Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Choosing the right platform according to your community’s nature and purpose is super important. In a previous post, we show you how to start a Discord server. But today, we’ll make a Discord vs Slack comparison, covering each platform’s features and providing feedback on which cases one is better than the other. Indeed, at the end of this post, you will have a better idea of what platform is best for hosting your community.
Slack vs Discord: Feature Comparison
It’s hard to choose between Discord and Slack because both platforms are, at their core, very similar. Both Slack and Discord are designed for team communication and both include group chat. Even their interfaces are very similar:
As you can see, both Discord and Slack have a list of servers/teams on the left as well as a list of channels next to it. On the other hand, Slack’s interface allows you to select among several themes, whereas in Discord you can change between light and dark themes.
Despite their similarities, both platforms differ in their features and the level of access you have for free to each one. Additionally, they were originally designed to serve different target audiences. In summary, Discord targets gamers, and Slack targets businesses. But over time, this original branding division has become diffuse. Let’s explore each platform’s features further.
Discord is better for audio and video, while Slack is better for text
Let’s compare Discord vs Slack and see what each platform can offer in terms of text, audio, and video. The fact that Slack beats Discord on text chat makes complete sense given each platform’s original target audience.
Discord compensated for this in a sense when they added threads, a feature that already was in Slack. However, Slack focuses more on keeping chats organized. For example, the platform allows you to privately save posts, see messages where you were mentioned and where you reacted, and organize your sidebar with folders. Discord doesn’t have those options.
On the other hand, one of Discord’s greatest strengths is audio and video. The platform allows you to have voice channels on your server. Members can jump in and join the conversation at any time. The audio quality is great, it includes plenty of options to configure it as you wish, and there is very little lag. Slack has recently launched a feature called Huddles that pretty much work as voice channels in Discord.
Now let’s talk about video. While Discord allows video conferences with up to 25 users and screen sharing in both video conferences and voice channels, Slack is more limited. With a free Slack plan, you can only have one-on-one video conferences and there isn’t a screen sharing option. Paid plans allow you to screen share and have video conferences with up to 15 users.
If your community will focus on text only, Slack is better because it has plenty of options for text chat. However, if you want to use audio and video, for example to stream or have calls with members, Discord is, in this sense, the strongest platform.
What about file sharing?
File sharing inside chats is an important feature to pay attention to for any community. While Discord doesn’t allow users to upload files that are larger than 8 MB (or 50/100 MB with Nitro Classic and Nitro, respectively), Slack has a much larger (1 GB) limit file size.
However, Discord offers unlimited storage space and lets you keep an unlimited message history. Slack is very limited in this sense, as you have 5 GB of storage in the free plan and 10-20 GB in paid plans. Additionally, in the free plan, you can keep a history of only 10,000 messages. This is a crucial aspect to keep in mind: you won’t be able to access past messages and files anymore in Slack if you reach the limit.
Integrations work better with Slack
Being a platform that was originally tailored to businesses, it makes sense that Slack incorporates lots of integrations. Indeed, Slack has literally thousands of integrations with applications such as Twitter, Google Drive, and Zoom. If your community relies on native integrations with SaaS apps, Slack is probably your best bet.
However, although Discord doesn’t offer official integrations, you can work around that by adding third-party bots or by building your own. This way, it’s possible to create almost every Discord integration you can imagine.
Discord is basically free
One of the strongest perks of Discord is that a server is almost totally free and it comes with basically all features. This allows you to implement many tactics to grow your community. You can pay for Nitro or boost a server and unlock extra features, but these are mostly cosmetic. They include things such as custom emojis and animated server icons.
Slack, on the other hand, requires you to pay to access the platform’s key features. The admin has to pay for the upgrade (differently to Discord, where individual members can boost the server) and the price is per user. Given that the cheapest tier is $6,67, this adds up quickly, especially for a community.
Slack for Work and Discord for Leisure?
If we are looking only at each platform’s features, we can say for sure that Discord is more centered on community, while Slack is more corporative.
However, both platforms have been lately transitioning to a hybrid use. They overlap in many features. Discord has now added features like threaded conversations that originally only Slack had. Slack, on their end, also added features (such as Huddles) that originally only Discord had.
So, we can’t say anymore that Discord is only for gaming or exclusive for entertainment communities. Indeed, there are many work-related communities built on Discord: let’s see some examples.
- Eagle Investors: a Discord server for investors that focuses mostly on options and trading.
- Lospec: a pixel art and developer community, they also choose Discord to host their conversations.
- StudyStream: this community gathers thousands of students from all over the world who join Discord to share mental health and productivity tips. They also use voice channels to study with other members.
- Orbit: inside Orbit’s Discord server, you can connect with other community builders to bounce off ideas about how to build engaged communities online.
How to Choose the Right Platform
What is the conclusion, after this comprehensive Discord vs Slack comparison? Well, let’s start by saying that the biggest difference between Discord and Slack is pricing.
Discord is mostly free, and paid upgrades give you (besides allowing you to upload larger files) only cosmetic enhancements. However, Slack’s free version is very limited. And since their paid plans start at $6,67 per user per month, it can be sustainable for businesses but not so much for non-profit communities.
The general conclusion is that Discord is better for non-profit communities or those that are just starting out. A Discord server provides you with a very complete platform that isn’t very expensive to maintain. Additionally, it’s a great choice if you want to host activities that involve audio or video.
On the other hand, I would say that Slack is better for company-based communities since businesses will most likely be able to afford Slack than a small team that is trying to build a community from scratch. Moreover, Slack is great if you need specific integrations, such as productivity tools and work-related apps.
However, this isn’t a definitive answer. I would like to end by saying that there are leisure communities on Slack and work-related communities on Discord. The best way to approach this decision is to carefully look at each platform’s features and then decide what makes the most sense for your specific community.
No matter whether you choose Discord or Slack to build your community, you will need to establish some rules and moderation tactics. Check out this template with basic Discord server rules to help you out with this essential task.