Using Discord as a Communication Hub for Friends and Family

Using Discord as a Communication Hub for Friends and Family
Photo by Alexander Shatov / Unsplash

Creating your own Discord server is fast, free, and not just for gamers. For the last couple of months, my husband and I have been using a Discord server alongside iMessage as our main method of digital communication.

Some percentage of our communication is immediate and practical – “Do we need more milk?” – but a significant amount of our texts are shared links, films we want to watch, places we want to go, etc. We found this kind of thing gets lost in the single stream that most messaging apps use.

Discord has a number of advantages over a conventional messaging app for these purposes:

  • Multiple channels for different topics. Topics can be grouped into categories. We have top level ‘fun’ and ‘serious’ categories, beneath which we have text channels for different areas of interest.
  • Pin and edit messages. For example, we use this to keep track of TV series we are behind on in our TV and film channel, and places we’d like to visit in travel.
  • Threads, both permanent and transient. This is really helpful when we share links to keep discussion all in one place.
  • Bots! I’ve created a personal bot which currently does a small number of specific things that suit our purposes. The framework is very extensible and could be used much more widely in future. There are thousands of third party bots, many totally free, that can be used to do all manner of things – play music, play chess, get the latest space news, follow subreddits, or monitor free game offers.
  • Granular notification control. Notifications can be managed per channel, so it’s easy to turn off those that are not of immediate interest.
  • Granular permissions. Users (including bots) can have restricted access to text and voice channels as you see fit. This could be useful in a wider family/friends setup.
  • Following announcements from other servers. You can follow announcement channels from other Discord servers. We use this to get news about latest game releases all in one place.

This is only scratching the surface – one of the main features is voice chat, which we don’t use at all for this setup. Discord also supports streaming and events.

To create your own Discord server, download the app and tap the ‘+’ icon in the left hand column to get started.