How to start a Discord server
Discord started out as chat software, but has grown over the past year to include all kinds of communities. People flock to sports-centric servers, their favorite musicians, and niche hobbies. Workplaces and family chats have even started to migrate to the platform. Looking to start your own server for your friends or an online community? Discord is a great place, but creating your own space is easy. I’ll show you how.
How do I start a Discord server?
Assuming you’ve already set up your Discord account, creating a new server is pretty straightforward. You can start a new server on the mobile app, the desktop app, or in your browser. I’ll be creating a server using Discord in Chrome, but these steps are the same on each platform.
- First, look for the green plus symbol button in the left sidebar. This “Add Server” option will appear under existing servers that you are a member of, so it will be towards the bottom of the sidebar if you are already active on Discord.
- You will have the option to start a brand new server or choose from a list of popular models such as “Gaming” and “Study Group”. Templates generate a handful of channels to launch your server and keep it organized. Of course, you can add and remove strings from these templates to personalize them. You can also find user-created templates on third-party sites.
- When you have chosen a template, you will be asked if your server is for you and your friends or a community. There are subtle differences in the template depending on which one you choose – if you choose the community option, it can be created with a “Rules” or “Announcements” channel for a more official vibe, for example. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you choose. You can also ignore this question to get a more default model.
- Next, you’ll be asked to name your server and upload an icon to give it a bit of personality on everyone’s server list.
- Click the “Create” button to launch your brand new Discord server!
How to do a Well Discord server
Creating a Discord server is the first step – now we need to build a community, add all the cool features we can, and make sure everything goes smoothly.
Organize your channels
Once your Discord gets a little more popular, you might notice a lot of off-topic discussions. Instead of pulling out the interdiction hammer, try to organize your channels in a way that encourages this kind of conversation, but in the right place.
You can right click on any channel to display an edit option. Here you can write a short description for each channel, outlining any rules you might want to include in it.
You can also right-click on an empty space in the channel sidebar to find an option to add categories. This is great if you have a large server where discussions branch out across several different topics.
You can rearrange and customize the look of your channel list by dragging and dropping individual channels.
Assign roles (and maybe choose moderators)
Well-managed Discord servers often have different levels of leadership roles, each with different permissions on the board. You might want to give a few serious users the ability to create new boards or change channels, or let your more active users become moderators to enforce the rules and clear up the disruptors. Here’s how to create roles, assign users, and change permissions:
- On your server, locate the server name in the upper right corner of the screen and click the slider to the right
- Click on “Server Settings”
- In the right sidebar, click on “Roles”
- Find and click on the “Create a role” button
- Here you will be asked to name the new role and decide how the title of the new role will be displayed when you assign it to users.
- Above, go to the “Permissions” tab where you can choose exactly how many Power Users with this role have on your server. There are many different options – make sure you know exactly how much authority you want to give someone on your server before you distribute permissions.
- Go to “Manage Users” to easily search the server’s user base and assign the role to whoever you want.
You can always go back to these settings and change roles at any time. You’ll never have to change your own permissions – you have access to everything. In this settings menu, you can also change the default settings for everyone on the server. Find the @everyone role in the list of roles and you will be able to change these permissions. Roles are used to split permissions, but they’re also fun. You can create roles for really active users or helpful members of the community to reward them for their contribution to the server. These do not need to come with special responsibilities. It might just be a cool nickname, like the employee of the month designation on Discord.
A small team of bots is essential on any busy Discord server. Bots can automate many regular tasks on a server, like reminding users of the rules, streaming music to voice channels, or helping newcomers navigate channels. Dealing with bots might seem super technical and complicated, but there are tons of useful bots available online for free and adding them to your server is a snap.
While Discord doesn’t keep its own list of public bots, there are a few places that keep track of the best bots available. The bots on Discord and Top.GG are the best libraries to browse. There are a lot options. Check out the most popular bots, search for something specific, or just browse aimlessly until you find one you want to try.
I will add a popular moderation bot called ProBot to my server and try to set up rules on my server. Here’s how to add a bot:
- Once you’ve found a reputable bot that you want to add to your server, there will be a clear option to “Add” or “Invite” the bot to your server, depending on where you discovered it. Click on it!
- This should open a pop-up or new tab that explains exactly what permissions you grant the bot and asks which server you want to add the bot to. Choose your server from the drop-down list and click “Continue”
- You will be asked to confirm the permissions you are granting to the bot. Definitely read this list. If you only add popular bots there won’t be a problem, but a music bot that wants permission to kick users can raise eyebrows. Once you have reviewed this list, click “Allow”. The bot is now on your server!
Believe it or not, my little test server doesn’t need an advanced admin bot. ProBot opened up a big dashboard by joining my server with user charts, role organization – all kinds of tools that I just don’t have room for. No problem! Removing a bot from your Discord server is just as easy. I just found ProBot in my user list, right clicked and chose to run it off the server. Just as quickly, I added another bot called MEE6 to my server and got exactly what I needed – this bot will now welcome any new people who join my server!
All Discord bots work differently. Some will only live on your server, while others will give you access to completely separate dashboards. Most Discord bots come with instructions and are designed to be easy to use. It takes a bit of experimentation to figure out which bots will work best for your server, but trust us, adding them and editing them until you find the right one isn’t as scary as it sounds.
These moderating bots had plenty of customization options, but others, like this cute HaikuBot, just remove accidental haikus and don’t require any settings adjustment.
I would recommend browsing the top rated bots on the sites listed above or searching Google or Reddit for “Best Discord Bots for X” to find what you want.
These are the absolute must-haves for a good server. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might want to dive even deeper into customizing your Discord server. If you’re looking for the next steps beyond this guide, I recommend looking at the integrations you can set up, to automate alerts when you update your Youtube channel or another associated server makes a big change. You can even get started creating your own bots. Good luck with your server!