Discussions is a new feature of GitHub for asking questions or discussing topics outside of specific Issues or Pull Requests. Before being available to all projects in December 2020, it had been tested on selected open source software projects. To understand how developers use this novel feature, how they perceive it, and how it impacts the development processes, we conducted a mixed-methods study based on early adopters of GitHub discussions from January until July 2020. We found that: (1) errors, unexpected behavior, and code reviews are prevalent discussion categories; (2) there is a positive relationship between project member involvement and discussion frequency; (3) developers consider GitHub Discussions useful but face the problem of topic duplication between Discussions and Issues; (4) Discussions play a crucial role in advancing the development of projects; and (5) positive sentiment in Discussions is more frequent than in Stack Overflow posts. Our findings are a first step towards data-informed guidance for using GitHub Discussions, opening up avenues for future work on this novel communication channel.