I’ve long been a fan of internet message boards and have drawn a huge amount of inspiration from the many different financial perspectives that they’ve exposed me to over the years. In fact, Portfolio Charts probably wouldn’t even exist if not for some of those investing discussions. But finding the right group is hard.
Every online community is unique. They all have their own strengths, weaknesses, biases, and blind spots, and the format also has a big effect on the culture of the group. For example, the upvotes in Reddit incentivizes a different behavior than the long-form posts on Bogleheads or multi-tweet threads on Twitter.
Add to that viewpoint and platform diversity the natural lifecycle of growth and decay that affects all living things, and it can be really hard to find a group that you truly relate to. Even when there’s one you absolutely love, nothing lasts forever.
Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how much I value community and how the ideas discussed here do and don’t fit into some of the other major places I frequent. Some places are strong with stock discussions but are openly hostile to assets like gold. Others are focused on specific narrow portfolio ideas. Country bias is very common where any investing discussion becomes pretty insular. And most social media platforms are so open-ended that they too often devolve into something that looks nothing like an actual coherent conversation.
While I appreciate many forums around the internet for what they are, I’ve come to realize that the lack of a single obvious home base for a lot of the ideas I care about is a roadblock not only for me but also for an entire world full of people who might find something like that useful.
So let’s make our own!
The Benefits of Discord
After tinkering with a few different ideas from a traditional message board to a Portfolio Charts subreddit, the option I’ve settled on is something a little different in the investing world — Discord.
Most gamers are very familiar with Discord as a chat service useful for organizing guilds, raids, and other live gaming events. But it has matured into something way more diverse than just a gaming service. It’s a true global communication platform full of all kinds of communities.
One of the things I like about Discord is its flexibility. While most forums are fine for a series of long posts within a thread, Discord can handle that and a lot more. Live chat is a personable experience that lets you treat discussions more like a conversation around a campfire than a debate. Voice chat? No problem. Video? Check. Mobile app? It’s awesome. There are also features for presentations that I’m sure I’ll take advantage of at some point. Long story short, Discord maximizes the technical potential with minimum upkeep.
Another thing that’s cool about Discord is the automation. There are countless bots that handle everything from moderation to permissions assignments with no human input required. Knowing that managing a forum can be a full-time job of its own, I appreciate the ability of Discord to shoulder a lot of that responsibility and allow me to stick to answering questions and creating new tools.
And finally, I appreciate the demographic that Discord attracts — young and tech savvy people who like to talk and work together. As a middle-aged introvert that honestly took some getting used to. But after finally getting used to Discord myself, I love the vibe and see the potential to reach new groups of investors. And after reading a few investing-related Discords (largely related to day trading, it seems) it’s clear that the space is wide open for a new community offering support for a more structured and sustainable way to invest.
How the Portfolio Charts Server Works
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes the quality of a conversation is only as good as the format.
Comment sections are rather ubiquitous on blogs but can quickly become stale just a few days after the initial post. To me that makes it harder to facilitate more durable conversations.
Open chat is terrific for narrow topics like sports teams on game day but can sometimes get unwieldy for more broad subjects like investing. The last thing you want is for 5 totally different conversations to be talking over each other in the same comment stream.
And traditional structured forums where every new topic has its own thread can also become rather restrictive in its own way where mods feel compelled to constantly merge similar threads and encourage people to use the search function before posting the same popular question for the third time today.
So to start things out, I’m going to try a bit of a hybrid approach. Join the Portfolio Charts Discord and you’ll see three primary sections on the left — Portfolios, Charts, and Insights. That should sound familiar!
Within each section is a fixed list of topics corresponding to individual pages on the site, and each topic is a single open chat where you can speak freely without stressing about writing the perfect post.
- Portfolios — Chat rooms designed as fan clubs for each portfolio idea.
- Charts — Want to ask a question about how to interpret the Retirement Spending chart? Just find the right section and start typing.
- Insights — Open discussions corresponding to individual Portfolio Charts blog articles. Think of it as a real-time comments section on steroids.
There are lots of nuanced things that you can do with Discord like follow specific conversations and reply to individual comments, but honestly it’s way easier to just try it for yourself than for me to list every option. Needless to say, it’s a very flexible tool that is always adding new features.
So long story short, my initial goal is to build a communication infrastructure that blends seamlessly into the site and allows people to comment and ask questions about specific common topics. By mixing freeform chat with focused interests, the idea is to build a public virtual space that is both organized and open — no small challenge!
This is just the beginning and we’ll see how it evolves over time. My hope is that it grows into something truly fun, educational, and interactive.
Join the Conversation
If that sounds interesting, then I could use a hand with the most important ingredient.
A community is only as good as the people who choose to participate. It’s possible that the Discord server may be a little empty for a while as we get started, and that’s ok. But if you want something like this to succeed then there are a few things you can personally do right now to make that happen:
- Sign up — For a quick and easy overview of how to join, including the necessary invite link and a brief FAQ, check out the Portfolio Charts Discord page.
- Participate — After you join, don’t just lurk! Find a portfolio or article you like and say something. Your enthusiasm will encourage others to join the conversation.
- Spread the word — It’s generally bad form to promote specific Discord servers in other online communities, as nobody likes a spammer. But where appropriate, please take the time to share the Discord link above with friends, family, and coworkers.
I’ll also be very honest when I say that this is a bit of an experiment on my part. If the Discord server either doesn’t gain traction or becomes overrun with toxic behavior that does more harm than good, then I may eventually pull the plug. But on the other hand, if it develops how I hope it will then I’m open to new features based on your feedback. The sky is the limit, but it will never happen without your active support and input.
So unlike many of the Portfolio Charts features that are designed by one guy, the Discord is truly a team effort. You have the power to make it great. Do you love it? Or do you want to see something new that would push it over the top? Then sign up and say so!
Let’s build something together.
Join the conversation