Andrew's Blfog

Discord Sucks for Information Sharing

Long ago, people used these things called "forums" (or "bulletin boards") to speak to other people online, in a way that was publicly accessible and crawlable in most cases.

That was great, it was the golden age of information sharing. It allowed search engines such as Google to not only rise to glory, but also to help people find the information they need. So much information was just out in the open for search engines to crawl, and then subsequently viewed without the need for a third-party application.

This also meant that searching that information could be performed by more than just the search functionality built-in; Say there's a certain search engine that is able to search Russian language in a more natural way, but the search function built-into the site is more oriented towards the English grammatical structure- no problem! just use that other search engine.

Now we have Discord, a chat application being used in place of forums almost entirely in many cases. Sure, it's convenient and the features between "servers" (really more akin to guilds, as they're called in the backend) are consistent-ish, but it's got a lot of serious problems.

ok boomer

What problems does Discord have, exactly?

  1. All data on it is at the mercy of the company running it. Since search engines can't look into Discord channels for content, and archiving it is tough, and access to servers is private (invite links can be invalidated at the drop of a hat) the information is essentially ephemeral.
  2. The search functionality sucks. As an example, somebody in a server I'm in posted a link to a log4j article I was interested in, but I didn't have time to read it until a couple days later. I tried searching for "log4j" in the channel I knew it was posted in and discussed and it didn't pull up any results at all. I had to scroll up - thankfully not too far - and find it.
  3. Conversation moves quick, and the entire platform is built around information being temporary. Threads get archived after 24 hours without activity (unless you convince your users to pay money), and the thread functionality is an awful clunky copy of Slack's thread functionality. Slack's works perfectly, they don't try to treat them as sub-channels because that's dumb and works like shit.
  4. Because conversation moves quick, information discussed and learned on Discord doesn't usually leave the platform in an index-able way. Some of the most important information is the discussion itself - it can prevent you from duplicating efforts while researching something, for example.
  5. Discord's history is troubled by a Discord-like framework created by the same guy that made Discord. A brief history is that this guy made a framework (OpenFeint) that could be used to add social features to iPhone apps back in 2009. A class-action lawsuit was brought against the company after the creator sold it off to a Japanese company, with a lot of focus on privacy violations. I won't waste more time on it here; read all about it

You might say that some other resources like IRC had similar ephemerality and search issues, but IRC was quite often publicly logged for larger channels, and using forums for recording information was more encouraged.

That's why I maintain a forum for ClassiCube - because while we do have a Discord server (and IRC channel) handy, nothing beats publicly accessible discussion.

so what, are you telling me not to use Discord?

no lol idc