Many people love using Discord and Guilded to connect with friends and communities online. However, for some, closed-source platforms are less than ideal due to privacy and customization concerns. While Discord and Guilded offer great features, there are also open-source options worth exploring. In this blog post, I'll compare Discord, Guilded, and Matrix - an open-source alternative with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Now, both Discord and Guilded are excellent choices for most users. However, for those who prioritize security or open-source software, they may not be the best options. Being a closed source means you cannot modify their code or host your own servers independently. But another viable alternative exists in Matrix.
Matrix functions very similarly to Discord or Guilded in that it allows group chat, private messaging, file sharing, and more. It operates on an open communications protocol called Matrix, which powers decentralized chat servers. Like Discord/Guilded, it has apps for phones, desktops, and the web. However, where Matrix differs is in its core values of privacy, security, and open-source development.
Some key benefits of Matrix include end-to-end encrypted messaging and completely open, modifiable code. This means servers can be self-hosted to maintain control and privacy of data. Encrypted channels provide secure communication where only participants holding the encryption key can view messages.
While open source is a major plus for security and privacy-minded users, it comes with some downsides worth noting. Chiefly, Matrix is still missing certain popular features like built-in forums, polling/scheduling, and integrations with third parties. Bots and bridging to other services help fill gaps, but the overall feature set remains more limited than closed competitors at this time.
Element is the most popular app for interacting with Matrix. It provides a clean, polished interface for chatting, starting conversations, joining groups called "spaces," and more. However, Element is just one way to use Matrix - alternative front-ends exist for those seeking other arrangements or looks/layouts. This flexibility in clients comes with the open protocol.
So in summary, while Matrix has drawbacks like missing features and lack of mainstream awareness, for those prioritizing privacy and open source control over their data and servers - it offers a compelling alternative worth exploring. Encrypted communication preserves sensitive discussions, while self-hosting ensures no third party profits from your activities or gains insight into them.
Of course, how accessible or locked down you want your server to be depends on your particular situation and goals. Fully encrypted channels barrier outside access completely. But this limits growth through discovery. It's a tradeoff between open collaboration and tighter information control that each community must weigh for themselves.
In the end, no platform is a perfect fit for all needs. But becoming familiar with options beyond the mainstream helps uncover the best solution. Discord and Guilded fulfill many use cases excellently, while Matrix shines for those seeking open-source solutions emphasizing privacy and control over third-party involvement. Overall, it provides a thoughtful alternative worth consideration as part of a well-rounded evaluation of available options.