Steam Community Hubs are filled with content created by fans and players. From artwork to discussions, the various sections within each hub give players creative opportunities to interact and share their experiences.
Steam moderators will resolve reported content within each hub, but more curated and nuanced moderation can be incorporated by your team. This guide helps explain the different tools available, along with some best practices on when it makes sense to use them.
To enable members of your internal dev team or players in the community to help moderate content in your Steam Community, please see this guide on Adding Community Moderators
Moderating Steam Discussions
Your Steam Discussions are one of the many places your customers and fans are interacting and sharing their experiences with your product. It may be tempting to jump in and participate in every conversation that is happening about your product. Instead, take a step back and listen. Hear what your customers are discussing and asking. Rather than spending a bunch of energy in replying to every thread, channel that energy and excitement into improving your product; fix the bug, create new content, etc.
In many cases, the presence of a developer commenting in discussions can derail the conversation or cause participants to be more timid in their responses. It is often more beneficial to let the community talk things through so that you can gather more data about the issue or hear what kind of solutions your customers come up with.
Here are a couple points that we've found to be useful to keep in mind when browsing discussions:
- Listen to your customers. Not just in the Steam Community, but everywhere people are talking about your product.
- Don't respond to everything. Crafting deliberate and thoughtful communication takes time and always comes with risks of reducing future options or spurring further argument. Let your community answer each others' questions.
- Work on your product. If there are a bunch of common themes in the discussions about bugs or issues in your game or software, then you probably have a good idea of what would have the best pay-off to fix or improve. The best communication is to change your product, as it reaches all your customers and generates the best feedback.
- Don't argue with your fans. Some customers will try to engage developers in arguments. There's no way you can win.
- Let customers express their unhappiness. Don't censor; customers know when that's happening. Focus on your product rather than getting worked up over negative comments. Channel your energy into fixing the core issues and making customers happy in the product.
There are times where the productivity of a community can be hindered by particular individuals or off-topic conversations. Use the guidelines below to appropriately decide whether to delete, lock or merge threads and when to ban players. Many of these guidelines have huge pay-off in terms of keeping your community constructive and on track.
Reports from Players
Members of your community can report posts and threads to identify abuse or spam that is happening in your Steam Discussions. On the right-hand side of your Discussion Hub you will see a sub-forum listing for "Reported Posts". This section will show you all the posts that have been reported along with a report description from the player.
By default, all of this reported content will be reviewed and resolved by Valve's moderation staff in conjunction with our Rules & Guidelines. Players who repeatedly violate these rules will be temporarily prohibited from contributing to the community.
If you do not wish to have Valve moderating your Steam Discussions, you can opt-out via your your app settings in Steamworks (https://partner.steamgames.com/apps/community/Your_APPID)
If you take action on a post, or decide that the report is not valid, please make sure you resolve the report so other moderators and admins know the issue has been dealt with. When viewing a reported post, there is a link in the right-hand column to "Mark as Resolved".
Discussion Moderation Tools
There are many different tools available to manage and curate content within your community hub. Mousing over a post will reveal post-specific options, while the Moderator Tools
panel on the right side of the page contains broader options for thread management.
When your community hub goes live, three forums are created by default: General Discussions
: The landing page and primary forum in your discussion hub; Trading
: A dedicated forum where players can post trade offers and requests without spamming your main forum; Reported Posts
: A hidden forum where your moderators and developers can review content reported by your community.
Once you've had a chance to monitor some of the discussions that are happening in your hub, you'll have a good idea of any customization requirements. You can add or remove sub-forums or customize existing ones with the following options:
- Name - The name of the subforum
- Visibility - Controls who can view each subforum and the content in it.
- Post rights - Who is able to post in existing threads and create new ones.
: An account must have 'Edit App Metadata' privileges for the app in question in order to edit this section.
It's also a good idea to browse other product hubs to get an idea of what customization options you might want to take advantage of. Some more commonly created options include specific forums for bug reports, players looking for friends to play with, or even language specific forums.
You should rarely need to edit a post from a player. However, it may be useful to remove personal information, or fix a broken link. Editing may also be appropriate in cases where the post contains valid points and deleting the post is not desirable (see deletion guidelines below).
Deleting Threads or Posts
Deleting content sends a powerful message to players and should be reserved for highly offensive content or malicious things like phishing attempts. It should only be done when something is clearly in violation of the Steam Community Rules and Guidelines
. Do not use the delete feature to hide negative opinions or criticisms of the game. Doing so will quickly turn your forum into a place to discuss moderator actions, instead of the game itself. Players have a right to express their discontent with a game or its features.
If there are multiple negative threads pertaining to the same issue, you may consider merging them together.
Merging threads is useful tool for combining a number of discussions with the same topic into one thread. You may want to do this if there are a bunch of threads reporting the same bug or asking the same question, as it allows you then to reply to all those players at once, or simply foster a collaborative discussion among players that are having a similar experience. This tool is especially helpful for keeping your discussions organized without censoring players.
Pinning a thread will keep it at the top of your forum at all times. This feature is useful if your team wants to create your own thread that will always be seen by players entering the forum. Threads created by players can also be pinned. It's a good idea to browse other product hubs to get an idea of all the different ways that these can be used within your discussion hub.
Depending on the purpose of your pinned thread, you can either leave it open to player comments, or lock it after posting and pinning.
Locking threads should be treated with similar care as deleting. Players will continue to create new threads if they feel that a thread was prematurely locked. However, if a thread has turned into a non-constructive argument between players, or derailed entirely off-topic, you should consider locking it. It is often helpful to post in a thread prior to locking it, explaining why it was locked.
Marking a Thread as Answered
This option will sticky the selected post to the top of the thread with a blue highlight indicating that you have marked that post as an answer to original poster's topic. This is a great option if you find a particularly helpful or relevant post within one of your Discussion threads that should be officially surfaced.
This option is also available to the thread's creator, provided that the thread has not been locked. Developers can overwrite previously answered threads, but unless the post is misleading or false, it's generally not a good idea to overwrite.
Warnings, Bans & Messaging
If a player is posting or behaving in a manner that detrimental to your community, several options are available to moderators. These are available via the dropdown menu next to the player name contained in posts and threads.
PMs are the most basic tool for communicating with players in your Discussion hub. It is also a great tool for players who may be doing something improperly, but you don't want the message to carry the negative context of a ban or warning. An example would be a player posting a bug report outside of your official bug report section.
Warnings are another great first step when you want to communicate directly to a player that their behavior is against the rules. Several pre-written warning reasons can be selected when issuing one. The pre-written messages are translated into whatever language the player has Steam set to. You also have the ability to write a custom warning reason, but these of course will not support translations.
We feel that in most cases, giving players the benefit of the doubt and issuing a warning is the correct first response to players breaking the Steam Community Rules And Guidelines
Bans are a last resort for violations of the Steam Community Rules And Guidelines
. They should be temporary in order to serve as a reminder of the discussion rules.
If a player has received previous temp bans, it may be appropriate to permanently ban them from your Hub. If you do need to ban a player, please leave a clear, concise ban reason when doing so. This ban reason is visible to the player as well as other moderators.
Effects of a Ban
While banned, an account will not be able to interact in your community hub. This includes creating new threads and posting in existing ones.
Banned accounts are also not allowed to upload screenshots, artwork, guides, workshop items or other UGC types to your hub.
Moderating Screenshots, Videos, and Workshop Items
As an admin or moderator with proper permissions, you have a number of tools available for moderation. For details on granting permissions to moderators or internal developers, please see Adding Community Moderators
Hiding as Incompatible
Use this option to disassociate content from its respective Game Hub. This option is designed to remove the content from the hub/game, without affecting the content or the upload privileges of the owner. For example, if a Dota screenshot is uploaded to the CS:GO hub, hiding it as incompatible would be the ideal moderation action (the player would still have their screenshot, but it would no longer be associated with CS:GO).
Players will not be notified of this action, unless it is a Workshop item. In those cases, the notification makes the owner aware that their item will no longer be associated with the hub, nor available in the game.
Hiding as Inappropriate
Use this option to hide the content for players who have asked not to be exposed to extreme violence or sexual content. Hiding as inappropriate will blur the preview image for the content, preventing players from seeing it w/o acknowledgment of an age-gate.
When in doubt, use this option instead of banning. Usually, this is content that is lewd (e.g. characters posed in inappropriate positions), contains nudity, features extreme violence, or is otherwise generally inappropriate.
Banning content should be reserved for items that violate the Steam Subscriber Agreement, such as: offensive content (e.g. racism), pornography (e.g. pornographic sprays/decals in Counter-Strike), stolen Workshop items, etc. Players will receive an email that their item has been banned and that it is only visible to them.
Clear reports on items that do not fall into the categories above. This will get the item off the list once the search caches get refreshed.
players that have launched and played or used your product on Steam can write reviews and indicate whether they recommend your product to others. These reviews may then appear on your product's store page and in the Steam Community, depending on how many other players find that review helpful. You can learn more by reading the User Reviews
There may be some cases where reviews contain inappropriate material, such as scams, harassment, or are otherwise abusive. There are also occasionally reviews that are entirely off-topic and don't relate to your product at all. For these two cases, we have provided tools for flagging reviews for further review.
Flagging should be reserved for clear-cut cases. When in doubt, just allow the players to down vote the review and use the report tool. In most cases, reviews that are off-topic won't be rated as helpful by customers and thus will not appear to many players.
To flag a review:
- Click the "Recommended" or "Not Recommended" headline of a review to open up the detail view of that review.
- You will find a orange section in the right-hand column for "moderator controls" where you will see a drop-down for flagging the review.
- Select "Abusive" if the review contains a scam, harassment, or is otherwise abusive to Steam players.
- Select "Off-Topic" only if the review doesn't relate to your product or the service you are providing. An example is if the review talks about ice cream instead of your strategy game.
- With either choice, you will get a confirmation dialog. Then select "OK". Steam Community Moderators or Valve Employees will then review flagged reviews and delete or unflag as appropriate.
Responding to a review
There may be cases where the reviewer has incorrect information about your product, or may have encountered a bug that has since been resolved. To help keep the community on-track, we have provided tools for developers to respond directly to such reviews.
This response will be visible to anyone who can see the review and will be marked as an official response from the developer.
To reply directly to a review:
- Click the "Recommended" or "Not Recommended" headline of a review to open up the detail view of that review.
- You will find a orange section in the right-hand column for "moderator controls" where you will see a link for "Write Official Developer Response."
- Once you click the link, you will be provided with a text field to enter your response. Please remember to keep it clear and concise. Similar recommendations apply here as in the Overview for moderating best practices above.
- This response will then appear immediately below the related review and will be visible to anyone that can see the review.
Though it may be tempting, not every review needs to be responded to.
Need More Help?
If you couldn't find specific information in this article, or just have general questions about moderation, please submit a ticket to our Steamworks Support team:Contact Steamworks Support
Requesting Additional Support
There may also be times when a large number of players use your community hub to voice concerns and negative feedback. If this devolves into toxic behavior with outright rule-breaking and abuse, it can be an overwhelming experience with no obvious solution. The good news is that there are things you can do to manage the negativity, while not making matters worse:
- Reach out to us via email or through our Partner Support channel. We can give you more information, along with adding extra moderators to help you address abuse and keep an eye on your discussion hub.
- Don't try to censor players or get into public arguments - it's a battle you won't win. We've never seen this work in stopping negative feedback, and it's more than likely to create new outrage. Check out the Moderation Tools section above for information on how to constructively manage it.
- Don't let someone on your team become a target - If you are communicating in your Discussions, consider doing so with a pseudonym or from an anonymous developer account. You can create an account specifically for this as well, adding it to your partner group from your Users & Permissions Overview page.
- Take a break - Seeing so much negativity all at once can be overwhelming and confusing. You might spend a bit of time figuring out the source of the problem, but it's also healthy to take a step back while Steam moderators handle the surge of negativity.
- It will return to normal - In all examples we've seen, the surge of volume and negative sentiment will calm down rather quickly. Once that happens, it's easier to think more clearly about how to address any problems and move forward.
Steamworks Development Group
You can also post questions and ideas in the Steamworks Development Group
. There are other developers who have likely experienced similar situations and can suggest some courses of action (or inaction).