Have noticed that yet another forum is being lead behind the woodshed to make way for Discord. The days of old are becoming more and more behind us as more established communities are closing down their forum websites to move their communities over to a walled silo within Discord. This isn’t to say that Discord and apps similar to it are a bad thing, no, it’s more that the information and history that had been living on the forums and thus could be easily searched via the web are disappearing.
To look into what powers Discord and the like, we have to see that each server a community creates is essentially a microcosm within a much larger world. These community servers have the capability to bring members together in a way that each member can share their experiences, images, and links they might share to the other members within the server. What is different though is that all of the information is unable to be found from outside the server. It’s basically locked within with no way for potential members to easily search via Google or the like to find this information as Discord operates in a way that nothing is searchable from outside its walls. Now, some may claim that this is a great thing and for some aspects it is. We’ve always had a members only section within forums and/or sites for quite a long time. This problem arises when your general run of the mill information that pertains to members are sharing help articles or helping others with troubleshooting tips and tricks. This information will never be seen anywhere else.
Decentralizing the Centralized
We’ve seen this recently with the current shakeup with Reddit and even with Twitter. In Reddit’s case much of the found postings could be found from outside Reddit via searches. This was a half step in which even though the site was open to the rest of the world, the information was still semi-locked within a walled garden. When subreddits started to go private, that information was then locked away and the links from search led to a huge roadblock.
When the internet of old first came about, it was made of many different computers or sites that were able to communicate with each other. We had IRC and BBS in which information was shared around and there wasn’t really one central place that controlled the data. Forums came around shortly after and enjoyed several decades of popularity in which gamers, hobbyists and others could come together and experience the community. As the internet grew older and with that, commercialization grew as well. Apps like Discord came to be as an alternative to Teamspeak and Skype as the place to be for gamers. Discord enjoyed an explosion of growth as it combined the text based chatting with voice rooms all under one app. As previously you would have to use a separate site for communicating with each other via forums or by instant messaging apps like Skype.
For many years we saw Discord become the default way of communication and the apps like Teamspeak and Skype shrink into the shadows.We all became comfortable with using these services and apps without truly thinking about the potential ramifications of it. To say that the internet of old is on its way out is being completely defeatist. We can hope that a push back from the general public in which we can go the other way and return to a somewhat hybrid model. To have the information that’s currently being locked within these walled gardens gain access to the outside world. Whether this is via a way that Discord and the like allow search spidering of the free content found within. There is always a reason to have some locked behind a premium but for the rest, it can be found from the outside world. Of course this only works if Discord found a way to monetize or to incentivize people to join up with the platform.