Virtual Un-distancing and De-isolation: #1 – Discord

No, I’m not suggesting you immediately head outside and start hugging everyone you meet.

This is a series of posts, for the slightly technical at heart, covering how to set up various means of contacting your fellow human beings, above and beyond the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of the above, but sometimes it’s good to hear a voice or see a face. With that in mind, then, let’s get cracking.

Discord is a text based chat app (at least on the surface) that started life as an outside-the-game means of video gamers keeping in touch. As such, it also has group voice chat channels, and 1:1 or small group voice and video chat.

Most of the time, you’ll get brought into Discord via an invite link: just click it, create a Discord account (they’re centralised) if you don’t have one already, and off you go. You can survive on the website, or there are clients for computers and tablets.

If you want to create your own server, it’s surprisingly simple:

On almost all the clients, down the bottom of the left hand sidebar is a big plus sign. Click it, select Create A Server, give it a name, and off you go.

Next, you’ll be prompted with a list of friends to invite and also an invite link, like the one you probably got to start your time on Discord. The default link expires after a day, or you can choose to create one with a longer expiry time up to and including never. Guard it relatively jealously, if you’re creating a server for a closed community, so Not Just Anyone can join (I just expired the one below :D)

Click the X to make that go away (you can always find the invite link again if you need to) and there you are – a Discord server with one text channel (#general) and one voice channel (called General as well) and a page of useful links.

Text chat is easy: just type in the channel, and people will see. If you have other folks (who’ve accepted your invite), and you type @, it will auto-complete as you keep typing with people’s nicknames, if you need to get their attention. Note that as well a visible nickname, which you can set per server, there’s a full nickname (usually the first one you picked plus a string of numbers) which is unique across all of Discord.

Text chat is persistent, and you will be able to catch up on what you missed when you weren’t logged in, Also, you can edit and delete posts after the fact, as well as share links and images.

Voice chat requires a mic and speakers, though I’d recommend headphones so the sound from the speakers doesn’t get into your mic. If you right click on the gear icon next to your nickname (bottom left of screen) you can get into Voice and video settings, and set up audio. Down bottom left you’ll also find ‘mute’ and ‘deafen’ icons to turn off your mic and/or audio, and just above it a little handset icon with a cross, which is where you can disconnect from the voice channel.

Next time, I’ll explain about Roles (to restrict who can do what on various channels) and also some useful bots you can invite to your server to help out with various functions.

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