Friday, May 22, 2020

Combat Negativity in Twitch Chat

In the past entry Who Is Watching Your Streams, And Why? I talked about the various reasons a chatter might join your shows. And as you keep streaming, you'll eventually get various viewers who cause trouble. Some simply misunderstand your channel rules, while others are only there to ruin everyone else's good time. In the above entry as well as many others, I've discussed how, using patience and kindness, you can sometimes help someone who is disrupting your streams to become a positive member of the community. Don't lose sight of the big picture after all: the objective isn't always to remove anyone causing a small issue, but to have everyone watching your shows able to enjoy themselves. Whether that means silencing someone problematic or guiding them toward following your rules, either strategy achieves the same end goal. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

Sometimes however, whether someone is repeatedly toxic or they come out of the gate saying something completely reprehensible, you have no choice but to get rid of them. As I've mentioned in many previous entries as well, the act of timing out or banning someone isn't the end of the process either. Even when you've removed someone problematic, you could still end up inadvertently giving them the power over your stream that they craved all along. In this entry, I'll teach you to avoid the most common mistakes in preventing negative viewers from taking control of your shows. For larger channels, these insights can apply to moderators as well as the streamer. But for anyone starting out, you'll likely be on your own without any mods to back you up, so keep these thoughts in mind in case you find yourself in a difficult situation.


The first rule when dealing with negativity is the one that most streamers can't help but break: do not get into arguments on your stream about whether or not something should be allowed on your stream. If you have a rule, it's a rule. You simply refer someone to that rule, and then enforce it. The burden doesn't fall on you to educate someone about right and wrong, only to remind them about the law of the land. After this, it's up to the viewer in question: they either play by your rules or they're removed. Arguing with someone in chat will only lead to other chatters joining in. Ironically, this snowball effect does damage regardless of whether the other chatters are trying to help or harm you, because they're prolonging the subject's time in the limelight.

Don't let a negative subject grow into a monster.
Again, even if you end up removing the problematic chatter from the stream, you're still not out of the woods. The snowball is still rolling, and you need to make sure that no one else brings up the subject you're trying to avoid. Someone in chat might make a joke about the subject in an effort to relieve the tension, another might talk about how much quieter it is in chat now that the problematic person is gone, or a third might discuss how frustrating it is when people disrupt the streams. All of these things, despite being good-intentioned, will only lead you right back into talking about the negative subject, thereby prolonging the topic of conversation even after it's been dealt with. Don't allow that specter to hang over your stream- simply change the subject, don't talk about the problematic incident, even delete comments if you have to. Just because the negative person who pushed the snowball into your stream has gone away doesn't mean the ball itself will stop rolling on its own. You have to actively work to stop it from growing.


Then there are comments which are just wrong, and anyone posting them knows they're wrong. Whether the remarks are racist, sexist, homophobic, overtly graphic, or anything else way outside the bounds of human decency, this person isn't someone who even needs to be told your rules. They simply have to be silenced.

Walked into a...
In this case, I personally like to execute a strategy I refer to as 'The Freeze Out.' This move involves seeing their comment, deleting it, and banning the offending user, all mid-sentence while in the middle of talking about something else. It ensures that the person trying to terrorize my stream not only has absolutely no voice on the show, but even more frustrating to someone of this character type, they can see that they haven't ruffled me in the slightest. When someone posts absurdly inappropriate things on a stream out of the blue, they're not only trying to get satisfaction from disrupting your chat- they also want to see how much they can upset you. Because your face is on-screen for them to see at all times, the reactions they get from you are the main attraction in their mind. The Freeze Out is a tough move to master, but when you're able to do it effectively, it feels good to know that they weren't able to terrorize either your chat or yourself in the slightest.

There are a few considerations when going for an option like this, however. First, don't forget what I mentioned at the beginning of this section: this response should be saved only as a last resort, against someone who is completely beyond help. I don't recommend doing this to anyone except those you've never seen before and never want to see again. When encountering a person who makes a Freeze Out necessary, consider looking inwards after your show: is there anything about your channel's infrastructure you could change to prevent things like this in the future? In the entry Setting Limits for Your Streams, I laid out ways you can prepare commands and automod features to prevent hateful words and phrases from being allowed in your chat in the first place.


At the end of the day, preventing negativity from taking root is on you as the streamer. Not only in what you say, but mostly in what you choose not to say. Anything spoken out loud on stream, and anything that gets said in chat, becomes fair game for conversation. So if you don't want a subject to spread, don't say anything about it. If there's a rule in place, refer someone to the rule. If it's beyond the help of your rules, remove it without even giving the person or their comment the time of day. When you keep in mind these ideas, it's possible to defeat the bulk of negativity in chat with minimal incident.

No comments:

Post a Comment