Over the past four years, the Community Dolphin Discord Server, which was unaffiliated with the project itself, has become a fantastic community that has been providing support and a hub for Dolphin users. While it started out small, the server now boasts over 10,000 users and several of Dolphin's developers interact and help users directly on the server. The immediate nature of Discord is beneficial in that it allows for quick bug reports and support for various issues. Many users in the Discord community are experts in specific facets, like tricky controller mappings, motion controls, netplay, and more.
It has become an important pillar of the Dolphin community and Dolphin development, as a new generation of developers have originated from the Discord server. Recognizing its importance, many of the veteran developers have started monitoring the server as well, providing support and getting feedback for new fixes and experimental changes. It also allows developers and support staff to walk unsure users through making better bug reports on the issue tracker.
So we as a project have discussed among ourselves and with the Community Dolphin Discord members, and have come to a conclusion. The unofficial Dolphin Discord is already a core pillar of our community. It's about time we embraced it. We are pleased to announce that the Dolphin Discord is now the Official Dolphin Discord Server!
Since the Dolphin Discord server is already a major part of our community, less is changing than you might think. Obviously those maintaining the Discord community are doing a good job and have built it into an important part of Dolphin's community.
However, as things become bigger, sometimes unwritten rules need to be written down. As such, we've established a Code of Conduct for the expected behavior of both developers and the community alike. Because the Dolphin IRC channels were mostly isolated and had limited interaction, there wasn't really a need for this. Any problems were promptly kicked out and few users made their ways into the annals of the IRC network. With the Dolphin Discord Server, this changes. It is easily accessible for users and we don't want situations where users or developers are uncomfortable with the conduct of others.
The community members who built the thriving community of the Discord server will continue in their roles as administrators of the community. However, they will be getting a little help, as some of the Dolphin developers have joined the Discord staff.
What Isn't Changing¶
Dolphin's main home for development is the #dolphin-dev IRC channel. IRC is a decentralized communication service that will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. While we have had to change servers now and again, we always had the option of hosting our own server until the end of active development if worst came to worst.
Discord, on the other hand, is a proprietary service that could disappear at any point. They could change their Terms of Service to say that emulation isn't allowed and boot us all off tomorrow if they wanted. They could even be suddenly bought and burned to the ground out of nowhere. As such, none of our core services will ever rely on Discord. If for any reason the Discord server disappeared, development would continue as per usual.
The Dolphin Wiki, Issue Tracker, and Website will all be unaffected by this, save for the fact that the website now has a direct link to the Discord server. As for our forums, there are no plans to change them. While they may not have the quick response times of Discord, they're a support and communication platform that we have complete control over, and they are better for longer form reports and responses.
As for users on the Discord, you probably won't notice anything different. Maybe a few new faces as more developers migrate over and some new channels to display some infrastructure changes.
The new state of Dolphin's chat channels still leaves things more fragmented than they should be. We know that some of our newer developers are more comfortable with newer communication platforms and prefer using Discord over IRC. And Discord might also make some of our users and developers uncomfortable: it is after all a for-profit proprietary service, with an unclear business model, and primarily managed by a U.S. corporation.
We're in the process of evaluating Matrix for Dolphin's community. Matrix is an open-source decentralized chat platform, akin to Discord or Slack in its supported features, but similar to IRC in its openness. It would provide to our users and developers an open alternative to Discord but without the quirks and outdated customs of IRC. Matrix can be used to bridge other chat platforms as well, allowing us to fix the fragmentation problem of our development chat.
We don't know yet when we will be able to get this implemented. But if Discord is not to your liking, know that something is on the horizon to give you more options!
In the end, this decision wouldn't have been possible without the community admins of the Discord server past and present. They have done an incredible job building and running this community. This includes all of their current administrators and moderators such as SirMangler and Tech Dunk, along with those that have retired like AlexApps. We know there have been a lot of support staff on the server that have helped ease our workload over the years by helping walk users through problems and setup.
We hope that our endorsement and adoption of the Dolphin Discord server will help it grow further, and for those that stayed away because it wasn't official, you need not stay away any longer.