Although our beloved Dragon Con couldn’t avoid the curveballs that 2020 has thrown at all of us, the powers that be have done everything they can to give Dragon Con Goes Virtual as much of that in-person feel as they can. One of the many ways fans who are used to seeing each other face-to-face can connect is with the official Dragon Con Discord.
Discord is a platform I’ve never used before, and I was nervous about getting started with it. I’d only heard about it from some of the gamers I know. But I wanted to do everything I could to make this new Dragon Con feel like the same one I’ve been to since 2008. So, I jumped in feet first. I had a chance to chat with Alex Bardos (aka Riptide) about Discord and some of the things that went into making it all happen.
Daily Dragon (DD): How did you end up getting involved with the Discord server?
Alex Bardos (AB): Normally at Dragon Con, I am the Director of Volunteer Systems—we handle the volunteer database, sending bulk emails to volunteers, training, things of that nature. I’ve been running an unofficial Dragon Con Discord for a few years now, so when it came up that we really needed one for this year, I got roped in with some folks from Social Media to make this thing happen!
DD: How long has having a Discord sever like this been in the works? Is it something Dragon Con hopes to have for future cons?
AB: We started in on this about two weeks ago, but it’s something we’ve been evaluating and wanting to do for quite a while. I can’t speak to the future, but the goal is to keep the Discord available year-round and have it grow year after year as just one extra way folks can enjoy the magic of Dragon Con from anywhere. During a physical show it could be used for planning meetups with friends, or just hanging out with folks from your hotel room while you’re feeling under the weather or getting into your cosplay!
DD: I’m a complete Discord noob, but the video tutorial was really helpful, as is organizing things into various landmarks and hotels. What went into mapping out the content so that users can access the content they want to see?
AB: I don’t remember whose idea it was, but we knew we wanted the Discord to have a touch of home to it—and this just seemed like the coolest way to split things out and also make it feel like Dragon Con to folks who have been attending for years. Want to talk about Science? Hit up the hotel that normally hosts the Science track!
DD: So, what exactly IS a “Server Dragon”?
AB: In Discord, like in many platforms, there are moderators and administrators—the Server Dragons are our admin team and Server Guardians are our moderator team. We’ve been looking for ways to name things to make them more Dragon Con–like, instead of just the usual. The Server Dragons are the folks you should feel free to reach out to if you have a problem with how our Discord server is working, or if you have an issue with how a moderator handled a situation.
DD: How many people are involved in making this whole Discord thing work?
AB: Overall, there’s 40–50 of us—about five administrators and then 30–40-ish Moderators who are in charge of keeping things civil round the clock.
DD: What advice for getting around and participating would you have for users new to Discord? What are the top three things new users shouldn’t do?
AB: The biggest advice I can give is to not be afraid to jump in and say hi—if the main chat is moving too fast for you, maybe check out one of the lobbies of the hotel categories since those go a little slower! Definitely share a pic of your cosplay, and if you have a social media presence (especially for your cosplays or gaming), we have a channel just for sharing those! What you definitely shouldn’t do, though, is be a jerk to others. We want this to be an open and inclusive space for everyone, so there’s no place here for harassment of any nature. Just like at a physical Dragon Con, cosplay is not consent, and harassing other users or DMing them inappropriate things will get you removed from the server. Past that, just take a look at the rules page and make sure you’re familiar with them. We want everyone to have fun and make new friends!
I’ve been hanging out on the Discord server for about a week now and I’ve gotten to know some of the regulars and the usernames I see all the time. I was over in the Peachtree Food Court, just watching the chat go by, and saw a group of people help someone with their high school Algebra 2 homework. The user was feeling lost and tossed the question out into the chat. And the nerds responded! It was beautiful to see and something that really exemplifies what the Dragon Con community is. So, don’t be afraid to join us. There’s always someone there to help.