On August 1, we will be stopping the use of Slack and fully utilizing Discord for The Fiery Well community space.
We’ve been looking for a Slack alternative for several years (thank you to those that gave Circle a try last year) and have settled on Discord for a number of reasons, many of which we’ll outline here.
Switching platforms for community communication is a difficult decision and process wrought with hiccups, and errors, and holds the risk of pissing off all of those involved. It’s not a decision we’ve undertaken lightly and have made every effort to consider our members first and foremost in this process.
As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions during this transition!
Why do this? What’s wrong with Slack?
Honestly, not much is wrong with Slack itself. It functions much the same as Discord, but its limitation comes down to access.
It was designed for internal teams and companies to replace email to communicate on projects… not necessarily broad & open communities. This gives Slack a silo’d corporate slant when it comes to data control, members, permissions, and sense of community.
Slack and Discord are actually built on the same technological framework (Electron Framework) and thus actually share a lot of fundamental feature potential.
What does that mean?
Slack is trying to keep up with Discord in terms of technology and functionality, but holds those features back unless the owner of the Workspace (such as The Fiery Well) pays for a Business, or more often, an Enterprise tier. Even when paid for, screen sharing, voice chats, video communication and more are extremely limited as they are meant for small teams and direct reports. Again, not large communities.
We’ve previously paid over $100 a month for Slack and it… ultimately wasn’t worth it compared to what Discord offers for free, or $100/year (or more!) through their Nitro program. Now, we are all for “if you have a paying community you should be paying for the community space”, but Slack is out of budget for what it offers us at this time.
At the end of the day, Discord provides more choice for the community owner and our community members, something we value tremendously at The Fiery Well.
Because they are built on the same technology, Slack and Discord look and function very similarly, so the switch may go easier than you think once you dive in. And of course, we are here to support you in any way that we can!
Permissions & Roles
You’ll have specific access to specific channels once the switch is complete so have no fear that you are posting in “the wrong place.” Roles can be set up & interacted with to self-organize and identify pronouns, timezones, platforms, etc.
Having permissions and roles set up also allows us to make sure the community is clearly structured and spaces are made available only to those with permission to see them. This also provides for much easier community moderation, something we haven’t had to do much of as of yet, but want the foundation for as the community grows.
Slack and Discord both allow you to use set and custom statuses to let fellow community members know if you are available. But Discord allows you to control your status of availability to the point of “Invisibility” so you can be on Discord and not let anyone know. Lurkers rejoice!
Are there channels you want to be apart of but don’t want to be inundated with messages? Such as Status channels or The Void? You can mute them. Both platforms allow for this, but Discord makes it easier for it to be a temporary decision with options to have the mute last for a specific duration or until you turn the mute off.
Public vs Private Channels
We’ve long wanted one space to hold both Paying Members Only and Get Online, Witch! students, as well as connect our YouTube live streams to a community space more easily. We’ve attempted separate workspaces and separate platforms and the experience has always been cumbersome, divided, not easily maintained, and not very transparent about how each portion of the community functions.
Especially as members transition between free and paid communities.
Discord is the current all-in-one solution to these current and future business needs.
To keep communication organized and clear, Discord allows for a specific method of threading conversations that keeps, not only the conversation on-topic but an opt-in type discussion. Join the thread only when you desire to partake in the discussion. This is especially handy in channels where the conversations can become heavy or triggering, such as #tech-politics.
Come and Go On Your Terms
Being in the community is not a requirement for being a member of The Fiery Well, tho we think it’s a pretty amazing reason to join and stay. That said, if you do decide to leave the membership, we’ve never liked that you were outright “booted” from Slack.
On Slack, if you leave the membership your account is deactivated and returning can be a technical issue for you and for us. However, with Discord, if you decide to leave the paid membership you’ll now simply be “downgraded” to the public channels and are welcome to remove yourself from Discord at your own discretion.
There are many reasons to leave and we’d like to make the option of returning that much easier. Discord assists us in this from a technical and system perspective.
We cannot disable Direct Messages on the Slack platform; they do not permit it. This may not seem like much, but it’s a safety concern as a community space owner and hell to moderate. As a community member, you should be in control of who can reach out to you privately in a chat space. Discord puts you in much better control of your direct messages.
- This reduces the chances of harassment, in all its forms, and we encourage you to disable Direct Messages at the server level on Discord and permit Direct Messages from specific people, and friends, only.
Slack does not let anyone block fellow users in any capacity because the shared space implies they are your colleagues and co-workers. Block a co-worker? Capitalism says no.
Discord, however, allows you to “Block” users for any reason. Blocking essentially hides the person you’ve blocked messages from your view and keeps them from being able to Direct Message you. Currently, it’s more of a “hide them from me” than an outright block – they will still be able to see you, they just can’t interact with you. Of course, if someone is an issue within the community they need to be brought to the attention of the Admin team and dealt with!
Reduction of Tech Requirements
Discord will allow for the retirement of Google Meet for coworking and non-recorded video sharing needs, such as Office Hours. This may not seem like much, but it’s a matter of user experience being able to go to a voice & video channel as needed, not wait to be admitted entrance, and just join in with one less application taking up your computer’s resources.
In addition, Discord allows you to “Deafen” yourself so you can, in essence, mute everyone around you. This lets you join any voice channel and not be disturbed by any chatting on the channel when you don’t want to hear it. (Not thrilled with the naming, but thrilled with the functionality.)
Too, some channels are set up that will restrict your ability to turn on your microphone and or/camera so that when you enter that channel, everyone is restricted in the same manner. Channels will be named appropriately so you, again, have the choice of which channel you want to be in based on comfort level and mood.
- Utilizing the intrinsic voice channels in Discord also opens coworking times beyond just the Tuesday guided coworking sessions with Patty. You will be welcomed, and encouraged, to cowork on your schedule.
- This allows for spontaneous gathering and conversation – need to discuss something at that moment? You can do so!
- We will still utilize an outside video platform for recorded meetings, such as workshops, presentations, and Clarity Calls, as Discord does not intrinsically allow for the recording of video & audio at this time.
History of Conversations
At the free tier, Slack cuts off message history at 10,000 messages sent. While not a huge thing, as some data can be exported, it makes searching for content … limited for users. Trying to remember something that was shared a few months ago? It may be there, just not accessible!
Discord currently has no limits on conversation history. Once it’s on the server, it can be found at any point in the future.
Discord is actively, and publicly, working toward improvements to its platform. I’ve been following members of their accessibility team on Twitter for a while and it’s exciting to see how they work, what they are working on, and where they want to take Discord as a whole.
With Discord, The Fiery Well will be able to more easily moderate and restrict the content and users (namely usernames) that come into our community space.
Discord has even begun to bake better moderation features directly into the platform. Again, this is a bonus of a platform that is meant for large communities vs. a corporate office.
Integration with the Member Site
We are working on integration between the member site and Discord to reduce friction between the two spaces. We hope to see these implementations by the end of this year!
The month of July will be used to fully transition all communication, bots, prompts, announcements, etc. from Slack to Discord. Patty will be less and less present on Slack and more and more present on Discord during this transition and will no longer be present in Slack starting August 1.
We will be keeping Slack open as an archive thru November 1. If there are notes, discussions, prompts, etc. that you would like to retrieve you will have time to retrieve them. After November 1, the Slack workspace will be closed completely.
While The Fiery Well is a business-focused membership, we want there to be an air of lightness and fun. Especially in today’s world. It is our hope that this move allows for more autonomy, spontaneity, and open conversations going forward. Especially as The Fiery Well grows.
We thank you for staying and growing with us, building a wonderful community of value-driven – tech conscious – business owners.
Patty Ryan Lee
Owner, The Fiery Well LLC