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Terminology is important

At risk of sounding like an old man shouting at clouds, there’s some terminology I’d like to correct a large number of people on:

DM vs PM vs PM

And yes, I intended to write PM twice.

So, to define the 3 terms I’m working with before we get started:

Private Messages, or PMs, have been a thing since most likely before IRC emerged from its primordial soup. While often not actually private - the IRCop of any servers involved could easily read said messages if they wanted to - they were private enough to be called private messages in a world before you normally used encryption. In recent years, that has become … less accurate, but the usage of the term is solidly cemented now.

DM, on the other hand, has come up since Twitter implemented person-to-person non-public messages, calling them “Direct Messages”, despite them going via Twitter’s servers. One assumes they chose to call them direct messages to stand out. Since then, a number of other services have started referring to their personal messages as direct messages, further confusing the situation.

In a paragraph, if it’s not peer-to-peer, and it’s not end-to-end encrypted, it’s a personal message, rather than a private or direct message. If it’s peer to peer, it’s probably reasonably direct, and if it’s end-to-end encrypted, it’s most likely private ignoring the backdoors in your computing environment.

Guild vs Server

This is much more specific - fortunately, this stupidity hasn’t spread - but the instant messaging malware Discord has been selling their guild system, which is a collection of voice and text channels with a shared moderation and permissions setup.

Presumably, the term Guild in relation to Discord comes from the term used in MMOs, referring to player organisations:

Guilds in Discord represent an isolated collection of users and channels, and are often referred to as “servers” in the UI.

Now, calling them guilds is an unusual choice, but not strictly wrong, given how guilds have been treated in MMOs for quite a while: a set of administrative users, assigning permissions, designating channels and topics, etc etc.
However, referring to them as “servers” is a blatant lie, given a server is defined as “a computer or program that supplies data or resources to other machines on a network.” Discord’s “servers,” on the other hand, are collections of channels themselves running on software inside the erlang VM on a cluster.

Nitpicking? Perhaps. But would you want public profiles on social media referred to as “servers?”

Presumably, this was chosen to compete with TeamSpeak and Mumble, so they could say “join Discord, it has free servers,” while actually meaning guilds. This is just scummy marketing.

Now, as something quotable:

Friendly reminder not to refer to Discord guilds as “servers,” as doing so perpetuates their user-hostile marketing garbage

By Izaya
2019-08-30 22:00 +1000

Tags: tech software bad-software privacy society

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