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Let's look at the results of Staff Review 2023


If you’ve been with us for more than two years, you might recall that once upon a time, we ran a poll asking you, the users, to judge us, the staff. The original plan was to make the Staff Review an annual event, but, well, 2022 ran away from us. Still, the Staff Review has returned for the year 2023 - so how about we look at some charts? We have so many charts to look at (and some of those charts are rather small by necessity, so if you have trouble reading, you can click on the image to zoom in).

First off, let’s talk demographics! During the first Staff Review, we received 146 responses; this time, it was 157 - a small increase, especially compared to the rise in the Sharder population. We also asked you to declare which of our two main platforms - forums and Discord - you most commonly use, so let’s start with that.

A pie chart showing the percentage of users of each of our main platforms, with the options being "Discord" (65%), "forums" (30%) and "both" (5%).

While we expected the majority of you to be Discord mains, I do admit that this majority was not as large as we expected. A third of you still prefer forums to Discord - something we will definitely have to keep in mind, as most of the current staff is primarily active on the latter, and from your other answers… well, it shows.

With this said, let’s move on to our regular questions. 

Quality of Moderation

The first is quite simple - on a scale of 1 (awful) to 5 (amazing), how do you rate the quality of moderation on the 17th Shard?

A graph showing how 17th Shard members rate the quality of moderation on a scale of one to five. The two highest ratings, 4 and 5, have the vast majority of votes.

And it seems like the majority of you rate us quite well indeed! More than 70% of you gave us the highest marks at 5, with less than 4% rating us below a 4. This is a notable improvement from the last poll, where that number was almost 8%. Interestingly, there is almost no variation between ratings given to us by forum and Discord users, with the average rating being 4.67 for Discord, and 4.66 for the forums.

With that, let’s move on to the next topic: do you think the staff members are in tune with the general 17th Shard community?

A graph showing how well the Staff understands the 17th Shard community, in the opinion of regular Shard users, on a scale of one to five.

Here, "1" means we are completely out of touch, while "5" means we are just like the rest of you. The response was a bit more tepid this time around, though still overwhelmingly positive. It is important to us that we’re active members of the community, so that we can accurately tell what you want to see from us. And much like with the demographics question, it’s obvious we should focus more on the forums side of things; while both Discord and forum users rate us highly, the forum ratings are visibly lower than the Discord ones, with an almost 0.2 difference in averages.

Moving on, we have a returning question from last year: how strict do you think the mods are as a whole?

A graph showing how strict the moderators of the 17th Shard are, in the opinion of Shard users, on a scale of one (most strict) to five (least strict). The graph shows that majority of voters picked the middle options.

For this chart, "1" means that we are too strict, and a "9" means we are too lax. As was to be expected, you consider us to be more on the stricter side of things, with around 40% of you voting on the "strict" side, while another 43% believe we’ve attained a happy middle. This being said, compared to two years ago, the needle has moved marginally towards the "lax" side. This might be thanks to greater participation of forum goers, who have, on average, rated us as less strict than Discord users.

Next up, let’s talk conflict resolution. This is something we have been thinking about recently, so we’ve decided to ask: what do you think about the way Staff members resolve conflicts and problems on the Shard.

A graph showing how well 17th Shard staff members resolve conflicts and problems on the Shard, in the opinion of Shard users, on a scale of one to five.

In this case, "1" means we suck at it, while "5" means we always resolve all conflicts perfectly. The results are, overall, quite good, with over 90% of you rating us as either very good or excellent at it. This being said, this is obviously an area in which we could further improve, as you have made clear in the next two, open-ended questions, in which we asked you to talk about any particular incidents or staff members that have caught your attention. While we will not cite the exact answers here, there has been plenty of valuable critique that will, hopefully, help us improve in the future.

There were also several compliments! It seems you rate us highly when it comes to transparency and communication - an improvement compared to your opinions the last time we ran the poll. Plenty of you have appreciated our efforts towards inclusivity, and making the Shard a safe, welcoming place for everyone - a commitment we very much intend to uphold.

Spoiler Policy

Our spoiler policy is something we spend a lot of time on, hoping to ensure both veteran and new Sanderfans have a good time, so we obviously want to hear what you think about it. Here, the differences between Discord and forums are definitely beginning to show clearly.

A pair of pie charts, labeled "Spoiler policy opinions - forums" on the left, and "Spoiler policy opinions - Discord" on the right. Both charts show that majority of people believe the spoiler policy and its enforcement are just fine.

While the vast majority of you believe that the policy is fine, it seems there is a difference in how we enforce it on each of our platforms - on Discord, people lean more towards calling us overzealous, while on the forums, we’re more likely to be considered overly lax. The percentage of people who don't understand the spoiler policy on the forums is also concerning, and something we should definitely look into. 

Communicating with the Staff

We also had two questions for you regarding the way you communicate with the Staff. As a reminder - if you have something to report to us, we always welcome a ping, a report or a private message! It’s not bothering us; we can’t be everywhere, so we have to rely on user reports to assist us in moderation.

With that being said, let’s get to the first of our two communication questions: what is your preferred method of contacting the Staff? Once more, the discrepancy between forums and Discord is readily apparent.

Two pie charts labeled "Forums - preferred contact method" on the left, and "Discord - preferred contact method" on the right. The Discord one shows a larger preferences for pinging Staff/creating a report, while the forums one shows a larger preference for not contacting the Staff in any way.

The number of people unaware they could contact us in the first place is worrisome - especially on the forums, where over a quarter of responders stated that they did not know it was allowed. Likewise, a fifth of forum users would rather not interact with us at all, as opposed to only 8% of Discord users. At a guess, this is another effect of the staff having increased presence on the Discord, making us more visible (and, perhaps, more approachable) there.

Onwards to the next question, this one exclusive for Discord users: have you ever used @Staff to ping us? Here, we gave you a list of pre-made responses, as well as an option to write your own.

A pie chart labeled "Have you ever used @Staff". Most responses say "no", though for different reasons.

It is quite encouraging to see that almost 80% of you have either pinged us before, or felt no need to do so. It is a little less encouraging to see that almost a tenth of you are scared to contact us. Again - nothing to be afraid of! If you have something to report, ping away!

What about those “other responses”, though? Without quoting the exact statements, there are three trends we’ve noticed:

  • You are unaware that pinging us is an option (which comes back to the problem we’ve noticed in the last question)
  • You prefer DMs over a public ping (which is perfectly valid!)
  • You use the function to report spam bots (which is appreciated!)

The next two questions let us tell us what you think directly and anonymously, and it was quite nice to see all the positive messages for us - we really appreciate you. Likewise, we appreciate the people who took the time to point out what we could improve on; we hope to put those lessons into practice.

There were also a few… interesting responses, such as:

  • “Ramen noodles are delicious”
  • “Brownies make your day better.”
  • “Actually, this form is written by six people, and we’d rather not explain it (it involves a Kickstarter and a Splintered group).”

The People’s Mod Awards

Finally, we’ve reached the question you’ve probably been the most curious about, and the one that inspired the whole concept of staff review in the first place: who is the people’s favourite moderator?

A chart showing the 17th Shard staff members most popular with the users. The most-voted option is "I like all of you", followed by individual staff members.

Once more, Argent snags the top spot, followed closely behind by Ene! In third place we have Chaos, as well as Feather, who rose an entire sixteen spots since the last poll, pushing Rasarr down to fourth place (or is it fifth, if two people hold the bronze medal?).

But wait, there’s more! Now we can sort the results by platform!

A pair of charts, the one on the left labeled "Favourite Staffers - Discord", the one on the right labeled "Favourite Staffer - forums". The Discord chart shows Argent as the most popular user; the forums chart shows Ene as the most popular user.

In the forums category of People’s Mod Awards, Ene wins by a landslide, racking up 30% more votes than Argent; on the Discord front, Argent keeps his overall first place, followed closely behind by Feather.

So, what next?

Well, that about does it for Staff Review 2023. We certainly learned a lot, both in terms of what must be done (it seems we all agree the #cosmemes channel over on Discord needs another look), what you think of the staff (I do need to get my TTRPG schedule in order, for sure), and in other matters (why were there six people filling in the poll together, anyway?). Hopefully, by the time we come back with Staff Review 2024 (and hopefully, we will remember to make Staff Review 2024…), you will see tangible improvement on our part.

Until then, thank you for being part of the Shard! We might be the ones tasked with herding this pack of giraffes, but it’s you, the users, who make this place great.

Edited by Rasarr


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Soooo, this Discord thing... sounds like I should figure out what it actually is (apart from a ventrillo replacement).

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as someone who mainly uses the forums, the discord/forum split is WILD

apparently there's like 2/3rds of the fandom that i just don't interact with at all


its also crazy how few people said they use both, you'd expect that to be a pretty sizable amount right?

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I would definitely say at this stage the Discord has many more active users than the forums! 

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