"What is the best platform to choose to build a community for my startup? Should I switch to Slack into Discourse? Wait...there's a Discourse and a Discord?"
It's the perfect time to start building communities online There's plenty of great tools that can help.
There are many choices, there's no one solution that will be able to cover all. There are too many variables to consider, such as the size of the community, engagement model the size and capability of the team that creates communities, as well as much more.
While there's no magic solution to building and growing an online community however, there is some important questions to be asked to help you make decision-making process and your plan for community.
The article below will go over the most important aspects to take into consideration when selecting a community platform and compare three of the most popular choices and offer suggestions for each based on different communities.
Here's what we'll be covering:
- The TL;DR guidelines
- The 3 most important factors to take into consideration when making a decision
- In-depth feature comparison grid
- Recommendations in detail
The TL;DR Recommendations
We'll talk about a variety of details Here are the most important recommendations.
Use Slack if...
- You'd like to make use of the vast integrations available on Slack's platform or bots (limited to 10 on their free plans) or you can use their workflow builder that doesn't require code (only for paid packages).
- You would like threaded conversations in your chat room in real-time.
- You don't have to worry that only the most recent 10,000 messages are saved (on no-cost plans).
- Your community members already make use of Slack to work.
But keep in mind:
- In Free plans, Slack keeps only the latest 10,000 messages this means that they automatically archive messages that are over the threshold.
- Slack paid plans start at $8 per user per month. Every community we know of has a free plan. You can compare Slack price plans below.
- Slack doesn't have any tools to moderate. It's designed specifically for workplaces and doesn't seem to be interested in developing features for moderation.
Use Discord if...
- You require realtime chat using advanced settings and moderating.
- You need unlimited message history.
- The idea of making users sign up for another group on Slack is a problem.
- Bots and integrations are not as significant.
But keep in mind...
- With Discord users, members of the community use one account to log in to several communities. This model of user means that the ability to sign up for new communities in one click (versus the creation of a separate user account for each community). It's also impossible to create different avatars for various communities. This could be a worry for people who utilized Discord mostly to play games before. It's possible that some people would not be able to use their Stormtrooper headshots in a professional setting.
- Discord's style and copy is fun and gaming-focused This can be confusing for people who aren't comfortable with the gaming roots of Discord.
- Note from the editor: As of the post's release, Discord has dialed back its gamer-centric messages and has rebranded itself as "Your space to discuss." We're expecting the gamer-centric impressions to become a tiny part of your Discord interaction as it aims to reach out beyond gaming communities.
Use Discourse if...
- A lot of community members likely be facing similar issues or questions and you'd like to direct them to a collection of commonly asked questions
- It is important for community-generated content to be listed (and therefore search results). This allows new members to discover the community, while also reducing the support load of the core team.
- Moderation and permissions that are finely grained are essential.
- There are enough community members to be ineffective.
- Synchronous communication isn't necessary for instance, if your community is spread across multiple different time zones.
- You're willing to pay to host forum software or you are able to host it on your own.
- You're looking to utilize the open-source platform.
But keep in mind...
- There are a variety of technological options to create your own community on Discourse and this includes installing an open source application on servers of your own or paying a third-party to host your site, or even paying Discourse.org for a completely hosted solution.
- For members who are new beginning a new thread in a forum may be perceived as having a higher threshold to enter as opposed to just asking "hello" in chat channels.
Use both chat (Discord or Slack) + Discourse if...
- You're in search of an index of content (Discourse) and real-time vibrations (chat).
- Has the bandwidth needed to handle different platforms.
- You may want distinct spaces for groups, such as chat rooms for your champions , and an open forum for all others.
- NOTE: Discourse offers a plugin to integrate Chat platforms .
Three essential aspects to be considered when choosing a community-based platform
If you're choosing a platform you'll have to weigh certain aspects more than others based on the circumstances. These factors can provide you with guidelines for evaluating your possibilities.
How big is your audience
Beginning from scratch (or very close to)
In the beginning of a community's existence it is crucial for coordinators to make strong connections with the initial group of members. This is because early users are more likely to participate in discussions, respond to questions, and engage by making the community seem lively and lively. Chat can be a good option to do this. Governance and scale are not as much of an issue in this phase.
Many community members
In this stage, chat services are beginning to appear inaccessible for a variety of reasons. The first is that moderated conversations become a problem because it's difficult for a small team of community administrators to manage the number of chats happening (Discord is ahead of Slack in this regard). ).
The second reason is that many users complain that using chat services, they frequently respond to the same question or answer the same question several times. Chat conversations disappear too fast for other users to find easily and, since they're not indexable or perma-linked and aren't perma-linked, it's hard to find previous answers to questions.
Thousands of members
For established, large groups, forums are usually the best choice, considering that live chat can be challenging to handle and has can be difficult on large scales.
Discourse gives fine-grained permissions as well as moderation that large communities appreciate. Furthermore, because large communities generate a lot of material, they will benefit from sharing and indexing content.
Your team's size
The choice of a community platform should consider the ability of your team in managing different channels. Also, consider their availability in time zones and the amount of users who are able to participate with your chosen platform, all of which are an indication of the size of your team.
Teams of small size
Smaller teams typically start using a single platform as that's what they are able to handle given their capacity. Teams that are smaller than three should choose only one platform to maximize on their work and to keep overheads low.
They are more self-sufficient than small groups and won't have to rely as heavily on other teams to provide support. They could be able use several platforms, but they often opt to focus on one platform, for example, better defining the roles and responsibilities of the team, and defining team members to work on particular aspects that the system offers.
Larger teams can manage various sub-communities and platforms for example, a Slack channel for your MVPs, and Discourse for all others. However, doing this creates a significant amount of costs regarding process management as well as identity resolution and governance. But, larger teams in larger organizations tend to be better prepared to prepare for and manage the complexities of these situations.
Your community's engagement model
What are the norms and values you would like your members of your community to model? Do you want to create an informal atmosphere where people are able to gather, discuss and discuss? Are you more concerned with cultivating deep collaboration and sharing of knowledge? When you have decided that you want to collaborate, consider the engagement model you choose into the tool you choose.
in People Powered, Jono Bacon describes three engagement models we believe are beneficial to think about when selecting platforms:
These communities are based on ephemeral and impromptu discussions on common interests. They also emphasize the connection that is based on those subjects. For instance, there are communities that discuss gaming, art or general trends in technology.
In this model of engagement Community members share knowledge and experiences regarding a shared technology or tool which focuses on enhancing one's knowledge and knowledge. They often help each other by sharing examples and demonstrations which encourage participation from fellow members of the community.
Examples include companies-specific communities such as for instance the Roam research Slack community, where members discuss their own custom CSS as well as browser extension, as along with how-to videos in order to give their advice and help other users succeed.
In groups of collaborators where members collaborate on common projects. The most prominent example can be found in open source software which is where people from all over the world collaborate to create and enhance an open source codebase.
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