should commit to.

Of three servers I moderate we have heard nothing, including one with 2700+ members (LGBTQ+ is 1300, just for the record).

Also have some questions about how these things will be enforced. How exactly are we supposed to prove all moderators have completed YPP training? Sending those certificates goes against the privacy of the discord members who may not want their real name revealed.

15 Likes

I understand the sentiment, but I think I just wished the team here would spend their efforts finding a better solution to then shuffle the community too. It would set a large precedent to the community that we should be working to find better solutions and not just using bandaids.

6 Likes

I agree with this take. I don’t see how it would be possible to just close the discord and move to a different platform; discord is just way too ingrained today’s cultural zeitgeist.

Let’s pretend you can get every mentor in FRC on board to stop using discord for FRC, and then also get every FRC team to have a hardline stance against using discord for FRC (ignoring how hard/easy those 2 steps are for a minute). That still does nothing to prevent FRC discord servers from being created, you’ve just removed the adults from the situation and driven the problem underground. I’m not sure that’s a better situation.

25 Likes

Expanding on this with actual Discord policies:

Once you delete content, it will no longer be available to other users (though it may take some time to clear cached uploads). Deleted content will also be deleted from Discord’s systems, but we may retain content longer if we have a legal obligation to preserve it as described below. Public posts may also be retained for 180 days to two years for use by Discord as described in our Privacy Policy (for example, to help us train models that proactively detect content that violates our policies).

They have exceptions for Age Verifications (60 days post appeal), backups (30-45 days), legal requirements (eg purchasing something from discord, depends on jurisdiction), legal/safety reasons (180 days after account deletion OR up to 2 years if reports warrant it), defend legal claims (up to 5 years).


I have reached out to Discord Privacy to double check.

Several months ago I contacted trust and safety after receiving death threats on your platform. The response by T&S was that because the messages had been deleted by a server moderator you no longer had access to them. I asked for information regarding the policies around this as it pertained to law enforcement requests for information and received no response. The request in question was [id number].

I am following up because I know of several youth organizations with large presences on discord platforms and want to give them accurate guidance on Discord’s official policies and practices - If a message is deleted (by a user or a moderator) does Discord retain a copy of it accessible by law enforcement?

I agree with Dave this - Knowing what I know now, I would discourage any team from using Discord as a platform for communications due to unclear policies (well, they are clear, but they are insane so I’m hoping we’re just unclear). The FRC Discord will likely continue to exist but I encourage the moderators to, idk, screenshot w/ context any messages prior to deletion? I’ll follow up with what (if anything) I get back from Discord.

1 Like

Not attempting to moderate or bring the unofficial FRC discord into line with best practices and YPP guidance would make things safer for adults, who do not want to entangle themselves in potentially bad situations. Dave and Kevin are right, discord as a platform is fundamentally flawed. But it’s also wildly popular and used by our students. If all FRC affiliated, responsible adults left the unofficial FRC discord server then it’s not hard to predict really negative consequences for students who would continue to use the server. So I appreciate the effort by adult moderators to try to 1) make clear that expectations and behaviors on the main server should be in line with FIRST’s expections, and 2) to attempt to offer regional, FRC adjacent servers a path towards safer behaviors.

25 Likes

While I don’t know if discord as a platform can access deleted messages, it IS true that moderators of servers cannot access them afterward, however, Dozer (a bot made and operated by some of the mods of the FRC server) automatically logs any edited or deleted messages, as well as the user ID and timestamp. A lot of other bots offer the same functionality. These are then shared in a server that is viewable by the mod team. Examples of edited and deleted messages are shown below.

This is a system that has worked well for us, but if you see any issues with it please let us know because we are always looking to improve our system.

10 Likes

Can it also log image files?

Their claim is they cannot.

Even with your dozerbot it is of questionable use as evidence of wrongdoing. It’s better than nothing. But my bigger concern is direct messages not public comments.