Each month, Discord has over 200 million active users. But what is Discord, and why is it so popular?

Let's start with the basics. Discord is a free multimedia chat app. In Discord, you can communicate with friends through direct messages or the app's primary feature, servers. Direct messages offer streaming, integrated voice channel games, and file sharing in addition to text, voice, and video chats. Servers, on the other hand, provide multiple channels, stage channels (where only a select people can talk and listeners can "raise their hand"), forums, and bots.

Discord can be explained in a couple of ways. Think of a WhatsApp group with different chat channels in it, an IRC with voice and video chat features, or Skype with servers with thousands of people in it. The core features of Discord are text and voice chat.

Discord was created in 2015 by Stan Vishnevskiy and Jason Citron to be a place for gamers. After the pandemic hit, Discord saw an excessive spike in its user count. This made Discord diverge from the gamer focus and market "Imagine a place" for everyone.

In this article we will look at why Discord is so popular, if Discord is safe to use, and how you can start using Discord today.

Discord revealed in a tweet that it was originally planned to be named Wyvern, but the name was ultimately changed to Discord after further consideration.

What's the Purpose of Discord?

As we mentioned at the start of the article, Discord was created as a gaming-centric app. Learning from its predecessors like TeamSpeak, Curse, Ventrilo, and Mumble, Discord aimed to combine many features in a lightweight, easy-to-use app. Creating communities was easier (and much more aesthetic) than other community VoIP (voice over IP) apps. Thanks to this many communities started to migrate to Discord as their primary "hub." It was the perfect place for gamers to get together and play games. Discord had achieved its goal of becoming the spearhead of gaming communication.

When the pandemic hit, a vast amount of non-gamer users started to use Discord. This made Discord set another goal: becoming a safe, fun, easy, and relaxing place for everyone to get together, not just gamers.

Discord still achieves exponential member growth, and the Discord staff works hard daily to improve the platform.

Discord didn't have a video chat option until October 2017.

What is a Discord Server?

In Discord, people form small groups or larger communities, and they're organized into "servers." Just like how Slack has Workspaces and WhatsApp has groups, Discord has servers. They're like digital clubs, and there are two types of them: private and public. Private servers tend to have a small number of people in them, and they're not open to others since they're usually friend-only servers that were created for the sole purpose of hanging out with friends. On the other hand, public servers are open to the public and can have members counting in hundreds of thousands. The reason for their creation could include creating a community, promoting a product, increasing the popularity of a content creator, and much more.

While creating a server is simple, there are also options for more feature-rich servers that make the creation process complex. Most of the servers in Discord are small, invite-only private servers. People create servers for all kinds of topics like hamster care, board games, game development, and many more.

Servers also offer customization features that you don't have in direct messages (user-to-user.) You can have up to 500 channels in a server, which can be either text or voice channels. This kind of high volatility made users form a number of standard practices like creating a server staff, community guidelines, and server-wide events.

Joining a server usually requires an invite link created by someone already in the server, unless you find them from Discord's Server Discovery tab. Servers also offer a role feature that allows users to assign certain permissions to certain roles and those roles to members. These roles could be categorized by responsibility, experience, interest, etc. This allows people to create moderation and user hierarchies.

Why Do People Prefer Discord?

One key reason behind Discord's popularity is that it provides communication options: text, voice, and video, all in one place. This makes it a great platform for casual chatting to online gaming, and more. Also, Discord has a simple user interface that is easy to navigate, making it more accessible. This means people can quickly understand and start using the app without spending time learning how to use it.

One of the reasons entrepreneurs prefer Discord is that there are a lot of ways to make money on Discord. You can earn money by making a paid server, getting sponsored, creating exclusive content, and more.

Finally, Discord has a vast range of servers (19 million active servers monthly, according to Statista.com), from game developer servers to official servers like K-pop group ARTMS', and more. This means people can easily connect with like-minded people and find new friends or spaces. Discord combines ease of use, usefulness, and a range of features while keeping their interaction with the community alive to make it a preferred option for many users.

According to Statista.com, as of January 2023, Midjourney's Discord server is the most popular server on Discord, with over 9.5 million members.

How to Start Using Discord?

Downloading Discord is just like any other app; you can use it with full functionality on your computer and mobile. After downloading the app and creating an account, you can join servers and chat! If you're already invited to a server, great. If not, you can check out server directories like Whop.com, Disboard.org, or Top.gg to find a server that fits your liking.

There are a lot of alternative apps to use, but Discord comes forward with features like free video chats without a time limit, customizable screen sharing, and servers. While most Discord users connect via computer and smartphones (55.35% to 44.65, respectively, according to Semrush.com), you can also use Discord with your PlayStation and Xbox!

Discord has three clients: Stable, Beta (PTB, unstable), and Alpha (Canary, highly unstable). You can download all of them by Googling!

Regular users can join up to a hundred servers, while people with Nitro, which is Discord's primary income, can join up to two hundred servers. Nitro users can also access many features like HD streaming, colors for their profile, custom video chat backgrounds, up to 4000 character limit per message, animated avatar/banner, bigger file size upload limit, and much more. There are two versions: Nitro Classic and Nitro. You can see the comparison here.

Is Discord Safe?

A key consideration when engaging with online communities is safety and security. Discord has strict Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, and they release quarterly transparency reports. As a user you have the option to filter inappropriate content, report them directly in-app, block others, filter who can add you as a friend, and more. Since Discord is a server-focused app, all server owners are encouraged to keep their community and their members safe, and they do so with their own server guidelines.

Although you can protect yourself with these settings, Discord still doesn't hold back from taking things into their own hands. Users who are younger than 13, harass others, raid communities, post graphic content, or abuse the app will be swiftly dealt with by Discord. This is not limited to users, though. Teamwork makes the dream work, but some people try to abuse this power. Discord will also delete servers that focus on the things we mentioned (and users banned), keeping its users safe.

You can take a look at the latest Transparency Report (2022 Q4) here.

Discord Glossary

You can see explanations of a few terms that Discord users use often.

  • Admin: Admins are users with a role with "Administrator" permission turned on. This permission gives unlimited access, thus making it very dangerous.
  • AutoMod: Discord has a lot of automated security systems. Servers with Community enabled can turn on AutoMod, which allows staff to set up pre-determined security filters and actions.
AutoMod has blocked over 45 million unwanted messages via AI.
  • Badge: Discord has several user badges like Nitro user, active developer, early supporter, Partnered Server Owner, server booster, etc. They're displayed in user profiles.
  • Ban: Users with "Ban Members" permission can ban users of a server, which means the user will be forced to leave the server. Unlike kicking, members who are banned can't rejoin the server. Bans are IP-based and can be removed at any time.
  • Bot: Bots are automated apps that allow users to do a lot of things like text-based games, auto moderation, onboarding members, and such. Almost all Discord servers have at least one bot in them.
  • Channel: Channels are chat rooms in servers. There can be up to 500 channels per server.
  • DM and GDM: DM means "Direct Message," members can chat in both servers and direct messages. They also have the option to create GDMs, which means "Group Direct Message."
  • Emoji/Emote: Emojis are custom emojis that servers can add for users to use while chatting. Having a Nitro membership allows users to use all emojis of the servers they're a member of in any server + usage of GIF emojis.
  • Kick: Users with "Kick Members" permission can kick users off a server, which means the user will be forced to leave the server. They can rejoin.
  • Krisp: Krisp is a third-party noise filtration service that is integrated into Discord.
  • Moderator/Mod: Moderators are server users with elevated permissions compared to regular members. They usually have the kick, mute, manage messages, and move members -along with voice chats- permissions.
  • Mute/Unmute and Timeout: Muting/Unmuting members can mean two things: muting a user with a role that doesn't have a "Send Messages" permission so they can't chat or turn off a user's microphone in a voice channel so they can't talk. Timeouts were introduced in December 2021, allowing moderators to disallow members from chatting and talking in voice chats for a specific time period. Conversely, the users who receive a timeout see their remaining timeout and reason in their message input section.
  • Nitro: Nitro is a premium feature users can buy to access various customization options. There are two versions: Nitro and Nitro Basic.
  • Partner Server: Server owners had the chance to apply for the Partner Program until October 2023. Partner Program offered partner-only perks like free Discord Nitro, rewards for communities, and access to a Partners-only server. Partnered servers also unlocked boost-dependent features like a vanity invite link, server banners, and invite splashed no matter the boost level.
  • Permission/Perm: Roles can have a wide range of different permissions, like sending files and links, accessing specific channels, etc.
  • Reaction: Users can add emojis as reactions to messages. Some servers use this as a verification method.
  • Role: Roles are one of the most essential parts of Discord. They can be assigned custom names, colors, and icons (if the server has at least seven boosts). Moderators and admins can also edit the role's permissions -like sending files and links and accessing specific channels, however they want, creating a vast range of possibilities.
  • Server Boost: Nitro membership users earn two boosts. They can then use those boosts to "boost servers." There are three boost levels for servers: Levels 1, 2, and 3. Each unlocks features like increased emoji slots, animated server icons, bigger file uploads, etc.
  • Server: Servers are places where people can come together and hang out. They're also known as Guilds.
  • Slowmode: Slowmode can be turned on in server settings. When turned on, members are forced to wait for a certain amount before sending another message.
  • Soundboard: The Soundboard feature was introduced in April 2023 to add custom sounds for users to use in voice channels.
  • Stage channel: Server staff can create voice channels called Stage channels where only pre-determined people have the ability to talk, and others can "raise their hand" to request it.
  • Sticker: Discord announced the stickers feature in October 2020. Initially, they could be bought from the sticker shop, but the store was removed in May 2021.
  • Stream/Screen sharing: Users can start streams of their windows, games, or their whole screen in voice channels.
  • Thread: Users who have "Create Threads" permission can create threads that act like a sub-channel under any message.
  • Vanity link: All server invites have random letters at their invite links. Fourteen server boosts or being a part of a Discord program means server staff can decide what those letters will be.
  • Verified Server: The verified Program requires servers to meet certain requirements to apply. The program offers similar perks to the Partner Program.

Getting Started on Discord

Now you know what Discord is, great! It's time to discover some servers to join or create your own.

👉 If you have an idea for a Discord community (or perhaps you already have one) then why not sign up as a seller to promote and sell access to your server on Whop.com! It takes less than 10 minutes to get started as a seller on Whop, and with the growing popularity of Discord, there's no better time to monetize your community.

Discord FAQs

Can I block other members on Discord?

Yes, you can block members by right-clicking their profile picture and clicking "Block." You can also block them via the settings menu in the enlarged profile view.

Can I customize Discord's appearance?

Yes, but you need a Nitro membership.

Can I use Discord without an account?

No, all users have to have an account to use Discord.

Does Discord collect my personal information?

Discord collects data but doesn't sell them. To get more information about what info Discord collects, check out their Privacy Policy.

Does Discord have 2FA?

Yes, you can set it up on the first screen that pops up when you click settings.

Does Discord have a policy on pirated content?

No, Discord doesn't allow pirated content in any form. For detailed information, you can check out their Community Guidelines.

Does Discord have markdown support?

Yes, Discord supports markdown. You can check out our "How To Use Markdown In Discord" guide for detailed information.

Does Discord have push-to-talk?

Yes, you can enable push-to-talk in the Voice & Video section of the settings.

How can I add friends on Discord?

You can add friends by username by clicking the green "Add Friend" button in the friends section. To open the friends section, click the Discord icon on the top left and click "Friends."

How can I appear offline on Discord?

Yes, you can appear offline (a.k.a. Invisible) by clicking your profile picture on the bottom left > Online (or whatever your status is set to) > Invisible.

How can I change my display name?

You can edit your profile by clicking the "Edit User Profile" button in the settings icon on the bottom left.

How can I contact Discord?

You can submit a request to Discord via this page.

You can link your social media accounts by visiting the "Connections" in the settings.

How do I invite people to my Discord server?

You can get an invite link for people to join your server by right-clicking your server icon and selecting "Invite People."

Is Discord free?

Yes, Discord is free to use!

What is a Community server?

Community servers have access to additional perks for staff. You can enable Community via the "Enable Community" section in your server settings.

What is the upload size limit on Discord?

Free users can upload files up to 25MB. Nitro Classic users have a 50MB limit, and Nitro users have 500MB.

What's the minimum age to use Discord?

The minimum age requirement of Discord is 13.

Which platforms is Discord available on?

Discord is available in Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Xbox, PlayStation, and web browsers.