Today, at Qovery we have moved from Slack to Discord. We are a software company solving developer problems - application deployment. Solving developer problems require to have a close contact with the developers community. For team communication, we used a dedicated Slack workspace, for community communication - another one. Discord has been a real lifesaver for us. Let's start to tell you why..
Slack was created to meet the needs of companies. It's a wonderful communication tool that has successfully found its place in companies at all stages. From R&D to marketing to finance, Slack is omnipresent. However, like all tools, it is not perfect. In teamwork it is perfectible, and in community management it is totally non-existent.
Here are the 3 limitations that pushed us to look for something else (from the most important to the least-important):
- The 10,000 message limit - you have to pay per user to avoid losing your message history, it's truly restrictive! You have to pay per user on your Slack to make it disappear. Do the math, for a community of 1000+ developers it's pretty expensive.
- We are a "remote first" company - we need to be able to talk to each other quickly and to be able to share our screen very often, with slack it's a real pain in...
- There is no member hierarchy - It's impossible to know who's in the staff, who's an active member, who's a beta tester. It's hard to know who is who and who does what. How do you give visibility to new members? It's simply not possible.
After testing several solutions such as Tandem, Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, each solution was able to satisfy one or two points, but never all of them... Until we found Discord.
Discord is a communication tool that has been created for online gamers. Online gamers have high expectations. Written and voice communication is ubiquitous and must be flawless for them. It is in this context that Discord was made. The funny part is, it is also perfectly suited for team communication in a company. And even more so when this company targets developers, which is essentially a world of enthusiasts. The community can meet and talk on Discord in a very natural way. The experience is intuitive.
Here is the advantages of using Discord:
- No more 10,000 message limit - you don't even have to pay, Discord won't limit you. All the features are accessible without paying 1 cent. It's quite incredible considering the quality of the product.
- Video and Voice conversations - Discord is great at supporting video and audio communication. There are no limits on this side either. Want to organize a quick meeting? Just go to a voice channel and it's done.
- Hierarchy - In a company, as in a community, not everyone has the same status. Discord has perfectly understood this and materializes it through the role system. Each member can have zero to many roles (R&D Engineer, Marketing, Finance, Founder, Contributor...). Each channel will then be accessible or not according to its roles. This is very practical to make only some channels accessible to the community and the rest to the staff.
Discord sets the standard very high! The tool was designed with the idea of improving teamwork - obviously on the gaming side. But this is perfectly transposable to the needs of companies. In fact, today online games are taken very seriously and are considered a real business activity. Pricing is another very important point, let's talk about it...
At Qovery, we have no problem paying for the tools we use. The problem is that we can't afford a tool that charges us a per-user license fee! This is where Discord stands out from its competitors by offering pricing to the global "server" rather than to the user. By the way, if you don't want to do HD voice communication no need to pay. It's a very virtuous and collaborative pricing model. Because your users can help you pay the bill at their convenience. In our case we pay $74.85/month for +150 developers. And even if tomorrow we're at 100,000 developers it won't change anything on the bill! Incredible isn't it?
Telling you that being in Discord is heaven on earth would be a lie. It lacks some important features to make Discord the uncontested leader :)
- Integrations: Discord was created for gamers, which means you won't find all the integrations you have for Slack. That's really the big negative! However, you can manage your integrations yourself thanks to webhooks. Thanks to this we were able to (almost) upload all the integrations we had on Slack (Stripe, Intercom, Mailchimp, Typeform and Gitlab) - few of them are still in progress.
- Thread messages: Discord does not allow threaded chat, even if the community requests access to this feature, there are no plans at this time. On the other hand, there is the possibility to "quote" a message.
- Gaming oriented: As I said above, Discord was made for gamers. Which means that sometimes certain usage options are not appropriate. Nothing too serious, but it can be confusing if you're planning to get people from other departments than R&D in there.
At Qovery we are really pleased with this change, especially in these bad times due to the Covid-19. Discord is for us very appropriate for our default remote office needs. On the community side we lack sufficient hindsight to tell you this, but the first feedback are positive. We will keep you informed of how the product evolves. We secretly hope that Discord will take into account that their product can be an alternative to Slack for business.