Discord is getting rid of Stage Discovery, and it’s easy to see why


Discord's newish Stage Channels are a nice addition to the chat software. Normal Discord voice channels are usually free-for-alls in which anyone can speak, whereas in Stage Channels, mods can more easily designate speakers and call on audience members for panels and Q&As. They're similar to Twitter Spaces—Silicon Valley types love moderated voice rooms right now—and they're sticking around and getting new features, such as event scheduling. A related Discord feature that is not sticking around, however, is Stage Discovery, which publicly showcases active Stage Channels from around Discord's enormous network.

Discord only kind of explains why Stage Discovery is getting the boot on October 4. 

“In listening to our communities and admins directly, we've learned that we still have work to do in regards to server onboarding and moderation,” the company said in a blog post today. “…We're going to take some time to rethink the Discovery aspect of Stages and how we can better build a place that best connects people to the communities most relevant to them.”

I'm pretty sure I can tell you why Stage Discovery is going away, though, and all I have to do is look at it. Here are some of the Stage Channels it's currently showing me:

  • DEBATE: God does not exist
  • Is there more than two genders?
  • Memepalooza2
  • SPEED DATING (anyone can participate) (PG-13)
  • Confess Your Secrets 😳
  • BANGING

I think that makes it pretty clear why Discord has reconsidered surfacing what goes on in other people's servers. 

When I talked to Discord about privacy in 2019, it said that, for the most part, it doesn't proactively monitor what people are doing in servers. If you and your friends like to have vulgar discussions that would go too far for others, Discord agents aren't going to burst through the door with mod badges unless someone in your server invites them by filing a report, and even then nothing may happen. The company isn't wiretapping millions of voice channels to make sure everyone's being chill.

So, if you take whatever a bunch of teenagers happen to be talking about in the wilds of 1,000 to 30,000-person servers and show it to a Rocket League player in his mid-30s who uses Discord to talk to friends about how the weather is where they live, you're at best not going to find a good match. At worst, Stage Discovery may hurt, disgust, or anger people with what it surfaces.

Still, curious about what I'd been missing by not using this soon-to-be dead Discord feature, I entered Memepalooza2, which seemed like the Stage Channel in which I was least likely to overhear something I'd regret overhearing. The discussion was a bit hard to follow, but it was about getting rich with NFTs. I should've known that's what it would be.

Aside from the cryptolords and the obvious technological improvements, it all reminds me of my teenage experiences in unmoderated Yahoo! chat rooms in the late '90s and early 2000s. The only other big difference is that people don't use “^_^” as much anymore.

In today's Discord blog post, you can read a little more about the decision to get rid of Stage Discovery. The company also briefly mentions some new Discord features on the way, including “more screening functionality so you can get the right members into your community easily and securely.” 

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