Anyone else worry about communities using chat services like Discord instead of forums?

Discussion in 'Community Organization' started by cheat_master30, May 25, 2018.

  1. cheat_master30

    cheat_master30 Moderator

    Because to be honest, while I like the services and find them useful for chat rooms...

    They're not forums. They're the equivalent of IRC in a fancy wrapper, and are designed to be as transitory as possible because of that. You can't search them easily once you're a member, search engines can't see inside them at all and anything only linked or mentioned inside said services is basically lost to time once it's more than a few days old or so.

    Yet now a lot of communities are using them as if they were forums. That's a huge problem since people can't find any old content there, and those outside of the community are likely completely lost when it comes to finding what others have been saying or what discoveries were made by the memberbase.

    And I fear the consequences for things like internet preservation will be massive as a result. Imagine being the Internet Archive or Archive Team and realising that tons of unique content that future generations need to see is locked away inside said services. Or that if they ever shut down, that it's basically going to be impossible to recover anything said there. It's just a disaster waiting to happen.

    So yeah, does anyone else worry about this trend? Should communities be wary of using services like Discord or chat apps as their primary form of communication?
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  2. Pete

    Pete Flavours of Forums Forever

    Chat services have always been at odds with forums - this is absolutely nothing new and has been the same way for the last 15 years. The emperor's new chat system focuses on short term content, living 'in the moment' and rarely bothers to keep long term history, and in so doing discourages people from posting longer content.

    One of the best things I ever did was when I set up a forum and chat setup a few years back, I preserved the entire chat history. There might only have been a handful of us but we produced maybe half a million chat messages in the time we were there, and we did take some of the content discussions and make posts out of them, but the entire thing was behind closed doors so no Internet Archiver.

    I think, though, that to a point Discord et al aren't really _intended_ for long term conversations anyway. It's all about transient content in the moment, and there's nothing wrong with that (just as there isn't with IRC) but it's orthogonal at best to a typical forum content.

    Slack is an interesting half way house where you can have the effect of real time collaboration/discussion but the history is also preserved basically forever (as long as you're on a paid plan, and if not it's still preserved, you just can't see anything more than the recent stuff)

    But it's still not a substitute for forums. It can be a complement to one, but invariably drags people out of the 'preservation for future' mindset :(
  3. djbaxter

    djbaxter Tazmanian Veteran

    I don't sanction any of them, nor forum chat or "shout" add-ons.
    • you can't monitor or moderate the content, which I see as a potential risk to other members and as a potential liability issue to the forum owner
    • as noted, there is no archive of the discussions so you basically lose those conversations as forum content
  4. Mr Jack

    Mr Jack Neophyte

    I have to say I use both of them; Discord (and similar) and forums, but obviously everything depends on the scope of whatever that community is talking about. For example, I'm member of a Telegram group that talks about privacy with around 600 members. That group was good when there was like 100 people in there, where you could read all messages after X time because you left the phone a few hours and there were about 80 messages. Now, if you leave the phone for a few hours, you'll face 200-300 messages in the group and it's hard to follow.

    I've asked a few times to stop using that Telegram group and start using a forum software in which everything is more organised and the usual mess in chat systems is not there. They keep refusing it.
  5. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    Discord seems to have become the platform of choice in the gaming world. I've never really used it but I guess it must provide something advantage over and above a forum.
  6. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Administrator

    Live social interaction with instant response. Which is IMO the n#1 weakness in current forum software.
  7. djbaxter

    djbaxter Tazmanian Veteran

    And also one of its major strengths.
  8. Pete

    Pete Flavours of Forums Forever

    There is value in instant feedback, you can have rapid iterative discussions. But the ability to archive and categorise discussions is also massively valuable.

    But for all the people who argue that 'rapid response' is a weakness of forums, um, yes, that's the point? You can't have conversations where serious time and effort can be put into replies because by the time you've composed a reply of more than a couple of paragraphs, the conversation has already moved on.

    The slower pace of forums is not a weakness. It is a property of forums and while it seems undesirable in some respects, it really isn't.
  9. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Administrator

    Well, I do like to see when someone else is typing up a reply. And who. Especially if that person often posts interesting or agonistic content.
    Having that message load inline is a benefit. XenForo / IPS do some of this.
    I want to see who is in the thread and refresh that every few seconds. I had that on vbulletin 10 years ago.

    A static 'new-posts' page is simply outdated. Or 'last post' bits.
    Same for who's online. Conversations work much better if it autoloads new replies.

    I do get the issue with chat style replies VS thought out forum posts. But simply being devoid of modern UI is the not the right tool to avoid chat style replies. We can use usergroup permissions combined with minimum requirements for posts.
  10. Solidus

    Solidus Stupid machines!

    Provide the solution on your forum or your members will group together off-site. It is possible to archive these conversations as well with chat message -> post in thread functionality. I have archived in public:

    • Thread with 196,000 replies (old) and
    • Thread with 56,000 replies (new and ongoing)
    and not in public:

    • Thread with 2,200 replies and
    • Thread with 18,000 replies
    And of course members using the chat have the forum open so they see alerts and still interact in regular threads.
  11. Lal

    Lal Aspirant

    Discord is horrible on a smartphone and tablet.
    I tried to stay in touch with friends after they closed their forum, it’s too awful.
  12. phatcows

    phatcows Enthusiast

    Really? I find Discord very accessible on my phone. More accessible than my forum.

    We use Discord as a second backup forum. Our shoutbox is always very active, so if we are doing maintenance/server or software updates and the forum is down, members can continue their chatting on Discord and can post content if they wish. We are using a Discord/XF addon to replicate member roles and names.
  13. TrixieTang

    TrixieTang Politically Incorrect

    Discord isn't a forum. If people are using Discord as some kind of replacement for forums then they're doing it wrong.
  14. haqzore

    haqzore Devotee

    I disagree. Perhaps instant response is a symptom of other problems, but why would speedier engagement be a bad thing?
  15. TrixieTang

    TrixieTang Politically Incorrect

    Because as a result, chatrooms often consist of short s**tposts rather than the well thought out content that you can find on many forums.
  16. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

    I don't think there's anything wrong with responding quickly on it's own. However, forums often differentiate themselves from other social media in the quality of the content. That tends to come from members taking some time to think about the discussion and formulating a measured response, rather than angrily typing the first emotional thing that comes to them (we've see what happens with that here).

    Additionally, I think it's good to have a place where users don't feel pressured to respond instantly (one of my quibbles with notifications). I see no reason to force all platforms to conform to one way of doing things.
  17. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

    It's not limited to newly created failing forums with a misidentified focus. I saw a 600.000 (!) post strong community actually shutting down and moving to discord earlier this year.
  18. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

    What community was that? That does seem rather large to be manageable on discord, depending on how active that community is.
  19. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

    I didnt bookmark it before deletion, IINM it was a gaming board about minecraft. Supposedly the quality of activity dwindled to the point regulars kept chatting up about the latest topics of the day instead of building the forum, and activity level didnt justify the expense for a non-monetized forum.
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  20. palhanow

    palhanow Enthusiast

    Discord is not a Forum. Two totally different segments.

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