I’m going to be slightly contrarian and say that I like Discord. It’s great to be able to get real-time help on a problem. And it is fun to see, again in real-time, what other people are working on and struggling with.

In truth, Discord is no harder to sign up to than Slack, Matrix, Gitter, IRC, or whatever. And of course Open Source projects will follow the maxim of “go where your audience are”. There’s no point posting everything to MySpace when everyone’s already on Facebook.

Do I care that Discord isn’t open source? Well, kinda. But I can open it in Firefox and it works just fine.

Discord is perfect for ephemeral communications.

But it is not a fucking substitute for documentation!

I’m currently getting started, and increasingly frustrated, with the Watchy development platform. They’ve effectively said “here’s a barebones guide to setting it up – anything else, ask on Discord” – and it fucking sucks.

There’s no API documentation – I have to scroll through a million messages to find anything.

I can’t use search, because people don’t know how to thread. So I can see questions but not replies.

When I do find replies, it’s hard to know how relevant they are. A typical Discord chat looks like:

  • Alice: What’s the command to go fullscreen?
  • Bob: Anyone know how I irrevocably format my disk without confirmation?
  • Carol: Oh, yeah, it’s easy. Just pass the -f flag.

Errrr…

And then you get the people who get snippy with newbie for asking a question which is frequently seen! So infuriating.

I’m not necessarily advocating for the Four-Document Model – which has some critics – but I just don’t understand why wouldn’t at least collate all of the common questions and put the answers in one place.

Look, writing a FAQ is probably not the right way to approach comprehensive documentation. But if you can’t even be bothered to do that, perhaps you shouldn’t be releasing a product in the first place?

/rant

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