We’re on Discord!

by Steve Watson in March 2023
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We’re launching a Stack server on Discord so we can have a place to chat with people about making / reading / loving / struggling with independent magazines. If that sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to be part of, follow the link above, agree to the basic rules about not being a terrible person, and we’ll see you in there.

A year ago I would have told you that I definitely didn’t want to start any new social media thing with Stack – we created accounts on Facebook and Twitter when we started in 2008, and added Instagram in 2012, and for most of the last decade that seemed to work well enough. We never crossed over into crazy numbers of followers, but between the three platforms I felt like we had a good way of talking about independent magazines with people who are interested in that sort of thing.

You know what’s coming next. Bit by bit, posting across those platforms started to feel less like a fun conversation, and more like shouting into a void. Our numbers of followers have remained fairly steady, and there are still occasionally nice moments to be had on Twitter, or covers that get a particularly good response on Instagram. But when that happens, it either feels like an unlikely fluke, or the algorithm throwing me a bone to keep me slobbering after its likes.

And it’s not like I’m blameless in all this: I understand that the platforms’ priorities can change, and if I want more people to see Stack on Instagram these days I should be making Reels. But I just don’t want to! It feels like a particular type of 21st-century insanity to be trying to frame the world in a way that will please an algorithm, knowing that its parameters could be tweaked again at any moment to favour some other perspective. And so for the last year or so I’ve chosen to sit back from social media, just posting the things I want to post, when I want to post them, and trying not to worry too much about engagement statistics.

This change to the way I see social media has coincided with a major change at Stack. It was around this time last year that I finally admitted to myself that our online shop wasn’t working well enough, and it had to be closed. It was a horrible experience, but once we’d made the change I wrote about my hopes for the future, and how getting rid of the shop might allow us to do more of the things we do well. I’m pleased to say we’re seeing the results of that now, and refocusing on the subscription has allowed us to do more of what I want Stack to be doing.

For example we’re publishing fewer blog posts than we were before, because when we were adding a handful of new titles to the shop every week I was obsessed with creating editorial that would give a better idea of what those magazines were all about. Now I don’t have that pressure, so instead of trying to work fast to cover lots of magazines, I’ve switched instead to focusing on just the ones that I really want to say something about. It’s probably not surprising that this new way of working is much more enjoyable, and I’ve found that I have a renewed passion for independent magazines.

So what does all this have to do with starting a Stack server on Discord? First of all, I want a place to talk about the things I’ve enjoyed reading, and all the assorted stuff that comes with reading lots of magazines. I want to find more new stuff too – now that we don’t have the steady flow of magazines arriving to go in our shop, I’m more eager than ever to follow recommendations and find new titles.

I’d also like to help more people make magazines – I talk with lots of independent publishers about the work they do and the difficulties they face, and I know they would benefit from a place where they can swap tips and draw on support from other people who have been there and done that.

I think Discord could be a great place to bring that community together, but it’s worth saying that up until a few months ago I didn’t really know what it does. This handy Mashable explainer gives a good overview, and here are my highlights:

1. I like the fact there’s no algorithm at play – if you post in a channel, it will be seen by anyone who looks at that bit of the channel.

2. I like the fact it’s not a numbers game – you can have a Discord server with 10 active, interested members and it will feel like a fun place to spend some time.

3. And I really like the fact that it’s free to use, with all the core functionality available to you without paying anything. (That said, I am feeling pretty tempted to pay the monthly fee so we can have a Stack server banner at the top of the page…)

More than anything I want to build a friendly, useful, and fun community for people who love independent magazines – there are lots of us out there, but at the moment I don’t know of a place where we can get together online. Of course Discord could change just like any other platform, and it can get overwhelming, and people might decide to not play nice on there, but we’re not putting all our eggs in that basket – we’ll still be in all the other places too, so this is just another thing to add.

Stack has never done anything like this before, and I suppose that whenever you try to build a community you don’t really know what you’re going to end up with: If it works it will be because people turn up and make it into what they want it to be. But we’re going to try to steer that along the way, and the following list of channels should give an idea of what we’re aiming for:

A place for talking about magazines, the magazine industry and other related stuff. Tell us about new launches, old favourites, or your own projects – this is the place to share your recommendations for stories, spreads, and entire magazines that you think more people should see.

Making an independent magazine is HARD, and this is the place where you can reach out for a little help and advice. Ask about anything, from printing, to distribution, to commissioning, to any other element of independent publishing.

Are you looking for writers, photographers, illustrators, or some other type of creative magazine person? Post your brief here, and please state whether it’s paid or unpaid. (Unpaid is fine, but we want it to be clear from the start).

A space for Stack subscribers to discuss the magazines we send them every month – tell us what you think about your latest delivery! (Warning: there will definitely be spoilers here, so stay clear if you want your magazine to be a surprise.)

Do you have a question about your Stack subscription? Reach our subscriptions manager Vicky here.

A general text channel for whatever else you want to talk about – tell us what books you’re reading, what TV you’re watching, basically anything you think might be worth sharing.

I expect we’ll add more channels as we go, and possibly remove some of the ones listed above, depending on what people want to talk about. If this all sounds like something you want to be part of, come and join us, and help us figure out what a community of independent magazine fans should look like. One of my favourite things about running Stack is meeting all the people who pour heart and soul into making independent magazines, and the people who love reading them, and if we can get enough of them together on Discord, I think we’re going to end up with something genuinely great.

Sounds good? Join the free Stack server on Discord. It’s totally fine to lurk quietly in the background, but if you want to join the conversation, just agree to the rules on our welcome screen, and say hello…

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