The Community Club

unstuckphd
unstuckphd

Posted on

Discord is spyware

https://spyware.neocities.org/articles/discord.html

I know many communities run on discord because of how easy it is to join. But I really wonder how bad it is to push this piece of software on community members... more so now that decentralized, encrypted alternatives exist and are not that much harder to use. Even audio and video works now in things like matrix element. Sure, features are not that fancy, but the more communities move to them the faster they will improve.

Thoughts?

Discussion (2)

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thirstforwine profile image
Rob McIntosh

Decentralised, encrypted platforms are only one form of community, and serve a very particular purpose, and they do raise some security issues of their own.

Most communities, though not those on Discord to be fair, exist not just to offer chat functions between anonymous agents, but to create interaction, connection and actually increase the profile of the individuals and their shared mission / identity. Much of the benefit is actually about making the content (and users) discoverable.

However, even on these open communities, there is an issue of trust concerning the data - is it truly private and used for the benefit of the community and the member(s), or is it being (mis)used for the benefit of others - or to avoid legal scrutiny?

Data, privacy and user rights is an incredibly important discussion we should be having more of as community managers, especially since the rules are still unclear, and different around the world.

I'm looking into this as I'm doing some work with Guild who have taken a very clear stance on this (see: guild.co/blog/is-secrecy-really-th...), and hopefully this will be discussed even more in the near future.

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unstuckphd profile image
unstuckphd Author

Interesting comement on reddit:
"Casual chat communities of the kind that Discord is used for are difficult to build with a truly private platform, though. The nature of Discord makes it easy for people to join and leave communities, create new accounts, etc. Secure chat programs, by their nature, require multi-part confirmation of accounts, friend requests, anonymization, etc."

This rings true, there must be more steps to sign up on a secure chat community. But having just done this myself, (setting up element: element.io/) the extra work is for the person starting the community. After that, you send a link and that's pretty much it, there's email confirmation, and you can use the web client. Adding another client (mobile or another browser) hits you wit a tiny bit of friction: you have to identify the device.

All in all it's not that bad. Feature wise... well, it's kinda on par with slack but with working audio and video on most platforms. And it's encrypted. Search messages work well. There are no users profiles (it's anonymous by design) which may be a show stopper for community use.