Musings on Discord

I have a love/hate relationship with Discord

  • Love:
    • Acts as an external brain for the combined Manifold core team + community
      • Makes understanding our teammates and users much, much easier
    • Helps our power users get to know us as people and buy in to a shared culture
    • Counterfactually responsible for Manifold’s existence (I first met my cofounder James through Discord!)
  • Hate:
    • Quite distracting, productivity drain
    • More writing on Discord means less writing on Manifold itself
      • Especially among the core team & power users (who is precisely Discord’s most active userbase)
    • Rewards fast engagement over thoughtful, persistent content
      • Also rewards people who have lots of time to spare
    • Badly indexed, not googleable, hard to search through history
    • Internet anonymity culture instead of real names

Discord vs Slack

  • Discord defaults open, Slack defaults closed
  • Discord : Rationality :: Slack : EA
  • Discord has mostly superior product offerings for a large community of users
    • Events, Stages, role-based permissions, etc
  • Discord has more of a chill, gamer vibe vs Slack, which angles for the enterprise
  • Slack has more integrations with business-y things (eg with Airtable), to my annoyance

Using your chat system well

  • To get a new server off the ground, you need a mix of:
    • leading by example (aka posting a bunch in the way that you want others to post)
    • some attempts at moderation to facilitate good conversations
    • directing more activity at the site (for example, Manifold discord started with me + James + Stephen chatting there. And then we directed people there for bug reports, etc)
  • #kudos channel — harness people’s dopamine addiction for good, by creating a space to quickly shout out nice things
  • Channels where anyone can post but only some subset can read
    • My theory is that very little content needs to be private, but channels with few members are important for
    • I’ve experimented with this a few times, eg #grantmakers-corner in Manifund and the current #trustworthyish channel on Manifold
  • #austins-field-notes channel — a place for one person to write random musings
    • this one is more experimental, but Keri and Saul swear by it and it lowers the barrier to musing about random things
      • I think a few startups adopt this as a best practice (similar to 1:1s)
    • I worry this will end up competing against Notion as the place for me to leave quick thoughts
      • I guess my ideal platform is a Discord/Notion hybrid…

When to spin up a new Discord server?

  • I might be on the hook for too many of these at the moment :P
    • Alternatively: “when should I kill a discord server?