I think as a whole, the desi dance community is rigid and stupid when it comes to running their own teams.
Many teams think of it like any other collegiate organizations. Elections that are essentially popularity contests, they use a simple chat platform to communicate (GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, carrier pigeons, etc), wasting hours of practice time doing work in practice rather than actually practicing, etc. The most tech any given team consistently uses is Google Docs. It’s 2021. There are dozens and dozens of books about how to lead people, more and more apps everyday to organize tasks and documents, and many cooler websites and tools that just make the process of iterating, collaborating, and critiquing the choreography and dancing infinitely easier. But people are lazy. People are stupid. People are rigid and unwilling to change. If you’re a new captain or starting a new year with your team and want to go through the unnecessarily enraging task of convincing your team to use a new platform. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best tools out there you can implement for your team based on what you’re trying to get done.
As the new competitive season is about to take hold, I figured now is a better time than any to get on my soap box and tell everyone how they’re all wrong and what they should do instead.
Lol in all honesty, I always find all these new softwares and tools and I become enthralled by them. So much so I just want to tell everyone I know about them and geek out over it. Since all my friends are thoroughly over listening to my rants, I figured I can share it with the rest of you.
You know…you. Yeah you’re probably the only person who’s ever going to read this. Thank you. I appreciate your existence.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be going over better ways to critique, better ways to make formations and communicate those formations, better ways to manage tasks, but first I’m going to cover the most annoying of them all. Messaging apps.
Messaging App Tier List
S Tier – Discord and Slack
Anyone that knows me is rolling their eyes at me but it’s true. Discord and Slack are by far the best app for 99% of all teams. They both allow you to pin important messages, respond directly to one another, make separate channels for different conversations within a single domain, customization for who is allowed to see what conversations, upload custom emojis, tag people, upload documents, and are both extremely searchable. There are a few advantages that each program has over the other.
The big upside Discord has over Slack is its unlimited messaging. [The most annoying thing about Slack is that after 10K messages, your chats are archived unless you pay $6.67/user/month.] Now if your team doesn’t talk much, this may not be a huge problem for you and if they’re more used to using Slack because all their other orgs use Slack, it’ll make sense to stick with Slack. However, if you’re like FCB and run through 10K messages within 3 months, it’s trash. All the video links that you uploaded are gone. All those random ideas you had that you wanted to look up later are gone. However in Discord, all messages are saved, searchable, pinnable, etc for free. Most teams tend to talk a ton, especially the captain chats. After about 3 years of using Slack with FCB when I stepped down as captain, we racked up close to 140K messages. That’s 130K messages that I can’t reference that I could have if we used Discord.
Another thing that can be cumbersome once your team grows is you have all your alumni and you have to start cordoning off who is allowed in which channel. In Slack it’s black and white. A channel is locked and only members that are individually added to those channels can read and respond. Or it’s open and everyone can read it even if they’re not “in” the channel. It’s good for 70% of situations ie captain chats, set planning chats, practice video links, etc. What can get annoying is if you want to add the liaison for your comp into a chat but not let them see anything else or if you want to create a channel just for the people coming to a specific comp or you have an out of town dancer filling in so you want them to see some things but not everything else. It can get hard to keep track of who’s in what channel. Then all of a sudden you realize Sukhdeep has been in your practice video channel from that one time he danced with you two years ago and you’ve competed against his team a ton and they had access to everything you’ve made.
Discord handles this in a slightly different way. Yes, you can individually add and remove people from individual channels, but you also can create a role. So you can make a “dancer” role and only dancers are allowed to be in a certain channel. You can make a “captain” role, a “mixer” role, “choreo contributor”, “formation contributor”, “Mela liaison”, “Bruin roster”, “alumni”, etc. And it’s much easier to keep track of what role everyone is in because it says it next to their name in the app. But it’s not only just the roles.
You can go into the nitty gritty of what people are and aren’t allowed to do in a certain channel. You can control if they can read message history, if they can read but not respond, or read but only react (which is great for a practice video channel or an announcement channel so it doesn’t get clogged up with people talking), and so much more. The screenshot on the side will show you all the granularity you can customize.
The biggest feature that Slack clearly trounces Slack over is threads. Slack’s threading feature let’s you have multiple conversations in a single channel in a neat and concise way rather than a bunch of people talking all at once but not necessarily to each other. Instead of having two people in one channel talking about how awesome the latest episode of The Bhangra Podcast was while another 4 people are talking about how great the latest blog on QQQureshi was and all those texts being harder to follow because it’s all in the same channel. You can create little threads which act like little channels within the channel.
Now Discord has put out this reply feature that is nice, but it’s just not the same. Replies let you directly @ someone and link back to the message you were replying to which is better than a stream of insanity, but it’s just not as neat as threads. I don’t know if threads will be coming to Discord but I sure hope so.
It’s hard to say what is definitely better in this case because they both have their quirks. The way Slack handles uploads is that there’s no cap on the size of each individual upload as long as it’s not bigger than your team’s overall cap, which for the free plan is 5 GB. You can upload a 1GB file directly to Slack no problem, but after 5GB it’ll start deleting the oldest files.
Discord however limits your per upload size to 8 MB, but you can upload as many as you want. Essentially this means you can upload super short videos and practically any image you want. Anything larger and you’ll have to link it from YouTube, Google Drive, iCloud, DropBox, etc. It sounds super limiting, but in my experience it’s not that noticeable. Most videos and documents most likely live somewhere else in most circumstances such as you Google Drive and then you link them into the Discord. I never have had an issue uploading gifs and photos of things and on the plus side, it’s there forever. Don’t need to worry about Discord deleting them later on.
The other upside Slack has is its integrations. Slack is for businesses so it works nicely with Google Calendar, Google Drive, Asana, ToDoist, Trello, and all the other common work apps out there.
Discord is a social platform. There are Discord bots and there are a ton of them. In many cases they work great with Discord and get the job done, they’re just a little less user friendly and a bit harder to implement than Slack. If you just HAVE to have an app integration, look into the Discord bots, if it’s not there then consider using Slack instead.
The last thing that may not be that cool at first glance but becomes much cooler once you start using it is voice channels. These are specific channels that people can talk in rather than type. Super solid, low latency connections. This feature was what made Discord popular in the first place. Slack doesn’t have anything like this feature, it does have built in video calls but it’s not quite the same. The best way I can describe it is it’s like Clubhouse’s drop in and drop out audio calls but just for your team.
PS – I’m so confident you’ll like Discord I made a little example Discord for you to mess around with here
C tier – GroupMe and iMessage
These are only good for messaging with alumni or for your big groupchats with liaisons (assuming you’re not using Discord or didn’t make a liaison role for your Discord). Everyone has a GroupMe and (most) everyone has an iPhone so it’s great to just make sure everyone actually opened the message. Rather than bitching about how they hate Slack or Discord when they’re just too lazy to try anything new. The things that knock these messaging apps down so far is because messages can’t be pinned, searching past messages either can’t be done or is a huge pain, and you’d need a bagillion chats going and have to hunt around for them in your giant list of other chats to find them. Ie FCB used GroupMe before Slack became more widely used and we had too many. There was a new GroupMe for each comp, one for announcements, one for general talking, one for alumni, one for only videos and mixes, one for the captains, one for the people contributing to the mix, one for people contributing to the formations, one for the choreography, and so on. Then trying to find those amongst all the chats for your other clubs can be a nightmare. Same thing goes for iMessage but at least now you can pin certain chats to the top so it makes it just that bit nicer.
D tier – Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp
Everything in C tier…but also Zuck will load your chats into his hivemind super computer to sell you photosynthesizing industrial water bottles.
F tier – SMS group messaging
Until RCS text messaging is universal in Android phones, god help you.
Disagree with my tier list? Lemme know in the comments.
For more blogs about softwares to use check them out here (links will become live as I publish the posts.)
- Better ways to critique
- Better ways to make formations
- Better ways to manage tasks
- Better ways to message