Why Discord is a bad thing

The Problem With Discord

Just like the millions (Discord, 2023) of people who use Discord daily, I quite like it. It reminds me of the old IRC days or chat rooms where people would talk about random topics until the big ball of plasma could no longer be seen. I fondly remember forums with myself running Just a Community and the same thing would happen with people talking about random topics. You might be wondering why I bring this up as surely Discord is just a replacement for those and technology changes and moves on.

It is exactly this, why I feel Discord is a bad thing due to it replacing the many other services people, used to use and it damaged what I think is one of the most important parts of the Internet – achievability. While it is true many websites will go offline over their life or change massively (such as this website) there are organisations out there that try such as Archive.org to keep snapshots of different websites and preserve this for years to come. Mid Journey is an example of a website where this is happening and everything about its service is provided purely on their Discord server rather than a website. Other people such as streamers, and mod creators are starting to do the same as well. It is hard to get an exact figure on how many forums have closed down but a lot of forums have closed down more so for those that were a niche hobby only to be replaced with a Discord server but one website that comes to mind is Eurogamer. Eurogamer closed down its forums for the following reasons:

I am sorry to say that we are going to turn off access to the forum on 10th September 2021.The forum has been a long-standing part of Eurogamer, and at its peak welcomed thousands of active contributors each day.

Sadly, times change and the way people communicate also has changed. Traditional forums are no longer a popular place for people to come together to talk, and have been replaced in popularity with more modern community platforms like Discord, Twitter, and Twitch.

Due to this, our forum community has declined over the years to the point where there are only a handful of people left actively using the forum. This makes it difficult for us to spend resources keeping the forum running. You will have noticed how little attention the forum has had in terms of updates and changes over the past few years, which is a direct result of them not being used so much.

(Craig Munro, 2021)

You may be wondering why this is happening and I am going to discuss a few things I have noticed. The first is Discord has started to become used for everything and anything. You might be a streamer with four followers and you will create your own Discord. You might be a modder for RimWorld and you create your own Discord. These are two examples of why Discord is bad – it is all gated behind that single community. Imagine if you were looking for that RimWorld mod and all of the updates and information about it is on Discord and while you can access it via joining their Discord there is no way to be able to search on search engines to get pointed to the right direction.

Imagine now you are in a Discord server learning about programming and you find some resources you like. That’s great but now imagine you can’t find it so what would you do? You would naturally use the search feature and you will discover quickly that Discord doesn’t have a good method of sorting information so that you can find it. It isn’t like a forum where you have topics and posts but rather just a chatroom which gets worse when you can spilt them off. Now imagine you couldn’t find the information on that Discord you would be hard-pressed to find anything as you can not search across different Discord servers but instead will have to join the ones you feel might have the information (if you can find it) and then search for what you want.

Discord is amazing for chat rooms but not every website, subject and topic needs a Discord server. Heck, my websites don’t need one as it does take away from the comments on this website which otherwise visitors of this website will never see and once Discord goes offline will disappear forever.

With this said what could we do about it? Much like how IRC used to be just for communication it would be wise to treat Discord the same and use online websites such as wikis for stuff that needs to be recorded or shared with people but it might also be worth Discord themselves opening up their services for public servers so anyone can view it online without an account. This would allow search engines to be able to search the information and provide references to it in future. Understandably, this might cause problems with user’s privacy should people not expect what they type in Discord to be public but there is a debate to be made that people should expect it to be public outside of a private server.

As much as I do feel Discord has its problems it does bring benefits by providing an easy-to-use chat room for people to use and generally people have an account so that they can check out the different communities. It is typically easier to search for these different communities within Discord and if it is used to add to existing communities it can be a useful tool just as long as everything important can be viewed, archived and accessible by all.

References

Discord (2022). What is Discord | A Guide for Parents and Educators. [online] Discord. Available at: https://discord.com/safety/360044149331-What-is-Discord.

news.ycombinator.com. (n.d.). Please stop closing forums and moving people to Discord | Hacker News. [online] Available at: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28549739.

Sunsetting the Eurogamer forum. (2021). Eurogamer.net. [online] 13 Aug. Available at: https://www.eurogamer.net/sunsetting-the-eurogamer-forum.

Need to reference?

Ellis, M. (2023). Why Discord is a bad thing. [online] Snat's Narratives & Tales. Available at: https://snat.co.uk/rants/why-discord-is-a-bad-thing.html [Accessed 18 Jun 2024].

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