This is a follow-up thread to mZuzek's This place is getting deserted, and we have to do something about it. There was a lot of discussion about reasons and solutions, but despite Discord as a whole coming up as a platform that lures activity away from VGC, nobody including myself made the connection that VGC's very own Discord server is detrimental to the health of this website. This is actually a major thing that we can do something about, unlike the seasonal fluctuations of the video games news cycle and the existence of other websites for communication.
It wasn't until yesterday that I thought about this. The starting point was that the owner (OTBWY) of the Discord server I am on informed us of plans to merge our small group with the much bigger group of the official VGC Discord server that is owned by Raven. It was argued by Raven that it should be done for the sake of unity, bringing all VGC members together. About an hour later it hit me how messed up it is that VGC endorses a platform that has siphoned the activity off this website on to an external website. VGC has greenlit the very thing that contributes to its own demise.
Parallels can be drawn to similar events that our beloved and missed Smeags once wrote about:
It was a major topic about the Nations threads, such as Xbox Empire, and their role on this website. Of especially high relevance is the middle portion titled "Nation Threads in the Present. A Critique.", so if you are too short on time to read Smeags's entire post, at least try to read that section. While I very much doubt that the original vision of the official VGC Discord server was to turn it into an entity that is detrimental to VGC, it has grown into just that and as such it doesn't differ much from a detrimental Nations thread anymore. The most significant difference is that Nations threads transfered activity from one place of VGC to a centralized place on VGC while the official VGC Discord server is worse, because it essentially steals activity from VGC with its more than 100 members and more than 20 channels that offer spots for basically all the same topics that are usually discussed on this website. It's a setup that encourages discussion of topics that would normally be discussed on VGC, but without the trolls due to sheltering.
When talking about causes for VGC's decline in mZuzek's thread, I noted a correlation between work on the website that led to repeated temporary inaccessibility of the website as a whole and the start of the decline in the latter half of 2017. The decline, however, persisted even in 2018 when all the rough edges of the website had already been dealt with. I looked into the possibility of a correlation between the decline of VGC and the rise of the official VGC Discord server and what I found is that the promotion started in January 2018, so a correlation exists.
Again, this isn't the sole reason for VGC's decline, but this is one reason that we can actually do something about by shutting the whole thing down. If VGC merely retracted its endorsement of the Discord server, then nothing would really change. That's why I consider it necessary that the VGC staff member who owns the server acts in the best interest of the website VGC and hits the delete button to put an end to the entire server and cause a reset to the way we think about these things. We can't stop people from recreating a server in the same spirit, but we should send a message that makes everyone reconsider how they think about VGC and its community.
If the most fundamental idea is one of unity in a community, then said unity of the VGC community should take place here on VGC where various staff members are continually working on improving things. It's very counterproductive to have a big project running that undermines all those efforts, because the official VGC Discord server cuts significantly into the traffic of VGC by providing VGC community without the need to visit VGC anymore. During all those years where sales updates lagged behind by two months or more, the community served as the pillar that kept people coming back. Sales updates became more frequent again and we got countless quality of life improvements for the forums, but the activity actually went down. The pillar got slowly moved to another place, so much of the work that the staff has been doing here was in vain.
Lastly, a decade ago VGC used to have its own chat application here on this website. It wasn't particularly popular, so it never made it past the beta stage. But the point is that providing an official VGC chat does not have to be detrimental to the traffic of this website, so this approach that was taken with Discord should be put to rest because it backfired.
The above covers all the major points, so in this second portion of my post you will merely find images that are meant to convey the magnitude of the impact that Discord has. The first image displays the leaderboard (top 10) of the server I am a member of, all of the remaining images show the leaderboard (top 50) of the official VGC server. Since the server I am a member of is only about one year old while the VGC server is two to three years old, a certain basic difference is to be expected due to the differing length of existence.
Points are earned similarly to how they are earned here on VGC (displayed below profile pictures), so more activity means more points. These leaderboards only display the activity of any given user within a server, not their overall activity on Discord as a whole.