Group chat in Second Life can be a hit-or-miss affair sometimes. In the last couple of years there have been intermittent issues that meant sometimes it was impossible to either see your own chat, or see replies, or see any chat at all. In the main, it mostly behaves itself these days, but after some pretty severe problems a couple of years back many Second Life creators started offering other channels for support, and the main channel that most of them use is Discord. Some creators such as LeLutka offer support only in Discord these days, so it’s useful to have a basic working knowledge of how to navigate it. Hence this post :-)
Discord started out primarily aimed at gamers, and it’s still used for that to this day. But many more people than gamers use it now, and it’s become the successor to Skype when it comes to general voice and text chat clients. However, it offers a lot more functionality than Skype ever did, and this is what makes it such a great tool for creator support in Second Life.
The thing is, some people are a bit wary of using it, and I’ve spoken to quite a few people who are confused by it, or who think it’s “only for gamers, and I’m not a gamer”, and some of them just don’t like feeling on unfamiliar ground. They know SL, they know group chat, but this whole new out-of-SL chat thing can make them feel like they’re floundering, and can also make them feel resentful that they “have to download and learn a whole new program when I just want to know how to fix this issue with my SL mesh head!”
I’m here to show you that you don’t even need to download anything (Discord can be run entirely within any web browser) and that it’s actually very simple to use. I’ll take you through some basic terminology and settings, show you how to join a server, how to send direct messages, how to format text and use gifs and emojis, etc. So let’s get started.
The first thing we need to do is create an account with Discord. To do this, go to https://discord.com/register and fill in the required information, as shown below:
Hopefully you get one that’s just as adorable. Once you’ve passed the CAPTCHA, you’ll be in Discord, but it’ll be in the background until you do one more thing. You’ll now see this:
We don’t want to create our own server, so use the ‘x’ at the top right to close that. Ignore the ‘Have an invite already?’ link. We’ll get to that in a bit, once you’re more familiar with the user interface.
We’re now in Discord itself, running in your web browser. You’ll see a few little glowing circles that – if you click on them – will give you some hints and tips. Check them out if you would like to, but I’m going to give you a brief run-through of all the basic sections you’ll need to know if you want to use Discord for creator support.
You’ll notice two things right off the bat:
- There’s a green bar at the top, exhorting you to verify your email address, so go to the email account you registered with and get that done.
- You appear to have a message! Notice the little red dot with a ‘1’ in it on top of the blue Discord logo (their name is Wumpus, btw) in the top left of the screen.
Let’s take a look at each section of the UI (user interface).
At the top left we have:
- Discord logo – clicking this will take you to your Direct Messages (DMs), which are private messages between you and other people on Discord. Right now, we haven’t added anyone as a friend (yep, poor Syd is Billy No-Mates at the moment), so we just see the basic screen. We can see that there’s a message waiting for us, though. It’s a generic message from Discord Nitro (you can see its name right there in that left panel, under the ‘friends’ header), which is the “Pay a subscription fee to do more!” part of Discord. You don’t need to do this, but if you want to read the Nitro promotion message (and get rid of that red “you have one new message” dot) then click the ‘Nitro’ word. It’ll go away once you’ve read it, and Nitro will not be on your friends list, so don’t worry about that.
- Plus button – clicking this will allow you to enter a server invite code, so you can join a server. We’ll get to this shortly.
- Compass button – clicking this will allow you to find public Discord servers; it’s a kind of “find new places to chat” tool. Use it if you’re curious, but you don’t need to.
- Download button – clicking this will take you to download the Discord app onto your computer, plus links to the mobile apps. Again, not necessary if you don’t want them. Discord runs just fine in a browser.
At the lower left, we have:
Yep, that’s you! (Well, it’s Syd, in my case. Yes, I’m obscuring my user numbers throughout this post. You’ll see them if you join the Catwa server, but I’m not putting them out there on t’interwebs for just anyone to grab.)
This is where we’re heading next, to customise our Discord experience a bit – mainly our privacy and how we want Discord to look. From left to right we have:
- Discord logo – this will change to your user icon, once you’ve uploaded one.
- Your username – you can change this for each server if you want to (under Settings > Profiles > Server Profiles)
- Your user number – this is how people find you and add you as a friend. I’ll show you how to disable the ability to add you as a friend in the next section, if you don’t want random friend requests.
- Mic and headphone on/off controls.
- Settings button – customise your Discord experience.
Go ahead and click that settings button, and let’s get you set up a bit.
We’re going to customise using the teal-highlighted sections, but feel free to check out all the other options. I’ve only gone for the basics, but there are a lot of other things such as accessibility settings that may be useful to you.
- Profiles: First, we’ll set a profile picture. Click the Profiles tab, followed by the circle on the popout. Find a pic you like, upload it, use Discord’s built-in cropping tool to get it looking right, then finalise it.
- Privacy & Safety: In this section you can select whether you want DMs (direct messages) from other users to be scanned for explicit media content all the time, only if the user isn’t your friend, or not at all). You can also allow or disallow DMs from server members here (applies only to new servers that you join).
- Friend Requests: Here is where you set who can send you a friend request. Your options are: everyone, friends of friends, and server members. If you don’t want anyone to be able to send you a friend request, set all of these to ‘off’.
- Appearance: Here is where you set your theme (light or dark mode) and also basic settings such as font scale. The accessibility section has a lot more optional settings you can use.
- Notifications: Here is where you can set basic notification preferences, such as sounds, desktop alerts, emails, and suchlike. These can be customised on a per-server basis once you’ve joined some servers.
Those are the basic settings you’ll need, but as mentioned earlier, go through them all and check that you don’t need or want to change anything else.
Before we get into the meat-n-potatoes of this post, a brief glossary of terms won’t go amiss!
Server: this is the equivalent of a group in Second Life. You would join a Discord server for XYZ brand, much the same as you would join a group for XYZ brand inworld.
Channel: this is a sub-section within a server. Most servers have multiple channels, such as a dedicated one for customer support, one for people to show off their looks, one for general off-topic chat, etc. Think of these like sub-forums, if you’re someone who has used forums a lot
DMs: short for ‘Direct Messages’. These are private messages between you and someone else on Discord.
Roles: Everyone within each server is assigned a role. Usually, when you join a new server, you’ll be allocated to a kind of ‘everyone’ role. But some servers will have Admin roles, or Designer/Developer roles, etc. Different roles can have different capabilities on Discord, which are specific to each server and set by the server owner and/or their Admin roles. For example: Admin roles can do pretty much everything, up to and including warning, kicking, and banning server members. Designer/Developer roles might be able to post in specific ‘Designer showcase’ channels within a server, whereas the ‘everyone’ role can only view those channels and not post in them, etc.
Status: You can set your status on Discord, which will show in a little coloured dot on your user icon. The status options are: Online (green dot), Idle (yellow crescent moon), Do Not Disturb (red circle with a line through it), and Invisible (grey ring). Note that, while set to Invisible, you can still see everything and interact with people. To set your status, click on your user icon in the lower left, and select it from the menu.
Ping: This is the term for using the @ symbol to mention someone in Discord. Doing this will highlight your message for them and send them an alert. Use this sparingly; preferably not at all! Many people don’t like being pinged, especially server owners, admins, and designers, so if you need support use the dedicated support channel for your role, rather than pinging an admin. You will probably notice that a lot of people in designer roles always seem to be set to ‘do not disturb’. They do that for a reason: they don’t want constant pings. In fact, I always have that set for myself, too. We have a dedicated customer support channel in the Catwa server, and we would like you to use that.
DO NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to use the @everyone ping. Most servers have this option disabled for everyone except owner and admin, as it will ping every single person on the server, but some smaller servers might not have this disabled, and it can be highly annoying for server members if it’s used. In fact, even when it’s used by an owner or admin, it can get annoying. In the Catwa server we only ever use this for high-priority alerts, mainly if a scammer is actively and currently targeting customers.
We’re now going to join a few servers. You can find their join links in several ways. They might be listed on the store’s website, or on their products’ HUDs, or in a notecard with something you purchased from them, etc.
The first server we’re going to join is the Catwa server. For this, I got the link from the HUD of a Catwa HDPRO head. I clicked the icon on the HUD, it popped up the familiar SL ‘open link’ popup, and I then just copied the link to my clipboard. It looks like this: https://discord.gg/RandomLetters&NumbersHere. This is a permanent link that will never expire (some Discord links can be set to expire after one or two weeks, etc).
You can use all of that link, or just the final bits (I usually use just the last part).
Locate and click the Plus icon in the left sidebar of Discord in your web browser. It will pop up this window:
We don’t want to create a server; we want to join one, so click that grey ‘Join a Server’ button.
Paste your join code in that ‘Invite link’ section at the top, and click the blue ‘Join Server’ button. I’m just going to use the RandomLetters&NumbersHere part of my code.
And we’ve landed with a thump in the Catwa Discord server! Damn, there are a lot of people here. (That’s one thing you never really think of while chatting in inworld groups: all the people – sometimes hundreds of them! – who are sitting there and lurking.) Note that we’ve arrived in the general ‘Chat’ channel, which – for the Catwa server – is for all generic, off-topic chatter. Much like arriving after a teleport in Second Life, your ‘landing point’ is set by the server owner and admin. For other servers you might end up in a ‘lobby’ or a ‘welcome’ channel, or even an ‘introduce yourself’ channel.
Let’s take a quick look around. (For privacy reasons, I’ve blurred out chat and server members’ names.)
To begin with, note at the bottom there is an alert letting you know that you need to be a member of this server for 10 minutes before you can send any messages. Other servers might ask you to post something (even just saying ‘hi’) in a specific channel before you’re then granted the ability to post. For this server, those 10 minutes will soon pass as we take a look around.
In the thin sidebar on the far left, you’ll now see the Catwa logo near the top. Clicking this will always take you to that particular server. The more servers we join, the more logos we’ll see there. We can group these up into folders at a later date, if we start to get too many, or if we want to categorise them.
In the wider sidebar on the left, you’ll see all the server’s channels. At the top we have a group of them for various types of support, including channels specifically for developer support and customer support. We then have a group for all the ‘news’ channels. These are where designers post their updates and new products (only those in the Developer and Admin roles can post in these channels). Lastly, we have a group for the rules of the server (so we’re going to want to have a read of those before we do anything else).
The widest part of the window is for the chat itself. At the bottom is the chat bar, where (once that 10-minute wait is over) you type your message, which will appear in the main window when you hit Enter. The images you can see blurred there are Discord’s cute little “wave to say hi” animated stickers.
To the right we can see the Server Members who are currently online. Note that they’re grouped up into: Admin, Developers, and Online, as these are the roles we have set for the Catwa server. Names (including yours) will only show up in this list if their status is set to either Online, Idle, or Do Not Disturb. If you’re set to Invisible then your name won’t show up here (instead, you’d need to scroll waaaaaaay down to find the section of ‘Offline’ server members, where you’ll show up as Offline. While the names themselves are blurred, you can see that the Admin roles have their names in red text (making them easy to spot), developers have their names in blue text, and all other members have their names in white text. Each server will set up their roles and colours etc differently.
In the top bar we can see toward the right some more icons. In L-R order these are:
- Threads – These are separate little contained discussions within a server. Since these can be difficult to spot (when it first happened on the Catwa server, I didn’t see it for some time) I recommend not creating a new thread for support. Always use the official support channel.
- Notification Settings – This is a quick notification preference section for this one particular server, allowing you to change your preferences for that server, including muting it for a specific length of time (or until you unmute it). You can also access these settings – and others – by right-clicking the server icon in the thin left sidebar.
- Pinned Messages – Important messages are pinned by server owners and admins. Clicking this button will allow you to read them.
- Hide Member List – This collapses the list of members in that right-hand sidebar, so you no longer see it. (It’s a good idea to do this if the thought of asking for help in front of a lot of people unnerves you, as you won’t see them all listed there, in much the same way as you don’t see how many people are lurking in an inworld group chat.)
Finally, at the lower right, you’ll see some text: “Slowmode is enabled”. This just means you can only send one message every five seconds, and it’s a generic spam protection thing that Discord has.
Discord isn’t just for support, though. You can get some great information from being in a Discord server, such as sneak peeks at the creator’s upcoming work, so let’s join a few more servers. We’ll go for LeLutka, Maitreya, and Inithium. I’m going to grab these from the brands’ websites:
You might need to hunt around on websites to find Discord links. They could be in the form of a clickable Discord logo, or a link on a ‘Contact Us’ page. Below are highlighted screenshots showing where I found the links on these three websites:
We’ll join each of those servers like we did before, by copying the link, clicking that ‘plus button’ in Discord, pasting in the link, and clicking ‘Join server’. So we now have four servers listed in our thin left-hand sidebar. Clicking each icon will take us to the relevant server. The little white bar on the left shows us which server we’re currently in (the Catwa one).
If I want to group up those servers, I can drag one of those icons onto another one, and that will put them into an expandable folder. This is useful for grouping like with like (such as all mesh head or body creators) or for grouping up and hiding away servers that you visit less frequently but don’t want to leave. Below, I’ve grouped up Maitreya and Inithium, which puts them into a blue box. Clicking that box will expand the group so I can see all the servers in that folder, and clicking it again will close it. To take a server out of a group, just expand it and drag the server’s icon out of the folder.
You can also drag and drop each server icon, to re-order them if you want them in a different order.
Sending messages in Discord is as easy as it is in inworld groups. First, make sure you’re in the correct server, and the correct channel within that server (for example: if you want support, make sure you’re in the support channel; if you want to show off a Flickr image that you took using that creator’s items, make sure you’re in the channel they have for sharing your images, etc). Then, type your message in the chat window, and hit Enter to send it.
Many things will embed in Discord. This includes images from places like Gyazo (which is helpful if you have a problem you need help with; you can just paste a Gyazo link and the image will embed), tweets from Twitter, Flickr images, etc. Depending on how each channel is set up, sometimes you might not be able to paste links or use gifs (we’ll get to those shortly) but usually any support channels will have image embedding enabled, purely because CSRs and support staff will often ask to see a picture of any issues you’re having.
Discord uses ‘markdown’ to format text. This is actually pretty intuitive, when you take a look at it. The basic markdown formatting is as follows:
*single asterisks surrounding text* turns it into italic text
**double asterisks surrounding text** turns it into bold text
__double underscores surrounding text__ turns it into underlined text
~~double tildes surrounding text~~ turns it into
||double vertical pipes surrounding text|| creates a clickable spoiler link (which I can’t show here, so see the image below!)
SHIFT and ENTER will create a carriage return (move your text to a new line)
Closing caret > followed by hitting the spacebar once will insert any text that you type after it into an indented quote
Assuming you’ve asked first (and been granted permission) here is how you add a friend on Discord, and send them a DM.
Click the Discord icon in the top left, to take you to the DMs section. Once there, click the Friends button, followed by the green ‘Add Friend’ button.
You will need the person’s exact username and number. You can get this from clicking their user icon anywhere to bring up their profile card, and copying their username and number to your clipboard. The format is: name, followed immediately by their number, including the hash symbol.
For example: Joe Bloggs#1234 (their name can include spaces, but there must be no spaces between it and their Discord number)
Let’s try adding Skell as a friend. (I might have though that Syd had some ulterior “Gimme all your stipend so I can go shopping!” motives here, but since he and Skell are the same account, that’s debateable…)
Poor Syd :-( Anyway, he managed to wheedle enough that Skell added him as a friend instead, so now we can look at DMs (Direct Messages).
Your DMs will be listed under that Discord icon in the top left. If you haven’t messaged anyone yet but you have added them as a friend, you can click the ‘Friends’ button to see all of your friends, sorted into: online, all, pending (for friend requests sent but not yet accepted), and people you’ve blocked. Once you’ve found your friend, click the ‘message’ speech bubble to the right of their name to open up the DM window, and just start typing.
Looks like Syd can go shopping after all! Skell responded with a GIF of counting some money, so let’s close this tutorial with the fun stuff.
If a channel allows it, you can add GIFs from a vast and ever-increasing selection from Tenor, which is embedded right into Discord itself. Simply click the GIF button on the right of the chat bar, and either choose from one of the themes, or search for something. There’s a GIF for just about everything you can think of, and if you find yourself using the same GIFs repeatedly, you can hover over them to click the ‘star’ icon in the top right. This will add them to your favourite GIFs, which is the first box you see when you open up the GIFs panel.
Emojis are accessed in the same location. Many servers have their own custom sets of emojis. Without a Nitro paid account you can usually only use these in that particular server (they’ll be greyed out in your list on other servers) but ’emoji servers’ exist out there purely for the purpose of joining so you can use their emojis anywhere, if you fancy customising things even more.
And there you have it. A guide to all the basics you’ll ever need in order to use Discord for support in Second Life. You might find that you start using it socially as well, once you realise how easy it is to get to grips with :-)