The disturbing Discord trend

The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Wuzzy » 13 Nov 2019, 19:10

A disturbingly number of free software game projects now depend on propriatry software for basic communication, such as Discord. In extreme cases, Discord is even the only means of reaching the devs, and it's impossible or very hard to reach the devs without using proprietary tools.
If you haven't noticed by now, Discord is 100% proprietary software.

This is disturbing. It's not like we don't have any means of communication in the free software world … Quite the contrary. We just have to use them.

So how the hell did Discord manage to sneak in into FOSS projects in the first place? How did that happen? But most importantly, how can this trend be stopped?
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Julius » 13 Nov 2019, 19:33

Yeah, this is something I am also quite unhappy with. But I feel this is part of a larger shift that many online communities have either moved to Discord or if a bit more professionally minded, then Slack.

Especially FOSS gaming projects are inclined to move to Discord, as most of the larger gaming community is these days on there, so that is were your potential player-base and also potential (non-hardcore FOSS) contributors are.

In addition to the argument of where your "users" are, it is also that in the past you could set-up a simple phpBB forum and use that for community communication (and/or have an IRC channel on freenode), but these days people feel that they need a non-IRC real time chat system (and users also demand that) and hosting such yourself is considerably more complicated. Thus developers have an additional incentive to use a "free" service like Discord or Slack.

Personally, I think it is too late to fight against this disturbing trend by boycotting it. Thus I have been working on options for bridging to allow people to participate even if they don't want to use Discord itself. This way maybe the more conscious "users" might also switch to another system over time if they feel like they don't have to cut all communication.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Ntech » 13 Nov 2019, 22:53

I totally agree, Discord shouldn't be anywhere near FOSS. I think the best way to combat it would be to release a FOSS alternative; I don't know why people don't use some sort of FOSS IRC instead of Discord. There are many awesome FOSS and privacy-respecting chat systems, such as tinode (https://github.com/tinode/chat)
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Eketel » 14 Nov 2019, 01:47

I have thoughts on a semi-related matter which seem to fit this discussion pretty well.

I have for some time now thought that software (particularly open source) could benefit a lot from a more direct community integration and a zero-barriers-to-entry approach: Consider using/developing/promoting front-end(s) for a chat/feedback system which can be integrated directly into [the User Interface of] any application (with at least enough internal setup to allow someone with only the application installed to easily open a useable chat/thread).
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Jastiv » 15 Nov 2019, 19:42

I've noticed it. I've been thinking about it a lot. It all ties into all the ways that free software needs to reach out to ordinary users (not just linux nerds who care about code and like to read manuals.)
I'll admit to using facebook and discord in order to communicate with ordinary people.

Part of it is we don't do enough software testing, that is have ordinary users test things and give feedback. There is this idea in the community that only a coder is worth anything, they are top dog, and everyone else is secondary. I understand they write the software, and without programmers software would not exist, but at the same time, if the software isn't useful, then no one will use it.

There has been too much emphasis on the benefits of free software for coders, and not enough on the benefits for the users. There are so many negative things that are avoided by using free software instead of proprietary software.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Wuzzy » 16 Nov 2019, 15:54

Hah! Indeed. This mindset of “FOSS is for coders only” really has to be thrown into the bin for communication software.

But well, the first step would be to … well, just stop using Discord! Or at least don't solely depend on it. We already have chat software. But yeah, admittedly, there are still things that need to improve here and there.

There are various projects which almost exclusively use Discord, it's very hard to talk to them by other means. This is the really disturbing part. I don't know if it's because the project people just don't care or if they just haven't thought this through.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Lyberta » 19 Nov 2019, 04:01

Well. We don't really have good means to communicate.

IRC is horrible terminal-like experience. XMPP doesn't have encryption as mandatory feature. Tox still doesn't have a good client. Matrix... oh Matrix is so wrong I can't begin to even wrap my head around.

Ntech {l Wrote}:I totally agree, Discord shouldn't be anywhere near FOSS. I think the best way to combat it would be to release a FOSS alternative; I don't know why people don't use some sort of FOSS IRC instead of Discord. There are many awesome FOSS and privacy-respecting chat systems, such as tinode (https://github.com/tinode/chat)


I like how there is no desktop client. People who like open source are prohibited from using laptops and desktops and especially GNU/Linux. /s
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby smcameron » 19 Nov 2019, 08:13

Count me among the discord haters. I don't like it because it's not open source, and I also don't like it because it's freakin' chat. I do not want assholes to be able to ping me in real time. Async or die.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby sago007 » 19 Nov 2019, 21:14

What annoys me the most is that the data is not available.

No knowledge on Discord gets scanned and preserved. It is just lost.

I don't think software is the problem. It is the service.

The closets thing to Discord I can see is the FreeGameDev forum. I can see all the communication of 16 projects, all on one site. One login. No spam. That is the service people are looking for.


EDIT: Changed "scammed" to "scanned".
Last edited by sago007 on 29 Nov 2019, 15:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Lyberta » 28 Nov 2019, 03:06

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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Technopeasant » 28 Nov 2019, 04:32

sago007 {l Wrote}:What annoys me the most is that the data is not available. No knowledge on Discord gets scammed and preserved. It is just lost.


Here, here. As an obsessive archivist, this bothers me greatly. I do not use Discord at all, and often I only end up getting quotes from what developers (or whoever) said that end up getting spread downstream on other forums.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby domtron » 27 Dec 2019, 04:09

sago007 {l Wrote}:What annoys me the most is that the data is not available. No knowledge on Discord gets scammed and preserved. It is just lost.


I'm just going to point out that is no different for IRC. Discord is actually a bit better in that it allows you to load previous messages basically ad infinitum (I've never noticed a drop off point anyway). Discord is also worse in that you can just change any of your old messages making what you said not just disappear like IRC but be completely different.

If you want logs on either platform you need to use a bot with logging capabilities. I wrote a very simple IRC bot ages ago (logging, dice roller, messing around with a chat based game) and more recently added in discord support so it can connect to both IRC networks and discord. I use discord because several years ago my RP group moved there from IRC at some protests from myself. I like it well enough now though I wouldn't use it for FOSS stuff.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Technopeasant » 30 Dec 2019, 23:39

Well yes, I was never a fan of IRC either. I like forums, like this one, for this very reason. Chat systems are fine for informal communication between two parties, but for anything collaborative it stinks.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Lyberta » 31 Dec 2019, 11:22

Red Eclipse 2 links code to Discord library (and Steamworks too).
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Jastiv » 01 Jan 2020, 22:20

Yesterday I found something interesting. Sometimes it helps to get out of the free software monastery and walk around among regular users, the sorts of people we are actually supposed to reach when we aren't so busy trying to summon demons and keep them in check.

Anyway, you know how microsoft bought github. Well, I found out that there are people on github who put up gpled software written in .NET for the purpose of downloading discord logs. I tried the software. I found it hard to get the .NET from microsoft installed, and then the stupid noob program didn't recognize it anyway. I would spend more time trying to get it to work, but I don't really think it is worth it.

https://github.com/Tyrrrz/DiscordChatExporter/releases
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Julius » 02 Jan 2020, 15:23

Did you try with Mono?

But yeah, Discord is still comparatively open to 3rd party clients, bridging and data export. This might of course change at any moment (when they feel it might threaten their user stranglehold), but right now they are in that regard probably less problematic than many other closed source options.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Jastiv » 03 Jan 2020, 20:23

It just came to me why Discord is preferred over irc.
1. offline chat logs, you log back in later and all activity from when you are offline is saved, as opposed to having to idle 24/7 (i mean it is bad enough to have to have a basement server, now you need to have a computer on all the time to idle irc as well, whereas, with discord, you can just log off and pick it all up later. This is defiantly the killer feature!
2. the option to voice chat. now, it isn't really all that great when people can't speak English all that well, ( and most people can type it better than they can speak it except native speakers) plus with voice you have to all be on at the same time, yet the big advantage of voice chat is a certain immediacy and energy that is generated, almost as good as having everyone in the same room. The big plus on this is game developers can devote their full attention to the conversation about features, game development etc, and pick up on the emotions in the voices of the other developers, such as the excitement, the enthusiasm for a project that you just don't get with text no matter how many times you say WOW! and That is awesome! it just doesn't convey the same kind of positive feelings as a voice message.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Julius » 03 Jan 2020, 20:56

Well, regarding 1. that has been a feature for IRC since a long time and is called Bouncer. Look up ZNC for example. But I agree that it is not super easy to setup, as IRC in general. However, it have been available in XMPP group chats since a long time as well with zero setup hassle.

Regarding 2. Isn't that mostly used for in-game idle chat like Teamspeak or Mumble? I think Discord mostly made it accessible really easy by providing it bundled with a webchat.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby charlie » 05 Jan 2020, 14:16

3. you can log in on different computers/mobiles and be the same user.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Julius » 05 Jan 2020, 14:39

Possible with a IRC Bouncer and on XMPP as well :)

Edit: IMHO that might be what led to the downfall of IRC. All these advanced features users want are available to power users in a very convenient way, so none felt like they would need to change anything about it, while non power users were not even aware these features exist.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Jastiv » 05 Jan 2020, 20:00

And this is basically why proprietary software sometimes wins over free software even though it really shouldn't. Developers are more or less forced to think about what users want in order to monetize the project (I mean, that's mostly why it went proprietary in the first place.) Users want easy. They want one click install. They want don't have to think about all the details. They want an easy to use user interface. Sure, that might not be fun stuff for developers to do, but if we want to win, we are going to have to think like a lazy user.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Lyberta » 06 Jan 2020, 15:18

Jastiv {l Wrote}:Sure, that might not be fun stuff for developers to do, but if we want to win, we are going to have to think like a lazy user.


But not GNOME level lazy user, ok?
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Evropi » 08 Jan 2020, 10:13

With the question of IRC bouncers, you're also overlooking people who don't know or want to run a server. I had a VPS for a while but I'm definitely not the average user. Others run their computer all day, which is also pretty hardcore. There is something called CHATHISTORY in IRCv3, but I haven't looked into it and it wouldn't resolve IRC's many other usability issues (having to type in the commands to ghost yourself because you disconnected, I mean come on).

I know I'm selling my soul to the devil but I have sadly regressed to free plan cloud hosting, though I encrypt important stuff before upload.

It's very simple; I don't want to pay money for it.

And I'm in a fairly privileged position, so for people will less time to waste and learn these things, for poor people, this is a real issue that will stop them from entering the realm of free software. I also dislike the fact that some promote it as a de facto barrier to keep the non-technical people out.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Julius » 08 Jan 2020, 11:36

Yes IRCv3 chat history works great, but not many IRC clients support it as bouncers are more common. But you don't need to run your own server, the IRC service provider usually does run a bouncer. The problem is that Freenode doesn't run a bouncer and most FOSS projects have a channel there.

Technical skills reasons aside (which are not always needed), I find it somewhat astonishing how many disadvantages people are willing to live with just to safe 1-5€ a month for a proper hosted service. Unless you come from a really poor country, that is basically free (one coffee less), but it needs some mental effort and not just 3 clicks for a "free" service.
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Re: The disturbing Discord trend

Postby Evropi » 08 Jan 2020, 14:52

Julius {l Wrote}:But you don't need to run your own server, the IRC service provider usually does run a bouncer. The problem is that Freenode doesn't run a bouncer and most FOSS projects have a channel there.

This reframes the issue though - the bouncer and being able to receive messages while offline, and read the history, is an essential aspect of live chat at this point that people expect. It shouldn't be up to individuals to host their logs.

There's also this strange policy against logging that lots of channels have. It's a different world and honestly, a much less convenient one. I have mentioned I've been a hardcore user in the past and have a tricked-out WeeChat setup, but I'm personally glad to see it on its way out.

Julius {l Wrote}:Technical skills reasons aside (which are not always needed), I find it somewhat astonishing how many disadvantages people are willing to live with just to safe 1-5€ a month for a proper hosted service. Unless you come from a really poor country, that is basically free (one coffee less), but it needs some mental effort and not just 3 clicks for a "free" service.

Maintaining a patchwork of services for a terribly slow, £3/month OVH VPS that was unreliable took up so much of my time that I took the convenient route. Also, I am actually serious about saving money, and I log every single transaction I make. You'd be surprised how it adds up (and personally, I never liked tea or coffee ;) ).

The core issue is that what you spend in money should also give you back some time or peace of mind. Self hosted stuff is still mostly a mess, especially when it comes to using via mobile. You can get your money back, you might even be able to get back privacy (though this is a nebulous concept and partly about fear of the future - so like insurance). The one thing no-one will ever be able to give you back is time, which is why rich people spend money on cleaners and the like. Time is the ultimate feature, and a VPS setup isn't at all an advantage with the amount of maintenance I had to put into it, at least on my crappy cheap plan. But I also don't want to pay more when I can have the same pain-free service for free, and even if I did have more powerful hardware - maintenance would still be a time sink.
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