I think a fair number of people are aware of the existence of the Quiz Bowl Discord, whether it's from the post about the IRC
not too long ago or the Imaginary Landscape readings
that happened there. This post is meant to be a little bit of an update for everyone who hasn't really visited much or at all, and an invitation to come stop by and check it out. It is also a more in-depth analysis of the ups and downs of Discord as a platform, so that people who aren't as familiar with it can get a bit more context on what's going on.
Before we get any further, here is a link to the #welcome channel of the Discord, with a couple of guidelines and what not, right here
. Some of the information is Discord-specific, like how to change the viewing style and how to set a nickname, but otherwise, if you've spent some time on the IRC everything should be pretty straight forward.
Alright let's get to it.
The Discord has a healthy population of a dozen or two people who participate regularly. One of the big advantages of the Discord is that people can see messages from the past, even if they weren't on the channel then, meaning that people who stop by can pretty easily pick up a conversation or leave something for others to see when they log on. This means that staying on forever is no longer required, making it a lot easier for people to participate, and that a much smaller active community is necessary to avoid silent periods. The largest contingent on the Discord is people from the UK, which is a cool thing, since they live rather far away and this is a convenient way to communicate with them; however, lots of US people (and I would imagine Canadians as well) have stopped by regularly as well.
Discord was built to make team-chat in video games more streamlined, meaning that there are extensive built-in voice-chat capabilities. One can either join the Packet Reading channel that currently exists or make a new one and just immediately start reading to other people, removing the need for line-by-line readings or a separate Google Hangout. Though there haven't been regular packet-readings (nothing with any regularity, anyways), I think that there are a lot of benefits to having a very centralized place for things like this to happen. The IRC served this purpose very well in the past, with the main difference here being the ability to read packets out loud, which I think is a big plus, but otherwise the concept is much the same.
There is a fairly sophisticated system of tagging and permissions that could, in principle, allow packet readings of unreleased sets to occur without compromising question integrity. I say in principle only because I have not done enough testing to personally set it up, but this is 100% something that Discord is able to handle. By giving individuals a specific title (say, "Penn Bowl 2018"), you could designate them as having played the set, and then create a discussion room or a voice channel that only allows people with the title to enter. This is the same process as designating someone as a moderator or an admin or a trusted individual - people can hold as many titles at one time as they want, with the relevant permissions being assigned based on an individual room basis. The only real flaw is that it isn't automated, so it probably wouldn't be feasible to set up a discussion for every set in a year, but we have the forums for that.
This means that there is a very real potential to host tournaments in the Discord. They would be very similar to Skype tournaments as they exist now, with significantly less hassle for switching rooms and general logistics because of the centralized nature of Discord. We had a bit of discussion about this earlier and the more hands-off approach currently used for online mirrors is probably the way to go, but if one wanted they could micromanage and ensure that no player could ever enter a room they were not supposed to. Hopefully we'll be able to test this out in the near future - maybe a mirror of Chicago Open, or of Penn Bowl or something. If anyone were interested, you could contact me and I could try to help set up logistics for it (though as an online tournament they would inherently be fairly minimal).
This same sort of system could be used to split off conversations of a certain nature (like sports or politics) or even have question-writing sessions, if they were so inclined. I'm sure you guys can come up with more examples but I'll just leave it at that.
- The role of mods and admins and what-not
With a fairly low number of people coming in, the roles of mod and admin still aren't very fleshed out. As of right now, I have limited several processes like the creation of new chat rooms and voice channels to mods and admins, meaning that without one online people kinda have to fend for themselves. People of the Trusted rank and above can mute people in voice chat if they're being disruptive (something that hasn't happened yet, to my knowledge). Mods and above can also delete things in the chat, which is useful as a way to prevent sets from being spoiled by accident (or on purpose I guess). As the Discord grows more people would need to take on these roles (or new roles would have to be created), but as it is right now it can be a little hard to get certain things done if Ophir, Eric, or I aren't on.
This also would mean that a system would need to be in place for deciding who becomes a mod/admin. Granted, that probably wouldn't be hard, considering people who have been assigned responsibilities in the IRC and on the forums could just receive the same powers on the Discord, but it's always something to be considered when going to a new platform.
If you've made it this far, presumably you're at least a little interested in what's going on, so I'd like to promote a contest-esque thing to you (it's more of just a fun side activity): each Discord channel has space for 50 emotes, and I think it would be cool if we had a bunch of quiz bowl related ones. If you give me a picture of a quiz bowl thing, I can turn it into an emote for anyone on the Discord to make use of. If you're wondering what I mean, here's a couple that I've made so far: emotes
(before anyone asks, :ericgasm: is a direct reference to the Twitch emote Kreygasm
). We've been having some discussion on the Discord about this, so feel free to stop by and chip in with ideas!
This was just a mish-mash of ideas and observations; if you have any questions about what's been going on or how things work, feel free to ask, or just swing by the Discord and ask there. I hope you guys give it a chance because it's pretty cool (also since if you're into video games it's a real easy way to do video game stuff with either your friends or fellow quiz bowl people or both).