All about badges & flags

Discord Badges! How? Why? When? Who? We'll answer all that & more in this article, from statistics to history & even the cultural impact!

All about badges & flags

Discord account badges have long been a point of pride on Discord, seeing much evolution over the years since the introduction of the Staff & Partner badges. In this article, we're going to cover the methods for earning each badge, the history of each badge, discuss other flags that aren't surfaced in the form of a badge & talk about the effect Discord badges have had on Discord-Meta culture.

The above image is altered to show all badges, this user is not Discord staff.

Discord offers many badges for end users to obtain and the official article on Discord badges is heavily outdated/incomplete & encourages some of the negative perceptions of Discord badges, which we'll cover at the end of this article. First, we'll cover each individual badge, in the order they appear in-client (This also happens to be caused by its flag bit size, which we will cover later in this article).

The Discord Staff badge indicates members of the Discord employee team. This only includes individuals with full employment with Discord, and typically not contractors (translators, writers). The badge has seen one change since its release, changing the colour of the badge from the old Blurple to the new Blurple with the rebrand in 2021. This badge depicts a hammer & chisel, the name of the company that owned and operated Discord, before changing the company name to Discord Inc. Discord employees have the ability to hide this badge at will. Discord boasts several hundred employees, meaning there's several hundred people with this badge on the platform. This badge is more of a perk of employment, as opposed to a source of perks, however the badge does grant users free Discord Nitro while active.

The Partnered Server Owner badge indicates members of the Discord Partner Program, which has seen several significant changes since its introduction. This badge is added to accounts which successfully achieve partnership on a community they own. The criteria for this application have changed a few times, most notably in August 2020 when the program was changed to "reward active and engaged servers". The changes in August 2020 saw a change of the Partner logo from the old infinity symbol to a blurple symmetrical symbol. This change also saw the name change from "Discord Partner" to "Owner of a Partnered Server" before quickly changing to "Partnered Server Owner", as well as bringing new partner merchandise releases with the new logo. The blurple in the new partner logo was also changed with the 2021 rebrand. There are roughly 5,000 active partners as of the writing of this article. Partnered Server Owners get various perks, including:

  • Access to the official partners server which in turn gives access to limited early feature testing (historical examples include the revenue share experiment and ticketed stages) & announcements for upcoming features as well as a communal place for discussion
  • Free full nitro while you have the badge
  • Access to free partner merch upon joining & for certain other events
  • Access to a subsection of the Discord merch store where you or your staff team can buy additional merch
  • Partner perks for the partnered server

This badge is given to members of the various Discord Moderation Communities, accessible via an application. After obtaining membership, a user must contribute meaningfully to one or more of these communities for a certain amount of time. The criteria for this badge aren't concrete, with the badge being handed out on a case-by-case basis. Less than 1,000 users have this badge. This badge doesn't provide any perks, though membership to the aforementioned communities is generally considered the perk.

This badge was given to members of the currently suspended Hypesquad Events program ran by Discord. Members of this program were divided into two categories, event attendees & event managers, with the objective of the program being representation at in-person gaming events/conventions. Membership in the program had varying criteria for both categories, including recording an application video. Shortly before this program's suspension, we also saw the release of the Hypesquad houses, which will be detailed below. The release of the Hypesquad houses in their intial form slated them as an 'Online Tier', a counterpart to the Hypesquad Events tiers. The program was suspended in 2019 alongside the Discord Partner Program, making this badge unobtainable. This slso resulted in the logo changing, from just the Hypesquad wings to the wings & star. There were around 2,000 members in the Hypesquad program before its suspension. Members of the program gained access to a private official server, as well as various merch packages for distribution at events, with event managers receiving larger packages.

This is one of the Hypesquad houses released as part of the Hypesquad "online tier" in 2018. This badge is obtainable via the in-app Hypesquad quiz. Depending on your answers, you can obtain any one of the three Hypesquad house badges. You can only have one Hypesquad house badge at a time. During the 2019 pride event, prismatic versions of all three Hypesquad house badges were teased. About 60% of Discord users have a Hypesquad house badge. Out of those 60%, Bravery & Brilliance have a similar amount of members, but both have less than Balance. The badge itself provides no perks, but historically there have been online events and competitions ran by Discord or its business partners to provide awards to the winning Hypesquad house, usually accompanied by a variation on the badge for the winning house.

Hypesquad Brilliance has no differences from Bravery, besides obvious visual ones.

Hypesquad balance has significantly more variations, as the house has won every single digital event ran by Discord since the start of the program. From right to left, there's variations for the King of the Hat game release & competition in 2019, the Discord Snowsgiving event in 2018 & the 2019 Discord pride event.

This badge is given to members of the Discord Bug Hunter program, who've met any of the varying criteria. The badge comes in 2 tiers, which are mutually exclusive. Both have the in-app label of "Discord Bug Hunter", but the golden badge (far right) is listed as level 2 in the Discord API docs. The other two badges to its left are the level 1 badge, with the middle being an older variation with slightly different colours. As with many badges, the colours were changed in the 2021 rebrand. Several hundred people have the level 1 Bug Hunter badge, while less than 50 have the level 2 badge. Typically, both badges were obtained via the currently closed Discord Testers server using the tiers below, however, bugs can also be reported via Discord's helpdesk (Though this does not contribute at all to you earning this badge). This badge has, in the past, very rarely be rewarded as a part of a legitimate security bug report as a part of Discord's security bug bounty program. This is not an endorsed way to earn the badge, with historical recipients earning it on a case-by-case basis after several critical reports & good working relationships with Discord. Do not attempt to earn this badge via submitting security reports, security bugs are very different to regular bugs, which should be reported via Discord's helpdesk. The badge alone provides no perks, but the associated tiers in the Discord Testers server could allow members to opt into focus tests or early feature testing. Please keep in mind that Discord Testers is undergoing significant restructuring, the legacy flow detailed here is not currently operational & likely won't be again in future.

*The amount of bugs you need per tier is undisclosed

This badge was given to bot developers who went through the verification process for their bots when it released in 2020. Shortly after the release of the badge, it was removed as an incentive for verification due to rampant abuse of the verification system to obtain the badge. The announcement of this decision led to the creation of a famous copypasta, seen below. On release, the badge was named "Verified Bot Developer". However, with the badge being removed as a perk of bot verification, it was renamed to its current name. This badge is unobtainable though it's estimated that about 12,000 members have this badge. This badge provides no perks.

We’ve approved thousands of bots so far. As time goes on, the verification queue has become more and more filled with fraudulent submissions by individuals that are not submitting actual bots, but are going to extreme lengths to get a profile badge. These submissions are hindering the ability for legitimate bots to get verified in time for the deadline. So, as of today--August 19, 2020--we are changing the “Verified Bot Developer” profile badge to the “Early Verified Developer” badge, and will not be granting it to anyone who submits for approval after today. If you have already submitted your application, you will still receive the badge.

This badge was given to all Discord Nitro subscribers before October 2018, as announced in a Discord help center article. Several thousand users received this badge & associated perks, but it is no longer obtainable. Ownership of the badge granted users a legacy Nitro subscription, giving them full Nitro perks for the Nitro Classic pricing when the subscription service split in 2018. This perk lasted until February 2020 for monthly subscriptions & January 2021 for yearly subscriptions.

This badge is given to all active Discord Nitro subscribers (including those who gain Nitro from other badges like Discord Staff & Partnered Server Owners); once a subscription expires, this badge is revoked. Hovering over this badge reveals a tooltip displaying the date the user started their subscription. This is one of two badges that is not a flag. The amount of Nitro subscribers is constantly changing, however in 2020 Forbes estimated that about 40% of Discord users had a Discord Nitro subscription.

This badge is given to users who are actively Boosting a Discord server. The longer a user is Boosting a server, the more the badge "evolves", becoming more visually appealing. In 2022, this badge was updated to use the oldest streak, as opposed to the longest active streak. As with the Discord Nitro Subscriber badge, this is also not a flag & has a tooltip revealing the streak start date. Boosting was released in 2019, with Discord Nitro (not Discord Nitro Classic) having access to two free boosts. Discord Nitro boosting has changed over time, providing perks to a server rather than the user.

The difference between Badges & Flags

While almost all badges are flags (excluding the Nitro & Booster badges), not all flags are badges. Flags are the sum of various bit shift operations (each operation representing one flag) on every users account. The order of the badges is mostly decided by the size of each bit flag represented by it. For example, Discord Staff has a bit size of 1, partner has a bit size of 2, so they appear in that order on a users profile. There are outliers to this rule, like the Discord Certified Moderator badge. Several of these flags are detailed publicly in the Discord API Documentation, however some are hidden from other users & others are hidden from the API entirely. These flags are classified as undocumented. We'll cover the actively used flags that don't have associated badges with a known source below.

  • MFA_SMS 1 << 5: This flag denotes the user has SMS 2FA enabled.
  • TEAM_PSEUDO_USER 1 << 10: This flag is given to the pseudo-users that own applications assigned to Discord Teams.
  • HAS_UNREAD_URGENT_MESSAGES 1 << 13: This flag is given to users who have an unread message from Discord's urgent message system & is what causes the in-app prompt to display.
  • BOT_HTTP_INTERACTIONS 1 << 19: This flag is given to Discord Bots that receive interaction events via outgoing webhooks.
  • SPAMMER 1 << 20: This flag is given to users marked as spammers by Discord anti-abuse or trust & safety.
  • DISABLE_PREMIUM 1 << 21: This flag forcefully disables Discord Nitro features on a user's account. It's only used by Discord Staff for testing features.

There are more undocumented flags, only visible via viewing your Discord Data Package. Recently, there has been a community effort to document these flags & their purpose, you can read more about this & see all these flags here. As you can see above, several of these flags affect the Discord client, but many of the undocumented ones are intended purely for internal use by Discord.

Badge hunting & cultural affects

Discord badges have long been assigned to "desirable" programs, like Partnership & Hypesquad membership. This has led to people actively attempting to gain these badges as early on as the advent of the Partner Program. This same desire for the "clout" provided by these badges caused countless culture issues when the Discord Bug Hunter badge was released, obtainable within Discord Testers. These issues, among others, eventually caused a revamp of the entire community & bug reporting system. Both systems saw many users submitting low quality reports & gaming the system in an attempt to gain the badge. The Security Bounty program has also seen an influx in unactionable/improper reports from users aiming to obtain the Discord Bug Hunter badge, causing the same issues as above. This culture also led to "Badge Worship", where users would glorify anyone with these "Rare" badges on their profile, even touting having a badge owner on their friends list as a point of pride. This results in individuals with the "Rarer" badges receiving unsolicited friend requests & rather uncomfortable interactions with these "Badge Worshippers".

The exclusivity of these badges & visibility has made them very desirable to dedicated Discord users, seeing the creation of "Badge Hunters", a subset of users that go to extreme lengths to obtain these badges. Many of these individuals apply to the community programs with badges attached (Partnership, Hypesquad, Bot Verification, Discord Moderator Academy) solely to obtain those badges. This caused applications to be flooded, with many being low-quality, increasing review time for all applicants & even seeing the rewarding of some badges being suspended entirely. The Discord Partner program in particular saw the advent of selling/buying of on-platform advertising & membership services like members+ (which violate Discord TOS) in order to have servers meet the statistical requirements for the Discord Partner program. During the timeframe where the Verified Bot Developer badge was available, people would also sell access to a Discord Team with a bot ready for verification, as all members of a Discord Team would be rewarded with the badge.

The existence of these badges (especially the now unobtainable ones) has also led to account selling, with many sold accounts being hijacked/stolen via social engineering, with dedicated scamming groups even cropping up. Rampant social engineering led to specific announcements being shared in the Hypesquad community to help address the issue. The Discord partner program was also heavily targeted, with the less secure SMS 2FA being disallowed for membership in the program.

Are badges a net positive or negative?

This question should be discussed on a case-by-case basis. While some users may use illicit means to obtain these badges & laud them over other users, there are valid reasons for the existence of many badges. In the case of badges associated with Community Programs, they provide a clear incentive to engage in the programs. Other badges like the Discord Staff & Discord Certified Moderator speak to the legitimacy of the individual. There are debates about the purely cosmetic badges solely leading to illicit behavior. Most notably, there have been thousands of accounts with the Hypesquad Events, Early Verified Bot Developer & Early Supporter badges sold with and without consent from the account owners.

If you find yourself wanting badges, please think about why you're after them. If it's purely for cosmetics or status, you should probably reconsider, or you'll likely make the issues that bloat applications & encourage account theft & selling worse.

This article has anchor points throughout. From top to bottom, we have:
Discord Staff
Partnered Server Owner
Discord Certified Moderator
Hypesquad Events
Hypesquad Houses
Discord Bug Hunter
Early Verified Bot Developer
Early Supporter
Discord Nitro Subscriber
Discord Server Booster
Badge Culture

Footnote from the author

I was prompted to make this article given the rampant misinformation around badges & huge cultural issues caused by them. I've been using Discord for many years now & I continue to see Discord Badges as one of the leading causes of social engineering, account selling & scamming. Discord has had to suspend badges and programs entirely to address these issues, but the root cause remains. Discord's own article on badges even encourages badge worship, placing badges in tiers of rarity. Badges should be a reward for engagement, not a cause for engagement. That said, if you've earned your badges, you should be proud of them. I've even made a tool to display your Discord profile, badges included, in an embeddable i-frame. You can check it out below.