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:
- Discord, which is mostly known for enabling communication among gamers.
- Slack, which is mostly reckoned for communication within work teams.
Let's dive right in!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.