Discord alternatives for Web3 communities (they exist!)

Discord got hacked again.

Recently I felt like a serious case of Deja vu when I jumped on Twitter and found yet again…Discord had been compromised.

The more time I spend on Twitter, the more I see people feeling really fed up with discord for a variety of reasons. 

That led me to spend a lot more time trying to find what alternatives are out there for people that want to provide a genuine connection and facilitate conversations in their community. 

But Discord is just not doing the job that it needs to be doing. 

I’m happy to say that I found some really great alternatives and  shared these recently on my Youtube channel (video above).

Discord is falling short right now as a community platform.

Let’s talk about why Discord is considered a less than desirable experience for a lot of community members out there, especially those in the web3 world.

The UI (User Interface) is not loved by a lot of people. 

I see this constantly mentioned in social media, there are a lot of people who have joined Discord and they just don’t love the experience. We have to remember this platform was created first for gamers. And it still hasn’t really evolved to incorporate all these other types of people like artists, DAO enthusiasts etc.

It is a centralized platform. 

When you’re talking about web3, we’re constantly talking about decentralizing everything. The problem with Discord is that you don’t own the community platform. In the web3 world, many people are really looking for more decentralized solutions where the community has more ownership. 

Security issues including frequent server hacks.

Let’s not forget that we have frequent server hacks.

I’m pretty sure there are times when Discord community members’ hearts have just stopped beating for a minute (or blood is draining from their faces) because they see the news on Twitter that their server has been hacked and not to click on any links or answer any DMs. It’s terrifying to say the least. That should not be the experience for anybody that is part of a community. I understand this is a “social engineering” issue where the majority of these scams could happen across any community platform, but the frequent hacking of servers is still enabling these scammers to take it to the next level and approach people in what should be a “safe space”. 

There’s also the issue of chat bombardment.

 If you are part of a really busy server, it’s impossible to keep up with everything unless you are on that server 24/7. People end up feeling burnt out, they have to take mental health days to recover because it’s just too much to keep up with everything. I think we need to do better with this. 

The integrations are okay, but they’re not great. 

There’s so much more that a community manager could achieve if the integrations were just more robust. From better onboarding experiences to live event integrations and metrics dashboards – no matter what size your community is – Discord only provides metrics once you reach a certain server size….! 

Members turn off their DM’s due to security issues.

Everybody has turned off their DMs in order to stay safe in Discord. I just think that’s crazy that members can’t even have a private conversation with other members for fear of getting hacked (!). There is a lot of value that is gained from community members getting to know each other better via DMs (it often results in greater engagement in the actual community) so the fact that people have turned off DMs (although understandably to avoid being hacked) really saddens me.

So what are some decent alternatives to using Discord?

When I started my research to find what other alternatives are out there. I really focused on whether this platform can provide genuine conversations and connections with members.

If you are a web3 community manager and you have a Discord community or you’re contemplating building a new community, I think you can approach this whole Discord issue in two ways.

You can either:

1) remove Discord completely from your community offering; or

2) you can still have a Discord server but use it as a gateway to a more robust community platform.

Perhaps you have a few basic channels, especially for those that perhaps don’t own the NFT or they’re not active in the DAO but they are just curious to learn more. And then you offer another platform for those that need to have those deeper connections and discussions, especially if you’re part of a DAO you have a lot that you need to discuss whether it’s voting on future decisions, even in NFT projects.

Here are some of the solutions that I found. I’m going to go through each of these platforms. Keep in mind, we’re early, they’re not perfect. But I think if you’re really looking to be on the web3 community frontier and you’re just sick of Discord, then you should definitely check out some of these platforms.

COMMONWEALTH.IM

Website: https://commonwealth.im

I have seen DAOs that use 10 different platforms for their DAO community needs – one for voting, one for the docs, one for forums, one for real-time chat etc. It’s a lot to manage and a lot for DAO members to keep up with everything going on. 

Commonwealth is a new platform that I’ve recently heard about. It’s all in one, and it’s for an on chain community. So we’re talking very much web3 here, where you can have your members discuss, vote and fund projects. It’s an all in one platform solution, which is amazing! It also integrates with some really powerful tools (more on that later).

Commonwealth itself is a governance and community management protocol.

This means that it empowers you to claim and govern your own communities. Anyone can create a community, link their governance methodology, and discuss and vote on the future of their community. It means that they’re the ones that will own the community, we’re talking about a truly decentralized protocol that the community can manage.

So if you’re a DAO, and you’re looking for a community and governance platform, all rolled into one, this is a great platform to consider. 

Members can avoid information overload.

For the important announcements, members can be notified (this helps members feel less overwhelmed and more comfortable knowing they will receive notifications of important announcements or discussions that they cannot miss). Members can subscribe to be notified of certain threads if they are interested in keeping updated with the activity in specific conversations. This makes it so much easier to follow conversations versus Discord.

There are also some really powerful integrations. 

I’ve discussed Snapshot in this Youtube video – it’s an incredible community voting tool that offers many different ways to assign voting rights to your community members and help you make decisions in DAOs.  The best news is that Commonwealth.im integrates Snapshot within the platform – which means you can integrate voting into active discussion threads (and in fact you can also take informal polls beforehand too and then use Snapshot to move forward with a formal voting process!). You can also fund new tokens and community initiatives (think Kickstarter style) from a thread.

I see this as incredibly powerful! In Web2 world, many communities struggled to create impact. But with Commonwealth and the power of the blockchain and integrations such as Snapshot, you are empowering community members to have productive discussions and then make community decisions right there and then that will impact the future direction of the community and its mission. 

This is the future of community management in web3. And most importantly, you can discuss all key decisions in a Discourse style forum. So for those of you that don’t know, Discourse was an incredibly popular web to community management platform. And it’s really trying to replicate that forum vibe, but in a web3 way. If you are part of a DAO, then it makes a lot of sense to be using a platform like Commonwealth.im, instead of Discord. They’re even working on a real-time chat feature right now (I managed to find this out after speaking with a member of the Commonwealth.im team to find out more! And I’m not being paid to recommend them, this is my honest review!). 

For your most active and engaged members, they don’t have to bounce between all these different tabs, everything about your token and your DAO can be all in one place.

You can token gate your community too.

This platform is also great if you are running a community where you want members to perform an action before joining the community. For example: perhaps you want your members to read and agree to the  Terms and Conditions, or  hold certain tokens before being accepted to join. You can do so with the Commonwealth. 

You have support from the Commonwealth team.

For instance, the team can help you create your forum for you, if you’re unsure how to create a forum, or you need custom functionality, or you just want insight on best practices, which I would highly recommend reaching out to them to do so. But it’s really great that you can send a request to them, and they can help you out. I love the support of web3 communities! 

You have more control over your community.

You can customize the domain for your forum community and also set up all your admin moderator capabilities, all of that is in your control.

It does say that the Commonwealth communities come with the same basic layout, but you can actually go ahead and customize it. If you have developers, you can further this customization to best suit your needs. 

Want to know how much you have control over forum wise? You can pin posts, you can look at the forum with different views, you can filter for different topics and feed content, which is incredible. And let’s not forget you can link your proposals to threads. 

I’m looking forward to seeing how the Commonwealth team continue to work towards full governance decentralization (that’s their goal!). I think this is a truly interesting solution for those that are in the DAO space especially and are looking for a platform that offers so much more (and all-in-one). 

MATRIX.ORG

Website: https://matrix.org

Matrix is an awesome open source alternative to Discord. And it truly puts privacy and security first. So think of it like a Signal. If you’re familiar with that and you prefer Signal over WhatsApp, think of Matrix as the alternative to Discord. The matrix protocol offers secure and private communications for your members. And although you do require a developer to help you get set up with this (it isn’t a plug and play solution), the great thing about Matrix is that you can customize a lot and it feels like you are creating your very own Discord server fully customised to your needs.

It’s definitely not as easy as setting up a Discord server. And there are a lot of people who struggle even with setting up a Discord server (it’s understandably overwhelming). So if setting up a Discord server is already one step too much for you, then Matrix is not going to be the easiest solution for you to get started. But you can definitely hire developers, you could hire somebody familiar with setting up Matrix to get you set up. 

To get started with Matrix the first step is setting up the Matrix client of your choosing. So it does give you a lot of flexibility here as you can choose from many different clients. One of the most popular clients is Element. And if we take a look at Element, the most important aspect is that you are keeping the ownership and control of your community. Element is big on the members being people not products.

If you’re really serious about web3, and going all in with the whole concept of privacy, security, decentralization, respecting your community members whilst creating an inclusive environment, then you may want to look at Matrix using the Element client to actually implement your community solution. Your community can speak freely with end-to-end encryption, there’s no data mining, and no third party access.

And if you want to host and manage your own community domain, you can do that. Otherwise, you can also host using Matrix servers.

What’s important to note is that this is open source, it’s high security, high privacy, but it does require a lot more heavy lifting. If you take a look at the guides that Matrix provides, you can see that there’s a lot here to unpack for the regular user. I think this would just result in information overload and not knowing where to start. My recommendation is you’d need to spend more time creating “user-friendly” education for members to use the server comfortably, or this solution would work best for those community members that are already more advanced tech users. 

For developers, there’s plenty of information in the Matrix docs for them to get started. You can use the Matrix client to suit your community needs – whether you prefer to be on mobile, or if you prefer to be web-based. If you prefer to focus on real-time chat functionality, there are plenty of options here. It supports group voice and video chats, which is important if you’re looking for those features.

This solution is still not perfect. There’s a lot that is going on behind the scenes to improve it. But it’s an incredible open source alternative to Discord and worth checking out.

DEN.SOCIAL

Website: https://den.social

Den is powered by Dragonchain (an Open-source hybrid blockchain platform for the creation of decentralized applications), which already sounds way  more web3. Den is a social platform that is trying to address the issue of fake news, trolling, and censorship. And what is really interesting about this platform is it’s trying to incentivize people in the community to create quality content.

They have three main concepts:

  1. A community-focused forum that can be owned by an individual or a group. And just think of it as a forum. It’s like where you can create your posts, post replies, you’ve got your upvotes and downvotes. Very similar to Reddit stuff.
  2. Members can earn by posting content pieces (that reside in what is called a “lair”), with the ability for them to earn by creating quality content. 
  3. Members can earn by being engaged members of the community –  replying and engaging with other members’ posts. 

So what exactly do they earn? Well it’s not FIAT or Eth. For those who post quality content, they can earn a token called Matter which is also tradeable on exchanges. 

And then you have this concept called Energy (NRG), which is non-transferable. This is like the internal utility token that can be assigned to community members who can earn the right to be more active in the community and create posts and reply and vote.

This part can feel crazy complicated, so I recommend further reading via their website to understand the tokens better. TLDR version: They have gamified content generation and engagement in the community, rewarding high quality content and ensuring member activity is kept high level using two different types of tokens. 

The most interesting aspect of this is the fact that they “charge” members to actually engage with the community. So if a member wants to post it costs them five NRG per post, I think what’s interesting here is members have to actually spend money to post or comment. If it costs me five NRG to post or eight NRG with an image, oh, my gosh, that better be a good post. And that image better be awesome, to cost me more NRG.

This is certainly an interesting concept. If it costs somebody to post, then they’re going to be more mindful about what they post. And same with the replies/comments, if it costs NRG per reply, then I’m going to be more mindful about that reply, I don’t want to waste tokens.

Having full disclosure and accountability here is important and hopefully will result in better quality communities.

The end game is to provide the best content to the consumer earlier than on any other platform. Quality content matters. And it matters to communities, the better the content is that is distributed within a community to the right people that want to consume that content, then that’s a more optimal experience for all members in the community.

The pros: if you love a traditional forum vibe, like Reddit, then Den.Social definitely offers you those solutions. The web3 proposals integrated, which is fantastic, certainly offers a more gamified vibe. I’ve currently got 23 NRG, I have played around with that I think I started with 24. When you like or upvote, then you’re starting to spend energy. So I’m just more mindful about the type of engagement that I am offering within the layer. And I think that’s an interesting take (and why I love web3 because the industry continues to open my eyes to different takes on community building).

They certainly have a really strong mission to provide quality content within communities.

TRIBES.XYZ

Website: https://tribes.xyz

I’m just going to briefly mention this one because it’s so early that it’s in beta, but I’m really keen to try it.

It’s a real-time chat platform.

They say that it’s the home for everything important, like announcements, votes, mentions. You can follow people and projects that you care about. And the rest is just noise. You can ignore it.

Every item in your wallet is a membership. So you can be with the people that you want to be with the DAOs that you belong to, your NFT gangs, and crypto communities. You can mint your own DAO and AirDrop membership passes to friends. 

They have mentioned that it’s a crypto native group chat and you can also message any wallet on ETH or Solana.

Tribes.xyz is a solution that is being built as an alternative to Discord. And it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

BRANCHBETA.COM

Website: https://branchbeta.com

As mentioned on their website, Branch is building the next gen captivating social games and web3. I’ve taken a look at their platform and it reminds me a lot like Bramble. Think of it like hanging out in a more gaming-type vibe. The team is super passionate about web3. You can definitely tell the difference between people/businesses that are really passionate about web3, and others that are just kind of jumping on the web3 buzzword bandwagon and hoping to make money out of it.

These guys are in the web3 cool crowd, they’re just trying to make something really awesome. It’s so new that their website is pretty much a recruitment page. Again, super early, and it’s in beta.

I think this is very early because I couldn’t really find any other spaces yet that were created, where I could actually hang out with people. And this is similar to when I first entered some of the Metaverses, I felt like I was just by myself trying to hang out with people. But f you have friends that are happy to join and experiment with you, then it may be worth checking out. You’ve got the ability to voice chat,  you can share your video, you can share your screen, just in a more friendly vibe vs. Discord voice chat, for instance, where you just see somebody’s avatar.

This platform is one for those who like to build worlds (think Minecraft or Animal Crossing vibes) and want to exercise their creativity by building a world that resonates with their community. For example if you has a NFT community and you wanted to set the vibe, you could really do that with this platform. If I wanted to hang out at the campfire for instance, and have other people just sit around a campfire whilst we’re talking and set that vibe, then you can do that here. 

I haven’t seen any functionality like forums or organizing content with this platform,. I see it being used more as a real-time hangout space.

UUKI

Website: https://www.uuki.live

I actually had a call with the team and they took me through this community platform. It is a centralized platform. So if you’re looking for something that is less hands-on in terms of setup, then UUKI could be the solution for you. It is a community platform specifically for web3 creators.

In terms of the UX, it looks a lot more beautiful than the typical Discord server that a lot of people would be happy to get on board with.

This platform reminds me of Circle.so. It provides the menu on the left for you to create “channels”/discussion topics, with your content in the middle of the page and members listed on the right.

You can gamify your community here as well, you can have them earn “karma points” (although it’s pretty simple in terms of the way that the community members earn these points, you can’t customize that yet). Perhaps the team will work on that in the future because I personally would like to choose as a community manager how these community members could earn their points.

You can also organize events and you can collect payments in FIAT and crypto. You can integrate with Metamask and I believe more wallet integrations are being planned in future. 

You can white label your community, which is great. They do have plenty of documentation as well for you to get started.

I do think this platform is like a Web2 platform that has been converted to include Web3 solutions, but it will be interesting to see the future tools/integrations the team plans to build out over time.

Final Thoughts

Now there are a ton of other community platforms and tools for Web3 communities (in fact, I covered that in a separate Youtube video!). 

I’m so optimistic given all the new platforms and tools that are being built to solve many of the issues I had mentioned at the beginning of this post- including ways to dial down the chaos, improve the quality of the content that’s being shared and improved UX/UI. 

We still have a long way to go to improve the security of web3 communities, but I’ve been seeing a lot of recent developments on that too and will be sharing more about that in future.

 Have you heard of any other web three community platforms that I should know about? And I should review? Let me know by commenting below.

Happy community building!

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