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From Abby’s Twitter thread
Are you seeing people say “Forget those other platforms, try Discord,” but you feel like Discord is confusing?
You’re not alone, so here’s a thread summing up some of the explanations I’ve given lately for customers and friends.
If you’re used to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you are probably used to clicking “follow” or “friend” and building a list of people whose voices you find interesting, and who you’d like to have appear in your feed.
The sad truth is algorithms prevent you from being able to sort your own feed effectively and see what you sign up to see, but the fact remains that with those platforms, you still do get something loosely built around a fragment of what’s posted by the people you follow.
Discord is different! You don’t follow people or build a feed or subscribe like that.
Discord is like a city made up of lots of buildings.
“Discord” means the whole city. It encompasses “servers,” which are like buildings.
You need a Discord account to enter the city.
Once you’re in the city, now you can join servers — think of that like entering buildings.
You can join as many servers — enter as many buildings — as you like.
Generally you need to have the building’s address (an invite) to find it and go inside.
So if I invite you to my server, you follow that invite link and enter my building.
Inside my building, there are lots of rooms! Lots and lots of rooms! Some of those rooms are open to whoever has been invited to the building, while others are locked.
I can decide to give you roles — think of these like keys — which let you unlock some of the locked rooms. If you don’t have the key, you won’t even be able to see the rooms are there. You’ll only see the rooms (they’re called channels) that are for everyone.
Inside those rooms, other people who have entered the building (joined the server) are having conversations.
When you enter a room — which is to say join a channel — you’re joining a conversation that’s already been in progress.
There IS a transcript of the entire conversation since it began, and you CAN read the whole thing if you want! You can also search it for words or phrases.
Most people simply join, and say “Hi I’m new here, what’s up?” This is generally considered fine to do.
You CAN make friends on Discord, and you can have a list of people with whom you can trade private messages, and even groups of people, and those lists can work for groups where everyone isn’t on the same servers!
But the primary thing is each server is its own building
Discord also supports voice and video chat. You can do these from your computer or your mobile device. You can even have it in the background while you’re doing other things. That’s important because it has its roots in video gaming.
Sometimes if you’re playing a multiplayer video game online, you want to talk out loud with the other people you’re playing with, while you’re in different places playing the game. So that’s why it has those features.
I use Discord to provide a live chat space for members of my Patreon, participants in my courses, and my community in general.
So we have channels built around a wide range of subjects and interests, that are text, voice, video, etc.
People can show up on my Discord whenever they feel like, and share pictures, short videos, files, and type conversations about them, or have video meetups.
Like I say, it’s like a building — my building, with the spaces in it that I and my community decide we want.
We have spaces like:
You can be on multiple Discord servers at the same time and switch between them!
You can set it to alert you, or not alert you, in lots of ways!
You can be in as many rooms as you want and switch between them at will!
It works on desktop and mobile platforms!
Each server is its own building, run how the owner(s) want it to be run. So there’s no social media giant that decides what you see: it’s up to the people who make the buildings what they are. People who run servers have a lot of control over what the space is like.
This is, of course, good and bad. You should trust the people who run the Discord servers where you participate, because they’ll be the decision makers if conflict or trouble arises. You should like the vision they have for the building. But the key thing?
Local, individual control. You have more of it, and so do server owners.
And no algorithm. Nobody will hide stuff you wanted to see because someone didn’t pay to advertise it to you. You decide what you see.
Was this helpful? Was this how you thought Discord worked? I’d love to hear what you think. Share this thread if you found it useful, but please don’t use a thread reader app to do it because I’d like to be able to keep hearing from readers.