Discord will start testing a handful of new features in some of its biggest communities this week. The social audio and chat platform started out by connecting players to play online, but has become one of the top ways to build a thriving online community, complete with custom emojis, live events, topic channels, and a full suite of gaming plugins. third party who can do everything else.
The company recognizes that as servers grow, things can get complicated. At any given time, some of Discord’s most popular communities have hundreds of thousands of people online simultaneously (the official server for Chinese RPG Genshin Impact boasted over 300,000 at the time of writing – and that’s just one example).
A Discord server is like a real-time subreddit, but instead of people jumping in and out of the conversation, lots of people are chatting live, all at once. For smaller communities this works great and it’s easy to stay on top of the conversation, but as these servers grow – sometimes very, very much – a lot gets lost in the mix.
If you’re new to a large Discord server or even if you’ve been away for a few days, it can be hard to figure out how to catch up, even with the introductory channels most servers set up for integrated members and topic specific channels to direct people to. relevant conversations. To make things smoother, some big servers will be driving test of three experimental features, starting this week.
The first new feature gives servers a forum-like channel as a hub for “more organized conversations”. The idea is that people can join and leave these special channels asynchronously and not miss out, just like on Reddit. It’s also a way to bring up old content that is still relevant and put people in a continuous thread, allowing conversation topics to develop over time.
In addition to the forums, Discord will be testing a new homepage-style feature that collects hot topics, providing a tl;dr-style snapshot of timely content that is relevant on that server at any given time. At the moment, many servers use dedicated news channels to do something similar, but these spaces aren’t very dynamic and usually don’t offer much beyond highlighting key announcements.
On the moderation side, Discord is testing new automated tools that bring some of the functionality that communities get with third-party modding tools in-house. While the company hasn’t disclosed much in specific terms, some of Discord’s most popular mod bots automate the process of welcoming new users, checking for bad behavior, and even kicking people out when they break the rules. (Mee6, one of the most popular third-party premium Discord bots, is currently having his own taste of the NFT reaction that Discord dove in November.)
Last July, Discord bought a company called Sentropy, which makes AI software to detect online hate and harassment. The acquisition was made to bolster the company’s in-house automated moderation capabilities, though the company has not confirmed whether the new testing capabilities emerged from that deal.
The experimental features are only available through a closed beta for now, with Discord playing around on some large servers for a spin. Test communities won’t necessarily have all the experimental features enabled right away, as the company looks at how the new tools can meet the needs of different servers.
The current wave of experimental features may be just a glimpse of what’s on the near horizon, though the company hasn’t given any hints on what else it’s working on. Discord has some of the largest active online communities anywhere and the company is evolving wisely to give these servers more utility as they grow.
“We think of Discord as a growing neighborhood and we have to design for all shapes and sizes of communities that call Discord home – from small groups of friends to music, gaming or education communities with thousands to hundreds of thousands of members” , Discord Group Product Manager Rick Ling told Ploonge.
“We care deeply about enabling admins, moderators and community members to make their spaces uniquely theirs and will continue to invest in tools and resources to help them come together and find belonging.”