Just like the decentralized blockchain, the people of cryptocurrency are distributed—bound together by a common interest, but dotted about all over the world.
So instead of meeting to discuss life in the local coffee shop, the techno-libertarian community meets online—to discuss ideas on platforms like Twitter, Reddit, and Slack.
Telegram in particular has captured the minds of this globetrotting generation, and is now the single most popular messaging platform in the cryptocurrency space. With over 200 million users tracked in March, Telegram has become the definitive way to communicate for the crypto-community.
So popular is Telegram that ICO investors even consider the number of participants in a Telegram group to be a reliable bellwether of success. But why are people choosing Telegram over other platforms? Why is everybody using Telegram in the first place?
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Telegram’s vision of end-to-end encryption naturally appeals to privacy-focused, authority-skeptic crypto fans.
As a messaging platform, Telegram combines features from Twitter, Whatsapp, and traditional discussion forums. This makes it popular with many different communities in the crypto space.
Like Bitcoin Bravado—who broadcast market updates to an audience of traders, teasing them with tidbits to lure them into a paid news service, or Whalepool, where daytraders gather to share analysis and keep on top of market movements… and blow off steam by endlessly trolling each other.
While these communities are thriving, the platform is not without issues, and as it grows in popularity these issues are only becoming more apparent.
Problems with Telegram
Like their record-breaking ICO of last year, which degenerated into a lawless market of unofficial token sales, the Telegram interface has become a little messy.
While the user interface might on first glance seem clean, minimal, and focused, it is lacking a few features that could help tackle the key problems plaguing communication in the crypto space.
With no way to rank the quality of a comment or post, helpful information is often overshadowed by trolls, and groups become overwhelmed by noise and over-run with scammers, phishing attacks, and bad bots.
Even though building a community is essential to the success of a cryptocurrency, projects tend to direct the majority of their resources into infrastructure and development, leaving little behind to defend their communities from these attackers. While moderation bots can help carry the load, they are not foolproof—and scammers are not easily identifiable. Group owners have to create inefficient processes themselves to deal with this.
And it is not just hackers and attackers to worry about. The platform only offers the facility to pin a limited number of groups, and you cannot order what channels you want to see first, making it harder to find good information and keep it accessible.
Add that to a reputation for dodgy encryption practices, and the impossibility of activating without a phone number, and we have a platform that is sorely lacking.
But what are the alternatives? All messaging platforms have problems; Slack is known for being easily hacked, and Riot doesn’t have enough users to be considered, but Discord, that might be an option.
What is Discord Anyway?
Discord is a voice and chat app targeted at the gaming world, which makes it perfectly suited to cryptocurrency.
These two internet subcultures share many things—and both benefit from easy real-time communication with razor-sharp interactivity and a slick user interface.
Unike Telegram, Discord has multiple features for the tech-savvy user to take control of communication. You can assign community roles, adjust the user interface, and gamify the channel by incentivizing people to contribute enough value to become a high ranking member, at which point access is gained to other more prestigious channels.
The platform also has built-in methods of tracking and assigning value to quality answers, and apps and bots allow you to rank comments and automate alot of management processes.
For example, pBot uses Google Perspective to judge the quality of posts from members, eliminating common scam methods such as duplicate texts, links, and copying nicknames and streamlining time-intensive moderation process.
Discord also has one of the best user interfaces of any chatbot ever. The coloring, placement of interactive tools, and customization are off the charts.
While Telegram might be suited to the masses—lured on dubious promises of encryption—cryptocurrency is like nothing that has ever come before, and needs a communication platform that recognizes that.
The closest world to crypto is probably that of online gaming, a world that Discord is designed to serve, by neatly bridging the divide between real life communication and the virtual worlds of online gaming.
The right platform can be integral to shaping how the community evolves, and Discord includes all the features which lead to healthier, bigger communities.