A WisCon Guide to Discord

This page gives a very general overview of how Discord words, and how the WisCon Discord server in particular will be organized during the convention. Some of the topics covered here also appear in the #how-to channel on Discord, but this document starts at a more basic level (like: “what is a channel?!”).

Table of Contents:

For a technical how-to on downloading the Discord app, creating an account, and joining servers, you may find it useful to start with Discord’s own Getting Started guide.

Kestrell has written a guide to Discord for screen-reader users, posted on Dreamwidth: https://kestrell.dreamwidth.org/320040.html

Context: why a WisCon-specific guide?

We inhabit and present different facets of ourselves in different social spaces. This can be as simple as using a childhood nickname only with close family, or speaking in one way or about one set of topics with coworkers, and in another way or about other topics with friends.

For many of us, fandom represents a particularly sharp divide in how we present our identity to others. This is true of in-person fandom spaces, where people have long gone by something other than their “wallet name”, but especially true of online fandom, where stable pseudonymity—using a name that is not connected with your offline identity, but that is the same across platforms—is the default.

Many people participate in WisCon using their “wallet name”, but interact with fellow fans online using a pseudonym. As WisCon has increasingly featured online conversations in parallel with the in-person convention—seen for example in the increasing use of panel hashtags over the years—this has raised questions for me (and I assume for others!) about how to participate in both conversations without compromising online pseudonymity.

With WisCon 44 moving entirely online, the question of how to manage online and offline identities is particularly pressing. In particular, some WisCon members may be using Discord—the platform we have chosen for text communication during the convention—for the first time, while others may have used it previously for professional or otherwise non-fannish interactions.

Here, therefore, is a very basic introduction to Discord, beginning from the perspective of managing online identities.

Joining the WisCONline Discord Server

Discord resembles other services like Slack, in that you have a single account that can access multiple groups—on Discord these groups are called servers.

Some servers are public while others require an invitation; the WisCon Discord server requires an invitation to join. Invitations will be (or have been) sent to the email address that you gave when you registered for GrowTix.

When you click the invitation link, you will have the option of logging into an existing Discord account, or creating a new account. By default, a new account would be associated with the email address that the invitation was sent to.

If you have multiple Discord accounts, or if you are creating a new Discord account, pause to make sure that you’re joining with the account you intend to use for WisCon! If you need the Discord invitation re-sent, email registration@wiscon.net.

Identities: Usernames vs. Nicknames

Your Discord account is associated with an email address and with a username. The username is a text string (case-sensitive), followed by a hashmark and a 4-digit number. The text string can be changed, but the 4-digit number cannot be.

When you join a server, you can optionally set a server-specific nickname. This can be changed at any point (much like Twitter display names). For the purposes of WisCon, it may be useful to think of this as being like your badge name; if you like, you could add information like your location or your pronouns (you can also set your pronouns as a custom status; instructions on how to do this can be found in the #how-to channel on Discord).

Your username (but not your email) is visible to everyone on servers you belong to, even if you set a different nickname. If you have an existing Discord username that includes a name that you do not want to share in fannish spaces, you may wish to create a new Discord account for the purposes of participating in WisCon.

You can access Discord via the web interface, but there are also free desktop and mobile apps. It is unfortunately not currently possible to log into Discord with more than one account simultaneously in any of these (though there are some workarounds available via paid third-party apps).

You can add other users as friends on Discord; this is independent of whether you belong to any of the same channels. This allows you to send direct messages to one another.

Navigating the WisCon Discord

Discord servers are organized into a number of channels. Certain channels are accessible to everyone who belongs to the server; others are private, and restricted only to people with certain roles. You might be able to view a channel even though you don’t have permission to post to it—if you think you should have access to a channel that you don’t, message someone with the @moderator role.

The WisCon Discord has the following roles:

  • @admin: The WisCon Co-Chairs and the members of our Online Con department
  • @moderator: People managing the Discord, can create new channels, change people’s roles, and ban people from the server (among other permissions).
  • @con com: Members of the WisCon organizing committee, people with this role create or manage channels, and temporarily kick someone from the server (among other permissions).
  • @safety volunteer: Anyone with this role is currently on shift as a Safety volunteer, the first point of contact for issues that arise during WisCon.

You can ping everyone who has a certain role by typing ‘@’ followed by the name of the role. It is possible to ping everyone on a server by typing @everyone, but we have restricted the ability to do this to certain roles on the WisCon server.

We have set up both general discussion channels, and channels specific to individual programming items.

  • Information: #welcome-and-rules, #how-to, and #bulletin-board are where to go for general information on WisCon’s code of conduct, how the server works, and convention-wide announcements. Moderators and ConCom members can post to the bulletin board, if you want something announced on your behalf. #links-to-streams is a dedicated channel that gathers together all links to YouTube streams. #peer-to-peer-tech-help is a place to ask other WisCon members for help with tech issues.
  • Community Text Channels: For general off-topic conversation, we invite you to join #lobby-con or #the-bar#the-bar even has a bot that will serve you a range of (virtual) themed WisCon menu items! Everyone who joins the server will be announced in #new-arrivals. The #meetups channel is available for organizing meetups on other platforms—want to hold a video conference with other attendees? Post here!
  • Events: Each streamed event has a dedicated channel, arranged in chronological order.
  • Gathering: The Gathering is the traditional opening event for in-person WisCon conventions, with a variety of activities spread out around the hotel ballroom. The channels in this section are intended to play a similar role, providing a space to gather at the beginning of the convention, immediately after the Opening Ceremonies.
  • Panels, Readings, and Academic: Each panel has a dedicated channel for discussion during and after its slot, using the same hashtag that appears in the program. You can use these channels for discussion, as well as for asking questions or making comments to the panel (which the Online Chat Moderator will pass along to the panel’s Technical Producer). There are general channels for both Readings and Academic Programming, which will be used for all program items.
  • Play A Game: Each game taking place during WisCon has a channel here. Sign up for games in #sign-ups-and-troubleshooting
  • Safer Spaces: The safer spaces have channels in this section, though they may also (or instead) be organizing spaces outside the WisCon server. Please do not visit these channels unless you belong to the relevant subset of WisCon attendees.
  • Spontaneous Programming: The #spontaneity channel is for announcing or planning upcoming Spontaneous Programming items; the other channels are pre-made spaces to hold spontaneous discussions within the Discord. These can be used without reserving them on the Spontaneous Programming Google Doc (linked in Discord), but priority should be given to someone who did reserve a specific channel there.
  • Birds of a Feather: Want to talk about something a bit more focused than #lobby-con? The channels in this section are for more focused discussion; we’ve pre-created some very general topics, but you can create new ones on as specific a topic as you want! To create a new channel, message someone with the @con com role.

Links to YouTube streams will be posted in #links-to-streams and in the specific channel for the programming item. They will also be sent out to registered members by email.

In general, all channels on the WisCon Discord are text-only; you cannot request that a new voice channel be created. There is exactly one voice channel: #floomp-dj-sets will be used for the virtual Floomp dance party on Saturday night!

A few channels, specifically #lobby-con and the panel-specific channels, have slowmode enabled. This means that you can only post once per a certain time interval—we’ve done this to try to ensure that everyone gets an equal chance to post questions and comments for the audience.

Spoilers!

While it’s easy to get excited about your favorite new media that have just dropped (we’re looking at you, She-Ra!), please be mindful when sharing possible spoilers. Fortunately, Discord has two ways to mark a section of text as a spoiler:

  1. 1. After you’ve typed your message but before you send it, select the text that’s spoiler-y, right click, and choose the Eyeball icon.
  2. or

  3. 2. Type two vertical lines (pipe characters: ||) before and after the text that’s the spoiler in the chat box, such as: Can you believe the protagonist’s fridge is taken over by ||sentient mold||!

When you’ve marked text as a spoiler, using either method, it will appear as a greyed-out box. When another person clicks the box, it will show your original text. You can’ t un-see a spoiler, although if you leave a channel and come back, all of the grayed-out boxes will reappear.

Moderation and Safety

Throughout scheduled portions of the program, there will be Safety volunteers available on Discord. If you have concerns about something happening, whether in a WisCon space or elsewhere, please feel free to contact them, either by pinging @safety volunteer or by sending the current Safety volunteers a direct message (the current Safety volunteers will be announced in the #safety channel).

You can also choose to mute or block other members of the server. You do this by right clicking on their name, and selecting either ‘mute’ or ‘block’ from the dropdown list.

Anyone who is found to violate our Anti-Harassment Policy or the WisCon Statement of Principles may be removed from the Discord server by Safety or by others in the Moderation role, either temporarily or for the remainder of the con.