40 votes

Discord is not an acceptable choice for free software projects

30 comments

  1. [13]
    cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    As much as I really dislike and distrust Discord, and suspect/hope they will crash & burn at some point... IMO "don't use it, use these <10 other inconvenient to setup and/or self-hosted...

    As much as I really dislike and distrust Discord, and suspect/hope they will crash & burn at some point... IMO "don't use it, use these <10 other inconvenient to setup and/or self-hosted alternatives, each one individually only replacing a single feature of discord, and all of which have minuscule userbase by comparison> instead" is a rather unrealistic expectation and likely not very compelling for most projects at this point... even FOSS ones, and regardless of how legitimate the concerns with Discord are. Or maybe that's just me being pessimistic? :/

    24 votes
    1. [6]
      AlexMax
      Link Parent
      I agree on this point, which is why I think that Matrix probably has the best shot out of any free software project to take on modern chat applications. They're federated, which is what I think is...

      IMO "don't use it, use these <10 other inconvenient to setup and/or self-hosted alternatives, each one individually only replacing a single feature of discord, and all of which have minuscule userbase by comparison> instead" is a rather unrealistic expectation and likely not very compelling for most projects at this point

      I agree on this point, which is why I think that Matrix probably has the best shot out of any free software project to take on modern chat applications.

      They're federated, which is what I think is necessary to take on the convenience of Discord's "one account works everywhere", but they also put a ton of effort into protocol bridges. Their IRC bridge has almost completely supplanted my use of my old self-hosted IRC boucer, and they also have integrations with the usual suspects like Slack, Discord and Gitter.

      Considering all this, the absence of Matrix from the article is incredibly strange. I wonder why they didn't mention it.

      12 votes
      1. [4]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Heh, it's funny you should mention matrix, since at this very moment some people on the Tildes Discord are trying to get it (riot, specifically) to work, and they are struggling... and others have...

        Heh, it's funny you should mention matrix, since at this very moment some people on the Tildes Discord are trying to get it (riot, specifically) to work, and they are struggling... and others have also previously complained about its many shortcoming (e.g. the problems and serious limitations they encountered with the Discord bridge). These are not technically inept people either... and if even they struggle, there is no way in hell it has a chance against Discord IMO.

        Friction is the FOSS adoption killer.

        11 votes
        1. AlexMax
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          That's unfortunate, and I'm not going to necessarily disagree with you. When I first got started with Matrix, far and away the biggest pain in the neck was encrypted chat, so if they were running...

          That's unfortunate, and I'm not going to necessarily disagree with you. When I first got started with Matrix, far and away the biggest pain in the neck was encrypted chat, so if they were running into problems testing out encrypted chat, they should probably avoid that unless they actually need the extra security.

          Even going past that particular issue, I do think that matrix is a little janky and slow and that Riot's user interface could use some improvement. But I also think that they are probably in the best position to be the next dominant open protocol for chat, as I don't know of another open chat platform that is as popular as Matrix while also having a Slack-like feature set and does federation.

          I donate to the project monthly because I believe in the mission. Hopefully Mozilla's involvement with the project will bring additional developer attention as well.

          5 votes
        2. [2]
          heady
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          It's not actually not hard at all to setup a bridge. I've done it on other servers with no problems. The only roadblock is the general reluctance of the discord admins and a structural difference...

          It's not actually not hard at all to setup a bridge. I've done it on other servers with no problems. The only roadblock is the general reluctance of the discord admins and a structural difference between the servers (1 room vs many).

          3 votes
          1. cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I suspect their reluctance comes from their experience of trying to set up and maintain the bridge last time one was created, and it being rather broken, unwieldy and not all that useful at the...

            I suspect their reluctance comes from their experience of trying to set up and maintain the bridge last time one was created, and it being rather broken, unwieldy and not all that useful at the time. However, if you think you could get one working without much trouble and are willing to try, I personally don't really see any reason why it shouldn't at least be attempted. So if you want me to try and get the ball rolling on this, by bringing the subject up again to the Discord admins, let me know.

            1 vote
      2. Death
        Link Parent
        From re-reading the article: it seems like they're not necessarily coming at Discord from the angle of general chat, but specifically of chat for software developers. Matrix doesn't necessarily...

        From re-reading the article: it seems like they're not necessarily coming at Discord from the angle of general chat, but specifically of chat for software developers. Matrix doesn't necessarily seem to be aimed primarily at that group. From this perspective it also makes sense why they would plug Mattermost, since it's 100% a developper oriented product aiming to replace Slack, not a general chat you can just set up for your friends or internet community (thought I'm surprised Rocket.chat isn't mentioned in there somewhere as well)

        6 votes
    2. BuckeyeSundae
      Link Parent
      There's really not much getting around the fact that what Discord offers is a flexible means to have the old IRC community feel with modern VOIP and video chats (if that's your thing), for free to...

      There's really not much getting around the fact that what Discord offers is a flexible means to have the old IRC community feel with modern VOIP and video chats (if that's your thing), for free to all but those who opt into a subscription service. So long as we're all about the free and see any subscription-only service as too high a barrier to entry to stomach, it's highly unlikely anyone else can get the venture capital/infrastructure capital required to set up a reasonable alternative to Discord.

      Why is it that discord has kind of scummy personal data practices? Because it's how they pay the bills. It's the same with Facebook. Unless and until you find a way to pay the bills that people are willing to opt into, you're gonna struggle.

      8 votes
    3. [2]
      asoftbird
      Link Parent
      There's probably no good alternative, and a "crash and burn" will split up many communities. Affect discord and you'll hit the userbase as collateral damage. I don't love discord, but afaik...

      and suspect/hope they will crash & burn at some point..

      There's probably no good alternative, and a "crash and burn" will split up many communities. Affect discord and you'll hit the userbase as collateral damage.

      I don't love discord, but afaik there's no good alternative and even if there is, hardly anyone uses it so switching over would be a mess. So l hope it doesn't crash and burn, but instead adjusts its privacy policy.

      5 votes
      1. cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Oh, I am fully aware of what will happen in the event of Discord going down, which is honestly what scares me the most about everything being consolidated under them, especially because of how...

        Oh, I am fully aware of what will happen in the event of Discord going down, which is honestly what scares me the most about everything being consolidated under them, especially because of how much like a house of cards the company feels like. But that is precisely why I think it needs to happen sooner rather than later. It's like ripping a bandaid off, the longer it takes to happen the more painful it will be. And until Discord finally collapses, no large-scale competitors are likely to even attempt to fully replace it (at least as a similar all-in-one solution).

        And yeah, I agree there aren't really any truly comparable alternatives out there at the moment, but IMO Valve's Steam is about as close as there is to that. They already have the numbers and many of the same features (friends list, live 1on1 & group chat, voip, mobile clients, group forums, etc). It is far from perfect though, and many of those features are still pretty rudimentary, underdeveloped, and wonky at times... but they are finally starting to improve all that now at least, and I rather suspect they are far better than Discord in terms of their sustainability, business ethics, and company policies.

        So l hope it doesn't crash and burn, but instead adjusts its privacy policy.

        That strikes me as being highly, highly unlikely. They are burning through their VC cash, and don't seem to have any idea how to actually monetize their userbase. At some point the pied pipers of VC are going to demand their due, and when that happens the last thing on those investors' minds will be more privacy for Discord's users.

        7 votes
    4. [3]
      SkewedSideburn
      Link Parent
      I feel like I missed a memo. Why do people hate on Discord so much here?

      I feel like I missed a memo. Why do people hate on Discord so much here?

      1. cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Besides the issues mentioned in the article, the reasons why I personally dislike Discord is because (from another comment of mine in this same thread): And I also hold somewhat of an unfair...

        Besides the issues mentioned in the article, the reasons why I personally dislike Discord is because (from another comment of mine in this same thread):

        Oh, I am fully aware of what will happen in the event of Discord going down, which is honestly what scares me the most about everything being consolidated under them, especially because of how much like a house of cards the company feels like. But that is precisely why I think it needs to happen sooner rather than later. It's like ripping a bandaid off, the longer it takes to happen the more painful it will be. And until Discord finally collapses, no large-scale competitors are likely to even attempt to fully replace it (at least as a similar all-in-one solution).

        They are burning through their VC cash, and don't seem to have any idea how to actually monetize their userbase. At some point the pied pipers of VC are going to demand their due, and when that happens the last thing on those investors' minds will be more privacy for Discord's users.

        And I also hold somewhat of an unfair grudge against them for effectively destroying so many of my favorite IRC channels. ;)

        7 votes
      2. Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        Basically (mild hyperbole ahead) They are the stereotypical tech company from the view of a critic. 'Free' and obsessed with growth at the cost of privacy and ethics, and still unprofitable and...

        Basically (mild hyperbole ahead) They are the stereotypical tech company from the view of a critic. 'Free' and obsessed with growth at the cost of privacy and ethics, and still unprofitable and funded by the hundreds of millions because noone can afford a paid service in silicon-valley style capitalism.

        5 votes
  2. [4]
    hungariantoast
    Link
    This article has been making the rounds on the Internet today. And after you have finished reading the article, don't forget to join the unofficial Tildes Discord server!

    This article has been making the rounds on the Internet today.

    And after you have finished reading the article, don't forget to join the unofficial Tildes Discord server!

    12 votes
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      FYI, I just edited the ~tildes unofficial chat wiki entry to change Keybase from "dormant" to "some activity" now, due to some recent migrations from Discord to there (myself included... though I...

      FYI, I just edited the ~tildes unofficial chat wiki entry to change Keybase from "dormant" to "some activity" now, due to some recent migrations from Discord to there (myself included... though I am still on Discord for now too). See: https://tildes.net/~tildes/wiki/unofficial_tildes_chats

      wink wink, nudge nudge "join the tildeschat Keybase team" ;)

      3 votes
    2. [2]
      Contentus
      Link Parent
      After reading this artist the last thing I want to do is to join any Discord server.

      After reading this artist the last thing I want to do is to join any Discord server.

      2 votes
      1. hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        I am sorry the artist made you feel that way ;)

        I am sorry the artist made you feel that way ;)

  3. [3]
    rmgr
    Link
    I like the way Pine64 do their chat network, they have a bot which bridges their Matrix/IRC/Telegram/Discord channels so everybody can communicate on their platform of choice.

    I like the way Pine64 do their chat network, they have a bot which bridges their Matrix/IRC/Telegram/Discord channels so everybody can communicate on their platform of choice.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Liru
      Link Parent
      Isn't that taking the long way towards the issues in this article? Except now you don't even get a chance to refuse to use Discord, since you're implicitly forced to use it if you want to chat,...

      Isn't that taking the long way towards the issues in this article? Except now you don't even get a chance to refuse to use Discord, since you're implicitly forced to use it if you want to chat, even on IRC.

      5 votes
      1. rmgr
        Link Parent
        I guess you're right.

        I guess you're right.

        1 vote
  4. [10]
    ubergeek
    Link
    This is hardly arguable. If you're working a FOSS product, it's likely because you care about the principles. If so, then you should use FOSS to do your work, if possible. Rocket.chat, Mattermost,...

    This is hardly arguable.

    If you're working a FOSS product, it's likely because you care about the principles. If so, then you should use FOSS to do your work, if possible.

    Rocket.chat, Mattermost, both take ~10 minutes to pop up a server. Less if you're cool with snaps. Not really a huge leap for a FOSS project, tbh.

    2 votes
    1. [9]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      I've often heard this said but I am not buying the line about purity. I have often worked on open source, and I think more is good, but I don't see why we should always use open source. In a...

      I've often heard this said but I am not buying the line about purity.

      I have often worked on open source, and I think more is good, but I don't see why we should always use open source. In a capitalist society we necessarily buy lots of stuff (including all our computer hardware) and I don't see why you can't buy software. Purity is unnecessary, impractical, and alienating.

      15 votes
      1. [3]
        ubergeek
        Link Parent
        Nobody said people shouldnt buy software. But, that it should be FLOSS.

        Nobody said people shouldnt buy software. But, that it should be FLOSS.

        5 votes
        1. skybrian
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I would have missed out on some good software if I limited myself that way. For example, Jetbrains has an open source "community edition" but the full version is worth paying for and supports a...

          I would have missed out on some good software if I limited myself that way.

          For example, Jetbrains has an open source "community edition" but the full version is worth paying for and supports a good company, even though it includes extensions that aren't open source. I have complaints about them too, but their refactoring tools are the best I've seen. I still recommend them even though I use VS Code more these days.

          Also, GitLab is pretty good but I think it is fine to keep using GitHub as it works well.

          More recently I've been using OnShape for CAD. They are being acquired so I'm not sure about their future, but I think the risk is acceptable since I'm just prototyping. It's well worth playing around with because parametric CAD is pretty neat.

          And if you want to learn techniques for using synthesizers, Syntorial has good exercises in ear training.

          I do think it's good that some people are figuring out how to get by with only open source software. Early adopters who are pushing the limits help improve the ecosystem and it's good to have competitive alternatives.

          I don't think everyone needs to do this, though. Oftentimes the alternatives are not that good and they are not ready to support the masses yet. More users inevitably means more problems and increasing the support burden for the developers. We shouldn't try to scale stuff before it's ready.

          8 votes
        2. arp242
          Link Parent
          I find the entire notion of what people "should" be doing quite objectionable to be honest. It's one thing to point out advantages, but quite another thing to say that people should be doing...

          I find the entire notion of what people "should" be doing quite objectionable to be honest. It's one thing to point out advantages, but quite another thing to say that people should be doing something.

          3 votes
      2. Wes
        Link Parent
        Hey. Just wanted to say that I've been noticing your name attached to a lot of good comments lately. Always very considered and experienced. Exactly the kind of stuff I like to see on Tildes.

        Hey. Just wanted to say that I've been noticing your name attached to a lot of good comments lately. Always very considered and experienced. Exactly the kind of stuff I like to see on Tildes.

        6 votes
      3. [4]
        Contentus
        Link Parent
        So you are in favor of Open Source but then say that we shouldn't use it because we should pay for other people's work? Isn't this incoherent? Also, aren't there paid products or services based on...

        So you are in favor of Open Source but then say that we shouldn't use it because we should pay for other people's work?

        Isn't this incoherent? Also, aren't there paid products or services based on Open Source?

        1. [3]
          Death
          Link Parent
          This is not what they said and I don't understand why that isn't clear from their comment :

          So you are in favor of Open Source but then say that we shouldn't use it because we should pay for other people's work?

          This is not what they said and I don't understand why that isn't clear from their comment :

          I have often worked on open source, and I think more is good, but I don't see why we should always use open source. In a capitalist society we necessarily buy lots of stuff (including all our computer hardware) and I don't see why you can't buy software. Purity is unnecessary, impractical, and alienating.

          6 votes
          1. [2]
            Contentus
            Link Parent
            In the context of this thread it seems like the user is saying "ah just fuck it, let's just use Discord even with all the identified problems". I'm obviously also not in favor of a purist approach...

            In the context of this thread it seems like the user is saying "ah just fuck it, let's just use Discord even with all the identified problems".

            I'm obviously also not in favor of a purist approach because it can hinder you. But one thing is proprietary software and another is Discord. It's like a sum of everything that is wrong with the internet nowadays.

            1. Death
              Link Parent
              But Skybrian wasn't commenting on the article, they were replying to another comment. If you're going to appeal to context you can't selectively ignore parts of it.

              But Skybrian wasn't commenting on the article, they were replying to another comment. If you're going to appeal to context you can't selectively ignore parts of it.

              6 votes