Discord is a communication platform oriented toward online gaming. Discord is loosely modeled on IRC Chat, but provides many additional features, such as voice chat and screen sharing.
Since February 2020, Foldit has had a Discord server, allowing players to become familiar with the environment. The Foldit IRC server continues to operate as before.
Access to Discord requires setting up a free account. An existing Discord account can also be used with the Foldit server. To aid in identification, players with an existing Discord account can change their nicknames for the Foldit server. (There's a "Change Nickname" option in the server settings, which are generally in the upper left of the Discord screen.)
Much like IRC, Discord has text channels, which have names beginning with a hash/pound sign. On the Foldit Discord server, the text channels include:
- #welcome - information about Foldit and the Foldit Discord server
- #getting-started - information about getting started with Foldit
- #general - general discussions about Foldit and other topics
- #tips-and-trick - tips for playing Foldit
- #recipes - Foldit recipes and recipe writing
Additionally, there are voice channels, with don't start with a hash mark:
So far, there's been limited use of the voice channels on the Foldit server.
Compare to IRC chat, Discord offers several advantages:
- better sharing of links
- high availability, service is actively monitored by Discord staff
- apps or client for most major platforms, also web access
- a user can be connected through multiple platforms at the same time
- text messages persist, allowing offline users to catch up later
- many options for customizing notifications and other "user experience" settings
- better "look and feel", compared to Foldit in-game chat or other IRC clients
While Discord offers advantages over IRC, there are also some limitations:
- nicknames don't necessarily correspond to Foldit player names
- unlike Foldit in-game chat, clicking on a player name doesn't open their Foldit profile
- no integration with the screenshot feature in Foldit, although there are good alternatives
- tools used to capture Foldit scientist/developer chats won't work on Discord
- no restrictions on posting links outside of Foldit
- no profanity filter on text chat
While Discord lacks some of the automated "community rules" features of Foldit chat, the Foldit server still has people assigned to a moderator role. Moderators have tools, such as kicks and bans, derived from IRC, that can be used to enforce moderation. Additionally, Discord service and staff may provide an additional line of defense against malicious content.