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Discord vs. Slack - Help me Decide


In mankind's history, there’s been an ever-growing need for effective communication amongst individuals of different backgrounds, races and in different locations. Our world’s technological achievement has led to the creation of various tools that make communication, between a wide range of audiences, seamless.

In this article, we will compare two popular tools used for communication on a global scale:

  1. Discord, which is mostly known for enabling communication among gamers.
  2. Slack, which is mostly reckoned for communication within work teams.

Let's dive right in!

General Overview

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Discord, on one hand, is a proprietary VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) application and digital content distribution platform. It is designed to aid video gaming communities by enabling users to communicate via video, audio, images and text as the need may be. It was first released in May 2015.

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Slack, on the other hand, is a cloud-based collaboration software used by businesses and teams as some sort of virtual office where conversations happen, decisions are made, and useful information is shared.

Discord and Slack are generally very similar, both being software used by teams for communication within an environment that is sub-categorized into channels for effective organization of discussions. The major difference between these tools is in their target audiences and as a result, they possess different strengths feature-wise.

Target Audience

Slack primarily targets being the communication tool for businesses. In their words "Slack is where your team comes together to collaborate, important information can be found by the right people, and your tools pipe in information when and where you need it.” Discord, however, targets the gaming community. It aims to stand as the go-to communication platform for gamers.

As a result of the different audiences targeted, Slack focuses on features that are business-enabling such as audit, document management, identity management, and searching. Discord, on the other hand, focuses on chat, voice calls, and high-speed performance.

On the subject of suitability, one could argue that a platform that can be used for gaming where split seconds are important, would definitely suffice for real-time communication and information distribution within businesses.

Common Features

Both platforms have very similar features. They both support text, audio and video communications, files sharing, channels, direct-messaging, one-click invite system, advanced search, notifications, multiple team support, push notifications on mobile, bots etc.

Because their target audiences are different, each of these communication tools tend to promote some features above others. For Slack features like file sharing and direct integration with over 800 applications would suffice. For Discord, its audio chat room feature is a case in point.

Performance

In this section, we will look into the technical specifications of both platforms as well as highlight their resource consumption capabilities.

Slack runs on the web and the following Operating Systems: Chrome, iOS, Android, Mac OS and Windows. It permits screen sharing and allows for integration with a wide range of productivity tools used by businesses for various tasks. It text chats, allows file sharing (media inclusive), private and public channels and advanced search.

On the topic of resource consumption, Slack isn't very much favoured as it is widely observed that CPU and memory usage increase linearly as you add more accounts to the Slack desktop client. There’s even a famous joke that tells how in the past, scientists sent people to the moon with computers that ran on just a few kilobytes of RAM, whereas modern devices with over 2GB of RAM have a hard time running Slack.

Like Slack, Discord also supports usage on a wide range of platforms from the web, Android, iOS and Mac, to Windows and Linux. In addition to text chatting, it allows for audio and video communication. It also permits file sharing (media files inclusive) and message deletion is allowed, although all messages are permanently stored on the server.

Note: This means that whatever messages an individual deletes, they are only deleted for that individual alone.

Discord also supports advanced search, private and public channels as well as user groups.

On the resource consumption side, Discord consumes slightly lesser RAM than Slack does, especially during heavy usage.

The desktop client for both platforms are built with Electron and this means that every update also comes with Chromium( the over 20 million lines of code, ~30MB [packaged] Web runtime), Node and all the other Electron components unless the update is a delta or differential update.

Note: RAM consumption isn’t always what most people (who complain about these tools) think it is. Naturally, the operating system is optimized to pull up RAM from places where it's not in use whenever it needs it. This means that after making use of memory, these tools will not dump memory until the system needs it for something else as there is a chance of the application needing it again. On this ground, the high resource consumption claims are somewhat dismissable as it is determined by an individual’s usage.

Pricing

Both platforms operate a "freemium model." This means that basic features are offered and accessible at no cost at all while users have to pay to unlock extra (premium) features.

Slack has three pricing tiers — Free, Standard, and Plus with prices ranging from $0 to $12.50 per month when billed annually and $0 to $15 per month when billed monthly. A primary differentiating factor among these tiers is in the amount of storage available and the number of integrations allowed which is 5GB and 10 integrations respectively for the free tier.

On Discord, users can access most of its features on the free plan and there is no limit to the number of members allowed per server. There is also the optional upgrade available; the Discord Nitro subscription model unlocks a few more (extra) features.

Slack, on the other hand, has a very limited free version which restricts access to just 10K of your team's most recent messages and 10 third-party or custom integrations. Access to most of its features (e.g shared channels, single-channel guests, multi-channel guests, OAuth with Google, voice and video calls, screen sharing etc.) are tied to the paid version.

This might be somewhat alarming as some of these are basic features that one would expect to be available for free just like on Discord.

Integrations

Slack supports over 800+ application integrations for different purposes. It integrates seamlessly with the following tools: Asana, Sentry, Trello, Guru, Adobe CC, GitHub, Dropbox, MailChimp, and dozens of other tools that can be found here. These enable teams to keep everything about their discussions in one place and properly organize work and information distribution.

Discord on its part doesn’t support nearly as many integrations as Slack does, however, its rich presence feature makes it possible for developers to create experiences that allow players to jump into games with friends, spectate during matches and send party invites. As described on the official website, rich presence allows you to leverage the totally overhauled "Now Playing" section in a Discord user's profile to help people play your game together.

Conclusion

Slack and Discord are both amazing communication and collaboration tools for teams. They are specifically engineered for different audiences, however, the striking similarities in the features offered indicate that both platforms would suffice in more use cases than generally intended.

Hence, it is mostly a thing of preference in cases where both platforms meet the requirements of the individual.

Further Reading

Find more information on this topic via the following links:

Discord vs Slack: What are the differences?

What is Discord? All-in-one voice and text chat for gamers that’s free, secure, and works on both your desktop and phone. Discord is a modern free voice & text chat app for groups of gamers. Our resilient Erlang backend running on the cloud has built in DDoS protection with automatic server failover.

What is Slack? Bring all your communication together in one place. Imagine all your team communication in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go. That’s Slack. All your messages. All your files. And everything from Twitter, Dropbox, Google Docs, Asana, Trello, GitHub and dozens of other services. All together.

Discord can be classified as a tool in the "Web and Video Conferencing" category, while Slack is grouped under "Group Chat & Notifications".

"Fast and easy set-ups and connections" is the primary reason why developers consider Discord over the competitors, whereas "Easy to integrate with" was stated as the key factor in picking Slack.

Airbnb, Dropbox, and Medium are some of the popular companies that use Slack, whereas Discord is used by Bitupper, Kistriver, and SuperBuddy. Slack has a broader approval, being mentioned in 4796 company stacks & 3483 developers stacks; compared to Discord, which is listed in 45 company stacks and 38 developer stacks.

Advice on Discord and Slack
Needs advice
on
Zoom
and
Discord

I want to host an online Jeopardy game with less than 30 participants. During each round of the game, I'll stream some videos. The point is to gather friends together to play the Jeopardy game and watch random stuff. Please let me know if there's a more suitable platform other than Discord and Zoom. Thanks, everyone!

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Replies (1)
Rural Anemone
Head Devoloper/coder at Super Smash Eternal · | 2 upvotes · 99.8K views

Personally, I think that Discord works much better than anything else, even if you don't have Nitro (which is what they call their premium plan). You could seriously do this Jeopardy thing with just Discord (and maybe a bot to make it easier)

Zoom would only let you have a crappy meeting that hackers could easily join. Discord actually has DDoS protection, Zoom just has things that can easily be bypassed.

And if you do want Nitro, it's only $9/mo or $99/yr

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Needs advice
on
Slack
Discord
and
Gitter

From a StackShare Community member: “We’re about to start a chat group for our open source project (over 5K stars on GitHub) so we can let our community collaborate more closely. The obvious choice would be Slack (k8s and a ton of major projects use it), but we’ve seen Gitter (webpack uses it) for a lot of open source projects, Discord (Vue.js moved to them), and as of late I’m seeing Spectrum more and more often. Does anyone have experience with these or other alternatives? Is it even worth assessing all these options, or should we just go with Slack? Some things that are important to us: free, all the regular integrations (GitHub, Heroku, etc), mobile & desktop apps, and open source is of course a plus."

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Replies (4)
Rebecca Driscoll
Recommends
Slack
at

We use Slack to increase productivity by simplifying communication and putting Slack in the middle of our communication workflow #Communications #Collaboration

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Arnaud Lemercier
Expert En Dveloppement Web Et Systmes Dinformations, Designer UX, UI, Co-grant at Wixiweb · | 4 upvotes · 129.2K views
Recommends
Discord
at

We use Discord to tracking some action and errors (logs / alerting / assertion). it's free and simple to use with mobile application et notifications

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Michael Ionita
Recommends
Slack
at

We use Slack because we can let "tools talk to us" and automate processes in our dev team using bots.

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Julien Tanay
Lead DevOps. Every day product hacker. at Dior · | 2 upvotes · 125.7K views
Recommends
Discord
at

Our Discord Server is our n°1 community stop; we gather feedback from our users from here, discuss about new features, announce new releases, and so on.

We even use it for internal meetings and calls !

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Decisions about Discord and Slack
Chose
Discord
over
Zoom

as many people say that you can only hold 30 to 10 people in one discord call if you were to make a server and add a chat or a VC you can hold up to 99 which is more than zoom and you can also use the text chat, general chat or anything else that you add and the best part you can hold pretty much infinite people I have personally seen servers with up to 100k people in it. One of the better parts is that you don't necessarily have to download it you can search it up on google and make an account it's as easy as that. Another thing is due to the original purpose of the website/app is that it's very customizable meaning that your students can customize heir profile pictures and names, but not to worry in a discord server you can have it where only you can change their nicknames so let's say things get too confusing or you want to be able to see who they really are you can just change it to their name. One last thing I will say is that you can have customizable ranks and so on so if you desire to split people into teams you can do so and with that, you can customize what they can do like give people ranks or de-rank them. Like I mentioned earlier about VC's you can also screen share and do videos so you can see their screen or their face.

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Remotor Consulting
at Remotor Consulting Group · | 11 upvotes · 56.6K views

Keybase is a powerful and secure team-organizing software. And because Keybase is so transparently good at what it does, Keybase is a foundational software that facilitates the future of work: effective, inclusive, secure Remote Teams.

Keybase is a free, end-to-end encrypted, open-source program with almost limitless flexibility. Each Keybase user or team is a unique cryptographic identity. Each message or interaction that a user has with a team or other user, is verifiable and digitally-signed. Custom combinations of users/teams/bots, can be designed to catalyze Remote Teams of all kinds, this process can also be automated. Keybase includes Git integration for versioning, bots from multiple platforms to facilitate audio/video-conferencing, a Cryptocurrency wallet, and many advanced privacy features to make you more or less traceable.

Services like Slack and Discord are centralized platforms that perform analytics on your behavior and can sell or leak this data to 3rd parties. Any audio/video features available within Slack or Discord, are bound to be less secure and less flexible than excellent alternatives such as Jitsi. Slack and Discord do have a fun, causal feel to them, which can potentially facilitate social engagement in certain conditions (also many users are already on these platforms).

Centralized and Proprietary team platforms such as Discord and Slack have a large market presence (at least in the USA) based on their first-mover advantage, name recognition, and network effects from size. However these products do not have the flexibility or power of Keybase. Keybase excels on its own excellence, and also has an open and active developer community.

Find us on Keybase: @remotorteam (Keybase username) @remotor.public (Public Keybase Team)

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Stefan Schuchlenz

We chose RocketChat over other communications suites like Cliq or Slack mainly because we can self-host it on our own infrastructure. Since we have quite some projects going on which demand that we stay in touch with a lot of different stakeholders, pricing was an issue, too. With RocketChat, we have a huge set of features basically for free, RC offers apps for all major devices and systems and overall, we're very happy with it. The only downside is the limited amount of apps and integrations, but we can make due with what we have available.

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Mohammad Hossein Amri
Chief Technology Officer at Axceligent Solutions · | 3 upvotes · 116.5K views

we were using slack and at the same time we had a subscription with office 365. after a while we hit the slack free limitation quota. and it got annoying. the search ability was useless in free tier. and more annoying whenever you search, it opens a webpage and doesn't do it in the app.

on mobile there were many cases that I didn't get notification of important discussions. rooms was the way to separate a talk. but it become tedious. each time for a new subject that you wanted to discuss, you needed to add all the team members into a new room. and after a while the room goes silent. you will end up with a tons of not-in-use rooms that you don't want to clean up them for history purposes. also the slack UI for sub discussion is very stupid. if someone forget to check the checkbox to post the subdiscussion in the main discussion thread, other team members even won't notice such discussion is in progress.

we was paying for office 365 and thought why not give the teams a shot. we won't be in worth situation than we are. we moved to teams and we loved it instantly, we had a separate tab aggregated all the files upload. we could reply on other talk. no need of creating a new room. this way room belongs to a team and not a certain topic. our sub discussion was visible to the whole team. enjoyed integration with azure and unlimited history. the best part was integration with outlook. it was a full suit solution. our stats become busy on outlook meeting events. we get weekly analyse. we didn't need to host our wiki seperated. we've created wiki per team. the communication was much more fun.

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What are some alternatives to Discord and Slack?
Skype
Skype’s text, voice and video make it simple to share experiences with the people that matter to you, wherever they are.
Zoom
Zoom unifies cloud video conferencing, simple online meetings, and cross platform group chat into one easy-to-use platform. Our solution offers the best video, audio, and screen-sharing experience across Zoom Rooms, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and H.323/SIP room systems.
Gitter
Free chat rooms for your public repositories. A bit like IRC only smarter. Chats for private repositories as well as organisations.
Google Hangouts
Message contacts, start free video or voice calls, and hop on a conversation with one person or a group.
WhatsApp
It is a cross-platform mobile messaging app for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media.
See all alternatives