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Real-time chat community vs Forum community

Louis
・1 min read

Hi guys!

I am curious about you guys' opinions on real-time chat communities like discord/slack vs forum-based (best answer) type communities like Reddit/discourse/quora/StackOverflow.

Been seeing the trend of users starting a discord channel for their subreddit, are they uprooting and shifting their communities to discord? or are they just finding an alternate communication method for real-time chatting?

Which is better for building a community ground up?

If I am running both which should I focus my attention and spend more resources on?

Having my community on these 2 platforms seems to be spreading the content my users are generating resulting in not being able to find a "best answer" in one place and discussions are scattered and repeated on various platforms. Wouldn't that be much more difficult to maintain the community?

Discussion (5)

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mac profile image
Mac

Ah this is one of my favorite (and likely most contentious) topics in the community space recently!

For context - we started as a newsletter, then launched a Slack, and then launched this Forem. But we didn't shut down the Slack. Rather we treat Slack and Forem as two different tools for two different purposes, each with their own type of communication. The important thing though, is that we didn't launch both at the same time. We made sure that the Slack was large and self sufficient enough before attempting to support a second platform.

A forum is better for longer form thoughts, things that are often more permanent and have had more time put into writing them. Slack (or any other chat platform like Discord or Telegram) is better for 'in the moment' conversation.

And you can't really compare the two. Different types of conversation mediums leads to, well, different types of conversation. It all depends on the type of community you're looking to launch.

If you're a large enterprise company (think Salesforce), a forum based approach probably makes the most sense. If you're primarily looking to provide 'best answer' support functionality, a forum probably also makes most sense.

If you're just starting out, I'd recommend picking a single platform that best fits your current community goals. You can always layer in a second tool later if/when it makes sense, but focus on knocking one out of the park first.

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louiswong profile image
Louis Author

That is a super informative answer Mac! I am 100% with you on each platform serving a different purpose .

Out of curiosity, when you guys were starting out the Slack community (when there was only a handful of members) how did you guys solve the problem of having people saying "Hi", "Anyone online?" at different times because each of them is living in different timezones?

Also, some channels get so flooded when I come back to some of the discord community I can't even follow the conversation anymore, was this a problem for you guys too?

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tolstoshev profile image
Nicholas Tolstoshev

In my opinion you should have both. Generally it's a forum first, and then a chat springs up organically after you get enough momentum. I do know of one case where they started on Slack first and are now adding a forum.

In my experience having both has a multiplicative effect, rather than dividing the content. At least in the space I work in, the users are sophisticated enough to know what belongs where.

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samantha_lee_1 profile image
Samantha Lee ✨

We are definitely "stuck" in this place right now. We have Slack but it's just not cutting it as far as knowledge capture and longer-form participation. Love the thought that they serve different functions.

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evanhamilton profile image
Evan Hamilton

I have opinions on using Slack (most of which is applicable to discord): evanhamilton.com/slack-for-communi...

I think existing platforms are often a short-cut that can immediately drive some engagement but often be very hard to extricate from..and I don't think real-time serves everyone. That said, I've definitely seen vibrant chat communities so I don't want to denigrate anyone running them; I just think it's a risky choice for a community.