Of Discord, Community, and COVID-19

The catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on lives in the United States and around the world still baffles me. The loss of life, the sickness, the economic devastation have yet to be fully tallied. Yet, I will still have positive memories of this tragic period and one of these will certainly be the growth of the Noname Nerd Discord Server. As we approach 2,000 members and I see growth accelerating to over 100 new members per week, I think that it is worth pausing to reflect on this growing community.

To be honest, the whole thing sort of caught be off guard. I thought the Discord Server might be a good place for members of the new affiliate program to meet and interact and, well, be a community. However, I can't say that I put a lot of thought into it's structure, organization, or management. Then suddenly, it felt, people kept signing up and talking and meeting. And then asking questions, and seeking advice, and sometimes even arguing. It was a lot. Sometimes it even got a little toxic and I began to worry that it would undermine my goal of creating positive and welcoming spaces for nerds...

But something amazing happened. People offered to help. People reached out and offered to help me. People like FluffyJR asked if I wanted help fixing the channel permissions which, of course, I had set up incorrectly. People like PhazeOnest helped people with graphic design questions and technical advice. People like Joe#BIGBITE shared his expertise in online community management and the roughly unhewn log that I had found myself holding began to take shape into a real community. Valhalla joined us with his hammer and dad jokes and, at the same time it felt like the entire world was increasingly isolated due to COVID-19, I was watching a new and very real community develop online.

As the community grew we found other people that were also helping. People like QueenFizz, Breen, and Gatorceri, Phranque and, most recently, MagiKarp joined us to help answer people's questions, provide bad jokes, or just play some games. Occasionally, we had to keep some people in line, but mostly we didn't. Mostly it has been conversation, and jokes, and memes, and inside jokes. FluffyJR started our Valorant team before handing it over to QueenFizz and starting an Apex team! We had tournaments and happy hour and games nights! QueenFizz and FluffyJR chased RedGemy across Fortnite. Joe#BIGBITE kept us all on track and pretty much all of you fixed things that I broke on the server. We rallied to help some of us through difficult times. And we did it all as a community.

And I would get messages or read reviews and again and again I would see the compliments and kind words regarding the community that is the Noname Nerd. As Valhalla famously noted "I came for the jerseys, but stayed for the community." That's a pretty huge compliment because real community is hard to come by. Especially in a world that is fragmented in so many ways, I look forward to browsing conversations each day. Sometimes I participate and sometimes I don't, but it always comforts me to know that so many people are getting together and helping each other to grow and support shared interests. This community wasn't here before COVID-19, but it's here now and I am confident that it will be here for a long time afterwards. As our summer wraps up, I want to acknowledge the challenges we have all confronted, but also celebrate the new and powerful community that we have built together. Thanks to all of you that made that possible.

Want to join this great community? We would be happy to welcome you. 🙂 Just head to https://discord.gg/zBpqk68

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