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As Discord nears 100M users, safety concerns are heard (polygon.com)
125 points by colbyh 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 164 comments

IMO its origins in the gaming community, and all the moderation features that grew out of it, make Discord a much better fit for open source communities than Slack. For example:

- Individuals can block and report other users

- There are tiered mod levels

- Per-community pseudonyms, but a single account makes it easier to track bad actors

Markdown support, including syntax highlighting, is actually better in Discord than Slack already, too.

If you haven't checked out an OSS community on Discord yet here are a few:

- https://www.reactiflux.com/

- https://chat.vuejs.org

- https://discord.gg/reasonml

Absolutely agreed.

I run three Discord servers:

- A tiny one for my company, which we use much like one would use Slack within a company, including voice and video chats.

- A medium-size one for the open source community around the company. It includes project-specific channels (three-way mirrored between Gitter and IRC thanks to the wonderful Matterbridge: https://github.com/42wim/matterbridge/), general channels, voice channels etc.

- A large (20k users) one for our company's (gaming-centric) userbase.

Discord is a fantastic tool that adapts to all three situations very well, scales really well from 4 people to 100k people. Its DM/friendslist system scales a lot less well, but is still very usable with 100+ DM channels. I have even created a personal (private) Discord server where I'm keeping a journal of what I work on, inspired by a HN post the other day (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15823599).

Discord is scalable messaging UX done right. I'm a huge believer in what they do. (Yeah, if only it were open source etc, I get it; different problem, different story)

I much prefer it over Gitter for open source chat (Gitter's only real advantage is how well it integrates with Github). And IRC is... well, not in a good state today. IRCCloud.com does wondeful work but they're small and it's just not enough.

I just wish Discord would get phonecall support, but that part is probably not going to happen. It's doable with a bot though. PhoneCord (https://www.reddit.com/r/discordapp/comments/6hlesz/anyone_e...) used to do it, they were shut down because of the obvious abuse implications but I'd really like to hook up Twilio with Discord in a bot for my company, internally, so we can do phone conferencing from it.

> And IRC is... well, not in a good state today. IRCCloud.com does wondeful work but they're small and it's just not enough

Would love to hear more about the reasoning behind this. IRC might not be as flashy as Slack, but for my daily work and communication, it works fine (I use IRCCloud) even though I would love for IRCCloud to offer a bouncer so I can use my own client.

AFAIK, the only way Gitter "integrates" with Github is sending repository updates to the channel, something which Github has a webhook for doing with IRC as well.

Re Gitter: It integrates with the repository (eg. pasting commit hashes, bug numbers etc creates a link). It also has github signin. These things are really nice.

Re IRC: I absolutely hate Slack, but IRC holds no candle to Discord. Scrollback, search, highlight management, moderation tools, usable permission system, voice support, video support, low barrier of entry, online permanence, excellent file upload/image support, account-based identities, role customization and role-based permissions, support for profiles, drop-in group chat, markdown support with syntax highlight, multiline messages... am I done yet?

>- Individuals can block and report other users

As far as I know, Slack won’t implement that because it’s a team chat app and if team members need to block people, there’s larger problems: https://mobile.twitter.com/stewart/status/624239660529684481

In other words, Slack merely tolerates public Slack chats, it doesn't want to encourage them.

As we speak, I have five slack communities open in my messenger. All but one of them are open to the public.

I'd wager there are more public Slack communities than there are private (i.e. "team chat") ones. But much like Twitter, Slack has a fundamentally different vision for their platform than their users apparently have.

To me this was first made clear when Reactiflux (a massive community around React, Flux and related web technologies and topics) had to switch from Slack to Discord because they had hit a hard limit of members and Slack said they wouldn't increase it because their software and infra wasn't build to handle these scenarios.

Nevertheless open source projects and community builders keep flocking to Slack and Slack doesn't seem to have any intention to clear up this misalignment. They're benefiting from the free advertisement small public communities create but don't want to spend any extra energy providing their services to them as they grow.

We didn’t hit a hard limit. Slack explicitly disabled new user signups for us because they thought we were getting too big.

Ah, I didn't know that. Only reinforces my point about Slack not being a good choice for community platforms though.

> its origins in the gaming community

Anyone know how they gained traction in the gaming community? Their wikipedia entry [0] says they had a game development studio which developed games that were not successful, then they start developing Discord and successfully launch on reddit. How did they promote on reddit given reddit's aversion to self promotion? Maybe ads? Would love to learn more about their early days.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discord_(software)

[anecdotal] In our little fighting game community, our tech-savvy guys got tired of trying to add features to the IRC channel, so when they heard of Discord they just convinced everyone to switch to that. It's easier for Facebook-followers to follow a link to Discord than ask them to download an IRC client -> open #server -> open #channel

I think mainly by offering for free a better/easier voice calling system than Skype/Ventrillo/Teamspeak.

And also the centralization + how easy it is to join a new Discord channel. It used to be very annoying to have to run vent/mumble and skype while playing a single game because of different groups/teams preferences. Not to mention, people had problems configuring vent/mumble all of the time. I've had times where my own configuration would randomly stop working. In, I guess about 2 years of using it, I've never had an issue with Discords voice.

One thing discord fails at accomplishing is voice activation in their web browser client. If anyone from the company is reading I will gladly write you a python/scipy program that will do the correct real-time DSP for voice activation if you implement it into your platform.

It's a window, an fft, a filter around a primary frequency range, an integration, and an N second timer since the last time the audio crosses the threshold.

Discord's current implementation drops in the middle for words! It's crazy.

Is this only in our web client or also in our desktop client?

(CTO of Discord, in case anyone doesn’t realize)

also as a phoenix dev (just released my first big site), you picked the right stack :)

I frequently experience this in the web client. Sometimes we have to switch to Skype because it does a better job of mic activation.

Edit: I've adjusted the thresholds to try and tune it, but it's been very hit or miss.

It definitely drops the last word for the cell phone app. I often talk using the desktop client to someone using the cell phone app, and every last word of a sentence she says seems dropped

Android, iOS? Do they use automatic detection or did they adjust the thresholds.

Finish every sentence by saying “over” ;)

We use the desktop client and our group often has problems with words being dropped not only at the end but also in the middle of someone talking if they're using voice activation. :-/

It's usually specific users whose words get dropped, maybe their activation threshold is just low enough. But still, seems to me like this should not happen, especially in the middle of sentences, since the beginning of the sentence is recorded just fine.

(Windows 10 Pro)

It's the web client. I haven't tested the desktop client.

What's wrong with push-to-talk?

It tends to fail to register the key being released for one, even occasionally on the desktop client.

Last time I tried it the browser app was especially prone to this, to the point of rendering push-to-talk completely unusable.

It's obsolete and only needed because their software is broken.

Skype, Google Hangouts, teamspeak, ventrillo, mumble, and tox all support my microphone and voice activation correctly.

Push to talk is most certainly not obsolete. I (and many gamers I know) use push to talk for the privacy of being able to choose when your microphone is activated.

Its even more useful in competitive gaming and/or streaming where many want to chose what to say to their team/friends and themselves/the stream.

Also helps a lot in large communities. There will always be people that are nice and you like to have around, but are a bit "louder" during gaming sessions. We were really successful by teaching them to not hit the PTT-button when they need to drop their load of frustration.

The gaming community that I am a part of that uses Discord holds a weekly big gaming session where almost everyone attends at the same time. It occurs around dinner time on the west coast, so some of our west coast members will be having dinner between rounds. Push to talk allows them to talk between bites without all of us getting the smacking sounds of chewing and eating in our ears.

Is push to talk a better solution than a toggle push-to-mute?

Push to Talk is necessary when you regularly have 200+ people, sometimes 800 people in the same channel. We don't use discord for comms because it doesn't support shout + channel hierarchies unlike mumble. Discord is still useful for pings, as their mobile app w/ push notifications are very helpful.

Definitely not. If you have been in a channel with 25+ people for a raid or large event (exactly the type of gaming community Discord caters to) then you should know push-to-talk is absolutely required and you will often be kicked if you don't use it.

I don't want to hear you chewing. Please consider push to talk.

PTT is useful when you don’t want everyone else on your channel to hear your breathing, coughing and keyboard-clacking

(can you tell I’ve played Overwatch?)

Yeah - there are games for which I will use voice activation, like PUBG (where I do not have the mental availability to hit a PTT key), but for Overwatch I started with PTT with one of the thumb buttons on my mouse and I still do it.

That said, I use a for-realsies dynamic microphone with tons of off-axis rejection and a wall-mounted arm (I play games in my office/recording space, that's the engineer station mic). So I probably could use voice detection and be fine. But habits die hard.

> keyboard-clacking

The rise of mechanical keyboards has made PTT practically the only option. Otherwise you just hear little clicking all the time.

I my startup company our dev team is pread across paris, copenhagen, dubai and beirut. We with struggled using slack and skype for communication but have recently went for discord, it really boosts the morale and connects the offices in such a cool way. Always being able to talk in a voice channel is just amazing, and everything works incredibly smooth.

You can even video chat if you make a group call outside of your channel though

Would recommend for other small companies in same boat

Similarly, some time ago I ran a team of 9 through Ventrilo (TeamSpeak alternative) after we struggled with Skype and IRC. It worked great, but we missed text for historical reasons; to supplement text we whipped up another IRC channel.

Discord really hit it off with gamers giving them the chat application they want (such as Steam, Battle.NET; formally Xfire) with the VOIP they used in conjunction. It's really an amazing product (who says Electron doesn't work?!) — I'm hoping they can stay around for a long time.

I wouldn't really say their client works in that sense considering how notorious it is for flunking out in completely random ways (i.e missing push-to-talk release events, suddenly deciding your speakers or mic don't exist, not lighting up people who are speaking, the UI randomly blanking out, etc). It's probably the worst of the bunch in terms of bugs other than maybe Skype. Not that anyone picks their chat/VoIP client based off that either way; we all happily used the 2011-era Steam client, and that was a legendary kind of awful.

Also, I can't be the only one who can single out Electron/CEF apps just from how bad the input delay is. It gives me the feeling of it being made of cheap plastic.

Just have to chime in with my own anecdote that I find discord to be mostly bug free and an excellent, easy to use piece of software.

I can definitely agree with it being easy to use at least. I'd figure that's the main reason it's as popular as it is (together with the feature set, of course).

Being able to click a link and simply join a channel without all the fudging it can take when using TeamSpeak or even IRC is great, not to mention how easy it makes setting up your own "server".

I feel it's unfortunate that they couldn't also extend the channel paradigm to video, where anyone can at any time pop in and out of topics that they're interested in. Voice channels was the main appeal of Discord for me in a team setting.

Discord is the messaging system that I will gladly move to and pay for if only they agree to implement a few enterprisey features (especially around permissions and video chat).

Discord is blocked in the UAE as far as I know...

Which provider are you using? It works for us

Discord's come a long way on this stuff. About a year ago they started getting used by hate groups for organizing and I was worried the platform would get taken over by bad people. I don't know that they've solved all the social problems but at least they're making an honest effort.

It's used by all kinds of groups. Developers, gamers, but also left and right groups, etc.

I don't understand what the problem is if someone who supports something I don't like (be it alt-right, liberal, whatever) uses the platform, as long as he doesn't bother me personally :/

(My account was just banned by sctb for this ;P)

American Nazis were using it to organize the Charlottesville demonstration. That's not a form of legal liability nor brand identification you want. https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/26/discord-chats-may-help-c...

Also the bad people never stay confined to their private hate club. See the linked article here about "raids" on other channels or literally the entire history of Internet social media.

So it's every communication service's responsibility to keep only the people they like using their service?

Companies that try to prevent their customers from attacking each other tend to do better than companies that don't protect their customers. This isn't new. For example, Gmail hit it big in part by being better at spam filtering. The specific issues have changed, though.

There's a difference between "communication service", as in "carrier", and "social platform" as in "community".

When you run a carrier you're expected to be neutral. What people do with your service is not your responsibility. If the service is being used illegally then law enforcement can intervene.

When you run a community you have an obligation to pick and choose who participates. You can strive to be inclusive, but when you start to include those that seek to exclude you'll find your community being hijacked and perverted into someting that reflects the wants and needs of a tiny, dedicated, often highly motivated minority.

It's the responsibility of anyone running a community to police and weed out bad actors. I they don't the good citizens will leave and your community will be worthless. That's probably a bad thing if you've got shareholders to answer to.

Discord is a carrier, not a social platform. Its communities are isolated bubbles. To join them you need an invitation. This is completely different from something like Facebook or Twitter where anybody can join and immediately begin harassing existing users. If you invite somebody to your Discord channel and they start harassing you then you can simply ban them. There is no need for Discord staff to get involved.

There is nothing simple about bans. If you have a nest of trolls, banning each one individually will be an exercise in frustration and you'll just fucking leave the platform.

Tell me how that helps a company like Discord stay financially viable.

I'm not sure what you mean by nest of trolls. On the Discord channel I have with my friends I've rarely ever had to ban anyone. It's grown over time to include quite a few people but we've never had any nests of trolls.

Then again, I know pretty much everybody on that server. Perhaps you're dealing with a much larger community attached to a website or game? I don't see how that's a problem specific to Discord then.

That's fine, but what happens when you end up on the radar of some radical group, for whatever reason, and innumerable people start showing up with the singular intent of disrupting things and causing shit? What if it's multiple groups, some Twitter based, some 4chan, some Reddit, all set out to get you? What tools do you have to protect against that?

Discord needs ways of mitigating this, of going into lockdown mode, to deal with exceptional situations. As their platform grows in scale the liability increases exponentially. Without counter-measures they expose themselves and their users to ever increasing risk.

GitHub has had to make a few radical alterations in their core features to deal with rampant, malicious abuse. Discord will have to do the same or they will fail.

innumerable people start showing up

People can't start showing up because they need invitations to join your channel. If you don't want a radical group there, don't invite them. It's that simple.

"It's that simple" is why we keep getting into this mess. People are not simple. They're vindictive and petty, and unfortunately some are out to turn your platform into their toy with which they will do nothing but harass and abuse your user base.

I don't know what you're talking about. Nobody has ever harassed me on my Discord channel. Everybody on there was invited by me or one of my friends. If people you invite are harassing you, get rid of them.

There is no "turning the platform into a toy". Everybody on your Discord channel is somebody for which you gave consent to be there. There is no possible way for trolls or abusers to arrive on your Discord channel without first being invited. It really is that simple.

Yeah but discord is no hackernews. If they start arbitrarily moderating views that don't align with flavor-of-the-month ideology or even nsfw content a lot of people will be pissed too.

What people talk about in Discord's independent chatrooms is their own business. I don't believe that most people advocating for strict ideological moderation on large platforms like facebook or discord understand the implications and dangers of allowing private companies such power.

Today they're booting off "neo-nazis", tomorrow they'll be booting off you.

If people kept to themselves and didn't cause shit there wouldn't be problems, but that's not what neo-nazis are about. They're there to cause shit, to make people feel uncomfortable and unwanted.

Disruptive elements like that destroy platforms. If I'm a disruptive element for different reasons I deserve to be booted.

"Today the teacher kicked my kid out of class for being loud and obnoxious, tomorrow they'll be kicking your kid out of the class too."

Please do us all a favor and look into what a slippery slope is.

truly there is no historical precedent for the abuse of power along ideological lines

Truly, modeling everything in life as montonically increasing functions because of exceptional historic precedences is a smart thing to do.

"There's a historical precedence for people drinking water and dying because of it, so I'm not going to drink water anymore."

The reasons you here about them is because they are so exceptional. People got banned from forums for being irreverent dicks before and no one batted an eye. Now because they got legitimized by gullible people, everyone screams about their lack of freedom on private platforms.

>People got banned from forums for being irreverent dicks before and no one batted an eye.

you're poorly versed in internet culture and history. many internet subcultures have axiomatically rejected moderation because, surprise, giving power to anonymous and unaccountable peers frequently results in abuses. you're confusing your own lack of concern and love of arbitrary authority with the opinions of others.

Managing a community is often a careful balance between handing over too much power to moderators who can abuse their powers and limiting moderators to the point where they're ineffective and the user base can't be controlled.

I've seen this dynamic play out first on tiny communities like MUDs where you'd have, at most, a thousand people. Later the pattern repeated over and over at larger and larger scales, where more recently you see entire platforms like Reddit suffering from the same issues. Each order of magnitude increase in user base makes the threats grow far more exponentially in scale.

Soon the whole internet will become rotten, culturally speaking.

Yeah, it's like in World War II when we finished prosecuting Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials we kept on prosecuting people for increasingly petty things. Who knew! Today you can't so much as say "shit" on the internet without being sent to the Hague!

You're exactly right, but Discord is a carrier and not a social platform or community.

I bet they use Gmail too.

I wager some of them even have Facebook accounts. Clearly Corporate America is in on this.

Discord was right to ban them once they became aware of them, but it's very easy to create a private Discord server to do bad things just as it's very easy to create an AIM/MSN/Skype group chat to do bad things. The portrayal of Discord as somehow naturally encouraging or inducing neo-Nazis to use their platform is silly. Once a communication system (telephone, email, IM) becomes popular enough, bad people are inevitably going to use it as well.

> (My account was just banned by sctb for this ;P)

Hm, I looked at your account and you posted another comment which looks for all the world like an attempt to imply by dogwhistle that the Jews are planning on replacing you: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15870471

Are you sure you were not banned for being a Nazi, hiding behind the label "alt-right"? People dissatisfied with mainstream right-wing politics are one thing. Nazis are another entirely, and they have no place on this forum or in our industry.

(Can the decent people in the alt-right -- assuming any exist -- denounce dogwhistle anti-Semitism as having no part in the movement?)

To the shadowbanned user who replied to me: I looked at your comment history and found

- a comment about "Silicon Valleetards"

- a lot of non-killed comments, mostly (apparently) high quality

- one comment with what looks like casual racism, a handful of comments with extreme condescension towards other users, all killed

- a comment by 'dang saying part of his moderation activity includes personally looking at your comments and manually un-killing the vast majority of them

This seems entirely commendable on the moderators' part, and the only question it raises is how they have so much time. I have had the misfortune of being in multiple communities (a club in college, a job, a programming language, a church) where there was a skilled contributor who provided genuinely valuable and helpful work 80% of the time and hurtful behavior 20% of the time, and the community could never admit to itself that the harm they were causing to other skilled members was causing them to be net negative for the community.

"We will shadowban you and manually review and approve the 80% of your comments that build up the community" is a great approach if you can implement it, and I'm pleasantly surprised the mods think it's sustainable.

Also, in your specific case it seems more like 98% than 80%. I would really encourage you to take 'dang's advice in one of the threads where he responded, and 'sctb's advice in the thread where he banned you - agree to be civil. There's a difference between snark and insult. As someone who used to get a kick out of gratuitous public confrontation (as long as it was online and not in person!) and still needs to consciously suppress the occasional instinct to make technical disagreements personal (and doesn't always succeed), I totally get it. It feels super hypocritical for me to tell you not to do a thing that I do. But I hope this comes off as friendly advice from someone who's been there before, not hypocrisy. The comment that got you shadowbanned genuinely did not contribute to the community, and also genuinely is nowhere near your usual standards, so I'm surprised you're standing by it. (Two concrete suggestions: first, don't be afraid to type the comment you want to write and then close the tab, or submit it and then delete it 5 seconds later once you think better of it. I do that a lot. Second, if you're coming here to blow off steam, think hard about the thing in your life that's building up steam and whether you can get rid of it.)

I hope that, given that this is a thread about the merits of active moderation in online communities, a digression about active moderation in this online community is not too far off-topic.

Nazis gonna Naz. Even here on Hacker News. Clothed in polite slipperly slope fallacies and hiding behind odious pseudonyms.

Nazis and white supremacists might not have you in their sights but that can't be said about everyone.

It's cool seeing an Elixir company have such explosive growth.

Interesting that 2 success stories in this space (the other being WhatsApp) are built on Erlang/OTP.

Elixir is part of their great performance! Their engineering blog is really interesting and full of neat information scaling Elixir (which is really hard to find since Elixir scales for a VERY long time).

They also have open sourced a number of tools that offer tremendous value to anyone scaling Elixir.

Absolutely! For example: https://github.com/discordapp/fastglobal

Have we really regressed to the point where simply relaying data with reasonable performance is considered impressive? Figuring out where to relay everything and keeping it all in sync is obviously hard, but that's a distributed systems problem, not (strictly) a performance problem.

We've been able to handle millions of concurrent HTTP(!) connections on a single machine for years; it feels like a pretty solved problem. Although, a lot of that involved userspace TCP stacks and really high-end networking hardware, so if you want to stay within saner territories you can scale that number back a bit.

> We've been able to handle millions of concurrent HTTP(!) connections on a single machine for years;

> Have we really regressed to the point where simply relaying data with reasonable performance is considered impressive?

Sure but it's like saying Facebook is just a silly PHP app to share posts with friends and family, and Tesla is just an electric car those have been around for 100 years.

If you read their page, they do more than just serve static pages to users. It is a distributed systems problem, solving that in a performant and cost-effective way is not as easy.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that the performance of the "distributed" part has more to do with the design of the algorithm and less to do with the implementation (i.e Elixir). It's like saying Teslas have really impressive electric motors and entirely ignoring the rest.

Their blog (the part GP was referring to anyways), which I'll admit I've only read a portion of, seems to mostly talk about the message-shuffling portion of it though, and a lot of it is just discusses working around their architecture being utterly ridiculous. Once you've figured out where the messages actually need to go though, chucking them out (or the fanout, if you want to call it that) is pretty clearly a trivial operation. And, at least in theory, the routing would only change when a user/node joins/leaves, so the volumes involved there aren't quite as heroic as the message volumes. Handling a few thousand join/leaves per second doesn't sound quite as... scaling, though. I don't think they even bother trying to keep them in perfect order.

Again though, I'm not trying to say that it's not impressive that they got it to work, I just wanted to point out how we seem to have gone backwards / forgotten in terms of handling large volumes of traffic.

E: You're definitely right that HTTP connections are a pretty poor choice of comparison for messaging though.

The flip side is that scaling the problem requires central relay points or lookups when the natural ability to cluster isn't there.

That becomes an even more difficult problem with deployments that in any other environment would disconnect and reconnect everyone from the nodes in the middle of active conversations.

Elixir/Erlang give you the ability to solve both of those problems in this domain. No central relay point and hot upgrades to live servers without any disruption to the millions of existing connections, in progress messages or in route audio conversations.

Doing all that while being able to dedicate a process to each one of those millions of users that both maintains their state between messages and handles monitoring their connection on reconnect attempts is also non-trivial. This is possible with Elixir and Erlang because those processes cost 0.5kb of RAM and the BEAM ensures responsiveness to all of them in the face of a piece of heavier/runaway code that would otherwise monopolize resources on the machine.

Go is the next closest option at 2kb / RAM per goroutine but Go also doesn't provide any type of ID mechanism for those routines so the closest equivalent that you'd get to be able to send a message from one to the other would be creating a channel for each routine to listen on.

Beyond code, OS level threads start at about 1mb, so the entire architecture has to change in order to even attempt to accomplish the same thing.

Actually, I have to call this out as false - you can't handle millions of HTTP connections on a single machine, because there are only 65,535 available TCP ports. I think you meant that you can handle millions of HTTP connections on a few dozen machines...

Please try again, and stop spouting obviously false facts.

Ports are not used up by connections. One port can support 65K simultaneous connections from a single IP. If a thousand machines connect, each with their own IP, one port can handle 65 million connections. If you decide to accept HTTP requests on all ports, then each port of your 65K ports supports millions of connections or more. Suddenly you're talking about a total of billions or trillions of connections all going to one machine. And that's still only using a thousand machines to connect. Open up to the entire internet and you can push that to quintillions of theoretically possible simultaneous connections.

A port doesn't actually get consumed by a TCP connection. Connections are uniquely identified by a (host, port, host, port) combination; i.e. my machine with IP and yours with can have only 2^32 connections between us (slightly less in practice). Even assuming I have a webserver, so my port is fixed to 443, your machine can connect from each of those 2^16 ports - as can every other of the 2^32 machines on the network. In practice, you're limited by memory, not port numbers. Many machines I know of regularly have connection counts in the hundreds of thousands.

You can. Have many IPs that all "route" to the same machine. You get 65535 ports per IP, not per kernel or whatever. It's the reason why ex. hosting companies can give virtual servers on their dedicated hosts and not worry about port conflicts or anything.

Unless, somehow, every one of those sockets happened to share the same port on said machine, say... port 80. So yes, you need to use the mythological TCP server to pull this one off; it's true that you can't have more than 2^15 outbound connections from the same IP though.

I forgot about that part, but that just makes them even more dear to my heart.

I started using Discord to game. Then pushed it out to some of my clients. It's great. Webhooks make it so I can replace Slack. Voice chat makes it so I can replace Slack / Skype. The ease of use, the voice channels... it's all so simple. Push to talk, who doesn't love that? Discord has been strong out the gate, much faster at getting features polished than any competitor I've seen.

Discord is awesome! Very easy to use, easy to connect with other player in the clan and organize events and raids. Also easy to sneak in other clan rooms and negotiate switch and maybe even snoop a little.

I really like it a lot and I was always wondering why it is not used more in business setting or for coordination in teams, because it could totally do that and it is ligher solution then slack or god forbid hipchat.

The Sublime Text community has adopted Discord as the predominant real-time chat platform. Initially I was skeptical, but it has worked out fairly well. IRC suffered from not being very accessible for many, and not having rich formatting nor history scroll back. It is nice not to have the gated access like Slack does.

Granted, I don’t think we’ve got more than a couple of hundred users on our Discord server, but it has been serving the core group of contributors well.

The ReasonML group have done the same[1], and to great success IMO.

[1]: https://discord.gg/reasonml

> It is nice not to have the gated access like Slack does.

Fyi, it is gated by Discord and (for instance) I'm unable to create an account under this psuedonym.

So, I (personally) will never use Discord as they locked my account when I attempted to create one.

your account name is not the same as your display name, which you can customize on a per-server basis. Also, signups are done via email. And your "username" is not unique by design, it gives you a numeric identity alongside it (much like how Blizzard's battle tags work).

I wish you could also change your profile picture per-server. I'd like to be able to use the same account for work and play, and this is my only blocker.

The account was disabled immediately after registration.

That doesn't sound right. Can you email me the email you signed up with? jh@discordapp.com

We definitely don't have any rules that hard auto disable accounts.

If I have to say something on HN to get a response, the answer is No since I contacted Discord bout it when it originally happened. You can go find that email if you supposedly 'care' and reply to it.

Ah, you've changed it to say its an invalid email when I tried using the same service again. ;)

Also the original account is gone now so yay I guess? Someone went back and deleted instead of disabling them.


I'm guessing someone discovered the email service I used originally and disabled the account before I ever bothered to actually use it.

> We definitely don't have any rules that hard auto disable accounts.

You actively oppose privacy and block registration now instead of disabling them. I guess there was a policy change but (honestly) I don't care.

Y'all actively created rules in attempt to block average users from having some privacy on your platform.

Hold on, I get using disposable email addresses (I use them all the time), but I'm not sure why you are concerned about Discord knowing your email address when it's going to literally know everything you type into it (in other words, messaging history).

It's a bit like being concerned about gmail requiring your real name to sign up. I mean, yeah, but, what?

FWIW I signed up years ago and never received a single email from them outside of the initial signup one and any I requested.

> It's a bit like being concerned about gmail requiring your real name to sign up. I mean, yeah, but, what?

Lol. :)

A) Its the principle of the thing.

B) I can get around the disposable email block with a disposable email quite easily. Its more the fact they got rid of the original account that pissed me off.

C) I change online screen names somewhat frequently to cut off the occasional mentally unstable person who tries to work around a service's block feature.

D) Discord makes a ton of privacy claims that are dishonest in the sense that they are actively trying to block anonymity which would allow those claims to be true.

It's easy to confuse blocking anonymity with blocking spam, given that spammers want anonymity (and are a far larger group than privacy-minded folk, given that one single spammer can lead to thousands of "identities").

But Discord isn't blocking "anonymity", they're blocking disposable email addresses (low-hanging fruit spam). They don't ask for your name and, whatever email you give it, doesn't have to be tied to your name.

It's a bit like blocking Tor. Websites don't block Tor because they hate privacy, they block Tor because it's a spammer's tool of choice.

> It's easy to confuse blocking anonymity with blocking spam

> It's a bit like blocking Tor. Websites don't block Tor because they hate privacy, they block Tor because it's a spammer's tool of choice.

And yet, I somehow can do it without either of these measures. So can Reddit and Matrix and a bunch of other services.

We must some sort of amazing super genius. /s

This falls under "beliefs you have", not facts.

I find it really sad you would think people are more concerned with pissing off privacy-conscious citizens than with blocking spammers. What a world you live in :/

It's not a belief, it's an area I'm interested in, and I've talked to a lot of people about it. I've never found anyone block cloudflare (or disposable emails) because they "hate privacy".

> I find it really sad you would think people are more concerned with pissing off privacy-conscious citizens than with blocking spammers. What a world you live in :/

Its a false argument whose only real value is admitting "Well, we are unwilling to hire the people with the technical knowledge to be effective at anti-spam without such measures."

> It's not a belief, it's an area I'm interested in, and I've talked to a lot of people about it. I've never found anyone block cloudflare (or disposable emails) because they "hate privacy".

Yup. I must be so high on drugs I'm hallucinating every place I've ever worked at and every hobby project that has allowed UGC. (Hint: Literally all of them involved UGC with attempts to defraud and spam.)

It is a _belief_ that such measures are technically necessary and effective.

I mean, if you really think you are right, it is impossible to do this thing, and I get around to building a site for the sole purpose of proving you wrong...how much would you pay me?

You are reading way too much into what I'm saying. I never claimed any of what you're putting into my mouth. All I said is that when websites block cloudflare, it's usually because of spam and attackers.

Honest feedback: You need to take a look at how this conversation went down and if you're happy with projecting this attitude you have onto the world.

> You are reading way too much into what I'm saying. I never claimed any of what you're putting into my mouth.

The fact you persisted this long without making that claim makes me question the veracity of that statement.

> All I said is that when websites block cloudflare, it's usually because of spam and attackers.

I'm just quoting that out of incredulity at the statement.

I never said anything about Discord blocking Cloudflare.

> Honest feedback: You need to take a look at how this conversation went down and if you're happy with projecting this attitude you have onto the world.

I am happy.

People who try to argue about how terribly misunderstood corporations are never enjoy talking to me. The same is true for people who attempt to correct me on the basis of their opinions that aren't rooted in factual necessity.

I don't need to have a positive interaction with someone who tries to starts an argument with me over how my worldview is wrong because of their personal opinion on how the world should work.

My beliefs aren't going to change just because you feel your opinion is validated by niche popularity. Niche popularity got Trump elected lol. That isn't the sort of thing you want to base your views on if you have the self-confidence to realize that _sometimes_ the majority view is wrong and something needs to be said.

You claim niche popularity is wrong, then you claim majority view is wrong, which is it?

> I never said anything about Discord blocking Cloudflare.

It's the same thing wrt blocking disposable emails.

You know why I told you to review that conversation? Because you are so dead set on viewing me as someone who is wrong that you haven't even considered that I agree with you. All I tried to do was give you some perspective but that's apparently as futile as talking to a 2D plane.

I was under the impression anyone could join who had the server address?

I'm actually blocked for registering/banned during registration.

I literally cannot have a Discord account 'cause it'll just get disabled immediately.

Oh, I was referring to gated meaning you can't get in without being invited.

Yeah honestly I don't see why it couldn't replace Slack, it is a very similar product but I feel like by marketing it primarily to gamers they are positioning themselves in a far less profitable market than Slack is.

One major roadblock is there is no concept of separate identities managed under one login, or switching accounts easily. I think there is a half-way-there "server nickname" option new this year but it's not quite the same. The primary motivation for most is a clear separation between personal and professional.






Some people consider this a positive.



> Yeah honestly I don't see why it couldn't replace Slack

I see several reasons.

1. It's impossible to not be in a public channel. Yes, you can mute it, but you can't ever leave it. In a large company with thousands of channels, this creates cognitive overhead.

2. You can create private channels, but this requires the ability to assign permissions. This has two problems - one, if you have a lot of teams that need to have private rooms you're going to spend a lot of time juggling permissions, and two, if you need a quick ad-hoc room that you don't want littering the general list, you need to be able to assign permissions.

You can hide muted channels.. then you don't see them


Under the options for the server, select "Hide muted channels".

Exactly - the permission structure is the single biggest problem. This will pretty much kill slack if they can build this in.

They would have got nowhere just being a slack clone going after the same businesses. In gaming there was a read pain point which they are addressing.

Services like Ventrilo, Teamspeak etc required a lot of setup/ self hosting and were only really strong for voice. Skype didn't organise well around how people game.

When I come back to WoW a few years ago a lot of people were trying to run groups on Skype which was a horrible experience of adding randoms and joining group calls, in additional to all the other downsides of Skype. Discord is a perfect replacement for that.

Its easier to get businesses to use Discord than to get gamers to use Slack.

Turns out 'free' is a good selling point

> Also easy to sneak in other clan rooms and negotiate switch and maybe even snoop a little.

>... business setting ...

These two things don't seem to go together, maybe that's why it is not used more in business?

> "It's time to ditch Skype and TeamSpeak"

Why is this still not a solved problem ? Why is there no free open source Skype alternatives !?

> Why is this still not a solved problem ? Why is there no free open source Skype alternatives !?


There is. Matrix, Mumble, IRC, jitsi ...

I'll just comment on IRC since I know nothing about the others.

As much as I'd love to say otherwise, IRC is not a viable Discord alternative. The onboarding on Discord is as smooth as IRC would be if the standard web clients had actually decent UX. Unlike Discord, however, people can't seem to figure out banning on IRC.

There's no realistic way to CAPTCHA on IRC connection. You could work around that on very modern IRCds with something like requiring SASL for authentication and having a web-based registration that does CAPTCHA, but mandatory registration breaks the onboarding process again.

People these days have a hard expectation that they can just drag and drop files and have it work, rather than navigating to imgur/some other site. They want server-side logs to catch up on conversations they weren't online for -- rather than setting up a bouncer (which I'd argue is a privacy nightmare rather than a feature, but YMMV if you've got nothing to hype). Some even want voice chat and avatars.

In some rare cases, people even have to call their ISP about unblocking 6667/6697 because of old cases with botnets. Web applications would be much more popular, but then other IRC people want ways to ban the web clients reliably.

And let's not get into the historical cruft of the ident field that's not entirely historical cruft because it's actually used by shared providers to enable banning in the first place. But that requires, again, knowledge of how to ban properly. Which is a lost skill.

tl;dr: Discord UX is so much better than IRC UX to the a lot of people in a lot of ways.

Being a Skype alternative requires persistent chat, audio, and video.

Matrix allows for all of these, by the way.

I haven't checked back in a while but last I saw, Matrix looked a lot like glorified IRC with extra stuff tacked on.

And I would also require that people could join over links with similar capabilities like Discord (require Account Age, registered with Telephone numbers, automatic joining into specific room, room visibility and access based on roles, prevent embedding of media based on roles, proxying of any previews in the chat via the server... etc)

I have a hard time using services that require your telephone number for no reason.


Because that is what some people want from a chat service. They want to be able to scrollback and see what happened overnight without operating some kind of server for that. They also don't want to necessarily have to login or have to worry about private keys.

Didn't know IRC supported Audio nowadays...

Mumble for audio?

Discord Bot/Webhook API is really great[1].

You can use it to push alerts and charts from monitoring[2]. It's straightforward.

In Slack, a comparable integration requires a bit more footwork with file uploads being a separate part of the API.

[1]: https://discordapp.com/developers/docs/resources/webhook

[2]: https://github.com/axibase/atsd/blob/master/rule-engine/noti...

It's interesting seeing a post about censorship in China on the front page with many concerned HN posters, while under it is a post about Discord gaining many users where none of the comments point out the most important thing:

Discord is proprietary software, meaning users have no practical capability, or legal right, to study, modify, or share the code, and it is a centralized service. Thus Discord can be used for censorship and surveillance at a moments notice, and the only power people have is to not use it. Such large software systems take a lot of time and effort to create. Network effects and motivated complacency make it unrealistic to simply wait until something bad happens before switching to a freedom respecting software.

Discord should be rejected outright simply for being proprietary, but software that is used for communications and forming communities have even stronger reasons not to be locked down and controlled by any one entity.

try bringing up this argument with any of the reddit communities for meditation, Linux, or communities you'd expect to make ethically informed choices about the software they use and support. you will not be well-received.

for whatever reason, people have these shield-walls up against criticism of the software they use every day. it points to a double-think that allows people to engage in ethical practices (meditation) while blissfully continuing to neglect the activity of living ethics (which is the only true meditation). if one doesn't inform the other, you're doing it wrong.

it's deeply troubling.

I mod a community around anonymity and have to explain exactly this at least once a month. There is no reasonable way we could trust such a software for anything related to privacy, anonymity or free speech.

This bothers me too, especially since many communities require you to integrate it with other platforms too. Want access to N channel? Connect to Patreon to prove you contribute. So many integrations, so many communities controlled by a single entity. Oiy.

And this doesn’t even touch on the attention cost... it gets stupidly demanding of your attention with all the @ mention options. If you’re part of more than one community, you had best prepare to be quite liberal with the mute feature.

The front end is well document, so you can trivially implement a client.

Which doesn't matter if your are banned from the network. Changing clients or implementing alternate clients won't fix that.

Your opinion should be rejected outright for offering no alternatives.

Start using riot.im it's Foss, and federated (with a very cool end to end encryption I might add).

If you prefer a more classical voice chat use mumble.

Matrix (the protocol riot uses) includes voice and video, and riot.im supports both. I run a matrix server for some friends and we like it a lot, though some of us still prefer IRC.

Discord won many people over simply because it was such well written software, and that continues today.

Its proprietary nature has always concerned me too, as well as what they're doing with the data (i.e. assume they're reading & listening to everything).

What they mustn't do is forget how quickly they grew and the underlying concept that enabled it: people will flock to different messaging platforms quite easily (Teamspeak to Discord is a great example) which means Discord can lose just as quickly as it won.

I think the biggest reason is/was because it is free (Costs no Money). Not because it is/was well written. Nobody cares if it is well written... (at least outside the hn spectrum)

Everyone cares it was well written, otherwise people would be using Skype, which is also Cost Free (sans some features) or one of the P2P chat apps (bitmessage), but nobody is doing that.

Am I the only one who finds Discord iOS unusable due to the small font which is not changeable? Also the font color is of low contrast whether you in its light or dark theme.

I wonder how much Discord had to pay for this ad.

It appears by "safety concerns" the author means "right wingers might be able to chat on the platform". I'm not sure Discord wants to put themselves in the position of weaponizing their platform to suppress particular kinds of private political speech.

Where are you getting "right wing" from? I saw this:

> “Raiding and spamming is explicitly against our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines,”

Perhaps from this tidbit where the politics were explicitly mentioned in the article:

> Resmini’s statement comes just a few months after Discord took action against a number of nefarious ALT-RIGHT servers. One of the largest servers, Centipede Central, became heavily monitored by Discord administrators and in the past few months, underwent its own implosion.

And more importantly:

> “The team has confirmed that they are aware of Centipede Central and will take action IF they find CC is in violation of their terms of service and/or community guidelines”

In other words, it sounds like the politics of that group alone was probably enough to justify keeping them under close surveillance. It wasn't necessarily just responding to "raiding and spamming" once it happened.

The problem is that large portions of the alt-right ideology goes outside of politics into racism, misogyny, and harassment and it makes sense to keep a community with those traits under close surveillance. My view on the alt right is that there is a line between reasonable political views and spreading prejudice against certain demographics and the alt right really walks that line (I haven't been on this discord but a good example is the r/the_donald subreddit).

The problem with the Alt-right on the internet is that they often are just trolls trying to be as offensive as possible.

The actual alt-right political movement is just a very small group. I don't think many outside of that small group actually hold the racist and misogynistic views that are expressed on these forums. It's often just backlash at the rapid change in culture. People want to break the new rules of discourse.

The bigger problem is genuine right wing views then get lumped in with the alt-right. Speakers like Ben Shapiro get called alt-right when their views are not racist or misogynistic. Before long people view many right wing views as hate speech. The more they do that the more people react by saying actually hateful things as a backlash. And so the divide grows.

>The problem with the Alt-right on the internet is that they often are just trolls trying to be as offensive as possible.

After watching and participating in this for years, I don't think this is true anymore.

The people who found it funny to piss off people by pretending to be Nazis ended up attracting actual Nazis and were eventually replaced by them.

It's much less funny to pretend to be a white supremacist when you know half the country actually agrees with you.

>It's much less funny to pretend to be a white supremacist when you know half the country actually agrees with you.

Half the country are white supremacists? I think you should walk outside and interact with some actual human beings.

I haven’t been in the US for many years but would certainly expect to arrive at a different opinion when talking to actual people, however that is not the opinion that the elections reflect.

Either half the population are white supremacists or they’re simply too stupid to not vote for white supremacists, which isn’t any better than actually being one. It’s not like all the people who supported Hitler literally wanted to kill millions of jews, still they supported it.

I think you’d have a hard time proving Trump is a white supremacists. I’m also sure most of his supporters are not either. This is the problem we keep demonising the other side. Instead we should endeavour to understand them. You don’t convince people to agree with your ideas by calling them evil.

I can respect that view but I don't personally view that as the bigger problem. I think that the amount of liberals who think that genuine right wing political views are alt-right is also a very small group. Also I'm not sure they are always just trolling, to use r/the_Donald as an example again it's one of the larger subreddits and it frequently has Islamophobic comments upvoted (and somewhat less often there will be racist or misogynistic comments, too) that aren't jokes and there is no one there to troll. I know it's a backlash against recent spcietal changes and hopefully it will eventually die down but the fact that there are some reasonably sized communities online which have normalized hate speech is really worrying to me. Even the highest tiers of the US political system have shown themselves receptive to those hateful messages so it's hard to see it as just a minor problem.

They aren't really being honest about it. Try using a disposable email service or one with basically no verification demands to register.

Even privacy oriented people just can't use Discord because it used to ban registrations. It just blocks registration now apparently.

More or less, yes.

Fringe political views will get you permanently blocked by Discord and/or Twitter.

I'm not a right-leaning person but even the concept speech should be free and uncensored if you aren't enabling a crime is an issue.

That's the problem with centralization, walled gardens, and proprietary protocols. You won't ever have a problem if you just don't go into the gardens. Self-host with mumble, teamspeak, matrix, or something.

They all use the same Opus voice codec so it's not a quality issue.

then why cellphones are not treated same way? SMS/calls should be analyzed and then people should be banned from network if something is “wrong”. And by “wrong” I’m not talking about organising a crime such as terrorist attack or something.

Cell phone telco propviders have monopolies on radio spectrum that come with certain obligations, regulations, and conditions. That's in addition to inheriting the rules from land telephony and public infrastructure/title II stuff.

You can bet that this kind of thing will happen if they can make it happen though.

Yeah, I use Riot/Matrix now and I can self-host it if I get disabled...but they don't mind if you don't give them a #/email so its really less of an issue there.

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