I’m sure I’m not making any great revelations when I say that our growing dependence on Discord is a huge vulnerability. And that’s made worse by the fact that some organizations not only rely on it as a communication platform, but also, bizarrely, as their default knowledgebase.
Discord is not a benevolent entity that will just be here forever for us, ready and waiting to host our streaming video chats and our history of personal interactions, product questions, and
pornography sharing media and meme exchanges.
We’re getting a lot of great features for free right now, but that’s because Discord is following the standard tech bro disrupter path that Uber and streaming TV walked before it – come in offering a good service for cheap or free while you lose investor money for years. Once your users are hooked begin the enshittification process while simultaneously jacking up prices.
Currently Discord’s Nitro service gives you access to some things that you can mostly live without – mainly, in my case, it was the ability to use animated emoji and emoji from other servers. But it’s reasonable to assume it’s only a matter of time before features you actually need (like voice and video and maximum users per server) are put behind a paywall.
In the meantime, the user growth and the “improvements” being made to the service are causing more frequent outages. If Discord ever shits the bed so terribly that we lose server history, that’s going to serve as a huge wake-up call for a lot of organizations and small friend groups.
What do we use instead? Well, there’s not an easy FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) solution. Revolt is one attempt that looks promising, but has been criticized for not being truly open source, for using abusive moderation tactics, and for having a limited staff that often relies on underage labor. I frankly don’t know if any of those criticisms are valid, but it’s certainly enough to give me pause.
I guess if it comes down to it, meet me back on IRC. I hear the Undernet is nice this time of year.