Understanding Discord — Chat Threads

For most of Discord’s lifespan, the difficulty of managing relevant but fragmented conversations has been a concern for community builders and moderators. These topics did not warrant having their own channels, but they would often disrupt the main conversation because they could go back-and-forth between a subset of members for awhile. This is where Discord’s newest feature called Threads come in. a Thread is a temporary text channel spun off from a main text channel and automatically archives after a set period of time.

With this feature allows a community to reduce their overall permanent channel count, but increase the number of discussions happening without disrupting other conversations. The best part is that they automatically archive when inactive for a set amount of time. We have nicknamed this feature “Chat Threads” as their purpose is to thread chat into a separate, temporary channel.

Creating Threads

To create a thread, all you need is the correct permissions and a text channel. There are two different types of threads: Public and Private. Public threads can be created via a user’s message, via the threads list of a text channel, or via the plus (+) symbol on the chat box. Private threads can only be made via the chat box plus (+) symbol and the threads list.

When creating a thread, you will be able to customize some aspects of it such as the name and how long it can be inactive before it gets automatically archived. When setting an archiving time, you will have the option to choose 1 hour, 24 hours, 3 days, and 1 week. Note that the 3 days and 1 week options are locked behind your server’s boost level.

Public Threads

These are threads that everyone with the “Create Public Threads” or “Send Messages in Threads” permission can view and talk in. To create a Public thread you require the “Create Public Threads” permission. All servers gain access to Public threads, whether or not they are a Community Server.

To create a Public thread, simply click on the special hash (#) symbol on any message or click the plus (+) sign in the chat box to access the create thread option. The GIF below demonstrates how to do this.

Creating a Thread

Private Threads

These threads act like private message groups, but within a server. Anyone with the “Create Private Threads” or “Send Messages in Threads” permission can view and talk in these threads, but they have to be invited to the Private thread by being mentioned in it by another user. Creating a Private thread requires the “Create Private Threads” permission. To create this thread type, click on the plus (+) sign in the chat box, click on Create Thread, then tick “Only people you invite and moderators can see”.

Note: Private threads are only available at Server Boost Level 2.

Creating a private thread and inviting someone into it

Navigating Threads

With threads also came a multitude of small but important UI changes to help facilitate this new chat feature. In the previous section you saw the updated plus (+) symbol menu which now includes the Create Threads and Upload a File options. You also saw the new hash (#) symbol that appears on messages to create a Public thread from a message and how threads look in a text channel. However, these are not the only UI changes. In the image below, we have marked the most important UI change to help navigate threads.

UI Changes
  • Blue (top-left) — The Active Threads list that contains all created threads in the server that have not been archived. This can only be viewed by users who have the “Manage Threads” permission at the server level or “Administrator” permission. Server Owners will see this regardless of permissions.
  • Red (middle-left)— Threads the you are currently participating in and are not archived will appear under its parent channel.
  • Green (middle) — An example of how threads look in chat. Note that only Public threads will be seen in this manner.
  • Yellow (top-right)— The threads list of a text channel where you can view all active and archived threads in the current text channel. You can also create threads from here.
All Active Threads List (Left) and Channel Threads List (Right)

Moderating Threads

A big concern with this new feature is how easy or difficult it will be to moderate threads. There is no clear answer to this question. At their core, threads are temporary text channels that behave mostly like regular text channels. The difference is that not everyone will immediately see the contents of that channel or get notified when there is an unread message because members have to manually join the thread first. This limitation does not just affect normal users. Even users with elevated permissions will still have to actively check threads to moderate them.

To help make moderating threads easier, we’ve gathered some tips from our tests over the past few weeks and feedback from other community builders.

Give your moderators “Manage Threads” in the Server Settings

The “Manage Threads” permission gives your moderators the option to delete threads, change their settings, archive or unarchive threads, set a slow mode on a thread, remove users from threads, and view Private threads. It also allows them to view the Active Threads list for the entire server which can make viewing and finding threads much easier. Unfortunately, it has to be given in the Server Settings and the user has to have access to all channels in the server for it to be displayed.

Note: If you want your moderators to delete messages in threads they would still need the “Manage Messages” permission on the parent text channel.

Use the “All Messages” notification option on threads

One of the best ways to monitor threads is through the notification settings since each thread has its own notification settings. By default, a thread will be set to “All Messages” and we recommend keeping this unless you are actively checking the thread. If you or your moderators are having to watch 10 threads at once, being able to get notified of a new message will allow you to focus on other parts of your community while still keeping an eye on active threads.

Limit where threads can be used

Another thing that helps a lot with moderating threads is limiting where they can be used. First, you should avoid giving Public and Private threads permissions in the Server Settings and instead give them by category or channel. This will ensure people don’t use them in places you do not want them to be used. Second, as mentioned before a user needs the “Send Messages in Threads” permission to talk in threads and the Public or Private threads permissions to create a thread. You can selectively give out the threads permissions so that not all users are capable of creating or talking threads.

Final Thoughts

Chat Threads can solve one of the largest issues on Discord, too many conversations happening at the same time in a single text channel. Moderating these new temporary text channels is not as simple as normal channels and will require a very active moderation team. Larger communities will likely opt-out of allowing all their members to make threads because of their demand on moderation resources. Furthermore, any moderating being done from the mobile application is a lot harder than on desktop since the mobile app does not get access to things like the Active Threads list.

All in all, we can give the Discord Dev Team a round of applause for adding proper permission control to this new feature which will help communities manage threads much easier. Smaller communities will likely embrace threads with open arms while it will take time for larger communities to integrate them into their already well-established systems.

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If you want to continue discussing this article and other ideas in this blog or related topics, join the Community Builders Discord server where CBB conversations are occurring!

Our blog is sponsored by Statbot, the premier statistics and analytics Discord bot and dashboard for your community. It is an absolute must-have for any server that is serious about its growth and well-being. When a server has Statbot in it, you know it’s aiming to be the best of its kind! Statbot tracks member count, messages, minutes spent in voice, activity, and statuses. It offers many ways to view and use this data to help grow your community, such as, automatic role assignment according to users activity in your Discord server (A.K.A. Statroles), and channel counters that allow you to display all kinds of stats about your community to others as a channel (A.K.A. Statdocks). If you run a Discord server we highly recommend getting Statbot to help track your growth and augment your community.

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Knowledge, stories, and data to help you run your successful online community. Community building is a daunting task, especially when you consider platforms that are literally named “Discord”. We’re here for you! Curated with love by our dedicated staff and support by Statbot!

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Lela Benet

Lela Benet

Community Manager for https://communitybuilders.blog/ and https://statbot.net/ | Content Creator on YT https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClXtD1WNfgzpQB1whIdHRtA

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