Friday, March 27, 2020

Dealing with Disruptors in Twitch Chat

Twitch is amazing, and you're going to meet so many great people on the platform as you continue streaming. But as many of us know, being a streamer isn't always a pleasant experience. Many times, viewers will join your shows only to cause trouble, or even to be intentionally mean or hateful. I've seen streamers break down on camera, and I've seen even more announce hiatuses from the platform due to the stress of dealing with negative people. I've seen streamers get into arguments and lash out at chatters after being goaded for long enough, and I've seen people end their streams early because their chats were getting out of hand. If you haven't been streaming for very long and haven't run into this, it may simply sound like all these broadcasters have thin skin, but every seasoned streamer has their own stories of how their chat has wounded them. And if you do it long enough, some comment will get through to you too. In this entry, I'm going to help you deal with disruptors in your Twitch chat.


When dealing with disruptive chatters, I try to remember one concept before moving forward: no matter what kind of behavior someone else is displaying, always respond with positivity. It doesn't matter how 'justified' I would be to get angry with them or to put them in their place, I am unwavering in my attitude. I spoke about this topic a lot in the entry The Power of Positive Streaming - I think this mindset not only helps keep my chat more upbeat in general, but also helps me to always see the bright side through a cloud of bad vibes. Even if someone is being outright mean on your streams, don't forget: they likely don't know anything about you. They don't speak for everyone else who watches your streams, and they don't decide your value. Don't let their comment about your looks, your voice, your stream, your gameplay, or anything else seep into your own measurement of your self-worth.

These guys always know how to keep things positive.
It's important to have rules in place laying out the values of your channel. Everyone's shows are different, and the kinds of accepted behavior can differ wildly between channels, so you'll avoid confusion by making your rules easily accessible. You can display them on your channel's 'panels', which show up in the area below your stream to anyone watching on a desktop computer, and you can also put a shortened version of the rules in the one-time message that appears when someone joins your chat. In addition to this, make sure you have a command that can bring up the rules in chat whenever you want to show them- then you'll be able to point someone to the exact rule they're breaking so there's never any confusion.

After your rules are in place, be smart about enforcing them. Many streamers will compromise their values and let a chatter continue saying negative things that make them uncomfortable, just because the streamer is afraid that standing up for themselves will cause the chat activity will dry up. I try to stick to a mindset of, 'down to the last chatter.' Meaning, if someone is saying things that go against my community's guidelines, even if they're the only person speaking in chat all stream, I'll still remove them. The moral values of your stream are never worth compromising for a bit of fleeting validation.


Despite being quite firm in enforcing my own rules, I always try to keep things in perspective. Just because someone is negative in chat or breaks your rules doesn't mean they're a bad person. For example, on my streams I don't like to be given hints about how to beat the various levels in the singleplayer games I play. It's a pretty common concept on Twitch, to not allow what's called 'backseat gaming,' and most people joining story-focused streams know what this is. I have rules in place which say you'll be timed out or banned if you try to tell me how to play, but not everyone has a chance to read those rules. Sometimes someone will join and their first comment in chat will be some piece of advice about the game itself. They clearly think they're helping, and in such a scenario it's unfair to immediately ban them for doing this. So I'll usually calmly delete their comment, thank them for their enthusiasm, and tell them we don't do it that way on our streams. Then I mention the rule and I post it in the chat.

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep things in perspective.
But some people simply join a stream to flaunt what they know, or they don't care about my rules, so they'll post hints again. At this point they're becoming a disruptive influence on the chat itself, and they're compromising everyone else's enjoyment of the streams. But even after this second infraction I don't get mad at them- unless it's a major spoiler I simply execute a timeout, an action that silences them from chat for ten minutes but still lets them watch. I tell them that according to the rules I showed them earlier they are to be timed out, but that I hope they still enjoy the show, and if they choose to stick around then I hope to see them again soon. I don't say anything more on the subject or lecture them about what they did wrong. I don't let other chatters complain about the timed out viewer either. It's important not to make offenders feel like they're being ganged up on. I've had many viewers who were timed out for backseating return after ten minutes to participate in positive ways, because they saw that no one on the stream was mad at them, and they saw that the stream could still be fun without backseating being allowed.

It's important to me to empathize with the people watching my shows, even if they don't hold the same values I do. I'm aware that some people don't like to watch streams where they can't tell you how to play your games, but my streams simply aren't for those people. Many streamers will get mad when these kinds of rules are broken, and they'll go on long rants with their chat about how annoying it is that people come in and spoil or backseat their games. This might create discussion, but I feel it's a very negative way to approach the problem, and in my opinion it's not even a valuable discussion. It only breeds bad vibes. On my streams I simply communicate my values as best I can, enforce my rules, and continue making someone who broke a rule feel like they're welcome. Unless they did something really bad, they can decide for themselves whether it's a place they want to be.


Everyone has their reasons for being the way they are. You never know what's going on behind the scenes. Even if someone is intentionally being mean or annoying in chat, don't forget to keep everything in perspective. They could be going through a rough time in their life, they could have problems at home, there could be any number of life factors happening with them. This doesn't mean you have to keep them around, but don't get mad at them or rant about how much you disliked their behavior. It's possible to be stern but still treat everyone with respect!

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