I wonder how we can promote the creation of new internet communities that don't depend on Discord.

One thing I’ve seeing a lot is how people depend a lot on Discord to make their own communities and to participate in others of them. I’ll admit that I’ve met really wonderful people on that platform and that it led me to discovering many different subcultures on it.
But still there’s the fact that they still depend on a propietary VC founded platform that is already showing many signs of falling apart. I fear that as the platform worsens, we will still be forced to use it as we couldn’t manage to promote and impulse the creation of new internet communities and ecosystems outside it.

So, I’ve been thinking and i want people’s opinions over how to incentivize the creation of new internet spaces outside that platform, being able to thrive on their own.
For example we can make sure there are new forums that have some level of activity and make sure people don’t fall back into using Discord out of convenience. I do at least know that this very forum and a few others happen to be quite active thankfully for example, so at least there are people that will stick around for this kind of place.
Also about messaging platforms, I want people to invest more on open messaging applications and protocols like Matrix, XMPP/Jabber, Signal, IRCv3, Revolt, etc. Having people like more developers, people with a lot of money to invest of them, and the common person to use them more would incentivize more development and progress in them and would mean less feature disparity compared to Discord and finally have proper IM alternatives for the present day.

6 Likes

Discord, at face value, is an instant messaging app, but the core value proposition with it is the community building features that make it so easy for someone to start an online hangout for free with minimal setup and technical knowledge required. While I’d argue that instant messaging isn’t necessarily the best medium with which to build a community, there is no other service that quite offers the same features with the same ease of use, so people put up with the general jankiness that comes with using IM for spaces that would previously exist on forums.

Matrix, the closest FOSS “equivalent” to Discord, has a huge gap to bridge in order to even compete because it requires a little bit of technical knowledge to get set up, which might as well be an infinite canyon as far as normal people are concerned. Not to mention that it is only an IM platform and lacks a lot of the community-building features that Discord has.

Plus, there is the network effect. So many people are on Discord because all their friends are on Discord, and moving to another platform is a hard sell unless one’s friends are already on there. Obviously this will not be the case forever, as before Discord there was Skype, Teamspeak, etc that all sucked enough to cause people to move over to Discord, but the likely outcome is that Discord is replace by another centralized service ran by a VC-funded startup.

I’d like to see independent forums pop up again. Although requiring sign ups is a big ask of people (another advantage Discord has - you need one account to access everything on the service), which could maybe be mitigated with SSO but even then it’s a bit of a hurdle. Unfortunately, running a forum independently requires a good amount of technical ability, which limits who can set one up, which limits what subcultures will get access to a community space. In the past, there were forum hosting services that would manage everything for you (both free and paid), but there was still some technical knowledge requirements for administrating it. Plus, you still suffer from the same problem of all these communities being centralized on one service. If they go down or act shitty, you’re stuck.

I also think “Discord, but FOSS” is not the answer, either, for the same reason Mastodon or Lemmy will always be one step behind Twitter and Reddit. Being FOSS alone is not a good enough feature to capture the masses, what a potential competitor needs is a substantially better service, which also happens to be FOSS.

It’s a difficult problem, for multiple reasons. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’d love to live in a world where the existence community spaces did not rely on the good graces of either a large corporation or a VC funded startup.

6 Likes

Seconding all that Yequari said, and I also do think that as discord gets worse and worse with time people will move to other places. I’m seeing more and more people outside of this immediate group talk about them and discuss ones that are still around and try out new platforms, forum-based and not. I think we’re sorta hitting a breaking point with a lot of the tech companies founded in the early 00s/10s. They’re falling apart rapidly from the inside, and while most users may not care, the amount of people who do care is rising.

Maybe it’ll just usher in a new era of vc-funded startups that also fall apart in 10-15 years, maybe we’ll learn our lesson and more open source, comparatively ethical platforms will gain prominence. I’m not into that style of social media anymore, but I’ve been pretty surprised at the amount of attention cohost and mastodon have gotten. Even if the ‘masses’ are still on instagram and twitter, the landscape of the internet is changing and I think it’s exciting :)

Specifically to your question on community building, however, it depends on the community like most things do. We’re techy here, so we (collectively, I have nothing to do with the hosting of this place lmao) were able to host our own discourse instance and stuff. That can’t be expected of all communities. At the very least I feel like there could be a harder push to at least get those communities that only push updates, news, etc in their discord servers to at least copy+paste the messages to a blog or forum of some sort lmao.

3 Likes

The replies so far have been interesting and thought provoking. The future is still very uncertain, and nobody is sure whenever there will be a backlash against VC-founded proprietary solutions or if people are still gonna use them out of convenience and all.

One additional thing I’ve been noticing for a while is how a lot of internet social media, like fediverse and bluesky are just… twitter. Like how for the most part a lot of what were seen as new solutions are just recycling the old thing with some gimmick on it. Fediverse/Activitypub has federation inside it’s core and it has been both a blessing and a curse, meanwhile Bluesky is still trying to figure out it’s unique factor since it’s kinda trying to reinvent social media federation on it’s own ways but also seems to be a more straightforward Twitter 2 than Fediverse at least imo. But ultimately they’re still micro-blogging platforms with the same interface and dynamics of Twitter, not much has changed in the way people actually communicate and in the way discourse and other stuff is spread on there.
It’s like even the new things we’ve gotten are still based in the social media dynamics a lot of us have come to be critical lately… but we still use them since it’s what we’re expected to use along with the networking effect being a fucking bitch.
For example, most of my people around my age and my social group who are very queer and leftist use social media, and don’t really wanna use forums or other forums of internet communities; since they see the later as associated with more conservative and far-right groups, along with how my kind has been in twitter-like social media for ages; that it’s really hard for them to let go even if they themselves complain about many aspects of it

Anyway sorry for getting a bit off-topic in my own thread x . x

2 Likes

Manatee would love a good friendly forum for emerging artists. There’s a big gap between spaces for beginners just learning to draw, and spaces for established artists whose names are well known. Not many spaces for artists who are skilled but unknown.

3 Likes

This is unfortunately very common for all sorts of skills. Lots of community spaces for beginners and experts, but almost none for intermediate people.

3 Likes

I think Discourse could become a potential good new forum host, with a few things they would need to improve on to compete with other major communities.

  1. I’m not sure if it’s just my browser or what, but the page appears frozen when launched from Chrome. Even with adblocker off there is still no scrolling. (Thankfully Firefox and mobile web browser versions still seem to work okay) This could turn away potential users from that browser, with them thinking the site itself is buggy.

  2. It would definitely need a better mobile app.
    While I use a mix of desktop and mobile websites, I understand that currently the majority of users online prefer mobile and some don’t own a home computer at all.
    I was never active on it personally, but Amino seemed to be semi-popular for a few years because of it’s mobile version and promotion by YouTubers.
    Right now the current Discourse app is very clunky and barely an app really. Being able to post from your phone and quickly swap between forums like with the Reddit and Discord official apps would help a lot in adoption with a wider user base.

  3. For the positives, I did notice Discourse has more modern elements added to it than previous forum revivals had. Things like likes, at a glance thread timelines, notifications, and more. This could help it feel more comfortable to newer users who might not be used to 20+ year old forum formats.
    Having an easy way to log in one time is also a big plus for many people, as one of the biggest barriers to get users from lurking to posting is how complicated or simple it is to sign up.

3 Likes

I posted an article about

I actually think there is a lot more to say about what we can do as creators of Internet communities. The main one is participating in each others projects as much as possible and linking to each other. :slight_smile:

5 Likes

An anti-Discord stamp/webring

I’m not sure, although i don’t like what Discord is becoming at the same time such kinds of anti-fandom just brings a lot of negativity instead of actually impulsing meaningful change and action towards the cause I’m proposing

2 Likes

There’s nothing wrong with the expression of negative opinion by itself in the absence of sociopathy.

I’ve seen wacky anti-Web3 and anti-Internet Explorer “stamps” while scrolling through another forum. I haven’t yet seen an anti-Discord one, but one as animated and aclectic would be amazing.

The easiest way would be for content creators with large communities to move or expand onto new platforms.

1 Like

Honestly, like many other fediverse and decentralized alternatives, I think it depends on people who are willing to share server space with people who can’t afford it. Even though hosting can be pretty cheap these days, I think the biggest hurdle for most is that they just aren’t webmasters. Discord doesn’t require maintenance and hosting, so it’s much easier for others to pick up for inexperienced people who may otherwise be community leaders.

Sites like Pikapods, which offer one-step self hosting setups for a small price, are probably a step in the right direction. They make the hosting part easy, but the software they run is all open source.

1 Like

How can they afford to be so cheap? 1 vCore, 1GB ram, and 10GB storage is only $2.65/mo, looking at more well known company, like digitalocean, 1 vCore, 1GB ram, 25GB storage is $6/mo. Are they (Pikapods) over-provisioning vCPUs?

I’m not really sure, but I suspect it comes from offering less support and maybe a few other things. I’ve been using them for several months for running a NextCloud instance, and I’ve had no issues so far.

I do think DigitalOcean’s prices are a bit inflated, though. You can find pricing closer to PikaPods via LowEndBox.com and other places that specialize in cheap VPS hosting. Even my Dreamcompute instance is around the same price but comes with much more included.

1 Like

yeah i’ve heard of lowendbox! i personally use oracle OCI free tier. ive never had bad experiences, idk how so many folk end up with their service stoped and/or fully suspended.

1 Like

Same here. Maybe they let me alone because I only use 2 ARM cores and 4GB of RAM. Or it could be because I’m probably more careful about security than most.

I mention security because I imagine if free tier users have any sort of problem or abuse report levied at them they probably might not receive the same level of investigation and support paying customers get.

They also probably find it hard to distinguish between real users and bots on the free tier. Since I’ve touched the API a little, run Oracle Linux, and set up some volumes and network rules I probably look less like a bot.

im on the x86 single core VMs, ARM machines are never available