Discord is testing forums, new mod tools and homepages that feature hot topics on select servers – TechCrunch

Discord will start testing a handful of new features in some of its biggest communities this week. The audio and social chat platform started out connecting gamers for online gaming, but it’s become one of the main ways to build a thriving online community, with custom emoji, live events, topic channels and a whole suite of third-party plugins. who can do everything else.

The company recognizes that as servers grow, things can get unwieldy. At any given time, some of Discord’s most popular communities have hundreds of thousands of people online simultaneously (Chinese RPG Genshin Impact’s official server has over 300,000 at the time of writing – and that’s only an example).

A Discord server is kind of like a real-time subreddit, but instead of people chatting in and out, a ton 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 evolve – sometimes really, really – a lot gets lost in the mix.

If you’re new to a big Discord server or drifting away from a conversation, it can be hard to figure out how to catch up. Most large servers have built-in member introduction channels and topic-specific channels to direct people to relevant conversations, but it’s not a perfect solution at scale. To make everything work more smoothly, some big servers will test 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 pop in and out of these special channels asynchronously and not miss out, the same way they might on Reddit. It’s also a way to surface older content that’s still relevant and keep people looping in a continuous thread, allowing conversation topics to grow over time.

Discord’s forum-like testing feature. Picture credits: Discord

Besides the forums, Discord will test a new homepage-style feature that collects hot topics, offering a tl-style snapshot; dr of timely content that is relevant on this server at any given time. Many servers today use dedicated news channels to achieve something similar, but these spaces aren’t very dynamic and often don’t offer much beyond highlighting ads. majors.

On the moderation side, Discord is testing new automated tools that bring some of the functionality communities get with in-house third-party mod tools. Although the company hasn’t disclosed many details, some of the most popular Discord mod bots automate the process of onboarding new users, looking for bad behavior, and even kicking people out when they break the rules. (Mee6, one of the most popular premium third-party Discord bots, currently has its own look at the NFT backlash Discord dipped a toe into in November.)

Last July, Discord bought a company called Sentropy that makes AI software to detect online hate and harassment. The acquisition was intended to bolster the company’s internal automated moderation capabilities, although the company has not confirmed whether the new testing features stem from the deal.

Experimental features are only available through a closed beta at this time, with Discord tapping into some large servers to test them out. Testing communities will not necessarily have all experimental features enabled from the start, as the company observes how new tools can meet the needs of different servers.

The current wave of experimental features may just be a glimpse of what’s on the horizon, though the company hasn’t hinted at what else it’s working on. Discord has some of the largest active online communities in the world, and the company is wisely moving to give these servers more utility as they grow.

“We view Discord as a growing neighborhood and must design for all shapes and sizes of communities that inhabit Discord – from small groups of friends to music, gaming or education communities numbering in the thousands to hundreds of thousands. of members,” Discord Group Product Manager Rick Ling told TechCrunch.

“We care deeply about empowering admins, moderators, and community members to take unique ownership of their spaces and will continue to invest in tools and features to help them come together and find their belonging. “

Harry L. Blanchard