Letter 23: A Guide to Discord
From beginner to seasoned veteran, hopefully some tips to help everyone
Welcome to the 1,503 new subscribers who have signed up to receive these Letters since the last one went out. Join 14,412 smart people eager to learn more about the NFT space by subscribing here:
Here’s something a bit different for you. Given how prevalent Discord is within the NFT space, this might actually end up being my most useful Letter to date. There are lots of people joining the NFT scene that have never used Discord and I hope that this is a good “starter guide” for them. Furthermore, there are plenty of us that have been using Discord for months, if not years, that could perhaps learn a thing or ten on how to optimise our experience with the program. Let’s dive right in.
What is Discord?
It’s basically a chat room. To be a bit more accurate, it’s a platform/application which allows you to create / join chat rooms, which are called “servers”. It’s useful for having focused discussions between large groups of people. Often a group chat on Telegram, or Whatsapp, or any other chat program, gets unruly and difficult to follow once more than a couple dozen people start chatting in there.
With Discord you can create “channels” within each server that themselves act as mini-chat rooms which helps to organise the flow of information and discussion.
Okay but why Discord?
For better or worse, the NFT space (and the Crypto space at large) has decided to conduct an enormous amount of its activity in Discord servers. Every project has their own server. The Bored Ape Yacht Club has a server, the Cool Cats has a server, Larva Labs has a server, Art Blocks has a server. These servers are treasure troves of valuable information, and more than that, they are the heart and soul of a project.
These servers are where the communities around projects congregate, and bond. If I have an interest in Art Blocks and generative art, and I want to talk about it with other people, there is literally no better place on earth than the Art Blocks Discord Server to do that. You have a direct line to every artist that has released a curated drop there. You have a way to chat to other collectors and talk about the art; what you like, and what you don’t like. You have a way to give feedback to the staff that work at AB. You can read announcements about the goings-on behind the scenes, and about upcoming drops/news.
If you’re contemplating buying a Bored Ape, or a Mutant Ape, but you want to get to know the community a bit better first.. you go to the BAYC Discord Server. You can read every announcement that the team has made since they launched the project 7 months ago. You can chat to other community members and ask what they like about the project. You can be a fly on the wall and simply observe the vibe of the community for a week if you want. You can get a real feel for the project by hanging out in their Discord server.
Sure you can get a bit of a inkling for these things by following the projects on twitter and reading their website. But it’s just not the same. Take my word on this.
If you want to be serious about NFTs, you absolutely must become familiar with Discord.
How to Discord?
If you don’t already have the program, you can download it here. Follow the instructions to set up an account, and then there are a couple of things everyone should do to increase the security of their account.
Set up two-factor authorization by following this quick guide. This is less for your personal security and more for the security of everyone you interact with, especially if you are or might become a mod/admin of any servers. It effectively greatly reduces the chance that your account can get hacked and a malicious actor could use your account for nefarious purposes.
Go to Settings → Privacy & Safety → Turn OFF ‘allow direct messages from server members’. One of the most common scams perpetrated on Discord is for someone to send out DMs (direct messages) to people with a link to a dangerous website. The scam comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes from “hey friend this amazing mint is happening right now, you must get in on it!” to “sign up here for a free chance at winning a cryptopunk!” and many more. There is almost no good reason for someone to out-of-the-blue DM you. If someone wants to message you, then can strike up a conversation in one of the servers and request to be your friend — then if you accept you’ll be able to have a private conversation.
There are all sorts of other settings you can adjust to personalise your experience, but these are the only two that I would consider mandatory best practices.
Once your account is set up, it’s time to join some servers. If you already know which ones you want to join (a project you are interested in, for instance), great. You can usually find a link to their server on their website or Twitter profile. If you don’t know where to begin, might I suggest one of the most beginner friendly servers I have ever seen: https://discord.gg/catc. This is the Discord Server “invite link” for the Curious Addys Trading Club project.
Once you join you’ll notice there are a lot of “channels” on the left with various names: Announcements, Resources, General, Beginners-Chat, etc. Discord can be overwhelming at first, but please give it a chance. Like any new software or product, it takes a little getting used to, and then it’s second nature. There’s a great “start-here” channel in the CATC server, which I think most good servers ought to have.
And that’s a bout it. You now know how to Discord. With time, you will start to add more servers simply in due course of researching and investigating and going further down the rabbit hole that is the NFT world.
Down and down you go. I don’t mean to scare you, but it really does get dark at a certain point. Once you keep adding more and more servers for projects you’re interested and invested in, it quickly spirals out of control and you lose all semblance of what is happening. You feel constantly overwhelmed and like you’re missing things all the time because you can’t keep up with all the notifications. Or at least, this is what happens to 99% of us. Every now and then there’s a unicorn that knows how to optimise their Discord experience and keep it “clean and organised”.
I am not one of those people, but I hope to become one, and I hope to share the process with you in the hopes that you can also utilise some of these tips to stay on top of your Discord management.
How to Discord well
So there’s two ways to tackle Discord management, in my mind at least. One the macro level and on the micro level. The macro level is managing all the servers you are in, while the micro level is managing what happens inside each server. Let’s look at the macro level first.
On the left you see all the servers I am in. I’m in 200. That is the literal max you can be in. Once you get to 100 you basically have to pay to upgrade your account for additional features, one of which is access to add more servers. I always thought that if I ever got that close, I’d just leave some and add more — no way did I need to be in more than 100 servers. That’s probably still true but boy do I find it hard to get back down under 100 now!
How on earth can you possibly manage being in 200 servers? Well, you can’t. Not really. It would probably take 500 hours a day to read all the messages in all the servers. That’s not the point of being in that many though. Most of the servers I am in, I keep because I want to occasionally check in on them and read their announcements. Sometimes I’m like “huh, I wonder what’s going on with the BYOPills, let me go read the last few announcements”.
The issue there is just finding the server in the giant list on the left is a nightmare. Enter folders. You can group servers together into folders. If you see in the image above, I’ve sorta done it with some of my servers but I got lazy and distracted and didn’t follow through and so it’s still all a mess. In order to add servers to a folder, you just click and hold one and drag it into another one — boom, a folder is created.
I’m going to, in real time, organise all my servers into folders now.
Voila! Holy moly is that a lot cleaner. Another secret hack - if you hate those red notifications, you can right-click a folder and select “mark folder as read” and poof. They’re all gone. You can also change the background colour + add a title to make them easier to recognise. I kept the two ZenAcademy servers at the top and then organised the rest of the channels into these folders:
The 333 Projects
Partnerships & Collabs
Gaming & Metaverse
I legitimately feel so much better right now. The usual feeling of “I have no idea what is going on in any of these servers” is somehow drastically lessened. Even though I still have no idea what’s going on in any of these servers, I at least know immediately how and where to find a project or server now if I do want to know what’s going on.
If you want another way for finding a server, ctrl+K is an excellent shortcut to use. It brings up a search box and you can type basically anything in and it will help you find it — whether it’s a server name, or a channel within a server. In fact there’s a tonne of great shortcuts, but ctrl+K is by far my favourite of the bunch.
Alright, we’ve looked at how to organise our Discord from a macro level, now let’s take a look at how to clean things up within a server. I’ll use the ZenAcademy server as an example here because we now have 100+ channels in the server and a common request is to eliminate some of the channels to make it easier to manage. I’m going to show you some techniques you can use to manually and effectively “eliminate” the channels from your Discord experience.
For starters, any time you enter a server I think it’s good practice to change the server notification settings so that only @mentions notify you. To do this right-click on the server in the left panel → click on Notification Settings → select “only @ mentions”.
Now we’re gonna look at the channels.
You’ll notice that a few of the channels are in bright white (“welcome”, “verify-nft-ownership”, and “alpha-no-shilling”). This indicates that there’s an un-read message in them (“glossary” is in white b/c that’s the channel we’re currently focused on). All the other channels are grayed out, meaning there are no new messages there. If we click on the tiny arrow indicators circled, we can collapse the categories so they will only show channels that have new messages. This can really clean up the look of a server:
Voila, again! Now rather than having to scroll through 100+ channels to find any with unread messages, they will automatically pop up when there’s a new message (and then disappear once you leave to go to another channel).
This is great and all but what happens when the server is really buzzing and there’s activity in a few dozen channels at once and there’s unread channels popping up left right and center? Here’s where the real organisational magic happens. You can mute channels/categories so that even if someone posts a message in there, the channel won’t pop up in your sidebar. It will effectively be like the channel doesn’t exist, unless you go looking for it.
It’s super easy to do, too. Just right-click the channel (or category) that you have zero interest in and click on “mute channel”. You can also hover into the → settings and mute it only for a set amount of time, but I think for most intents and purposes you’ll be wanting to indefinitely mute until such a time that you want to un-mute (which you can do following the exact same steps).
You can see here that we have a lot of projects in the “rainbow chip projects” category. Chances are most people aren’t interested in most of them. Instead of having us as a server delete the channels, instead you as a user can mute them which effectively deletes them from your experience. If you now “collapse” the category, you’ll never see them. Note at the bottom I have muted “other blockchains”, “other languages” and “archived”. If you don’t speak another language and have no interest in non-eth chains, you can do this, and they’ll basically be out-of-sight-out-of-mind for you.
All of a sudden a server with 130 channels can, if you want, act like a server with 6 channels. It’s kinda magical.
A few more random tips
If you see that you’ve got an @ notification in a server but can’t find exactly where it’s coming from, a great way to find it is typing in the search bar: mentions: <your username> and it will find any time you’ve been mentioned in the server.
If you’re looking for more information about a channel/topic, check the pinned messages. Often you can find things like opensea links, twitter pages/websites, announcements, etc, all in the pinned messages.
Threads can be useful. Creating a thread effectively creates a mini/temporary channel. If the channel you’re in has a lot of conversations happening at once, you can create a thread and splinter the conversation off to keep it all contained in one place. This also makes it easier to find in the future — for example, we currently have a thread on “Bear Game”, one of the Wolf Game forks. We had a lot of discussion going on the day it dropped but it didn’t seem to warrant a channel of its own, so we created a thread and now all the chat is contained there.
Discord gets a lot of hate, and it for sure has a lot of flaws. I do think though that the user experience can be greatly improved by utilising a few of the tips and tricks mentioned in this post.
I hope you found this post helpful. I’m sure there are a few of you that knew everything in here already — but I would wager that most people would take away at least one thing which will improve their Discord experience from this Letter.
We’re Still Early.
Disclaimer: The content covered in this newsletter is not to be considered as investment advice. I’m not a financial adviser. These are only my own opinions and ideas. You should always consult with a professional/licensed financial adviser before trading or investing in any cryptocurrency related product.
Disclosure: I am an advisor for the Curious Addys Trading Club project mentioned in this post. I will receive 6% of their initial sale revenue (which has already occurred) in about 10 weeks from now. I also received 80 NFTs from them, which I still hold, in addition to about 8 more that I’ve purchased. I have no intention of selling any of these any time soon.