June 3, 2022

Using Modmail Bots

When moderating a community, it can be hard to keep up with all the DMs and pings you get regarding questions and reports from members of the server. One way to more efficiently organize these types of moderation reports is to use a modmail bot. In this article, we will explore what modmail bots are, how they can contribute to your server, and how to best use them.

What are Modmail Bots?

Before we discuss how to use a modmail bot, we should explore what they are and what purpose they serve. Simply put, modmail bots are bots that allow users to contact the moderators of a server via a direct message with the bot. The bot then relays these messages to the entire moderation team by creating a private channel on the server visible only to the server moderators (also referred to as a “ticket”). Moderators can then use this private channel to have the bot relay their own messages back to the original user, all while keeping a record of the entire conversation within the server. Moderators can even discuss the ticket together in that channel without the user seeing since it requires usage of a specific command to send a message to the user.

There are numerous modmail bots online, each with their own styles and features. Some modmail bots can be self-hosted, while others are hosted publicly online! Here are some examples of modmail bots you can use:

It is important to do research into readily available bots to understand what your server needs and to choose whichever one best meets those needs. Please note, the content of this article is not endorsed by any developer or company related to the bots.

What Can Modmail Contribute to my Server?

Before adding a modmail bot into your server, you should determine if you need one by considering the benefits and drawbacks of modmail bots. Let’s review the pros and cons of modmail bots to help with this decision.

The Benefits of Modmail Bots

One of the biggest benefits of having a modmail bot is better organization. Anytime a user opens a ticket, be it a question or concern about the server, instead of trying to figure out which moderator is online and available, a user can quickly DM the modmail bot and get in contact with the entire moderation team while also notifying the active moderators online. This also eliminates over usage of pinging the entire moderation team in public channels.

The next benefit of modmail bots is team discussions. In the above example, we’re using the ModMail bot by CHamburr. As you can see, a user has opened up a ticket that can be viewed by the entire moderation team. The team can then decide who wants to respond to the ticket, as well as discuss the ticket in question among themselves and more efficiently handle the issue. Team discussions are great for trickier questions that not everyone on the team might know the answer to.

In the image below, you can see an example of what moderators see from their side. The team can split their focus and knock out tickets depending on their priority, urgency, or even work together to pick up a ticket if another mod has signed off. The ability to read through moderator discussions and work together is a great team building exercise for moderator teams!

The next benefit of modmail bots are information logs. Most modmail bots have a modmail log that shows all of the modmail tickets that have been opened or closed along with useful receipts of the conversations that happened in the channels. This is great for administrators/lead moderators who want to see how cases were handled or want to catch up on what they’ve missed while offline. This also helps moderators look back on reporting history if an old report is continued at a different period of time or if they suspect someone is abusing modmail.

Another benefit of having a modmail bot is anonymity. Some modmail bots allow you to reply to the user anonymously which can decrease the chances of someone harassing a moderator, or other unpleasant situations that may come from having to action someone. Users can sometimes get upset or want to seek revenge after being banned, muted, or kicked from a server, so being able to communicate with someone and action them without revealing your identity is extremely valuable.

Moderators no longer need to act as the “middleman” between a user and the rest of the team. The moderator can speak on behalf of the team and use language such as “we” instead of “I” which can communicate to the user that it isn’t just one person handling their case, but rather the entire team while keeping their identity safe.

Something that you will notice when moderating is that there are usually some questions or concerns that come up frequently. Having a modmail bot can help you better understand what your community needs are and better visualize what the most frequent moderator tickets are about. With this knowledge, you can create custom quick-replies that you and your team can use to more efficiently resolve tickets! Having the same response to a scam DM that is used by all the moderators on your server makes responding to those types of tickets quick, easy, and consistent. Moderators can copy and paste replies, or use custom commands to reply with pre-made messages. Once you have set up quick replies, you can answer many tickets without needing to think of how to reply, making your replies consistent no matter who is responding to a ticket.

Here are a few examples of situations you can make tailored custom-replies for ease, speed, and consistency:

  • Someone sent a user a scam DM
  • A member has a suggestion for the server
  • A member is having technical issues
  • A member is asking something through modmail when they should be going through a better form of communication, such as an official bug report forum or a support page that is not run by the moderation staff
  • A user has a frequently asked question that comes up a lot in the community

The Drawbacks of Modmail Bots

It is important to know the limitations and drawbacks of modmail bots before deciding if your community needs one. Let’s explore some of the ways these bots can be abused, as well as other negatives you should know about. Please keep in mind that every modmail bot is different, so you can work to choose, or even code, a modmail bot that may eliminate some of these drawbacks if you are concerned about them.

Modmail bots are vulnerable to spam since anyone on the server can DM the bot to open up a ticket. Be it a targeted spam attack or multiple users reporting the same thing. Some modmail bots allow you to block a member from opening up future tickets.

Depending on what kind of modmail bot you use, one drawback is that some modmail bots might not save the conversations between you and the user who made the ticket, only showing the reason the ticket was closed. Some modmail bots will save the conversation, but not any comments made by other moderators regarding the inquiry inside the ticket channel which can erase a lot of discussion and context from replies that are made. If you want to be able to track actions, you have to prioritize a bot that does save information logs.

Another drawback is the learning curve from using a new bot. Members that are new to Discord or that aren’t familiar with modmail bots can have trouble interacting and using the bot to report issues. Almost all modmail bots require a user to DM the bot, which can go against initial instincts and be challenging to new users. Some users have their DMs turned off which makes using a modmail bot more complicated if the user can’t receive DM replies from the bot. One solution to this is to ping the user in a public channel asking for them to change their DM settings so the bot can communicate with them.

Members figuring out a modmail bot for the first time can lead to “test” messages which will spam your modmail tickets. While these aren’t a big concern and are mostly harmless, depending on the size of your server, multiple users “testing” how the bot works can lead to a lot of time cleaning up the tickets.

Similarly to how a modmail bot can be a learning curve for your members, a modmail bot can also be a learning curve for your moderation team. Learning how a modmail bot works can take some time to get used to if your team has never used one before. Depending on how familiar your team is with using bots, the onboarding time may vary, so be sure to set aside time for learning and teaching how to use a modmail bot. We have an article on Training and Onboarding New Moderators that should help with this!

Uses for Modmail Bots

Modmail bots can be used in a variety of ways. They not only serve as a way to communicate with moderators, but also help with organization and structure and can be used for other purposes. Let’s look at the different uses of a modmail bot, and how it can make life on the server easier.

Questions. Modmail bots help users who might have questions that they don’t feel comfortable asking in public. This can be questions related to the server, or more private and sensitive matters. By using a modmail bot, the moderation team can efficiently answer the question depending on who knows the answer, and the user gets a sense of privacy by not having to ask in public. As mentioned previously, having a set of quick-replies to frequently asked questions makes responding to questions a breeze. Some modmail bots even have custom command replies where you can create commands to reply with a specific text, depending on the command. For example, replying with the command “=hello” can reply to the ticket with a premade message meant to greet the user and open a conversation, such as: “Hello. Thank you for contacting the moderation team. How can we help you today?”

Bug Reports. You can implement a modmail bot in a support server that deals with bug reports. Some larger communities have two servers–one for the main community, and one for support, depending on the community or product. Organizing bug reports using a modmail bot is an easy way to keep track of issues in one place. With the ability to give a closing reason, you can later search the modmail logs to look back at what sort of bugs were reported by different users.

Ban Appeals. Anonymity is important when dealing with troublemakers online. One way to use a modmail bot is to have a ban appeal server for users who would like to re-enter your community after being banned. With this setup appeals go through the modmail system so that the banned users can’t talk in any channels and can only interact with the staff team through the bot. Moderators can then review the appeal together and reply to the banned user anonymously through the bot.

Community Reports. Sometimes a member of your community needs to report something to the moderators that isn’t rule breaking or has information regarding another user that is important for the team to know. A modmail bot is great for relaying these types of reports to the team so everyone is notified at the same time without having to utilize an emergency ping.

Server Feedback. Members of your server can provide feedback using a modmail bot. Using modmail for feedback removes the need for a feedback channel and guarantees that the team will see the feedback when it is sent.

Staff Applications. There are different ways you can have staff applications for a server. Depending on who needs to see and evaluate the application, it can make sense to use a modmail bot to receive server staff applications in smaller arenas. When an application is made, a modmail ticket will open conveniently for the moderators or admins to look at. You can even comment within the ticket to evaluate each application, case by case! Keep in mind that there are a limited number of channels (in this case, tickets) that can be made in a channel category so this will only work for smaller servers.

The above list are just some of the many common ways that modmail bots can be used to strengthen communication with your server. The use cases for a modmail bot is limited only by your imagination and the type of bot you’re using!

Modmail Best Practices

When using a modmail bot, it is important that your moderation team is on the same page. Make sure there are clear protocols of how to handle tickets. An easy way to ensure that the end-user doesn’t get messages sent by multiple moderators is to have a moderator say that they will handle the ticket inside the ticket channel itself. This way, moderators aren’t stepping on each other’s toes and the ticket can be handled efficiently.

In the image below, we’re using a modmail bot that sends all messages sent in the ticket to the user, unless it has a specific command. Other modmail bots might only send a message to the user if a reply command is used, so be sure to read the bot documentation to know how your modmail bot handles communication between the moderators and the user sending a ticket.

Another good practice is to close any old or resolved tickets as quickly as possible. If the user has no further questions, it can be helpful to send a final message stating that if there are no further questions, the ticket will be closed soon. This way, you reduce the amount of open tickets and maintain a clean and organized modmail.

As mentioned before, anonymity in responding to tickets can help reduce the amount of harassment you and your moderators may receive from rule-breakers. When using a modmail bot you can use discretion when deciding whether to respond anonymously or with a more personalized response, depending on the situation. Here are a few scenarios where it’s okay to respond regularly:

  • A member has a basic, harmless question and you want to be more personable
  • A member is requesting to speak to an admin and needs to see who is dealing with their ticket
  • A member wants to thank a specific moderator for their help with something on the server
  • A member is sending in a note praising a specific moderator for how they handled a situation

In most cases, however, it is better to respond anonymously especially when dealing with any modmail tickets related to actioning or punishing another user. This applies to handling ban appeals if you have such a system set up. It isn’t a big deal if you reply to a question without showing your name. The same is not true if you show your name to someone who has been punished on your server.

Each server has its own tone and style when it comes to moderation. Some servers are more formal and may have an official tone, while others might have a more relaxed and easygoing tone. It is important to keep this in mind when responding to modmail tickets so that your tone in the modmail responses is consistent with the tone set by the server.

This article has explored the ways modmail bots can strengthen how your team communicates with your community as well as the direct advantages and disadvantages that exist when introducing such a bot to your server. In some ways moderation becomes significantly easier, but in other ways, negatives like spam from these bots can be overwhelming and introduce new problems to solve. Moderating a server can involve a lot of different moving parts and it is important to analyze your community’s needs as it grows, taking into consideration whether a modmail bot is included in that growth. Use what you’ve learned in this article to make a decision that’s right for you and your community.
If you decide that a modmail bot isn’t a good fit for your community, but you still want some bot help on your server, check out our Auto Moderation on Discord article!

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