Communities Moving to Discord Has Resulted In Millions of Questions and Answers Being Lost — It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way.

Rhys Sullivan
4 min readApr 25, 2022


Discord has become a replacement for forums for thousands of communities, causing a massive decrease in the accessibility of information. The questions and answers that people ask no longer appear in search results.

On Discord’s own site they list over 100 open source projects on their platform, a small fraction of the total number of communities on Discord dedicated to helping people answer their questions.

A screenshot of 9 different help channels showing the total message count being in the millions
Help channels of 9 different communities on Discord, over 8 million messages containing different questions and answers, none of them accessible

In the past, a person would search for their question on a site like Google, and if they did not find the solution, they would make a forum post leaving behind the solution in search results.

Now what happens is after a person does not find their solution in search results, they turn to Discord servers to solve their problem, resulting in the question being asked over and over again.

This doesn’t impact only programming communities. All public communities on Discord are affected by this. Indie games, game modders, technical support, even cooking Discord servers.

I’ve built a solution to this problem. It’s called AnswerOverflow, a privacy focused search solution for Discord and I’m really excited to share it.

Server owners add the AnswerOverflow bot to their server and mark what channels to index on their web dashboard.

The AnswerOverflow bot then sends a message to each user in the server on its first time seeing them asking permission to display their messages. Users are able to provide consent directly on Discord or by logging onto AnswerOverflow with their account to see what messages would be displayed before making their decision.

A Discord message sent by the AnswerOverflow Discord Bot. It describes that it would like to display the message on AnswerOverflow and has a button users can press to give permission to display messages on AnswerOverflow.

On AnswerOverflow, users are able to manage their account and see all of their indexed messages on a per server per channel basis. Users are able to delete specific messages, disable indexing of specific channels, the whole server, or delete their account all together and be ignored by the bot.

A user panel for users on AnswerOverflow, it lists all of the indexed channels of the user and gives them the option to disable displaying messages or delete all messages and stop indexing the server
A user panel for users on AnswerOverflow, this lists all of the indexed messages in a channel and allows the user to stop indexing that channel or delete a specific message

Indexing a Discord server isn’t as straight forward as a forum as it’s a much more closed off space. AnswerOverflow strives to take a privacy first approach by getting specific informed consent from users to display their messages, ensuring that it is fully compliant with Discord’s Policy.

The only servers that are meant to be indexed are public servers and of those public servers, it is only meant to index public help channels, essentially adding on a forum component to your Discord server.

After indexing the messages and getting consent from users to show their messages, web pages are made for each question so that they appear in search results allowing for people to find the solution to their problem.

Along with this, there is a search on the site allowing you to search all indexed messages.

A list of Discord Messages and the servers that they relate to, the list is generated from a search bar with the input use redlib as command manager
Only one server is shown in results at the moment as it is only in one server, results will improve over time with more messages and servers

Messages that match your search are displayed and clicking on one will reveal the context surrounding the message, along with a link back to the server to join it.

A screenshot showing follow up messages to a root question message. A link back to the source server is provided

For users, AnswerOverflow is meant to cut down on burnout from repeating question answers and make getting answers more accessible.

For server owners, AnswerOverflow promotes the growth of servers as people are able to naturally discover servers

For Discord, AnswerOverflow promotes the growth of Discord as new people are able to find Discord as a platform naturally in search results

If this project interests you, join the Discord!

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Despite being fully compliant with Discord’s Policy, the bot is currently unable to join servers as it was incorrectly quarantined after triggering an automatic anti-spam detection. This was from sending out the consent message DMs to users when seeing them for the first time. If anyone at Discord happens to be reading this and is able to help out with the ticket that would be greatly appreciated as it has been sitting for a while now — thanks!