Discord have been laying the groundwork for some really exciting potential features as well as releasing some quality of life additions to help users with a11y concerns. In this detailed patchnote we'll cover:
- Alt text for image uploads
- Multi-attachment uploads
- Boost progress bars
- On join sticker buttons
- Member profiles
- Account switching
Alt text & a11y at Discord
Discord has always held a11y concerns and features close to heart. The strives Discord makes in having their platform easy to use for those with impairments is inspiring and standout in their industry. From screen reader optimisation to the more recently released saturation sliders, a11y seems to be at the forefront of many Discord features. The new alt text feature, while long overdue, keeps this trend going. We invited a Discord engineer to talk about the feature:
When working on the attachment slash command option type, the Bots and API team realized that the current modal based UI presented a lot of challenges for a seamless UX for uploading attachments to slash commands. Since the selling point of slash commands is to have excellent UX and built-in integrated UI, we wanted to find a solution we felt met our bar.
After some design revisions, we settled on the inline attachment uploader we demonstrated at a recent Discord Developers stage event. During the designing of this experience, we realized two things - one, it was a perfect opportunity to introduce multi-upload to Desktop, and two we would be able to add user provided alt text to the new system. This is a feature that users had been requesting for a long time; we worked with Discord's accessibility team to design what the experience would look like, and set about implementing it. The Accessibility team was a great resource for guidance and design considerations; they had an impact outside of just alt text too, helping with the design and implementation of keyboard navigation controls for instance.
The overall project took a little longer than we expected due to the multi-upload portion of it, but it's a feature we're all incredibly excited about. Teams having the freedom to pick up projects like this one that result in a more accessible, improved experience in our core client is a core part of Discord culture.
For a long time, mobile users have been able to upload several images to Discord at once in a single message. This has never been true for the Desktop clients, which would create a new message for every single image attachment. This would often lead to large amounts of uploads hitting the message ratelimit on Desktop clients, cuasing you to have to re-upload several images. It could even trip some bot automod for being seen as message spam, which is also problematic. The lack of feature parity with mobile here seems largely down to the mobile clients' different approach to uploads so the image selector UI could be used by those clients. However the new UI in testing for Desktop clients seeks to replace the old and rather dated upload UI we've been using for years to give us multi-upload potential in a single message. Moderation concerns exist, of course, with this new potential to send alot of content in a single message. However, with the attachment supression we have had access to on desktop clients for a few months now, these concerns seem to be mostly dissuaded.
Boost progress bars
For a long time, Nitro has been the driving monetization avenue for Discord. With the advent of Nitro Boosting, Discord picked up an incredibly valuable tool to provide community benefits while leveraging 'full' Nitro subscriptions and new standalone boost subscriptions. The creation of Boosting has largely been met positively with communities quickly getting support from members, seeing content creator communities get thousands of boosts (and even having some select communities take part in a Boost revenue share experiment) to smaller communities often easily hitting tier 2 on the old Boost system. With the Boost Tiers being revamped recently, higher tiers became more accessiable to smaller communities and with this change it seems only natural the Discord would push Boosting slightly more. The new boost goals allow you and your community to track the progress of your server's Boost status real time, and allows your community to directly see their contribution to the Boost status. This is a hopeful incentive for smaller communities to get Boosted.
On join sticker buttons
Since the release of the feature that allows users to click a button on join messages to reply with a sticker, abuse has been pretty rampant with many moderators and server owners lambasting the feature on its huge potential for spam. In one extreme case, users were able to spam a join message with enough stickers that it would visibly slow down some mobile clients. This obviously became a large moderation concern but with no in-app way to disable the sending of Discord's default stickers and minimal sticker moderation in existing modbots, this problem seemed pretty tough to beat. After the maintained negative feedback, Discord has released a toggle in the desktop client settings to disable this button on a per-server basis. While the mobile clients ignore this setting, this is certainly a step in the right direction.
Discord has had server nicknames for a long time. However there are many cases where a nickname alone wasn't enough to help anonymize users who could potentially be targeted, or to join a spicy meme where you and all your friends get matching pics. Discord releases per-server avatars recently which has allowed users to change bot their nickname and avatar soley in any given server. This has already been employed to help keep prolific members of the platform more safe and 'incognito' in other communites, and has helped margnialised individuals present themselves openly only in select communities in order to stave harassment. Recently, a guild flag started appearing on many communities. 'Member Profiles'. This feature is likely the future for the per-server avatar feature, and it seems to be connected to a boost level. Given the wording of this guild feature, we may potentially see more than per-server avatars make their way into the release of this feature.
As covered in a recent article by XDA Developers, innate account switching may soon be coming to Discord. This feature has incredibly large potential for those who use alts legitimately, for testing or to maintain a work & social account. We can already see features like this in many social medias, the most notable of which is Twitter, and it's great to see Discord following suit. This feature also has potential for users who are DID/OSDD systems to allow them to easily change into another account for their alters. The anti-abuse potential for this feature is also high, as Discord will assumedly be able to connect accounts you configure via this feature intrinsically so if a malicious user were to be platform banned, their alts likely could be with ease too. There is also potential for account recovery with this feature. While we're still in a speculative phase, we're incredibly excited to see what Discord has planned with this feature.
Thank you for reading this patchnote!
These detailed breakdown of upcoming and released features will continue to be a part of our patchnotes herein. We'd like to deeply thank you for taking the time to read this article, if you enjoyed be sure to sign in at the top right of the page so you can get notified whenever we release another one!