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Discord doesn't want me to use their platform

02 Dec 2022

If you're coming here from the link in my Discord bio, hello! If you'd like some direction with getting on Matrix or getting in contact with me some other way please DM me on Discord and I'll see your message eventually. If it's been several months since I posted this (December 2nd, 2022) you may need to attempt to reach out some other way.

Well, it finally happened: Discord made a change so bad for accessibility that I literally cannot use their platform anymore without external modification. They're rolling out a new custom font for all the main text on the platform, and that includes all message text. [ref 1] The font is called gg sans and I can't read more than a couple sentences of it without it actually hurting. I don't know why they keep doing things like this. Do they not want people using their platform?

This started last year, May 2021, when Discord rebranded. [ref 2] Cool, good for them. I have no issue with a company changing their branding. What I do have an issue with is companies changing their branding to something that is genuinely painful to look at. This rebrand included a new logo, a new font for headings and their wordmark, and, most notably, a new color. This new color, which we will refer to as "new blurple" to differentiate it from the pre-rebrand "old blurple", is highly problematic. Many people immediately reported that looking at the new color for longer than a few seconds resulted in eyestrain and migraines. [ref 3] The new font was a problem too, with many people reporting that it was difficult to read.

I was able to switch to light theme to somewhat mitigate these issues. Others were not so fortunate, and many were forced to choose between using a third party client or leaving the platform entirely. The font was still hard to read on light theme but it was at least doable and it's not like I really needed channel names anyway since I was basically just using muscle memory to get around at that point. The color was still painful to look at but at least I could use the platform if I was careful to not look directly at anything blurple for more than a second. Eventually Discord added a color saturation slider but it has only ever been available on desktop and web and the setting resets itself to 100% all the time. For anyone wondering, 75% gives the result closest to old blurple.

The thing that bothers me most about the whole rebrand situation is that despite all the severe community backlash they never did anything about it other than add the color saturation setting. I can't find any source for this because it's hard to search Reddit comments from 18 months ago but Discord made some statements in response to being called out for their blatant disregard for accessibility. They claimed they worked with many members of the community and various accessibility experts to ensure that the rebrand wouldn't be an issue. Clearly that is not the case.

In August, Discord started rolling out a major change to their Android app. [ref 4] The goal was to unify the codebase between the Android app and the iOS app. In practice this meant taking the iOS app and stuffing it onto Android because it's a React Native app and you can do that for some reason. When they first announced this change everyone knew it was bad news. Many people tried their hardest to avoid the new app for as long as possible, but Discord set a hard cutoff for when the old app would stop working: September 1st. I didn't make attempts at avoiding the update, but I also didn't rush to get it immediately either. When it finally updated, my fears were confirmed. Over the next few days I would collect a long list of things that were wrong with the new app. Some of these issues still haven't been fixed 4 months after release. Digging up one of my old lists here and rephrasing a little:

Finally, the thing that prompted me to write this: gg sans. [ref 1] Also, yes, the font name is all lowercase. gg sans is Discord's new font, and they seem to be using it everywhere they're not using their Ginto derivative header font. As mentioned before, I can't read this font for more than a sentence or two. When they introduced new blurple I could switch to light theme. When they messed up the Android app I could work around the inconveniences. But this? There's no getting around it without using client mods. BetterDiscord and Aliucord may serve well, but I've never been interested in client mods due to the constant threat of getting banned. There may or may not be conclusive evidence of people getting banned from using 3rd party clients but I don't care. The terms of service say no third party clients and I intend to follow the terms I agreed to. (You did read the terms of service, right?) So the only remaining solution for me is to use Discord in a browser with an extension like Stylus. But there's an issue. Somehow, and I don't know how since I'm not a web developer, Discord has managed to block the loading of certain fonts. I could be wrongly placing the blame on Discord here, I use a nonstandard browser that could be causing issues. The fact that some fonts work and others don't leads me to believe that may not be the case though. I'm not allowed to use Noto Sans, Inter, or Hack but I am allowed to use Noto Sans CJK JP and Noto Mono. I settled on Noto Mono because it's readable enough and I was getting tired of trying to make things work. I had decided by that point that I was completely done with Discord anyway. In addition to the blocked fonts, Discord changed something to prevent stylesheets from loading from other domains. This change I do fully believe is Discord's fault because it was working the other day and I haven't updated my browser since then.

Over the last month or two I've been slowly migrating friends over to Matrix as I begin to use Discord less and less. I knew I wanted to stop using Discord eventually but I didn't know when that day would come. Last night I sent out a message to almost all of the people I frequently talk to on the platform informing them that the font change was the final straw and that I would be uninstalling Discord from all my devices, effective immediately. I intend to check Discord from time to time using a browser but I doubt it will even be a mostly daily occurrence after a week or two. It's not uncommon for me to go a day or two without touching a computer and even if I am at a computer Discord isn't likely to be at the front of my mind. For now I'm happy spending my time on Matrix, and I hope that doesn't change any time soon.

[ref 1] https://support.discord.com/hc/en-us/articles/9507780972951-gg-sans-Font-Update-FAQ Discord - gg sans: Font Update FAQ
[ref 2] https://support.discord.com/hc/en-us/articles/1500009438682 Discord - A Fresh New Look to Celebrate Our 6th Birthday
[ref 3] https://reddit.com/r/discordapp/comments/ndmdqy/discord_rebrand_eyestrain_and_migraines_an_issue/ Reddit - u/blazerules on r/discordapp - Discord Rebrand: Eyestrain and Migraines. An issue of accessibility. Purely user hostile redesign.
[ref 4] https://discord.com/blog/android-react-native-framework-update Discord - An Exciting Update to Discord for Android