Why Status, and why not Discord?

As you may know Jason Citron, founder of Discord, recently teased Web 3 support on Twitter, in response to an article that basically outlines our communities strategy. The tweet garnered a very mixed response from his followers.

In that same thread, he followed with a tweet:

Thanks for all the perspectives everyone. We have no current plans to ship this internal concept. For now we’re focused on protecting users from spam, scams and fraud. Web3 has lots of good but also lots of problems we need to work through at our scale. More soon.

What’s great about this is that independent people and companies have validated our strategy for the app.

The question is what are our competitive strengths versus Discord if Discord succeeds in getting to market at the same time or perhaps earlier?

Our App Product Owner and I were chatting and came up with some great points that I think are worth sharing.

We will have a lower marginal cost per user than Discord will ever be able to achieve.
Once Waku v2 node functionality and community history service are integrated into Status Desktop - we won’t need to host any servers (and part of the beauty of the communities strategy is that anybody running an Status Community will be naturally incentivised to run a node).

Discord already makes less revenue per user than other social networks, and Status will have a lower marginal ongoing operational cost per additional user than Discord which will give us more pricing flexibility (we can be financially sustainable and profitable at lower revenue per user).

Infact what is great about crypto is that what is considered infrastructural and operational costs are externalised and captured as value in the token. It is a means our users can generate revenue by maintaining the network, Waku RLN will incentivise nodes, provide better quality of service and mitigate spam at the network level.

Legal and regulatory risk.
If a centralized service offered many of the tools we will be building for communities (token minting, token retailing, airdrop functionality, etc…), these tools could fall under existing or soon to exist money handling regulations. Discord would find it hard to argue that they are not a centralized service provider when they are running services using servers.

This means that Discord will:

  • A) have to comply with the regulations
  • B) will have to make sure what they do is permissible under the regulations.

If they want to offer the full set of community token services that we are planning to offer, these regulations will probably lead Discord to needing to KYC their users at some point, and may limit what they can do!!

We are positioning ourselves as an entity that ‘only writes source code that other people can compile and run if they wish’ and because we will not be hosting any centralized servers in the future, and we will provide tooling for the community to independently build, verify and distribute binaries - we can legitimately argue that we are not providing any services, we only provide source code, and hope that free speech is still a right.

This places us in a much better position with respect to legal and regulatory risk than Discord, and could perhaps lead to Discord competing with us with one of Discord’s hands tied behind their back by regulations.

Financial risk.
Discord is valued at $15bn, they also can’t afford to take the level of legal and regulatory risks that we can.

Permissioned vs Permissionless
The original article, talks about people building services on top of Discord. But Discord is a centralized service that can cutoff any of the services that are being built on top of it at any time if they wish (and history tells us that this will happen, especially if somebody builds a service that places Discord at additional legal and regulatory risk e.g. any service for any part of the sex industry).

One of our USPs in being permissionless, anybody will be able to build on top of us safe in the knowledge that it’s impossible for us to rug pull them. This is very attractive to entrepreneurs and other commercial entities, even if “permissionlessness” is something that not many end users care about.

Discord can (and has) shutdown communities without warning (e.g. WallStreetBets), we can’t.

"Progressive Decentralisation"
Because of Discord’s existing investors and it’s 15Bn valuation Discord would find it very difficult to do what the article is suggesting they should (in terms of tokenisation).

This barrier doesn’t apply to us, we can use our token to do all the things this section of the article talks about and more :slightly_smiling_face: Discord’s 15bn valuation - and the source of their capital, holds them hostage and prevents them doing things that we can.

Decentralisation
Although the vast majority of average users probably don’t care about decentralization, many key influential people the crypto space do deeply care about decentralisation. For these folks, using a centralized service (Discord) when a decentralized open source alternative exists (our future communities product) will feel wrong, especially when Status Communities reaches group chat user experience parity with Discord. This is a minor point in our advantage when trying to bring crypto native communities to Status Communities

So there you have it, Web 3 apps benefit from coming from Web 3 organisations. What’s more, the stronger we hold to our values the stronger our future USP and the better prepared we are for the future, let’s not forget, we’re the ones building the future.

14 Likes

If Status can’t get basic features like file sharing and calling, it will be useless for most communications.
I love the communities functionality, but it’s kinda crippled if users can’t share files and interact how they would on platforms like Matrix or Discord.

Imagine a machine learning community that can’t natively share datasets, or an activist that can’t share documents. This is the frustration that I encountered while using Status for my business. Status is a great product, but it needs more of the basic features, and yes I understand it’s difficult with a P2P platform.

2 Likes

I agree that those are both desirable features. To say that Status is useless isn’t true. Status today is used to organise protests against overzealous government mandates around the world, I consider this a huge win and something I am very proud of!

File Sharing

Sharing relatively small files through Waku is possible, this is what we do with image sharing within Status today. For larger datasets and blockchain state - current “cloud storage” providers don’t meet our requirements, so we’ve been quietly working on a decentralised file storage project, codenamed Dagger, that is geared to work on resource restricted devices. Here you can see the Dagger Research & Nim Implementation repos.

Phone Calls

Now this is much harder to do in a decentralised setting, it would technically be possible with a direct p2p connection, which would break the privacy that Waku provides to a passive adversary, but worse, it would be dependent on the connections of both participants - likely resulting in severe quality of service issues like you see with p2p WebRTC audio chat. Likely some stable node in the network would have to be a service provider and broadcast a single audio stream to all participants.

1 Like

My concern has been the lack of involvement on Status’s social media websites, and even their own Status Communities.

Status is very useful for meeting new people and coordinating protests since it works over LAN and doesn’t require internet (I met my best friend through Status). I know this, because I’ve helped coordinate protests using Status. Lets say you don’t have a cellular connection, the hotspot on your phone will make a LAN that anyone can connect to and talk on Status through. If you want to share plans you’re restricted to images because you can’t send links (no internet), or files.
It just isn’t very useful for work and community-orientated events (programming, gaming, 3D print sharing), because sharing things like PDFs and other files besides images and audio isn’t possible.

I think that Status should add support for P2P Matrix in addition to Waku, so I am not limited to just friends on Status, I can talk to anyone on Matrix also. Matrix has voice/video calls, the ability to share large files (up to 100MB per upload), and many other neat features that aren’t possible with Waku yet.

I assume you mean our poor communcation? It’s a problem that needs to be addressed and is long overdue.

I hear you want a similar UX experience to Matrix, we want that too! You might not know, we are early investors of Matrix and on their board. Matrix however makes significant technical tradeoffs to achieve these goals in a shorter time-frame, they simply have a different design philosophy, which are not in the best interests of people living under authoritarian regimes.

We are deliberately taking a longer path, because making the fundamental paradigm shifts in protocol is not compatible with the shorter time horizons, there’s a reason no one else is doing what we do.

Using Matterbridge it is possible to bridge into any other chat protocol from Status.

1 Like

I love the UI and UX of Status, I just wish it had native interoperability with Matrix (and maybe SMS on Android with a warning screen or two just like what Signal does), so I can talk to everyone from one app.

Status is a superapp; everything in one. It’s chat, a browser, crypto, and social in one, that’s what I love about it. I just wish it could interoperate with other platforms to give it more power and make it even more super.

1 Like

Also: I really really don’t like the Element matrix client’s UI, it gives me a headache. I’d just generally stay away from the IRC/Discord style chat and stick to bubbles (but maybe add it as an option that is off by default)

works over LAN and doesn’t require internet

That is interesting! This is where Status needs more involvement in the community to explain these features and advantages. That’s huge! …and competes with Briar.

Not sure if Status can also act as a mesh network. I see no technical reason why this can’t be done.

Slight tangent…When on the Internet or private network, Status needs explain “peer to peer” better (specifically messaging):

In the case of peer-to-peer messaging networks, specifically Whisper and now Waku, when Alice wants to send a message to Bob, she broadcasts it to multiple nodes (or other people) in the network, and that message bounces from node to node, ending up with Bob.

First, some people define P2P as Alice <-> Bob, without intermediates. An analogy is two-way radio. When two radios send to each other, that is P2P (two-way). If you add an intermediate, that is no longer P2P (radio analogy of using a repeater). Continuing with the radio analogy, if you add a repeater where all peers need to connect, that is centralized. If you add multiple repeaters, and the repeaters relay messages, and the repeaters are regulated, that is federated. If you add multiple independent repeaters, that is distributed.

In addition, I’m not aware of the Status client application also acting as a node (unlike I2P), therefore not P2P by other definitions of P2P. If you operate a separate node, that is not P2P, that is a decentralized/distributed perhaps federated network server/node.