With the rise of Discord, a lot of mini-communities are formed. Every league, team, or streamer has their own Discord server now. I am not certain spreading the sim racing community over smaller communities is necessarily a good thing, but that is another discussion.

Discord is an all-in-one voice and text chat and is very similar to Slack. Slack is used a lot in companies, especially (web) development departments. As a front-end developer, I use Slack a lot. I have learned how to use an instant message (IM) tool in a large group. Spoiler alert: it is different than your family or friends Whatsapp group.

Tools like Discord and Slack can be very powerful when used in the right way. If you are using it like your standard Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, it can be a frustrating experience. I would like to share some of the good practices I have learned from Slack, so the sim racing community also can mature and make sure Discord stays a pleasant environment for everybody.

Use mentions mindfully

Discord will notify users every time they get mentioned (or when using @everyone). Don’t draw attention, just because you can. It can become quite irritating when you get notification for not urgent matters or when you are not directly involved.

When mentioning someone, make sure you want to that person to act on something and make it clear what that is.

For example, when someone asks if we know about a certain issue and someone responds with:
Yes, @Niel is already working on it.

There are a couple of ways to improve this response:

  • If you are going to mention someone, it should be the person asking the questions.
  • Everyone who gets mentioned, receives a notification. However, in this case I would already be working on it and there is no need to inform me again. It is not respectful to pull someone into a conversation for no reason.

As the server admin, try to limit using @everyone to a minimum. Only use this if everyone needs to know. Only mention people or the entire channel if they need to take action.

Don’t spam

This is quite an obvious one. Or at least should be. Spamming, or ‘bombing’, is when you send multiple short messages in a row that don’t convey any information.

Hey (2 sec ago)
Please help. (2 sec ago)
Are you there? (2 sec ago

Especially when sending a DM, the other user will receive notifications for every message. Remember, you don’t know the schedule of other people. They might be in the middle of something or need to focus, for whatever reason. Send one message instead.

Hey, I am looking for this article in the regulations. Can you point me in the right direction?

Discord is a communication tool, not a vault.

Discord is a communication tool, not a collaboration tool. It is very easy to lose documents over time, even when pinned, and it is quite a challenge to find certain documents back. Especially when there has been a lot of activity in a channel.

Instead of using Discord as a file repository, it is better to use a collaborative tool like Google Drive or Dropbox, and reference those documents in Discord. This will avoid the channel being bloated and stay organised. Nothing is worse than going scrolling through the chat than searching for that particular message for a certain file.

Even better, to have a place for participants (in case you have your own league) where they can find all relevant information. Side note: I am working on such environment for NEO and will share some stuff about in another blog.

Acknowledge messages and requests

Everybody is busy and nobody has the same schedule. You receive a notification on Discord and you decide to act on it tomorrow. Now it is out of your mind, but the other person doesn’t know this.

Don’t snooze on the message and make the other person feel ignored. It is good practice to tell the other person you read the message and let them know when you will act on it. Even if you don’t know the answer, a simple “I don’t know right now” helps a lot.

On the flip side, you should not expect an immediate answer when you message someone. As said before, you don’t know the schedule of someone else. Maybe that person is in another time zone.

Criticize privately

Constructive criticism and feedback is important in a community. Especially when you have to deal with each other throughout a season, and beyond. It helps everyone to get better and make it enjoyable for everyone on the track. It is as important to handle this delicately. A public forum is not really the right place for this.

Never criticize someone in a public channel. It is not just bad etiquette online. Publicly criticising someone can be disrespectful offline as well. Feedback and criticism should be done one-on-one. This can be via a private message or a call.

Criticising or giving someone bad feedback in public can feel demeaning. Within the sim racing community, the public criticism is often not constructive either. This just doesn’t affect that person’s morale, but it can also affect the atmosphere within the community. Then you end up in a downwards spiral where everybody is angry at each other. That does not help the on track driving standards.

On the other end of the spectrum, share the praise publicly. This will improve the mood overall. Not everybody will be involved in a great battle or be part of a project. It is difficult for the rest of the community to appreciate their work when they are not directly involved. When you are able to share someone’s success with the rest of the community, they know they are appreciated.

Wrapping up

Discord is an amazing tool to communicate with each other. Though you need to be careful about getting carried away. Especially in an argument. Remember, it is fine to disagree with someone. You do not have to convince the other person of your opinion.

Keep the person on the other side of the line in mind. It is easy to forget this when you are using text chat. Also, make sure your message gets conveyed correctly. You might need more words to give your message more context. Plain text doesn’t convey the tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language we use in face-to-face conversations.

All in all it comes down to one principle: don’t be an asshole.