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30 Comments

Discord vs Slack vs Discourse. Where do you build your community?

Hi!

I've recently been thinking a fair bit about community building and was wondering where people opt to build their communities these days, given there are quite a few solutions.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Slack feels much more professional than Discord, but the limit on the number of messages is rather off-putting.
  • Discord is free without much limits, but the fact that it's mostly a platform used for gaming can carry a certain stigma and make it seem less professional.
  • Discussion Boards (Reddit, Discourse and similar.) seem less popular solutions these days. People prefer "real time" discussion (Slack and Discord). However, this does bring the benefit of user-generated content that can be used for SEO.

Where would you build your community and why? Or why have you chosen to build one using a specific platform?

  1. 2

    my community-building exercises start in email. then, they scale to other platforms.

    slack is terrible for community as no one ever uses it long-term. they always abandon it.

    1. 2

      why do people abandon it?

      1. 2

        they hit the paywall

        1. 2

          You mean the 10k message history? or am I missing something?

  2. 2

    I am an organizer for a python user group, and we've had a Slack team running for years.
    It used to be popular, with many posts a day. Now, it can go weeks without any conversation.

    Since we had to meet virtually, we spun up a Discord server, where we meet for our online meetings. It has been a refreshing change. Now, we have a pre-meeting networking time in a text channel, and switch over to a audio/video channel for the meeting.

    But what's really been a game changer is that we've set up multiple rooms for our coding nights, so people can move between different rooms to connect with people and see how different rooms are solving the solutions.

    Discord seems to be working well for us in this way, but it seems the feeling that is prevailing among the organizers at this time is that once we transition back to in-person meetings, we may sunset the Discord server.

    While that may be the case, my time with Discord has impressed me and made me think about using it for the community I look to spin up my python instruction.

    I plan on having cohorts of people go through content together, and I am thinking about setting up a user role for each cohort and private channels for those users, where we can have office hours and a running chat.

    I prefer it over something like Discourse, since I want to have live interaction with the community over the question and answer format in Discourse.

    1. 1

      I think people are a bit tired of slack, especially if they use it for work. Personally, I don't like being signed in to too many slack teams since it's overwhelming.

      1. 1

        I hear ya!
        I am a member of far too many Slack teams, and I end up ignoring most of them.

    2. 1

      Interesting experience! What would you say has lead to activity on your Slack/Discord frazzling out?

      1. 2

        It's hard to say, but I have a few thoughts:

        I know a lot of our members are new to python, and I imagine they don't feel comfortable asking for help. Especially when theirs may be the only voice.

        We also don't do a lot to spin up discussions.

  3. 2

    I think your analysis of the pros and cons of each one is spot on. From a growth perspective, sacrificing user-generated SEO content is a massive downside with private communities.

    FWIW I wouldn't build the core of the community on a platform you don't actually own (Slack, LinkedIn, etc) When building on a platform that another company owns, you run the risk of the platform deciding to change the rules on you at any time. Worse case, the platform can even decide that your community shouldn't exist. This exact scenario is playing out right now with Reddit shutting down popular (albeit contentious) communities. The issue with Slack is that right now, you really don't even get the biggest benefit of most communities, which is access to a larger network to fuel growth. You're going to be starting mostly from scratch recruiting members regardless. Yes, there is the benefit that people can slack off at work discretely in a Slack community and maybe you can pull that back in with Slack notifications, but with WFH gaining steam, people can do that more earnestly now and you can also send notifications via email, text, or other more open protocols.

    I wrote a longer post years ago about our decision to build our startup on Slack's platform along with the ways to mitigate the risk when doing so: https://thinkgrowth.org/building-on-slack-saved-our-startup-94953fdaf27a

    We used Slack to jumpstart our traction, but moved off being dependent on it as soon as possible.

    I'd recommend using an open-source tool hosted on your own server, like Discourse or Wordpress with the Memberful plugin. I don't have a strong recommendation there on which one specifically is best.

    I will say that your community will likely grow slower in the beginning, but you will have complete control to moderate or monetize it however you want, which is a better long term strategy.

    1. 2

      That's actually a really good point. I suppose this is exactly the same as building a business around a platform you don't own (making plugins or similar, something that can become obsolete by software introducing an update).

      Good shout on monetisation as well. Even if it does grow slower, it'll have more value than something on a 3rd party platform.

      Great insight. Thanks very much for this.

      1. 2

        Like all things in startup life, the answer likely depends, but glad I could get you thinking on a different vector. Good luck!

  4. 2

    I would choose Discord, since Slack just seems useless. Also the fact that Discord is moving away from the whole gamer aesthetic should make it seem more professional.

    1. 2

      Yeah, I've seen Discords statement that they're moving away from gaming, but I'm not entirely convinced. Their new website, IMO, still very much has the gamer aesthetic and if anything is now aimed more at a younger audience.

      1. 2

        I agree, though I was introduced to the app first. I saw the website later and was surprised at how much they spoke about gaming.

        I don't know if I'm late to the game (pun not intended), but I was already on two non-gaming servers before one of the organizers for the group added our server.

      2. 1

        In all honesty, people just need to start using the best software for what their goal is. And it's no secret that Discord is probably the best software. It does everything Slack does + more.

  5. 2

    Love Slack right now but I think they will need to make it more intuitive to switch between channels. But Slack integrations is great!

    I like how easy switching channels is on Discord, but I haven't personally found as good as communities on Discord as I have Slack.

    Haven't seen anyone outside of crypto use telegram but that could just be me.

  6. 2

    For Divjoy I’m leaning towards Slack at the moment, although also considering Discord. My users are developers so asking them to join Slack seems reasonable. Main concern there is history limit for free accounts.. I currently use spectrum.chat, but it has a lot of issues, and I’m planning on doing some online events (like hackathons) that would benefit from real-time chat. Interested to hear what other people think in this thread.

    1. 2

      The project I'm considering this for is aimed at developers, so creating a community on Slack makes a lot of sense there as well.

      I was thinking about making some sort of "logging" service and publishing the logs, in a searchable format, on a website, potentially remedying the issue of 10k free message limit and getting a win in terms of SEO. Not sure how good the quality of the content would be tho, considering how quick topics can change on IM apps.

      1. 1

        Did you build this? is this open source?

        1. 1

          I did not end up building this. Not yet anyway.

  7. 1

    Hi,

    Creator of LaunchPass here (we do paid member managment for both Slack and Discord). We've helped launch tons, many with thousands of members earning over a million USD/year. We added Discord about two years ago and now see a Discord server launch for every Slack team.

    Which you go with really depends on our niche. Slack does come off as more professional, people have greater familiarity and trust, and it might be a tiny bit easier to use. Discord is more powerful and has less restrictions. Roles in Discord give you a ton of control over who can access what content. This makes it easy to sell access to a group of premium channels. Or allow members to upgrade in order to have write-access to certain channels. Slack has threads, and a ton of useful integrations. Both have excellent mobile apps.

    You can't go wrong with either, but one can be a better fit depending on use-case and niche.

    I've been chatting with people launching businesses on both Discord and Slack communities almost everyday for four years now and it's been a blast.

    Fee free to email us here: support@launchpass.com and I'd be happy to hop on a call and share some of what we've learned on the way.

  8. 1

    I use Slack but I also state with the users why it is better... especially in the affiliate marketing and advertising space, where I dont care if old messages are deleted because old messages mean its old tactics. If there are any good notes, then I put it in a page for members to access.

  9. 1

    ⚠️ It's my first time building communities :)

    I started with slack, then moved to circle, now trying with Discord. I think it all depends on your needs:

    • If you want integrations with other systems, Slack is probably the winner.
    • Circle it's excellent and integrated with member stack for paid communities. It's a really good experience for written content.
    • Discord if you want to leverage the power of "live", gamification and voice. I'm moving to it from Circle because I want to leverage voice rooms, the experience with the mobile apps, the live chat, and the gamification to provide a new way of finding answers for founders and makers.

    So far, I'm still testing, but I'm enjoying the power of Discord. If you don't need something more "live", Circle it's a great option.

    BTW, happy to jump on a call and talk about it.

  10. 1

    Our team is deciding between Slack and Discord but Discord lacks quite a few integrations to Jiira and Github that we've noticed so far so we are sticking with Slack.

    If you're interested in a third community-building alternative check out Panion. https://panion.com

  11. 1

    This is a great question and actually came up in this interview I did with the Head of Community for DTC hormone test brand Modern Fertility (see #4) https://bit.ly/2VUfslb

    While I don't have an answer for you, her advice was to "choose a platform to host your community based on how you want your members to use it" which I thought was great.

    In addition, I would say that the answer really depends on a huge variety of factors, but I like to start by asking:

    1. What people does your core community consist of and where do they already hang out/what behaviors do they already consider easy/native?

    2. Do you want to "own" the channel or are you happy to build on a platform you don't own?

    You can check out a starter list of community platforms here https://bit.ly/2Z41jUo

    Plus, lots more insights from me like this here 👉 https://www.digitalcampfires.co/recaps

    Last but not least, you can sign up to get more content like this that I'll send out in future here 👉https://www.digitalcampfires.co/jointhenext

  12. 2

    This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

    1. 1

      Interesting. Why have you decided to go with Telegram and what would you say the benefits of it are over other platforms?

      1. 2

        This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

        1. 1

          Using it as channel or group?

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