The Unlikely Rise of Discord as a Support Channel


A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Snipe-IT used to use a chat platform called Gitter. (It might still exist, I’m not sure.) It was free, easy to integrate if you already had a Github account, and gave us the ability to interact in real-time with our users without having to manage our own chat service. We did have an IRC channel for a while, but we didn’t get a lot of traction. That could be because we were still a pretty new project, but either way, we gave up on that. We tried spinning up a Discourse instance, and it kinda worked, but it’s a messy platform to manage, and every third upgrade it would break.

Because we are hyper-vigilant about listening to users (and customers, obviously), and try to monitor All the Things™ (Github, Helpdesk, Reddit, MacAdmins, Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, you name it), we would dutifully login every morning and answer as many questions as we could.

Unfortunately, Gitter turned out to be pretty toxic, and we kinda started to dread it, if I’m honest. People were often rude, entitled, and sometimes downright mean. Not everyone, of course, but enough so that it made it a pretty unpleasant part of our day. In the same way 95% of the folks on Github are nice and wonderful, but that 5% can really suck the wind out of our sails. Turns out, being told you’re garbage several times a week by nameless people who use a product you pour your soul info for free takes an emotional toll. We still tried to help people, but it definitely felt pretty punishing.

When Discord started to become more popular, we thought we’d give it a go. It seemed an unlikely support channel, but since we’re an IT product and they started largely as a gaming communication platform, we figured (no offense) that probably some of our customers already had an account there. We generally try not to force users to create accounts on new platforms to talk to us, but it seemed worth a shot.

I cannot explain how different the experience on our Discord is versus Gitter, and after years of trying to figure it out, I’m still not sure why, but I look forward to our Discord every morning. We’re in there all day, nearly every day. Our customers are there, even though they pay us and have more direct channels. Our customers are helping each other, exchanging IT strategies and solutions, war stories, memes, everything. It really has become a remarkable place, thanks to the incredible people who hang out there. We have folks who haven’t been customers with us for over a year who are still there every day, helping folks out. (Yep, looking at you @boring10 😜.)

It has become a canary in the coal mine for when something is broken, an incredible place to learn all of the different ways people are using Snipe-IT (and I can tell you, friends, some of the use-cases are wild), and have much more intimate, nuanced conversations about potential features and friction points.

Why did this work, when Gitter didn’t? It’s not like gamers are known for being super-chill, very nice people. And yet, every day we watch the community come together to help each other. Sure, we get the occasional spammers – no social platform can avoid that entirely – but in the years we’ve been running Discord, we’ve had to kick maybe 3 people for behavior. For a community of over 400 people, those are pretty great numbers.

So to our friends on Discord, we say thank you. It’s because of you folks that our Discord is fun, friendly, and incredibly helpful. And if you’re not in our Discord yet, join us! It is a silly place.

About the author

A. Gianotto

Alison is the founder and CEO of Grokability, Inc, the company that makes the open source product Snipe-IT.

By A. Gianotto

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