Discord is taking aim at Discourse. How does Discourse remain unique and stand out from the crowd?

Thanks for mentioning this. Spoke with my team, we are evualating this.

5 Likes

Is Discord trying to rip off our forum system? First, it got its own forums, now guilds?

edit: nvm, Guilds are actually servers

2 Likes

That is it in essence. Discourse is the antidote to centralized platforms that own the data and do with it as they please and not how the likes of a Tencent pleases. In the various niches I participate in there is a welcome move back to self hosted forums for this reason as heavy handed policy and failed automated policy enforcement tools destroy communities. No forum owner needs politics from any side being interjected into their model and centralization does that every time, particularly one that is invested so heavily in the gaming community. Discord is already rife with politics being interjected into moderation. If you want to truly have your own community these days you need your own land.

Discord has appeal but the noise to signal ratio tends to be incredibly high and has a tendency to devolve into toxicity or spammy new school marketing to flog product rather than build communities. While it is trendy to label yourself as long form orientated these days, I don’t know a single person who sees Discord like that. It’s a product that fits a specific purpose for a great number of their user base.

The feedback that I consistently get from my users about Discourse tends to be centered around visual presentation, There have been some welcome steps making customization more readily accessible via theme components and the plugins that proceeded them. I’m sure some of that overlaps with the existing business model for hosted customers, but as a self hosted user I am very interested to see how much further that can grow over time. If I can use an analogy, a brick and mortar store can have excellent inventory and staff, but occasionally the store fixtures need refreshing to keep customers engaged with the product.

8 Likes

I don’t think so. As @Canapin explained above…

"I’m pretty sure “guilds” in Discord were simply the name of Discord’s servers, and the “guild” name itself is outdated and never used in the interface; only in the code and API.

I suppose there were going to use this name because Discord was aimed at gamers at first, and decided to use “server” instead."

Unfortunately, some brick-and-mortar stores never received that memo… :wink:


2 Likes
4 Likes

I definitely understand the value of learning from competitors or other products in adjacent areas, and I think Discourse has frequently done that. Examples both positive and negative, of specific features from other platforms, often come up in feature discussions here over the years. E.g. the discussions on invite links or official reactions plug-in, where Discord has come up.

But I think that the point of this discussion was more misguided. It was not about learning from what Discord is doing to improve Discourse as a product. I can argue that there was not concrete discussion on that, and the forum feature on Discord had not even come out yet either. It was about the threat that Discord poses in terms of popularity.

Now when something is trendy or popular, there is very often “We should adopt X” or “We should use X” and it becomes very hard to filter out the noise. Often people don’t ask “Does X make sense for our needs?”

E.g. “we should use Facebook for our community because everyone is on there” or “we should adopt Slack for our company communications because everyone else is using it.”

This is common enough for technology stacks for example, that there’s the term “magpie developer” for it — i.e. always chasing something shiny and new.

For example it was brought up that Discourse doesn’t have the logo on its instances and that makes it less well-known. One of the points of a white-label app though, is that companies can have their own branding on their forums, rather than Discourse’s logo. There’s only a sketched-out Discourse logo when you start an instance, to encourage people to replace it.

That point came up not from the perspective of improving Discourse as a product for its users, but from the singular standpoint of popularity. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to want to make Discourse more popular, just saying that it is a bit dangerous when it’s a singular goal because you can miss a lot of other factors.

A more subtle change would be how the open-source Ghost blogging platform does it, e.g. it has something like “Made with Ghost” at the bottom of the page, on the default theme. This does not interfere with customers having their own branding.


Now that Discord’s forum feature has come out in beta launch, I do have some things to say, but for most of this topic, people didn’t even know what Discord was aiming for with it. It might be something very different and right now it is still early days.

E.g. In Discord’s beta forums, I see people still type multiple successive single-line replies, pressing Enter after each line. This includes 3-character replies. It’s still a bit noisy.

Discourse has guarded against this by having 20-char minimum by default. Plus you’d have to do Ctrl/Cmd + Enter to reply, since Enter just adds another line break. And there is the consecutive reply limit of 3 by default. This is because it wants to encourage you to add more thought into your responses by default, rather than lots of noisy replies.

Maybe Discord might address some of these in future. Or maybe Discord is just trying to solve a different problem to Discourse altogether — like just having something better than the pinned messages feature, to retain history, while still encouraging a very low barrier to joining discussion. In that case, there is still room for Discourse, and much of the discussion here was extremely speculative.

I think perhaps it’s a little over-exaggeration on the influence of Discord. The Babble chat plugin was around for years to express this desire for chat beforehand Babble - A Chat Plugin

These were genuine problems that I had with Discord, and sure there are a lot of things I like about the platform.

But it’s frustrating when people present the most popular kid on the block as someone who you are expected to copy from, even if it doesn’t make sense for you. You can end up with a conglomerate a bit like Wordpress has, from copying whatever is most currently popular over the years and trying to be all things to all people.

So it’s worth exercising caution.

9 Likes

Honestly, that blog post comes off as a direct jab at forums such as Discourse.

They even proceed to acknowledge their shortcomings.

3 Likes

I like how the title somewhat implies that chat conversations (which are the backbone of Discord) aren’t meaningful… :sweat_smile:

12 Likes

I have to say that I don’t like their forums. They’re pretty much glorified threads and aren’t even forums.

4 Likes

Well, people here are changing one of their core principles and understanding that not every single people on the world think like UK guys.

Open-source and self-host (in our case) are a must, but that’s not the same for the majority of users. Numbers talks, there is no opinion that could be more relevant than reality.

I’m glad to see changes on Discourse but I suspect that would takes almost 3 years more of resetting some dogmas and missconceptions I saw around here.

Core team stills thinking that Discord is crap and Discourse is good. And they need to accept that not only NFT GiV3Aw@y guys use Discord.

At the moment, we just can’t move our 100k messages on Discord if we lost our asyncronous activity. We don’t motivates useless chat, we value our time on Discourse AND Discord.

Yep, that’s what I am talking about (I read your reply after post).

3 Likes

We accept that. Some of us are also Discord users.

:+1: we think that using chat and long form discussions side by side is a great pattern when it works well, and it’s great to hear you’ve found ways to encourage healthy behavior here - it can be a challenge, but it’s something we’ve been saying for a while as well. We’re more invested in doing it within the platform now with #chat, but we’ve also made significant investments in #chat-integration to enable folks to do it with multiple tools.

We hear you. For others who are interested in going deeper on this, there’s a topic about that here: Is migration from other chat apps supported?

11 Likes

I would be so happy if we could tie Discord Forums and Discourse together. So that you can interact with our forums in either tool, in a native format.

4 Likes

What’s the point now? You have native Discourse chat? What functionality are you missing?

3 Likes

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my community has an active subset of users on both discord and discourse. The fourm side has been around for 10+ years and the discord for 5+. Most users are in both but people have a clear preference for which format they prefer.

Both platforms now have huge inertia in my community. There’s no way people who predominantly use the forum are interested in discord’s new forum feature. There’s also no way of convincing the Discord side to chat exclusively on the forum. I haven’t turned on Discord forums or Discourse chat for these reasons.

The only compromise I can see in my case is getting the two platforms more integrated. I have created my own Discord/Discourse plugin (partially based on yours, thanks for that!) and one idea I was flirting with to extend my plugin was to sync one of the discord channels with the discourse chat. The benefit in my case being less of a friction/divide between the two partially overlapping communities.

This is a longer post than I wanted but basically what I’m saying is that for communities with a large amount of inertia with Discord and Discourse simultaneously, such a synchronization is useful

8 Likes

Great! It ain’t called ‘construction kit’ for no reason :slightly_smiling_face:

Btw do consider PRing if you make any new feature that is likely to be of general interest that we can add to the base

7 Likes

Agree that most people use both platforms. It’ll be great to synthronize them

1 Like

What do you mean by that?

You can already:

  • log in with Discord account (core)
  • sync groups between them (plugin)
  • copy messages to Discourse (plugin)
  • announce new Topics on Discord (plugin)
  • copy every new message in a text channel to Discourse (plugin)
5 Likes

This is the case within my community, as well. I’ve turned on Discourse chat, but for the moment used CSS to hide everything except the ‘Personal Chat’ sections, which are a nice quick & clean upgrade over long chatty PM topics that are often used.

A crossover general chat between the two platforms could be quite nice though, bring folks together that are a little more platform-separated right now.

edit ~ reading more carefully, it seems like this may be possible to a large extent already, I’ll have to look into it more

5 Likes

I made quite a few additions. I’ll plan make a meta topic on it one day but as of now, there’s still a critical bug in it I haven’t been able to quash that requires the plugin to be reset every couple days.

it adds a /discord page that looks like this:

Summary

Users can only see their own posts on this page but staff can search any user from the “admin panel”. Users who connect their account get a “Verified” rank on Discord which is required to view the channels there. Other ranks are incremental and based on post count as seen in the above image. Hitting a rank gives you a button to “collect” a badge for it on the forum. Obviously all this functionality depends on Discourse knowing about Discord messages so I added a table in Discourse that syncs over all Discord messages. Once every 20 minutes ranks and posts get synced. I also have new forum topics getting cross-posted onto Discord in a dedicated channel. As you are probably aware, some of these functions are based on the construction kit you made.

A lot of these features are unique to our community’s needs so I’m not sure if there is any general application. But the way I have it set up doesn’t make it too difficult to cross post between platforms for users that have been “Verified”.

But yeah, just to bring this back on topic, this has been my compromise between the two platforms. There’s zero probability I will get the entire community to use a singular platform at this point. The culture between the two is very different and so are the types of conversations that happen; I see value in both though. Because of this, Discord Forums and Discourse Chat are pretty redundant and I’m not sure if I’ll use either for anything other than syncing content between the two platforms.

8 Likes

I suspect this will be the case for many folks who have had communities around long enough. Moving communities is no small feat.

6 Likes