Hey, y'all! I wanted to let you know that I've created a Discord server for Gwinnett Pickleball. What's a Discord server, you ask? It's like a bunch of chat rooms all tied together, but with the ability to focus your attention only on the things that matter to you.
WHY? Right now we have a whole bunch of individual groups of players in Gwinnett, and we're using a bunch of different tools to communicate. Some just use group texting, but many use GroupMe, which can indeed be a good option. The problem is that pickleball is exploding, and our groups are growing so fast that the GroupMe structure just doesn't handle it well for 2 primary reasons
Our community is fragmented by all these various GroupMe groups, and Discord can bring us together for some conversations (answering newbie questions, sharing silly pickleball memes, rules discussions, etc.), while giving us space to keep other conversations separate (like organizing play at a specific park).
GroupMe only has a single stream of posts, which means that conversations can
When groups get large, GroupMe can be difficult to keep-up with when you want to, and can be distracting when you don't want to. I find the controls in Discord to be vastly superior to GroupMe for this.
A Discord server allows us to have separate "channels" to talk about different topics, but all of the players who are on our server will be able to see all of the chats, if they want to.* By default, Discord will only notify you when you are @mentioned, so you can brows through new posts at your leisure, or ignore some channels altogether. Individual users can change the notification preferences for the whole server, or for individual channels.
Key Features: Discord does a lot, but these are some of the key features that I think you'll really love.
CHANNELS: numerous chat "channels" allow people to chat about different things. We have separate channels for each park, one for chat about pro tournaments, one for rules discussions, etc. Personalized notification settings let individual users decide which channels they want notifications on, if any at all.
NOTIFICATIONS: users can choose to receive notifications on channels that are important to them, and leave notifications off for channels that aren't important. For me this is huge.
APPS: the Windows, iOS, and Android apps are all outstanding. Trust me, they flow SO MUCH better than GroupMe or texting.
THREADING: within a given channel, users can create "threads" that keep topics together. So lets say you want to see who's available to play at EER this afternoon. You create a "thread" called "open play today" (or whatever you want to call it), and people can reply to that thread even inline with the rest of the EER channel chat. These threads show-up in the menu under the folder they're in, but then they disappear after they have been inactive for a while.
VOICE/VIDEO: channels can host voice and video calls, which can be very helpful and fun for coordinating schedules or discussing the latest tournament plans, or whatever.
EMOJI: custom emoji make the experience more fun! Do you have pickleball emoji anywhere else? I didn't think so! I've started us with some fun ones, and would be happy to have people suggest more.
BLOCKING: Sometimes there are group members who you simply do not want to hear from. In GM you can block someone, but their posts still show in your list. In Discord, their posts are "collapsed" so that you never have to see them unless you click on the message to show it.
MEMBERSHIP: there is a simple process to "prune" members who have not been active recently. They can always re-join, but I like the idea that we don't have tons of members who have simply muted the group and walked away.
So don't delay!!! Click here to join our Discord server.
*Okay, so we do have the ability to create chats that are only visible to certain users. I would expect that we won't do this much. But maybe an example would be a channel to discuss the upcoming Club Wars, and your team needs a way to chat. Yea, you could create a new GroupMe but adding a new channel on Discord is nicer. Remember the part about voice and video? Yea, it'll be nice.
What about the other apps?
GroupMe is plagued with several issues for our application:
The single stream of chat is fine for small groups, but for a large group it's a simple fact that MOST posts are irrelevant to MOST members. As such, I can see that easily half of our current GroupMe members have the channel muted. That's just not good, IMHO.
Blocking users doesn't remove them from the feed...it just means they can't send you DMs. Discord hides their posts from you.
Pickleball Den is a wonderful tool for organizing ladder leagues, and they also offer leagues and tournaments. But their "group chat" feature is s complete non-starter for me.
Playtime Scheduler is wonderful for scheduling play, and the "note" feature there is quite useful for communicating with people who have signed-up for that event, but there is no general chat service there.
Team Reach has some nice conversation "threading" options but is otherwise still very limited.
WhatsApp is super common, but suffers from many of the same "single channel" issues as GroupMe, and also has the security issue of exposing everyone's cell phone numbers.