I agree that crypto users may well be a flash in the pan. But I’d argue that Discord has actually already passed Discourse for popularity, size of user base, and profit. I’m not sure what other relevant metric you’d use to measure how well it “competes”? Maybe you just mean in terms of capabilities, or “quality” of communities? I don’t know, but as far as comparing actual numbers typically used to evaluate success and competition, well, it’s not even close.
A little more than a year ago Discourse had $10m ARR and 31,000 servers by their own figures. Discord has 6.7 million “servers” (several million considered “active” at any given time), granted not the same thing as Discourse instances, but another way to put it is it has an order of magnitude more individual communities implemented in. It also has 150m MAU, and 390m total signups. Although Discourse is not centralized and it’s impossible to know for exactly how close it comes to that figure, even if you assume 35k instances by now, each one would have to have on average more than 10,000 users (an incredibly generous estimate in my experience), to have the same user numbers. In practice the biggest instances I’ve seen are around 1m, and the average is more like 1000. And finally, Discord made $130 million in revenue in 2020, Discourse made $10m in 2021.
Now don’t get me wrong, I much prefer Discourse both as an interaction model and as a platform! But I think it would be foolish to disregard Discord’s success, reach, funding (nearly $1b to date), and revenue in considering whether it can or will compete with Discourse as they evolve their successful business to keep it successful. If Discord wants to throw resources at forum-izing things (or rather, capturing the market share they lose to more long-form and archive-friendly discussion models), then they certainly have a lot to put behind it. They’ve done a decent job evolving their platform to-date and I don’t see a good reason to assume they will not handle the addition of forum-type functions well, too. I hope Discourse prevails! But I also think they’ll need to really focus on major evolution of the platform to see it succeed long-term and more broadly.