Discord: A chatty tether between two worlds

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 01/05/2022, 8:01 PM
Edited: 01/06/2022, 5:39 PM

(NATIONAL) There’s the real world, of which we are born into and live. And there’s the metaverse, the virtual worlds our digital avatars will someday inhabit (if they’re not already). 

And then there’s Discord. An unlikely tool tethering all the worlds together. 

Discord launched in 2015. The VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and chat program allowed gamers to join groups (called servers) and talk about gaming all over the world. 

But the platform quickly evolved into more than just gamers. 

Former Discord QA (Quality Assurance) Lead Jared Neal told VNN you can find an active community for anything you're passionate about and talk to other people about it in real time, for free and without ads. 

“I've heard secondhand accounts of people meeting their life partners, students getting access to resources that were previous unavailable to them (like programming), mental health help,” Neal said. 

The technology is even lifesaving.

“I remember someone I had never spoken to before contacting me to tell me he was going to commit suicide and I was able to direct him to some suicide prevention resources,” Neal said. “And I spent a few hours just exchanging messages with him. Eventually he did end up getting help and last I heard is doing very well.” 

How Discord works

There are a couple of terms members can familiarize themselves with to better understand how Discord works. 

We already know that chat groups are called servers and users are called members. Inside those servers, members can have different roles. 

“Roles are titles that can be granted to users which are able to give or remove permissions for various things,” Neal said. “As an example, let's say you want someone in your Discord server to be a Moderator, to ensure a healthy and safe environment against bad actors. You want them to have certain abilities that Joe Average probably shouldn't be able to do like Delete Messages or Ban Users. By making it so only people with the Moderator role have those powers, you can ensure bad actors don't abuse those abilities.” 

There are also programs you can use within the servers, called bots, that look and act like member accounts but are more efficient at executing tasks. 


“Bots are used for everything from automatic moderation (instantly delete inappropriate content or remove harmful users) to playing games, playing music or just about anything else you can think of,” Neal said.


A big plus for communicating via Discord is technological anonymity. 

Neal said similar traditional systems like Skype talk between computers, harboring opportunities for hackers to steal information like IP addresses over the connection.

With Discord, information is more protected, as it is always sent through a server.

But, as with any technology, there are bad people using it to do bad things. 

“Don't join sketchy sounding communities, if someone is making you feel uncomfortable block them, make sure your servers are being moderated and don't click on random links or download things from untrust worthy sources,” Neal said. “And above all, if you find something or someone that is being a Bad Actor, report them to Discord's Trust and Safety Team.” 

Even bots can be used for bad. 

“There are some bots out there that if you add them to your server will delete everything and ban all your friends or maliciously collect information that's posted in an otherwise private server,” Neal said.
“Do not add a bot to your server if you don't completely trust the source.” 

The future of chat

If Discord is a tool tethering the real world and the metaverse, the bots are the ones maintaining the link. 

Though Discord has made no official move to Web3 or to support cryptocurrency or blockchain technology, the currency darling of the expanding metaverse, bots within Discord are already syncing up. 

Metaverse experts say blockchain technology was the missing piece for virtual reality, a way for goods to be tracked, purchased, and sold easily in the virtual worlds. 

Bots inside Discord are then able to verify digital assets within a member’s crypto wallet and respond to that member’s account accordingly, whether that means upgraded roles, access to secret channels, or more. 

As business, technology, and entertainment continue to evolve and intertwine, adaptive technology like Discord will help tether our understanding to the possibilities. 

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